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Shaun the Sheep Movie (Ilan Eshkeri)

June 20, 2015
Shaun The Sheep Movie

Shaun The Sheep Movie

SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE

Ilan Eshkeri, 2015, Silva Screen Records
26 tracks, 54:46

It’s shear entertainment! There, pun done. Shaun heads out in the city, accompanied by smiley songs and a colourful score by Ilan Eshkeri. That doesn’t sound too…. baaaaad?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

A bit like Babe before him, Shaun the sheep leaves the farm and heads out into the big city. Shaun’s a lot funnier though (I mean… “Babe in the City” is one of the most depressing films I’ve ever seen, and yes I have seen “Schindler’s List”. Wow, it’s not often you see Shaun, Babe and Schindler referenced in the space of two sentences!)

“Shaun the Sheep” is an Aardman creation (he originally featured in “Wallace & Gromit”, before getting his own spin-off show) and first aired on television back in 2007.  After four series they dediced to make this movie. Mark Burton and Richard Starzak direct. It’s their directorial debut, but they have previously been involved with “Chicken Run”, “Madagascar”, “Canimals” and various other productions. For the score they turned to Ilan Eshkeri (who hasn’t ignored the original theme tune by Mark Thomas).

What does it sound like?

The score for “Shaun the Sheep Movie” is a colourful and eclectic affair. Eshkeri presents his own original theme in “Humdrum Day”. It’s quite similar to the original tv-theme, possibly following the same – or similar – chord progression. Folksy orchestrations (banjo, accordian, violin, light percussion) accompany the whistled theme. It’s an upbeat tune with a nonchalant character, courtesy of its rather slow pace. It recurs several times throughout the score signifying Shaun’s travels and adventures.

Eshkeri also offers an evil/action motif, first heard in the guitar-heavy “Trumper” (the film’s antagonist – an animal warden who despises animals). It returns a few times during the second half of the album. Whilst the score maintains its comedic character (expect a fair bit of mickey-mousing) it becomes increasingly more orchestral as the album goes on. The first half is dominated by various folk instruments, whilst the second half contains some exciting (and dramatic) writing for full orchestra. “Showdown at the Quarry” is an excellent cue for racing strings, dramatic brass chords and heroic passages featuring Eshkeri’s main theme… such as shame he couldn’t hold that theme a little longer, as that would have made it a most satisfying action cue. That said, it receives a very satisfying treatment in “Caravan Ride Home” (trumpet over banjo, strings and whistling). There’s also a really cute secondary melody in “Beauty Parade” and “Goodbye Slip”.

Though the entire score plays to the comedy that unfolds on screen, several cues are particularly parodic. “Trumper” is partially a heavy metal track with screaming electric guitars; whilst “Le Chou Brule” is fast-paced, carnivalesque cue for ‘crazy’ pianos and various zany whistles and sound effects. Compared to other Aardman scores this one is (overall) much more modern, with plenty of groovy and poppy parodies – just listen to the bassline in “Runaway Caravan” or the Isaac Hayes-like “You’re Mine”.

The album features a couple of songs, most notably the upbeat “Feels Like Summer” by Tim Wheeler, Ilan Eshkeri and Nick Hodgson. It’s a catchy, Brit-poppy tune for strumming guitars, drum kit and vocals. The “Baa Baa Shop Quintet” version of that song is equally (or even more) enchanting – I find the harmonies and spatial arrangement really quite beautiful. Elsewhere, Rizzle Kicks have remixed the original tv theme in “Life’s a Treat”.

Speaking of the original tv theme – Eshkeri does deploy it several times throughout the score, most notably in: “Shaun’s Farm House Party” (banjos, accordian and whistling) and  “Shaun’s Mission” (whistling, folk instruments and piano; even with a hint of “Feels Like Summer” mixed in).

Is it any good?

Ilan Eshkeri’s score for “Shaun the Sheep Movie” is as colourful and eclectic as it is casual. Due to the nature of the film, it is a little too zany and too fragmented to make for a really great stand-alone listening experience (though… John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams managed it with “Chicken Run” and Julian Nott with “Curse of the Where Rabbit”, though I think “Shaun” has always been a little bit different – even the original tv tune has this ‘Madchester’ vibe to it).

You would think it was inevitable for the original theme to appear in the movie’s score, but it still feels like a pleasant surprise that it’s actually there! Eshkeri does a grand job at keeping in tune with the folksy arrangements, relying heavily on banjo, accordion, light percussion and whistling. He introduces a few new thmes of his own, with Shaun’s ‘travelling’ theme being particularly charming. The orchestrations become denser throughout the second-half of the album, where the composer finds a nice balance between folksy mickey-mousing and satisfying orchestral performances.

As I’m usually into scores that are a little more demanding, emotionally speaking, I am not sure how often I would realistically revisit “Shaun the Sheep Movie”, but it is a really well written, well-orchestrated and well-produced album. It is really flocking good fun, and houses some catchy melodies.

Rating [3/5]

Tracklisting

01. Feels Like Summer – Tim Wheeler (3.00)
02. Humdrum Day (2.30)
03. Shaun’s Plan (2.00_
04. You’re Mine – Chad Hobson (3.40)
05. Shaun’s Farm House Party (1.17)
06. Runaway Caravan (3.19)
07. Anarchy on the Farm (1.17)
08. Shaun’s Mission (1.22)
09. Doctor Bitzer (2.09)
10. Trumper (1.32)
11. Big City – Eliza Doolittle (3.19)
12. Le Chou Brulé – Sally Heath (0.53)
13. Gaol House Blues (1.12)
14. Beauty Parade (1.49)
15. Gaol Break (2.53)
16. Finding the Farmer (2.40)
17. Building the Horse (2.04)
18. Feels Like Summer – The Baa Baa Shop Quintet (1.43)
19. Trumper on the Scent (1.00)
20. Go to Sleep Counting Sheep (1.43)
21. Panto Horse Chase (1.44)
22. Caravan Ride Home (1.34)
23. Showdown at the Quarry (4.37)
24. Goodbye Slip (1.00)
25. Feels Like Summer (Instrumental) – Tim Wheeler (1.49)
26. Life’s a Treat (Shaun the Sheep Theme) (Rizzle Kicks Mix) – Vic Reeves (2.40)

Availability

It’s everywhere!

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