- Composed by Christopher Young
- Promotional release / 2010 / 37:34
The official Afghan contender for Best Foreign Film, The Black Tulip has attracted a little controversy and proved (unsurprisingly) difficult to shoot, with some of the Western crew members quitting the shoot in fear of their lives. It’s about a family who open a restaurant in Kabul following the fall of the Taliban, only to discover that things are not quite as safe for them as they had hoped. It seems a fairly unusual assignment for Christopher Young, who still spends much of his time writing music for horror movies despite what seemed to be a conscious effort to move away from them a few years ago; and I have to say it doesn’t really sound like anything he has written before. But it’s good – really good.
I am very sorry to say that I don’t know what authentic Afghan music sounds like. Therefore, I am unable to comment definitively on the authenticity of the sound that Young has created; so I can only say that, whether it’s really true or not, it certainly sounds it. Young mixes a small orchestra with ethnic instrumentation and a prominent role for wordless voices (often a solo male and solo female singing off one another), to create an unusual but very impressive sound. There are moments of great darkness but it is striking that running through much of the music is real beauty; particularly the wonderful main theme (“A War Torn Country” is of course slightly anguished, but there is a sense of hope there too, and the voices work notably well). Seven of the album’s eleven cues are called “Poem” (with a subtitle), reflecting the fact that the restaurant around which the film is centred is a place where poets gather – these vignettes all offer something new (extreme sadness in “Sacrifice”, the opposite in “Pride”). It’s a really impressive album – Young doesn’t seem to be nearly as prolific as he once was, and if that’s because he has decided to devote more time to projects that really mean something to him, and the results are as good as this, then that can only be a good thing. For now the score has only been made available as a promotional release – it deserves to be picked up by one of the labels, since it’s one of the most heartfelt of 2010. ****