Joep's Arthouse Scores

November 2007

I work at a local Arthouse cinema which depends entirely upon volunteers and I've been having a very weird feeling this November of 2007. So much fresh or special sounding scores passed by while watching films in there, that I had begun to get slightly scared. It all started with Philippe Sarde's minimalism for Les Témoins, a score that isn't especially appealing for its originality but above all for its warm and honest sound. Next in line was the Argentinian Crónica de una Fuga, with a score by Iván Wyszogrod. In this film, a man is kidnapped in 1977 by mercenaries of the fascistic government of Argentina and held hostage for years, but at last, he manages to escape. The composer based his score on atmospheric sounds, and intensified situations with really special use of rhythm and percussion, reaching gripping suspenseful heights. Sound design and score are in great symbiosis.

Then two European films amazed me because of their magnificent warmth and melodic quality; Azuloscurocasinegro (score: Pascal Gaigne) and Anche Libero Va Bene (score: Band Osiris). Both were released on disc, unlike the other three scores mentioned in this piece. Gaigne's score is a very inspiring and gentle with a lot of counterpoint techniques and minimalism. It features a leitmotiv, played by ostinato woodwinds and string chords and in counterpoint by piano and harp, creating the greatest kind of warmth you could imagine. It's very tempting to just keep playing the cd, again and again, that's how engaging it is. Sometimes Gaigne accentuates dramatic parts by using a softly playing cello and this just emphasizes the overall honesty of the music. Anche Libero Va Bene is somewhat more simplistic as far as the music is concerned. Band Osiris is an Italian band consisting of four players who've done a lot music for theatre and radio in their homecountry and occasionally did a film. Basically, they've written an easy-listening score with pulsating beats and rhythms, performed by light brass and woodwind instruments, making the realistic family drama more digestible. Small sounding scores often proove to be real charms. The music doesn't really want to support the emotional world of the young boy or the rest of his family really, but instead sort of floats around like interludes.

And last but not least, I saw a Dutch picture called Wolfsbergen with a score by Loek Dikker, who's one of the best composers in my country, and even enjoys fame in some foreign countries thanks to various filmprojects and the Beethoven project in Germany. The director of this film (Nanouk Leopold) has a style that demands someone to look closer and examine the little details and characters, with long shots and enough time to absorb things... Dikker wrote the music in front of principal photography for 3 altviolins, 2 celli and a contrabass. The score is used as source music in the film, played on a cd player as classical background music and one time played by an practising ensemble. Leopold thought music was inappropriate for most of the film, and these few moments where there is any, it only creates a certain atmosphere that felt right for the scene. Dikker thought it couldn’t underline the still images and would only interfere. If you'd expect a long score from a good composer like Dikker, you might be dissapointed with this one. But considering what could have been ruined by music, a good decision. In Guernsey, her previous film, music was only introduced at the end of the film, while in Wolfsbergen the first non source score was introduced around the same time.

Written by Joep de Bruijn