- Composed by Guy Farley
- Caldera Records / 2016 / 70m
A talented British composer, Guy Farley has been writing high-quality music for generally lower-profile films for some years now. Capable of writing music of great emotion and drama, I’m surprised he hasn’t found himself attached to some more well-known films – it is surely only a matter of time. Caldera Records has championed his music in recent years and this collection includes music from four different films, linked by a common theme but with a varied approach to their music.
The first is the recent Anthropoid (released in 2016), whose title may make it sound like science fiction but in fact it’s named after the operation it depicts, a mission to assassinate a Nazi general in Prague. For the film Farley wrote a single piece to underscore the dramatic finale and it’s quite a beauty, a choral requiem set to text from Wilfred Owens’s poem “Dulce et Decorum Est”. Seeping with emotion, it’s an impressive achievement.
My favourite score on the album is the outstanding Tula: The Revolt. The film depicts the 1795 slave revolt in the Dutch colony of Curaçao, and again the composer was inspired to write very moving music, none more so than the wonderful opening theme, a vocal featuring but this time accompanying a large orchestra. Some fairly subtle ethnic elements are added (the percussion in “Sign From God” a highlight) but this is large-scale, traditional symphonic music. There is some action (“Fire!” is excellent) and a second excellent theme (“Speranza’s Theme”). According to the booklet notes, the full score runs for 70 minutes and it would be great to hear the whole thing, but I guess the relative obscurity of the film (from 2013) makes that fairly unlikely.
Very different is Irish Jam, from 2006. It’s a fish-out-of-water comedy in which an American unwittingly finds himself as the leader of a community in a small Irish town rising up against a local businessman. The score is heavy on the Irish influence, from lilting traditional ballads to the full-on diddly-eye fiddling and so on. It’s not a style I’ve ever particularly enjoyed, but Farley executes it well. I prefer the more straight dramatic moments, the composer managing to creative some touching emotion from the strings (tracks like “Careful Da” will attract inevitable comparison with James Horner’s celtic-flavoured efforts, even featuring his frequent collaborator Tony Hinnegan). Late on, “I Love You Jimmy” is a beautiful piece where the strings soar and the emotion flows freely; but my favourite track is the rousing “Kathleen Speaks” which follows it, and is truly gorgeous.
Finally comes Dot.Com, a Portuguese comedy about a town with a small website sued by a large Spanish corporation because it shares a name with an international brand of mineral water. The score features some delightful comic vignettes but again Farley manages to inject emotion – the piano-based “Victor Alone” is beautiful, the guitar love theme of “Pedro and Elena” quite delightful. This score’s performed by a small ensemble featuring a band including various Portuguese instruments and I love its real charm.
Indeed, the album as a whole is very impressive – four very different scores which share quality in common. It would make a great introduction to the composer – and I’m actually yet to hear an album of his music I didn’t like, so if you share my enthusiasm for this one then it’s certainly a good idea to explore the rest.