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CD + MP3: Heartless (2009)
Review Rating:   Very Good
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June 28, 2011

Tracks / Album Length:

14 tracks / (41:50)



David Julyan


Special Notes:


Comments :    

For Philip Ridley’s thriller Heartless, David Julyan returns to the ambient chiming sounds of The Descent (2005), although his approach is rooted more in the abstract, having elements of melody, rhythmic mobiles, and arching tones wafting through an aural cloud, just over a half hour in length.

The title track is based around a gentle chamber piece – short, melancholic, and unresolved – which drifts throughout the score in whole or as ghostly vestiges, and it provides fleeting glimpses of bygone days, a character’s humanistic emotions and moments of calm when the theme is heard without any surreal digital processing (as in “New Skin”), but the score has its share of horrific jolts.

“Papa B” is a great combination of percussion clusters with a howling voices, and the second half of “It’s Ten O’clock” features light percussion, delicate piano, insect-like flicking noises, and an echoplexed chime borrowed from The Descent.

Whereas in Descent 2 (2009) Julyan was obligated to recap prior themes and emphasize more action, Heartless mines his talents for crafting sounds one would hear during a free-form nightmare, and he achieves this through a design where no theme or instrument is heart up close in its organic purity. The sounds have all been processed, but rather than splice and regurgitate material with samples, Julyan seems to have diluted many sounds to their most soluble remnants. The voices in “Papa B,” for example, are barely perceptible, but amid the washed out sounds behind the percussion there are human voices, and Julyan’s creation captures the lead character’s ongoing nightmare.

There is some thematic repetition – “You’re Beautiful” is largely elliptical with a slight variation in the final bars – but fans of the composer’s work should appreciate his low-key approach to horror that evokes Christopher Young’s Haunted Summer (1988), of not some of Mark Snow’s grim, threadbare music from Millenium (1996-1999).


© 2011 Mark R. Hasan

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