Latest reviews of new albums:
The River Murders
  • Composed by Pinar Toprak
  • Caldera Records / 2014 / 56m

The River Murders is a 2011 direct-to-video murder mystery starring Ray Liotta, Christian Slater and Ving Rhames.  Liotta plays a detective investigating a series of murders who becomes the prime suspect himself.  The music was composed by the Turkish-born Pinar Toprak, whose The Lightkeepers I was very fond of a few years back.  Her compelling score is impressive.  The main theme is introduced in “The River Sorrow”, highlighted by a haunting cello solo; even better is the religious sound presented in the proceeding “The Father, the Son and the Letter”, whose choral stylings bring to mind similar music by the great Georges Delerue.  It’s highly impressive music.  Toprak paints a portrait of a tormented soul: sorrowful, mournful.  It’s frequently very beautiful and culminates in the outstanding “Killing John / The Letter”, which packs quite the emotional punch.  Budgetary constraints meant that (aside from the cello and a solo voice) the score was performed by samples, but to be honest the quality of those samples (and indeed of the music) is so high it took me a few minutes to even notice.

As a bonus, the album also includes the composer’s brief score for 2007’s Sinner, a low-budget drama about a priest and a troubled woman.  Toprak’s music is cut from the same cloth as The River Murders, with another gorgeous main theme this time highlighting violin as well as cello.  There’s a slightly brighter feel this time to some of the music, with a soaring secondary theme of the highest quality.  It’s a very short score but the perfect complement to the album’s main feature.  As has become customary, Caldera’s album ends with an “audio commentary” from the composer, which I think is a terrific idea.  This is a fine album, showcasing impressive music by a very promising composer who is hopefully destined for a very successful career as a film composer.

Rating: **** | |

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