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THE HOME OF DARK BUTTERFLIES
Simple, moving score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Epician Audio Ltd; review copyright (c) 2009 James Southall.
A group of youths are put on an island to be given a tough rehabilitation programme in The Home of Dark Butterflies, an adaptation of the novel by Leena Lander. Dome Karukoski's film has not received much of a release outside its native Finland, but its score is another discovery by Mikael Carlsson for his MovieScore Media label, which has been releasing interesting music from films which are not widely-known for several years now. The Finnish composer, Panu Aaltio, has worked on some television projects and done orchestration for Tuomas Kantelinen; this was his first solo film score.
Aaltio's music is very different from what I imagined - this sort of film would ordinarily be accompanied by hip-hop nonsense; and the gritty front cover certainly didn't lead me to expect much different (though of course, the fact that it's released by this label did). In fact the score is very beautiful, recorded with an orchestra of strings in London and a couple of pianos. The ideas are generally simple - indeed, much of the score is based around a wonderful main theme, which pulsates with life.
Aaltio rather oddly describes his music as being minimalist; while there are certainly minimalist tendencies (and there are certain similarities with Michael Nyman's most luscious work) generally this is romantic music. It's completely lovely - blessed with a hopeful spirit, and both the main theme and the less-heard secondary theme are memorable and moving. But there's not a great deal of material here - at 43 minutes, the repetition isn't especially problematic, and this is usually a very effective (and surprisingly little-used, these days) technique of film scoring; just don't expect anything too substantial. It's very well-composed, highly-listenable music and so I have no hesitation in recommending the album. Especially towards the end ("The Past Revealed" and "We Can Be Just as Fragile") there is some really moving material here and it's good to be reminded that sometimes a simple idea can be one of the most effective in film music.