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SHADOW IN THE TREES
Fine score with outstanding theme
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Moviescore Media; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
Moviescore Media has been making quite a name for itself by releasing excellent music from films you may never have heard of, scored by composers with the same distinction. Its latest release is Shadow in the Trees - a film which is not even listed at the sprawling Internet Movie Database - with music by Jeff Toyne, probably best-known at the moment as an orchestrator who has worked with composers including Edward Shearmur and Klaus Badelt. The film is a semi-autobiographical drama from its director Chris Smith who, as a boy, lost his father who gave his life rescuing another boy from drowning.
Toyne's music has the most auspicious of starts, with a sublime opening title piece for violin, piano and orchestra - in film music terms, think of James Newton Howard's The Village for an example of something in a similar style. The similarity with the Shyamalan / Howard scores doesn't end there, with occasional hints of Lady in the Water as well. A score featuring similarities to those two fine efforts is certainly one to be excited about, and the way Toyne injects an eerily beautiful air to the score's finest moments is very impressive. Sometimes, as in the opening title, there is an elegant charm; at others ("A Morning Jog") it is clear that more sinister omens are developing.
There's more here than just that, though, with surprisingly forceful action music making an appearance now and again, first in "Something Outside the Tent", a darkly-orchestrated piece which is very effective. There's a horror score air about "The Gas Station" with its avant garde use integration of electronics and acoustic effects which, again, is impressive. The score's middle portion, beginning around "Rogue River Station", sees a change in atmosphere to something far more suspenseful - that cue is mostly ambient atmosphere, before "Mr Edwards's Dream" which goes into full-on horror territory. This part is certainly the hardest to enjoy, but even so is worth exploring, especially since it injects some variety when the score was threatening to become a little repetitive. The climax of the album is particularly impressive, opening with the explosive action piece "Final Confrontation" before a gorgeous choral piece "Faith Returns" and, finally, the magnificent main theme soaring away again over the end credits.
It's nice to hear a young composer writing a film score which is dramatically so mature, clearly tracing a well-considered path. While I do feel some of the cues could have been pruned to improve the overall listening experience, that's only a minor complaint here because the music was conceived so well that only on a couple of occasions does it seem to be repeating itself too much. Toyne is clearly a composer to watch, and this is a fine release which may be Moviescore Media's best yet.