Film scores

Soundtrack review: A little chaos (Peter Gregson – 2015)

My city is full of posters and billboards for “A little chaos”, even more than for “Mad Max” for some reason. It’d s British period drama directed by and starring none other than Severus Snape, I mean Alan Rickman for my non Harry Potter literate friends. It also stars Kate Winslet, of course, it had to be either her or Keira Nightly and a host of other great actors. The story made me think of a romantic comedy, since the tagline says two landscape artists are fighting to complete a fountain design at Versailles for Louis IV. I guess fountains are more important than I imagine. The score was written by a composer I wasn’t familiar with, Peter Gregson. He is a cellist so fingers crossed for that instrument to feature prominently on the score.

It’s a period piece so strings couldn’t possibly miss, I shouldn’t worry. I realize soon enough that this couldn’t be a romantic comedy, despite the posters and the description. The music is serious and even tense at times (“This is your Eden” sounds as if the place they found is anything but. Or maybe what I hear is just someone left speechless at the beauty in front of him / her?). As the score progresses I’m getting two things: nostalgic and intrigued. There’s something about the soft and pleasant sound of this score that reaches some place inside me that hasn’t been visited in a while. I am getting intrigued because “A little chaos” feels very intimate and contained and is the kind of score that leaves unanswered questions; this is a composition that lets the listener model it upon his or her own thoughts and feelings. I could listen to this music in different states of mind with the same positive effect.

I like the way Peter Gregson’s composition flows. There’s no break in the rhythm and everything feels natural From piano themes to soft guitar pieces like “It’s a shrine” everything fits and I can actually imagine a landscape artist carefully considering every detail and making sure every single elements fits and completes the scenery. The composer used a very delicate brush to paint his canvas. I would recommend listening to “Travelling to Marly” to get a good idea about this score. It has the sensitivity that impressed me at this album.

Surprised like “The Sluice gate” make “A little chaos” even more appealing. It’s one of the few moments of revolt, when the feelings burst out from their cage and fly freely. I understand why there aren’t more cues like this on the score. Peter Gregson respects the period when the story takes place and makes us listeners understand what it was like back then. This score goes a little deeper than most similar ones; it’s not overly dramatic or pathetic and it’s quite honest and relatable. I consider this music for thoughts. You could very easily get lost in your own mind when the tender and slow piano themes like “When you are strong enough” or “Making love” come along.

“A little chaos” is one of the unexpected little gems of 2015. Sometimes I enjoy a score that surprises me even more than one that has more memorable themes. Even one as sad as this one…

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 21 / 41

Album excellence: 52%

Highlights:

This Is Your Eden

The Task Ahead

From Paris to the Aquaduct

It’s a Shrine

Travelling to Marly

The Sluice Gate

Making Love

Marie-Claire’s Toys

A Little Chaos

About the author

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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