Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Score Review - A Single Man (Abel Korzeniowski w/ Shigeru Umebayashi)

Because reviewing every one of my DVDs just isn't enough to satisfy the fact that I'm a crazy person.

Buy it if... You want your heart to be broken every few minutes by some of the most gorgeous music written for a film in recent times.

Avoid it if...You dont.

Despite the fact that the majority of 'great' soundtracks come from fantasy or science-fiction films, due to their abundance of thematic material, A Single Man, is that rare soundtrack for a drama that doesn't just 'get the job done' but sticks in your mind for days after having seen the film.
That's not to say that this score is especially bombastic or catchy. It's beauty lies in it's minimalism, and the recollection of the score doesn't involve epic brass fanfares but rather a piano playing soft arpeggios going around and around and around your head.
A good way to explain this would be to tell you that about a year or two ago, I made the mistake of watching Superman Returns before bed whilst indulging in piles and piles of what was effectively pure sugar. Instead of sleeping, I ended up lying in bed all night, shaking, and humming this tune at about 5x it's normal speed:
However, with the Single Man soundtrack, I could quite easily fall asleep fairly quickly (in a good way) and have dreams about trees soaked in the sunset of a summers day blah blah blah blah blah.
The score itself is perfect for the film it accompanies, striking the perfect balance between grief and hope, and giving the listener a rich emotional tie to the main character of the film.
Written by two composers, the surprisingly young Abel Korzeniowski with Shigeru Umebayashi of House of Flying Daggers fame, the soundtrack is remarkably consistent both with itself and the overall tone of the film.
Korzeniowski's leading theme for the film, first stated in Stillness of the Mind, is truely something to behold, sinking deeper and deeper into melancholy as variations are revealed throughout the score. However, like in the film itself, the score offers hope in some of it's unlikeliest passages.
Unlike almost every other film score out there, A Single Man, is purely reactionary. Rather than acting as an emotional failsafe, explaining to the audience what they are supposed to be feeling before they feel it, A Single Man works in absolute harmony with the film, building on rather than introducing, the emotional anchors of the film.
The soundtrack CD also includes a number of songs, even including a beautfiul selection from the opera La Wally. Each of the songs included fit within the 60's setting of the film, although I can't help but feel that (though I know it was featured in the film) the track Green Onions feel massively out of place when put against the rest of the tracks on this release.
Overall, this score is one of the most perfect I have ever heard, even though I usually tend to find drama scores overly repetitive and dull. This album is truely a breath of fresh air, and I would recommend it to anyone,  film score enthusiast or otherwise.

Rating: 9.5

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