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Released in 2016/2017, BRIMSTONE is a tale of a wrongly accused mute frontierswoman who is hounded and pursued by a preacher who is intent on making her pay for a crime that she did not commit. Set in the Old west, it is a story that makes one’s emotions rise and also a rather gloom filled tale that makes one side with the girl as she is wrongly accused and then hunted by an obsessed so-called man of God. Directed by Martin Koolhaven, who has made a pretty good western here, which rans alongside films such as THE HATEFUL EIGHT and DJANGO both by Tarantino. It is a storyline that is filled with so many twists and turns but they all come together and make sense in the end culminating in a solid and engrossing thriller, drama, western. The film stars Guy Pearce as the driven and insane Preacher with Dakota Fanning as Liz the young woman he is intent on hunting down.




BRIMSTONE is a classy movie and one that will hold your attention from the moment it opens until the end credits roll, photographed wonderfully and directed with a passion. The movie is in sections, with each one becoming more and more terrible as the storyline moves on or develops. “Revelations” opens the proceedings which takes place around three quarters of the way through the movie, confused? Well don’t be it all comes to fruition in the end. “Exodus” covers the midpoint and “Genesis” provides the credibility the central characters journey. I thought that the film being sectioned up as it were would confuse matters, but surprisingly it makes the story and the movie even more attractive and compelling.

The movie is greatly aided by a score by composer/dj/producer Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL), and although I am kind of late to the party with this one, it is also a score that I would recommend that you take a listen to, I am sad that I had missed this one, but it’s a case of another one getting under the radar in a time when so many soundtracks are released, That is probably one of the good things such as Spotify and even I Tunes, they enable one to get a second chance and search out scores that sometimes you were not aware of. This is a score that I have to say is more melodious than anything else I have heard by this composer, there is a deep and rich heart to the work, yes there are obviously darker and more atonal cues present but is this not just the way things are in film music, because if a score was all sweetness and light it probably would not do much to enhance the movie it was written for.


I am just overwhelmed by the amount of melodious and emotive sounding musical passages within this work, it is filled with delicate and at times intricate nuances that are pleasing and haunting, the accent within many of them being on the poignant and focusing upon purveying the fragility and the emotions of the moments. I have not been a great fan of the composers work as many of his scores are electronic and have to them a crashing and grating persona, which I can’t seem to separate from any actual musical content, I suppose it is a case once again of maybe generation, or even the way in which one perceives music in films. I think I am of the school of thinking that music should be a background but also should underline and bring to the surface the raw emotions that are present in a scene or performance, and at times without music do not manifest themselves. BRIMSTONE is an inventive score and contains clever orchestrations and quirks that add much to not only the film when one is watching, but also makes the listening experience away from the images a more enjoyable one. The score is a fusion of darkness, light, joy and the sombre, and although the sombre content does outweigh the moments that are lighter it is still a great work to listen to. The shadowy areas and interludes are shall we say interesting, low and darkly rich strings work their magic throughout, swelling and flowing to create a thickly sinister but at the same time eloquent sound that is appealing and tantalising.

Track number 22 WATCHING OVER ME, is I think my own personal favourite on the album, a lilting piano solo performs a delicate and beautiful theme which the composer bolsters and enhances via the use of strings, which although slightly overwhelm the piano are not in any way totally overpowering, in fact the strings fade slowly and the piano solo can be heard once again after a minute or so before that to fades and stops completely, we then return to the string section, who are given a powerful but subdued theme to purvey, it is gorgeous and highly affecting, the composer creating an adagio that is heart breaking and totally mesmerising.



The same can be said of the track EXODUS, strings again are utilised and rise and fall within the piece to develop a sound that is more akin to the works of the great masters rather than for a movie score, solo violin is used to fashion a highly emotional sound whilst we hear voices in the background which give this performance an even greater impact. Don’t do as I would have done and see the name Junkie XL and dismiss this score, I recommend that you at least check it out…when you do, I know you will be pleasantly surprised.




