Well the new adaptation of DRACULA has drawn much attention and caused a certain amount of division between old school Dracula fans and followers of the Count in this series of three episodes. Watching all three episodes was something of a task as I became uneasy with the dialogue and the mannerisms that the writers had come up with to update the Stoker novel. Yes there were a number of references to Hammer films and their take on the Vampire Count, and these did not go unnoticed and were appreciated by Hammer devotees. The musical score is by composers David Arnold and Michael Price who collaborated so successfully of SHERLOCK which was a series also penned by Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat. After watching the first two episodes I really could not decide if the music worked or fell short of the mark, and in fact I was hard pressed to even notice the music, but was this because I was focused on the imperfections of the series as it unfolded or was it because the music was just so good in enhancing the various situations on screen that I just did not realise it was there, which is a good thing I suppose because it is film music or TV music in this case and that’s what its there for. So I was pleased when Silva Screen sent out the promo of the score for review, it gave me a chance to actually listen to the score without any images, and I realise this is probably not the best way to hear music for film but in this case it worked for me. Arnold and Price have created a score that is in the main quite lush with romantic properties throughout, and in the music I can hear maybe little nods of acknowledgement to composer Wojciech Kilar as in his haunting love theme from his DRACULA score, which I still hold in high esteem. There is in this new score a sense of fragility and also an underlying atmosphere of apprehension and foreboding. It also contains cues that have a near celestial persona, the melodies being haunting and delicate. In the cue HELLO JOHNNY there is a short phrase which took me back to the Kilar score, as it evoked the theme or at least a fleeting moment from Minas theme from that soundtrack. Arnold and Price have fashioned a grand sounding work, which for the life of me I cannot understand why I never noticed whilst watching the series, it is powerful and commanding, driving and dark, but also it has as many poignant and are romantically laced interludes. The track YOU ARE JOHNATHAN HARKER too is effective, with driving low strings acting as a foundation for more sinewy sounding strings and percussive elements, that are punctuated and further embellished by sharp brass stabs, add to this voices and a disturbing half heard solo violin and you have something that is gripping and just a tad frightening.
I would say that this score is on a par with the music this composing duo created for SHERLOCK and at times it is probably more of a developed and inventive work, even the atonal material that raises its head at times is thematic in part. So, an entertaining soundtrack, but one that you might not notice when watching the series. It is a combination of conventional instrumentation, musique concrete and also the duo use an array of samples which they utilise imaginatively to create sounds that are perfect for this tale of horror. The music oozes menace and has a fearsome and unsettling aura to it. Certainly, for your collection, with highlight tracks being, THAT IS EVERYTHING, OUTGROWN BEAUTY and THE FEAR, the latter for me evoking James Bernard’s SCARS OF DRACULA at times. Out digitally on January 10th 2020.