Filled with a foreboding and a virulent musical persona, I think best describes the latest score from composer David Stone Hamilton. DARK ENCOUNTERS is released by Movie Score Media on digital platforms. No compact disc has been announced as yet, but I am confident once record labels hear just how good this score is, they will be clambering to have it out and in their catalogues. Firstly, I must warn you that this score is as the title suggests Dark and shadowy, fearsome and foreboding and downright scary in places. I sat and listened to it through headphones the other night and it literally freaked me out, the writing is so expressive and descriptive, it conjures up all sorts of sinister and unsettling feelings. Let’s just say whilst listening to track three, LIGHTS IN THE SKY I took off the headphones and looked around the house as it was just so affecting it completely spooked me. The composer utilises swirling and sinewy strings to great effect and a solo piano performance which although quite pleasant still manages to purvey a certain uneasiness because it is a simple and subtle nuance that is being integrated into the track, which I suppose lulls one into a false sense of security, all the time one thinks ok this is going to move into a nice little theme with a lilting nuance, But No. The composer adds to this voices that at first are quite unassuming, these then grow in strength and volume, and are I think distorted when recorded and supported by percussion and strings, these are mind boggling and the percussion becomes a beating heart which has an increasing rhythm as the track progresses, the piece then bursts into an onslaught of harrowing and increasingly urgent sounds that peak and suddenly come to a halt, leaving this listener at least a little frazzled and somewhat startled. The voices return at key moments within the score and on each entry become even more sinister and harrowing. Track number four FOREST ENCOUNTER for example, is a nearly eight-minute exercise in how to rattle someone listening to a piece of music, again it starts out melodic and emotive, piano and strings combining to fashion a warm and pleasant introduction. But and I know there is always a but isn’t there, it soon alters into a darker more ominous sounding piece, the strings change direction from melodic to threatening, choir is introduced initially this sounds welcoming or even celestial, but then the strings step up and underline more choral work, which too has turned darker in its sound, the track then becomes quieter, but this is not going to last, the composer introduces voices and sounds which herald a harsher dimension to the piece.
Do you remember by chance a BBC TV series entitled CHILDREN OF THE STONES well that had a choral theme which was just so scary and David Stone Hamilton succeeds in instilling fear and panic with his work on this film via the use of both voices and symphonic flourishes that can at times contain a poignant and emotive aura, but these are often just a pre-cursor or foundation for the dissonant and atonal pieces, it is a superb score, and looking at a few of the scenes from the movie the film too looks interesting, with lots of jumps, jolts and scares. The score is in my opinion one of the most innovative of this year, and there are I think nods to the work of John Williams when he scored CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, as in the swirling and atonal strings that sweep in and out of proceedings creating a foundation for at times manic and possessed sounding voices. Which are present throughout and certainly make their presence felt in tracks such as THEY’RE IN THE BASEMENT and REPERCUSSIONS. This is an excellent score. Recommended.