- Composed by Alexander Cimini
- Kronos Records / 2014 / 47m
Red Krokodil is an Italian film placing the physical decline of a drug-addled man within the metaphorical setting of a post-apocalyptic, Chernobyl-like city. It was directed by Domiziano Cristopharo and received a home video release in America in 2012. Alexander Cimini’s fascinating, consistently brilliant score alternates between two worlds – first is the harsh, often abrasive and deliberately confused-sounding music which has a great hallucinatory quality to it, combining dissonant orchestral sounds with some electronic ones. This style is used to open the album in the extremely bleak “C_age”; later “Endless Roads” is a much more mellow trip, chilled-out electronica and piano. Interestingly, both of those cues were actually written by the composer for earlier projects, as was the later “W(t)omb”, which begins as a contemplative piece more in keeping with the score’s second side (about which more in the next paragraph) but soon becomes another ferocious display of orchestral technique in an onslaught of psychological terror. The CD release (though not the digital one) includes a track by another composer, Gabriele Verdinelli, which pushes the boundaries of dissonance still further, and while it does sound somewhat distinct from Cimini’s compositions is not out of place.
The score’s other side is a complete surprise and quite a gorgeous one, a dreamlike but rapturously beautiful set of compositions that are outrageously moving. “Red Krokodil Main Theme”, the second cue, is nothing short of stunning – a Morricone-style melody for violin and orchestra (with a subtle vocal accompaniment at one point) – the kind of piece I just want to play again and again. The following “Alone” is heartbreakingly sad, “My Wounded Body” even more so, a piercingly emotional requiem. “My Little Green Crocodile” is back in the territory established by the main theme, a violin solo again highlighting the rich melody, taken up again in the later “Reflection in the Water”, which leaps into the most delightful concert-style symphonic setting. The score’s two sides come together to some extent in “My Mind”, beginning empty and dark but gradually filling with more beauty. The “Prologue” (placed in the middle of the album) has a somewhat childlike lullaby quality, a beautiful innocence to it. Sunlight finally appears in the expansive finale “The Window”, full of yearning and passion. It’s magnificent. But the album isn’t quite over yet because there’s a considerable bonus track in the form of a seven-minute piece Cimini wrote for the film Hyde’s Secret Nightmare, the wonderful “Passion and Love?” which is intense and more than lives up to its name. Red Krokodil is an unusual album in some ways with the meshing of the stunningly beautiful, entirely lyrical original music the composer wrote for the film with some extremely challenging cues from elsewhere, but it really does work. This release is one of my favourite albums of the year and if you’re looking for something off the beaten track that is interesting, moving and extremely rewarding then you need look no further.
Rating: **** 1/2