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Soundtrack review: Echoes of war (Hanan Townshend – 2015)

echoes

“Echoes of war” is a 2015 movie about a Civil War veteran returns home to the quiet countryside, only to find himself embroiled in a conflict between his family and the brutish cattle rancher harassing them. This is a western and I’m always in the mood for a good western score. Hope I get one here from Hanan Townshend. He’s had a couple of interesting compositions in the past year and his name is on my radar.

I like the mood in the opening titles. The cue is short, under one minute long, but it makes a statement: something bad is coming. It’s like a determined and evil look that doesn’t need words to support it. You know what it’s about and there is no doubt that there’s only one way things could go. The score goes into solo country guitar mood then and once again proves that 2015 is the year of minimalism in film music. And once again I applaud this as this is my favorite musical genre as well. To me a score like “Echoes of war” is both rewarding and challenging. It lets me reflect and place my own thoughts and doubts over the subtle and poignant melodies that Hanan Townshend writes.

Just take a cue like “Mary’s grave”; apart from the fact that it reminds me of my favorite Nick Cave and Warren Ellis compositions, it picks a chord in my hard and strikes it firmly for almost four minutes. All it takes is a very quiet banjo and a woodwind instrument, also quiet and very sad to tell me more than an entire score written differently would. I’ve rarely heart a cue like this one, it’s basically one note repeated over and over again but a note that’s big as a world if you look at it closely.

“Echoes of war” is written in the Cave and Ellis style with strings that seem broken or altered. It’s so rewarding to hear a composer say so many with so little. “Our debt is paid” is basically just and echo of a cue but I don’t need more to be worried. The mental image this score suggest to me is of an instrument played very quietly close to me and of another one played in contradiction somewhere far away. It’s a dialogue, an exchange of musical smoke signals from two hills which are very far away. The strings are barely touched as if the composer wanted to see how they react on their own without human intervention.

“Echoes of war” is an amazing score. There is no other word for it. For me it’s instantly one of my favorite scores of the year. This is what Nick Cave and Warren Ellis do so well; this is what Marco Beltrami achieves with his western scores every now and then and I’m happy to find another composer that can strike this hidden chord inside me so well. I love the questions it makes me ask and the answers it provides. I even love how hard it is for me to find the words to express what this score makes me feel because it means it got to me. I love how it keeps me on my toes and how it plays hide and seek and I will definitely listen to it many times to try and decipher this wonderful musical puzzle.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 26 / 26

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:

Opening Titles

Horses and Roses

Mary’s Grave

All I Want Is for Us to Be Safe

Our Debt Is Paid

Skipping Stones

Foot in a Trap

Seamus

Go Back to Sleep

In the Water

Due Back Hours Ago

A Real Mans Hat

The McCluskeys

You Killed That Boy Pa

 

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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