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All Is Lost
  • Composed by Alex Ebert
  • Community Music / 2013 / 45m

Written and directed by J.C. Chandor, All Is Lost stars Robert Redford as a man lost at sea in a little lifeboat.  His character has no name; he is given no backstory.  Critics love it; few have gone to see it.  The sparse score is by Alex Ebert, a singer-songwriter known as being the lead singer of the bands Ima Robot and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  He is credited on the album cover simply as “Alexander”, perhaps in an attempt to draw in fans of the great Greek emperor who may be confused into thinking he’s scored a Robert Redford movie.  In fact Ebert’s music doesn’t sound much like I imagine Alexander the Great’s would have sounded, had he scored the film – I can imagine much pomp and circumstance – instead it’s largely naturalistic, ambient though not entirely unmelodic.

Soloists weave into and out of the musical fabric – a subtly groaning voice, a whistle, a guitar.  Noises float around others – water effects, clanging metal.  There’s a “theme” of sorts in the opening cue, “Excelsior”, which is constructed in a way that suggests its composer had been listening to a little Ennio Morricone and more than a little Angelo Badalamenti.  Other melodies occasionally follow, alternating with a kind of atmospheric drone.  It’s quite distinctive and quite evocative, but doesn’t really work as a standalone album: take the cue “The Infinite Bleed”, which lasts eight and a half minutes and mixes percussive shakes and processed whalesong and a maddening repeating string figure – it probably works brilliantly in the film, but unless you have a very long beard and wake up every morning never remembering anything about the previous day then you’re pretty unlikely to derive much satisfaction from it away from the film.  Kudos to Ebert for doing something different, and for writing music that makes it very easy to imagine the mental torture the character is going through, but I imagine most people who do end up enjoying this album are not the type of people who visit this website.

Rating: ** | |

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  1. TDidz927 (Reply) on Thursday 9 April, 2015 at 15:22

    I have not hear this score, but I’m listening to the composer’s work on A Most Violent Year. A short, but oddly enjoyable score. Worth a listen!