TV

Soundtrack review: Childhood’s end (Charlie Clouser – 2015)

“Childhood’s End” is a 1953 science fiction novel by the British author Arthur C. Clarke. The story follows the peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival begins decades of apparent utopia under indirect alien rule, at the cost of human identity and culture. Syfy produced a miniseries from this book in 2015 and I can’t wait to see it. The score was written by my favorite prince of musical darkness, Charlie Clouser who never ever disappoints. His previous 2015 score was for “Wayward Pines” and for me it was a perfect score.

There’s a different Charlie Clouser in this score than the guy whose sound has grown so familiar to me. “Childhood’s end” Charlie is quieter and more determined. The music doesn’t wonder and doesn’t falter; it knows exactly where it wants to go and what it wants to do. This time the ambient mood is just perfect for my ears and even if there are enough moments when the music gets scary I can dream and meditate on this score in the sweet spot I need. The atmosphere reminds me of the one that simply stunned me in Max Richter’s “The leftovers”.

Pieces like “Honeymoon suite” are the perfect example of what works in this score: the combination of melodic, dreamy and almost religious in parts. The music is not aggressive and even when it gets really dark it still appeals to me. Somehow this score makes me think of a deep forest, mysterious and enchanted in the same time, a place where the light and the darkness might play tricks on me and I might see things that are not there. I will get scared in some moments but the beauty of the surroundings will keep me there. Sometimes I’ll hear echoes of epic choirs… and there’s a constant pulse being heard in the background as if the forest was alive and had a giant beating heart.

“Childhood’s end” is dark and almost hopeless, make no mistake. Charlie Clouser though covered this darkness in a beautiful velvet shroud that’s alluring and addictive and I couldn’t escape it. As the score progressed and without having seen the TV show yet I got the feeling that this music would work best in a horror computer game. I could see myself being part of something that sounded like this, exploring a world, reacting, not just watching in front of the TV.

I love the subtle and poignant choral work in “Childhood’s end”. At times it’s just playing hide and seek like we usually hear in the music for “House of Cards” and other times it comes closer. It’s strange… Somehow the mood of this score actually makes me think of childhood’s end. I know that’s not literally what the story is about but for me the music sits at that edge where if you look behind you see your happiest and most innocent times and when you look in front you know that you will slowly drift away from them on a calm see of growing nostalgia.

With every new composition he climbs more and more on my list of favorite composers. Few composers know darkness as well as he does. Few composers can make darkness seem so appealing and beautiful and he’s about the only one who can write a score like this and leave me with a smile on my face at the end of it. Please do not miss this unique and tender requiem.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 52 / 68

Album excellence: 77%

Highlights:

02_ship Appears

03_honeymoon Suite

05_karellen Reveal

08_need The Child

10_the Stick Burns

11_chose You

12_baby Jennifer

13_jennifer Followers

14_we Had Utopia

15_coming Back

16_sun Must Set

17_children Ascend

18_home World

20_don’t Forget Us

 

 

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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