Last Summer composer Daniel Pemberton was talking about a movie he was working on, it turned out to be KING ARTHUR-LEGEND OF THE SWORD which hits the screens in the UK on May 19th. At the time the composer remarked, “Yes like the world needs another movie about King Arthur”. However, I am sure seeing as it is directed by Guy Ritchie this will be unlike any other movie version of KING ARTHUR. Listening to the score, is something of an experience, it’s not the traditional type of Knights of the Round Table musical fare. Although saying that there are a few musical moments that verge upon the sound that was accepted to be music for an epic adventure some years ago, as in track number, 7, THE LEGEND OF EXCALIBUR, with its low almost growling strings and brass, opening the cue, but these fading away and giving way to a musical presence that is at first sinewy sounding, but very soon becomes something that is not only powerful but has about it a sound and atmosphere that is grand and commanding. Daniel Pemberton is in my opinion one of film music’s brightest stars, I love the way in which the composer experiments and basically bucks the system musically achieving so many great effects and sounds, which maybe one would ordinarily think. “That won’t work” the thing is it does. His score for THE MAN FROM UNCLE for me was the best thing in a long while, it was filled with thematic material and vibrantly inventive and wonderfully supportive of the movie, matching the action superbly and at times working in an almost operatic fashion, very much like the way in which Ennio Morricone used music in the Dollars Trilogy and other Italian westerns. The same can be said for his work on JOBS, maybe this score was a little less in your face, but via its intimate and somewhat fragile sounding passages it worked, elevating and enhancing, supporting and underlining without being intrusive, but instead becoming an integral and important part of the movie as if it were an actual character within the storyline. As I have not yet seen KING ARTHUR I cannot comment on how the music works within the context of the movie, however, I can say that this is a score that is great to listen to and one that is varied and infectious. I think the attraction of the score is the quirkiness and the at times unconventional orchestration that gives it an even greater appeal. Pemberton, combines bold brassy sounding flourishes with breathless voice, urgent sounding strings and percussive elements with choral support to arrive at a crashing and exciting solution, synthetic and symphonic styles meet, they clash and then combine and fuse within the score to create something that is rather special, with the composer also utilising various solo instruments to purvey an atmosphere of solitude, apprehension, fear and melancholy, all of which are tinged with a rawness and even a savage aura, the sound achieved is certainly Gaelic influenced, but is Gaelic with shall we say a contemporary feel to it.
I did feel that maybe the music was a little too full on at certain points within the score, becoming a blur of sounds rather than music, as in track number 20, DARKLANDS, the composer employs this style of music a few times within the score, combining fast paced percussion, scratchy sounding electric guitar, guttural sounding brass and those fast breaths to create an anxious and tense atmosphere, which can sound a little like something off of a 70’s prog rock album. If you are thinking KING ARTHUR-THE LEGEND OF THE SWORD is your typical score for a typical movie about KING ARTHUR think again and be prepared to sit back and take a ride on a musical rollercoaster, that is original, entertaining, thought provoking, and maybe a little confusing at times. Check it out, I do not think you will be disappointed.