Tag Archives: BACKLIGHT


Released on Kronos records june 2015.

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Born on the Portuguese Island of Madeira in October 1977 composer Nuno Malo has within the past five years or so become a name that is instantly recognisable within the film music collecting fraternity, his scores for movies such as JULGAMENTO, MANO, THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, AMALIA and more recently his excellent work for the film NO GOD, NO MASTER has garnered him much deserved praise and critical acclaim from all corners of the globe and established him as a composer of note. As a child he had always been interested in films and watched numerous movies, he always knew he wanted to be part of film making but it was at the age of twelve that he decided that it was music that he would concentrate upon. His first scoring assignment came in 2003 with THE POLICEWOMAN, he had written a piece of music for a concert that was to be performed in Portugal but was unable to be there as he was already living in Los Angeles but the director of THE POLICEWOMAN Joaquim Sapinho was present at the concert and liked the composers music so asked him to score the film, Nuno was pleased to work on the movie as he was allowed to utilise an orchestra which was something that was rare in his native Portugal and ever since that first assignment he has encouraged many Portuguese directors and composers to utilise the orchestra rather than employ only synthetic sounds. For this particular release Kronos records goes back into the not to distant past of the composer to release his wonderfully melodic and affecting soundtrack for BACKLIGHT or THE SIGNAL as it was entitled in a number of countries. The composer has created a melodically sublime and particularly haunting musical score for this motion picture from 2010 which became the number 1 box office movie in Portugal in that year. The director Fernando Fergata produced a thought provoking piece of cinema and it has thankfully in recent times been referred to as a cinematic masterpiece by a number of critics, which is a statement that I would have to agree with. BACKLIGHT is a solely Portuguese production but most of the picture was shot in The United States which is a surprising factor.


The composer combines both conventional instrumentation with synthetic components and fuses these elements together seamlessly to fashion a plethora of exquisite musical compositions. These highly thematic pieces combine to create a stunning and emotive work that oozes a deep and profound sense of emotion that is underlined and complimented by darker but melodic atmospheres and moods. The composer also brings into the equation choir and an outstanding solo voice (which is actually the composer himself performing) which gives the work a somewhat unworldly persona via its ethereal aural contribution, which just establishes to an even greater degree the outstanding talent and versatility of this composer/performer. Malo in my opinion is a composer that is comfortable within any genre and with his score to BACKLIGHT enhances each scenario to perfection supporting without being intrusive and producing sounds and harmonies that are not only fitting for the storyline of the project but also have life away from the screen. It is a score that contains numerous themes all of which segue easily into each other and also at times mirror each other, one underlining another or parts of a theme being subtly introduced within another, thus creating a fine consistency and continuity to the work as well as ingratiating the movie and supporting every frame of film where music is utilised. There is a sound present within the score that is very much akin to that of the late John Barry, Malo combining strings and choir in a very similar way to that of the British music- smith to bring forth affecting, moving and haunting melodies that sweep over the listener creating an ambience that is calming but at the same time highly charged. There is so much within the score it is sometimes difficult to comprehend that all of this thematic material has come from one movie or indeed from one composer.

John Mansell © 2015

(John Mansell is a member of the IFMCA and also author of numerous essays and reviews on film music).


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I had read a few reviews about the movie BACKLIGHT when it was released in 2010, many of these were negative, but this made me even more determined to see the film myself and make up my own mind, my opinion for what it is worth is that BACKLIGHT is a truly fantastic movie, and director Fernando Fergata, has crafted an entertaining and also a thought provoking cinematic masterpiece that will I know be looked at in years to come and be given its deserved status. I think that the people, who thought ill of it in reviews etc, should again sit down and view the film, because I am certain that their opinion of it would change. This is a Portuguese production, which is something of a surprise as film making in Portugal is somewhat hit and miss as there is little or no support or sponsorship for the industry, the other surprising thing is that the movie although Portuguese in its origins was actually filmed almost entirely in the United States. BACKLIGHT does not have great special effects and can in no way be described as a Blockbuster or epic production, but there is just something about the film that compels one to watch and take it in and try and make sense out of it and then one ends up trying to analyze it but personally I gave up and just took pleasure in the fact that I enjoyed the film. My main reason for wanting to see the film was the musical score by composer Nuno Malo, whom I admire greatly. Nuno had sent me a few of his discs to listen to and I found a suite of music from BACKLIGHT on you tube, and right from the first opening notes I fell in love with it, the music is attractive and hypnotic in places and also has an air of mystery and the mystic about it.


I emailed Nuno asking would the score ever be released,  he was not sure at the time, but thankfully the score is soon to be available on the ever industrious KRONOS RECORDS and for the release the composer has re-recorded a number of the tracks with full orchestra and also a handful of featured solo performances. The soundtrack is a mixture of orchestral and also electronic, the latter does feature quite heavily within the original work but the composer has cleverly utilized orchestral components to enhance and support these synthetic elements and I think has by doing this made them more emotive and striking. Symphonic and synthetic interweave and together they create a sound and also an ambiance that is brimming with ethereal and serene atmospherics that the composer creates via use of strings, falsetto voice, piano, guitar, brass flourishes, choir and a scattering of percussive elements that are lightly dusted and enhanced by an array of half heard sounds and delicate touches.

MV5BMTQ0OTk0MjI5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTg4MjAwNA@@._V1._SX148_CR0,0,148,200_The music is romantically mesmerising, dramatically urgent and also has a side to it that oozes melancholy and hints at vulnerability and fragility, yet at the same time there are a number of interludes that are slightly more upbeat and lighter in their construction and performance, and also a equal number of cues that are lush and quite lavish, I once likened Malo to Morricone and also John Barry, but on listening to this score I have to say this is NUNO MALO, by this I mean he has created his own distinct musical fingerprint and placed it firmly upon this motion picture. If you are yet to discover the delights and the sheer talent of Nuno Malo, then this release is a perfect way in which to acquaint yourself with this brilliant composers music, I am sure that after you have heard this score you will moving on to many others by this Maestro. Presented wonderfully by Kronos and available very soon, why not pre order it now…. Highly recommended.