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THE LAST WINTER
Evocative, chilly music is a fine portrait of icy beauty and terror
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Last Winter Productions, LLC.; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
A horror thriller set in the Arctic Tundra, Ron Perlman plays an oil man tasked with building a digging platform... but one by one his team turns up dead. A classic scenario for this type of thing, Larry Fessenden's low-budget movie was well-received, but got only the most limited of releases so it remains little-seen. For the music, he wanted an unorthodox approach, with the main composer (Jeff Grace) handling the bulk of the scoring duties, but a different one (Anton Sanko) working independently on what is billed as "ambient music" to represent the mental strain of the characters. It's pretty rare that two composers work independently on different aspects of a film score, but it has worked pretty well in this case.
Grace's score is a mixture of quite sublimely beautiful moments and ice-cold, chilling tension. It opens with the former - "North" presents the superb main theme, performed by string quartet, and capturing the beauty of the snowy landscape quite perfectly. There's something about the vast expanse of white that can often inspire composers - and here, of course, Grace doesn't just have to reflect its beauty but also its cold loneliness and desperation, and "The Tundra" - with piercing strings - quickly does just that. It's very effective - obviously less immediately endearing to the listener, but it's an important part of the package that means the romantic payoffs Grace delivers at intervals through the score function more powerfully. In "Something's Off", the tension could be cut with a knife, as Grace uses age-old film composer techniques (most recently heard in Giacchino's Lost music) very well indeed.
Sanko's textural cues fit in well with Grace's coldest cuts - they wouldn't do much on their own, but as part of the whole they're effective. Indeed, the overall mixture between the chilling suspense music and the icy beauty works very well and is handled particularly deftly. As the album comes to an end, the two cues "I'm Home" and "The Last Winter" offer a beautiful conclusion, with Grace's elegant music really leaving an impression. This is a very fine score from a little-known composer, gracefully done in every respect, and highly recommended.