Wednesday, January 20, 2010

La Virgen Negra by Elik Álvarez (Review)

Venezuelan composer Elik Álvarez composes his first noteworthy score with La Virgen Negra. I love being introduced to new talents, new sounds and fresh approaches which is exactly what I got with La Virgen Negra. Don’t get me wrong, I love that a composer can be an auteur just like a director where you can pick out similarities within the body of their work, but let’s face it sometimes you want something new.

La Virgen Negra is a romantic fantasy and the score echoes that. It carries a mystical atmosphere that suggests curiosity and the unknown. Right off the bat we get an established tone and Álvarez keeps that up. The tone gradually changes as we plunge deeper and deeper into the story. While the score is influenced by Álvarez’s background and nationality it’s not so much traditional in that sense. The guitar plays a heavy solo role in the score but beautiful strings fill in the rest of the space. Renowned vocalist Lisbeth Scott provides the vocals to the score. In some tracks it’s more subtle and in others her voice carries the music more in a Lisa Gerrard way rather than a song with lyrics way. If I had to pick a score to compare this one to (which I usually don’t like doing) it would have to be Ramin Djawadi and Heitor Pereira’s score to Ask The Dust. It’s the only recent score in my memory that is heavily influenced by a hispanic sound yet as the modern feel backed with strings.

If a score cannot stand apart from the film then in my opinion it’s a bad score. This score stands apart from the film and is a fantastic solo listening experience. There are some great new talents emerging that understand this like Jeff Grace and his score for The Last Winter. There are also some new talents that don’t such as Atticus Ross’ score for The Book Of Eli. Scores that can carry an emotional story without the images of the film is that much stronger when placed within the context of the film. Álvarez accomplishes this with La Virgen Negra, which is a great score and highly recommended. It can be found on iTunes and Amazon MP3 as a digital download.

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