TIDSREJSEN – Flemming Nordkrog

Original Review by Alan RogersTidsrejsen

Tidsrejsen is a Danish television family drama starring Bebiane Ivalo Kreutzmann as Sofie, a social outsider who is having a difficult time at school and is having to deal with the recent divorce of her parents. All she wishes is to have her old life back, where her parents love each other again and everyone is happy. It’s at this point that a strange boy comes on the scene; the Justin Bieber-lookalike Dixie (Hannibal Harbo Rasmussen). Although new to the area, Dixie seems to know an awful lot about Sofie. Being a “TV- Julekalender” (a traditional 24-episode “event” shown on consecutive nights in the run up to Christmas), director Kaspar Munk’s Tidsrejsen is a Christmas tale where family and social conflict are resolved with the backdrop of a cosy blanket of yuletide love. But, there’s a twist in this particular tale: time travel. With significant nods to films such as Blade Runner, Men In Black and particularly Back To The Future, Sofie and Dixie (who is from the future) travel back in time, crossing Sofie’s parents’ timeline, to hopefully stop Sofie’s parents from divorcing. Added to the mix are sinister agents from the future who are trying to foil the plans of Sofie and Dixie.

Up-and-coming Danish composer Flemming Nordkrog’s score for Tidsrejsen is a solid one, with the composer dividing his talents between a number of styles to reflect specific aspects of the plot. A ticking motif backed up with pizzicato strings and ostinato patterns hint at the time travel slant to the Christmas tale. Associated with this time travel idea, there’s a recurring mysterious, almost mystical theme (to help build a sense of anticipation/wonder in the children/young adults to which the drama is aimed). Nordkrog uses strings, woodwinds and piano in a reflective manner to support Sofie’s memories of earlier and happier family times. And juxtaposing the emotional and fantastical music, there are darker and more ominous synth-based textures as well as pulsing rhythm-based percussion patterns for the black suited pursuers of Sofie and Dixie. To round off the main ideas of Tidsrejsen, a beautiful and ethereal voiceless female vocal adds to the magical feel throughout the score.

Strong string ostinato patterns together with mechanical-sounding clock tick-tock effects in the opening track, “I Alle Tider”, sets in place the association of the score with time travel and with it there’s a feeling of the magical in the orchestrations the composer uses. This ticking motif recurs at several points throughout the score (e.g., “Jul Sammen”) and is particularly effective in “Opfinderen”, a cue from late in the album, where the ticking rhythms adds to the driving ostinato patterns of the score’s orchestral elements. Strong ostinato figures, pizzicato strings and staccato brass sustain the momentum of the score, driving the action forward. The pizzicato strings, together with tinkling harp cascades and the use of what sounds like a celeste, also gives the score a somewhat magical quality (e.g., “Tidsmaskinen”, “1984”). Sofie’s reflections on her happier past family life are highlighted in cues such as “Jul Sammen”, “Savnet”, “Alt Er Et Mirakel” and “Mellem Himmel Og Jord”, where the music focuses on slower-paced passages with piano, strings and woodwinds mirroring Sofie’s dwelling on times when the family were happier.

A mystical theme with almost seductive overtones appears at several points throughout the score, as mentioned before, being particularly associated with the ticking/time travel motif. Heard particularly strongly in tracks such as “Sofies Rejse”, “Se Dig Aldrig Tilbage” and “Agent Sort”, Nordkrog’s theme here is particularly effective at giving a sense of mystery and wonder. When heard in “Sofies Rejse”, this mystical theme is accompanied by solo wordless vocals which sometimes takes over the mystical theme (“Alt Er Et Mirakel”). “Kemi Og Kærlighed” is a highlight cue of the album: it contains a statement of a love theme and showcases the beautiful vocal aspect of the score. The score is rounded off with some effective, though relatively standard, percussion-driven action scoring (e.g., “Agenterne”) and mood-setting synth textures (“Tiden Står Stille”), before the score ends with a reprise of the ideas heard in the opening cue.

Flemming Nordkrog’s score for Tidsrejsen is strong and entertaining though I did find the listening experience a little disjointed, with little sense of story’s narrative flow being reflected in the album. Also, the climax of the album seemed to fade away rather than ending with a climactic resolution (the restatement of the opening ticking motif in the final cue does attempt to formally round off the album.)

Released at the end of 2014 as a digital download by composers-turned-label owners Jesper Hansen and Halfdan E’s Danish record label, PlantSounds, Tidsrejsen offers almost an hour of entertaining music from a composer who has shown promise in a number of different genre types over the last few years (e.g., the avant-garde horror of the short animated film, Le Livre des Morts and the recent Danish comedy All Inclusive – the latter also available from PlantSounds). Tidsrejsen can be purchased from the usual online digital stores including the label’s own store. Audio clips can be heard HERE.

Note: the show’s opening title song, “Tidsrejsen” sung by Caroline Castell, is not available on this release.

Rating: ***

  1. I Alle Tider (1:24)
  2. Tidsmaskinen (1:46)
  3. Den Nye Dreng I Klassen (3:02)
  4. Sofies Rejse (2:08)
  5. Jul Sammen (2:06)
  6. Kemi Og Kærlighed (2:18)
  7. Savnet (3:22)
  8. Gyroen (1:27)
  9. 1984 (2:03)
  10. Kaffen Smager Ens (1:48)
  11. Alt Er Et Mirakel (3:00)
  12. Mysteriet (1:27)
  13. Der Er Ikke Noget Der Slutter (2:36)
  14. Se Dig Aldrig Tilbage (3:15)
  15. Agent Sort (2:46)
  16. Mellem Himmel Og Jord (3:22)
  17. Sofies Mission (1:09)
  18. Springet (1:47)
  19. Opfinderen (2:08)
  20. Agenterne (3:49)
  21. Sofies Plan (0:55)
  22. Sofies Minder (1:51)
  23. Vi Er Ikke Så Forskellige (3:03)
  24. Tiden Står Stille (2:01)
  25. I Alle Tider (Reprise) (1:32)

Running Time: 56:27

PlantSounds (2014)

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