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Revenge
  • Composed by Izler
  • Intrada / 2013 / 65m

A surprisingly entertaining show, Revenge is full of twists and turns and shocks as it tells the story of a young woman who wants to avenge the rich family in the Hamptons she believes were responsible for her father’s death.  It doesn’t realy matter that it’s full of highly-implausible material, it’s all about the entertainment value – a glossy, expensive soap opera satisfying the Desperate Housewives audience (would I embarrass myself to note that said audience includes me?)

Music plays a surprisingly prominent role in the show, high in the mix, with identifiable themes that recur throughout the series.  It’s quite distinctive, largely orchestral and highly entertaining too.  It’s composed by the Czech-born Izler (I’m not sure why he only has one name) and is his most high-profile project to date (he’s previously scored a few episodes of Shameless and some independent films – more of his work previously has been in songwriting).  There are of course some exceptions but I don’t think television music is going through a very good period at the moment so it’s really good to see something like this with a live orchestra and identifiable themes.

Izler

Izler

Intrada’s album presents music from the first two seasons.  It begins with an extended version of the opening title theme, titled “Mortal Vindication”, which sets the tone very well for the music and indeed the show as a whole, the noirish dramatic theme twisting its way round, elegant strings accompanied by dark percussion and synth textures.  ”Lose Your Compassion” is an exciting, energetic action piece, the orchestra joined by guitar and drums – it’s impressive stuff, fast-paced and dynamic.  The third cue, “Previous Investments”, is more low-key, but even here the music proves compelling, interesting textures and a stabbing, tense action ostinato emerging along with brief bursts of the main theme on piano.

“Destiny” paints in broad strokes, and introduces for the first time a dramatic motif that accompanies many of the show’s more high-octane moments, before settling down to a lovely, more slow-paced piano solo.  ”The Wrong Amanda” introduces the Emily and Aiden Theme, a multi-layered theme which on the one hand feels quite warm-hearted with just a hint of romance, on the other has a definite tragic air.  ”Who is the Falcon?” is a slightly John Powell-style tense action piece, modern and entertaining.

“Meet the Graysons” cleverly contrasts a surface-level inviting feel with an underlying darkness.  ”The Christening” is far less subtle, telegraphing that all is not what it seems with its tension-laden strings.  ”Tyler Goes Nuts” sees electronics coming more to the fore, laying down an uncomfortable atmosphere before the choppy strings kick in.  ”Return to the Fire and Ice Ball” is another piece in the series’ familiar action style, before a Japanese flavour is heard at the beginning of “Don’t Say a Word”, which turns out to be one of the album’s more tragic pieces, a beautiful violin and piano duet the highlight.  That dramatic arc continues into “The Marriage of Jack and Fuaxmanda”, whose central melodic material is very beautiful, but again there’s a feeling of worse times to come; that said, the soaring string material which ends the track is very beautiful.

There’s an immediate contrast with the dark action music of “Honour Thy Father”, then a lengthy sequence subtitled “SOS Theme”, containing two tracks (“High Tension Boating” and “The Sinking”), where the action material reaches explosive proportions for a while (and the rhythmic pattern going through it is in fact “SOS” in Morse Code).  The lengthy “Requiem for Amanda” is a very moving piece, full of emotion; and the dramatic sweep continues into “Sins of the Mother” and then “Farewell Fauxmanda”, which is no less flushed with emotion, but it’s done more gently here.

“Darkness” sees the main action theme return as the drama starts to propel forward more switfly again, reaching a head in “Stabbed in the Back”.  The delicate “A Farewell to Porters” precedes the cathartic seven-minute “I Am Amanda Clarke” and the brief but dramatic climax, “Adagio for Emily / Let It Play”.  Revenge is really smart modern television music (probably my favourite since Michael Giacchino’s Lost) and Intrada has put out a smartly-produced album, arranged out of sequence to give a fine dramatic flow.  Izler is clearly a talented composer and this is an excellent album.

Rating: ****

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