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Soundtrack review: Indian Summers (Stephen Warbeck – 2015)

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“Indian Summers” is a British drama set in the time of the British Raj 150 years ago. It tells the story of the summers spend at the foothills of the Himalayas by a group of British socialites. The score was written by Stephen Warbeck and I usually enjoy his works. He doesn’t come up very often but I really liked “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” and also had fun with this year’s “Yellowbird”. Now, Indian inspired music… there’ve been quite a few scores in the past few years with this vibe, I think starting with “Slumdog Millionaire”. My level of enjoyment of these sounds varies depending on the mood I am in. I can’t say I am a fan or that i look forward to such compositions. I know that I enjoyed Thomas Newman’s “Marigold Hotel” score earlier this year.

“Indian summers” first grabs my attention with the reflective main theme. It’s nothing extraordinary, nothing to tell your grandchildren about but it’s warm and gentle like the sun of a summer’s lazy afternoon. The music then gets melancholic and the Indian sounds seem to be hiding for now. Since I already mentioned Thomas Newman this score seems to be written in his light, almost minimalistic sound. The problem is that this kind of low key music can lose me very fast if it I am not in the right mood.

“Before the hanging” is the king of cue that I can relate to. It has that extra layer, that extra dose of melancholy that gives it weight and turns it from a balloon floating over the scenery into a rock that falls and makes an impression in the ground. Then again, a cue like “The hills” is so quiet that I just don’t hear it from some point. I needed to turn the volume up for that one and “Alice and Aafrin” to make sense of them.

I liked the simple and beautiful piano in “Alice”. It played like an unfinished theme, like it left room for a return. The solo piano inserts were probably my favorite moments from “Indian Summers”. They are the most vibrant parts and they got me to react. The rest of the score returned to that reflective area, like a turtle fixed just below the surface of the water.

If you are in the mood for a slow moving, minimalistic score you will enjoy “Indian Summers”. Don’t expect an extravaganza of Indian music because there are very few moments of that. Expect a moody and meditative score which is more appropriate for quieter times you want to spend alone. I usually like this type of score but I had a hard time connecting with this one. It was just too quiet and slow moving for me.

Cue rating: 70 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 2 / 63

Album excellence: 3%

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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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