Film scores

Soundtrack review: Wildlike (Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans – 2016)

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“Wildlike” is about Mackenzie, a troubled but daring teenage girl, who is sent by her struggling mother to live with her uncle in Juneau, Alaska. Although Uncle seems like a supportive caretaker and friend, the relationship turns and Mackenzie is forced to run. Trying to make her way back to Seattle alone to find her absent mother, Mackenzie only winds up deeper in the Alaskan interior. Lost and with no one else to turn to, she shadows a loner backpacker, Bartlett, an unlikely father figure with scars of his own. Together, they cross the wilderness and discover sanctuary in the last frontier. Now a setting like this spells minimalistic goodness from the musical point of view and when the composers are Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans who recently delivered the excellent and minimalistic “Last days in the desert” my hopes are up.

The opening titles feel like a sequel to the aforementioned score; the same mood, the prolonged strings and the melodic line that reminds me of my favorite composer couple Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. This is the musical atmosphere that has a special room in my imaginary home because I feel comfortable listening to it. Also for me this is how a score for a story about being lonely in a wild and cold environment should sound and feel like. I understand it, I can connect to it. The percussion that imitates the beating of a heart at the beginning of “Leaving uncle” makes sense as if it was the moment of decision.

I am a big fan of minimalistic film music and I’ve been spoiled in the last couple of years. Bensi and Jurriaans are quietly emerging as the composers to watch if you want to get the proper feel of quiet Americana. There is nothing loud or aggressive in the music; there is nothing sharp or rushed. This score burns slow, is reflective and relies a lot on various types of strings. “Wildlike” will be very divisive because there are film music fans like me who revel in this sound while others might find it too quiet and might lose interest.

I love to get lost in a score like this. The sweet melodies, the feeling of outer space, the mellow strings that still go deep, everything about this composition takes me out of time and sends me on a journey of self-discovery. The subtle variations in the music tell me when something more dramatic or intense is going on, like the heart breaking “Back”.

The more I listen to their music, the more Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans are climbing my ranks of favorite composers. Their style is becoming quite unique and very in tune with how I am inside. “Wildlike” is minimalistic Americana at its best.

Cue rating: 92 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 20 / 34

Album excellence: 60%

Highlights:

Titles

  1. Leaving Uncle
  2. L’America – Mono
  3. Crying
  4. Bus Ride
  5. The Outdoors
  6. The Bear
  7. Uncle Calls
  8. Long Drive
  9. Back
  10. Uncle

 

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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