Review by Basil Boehni
The Italian composer Kristian Sensini (*1976) has been composing for various media for almost 20 years. He began experimenting with electronic music as a child. With HYDE’S SECRET NIGHTMARE in 2011 and ROCKS IN MY POCKETS three years later he reached an international audience. Among his more recent works is the music to the Slovenian political drama VSI PROTI VSEM (ALL AGAINST ALL) by director Andrej Košak, released in 2019. The film revolves around election fraud and the decline of moral values – a material could hardly be more topical. The story focuses on Franta, the mayor of the small town of Rovte. Four days before the elections, he makes a desolate figure during a television debate, which is why he wants to resort to corrupt means to turn the elections in his favor after all.
Košak presents this material in cool, documentary images. Kristian Sensini provides a fitting film score for a small ensemble, led by piano, flute and guitars. Warm timbres are sought in vain here – as leaden as the images are, as heavy is the music. Ticking rhythms and repetitive piano playing reflect the restlessness and nervousness of the morally reprehensible main character. A predestined sound for a political thriller. Synth effects and electric bass are added. With this setting, Sensini seems to have found an ideal breeding ground for his musical ideas, because his background – piano and flute playing, contemporary classical music and jazz – are fully expressed here in every note. Here he combines his emphatic preference for experimental music by Frank Zappa, John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen, among others, with film music approaches of 1970s Italian cinema, with repeated references to Ennio Morricone. The latter he explains in his short text in the CD booklet. These comparisons cannot be dismissed, although Sensini’s VSI PROTI VSEM fortunately does not go to the music-experimental extremes of the aforementioned composers. His sound collage demands some patience from the listener, but it does not strain him.
After the opening “Franta’s Theme”, which sets the basic mood for the following minutes, the more melodious conclusion with the two pieces “All Against All” and “All the Major’s Women” with the playing minutes in between, has to be earned a bit. The 13-minute “Puzzle Pieces” combines repetitive e-guitar and e-bass figures with piano and flute solos laid over them. Every now and then, driving funk music elements are hinted at, which almost make you hope for a big band feelgood moment à la OCEAN’S ELEVEN sound in the near future, but then Sensini turns the timbres back into eerie, conspiratorial, ominous realms. As a result, Kristian Sensini’s music for VSI PROTI VSEM (ALL AGAINST ALL) is harmonious in a cinematic context. Away from the images, however, the music loses its entertainment value in my ears – which prefer to indulge in romanticism and symphonic film music instead of contemporary music and jazz. Of this, the aforementioned, concluding eight minutes with somewhat more distinct melodies are sufficient for me. However, if you like modernistic, sober sounds – with a focus on solo transparency instead of full symphonic showmanship – VSI PROTI VSEM will certainly appeal to you.