“This started off with all of us piling into a room and playing together. I had this idea: How do these women think differently about mathematics? They dance about math. The rhythm shouldn’t be straight, it should swing a little. It really was the three of us. People don’t understand that we really do work well as musicians in bands. Hans Zimmer
Initially this was a problem for me, I don’t really like it when two composers work on a soundtrack let alone three. Call me a purist but I have heard a few collaborations on scores and they always come across as uneven. So I put some work in and read about how they they put it all together. Williams is one the films producers who was working on some songs with a 60’s vibe, Zimmer said that he would have “the right playbook”. And of course Wallfisch had previously contributed music to Zimmer’s ‘Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice’ score. It still didn’t sell the idea to me but I settled sown to listen to the score.
Hidden Figures is the story [not well known before the movie] of African American women working at NASA in the early 60″s. It opens with Katherine, a plaintive piano that is overtaken by a female voice which accompanies it well. Mission Control gives us the first rush of a ‘spacey’ sound – a short pulse with a driving under bass. This returns in the start of Space Task Group, the piano returns and the low tones telling of the continued failures of the group. Plucked strings and a short base line gives a comedic nuance to Slice of Pie.
Redacted is a joy of a cue with those plucky strings re-apearring and then at 1:01 a bass and a muted trumpet make a delicious sound [I love this cue!] Redstone is another strong cue where ‘babbling’ voices gives a sense of a puzzled mind working at 100 miles an hour, it’s a clever twist. The babble is reprised in the tense cue Launch. Rocket Peril is not short of a small symphony which soars.
All the rich elements which make this soundtrack follow through in cue after cue, giving the soundtrack a richness of texture. It’s a soundtrack I will return to. To say it has a feel-good factor does not cheapen the overall score, it strives and lifts. I heard the signatures of all three composers albeit that Williams touch only came to my mind a couple of times. Has it changed my mind about collaborations? Well, I will admit that as much as I really enjoyed this score I think I remain cautious.
1. Katherine 2:37
2. Mission Control 1:17
3. I’d Already Be One 1:08
4. Space Task Group 2:56
5. Slice Of Pie 1:05
6. Redacted 1:26
7. With All The Angels 1:35
8. Redstone 1:36
9. Call Your Wives 3:23
10. Launch 2:21
11. That’s Just The Way Things Are 2:25
12. Sign 1:11
13. Kitchen Kiss 0:55
14. Mary And The Judge 1:30
15. I Like Her Numbers 2:07
16. Ladies’ March 1:25
17. Mary And Levi 2:12
18. Euler’s Method 1:23
19. Proposal 1:40
20. Pearls 2:41
21. Katherine Calculates 1:32
22. Lift Off 3:11
23. Warning Light 0:59
24. Rocket Peril 3:10
25. Hidden Figures 3:50
26. Epilogue 0:38
Total Album Time: 50:13
Note that there is also Hidden Figures The Album featuring songs used in the film together with songs composed by Pharrell Williams, also on the Columbia label.
This is by far one of the most interesting of Wallfisch’s scores. Given the eerie subject matter – a company’s CEO is in an idyllic but mysterious ‘wellness centre’ in the Swiss Alps. An employee, sent to retrieve him, who soon realises that the spa treatments are not what they appear to be – the scope is quite wide. And with cues entitled .. Terrible Darkness, Nobody Ever Leaves and Clearly He’s Lost His Mind, Wallfisch has definitively delivered.
It opens with a young female voice humming a short refrain which we hear throughout the score and which has an old world feel about. Rites is a strong cue, dark and ethereal with chorus and very deep mail voices [such as in Buddhist chants], these seem to rise from another world. Feuerwalzer is a waltz intertwined with a full orchestral dramatic cue. Clearly He’s Lost His Mind starts with music that would have suited the end piece in The Shining. The end cue, Volmer’s Lab has a childlike feel, almost a message after the mayhem trying to assure us that everything is well. Volmer Institut has an unexpected beauty about it whilst Lipstick is almost indescribable and sounds like continued distorted volume!
This is an odd score for a very odd film but it’s totally compelling. The mix of orchestral works with some of the darkness sounds I have ever heard on a soundtrack, give this score a overwhelming sense of fear and madness.
1. Hannah And Volmer (4:35)
2. Nobody Ever Leaves (1:49)
3. Bicycle (2:00)
4. The Rite (3:42)
5. Feuerwalzer (3:44)
6. Magnificent, Isn’t It? (2:11)
7. Actually I’m Feeling Much Better (1:59)
8. Clearly He’s Lost His Mind (2:49)
9. Our Thoughts Exactly (1:03)
10. Volmer Institut (3:02)
11. Terrible Darkness (3:18)
12. Lipstick (4:21)
13. Waiting (0:55)
14. Zutritt Verboten (3:38)
15. There’s Nothing Wrong With You People (1:25)
16. Lockhart’s Letter (2:12)
17. Volmer’s Lab (3:32)
18. I Wanna Be Sedated – Mirel Wagner (3:38)
Now that the Oscars have signaled more or less, the end of the awards season I would like to list a few scores which either didn’t appear in any nomination lists or if they did, didn’t get the gong they deserved. It was a strange year for scores in as much as it started so slow and then [as always I guess] they came in their droves at the end of the year. Comedy scores were many and there was so much good stuff in the endless TV scores on offer.
I have waxed lyrically about some of these scores in the Reviews section of this blog and played tracks from all scores on my Filmic radio show on Radio Nowhere so if you have some time on your hands and a comfy seat check out some of these brilliant scores which didn’t get the attention they deserved.
In no particular order:-
Ant Man – Christophe Beck
The Man From Uncle – Daniel Pemberton
The Fantastic Four – Marco Beltrami & Philip Glass
Aesino’s Inocentes – Pablo Cervantes
Broken Horses – John Debney
Desert Dancer – Benjamin Wallfisch
Far From The Madding Crowd – Craig Armstrong
Lost Rover – Johnny Jewell
A Little Chaos – Peter Gregson
Listen Up Philip – Keegan DeWitt
Ex Machina – Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow
The Duke of Burgundy – Cat’s Eye’s
Gold Coast – Johan Caroe & Lasse Martinussen & Angelo Badalameti