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Once Upon a Time
  • Composed by Mark Isham
  • Intrada / 2012 / 62:54

Once Upon a Time is an American fantasy tv show based around characters from various fairytales – Snow White, Pinocchio, Rumplestiltskin.  In common with 25,000 other shows that have premièred over the past couple of years, it was created by a couple of producers of Lost.  Making a surprise trip into episodic tv is Mark Isham – surprising, because he’s been working regularly in film for a long time, and it seems to be a step down from that.  Perhaps his brief album note about how pleased he is to be scoring something that his young family can enjoy offers an explanation.  His music is the sort of combination of light and dark that you’d expect to find in a show like this – there’s a broad canvas for a composer to paint on.  What is surprising is the lack of genuinely memorable themes – Isham dealing instead with moods and colours.

Fortunately, the moods and colours are generally very enjoyable ones.  The opening “Orchestral Suite” is surprisingly uneventful but it’s not long before there’s some nice material, in the lovely “Belle’s Story”.  This begins a sequence of three tracks that probably make up the album’s finest – “Dwarves” offers some charming comic relief before the noble “The Huntsman”.  “Nice” is the operative word throughout – nice little tunes, nice orchestration, nice warm glow.  (I mentioned a combination of light and dark – but the dark stuff is hardly hard-hitting.)  It’s just a nice album to sit and listen to.  Trouble is, there’s not much substance to it, and not enough of a unique personality – hard to imagine what would make someone pick this up off his shelf ahead of the vast array of scores for similar films that do have unique personalities.  Despite that, it’s an easy album to sit and listen to, it doesn’t wear out its welcome, and sometimes that’s all you want.  *** |

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  1. mastadge (Reply) on Tuesday 3 September, 2013 at 01:07

    James, out of curiosity, have you heard the season 2 soundtrack? I’m very curious whether it’s more of the same or whether it’s a step up from the first.