Tag Archives: BENJAMIN WALLFISCH

STEPHEN KINGS, IT, (2017).

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The music for the latest version of Stephen Kings IT, is the work of the popular and accomplished composer Benjamin Wallfisch. The score is an interesting and a haunting one, it contains some beautiful themes and as one would expect a fair amount of music or musical sounds that I suppose can be deemed as being atonal. However, I must say that this is a horror score with a difference as the composer has constructed some highly emotive pieces and some beautiful melodies along the way. The score is one that will please and delight many soundtrack collectors as it is for the most part fully symphonic, with electronic support being just that, “support” and not overshadowing or overpowering the conventional instrumentation at all, yes the synthetic elements do at times come into their own to create jarring affects that accompany moments of violence or sheer dread and the somewhat grating effects during moments of horror lend their attributes perfectly to the job of creating that somewhat blurry and fuzzy sound that is perfect to accompany these sequences. In many ways, the work for me personally evoked memories of the music of Jerry Goldsmith, the composers use of the string and brass sections being forthright and powerful, Wall Fisch also enlists the aid of children’s voices who perform a rather sinister sounding version of the ORANGES AND LEMONS nursery rhyme. But it’s not all sweetness and light as the lilting and initially comforting rhyme, transforms and alters into a sinister and threatening sound that is filled with foreboding, apprehension and virulence, at one point the line HERE COMES A CHOPPER TO CHOP OFF YOUR HEAD, being spoken over and over, gaining momentum and being distorted whilst at the same time being enhanced by swirling and racing strings that are punctuated and embellished by percussive elements and growling brass, this style is pronounced and first heard in the tracks RIVER CHASE and more evident in the cue EGG BOY. To say that this music is scary is something of an understatement, listening to it alone through headphones I would not recommend, but saying this in my opinion this is written in the style of all good classic horror soundtracks, lots of stabs, jumps and rasping brass underlined by racing percussion that booms and thunders along whilst the string section works overtime with driving compositions and searing slices of mayhem that weave in and out of the proceedings, cutting in and out with jagged and harsh hisses at times, creating an atmosphere that is urgent, unsettling and stressful.

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This mood is given more support using distorted voices and solo voice performances which are harrowing as well as uncomfortable, but their inclusion is vital and they become an essential part of the scores make up. I think it is the inclusion of these bursts of ORANGES AND LEMONS, sung by children that makes this work even more sinister and fearful, because hearing the nursery rhyme makes one feel safe, but saying this there are still shivers going up one’s spine when they are being performed. This is a score that contains music that you will want to return to many times to savour the sheer creativity and original writing of Benjamin Wallfisch, it is also a score that contains music that will in plain and simple terms scare the pants off you. The music from IT, can be romantic or calming in one moment and purveys warmth and security, then in the next heart stopping second becomes, something that you really do not want to be alone with, and that I suppose is the perfect recipe for a horror movie score. The music serves the film wonderfully, but also can stand alone away from the movie and remain entertaining. The composer has created a classic work, and a work that I think will be popular amongst soundtrack aficionados. This dark, unrelenting, brooding and apprehensively melancholy sounding score is highly recommended.

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BITTER HARVEST.

 

 

Set in Ukraine during the 1930, s this compelling movie tells the story of Stalin’s ambitious and horrifying program to further establish the Communists within the Kremlin and his starvation of the Ukrainian people. It is probably one of the most overlooked tragedies and atrocities of the 20th Century, the movie deals with honour, love and rebellion and probably most of all survival. Yuri (Max Irons) a young artist attempts to save his lover Natalka (Samantha Barks) from the death by starvation program instigated by Russia, which killed millions of Ukrainians. The film directed by George Mendeluk, is chillingly realistic and stars Terence Stamp, Barry Pepper, and Gary Oliver as Stalin. The film acts as an unsettling reminder that things often do not change in this world of ours and history often has an unsavoury habit of repeating itself.

The affective and emotive musical score is the work of acclaimed composer Benjamin Wallfisch, the composer who has always been in much demand has been extremely busy of late and has recently written the scores for HIDDEN FIGURES and A CURE FOR WELLNESS. Collaborating with Hans Zimmer and Pharrel Williams on the former. The score for BITTER HARVEST is as one can imagine quite removed stylistically from both of those titles, it is lush and romantic but at the same time dramatic and darkly powerful. Overflowing with a richness and a lavish persona, but as I say underpinned with an almost apprehensive and foreboding atmosphere. It is certainly a work that after just an initial listen I would recommend to any self-respecting collector of quality film music. It has about it a commanding and attractive aura, its musical content encompassing, the sinister, the volatile, the emotive and poignant, with hints and touches of the melancholy. The opening cue, RUSALKA, begins with a solo violin which is accompanied and supported by accordion and balalaika, which are themselves augmented by strings, the theme develops and grows with strings being given more prominence and these are also bolstered by choir and woodwinds that carry the theme forward. The beautiful and haunting theme continues to build but never reaches a crescendo, in many ways it is its fragility and subdued sound that makes it even more attractive, lower, and richer sounding strings then are brought into the equation, and the composer gives the piece greater depth and impact via faraway sounding horns that add a sense of loneliness, but at the same time gives the cue richness and warmth.

 

The score for me is a step back to the vintage sounds of Hollywood, by this I mean expansive and epic sounding with hints and nods of acknowledgements to classical composers, fully symphonic with maybe a few synthetic elements which the composer combines masterfully and manages to incorporate some ethnic sounding passages within the score at key points. There are a few cues that are based upon Ukrainian folk songs which I found very appealing and these mixed with the epic sounding score are effective as well as affecting. This is a score that you should add to your collection ASAP, Highly recommended.