- Composed by Daniel Pemberton
- Screamworks Records / 2011 / 55:53
A ghost story set in England in the 1920s, The Awakening is the feature début of writer/director Nick Murphy, whose career until now has been in television. It’s attracted reasonable, if hardly spectacular, reviews but didn’t do much business at the British box office and is yet to be released anywhere else. The film is the first major one for composer Daniel Pemberton, who has done some impressive work in television for well over a decade (and is still only in his early 30s), with his music for the 2010 continuation of Upstairs Downstairs being of particular note. This score, released by Screamworks Records, is also a strong one, likely to bring more attention to the talented young composer. The horror genre has frequently inspired film composers to do good work, and there are various tried-and-tested techniques which have built up over the years. Pemberton employs many of them here, with a lot of music at the subtler end of the scale, designed to send chills through the listener – this it achieves without ever being so unsettling as to be unpleasant, which is good.
Occasionally the music goes all-out in the gothic horror style, with a choir joining in too, though these moments aren’t that common and are not what the score’s really about – with one exception, which is the very powerful “Chorus de Susticatio”. Also of note are the moments with solo female vocalist, which are truly haunting and strangely, coldly beautiful. The score’s highlight is its fabulous main theme, with echoes of Vaughan Williams (via James Newton Howard and The Village) – it’s an impressive piece, with a vintage air to it; its appearances are always welcome. As is clear, this is a score with numerous very impressive features – I wonder whether 55 minutes is a little too long for the album (in its first half in particular there are tracks which don’t seem to really be adding much to the experience – the danger of such tracks is that they actually end up detracting from it), but it’s no big deal. With some of the speciality soundtrack labels falling over themselves to constantly re-release the same Jerry Goldsmith albums, it must be very hard for a score like this one to get any attention, and that’s such a shame – it’s really solid stuff, worthy of a lot of attention. ****