Hanan Townshend is one of my favourite composers working right now. I feel this is the most appropriate thing to say at the beginning of this review because I am glad any time a new composition of his comes out; my favourite score of all times is “Thin red line” by Hans Zimmer and since then Hanan has become the composer of choice for Terrence Mallick and almost every score he’s written has gotten a maximum score from me. I trust Hanan Townshend and I can’t wait to hear his work. “Strawberry days” is a Swedish movie that tells the story of 15-year-old Wojtek who travels from Poland to his parents to work on a farm picking strawberries . Even though the outside world would never accept a relationship like this, the young boy starts to get on with the farmer’s daughter.
What I love the most about Hanan Townshend’s music is the sensitivity, the quiet and meaningful place it takes me to. Take the opening titles of “Strawberry fields” for example: it’s a simple solo piano theme goes very deep inside me, very fast and welcomes me to another world of reflective and slightly painful music. “Camps”, the next cue, couple the solo piano with a distorted shrieking voice that turns into a motif played at a continuum instrument I think as that piercing sound can only come from something like that.
As the score progresses it goes deeper into ambient territory and that’s my favourite place to be in musically. I can connect best to ambient music and ever since my early days listening to Mike Oldfield I haven’t found anything that comes close to it. “Sprinklers” is a wonderful name for a cue as the chimes really come out as water drops from a sprinkler and melancholy comes all over me, Mike Oldfield melancholy, childhood and teenage years melancholy; this music is like a drug to me and when I listen to a score like this one I cannot be objective.
“Strawberry days” is more than music; this is poetry written with piano, with this beautiful instrument that can evoke so many different emotions, this instrument that under the right fingers and with the right composer to guide those fingers is simply magical. If you like to listen to the piano this score will be among your favourites of the year so far. The main theme of the movie is yet again a solo piano composition that’s as addictive as it is charming.
This score makes me think of sea shores in winter time when it’s a little windy and wonderfully lonely; a cold but reflective place where time gets drowned in a mist and doesn’t return until I call upon it. “Strawberry days” is a way to get out of time for a little while, it’s a gateway to a place where I can control time. The piano leads but it’s not all about the piano in this score; some cues have a simple electronic sound that still brings nostalgia. The continuum sounds peppers throughout the score bring eeriness to it and the combination is fascinating. The combination between the deep elegance of the piano and the dreamy moments works very well.
“Torn apart” is a special cue as the piano rolls almost fiercely as if it was doing the tearing apart itself; it’s not a heartbreaking or depressing cue, it’s fiery and even hopeful. “The uprising” is the darkest piece from “Strawberry days” and there’s almost no trace of the piano in it as if to single it out even more; it’s minimalistic and menacing and the sharp tremors of the bow on the strings, played like whispers, add to the worrying mood of the cue.
The main piano theme recurs often throughout the score and by the time the album ended I know it by heart. I wish I could play it on piano, that’s how deep it went inside me; I wish I had the skills to sit at a piano and play it as often as I wanted. Even if the piano drives the score Hanan Townshend takes time to experiment with other piercing instruments and I think he is mimicking internal cries the want to come out but are blocked by the outside conditions. Other times the music makes me think of slight escape from reality; I know how special the moments between two lovers can be felt and perceived when the love is larger than life and the music of “Strawberry days” reminds me of that.
Once again Hanan Townshend has written a slice of magic; with just the piano (and I feel like I am belittling the instrument using “just” when the piano, the solo piano, can carry and make a score superb on its own) and a couple more minimalistic instruments he has created a world, an ambient bubble, a snow globe where I feel at home. When the score ends I am shocked that it was just 38 minutes long as I felt I’ve lived a lot more since it’s started. “Strawberry fields” is a dance of love right at the edge between dream and reality and I invite you to feel it and experience it on your own.
Cue rating: 100 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 38 / 38
Album excellence: 100%
Strawberry Days (Alt)