• “Rocks in my Pockets” Review on Buysoundtrax.com

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    October 8, 2014 /  PRESS, things

    Here’s an amazing review of “Rocks on my Pockets” Soundtrack by Randall Larson


    Italian composer Kristian Sensini has composed a delightfully varied and wistful score for Latvian director Signe Baumane’s uniquely-stylized animated feature, ROCKS IN MY POCKETS.  The film won the Fipresci prize at the prestigious Karlovy Vary festival and was described as a “modern milestone in animated storytelling” by Variety. The American distribution of the film was picked up by Zeitgeist who premiered the film in New York and Los Angeles in September, to be followed by a nationwide release.   Based on true events, the film tells the story of five women in Baumane’s family (one of whom is herself) their battles with severe depression and madness.  “Inspired by the animation styles of surrealist Jan Svankmajer and Bill Plympton,” wrote the label in their press packet, “Baumane’s film employs a unique, beautifully textured combination of papier-mache stop-motion and classic hand-drawn animation which required more than 30,000 drawings.”  To accompany the film, Sensini carefully selected instruments that would be complementary to Signe’s voice as she narrates the film in counterpoint to the beautiful, mixed media animated images, without serving as a distraction to the narration.  “Writing music for a cartoon which deals with such dramatic, real issues was a challenge for me,” Sensini wrote in a blog on his web site. “Not to mention the fact that these events belong to the personal story of the director, meaning the risk of ruining everything was always around the corner.”   Employing an acoustic ensemble of piano, flute, clarinet, cello, and double bass, supplemented by ethnic Latvian instruments, Sensini has created an intimate and variegated musical soundtrack for the film; each of the five women have a defining musical theme of their own, which show up in other treatments as Signe tells the story of their issues with mental illness (the first woman’s story, that of Anna, is the most oft-reprised motif); a number of stand-alone compositions support various other animated set pieces.  Melodies tend to be brief, with tunes relayed in a kind of folk-music orientation and much of it written in a spritely ¾ time; each track is as welcoming and charming as the cartoonlike drawing style of the animated illustrations.  The film also covers a short history of 20th Century Latvia, which Sensini has largely accompanied using those ethnic instruments.  While Signe’s story narrative conveys in comfortable resonance the very sobering story of the darker regions of despondency (the light-hearted opening track’s title, “How Not To Commit” [it leaves off the word “Suicide,” which is nonetheless implicit in the statement] is an example of the layers of depression that Signe’s describes; the film’s title itself echoes another form of self-destruction), Sensini focused on the clever and charming visual style of the animated drawings and creates music that is almost always optimistic, breezy, and delightful – not to negate the seriousness with which Signe addresses the story of mental illness in her family history, but to layer the film in a positive and comforting telling of the family’s journey through life despite the shadows of despair that shrouded these five ladies (the film’s subtitle, “A Crazy Quest for Sanity,” perhaps best exemplifies its tone).  In the final analysis, Sensini’s score is echoing the inner soul of each of the characters, whose soft-spoken grace and elegance is perhaps best described musically in the score that accompanies Signe’s verbal reading of the tribulations each of them have gone to, with his very moving “Finale” offering up a heartfelt musical resolution of dignity and humility; a tone that his “End Titles” relate in the happy waltz rendering of Anna’s Theme.

    Sensini, who bears a special interest in the sci-fi-,fantasy, and horror genres, received a total number of nine nominations for Best Score (including Feature Film, Documentaries, Promotion, Best Song, Best Short) at the Jerry Goldsmith International Film Music Award; he also won the Global Music Award for his music for HYDE’S SECRET NIGHTMARE (see my review of this earlier score in my November 2012 column).
    To sample the score, see: http://moviescoremedia.com/rocks-in-my-pockets-kristian-sensini/

    Randall Larson -RIMP 2014 SHORT

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  • Randall Larson review of “Hyde’s Secret Nightmare” OST

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    May 16, 2013 /  PRESS, things

    Amazing review, really proud of it !

    You can buy the soundtrack at Kronos Records Website

    or on Itunes in Digital Format

    From the Website buysoundtrax.com

    HYDE’S SECRET NIGHTMARE/Kristian Sensini/Kronos

    Kronos Records  has released a CD of Kristian Sensini’s eloquent orchestral score for this “granguignolesque and erotic” horror reinterpretation of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde saga.  The film is from Italian director Domiziano Cristopharo, who first began to recover the tradition of erotic horror in his 2009 film, HOUSE OF FLESH MANNEQUINS, which was also his first collaboration with composer Sensini.  The two worked again on 2010’s THE MUSEUM OF WONDERS; Cristopharo described their collaboration on HYDE’S SECRET NIGHTMARE as their best collaboration to date.   “HYDE’S SECRET NIGHTMARE was something complex to make music for, but I wrote it out of instinct, thanks to the evocative power of the images,” wrote Sensini in a composer’s note in the album booklet.  “From my part, it’s a personal tribute to the many international Masters (Goldsmith, Herrmann, North) and Italian composers (Morricone, Simonetti, Frizzi) who made this genre a great one.”  Sensini created the score in his own studio.  “I didn’t try to imitate a real orchestra through technology,” he said.  “On the contrast, I wanted to use the digital sound palette I had at my disposal in a creative way, in order to recreate a new sound floating above dream, reality, and nightmare.”  Eschewing specific themes, Sensini chose to use a simple three-note descending melody, which is omnipresent throughout the film in a wide number of very different variations.  The score embraces a kind of dark allure, fitting the director’s mix of seduction and suspense, eroticism and alarm.  Its central 3-note phrase reappears throughout like an unwanted evil spirit, emerging from the shadows to evoke the tendrils of its melody or evoked in a passionate pianistic triad with voice and woodwind, such as the dark sensuality of “Love you Madly,” which grows and erupts into an oppressive siren-song of imminent doom, the glint of sharp teeth reflected in its gathered cacophony and wailing melisma.  The score creeps along this way in a variety of guises, from haunting solo piano pieces (“Truth or Dare,” “Mother”) and spooky mélanges of acoustic piano and synthesized ambiance (“Bad Memories,” “Twinge of Love” which also adds a distant operatic voice, Thereminlike, into the mix), to rocking grooves (“Elektro Dark”) and minimalistic progressions of piano and winds (“Beyond the Mirror”).  “Sad-uction” is a particularly striking track: opening quietly with low, pensive piano notes and reverberating scraped piano strings, the main melody is gently played on acoustic guitar while a quiet flute wafts in the background.  The cue grows in emphasis, progressively rising in power, until its formal structure is shed and the cue becomes a frightening array of fragmented shards of its former design, the piano melody transformed into malicious harpsichord notes, the flute piping aimlessly, the 3-note motif erupting in a viciously thrice-segmented declarative grimace, until all dissolves into a rushing spray of eruptive cymbal.   “Death Lover” is a sensuous cue embraced within a rocking electric bass rhythm, progressing into a sturdier mélange of urgently fingered piano arpeggios, very giallo in style.  It’s quite a captivating score with an interesting mixture of styles, each evoking a kind of gloomy longing in which desire seeks constantly to trump caution and danger lurks with each enticing curve of shadow.  The composer’s sure hand keeps the musical momentum from spiraling out of control, and the progressive textures and enigmatic appeal of the sound design is constantly appealing.  Bonus tracks on the album include Sensini’s quite thrilling developing ambiance for the film’s trailer, and two tracks he wrote for Cristopharo’s segment of the subsequent 2011 anthology film, P.O.E. POETRY OF EERIE.


    I am quite amazed to read my name near the one of “Johnny” Williams

    hyde review buysoundtrax

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