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Soundtrack review: Nova seed (Stephen Verrall – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Nova seed (Stephen Verrall – 2016)

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“Nova seed” is a 2017 animated film directed by Nick DiLiberto. Beneath the decay of a dying world lives the Mad Doctor Mindskull. Using the planet’s power of creation he has created the ultimate Weapon. Can mankind find a way to stop this Evil before time runs out? The only answer lies within the Nova Seed. The music was written by Stephen Verrall.

The opening cue “Into the world” gives me hope because it’s a sweet little retro action cue and if this is how we enter the world maybe the entire world will be made of retro gaming music. The theme for “Warrior” is still nostalgic but because of the 80s rock guitar riffs and percussion. The first few cues of the score are very short, one minute long inserts, all rhythmic, in which the composer makes sure to put one or two retro motifs. For me the cues sound more like part of a game score where the scenery changes very frequently than a movie.

“Neo world news” is the first piece that really tickles my nostalgia bone; this is pure 80 synth magic and I can just see the neons; too bad the cue is so short, once again, but this is what I want to hear more of. I like the musical world of “Nova seed”; it’s electronic and varied, it makes me feel as if I were a ball bouncing around inside a pinball machine hitting all sorts of stuff, lighting all sorts of targets.

I am a huge fun of electronic, retro music; I grew up on it so every time a score comes along in this genre I just eat it up and enjoy it; it’s like pizza, the ingredients don’t matter much, I just love to eat it. “Nova seed” isn’t the most ambient, or the most melodic and dreamy electronic score but it is an electronic score I enjoy every minute of; it makes me thing of the computer games I used to play as a kid where I controlled a plane that was shooting other planes.

I give props to Stehen Verrall for trying something different with this score; there are so many electronic sound effects and pieces and he combines them in a way that rarely sounds like something I’ve heard before. There are then nostalgia moments when his musical asteroids hit a memory pool but other than that the journey feels different. He keeps it interesting by even adding vocals to a cue like “The toxic lands” and by going even earlier in time with “Dargons” which sounds like the music for 60s Sci-fi movies. There are also thunder effects and I just imagine the composer playing with his sound board and imagining things.

“Nova seed” is one of the more interesting and varied electronic scores you’ll hear this year. Alert and retro to the bone, fascinating as a journey for a fan like me, it’s an electronic fun fair from which you can just choose your favourite rides.

Cue rating: 84 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 12 / 42

Album excellence: 30%

Highlights:
Warrior
Neo World News
Mysterious Powers
Mindskull’s Lair
Nowhere
Lead Me
New World

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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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