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Red Sky (Timothy Williams)

August 5, 2014

cover_redskyRED SKY

Timothy Williams, 2014, Lakeshore Records
18 tracks, 25:57

The score for “Red Sky” moves between the USA, Azerbaijan and Russia“, says the composer. Will he be able to deliver an interesting eclectic mix of musical influences?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

“Red Sky” tells the story of disgraced fighter-pilot Butch Masters leading a rogue squad in recovery of a cataclysmic WMD. Upon finding his former partner working for the terrorists, Masters must navigate a fractured friendship, a love triangle, and must take to the red-streaked skies of combat to reclaim his military and personal honor.  The film is directed by Mario Van Peebles.

Mario Van Peebles was very passionately involved with the score, and wanted to focus not just on the action and the espionage, but the relational and emotional music,” said composer Timothy Williams. “For him the quieter cues were as important if not more important than the full on action cues.

British-born composer Timothy Williams‘ name will not yet be too familiar with the casual listener. He’s been writing and co-writing filmscores for some time now and has a healthy working relationship (as an orchestrator and additional composer) with Tyler Bates, having contributed to “300”, “Watchmen” and “Conan the Barbarian”. His solo credits include “Shark Night”, “A Dog’s Breakfast”, “Brazen Bull” and “The Butterfly Circus”. Yes, I picked those somewhat arbitrarily based on their animal-related titles. The latter did win several ‘best film’ awards at smaller film festivals.

What does it sound like?

There aren’t many, if any, surprises here. Though it is noteworthy that Williams treats us to a full orchestral score; performed by the Czech National Orchestra under the baton of Adam Klemens. The score also prominently features guitars (Michael Nielsen, Marc Bonilla) and percussion (Brian Cachia).

The album opens with “Patrol Sabotaged”, featuring string ostinatos, driving percussion and brass hits. There is an attempt at a theme, but at this stage it is too vague to recognise it. The cue is only fifty-five seconds long, but “Mission Compromised” continues in near-enough the exact same style. Dissonant brass crescendos add a sense of drama.

“Airplane Lovers” offers gentle (acoustic) guitar play. Again, there isn’t really a notable theme here; it just sets a really nice, warm atmosphere. The mood is less comfortable, yet still entirely atmospheric, during “Desert Meet”, where tremolo noises, soft strings, synth and faint vocals dominate. In contrast, “Escape from Azerbaijan” is a rather exciting action cue, with plenty of percussion and string ostinatos. I’m still missing a strong theme to carry this score, but the writing is good. Williams does present something of a brass-theme during the second half, but it’s just a tad too elusive for my liking.

“Flight out of Azerbaijan” and “Besh Barmag” are quite nice little cues with a floaty atmosphere. Soft strings and ethnic flutes take the lead. “Russian Wonderment” relies on soft strings and twinkly sounds; whilst cues likes “Mayday” and “First Wave” are more action orientated.

Softer cues and action-packed one keep alternating, though with “Dying in the Sun”, “Requim for the Dead” and “Widow” the album offers a downbeat finale. The album closes with “Red Sky Anthem” which features electric guitars and percussion; and eventually turns into a proper rock song.

Is it any good?

Honest? I can’t see too many getting too excited over “Red Sky”. That said, it’s a solid effort and it’s always great to hear from a relative new-comer. The action material is solid, in keeping with modern trends whilst maintaining a satisfying amount of orchestral involvement. It is clearly a score on a budget, but that actually works in its favour. It forces the composer to be a little more creative with the limited resources he has; and it prevents the overall sound from becoming too overpowering. In a way it reminds me of Joel McNeely’s “Terminal Velocity” which also was a ‘big’ action score performed by a relatively small orchestra. However I do feel that “Red Sky” lacks a strong recognisable theme; and the incredibly short cues prevent the score from building up any sort of momentum. The overal style, including the ethnic influences, is a bit too familiar to get excited about. It’s certainly piqued an interest in Timothy Williams, though his score for “Red Sky” comes with a careful recommendation.

Rating [2.5/5]

Tracklisting

01. Patrol Sabotaged (0.55)
02. Mission Compromised (1.55)
03. Airplane Lovers (1.17)
04. Desert Meet (1.35)
05. Escape From Azerbaijan (2.58)
06. Flight Out Of Azerbaijan (1.35)
07. Mayday (1.10)
08. Besh Barmag (1.58)
09. Through The Desert (1.13)
10. Russian Wonderment (1.04)
11. First Wave (1.36)
12. This Might Be Goodbye (0.43)
13. Jet Chicken (0.56)
14. Toms Death (1.32)
15. Dying In the Sun (1.09)
16. Requiem For The Dead (1.06)
17. Widow (1.09)
18. Red Sky Anthem (2.05)

 

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