Soundtrack review: The last post (Solomon Grey – 2017)
“The Last Post”; is a British television series that first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 1 October 2017. It is set in the backdrop of the Aden Emergency. Aden 1965. This is the story of a British army unit fighting a Yemeni insurgency in the Middle East and the women and children who were there with them. The score was written by the band Solomon Grey with one of the members (Joe Wilson, the other one being Tom Kingston) actually staring on the show. There have been rare cases when the director of a movie also wrote the score, or even the writer of the movie but this might be the first time when an actor from a TV show writes the score and I think it’s a great thing since he experiences the story week in and week out and he’s in character and knows how it all feels and he can infuse that in his music.
I have covered a lot of British TV show these past few years and the one thing most of the scores had in common was that the music was orchestral and elegant, regardless of the subject. It’s just the way BBC shows do tings. “Clouds”, the cue that opens this score is a gorgeous string based theme, serious and emotional, worthy of a drama, worthy of even the end titles of a drama. I am impressed by this powerful welcome. When the next cue “Sky” goes all ambient on me I already start getting worried that 30 minutes is too little for this score. This is Moby level ambient and I love to hear this sound on any album.
Now, voiceovers are a much discussed topic when it comes to scores and to me, it’s on a case by case basis: if it’s for a movie or show I love, I welcome the quotes. If they are short and subtle, just to anchor me into the atmosphere it’s equally good; “Red sky” starts with a grave short recording of a few words by an army leader from those times and I like it, it makes me care and it reminds me of “M*A*S*H”. The cue then develops into industrial ambient, grainy and addictive and this sound is my drug of choice. This score hits very close to home for me because my favourite film music composition ever is Hans Zimmer’s “The thin red line” where the music moved slowly, sometimes with instruments like the cosmic beam, other times with a requiem like sound and I am starting to discover the same qualities in “The last post”; even the cue titles, one word each, describing an element or a sensation, remind me of that score. But above all, it’s the dreamt and reflective sound that casts aside all violence from the story and describes the inner worlds and emotions of the characters, the nature ambience where they walk, live and fight and I am hypnotised. The quotes and voiceovers as well get me into that atmosphere and remind me of my favourite score and when a stunning violin waltz like “Leaves” follows I am just the happiest and most grateful of listeners.
It’s also surreal to me that the band made available a short video of them recording the score and to get to see the orchestra bringing these magical sounds to life was just a beautiful experience; this kind of insight into the recording process is rare and very precious to me. It brings even more life to this hypnotic and rich sonic scape and also takes me back to my favourite minimalistic composers like Arvo Part or Johan Johannsson even. Every piece of music from “The last post” is a sonic delight, a successful experiment, the manifestation of moments of inspiration and joy. There’s a cue called “Monkey” that just delights me with ethnic percussion and gets even more mesmerising if it was possible. There’s an Oriental piece “Sapphire”, performed together with Maya Youseff at the Kanun that makes me think of my favourite musical journeys taken together with Loreena KcKennitt.
If “The last post” somehow slipped your radar, go back to it because it’s one of the more fascinating scores you will hear this year. It’s a combination of orchestral, ambient and world music that feels much longer and much more intense than it actually is. It opened my eyes to a team of composers I didn’t know but I will follow closely from now on and gave me one of my favourite scores of 2017.
Cue rating: 100 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 34 / 34
Album excellence: 100%
Clouds – Theme
Steel – Nowhere
Sapphire (feat. Maya Youssef)
Clouds (Piano Reprise)