LES FILLES DU SOLEIL – Morgan Kibby


Eva Husson’s 2018 drama Les Filles du Soleil (Girls of the Sun) is about a military unit of Kurdish women fighting Islamic extremists in North Kurdistan and features a score from American actress/singer/songwriter/composer, Morgan Kibby. Having composed the music for writer/director Husson’s previous film, Bang Gang, Kibby has written a score that echoes the movie’s depiction of the boredom that is a large part of war and despite starting off with much promise, the album ends up being a disappointment.

The score opens with arresting dissonant strings out of which emerges a noble-styled brass fanfare full of strength and determination (“Stay With Me”). It’s a strong opening to the album but, unfortunately, Kibby’s score soon descends into a series of low-key, ambient tracks made up predominantly of claustrophobic soundscapes that are effective at creating tension but are a struggle to listen to as a stand-alone listen. Tentative keyboards and piano (processed to give a echo effect) (e.g., “Eye In The Skye”), synth tone drones (“First Time”) and washes of metallic synths (e.g., “Escape”) are just a few examples of how the composer creates an admittedly tense score. But having these tracks coming one after the other for a significant proportion of the album’s running time makes listening to the album – particularly the bulk of the middle portion – a struggle. Only occasionally does the tempo of the score pick up to anything approaching something quicker than a snail’s pace. [Read more…]

ORESTE PIPOLO, FOTOGRAFO DI MATRIMONI – Banda Osiris


The score for Matteo Garrone’s 1998 documentary, Oreste Pipolo, Fotografo di Matrimoni, is an oddity. And that is down, to a large extent, to the director’s musical choice for the film. Banda Osiris are a group of musicians whose on-stage performances is a comedic mix of music and acting and who I first came across when I heard their score for Garrone’s romantic drama, Primo Amore (2004). For Primo Amore, Banda Osiris fashioned an interesting score for keyboards and strings which, despite some unusual embellishments, was more-or-less what you could call ‘conventional’. The score for the earlier Oreste Pipolo, Fotografo di Matrimoni is less than conventional but is more in keeping with what turns out to be the ensemble’s usual ‘sound’.

Oreste Pipolo, Fotografo di Matrimoni follows Oreste Pipolo, a highly regarded Neapolitan wedding photographer and who talents included being able to capture the essence of Naples from the mid-1970s. Written predominantly for soprano saxophone and brass (trombones and tuba) – with some additional contributions from percussion, keyboards and guitar – there’s a very distinctive feel to this score. There’s a vaguely oom-pah band quality that doesn’t quite feel altogether complementary to the documentary’s subject matter: what score there is that is featured in this 10-minute EP sounds somewhat irreverent and jokey. [Read more…]

LE MYSTÉRIEUX VOLCAN DU MOYEN ÂGE – Baptiste Thiry


Le Mystérieux Volcan du Moyen Âge is a French-produced documentary following a group of scientists as they search for the location of a volcano that is thought to have erupted in a massive explosion towards the end of the Middle Ages. French composer Baptiste Thiry, whose resumé includes a number of other documentaries and short films scores the film. From the outset, Thiry draws inspiration from the natural drama of volcanoes, using powerful percussion, bold string chords and driving string ostinatos to undoubtedly support epic views of volcano-littered landscapes (“Samalas”, “Mount Rinjani”). Blaring brass chords also make a not-too-surprising appearance at various points too.

Many of the tracks are what I would call ‘mood setters’ (“International Research”): repeating percussion or keyboard patterns that are overlaid with waves of brass and/or strings to add drama (it gets very Hans Zimmer/Inception at these points). These tracks don’t really follow any internal narrative but provide a musical foundation to passively support what’s happening on-screen. The composer varies the tempo and orchestrations (including the use of subtle synth elements) of these ‘mood setters’ so that there is a level of variety between cues. However, the basic elements are the same. Thiry is able to add a level of tension to some of these tracks which is an ideal musical support for the scientists as they attempt to solve the puzzle of where the remnants of this 13th century volcano could be located (“Traces of the Tsunami”). [Read more…]

The 2018 IFMCA Award winners


The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) has announced the winners of the 2018 IFMCA Awards. Congratulations to all the winners. You can read the full list of winners over at the IFMCA website: http://filmmusiccritics.org/2019/02/ifmca-award-winners-2018/

WŁADCY PRZYGÓD. STĄD DO OBLIVIO – Fred Emory Smith


It’s interesting coming to a film score not knowing much about the movie for which it was written, or knowing much about the composer either. Władcy Przygód. Stąd Do Oblivio (Rock’n’Roll Eddie) is one such movie. Apparently, two youngsters bring a “rock-and-roll figure” from another world, being chased by bounty hunters. Inconveniently, they must send him back in order to save his life! From the movie’s synopsis the movie sounds ideal for a Saturday morning matinee-styled score and, to be fair, composer Fred Emery Smith delivers on that promise.

The score opens with a number of exuberant, action-filled tracks that offer an exciting way into a score and, for the most part, this musical style carries on for much of the album’s running time in the same vein. Bold orchestral writing for strings and brass sits well with when the composer moves into more suspenseful music (tremolo and pizzicato strings) or when jaunty brass and funky percussion patterns places the music firmly into a sort of spy caper arena (e.g., “No Mission is Impossible”). Władcy Przygód. Stąd Do Oblivio does feature a few examples of more restrained and tender moments, “Out of the Living Room and Into the Graveyard” being a good example. [Read more…]

GRÂCE À DIEU – Evgueni Galperine & Sacha Galperine


The general setting of the 2019 French-Belgian drama, Grâce à Dieu (By The Grace of God) – directed by François Ozon – is set out in the opening few tracks of Russian-born French composing brothers Evgueni & Sacha Galperine’s score. Featuring wordless boys’ choir and organ, there’s certainly a religious setting in evidence but this over-arching feel is tempered by an ominous undercurrent that pervades the score, sometimes breaking through to dominate the soundscape. Grâce à Dieu tells the story –based upon a true case – of a group of middle-aged men in Lyon, France, trying to come to terms with being sexually abused by their local priest in their youth.

The composers do a good job of establishing the story’s setting but what’s more impressive is their ability to frame this setting with a sense of the level of betrayal of trust received by these men at the hands of those entrusted with their care. [Read more…]

KOLLER ÉVA BÁTORSÁGA (COURAGE OF EVA KOLLER) – Imre Czomba


Koller Éva Bátorsága (Courage of Eva Koller) is a 2018 short film from Hungary documenting the moment and aftermath when Eva Koller, a young Holocaust survivor, one day meets the person responsible for killing her fiancé and imprisoning her. The score is composed by established Hungarian composer, Imre Czomba. Czomba uses a small ensemble (string quintet, piano and bassoon) to create a moody and melancholic score that, despite the short running time (12 minutes), effectively conveys Eva’s emotional state that results from the chance meeting.

The album opens with the most complete track, the end credits and we hear the film’s melodic material in its fullest form. Compared with what follows, the music is relatively uplifting and perhaps represents a cathartic moment. [Read more…]