DIVERGENT is the most recent movie to enter the arena of  sci-fi adventure movies that have been seen in cinemas recently, THE HUNGER GAMES probably being one of the more successful additions to this growing genre that has young actors in the leading roles. Based upon the novel by Veronica Roth the movie is directed by Neil Burger and is set in a post apocalyptic world that divides its inhabitants into five categories of personality these are Peacefulness, Honesty, Bravery, Selflessness and intelligence. One of the movies central characters Tris, played by Shailene Woodley discovers that she does not fit into any of these categories and thus is a DIVERGENT and is considered a danger to the establishment. The musical score is the work of Tom Holkenborg or JUNKIE XL. Holkenborg was classically trained when he was a child but later moved into electronic dance music which is a field and area of music that he has excelled at both as a performer and a producer. When you take into account his background it is somewhat surprising that DIVERGENT contains a score that is symphonic and somewhat conventional, in fact the melodies that he has created are at times emotive and filled with style and an overall sound that could at times be likened to that of Georges Delerue. There are also a fair amount of cues that contain electronic elements and also a handful that could I think easily be re-worked and re-mixed to make dance tunes that would fill many a dance floor. This is a powerful score, a strident work that includes pulsating and booming percussive elements that act as a rhythmic background to energetic strings with brass stabs and guitar rifts that punctuate the proceedings. The score opens with TRIS, which is an overture of sorts because t contains fragments of the score three major themes, the track opens with a lilting and subdued piano that is punctuated and enhanced by the use of guitars and further underlined by strings which all act as an introduction to a wordless female vocal, that becomes the theme that we will associate with Tris, the vocal is by Ellie Goulding, and it is a haunting almost ghostlike sounding performance but at the same time beautiful and affecting given further depth by the use of struck dulcimer.

Ellie Goulding.

Gouldng’s talent as a singer songwriter is evident but this is a new direction for her and one that adds much to the atmosphere and overall sound of the score, it gives the soundtrack heart and as the track progresses the composer adds percussion and ups the tempo a little giving the piece an almost rock sound, the composition being modern sounding but at the same time thanks to Goulding’s vocals a highly emotive listening experience. Track number three CHOOSING DAUNTLESS begins with subdued strings and a half heard female vocal that ushers in a more aggressive and up beat piece, percussion taking centre stage, until the music breaks and the female vocal returns overpowering the percussion and also allowing guitars and strings to get in on the act, this break is short lived as the percussive elements return with gusto and drive the cue along at break neck speed. The composer introducing various electronic stabs along the way creating a full throttle high octane no let up cue. Track number 4, CAPTURING THE FLAG is an interesting  arrangement of the TRIS theme the composer employing strings to perform the motif that was previously performed by Ellie Goulding, this is a more positive and almost triumphant sounding piece, with guitars again adding punctuation as the track builds and female vocal makes a return at the end of the cue. The score does contain a number of cues that I suppose can be categorised as discordant or un-harmonious, but these too are interesting and inventive. One of my personal favourites from the score is FACTION BEFORE BLOOD, this is a warm and emotion laden piece written for strings, and in many ways evoked Delerue’s rejected theme for PLATOON and Barbers adagio for strings it is rich and full of melody with sliding strings that purvey a sense of sorrow and heartbreak but also hint at romanticism. This style re-merges a few times within the score but is really best heard in the track SACRIFICE it is the same theme but has to it a more pronounced atmosphere of sadness and for me conjured up an atmosphere of solitude add to the strings the distinct vocal performance of Ellie Goulding and this is a heart-breaker of a cue.


Junkie XL.

DIVERGENT is a soundtrack that I must say I really like; the only thing I fear is that many collectors may miss out on its musical excellence and energetic inventiveness simply because they do not know the composer, well my advice is to get to know him, you never know you may even enjoy it.