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Soundtrack review: Quarries (Isaias Garcia – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Quarries (Isaias Garcia – 2016)

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“Quarries” is a 2015 horror film directed by Nils Taylor. A hiking expedition venturing out into the uncharted wilderness meets tragedy when a group of hunters selects them as prey. The score was written by Isaias Garcia. The cover of this soundtrack attracted me as it showed a beautiful and mysterious mountain landscape, Twin Peaks style.

The score opens with a Latin guitar playing a quietly passionate theme. There’s no trace of the darkness I was expecting in these main titles but the beginning of horror movies is often hopeful. As expected, by the third cue the “Predators” appear and the music starts to get uncomfortable. I like it that right from the start the setting of the story is clear: the percussion is tribal, the violence is raw and I know everything takes place somewhere in nature. The composer shows his musical range with the melodic and emotional “First steps”.

The score feels natural even when it’s not violent; the instruments give me the sensation of wood. Both the percussion and the flute make me think of trees after the rain. As the score progresses I am more and more pleasantly surprised by the sound: it’s raw and minimalistic and I don’t hear any artificial sounds. I like the strings, I like the percussion and I like the quiet emotional inserts. I expected a straight up horror score and instead I’m getting a complex study of emotions. “Soft bruises” reminds me of the ambient way in which Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross write film music.

The music is much quieter than I expected and often borders on the atmospheric. Cues like “Flow” or “Paces” make me think of a reflective walk in the woods. The soft piano and the slow burning motifs are very appropriate for a documentary about nature. I remember Lisa Gerrard’s “Ashes and snow” when I hear “Journey unknown”.

The mood darkness from “Inevitability” on. I suppose this is where the troubles really start as suddenly the music gets sharper and more unforgiving. This makes me appreciate even more nuggets of warm humanity like “Take a moment” that break the violent cycle. A cue like this also magnifies the impact of “Devastation” which follows. The musical canvas is carefully woven and each layer is interesting to discover.

“Quarries” is an intelligent and attractive score, the kind that works very well as a standalone listen. I imagine it’s even better in the context of the movie. The music tells a story and explores a complex set of emotions. From the opening theme to the Gustavo Santaolalla esque ending “The trail” there’s a lot to discover in this composition.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 20 / 41

Album excellence: 48%

Highlights:

Predators

First Steps

Living in Time’s Change

Prey

Soft Bruises

Flow

Journey Unknown

Take a Moment

Devastation

The Trail (ft. Vennie Tu)

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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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