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In Your Eyes (Tony Morales)

July 16, 2014

Cover_InYourEyesIN YOUR EYES

Tony Morales, 2014, Lakeshore Records
20 tracks, 43:15

Romantic and otherwordly; those are the keywords Tony Morales’ uses to describe his score for “In Your Eyes”. Subtle and quiet, says Synchrotones; but is it any good?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Written and executive produced by Joss Whedon (“Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, “The Avengers”), “In Your Eyes” tells a universal story of star-crossed characters. In the frozen East Coast winter, Rebecca (Zoe Kazan) is withering away in a life of cocktail parties and lonely nights as the sheltered, soft-spoken wife of a successful doctor. Across the country in sun-drenched, arid New Mexico, charismatic ex-con Dylan (Michael Stahl David) is struggling to find his footing and a fresh start. When these polar opposites realize they share an inexplicable connection, a unique metaphysical romance begins. Jennifer Grey and Nikki Reed also star in this generally positively received film. The original score is by Tony Morales (“Hatfields & McCoys”, “The Bag Man”), who has played guitar from the age of six. He played in a few bands, before turning to filmmusic and earning a degree in filmscoring from the Berklee College of Music. He attended USC’s Advanced Studies in Film Scoring; and he began his cinematic career at Media Ventures as a staff composer in 1998.

What does it sound like?

Morales’ goal for “In Your Eyes” was to “to come up with a sound that felt romantic and other worldly at the same time. “In Your Eyes” is a love story at its core, but it does have a supernatural angle that was important to express.” About the scoring process Morales says “I like to write themes first in the process to get everyone excited about the sound. Creating an overall sound was the most challenging part. We were very careful not to over play the supernatural part, as it’s not really the foundation of the story. The opening scene was key, because the entire story unfolds after the events that happen in it. So the score had to be confident in its approach right from the get go.”

The score reminds me a little of “Divergent” (the Junkie XL score from earlier this year); though is much, much quieter than that. The perceived resemblance is in part due to the ambient electronic soundscape, the simplicity of the themes and the inclusion of guitar and female vocal; the song-like opening track “In Your Eyes” is a good example of this.

Morales presents a couple of simple wistful ideas. There is a particular phrase for four chords (first heard during the titular track) that returns several times throughout the album. Towards the end of “10pm Date” a see-sawing 7-note piano motif appears. It is instantly reprised in “Did You Ever Go Sledding” and a few more times later. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s very pleasant.

There are a fair few tracks (well, tracks 2-12) that barely make it past the 1-minute mark. They provide a lovely atmosphere with some variations on the themes, but are not really given the chance to develop into anything more substantial. It’s quite a minimal work; and quite typical in how it places ever-so gentle piano lines on top of dreamy synth pads. Only occasionally does the music evolve into something more than that. “Break Up” sees the 7-note theme come to live. Almost with some beats, but Morales just holds back.

“Time To Go To Work” and “Make A Break For It” (and to a slightly lesser extent “On His Way”) are the score’s liveliest cues. In fact… they are proper action cues. Pulsating basses, racing string ostinatos and plenty of percussion are to be found here (even some “Thin Red Line”-type descending strings). And whilst you might think it odd that the album appears to be doing a u-turn, sonically it fits very well with the rest of the score. The piano, the female vocal are still present and any added synth sounds match the soft pads that have dominated the score up to this point.

The album concludes with “Together At Last” which starts off with a lively string rendition of the 7-note theme, though finishes very quietly.

Is it any good?

Tony Morales’ “In Your Eyes” is a lovely and quiet little score. The main ideas are very likeable, but due their subtleness it may require a few listens to actually latch on to them. The overall sound is very pleasant, but your reaction to this score will entirely depend on your general opinion towards this minimalistic style. Some will find it mesmerising as it allows the listener to relax and drift off to the score’s subtle tones. I suspect the music is deliberately understated so not to force any emotions on to the moviegoers (and listeners); though due to the movie’s subject matter it is a predominantly melancholy score. However, some will find it boring seeing as not a lot happens throughout the album. Only towards the end does the volume increase and does percussion add a bit more spice to the music. Personally I enjoyed Morales’ score as it provides a lovely respite from every-day busy live. There is nothing really original here, but what is there does the job; and does it well.

Rating [2.5/5]

Tracklisting

01. In Your Eyes (3.38)
02. Connected (1.19)
03. You’re Real (1.51)
04. It’s Snowing (1.10)
05. 10pm Date (1.36)
06. Did You Ever Go Sledding? (1.20)
07. Mirror (1.42)
08. Kinda Personal (1.59)
09. Look under the Hood (1.08)
10. Rebecca Visits Phil (0.59)
11. Phillip and Rebecca (1.02)
12. I Should Go (0.54)
13. Quirks and Insecurities (2.29)
14. Rebecca Is Having an Affair (1.59)
15. Break Up (4.22)
16. Rebecca Put In Hospital (1.22)
17. Time to Go To Work (3.46)
18. On His Way (5.33)
19. Make a Break for It (2.22)
20. Together At Last (2.44)

 

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