Somnius is a short 2013 science fiction film directed by Denver Jackson. A young monk is nearing completion of his pilgrimage, a rite of passage that required him to journey beyond the boundaries of the known universe. Somnius is the name of his space ship, the vessel the monk has used on his journey. Somnius has the ability to render thoughts and memories into reality. However, a group of mercenaries have taken an interest in the ship and, having managed to get on board, they must overcome the monk’s skills – including his adept martial arts training – in order to attain their prize. The director mixes sci-fi, mysticism and martial arts to fashion an engaging and, at times, visually stunning film well worth seeking out. The score is composed by designer and composer Marc Junker.
What stands out most from listening to this film is the beautiful, ethereal wordless vocals from Vanessa Annand. Her voice permeates throughout the 20-minute score, delivering a seemingly simple motif in such a powerful way. Heard in the opening track, “The Dragon’s Eye (Main Theme)”, this vocal motif seems associated with the monk pilgrim (also, perhaps more widely, the monk’s order and/or beliefs) and has a mystical, contemplative air to it. Moving in and out of the soundscape of Junker’s score, Annand’s vocals are particularly prominent – and important – towards the end of the score (“Galactic Ministry Arrives”, “Becoming One With Somnius”) when the monk’s life force is in the balance between life and death. Hand-in-hand with the whole monk-mysticism feel, Junker also gives Somnius an Oriental flavour. Eastern-sounding string lines are prominent throughout, and are particularly heard alongside Annand’s vocals. This Eastern feel is reinforced further by the use of bold Taiko drum-like percussion that appear during the fights scenes between the monk and the various members of the band of mercenaries (“Fight With A Brute”, Who Is Truly Worthy?”, “Show Me The Dragon’s Eye (Captain’s Theme)”).
A significant amount of fight scenes feature in the latter half of the movie and Junker uses uncomplicated ostinato patterns to add energy to surprisingly flat hand-to-hand combats (e.g., “Fight With A Brute”). String ostinato patterns in tracks such as “Spatial Displacement” and “Boarding Somnius” adds a level of tension and brute strength and in the latter track the inclusion of a Terminator-style metallic toll is particularly effective at adding power to the invading force’s determination to succeed in their plot to take the ship. Worthy of special mention, one member of this group is Dex, a computer geek-type character who lacks physical strength and many useful social skills as well. This role is a bit of an aberration in the film: he plays a comedic role that seems at odds with the rest of the film. And the same is true with the Junker’s music for the character. “Dex Can’t Get A Break (Dex’s Theme)” is an annoying collection of pizzicato string elements that has a comedic feel to it, but I just found it annoying in the score as well as when it appeared in the film. Luckily, its appearance in the score is limited to this one cue (though it is tracked to various portions of the film itself).
Putting “Dex Can’t Get A Break (Dex’s Theme)” to one side, Marc Junker’s score for Somnius is a very enjoyable experience. It’s not a score that’s full of soaring themes nor complex orchestrations, but the composer’s use of female vocals and the references to Eastern styles, for me, single it out as a memorable project. Annand’s vocals will certainly linger in the mind. Marc Junker’s score can be heard in full and is available as a free download HERE (though I suggest a modest offering as an optional purchase price). Denver Jackson’s short film is available to watch HERE.
- The Dragon’s Eye (Captain’s Theme) (1:48)
- Spatial Displacement (1:56)
- Misused Somnius Engine (1:34)
- Soon We Will Have It (Captain’s Theme) (1:05)
- Bandits Pursue (1:38)
- Dex Can’t Get A Break (Dex’s Theme) (0:34)
- Boarding Somnius (1:51)
- Hold Your Fire (0:36)
- Fight With A Brute (1:48)
- Who Is Truly Worthy? (3:54)
- Show Me The Dragon’s Eye (Captain’s Theme) (1:02)
- Galactic Ministry Arrives (1:42)
- Becoming One With Somnius (1:16)
Running Time: 20:45
Marc Junker (2013)