Film scores

Soundtrack review: Barrancas (Lito de la Isla – 2015)

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“Barrancas” is a thriller which takes place at a farm in the city called Barrancas. The owner of the farm doesn’t pay his employees and one of them takes initiative. An alert guitar rhythm and echoes of the desert welcome us into the score by Lito de la Isla. It’s a sound I would have expected from a Latin composer because nobody uses those strings better than composers with that kind of musical background.

I like the echoes of this score and I am most drawn to the short atmospheric moments this score is sprinkled with. This is not just because I am particular to that sound but also because the rest of “Barrancas” gets lost in a sound I’ve heard many times before. The music is nice and alert, the action pieces are exciting enough but I won’t be able to tell this score tomorrow from a lot of other similar ones. I don’t like the word generic and I wouldn’t call “Barrancas” that but it gets pretty close. That opening cue was the only one that stood out because the rest settles in a background thriller sound that doesn’t make for a very rewarding standalone listen.

With all this I have to be careful to catch nuggets of excitement in the score. I find some… those atmospheric moments or the ending seconds of “Entre suenos” which tell me something. I would like to be able to extract that piece from the cue and plant it somewhere so it could grow because for a second there it made me think of the sound of “Terminator”. It was like a second long flash of a metal carcass coming after me from a different reality.

A short score like this only works for me if the music is deep enough to make a difference, to touch me in a way. Here though there is no theme to be found and no piece of music to really connect to. “Barrancas” wasn’t for me but I imagine this kind of sound plays very well in the context of the movie. It doesn’t impose feelings to the viewer and it doesn’t try to guide him. It just stays in the background and I imagine it lets the viewer enjoy what’s going on on screen. As a standalone listen though it just wasn’t enough for me.

Cue rating: 70 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 0 / 19

Album excellence: 0%

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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