TV

Soundtrack review: Narcos (Pedro Brofman)

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“Narcos” is an upcoming Netflix TV show that chronicles the gripping real-life stories of the drug kingpins of the late 1980s and the corroborative efforts of law enforcement to meet them head on in bru0tal, bloody conflict. It details the conflicting forces – legal, political, police, military and civilian – that clash in an effort to control the world’s most powerful commodity: cocaine. I love Netflix originals and I like the subject, there have been quite a few exceptional and thrilling movies about it. I will surely watch the show. The score was written and even performed by Brazilian composer Pedro Brofman. This means that the music sounds exactly like the composer intended it to.

 

I there are going to be a lot of ethnic instruments in this one and I can’t wait. I want to feel the dust in my throat until I cough and I want to get the feeling of that time and place. Take the theme for “Colombian army” for example. It’s a mixture of interesting instruments reminiscent of the standoff cues in the old Spaghetti Westerns. There’s no melody in this cue, just raw instruments being hit. There’s no place for emotion hear. The cue is efficient and I like it.

When the harmonica shyly makes its entrance in “No amnesty” the feeling of a western becomes even more poignant. This means that this score is slowly gaining some nostalgia points with me and that makes me connect with it faster. I am surprised that “Narcos” takes its time in getting dramatic. The first few cues introduce us to the setting and characters I guess because they are mostly lush and laid back Latin songs which make me think more of a tropical vacation rather than a drug war ridden country.

Once the introductions are out of the way, what the score has going for it is the dense and uncomfortable atmosphere. A cue like “Cocaine labs” drips on you and you can’t get it off your skin as much as you want to. The instrumentation is rather unique and Pedro Brofman is a talented guy who had a vision and was able to bring it to life. I just wish we had had more moments like the poignant “Baby girl” which just make me forget about everything else.

Most of this score feels to me like nature or ambient sound for the story at hand, in this case nature including the labs, the people, the guns, the machines, the breaths and even the dripping of the sweat. You won’t find melodies or beauty in “Narcos” but I doubt we were supposed to. What the composer achieves is to lure us into the atmosphere and surroundings of late 80s Columbia and to tell us to always watch our backs.”Narcos” isn’t your typical score: it’s cold and unforgiving. I am sure that in the context of the TV show I will appreciate it more.

Listen to this one once because it’s one of the more interesting and unique scores you will hear this year.

 

Cue rating: 79 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 10 / 56

Album excellence: 18%

Highlights:

Cocaine Labs

Colonel Carrillo

Baby Girl

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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