Disparue (Frans Bak) and Beyond Beyond (Nicklas Schmidt)
Frans Bak, 2015, PlantSounds
14 tracks, 44:38
Nicklas Schmidt, 2015, PlantSounds
23 tracks, 44:56
There’s a new label on the block, and they’re called PlantSounds. They specialise in Danish film music, if which “Disparue” by Frans Bak and “Beyond Beyond” by Nicklas Schmidt are two recent examples.
Review by Pete Simons
What is “Disparue”? What does it sound like and is any good?
French drama series “Disparue” takes place in Lyon, France, at the night of the annual music festival. This date also marks the 17th birthday of Leah. She and her cousin Chris are out having fun, but in the morning Leah has still not returned. Her father Julien decides to conduct the search for her while his wife, Florence, is doing everything to maintain a semblance of normality. Thomas, the elder brother, is racked with guilt as he promised his mother to escort Leah at home that night, but fate willed it differently.
Frans Bak’s score combines orchestral and electronic elements. The “Main Title” is mostly electronic, with echoing effects and some percussion. There is a recognisable chord progression, but to call it a melody would be a stretch. In contrast, “Lost Love” features piano and cello, against subtle electronic pads. It’s a beautiful, melancholy cue. “In the Park” is a similar, aching cue.
Much of the score revolves around ambient synth sounds, with strings and piano adding acoustic elements. A cue like “Investigation” features rhythmic elements that drive the cue along, whilst “Body in the Water” resorts to avant-garde orchestral techniques to build tension. Towards the end, in “Race Flashback” and the closing moments of “Remembering”, synth and percussion become more prominent.
Overall, I found the album to be quite slow and uneventful. It is a slick score that undoubtedly serves the show well; but away from that show, it is difficult to enjoy. Bak uses some cool, very stylish synth sounds, so if you’re into that sort-of thing, there may be something to enjoy here. That said, “Lost Love” and “In the Park” are two gorgeous cues worth seeking out.
What is “Beyond Beyond”? What does it sound like and is any good?
“Beyond Beyond” is a story about wanting the impossible. A story about a little rabbit boy, not old enough to understand the rules of life, who takes up the fight against the most powerful force. While doing so, he learns more and more about life. This magical film is the second feature length animation film from Esben Toft Jacobsen, and he brought his usual composer Nicklas Schmidt along. This fully orchestral score was short-listed for the prestigious “Grand Scores” award in Berlin.
The album opens with “Mora”, which sounds impressive but musically offers little more than slow, long out-drawn chords. “Once Upon a Time” offers an absolutely lovely melody on the piano. It’s very pretty, but also very delicate as if it could fall apart at any second. “Home at the Sea” is a playful cue where woodwinds take centre-stage. It presents a descending motif that will recur several times throughout the score (e.g. in “A Stormy Meeting”). Other highlights include “The Shore” which features soft strings, piano and a lovely choral performance. “Rabbit Family Adventures” is one of few cues where the music can really soar, with racing strings and lively brass.
Several quirky tracks aside, “Beyond Beyond” is quite a subtle, slow-moving score. It’s beautifully written, but it struggles to really grab your attention (perhaps that says more about me than about the score). There is a crisp, clean and very beautiful sound to “Beyond Beyond”, which is orchestral with choral accents. It is colourfully orchestrated and wonderfully performed. This is a score that generally revolves much more around its ‘colours’ than around themes, though “Once Upon a Time”, “Land Ahoy” and “End Credits” offer beautiful variations on a lovely melody.
01. Disparue (Main Titles) (0.56)
02. Lost love (4.46)
03. Investigation (3.58)
04. Body in the water (2.48)
05. Waiting in Limbo (4.21)
06. Searching for answers (3.37)
07. Swimming (2.28)
08. What once was (2.08)
09. Leafs in the wind (4.07)
10. Farewell (2.41)
11. In the park (3.11)
12. Shadows shifting (3.11)
13. Race flashback (2.23)
14. Remembering (End Credits) (4.03)
Tracklisting “Beyond Beyond”
01. Mora (1.32)
02. Once Upon a Time (2.14)
03. Home at Sea (1.20)
04. Writing a Letter (2.07)
05. Bill’s Island (2.45)
06. A Stormy Meeting (1.25)
07. Sinking (1.54)
08. Realm of the Feather King (1.23)
09. Across the City (0.56)
10. Entering the Well (1.15)
11. The Shore (3.47)
12. Circus (1.47)
13. Together at Last (1.40)
14. A Fatal Dive (1.57)
15. Rabbit Family Adventures (5.03)
16. No Way Out (1.31)
17. Johan Takes Charge (3.32)
18. A New Set of Stairs (2.20)
19. Land Ahoy (1.31)
20. End Credits (1.31)
21. Sneaking Aboard (1.20)
22. Feather Princess (1.12)
23. Starry Night on the Hill (0.54)
For more information about either album, visit the PlantSounds website.