Latest reviews of new albums:
Breathe
  • Composed by Nitin Sawhney
  • Var√®se Sarabande / 2017 / 42m

Breathe is a biopic of Robin Cavendish, who was given 28 days to live when he was diagnosed with polio (and paralysed from the neck down) in 1958.¬† He became a great advocate for the disabled and helped many around the world – and went on to live for 36 years, not 28 days.¬† The film – which stars Andrew Garfield – is the directorial d√©but of Andy Serkis, who for the score has turned to the multifaceted British composer Nitin Sawhney, who has written numerous tv and film scores but is perhaps better known for his studio albums.¬† His unusual score opens with the sound of British coastal towns of the 1950s (the seaside) in “Robin’s Drive”, and there is a light romantic sound to the early cues until this is rudely interrupted by the dark “Doesn’t Want to See the Baby”.¬† Throughout, it is a score of contrasts, and the occasional darkness is put up against a number of other styles, like the comic “Moving the Bed”.

A beautiful romantic theme that is instantly reminiscent of John Barry is introduced in “Arrival Home” and it – along with its even better reprise later in the stunning “Telling the Doctor It’s Time” – is the highlight of the score.¬† The album is made up essentially of a large number of little vignettes – 29 tracks span just 42 minutes – and while each of them is done well (there’s not a track on the album that isn’t) it makes for a rather odd, disjointed listening experience.¬† Another oddity is that while the music is played predominantly by an orchestra (with frequent piano solos), this is often augmented not just by electronic sounds but by samples – real strings are accompanied by sampled strings, which sounds strange and doesn’t do it any favours.¬† Having said all that – when it comes together, it really comes together.¬† The florid, dreamlike main theme – the outstandingly colourful “Travelling to Spain” – the ravishingly emotional “Goodbye-ee” – there are some top-drawer moments here.¬† The journey from romance through tragedy to inspiration is navigated with care, and it’s certainly an enjoyable album.

Rating:
***
Unusual but impressive drama score

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  1. Justin Boggan (Reply) on Sunday 15 October, 2017 at 22:21

    Actually, he turned to Ilan Eshkeri first. Then he turned to Nitin. No idea what happened with Eshkeri.