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Soundtrack review: Black sails (season 1) – Bear McCreary (2014)


Soundtrack review: Black sails (season 1) – Bear McCreary (2014)


Holy crap! What was that? Where am I and what’s going on?? Our ship must be under attack because I hear screams and there are people swinging from the poles. I have no idea how I got here but I find my way out of the cabin and land right in the middle of the fight. Oh wait, we are not under attack, it’s us who are attacking some other ship. Great, let me grab my sword and hat and jump on to help my mates. I see Jack Sparrow somewhere, but his ship looks different…The Black Pearl is shiny, his shirt is white and then I look at myself and the ones around me and we’re all dirty, awkward, imperfect and very comfortable with it. So this is how a pirate looks and feels actually?

No…this is how pirate life sounds. We’ve heard a lot of pirate scores…Hans Zimmer’s compositions were great, inspiring, loud and melodic. But this…this is something else. When I heard the “Black sails” main theme it was as if someone had slapped me over the face and kicked me off my chair. In a previous life, Bear McCreary must have been a pirate, because his score for this TV show is unlike any I’ve heard before.  He dove in those times, walked those streets, stole those ships and lived that life; otherwise he wouldn’t have known how to sing it. The raw strings…the unfiltered sounds…the ethnic instruments…the crazy rhythms…this is one of the most original and daring scores of the year. Nothing sounds like anything you’ve heard before…This is a puzzle where Bear took the pieces and fit them the way he wanted to, even if they shouldn’t have fit that way.

I’m having so much fun listening to this score that I feel everything else around me is boring. In every cue I find something interesting and new. Bear is mistreating every instrument he can find in the best of ways. “All saints” is like a flashback of the Monkey Island games I used to play as a kid. I look around me and I don’t understand why I am not sitting on a barrel of rum in the port at night. Who’s playing those strings then? And why do I have these strange contraptions over my ears? Anyway, I don’t have time to tell you more about this because a pirate’s life know no break. Just listen to this score, please.

Thank you Bear McCreary for this gift and for breathing such fresh air into the world of scores!

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 69 /78

Album excellence: 88%


Theme From Black Sails

Nassau Shores

L’urca De Lima

The Banner Of Captain Flint

Captain Kidd

Wondrous Love

The Wrecks

A Nation Of Thieves

All Saints

Black Sails Theme And Variations

Streets Of Nassau

The Andromache

Vane’s Visions

Funeral At Sea

The Parson’s Farewell

Pieces Of Eight

Black Sails Main Title

The Golden Vanity (feat. Doug Lacy)

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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