AURORA – Oscar Fogelström

Aurora is a 2018 Filipino supernatural thriller directed by Filipino director Yam Laranas. A passenger ship (the Aurora) mysteriously runs aground killing many people. A young woman and her sister must find the missing dead for a bounty in order to survive. Central to Oscar Fogelström’s score for movie is the human voice. Having a distinctly ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ aspect to it, it’s the choral work running through the score that lingers after the music has concluded (the composer’s musical ideas are impressively realised by the Swedish ensemble Johannebergs Vokalensemble). Opening the album with a completely immersive a capella rendition of Fogelström’s requiem-style melody, the listener is completely drawn into the music. It’s mournful yet there’s an undercurrent of vitality and it’s this mix that makes it so appealing. The composer’s (and choir’s!) talents manipulates the timbre of the voices to suit the needs of the movie; being mournful at some points but also being more dissonant and threatening at others (hence the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ qualities). Only rarely does the melody transfer to the orchestra: only slight hints of it are heard initially (as violin solos played by David Bergström) until the theme is completely taken over by the strings in the penultimate track, “Rise Up”. This transfer of responsibility for the melody feels like a release for the choir and the hundreds of people lost in the shipwreck. The solo strings also offer a hint of humanity at various points in the score. Dissonance features strongly in Aurora, but the dissonance is somehow bedded in melody. Perhaps ‘melody’ isn’t the correct word to use. Perhaps it’s that the dissonance is easily listenable that it almost sounds melodic? I love the way the composer uses the orchestra to create such an impressive soundscape. Fogelström is always doing something interesting with the orchestra: where there would be tense scenes populated with ‘filler music’ in movies with ‘lesser’ scores (e.g., ambient soundscapes), here the composer achieves tension but keeps the music listenable. I find the challenge of the dissonant writing, unusual orchestrations and the beautiful passages very worthwhile. A most excellent release. The album can be purchased HERE or other online stores as a digital download. (Original Review by Alan Rogers)

Rating: **** ½/*****

  1. Surge Sursum (1:38)
  2. Across the Water (3:22)
  3. Farewell (2:28)
  4. Trying to Save You (1:58)
  5. The Dead Will Find Their Way Home (2:49)
  6. Brave or Foolish (2:24)
  7. What’s Going On? (1:43)
  8. When Water Falls (1:38)
  9. They Are Inside Our House (1:40)
  10. No Escape (1:42)
  11. Jumping Ship (2:30)
  12. Heading Back Out There (1:01)
  13. Second Birth (3:32)
  14. One Thousand Voices (1:46)
  15. Will She Ever Come Back? (2:06)
  16. Reunion (1:57)
  17. Rise Up (6:08)
  18. Aurora (1:50)

Running Time: 42:14

Screamworks Records (2018)

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