Welsh Born composer Ceiri Torjussen is a name that has been more and more on the radar of film music collectors, since early 2001 he has been active on the film music scene in Hollywood and has scored a number of interesting low budget or independent motion pictures. More recently the composer has become involved on a handful of shall we say more prominent productions and has impressed not only his peers but has caught the eye or in this case the ears of critics and soundtrack connoisseurs alike. I was taken with his work on BIG ASS SPIDER which contained a great score that mirrored and paid tribute to many of the soundtracks created for monster and sci flicks that were released in their droves back in the 1950.s.One of the composers recent projects is for the movie ALL CREATURES HERE BELOW, which is not as the title may suggest a creature or monster movie, well at least there are no monsters as we know them from the movies of the 1950’s. Instead the film focuses upon a couple who are on the run across America and take refuge in Kansas City, it is a tale that deals with the now prominent subject of poverty and the effects of family and also love. For the score the composer has employed a varied style and fashioned a somewhat sparse soundtrack, which is performed via a fusion of Symphonic, synthetic and also choral elements. However, saying that there is a wide variation of styles within the work, one can also note that Torjussen utilises one motif for a handful of the cues, which is more noticeable in the tracks, WALKING HOME, RUBYS LETTER and then becomes stronger and more pronounced in RUBYS HYMN. The choral work is at times celestial in its execution with the opening title track taking its lead from the Hymn PRAISE GOD FROM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW, which the composer arranges sympathetically to achieve a striking and affecting piece. As I say this is a work that anyone would say is of one style or that it contains an overall stylistic sound, the variation of the music is stunning, and therefore I think such an interesting and attractive listen. The music is at times dark and apprehensive, but then there are cues that contain lilting and attractive sounding musical poems such as GOING HOME, where piano and guitar collaborate, and I LOVE YOU which is a subtle and fragile piece. The composer fashions brief but pleasant compositions such as GONE and OZLAND that entertain and haunt the listen. This is a score that I found enjoyable, it is somewhat sparse and at times does evoke fleeting memories of the style of Tomas Newman, but is that a bad thing? Recommended.
Composer, Bear McCreary, never ceases to amaze me. With each scoring assignment he seems able to re-invent and alter his musical style and sound, which I suppose is the whole idea of writing for film, because each new project is different. I have always been impressed by his work and I do realise many people associate him with THE WALKING DEAD television series, but there is so much more that this composer has. However, saying that the scores for WALKING DEAD were and are still wonderfully atmospheric and even grandiose at times far outstripping the actual quality of the series they are intended to enhance. And as one of his most anticipated scores for the new GODZILLA movie looms in the wings, we are spoiled and treated by his soundtrack to THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN, this is a highly atmospheric and mood laden work, with the composer creating beautiful but at the same time slightly unnerving melodies, that are interesting and haunting. McCreary has fashioned a eloquent and at key points mesmerizing sounding work, the composer utilising the string section and also solo performances from that section to purvey a lush and lavish rich musical persona, that is tinged with apprehension and a sombre mood. For me personally this is probably one of McCreary’s most accomplished and musically, mature works and also is one which I have no reservations on when it comes to recommending it to fellow soundtrack fans and connoisseurs. The mournful or melancholy cello performances are a highlight and these alone are capable of creating a richness and darkly romantic sound on their own, but there is more as they say, the composers obvious talent for inventive writing is too present and he works his innovative magic in many of the cues to bring forth a sad, solitary and a lilting style, that is immediately attractive. The alluring tone poems which McCreary has formed although subdued are totally absorbing and affecting, as are the darker and more threatening pieces, with the composer for the majority of the score maintaining a low key and minimalistic approach, being economical with the score. The cue FINDING THE PAMPHLET for example (track number-7), begins in a somewhat menacing way, with strings creating a tormented and agitated introduction, but this soon fades and gives way to plaintive woods which are supported by subdued and understated strings which give a foundation to the woodwind. This then segues into a lighter sounding mood again created by the fusion of rich cello and woodwinds which are also enhanced and given a slight but luxurious string accompaniment. Track number 8, THE SNOWBALL FIGHT is a delight to hear, with the composer again turning to the string section to purvey, richness and melancholy. This is a score that I returned to a few times before writing this review as it has so many musical faces and personas it is at times hard to take in that all the music comes from one score.
There is also a beautiful vocal on the score, WHEN I AM DEAD is presented in two version, firstly the piece that we hear in the movies and then at the end of the recording in a slightly edited version on both performances the vocal is by, Melanie Henley Heyn. All together this a rewarding and enriching listen. Recommended.