Latest reviews of new albums:
Below Zero
  • Composed by Zacarías M. de la Riva
  • MovieScore Media / 46m

An entertaining if highly implausible Spanish action thriller, Below Zero has proven a huge global hit on Netflix. The film follows a late-night prison transfer which goes very wrong, with an interesting twist coming from the motivation of the character who makes it go wrong. The score is by Zacarías M. de la Riva and is a dark, pulsating modern action piece which is presented well on the well-crafted album (presented out of film order to optimise the listening experience – proving it’s not a dead art after all). It opens with the choppy main theme that has a couple of minutes of driving action material before concluding with just a hint of melancholy. After this there is much action and suspense, much of it appropriately gritty – I love the mechanical sound of “Jackhammer” – and often quite sparse.

Much of the suspense material is very dark, the action grinds away, but the score isn’t all like that. I love the plaintive “Dawn”, which really does play like musical sunlight washing over the darkness that has preceded it when it appears about half-way through the album. It’s a long piece and de la Riva gradually transforms it from that sense of hope back to despair, with some fine action material sandwiched in between. The desperately bleak “Sinking” is followed by a change of mood for the last three tracks – “Confession” is no less dark but there is a release of the tension as the piece goes on, in a way that reminds me of Elliot Goldenthal’s cathartic finale pieces. “Final Resolution” continues in much the same vein before finally, finally there is warmth and emotional closure in its last minute or so, as the strings and horns swell. For the end titles, there’s a great piece called “Martin” (for the policeman at the heart of the story) which is noble and dogged, including a reprise of the opening theme. Below Zero is an extremely dark score which is ultra-atmospheric and supports its film really well – it’s not an easy listen on album at all, but it’s worth it – it’s got depth which is unusual for a film like this, a very distinctive instrumental palette (including a pipe organ alongside an array of percussion and electronics) – I’ve liked everything I’ve heard by this composer and look forward to much more to come.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

Tags: , ,

  1. It‘s quiet in here! Why not leave a response?