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Soundtrack review: A esmorga (Zeltia Montes – 2014)

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Soundtrack review: A esmorga (Zeltia Montes – 2014)

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“A Esmorga” (rough translation “On a binge”) is a 2014 movie directed by Ignacio Vilar. Eduardo Blanco Amor’s novel of the same title is one of the most well known books in Galician language, but although it was already written in 1959, it took 55 years until a film based on the book was made in the Galician language with Galician actors. The book and therefore the film tell the story of three struggling men and accompanies them for 24 hours while they roam through the city, visit the pubs and brothels, before they find their tragic end. Zeltia Montes wrote the score.

The story sounds really grim so I am bracing myself for a very sad score. I wasn’t familiar with Zeltia Montes’ work until now but it doesn’t take more than the opening credits to make me happy to make her music’s acquaintance. I’ve always been a fan of minimalistic piano music and I’ve listened to a lot of works by composers like Philip Glass, Michael Nyman and Arvo Part. It’s been a while since I have heard a score like this though and I have been missing the sound; the music is like a thin dark veil that is very comfortable to the touch, a veil that separates me from the outside world. There is nothing but the loneliness of the solo piano in this score, a lonely one way road towards an inevitably tragic end. Compositions like this are why the piano is my favourite instrument to listen to; it doesn’t take more than a composer and a skilled soloist to express deep and poignant emotions without the help of anything else. The story is troubled, loud, with fires and brothels and violence but Zeltia Montes doesn’t concern herself with that; she provides the beautiful and elegiac soundscape that probably represents the loss of the character’s souls and the sadness and desolation that eats away at them and pushes them to the suicidal drinking binge. The cues of “A esmorga” are not very different from one another but the subtle little changes in the way the keys of the piano are touched make each of them a separate and special gem. All 39 minutes of this score are a continuous elegy, a continuous and hopeless end titles suite, a melancholic requiem that is as stunningly beautiful as it’s sad.

“A esmorga” is a minimalistic piano score as I have rarely heard; Zeltia Montes wrote a wordless representation of pain, of a tragic destiny and a haunting score that leaves an echo inside me long after it’s over. Everything hurts in this score: the helplessness, the loneliness, the lack of hope; but often these emotions make for the most beautiful film music scores. This is a score from someone with a deep love for the piano and many years of expressing her feelings through the piano; it’s the only way a score would feel so honest.  I am off to look for more music by Zeltia Montes.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 38 / 38

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:
Opening Credits A Esmorga
I Won’t Hurt You
Dark Object of Desire
Taking Care of My Love
Though My Chest Walls Were Burning
Tribal Call
Looks that Say It All
Impossible Love
Raining in the Bridge and in the Heart)
Temptation
When Love Hurts
As if I Remembered Them From the Other Shore of Death
Tragic Destiny

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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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