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The Curse of Sleeping Beauty (Scott Glasgow)

July 17, 2016

Cover_CurseOfSleepingBeautyTHE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY

Scott Glasgow, 2016, MovieScore Media
22 tracks, 60:39

Call me nostalgic, but I miss horror scores that relied on a strong theme, great writing and all kinds of ‘avant garde’ techniques. This is such a score!

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Directed by Pearry Teo, The Curse of Sleeping Beauty is a dark re-imagining of the classic Brothers Grimm story. Thomas Kaiser (Ethan Peck) inherits a mansion that has been in his family for generations, only to learn that he has also inherited an ancient curse dating from the age of the crusades. Forced into his new role as ‘protector’, the guardian appointed to keep the evil demons in the house at bay, Thomas must unravel the mystery of the house, while struggling to awake the beautiful Sleeping Beauty (India Eisley).

What does it sound like?

“The gothic fantasy / horror film The Curse Of Sleeping Beauty has music that is exotic / otherworldly combined with gothic horror orchestral gestures” explains the composer. “There is a blend of religiousness using choir singing Latin adaptations of liturgical text transformed to fit the film subject which is combined with exotic instruments such as the Tibetan ‘kangling’ (Bone Trumpet) and Aztec ‘death flute’. There is also the traditional orchestra and sorrowful cello solos that balance the two worlds of the film.”

There’s a lush, devilishly seductive main theme that, at times, reminds of Christopher Young – particularly something like his Hellraiser theme (and especially in “Kaiser Garden Search”, where it’s performed on thin strings with harp and piano accents).

In an unusual collaboration with MovieScore Media’s producer Mikael Carlsson, Scott Glasgow was able to utilize the voices of Swedish choir Johannebergs Vokalensemble for the recording of the score. Also, for the film’s surreal film sequences, Carlsson himself provided the countertenor solos. The CD release of the score contains extensive liner notes by the composer, including the text for the Latin chants.

The way Glasgow builds suspense, often through rising chords, tends to remind me of Goldenthal’s work on Interview with the Vampire. Some of the vocal work certainly reminds of the Goldenthal (from the very first cue “Somnium 1”).

In terms of orchestrations, Glasgow relies heavily on strings, with an emphasis on solo cello, and choir. I suspect some if not much of the score is sampled  (with the choir, cello and maybe a couple of other instruments being ‘live’), though it’s only occasionally that this becomes obvious. I guess this is the curse of ever-improving sample libraries: film-makers know they can get an orchestral score without paying for an orchestra. Glasgow does a stellar job though combining the libraries with live recordings, and delivers a slick and seductive Gothic score.  The aleatoric passages (and there are plenty of them) are at once convincing, frightening and… make you wish that more film-makers would dare to ask for this kind of music. The score’s final few cues should be heaven for horror-fans, as frenzied strings and brass create a wonderful mayhem.

Particularly impressive and attractive are the choral passages, which occasionally feature the tenor talents of Mikael Carlsson, a composer himself as well as the producer of this album. The four “Somnium” cues are downright gorgeous, as are “The Chamber” and the constantly building “Dies Irae”.

The album closes with “Thomas’ Theme”. Fragments of it have been appearing throughout the score, but that may not become obvious until you’ve heard the theme in full. It’s a lovely cue for piano and heartfelt cello, though its resemblance to Enya’s “Boadicea” is a little distracting.

Is it any good?

Scott Glasgow has put together a devilicious Gothic score, that should appeal to fans of Young, Goldenthal and Beltrami, as the composer relies heavily on avant-garde / aleatoric writing. It’s an orchestral score, with a strong emphasis on strings and particularly the cello. For additional chills, Glasgow utilises indigenous instruments with terrifying names like a Tibetan ‘bone trumpet and the Aztec ‘death flute’. The score’s most intriguing and appealing element is undoubtedly the choir. Glasgow was able to use the Swedish choir ‘Johannebergs Vokalensemble’, featuring Mikael Carlsson as counter-tenor. More than anything, it gives this score its unique, pseudo-religious, character. It is a little bit of a shame that parts of the score had to be sampled (budget constraints, presumably), but it’s greatly reassuring that there are still film-makers out there who want this kind of music, and that there are still composers out there who can deliver it.

Rating [4/5]

Tracklist:

01. Somnium I (2:59)
02. The Curse of Sleeping Beauty (2:30)
03. The Chamber (4:35)
04. Thomas’ World (1:57)
05. Linda (2:26)
06. Somnium II (3:36)
07. Mysterious Inheritance (3:46)
08. Exploring the Basement (2:31)
09. Moon Cypher (1:39)
10. Kaiser Garden Research (2:42)
11. Somnium III (2:15)
12. Mannequins (3:41)
13. The Jinn (1:49)
14. Billing’s End (2:55)
15. Connections (4:26)
16. Somnium IV (3:16)
17. Gateway to Darkness (2:06)
18. Descent into Hell (3:50)
19. Confront the Demon (1:53)
20. The Awakening (2:17)
21. Dies Irae (1:40)
22. Thomas’ Theme (1:52)

For more information, samples and purchase options, visit MovieScore Media‘s website.


Review (C) 2016 Synchrotones

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