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Soundtrack review: The journey (Mikkel Maltha – 2017)


Soundtrack review: The journey (Mikkel Maltha – 2017)



Staged in the Moesgaard Museum, The Journey is a cinematic exhibition about basic human conditions consisting of four rooms – a cave, a film universe with a water mirror, a reflection room and a space where you can travel with the help of virtual reality glasses. The audience is closed into groups for the film show, where they experience a staged journey through seven continents and focused on seven human basic conditions: Birth, love, faith, fear, loss, rationality and death. Mikkel Maltha wrote the score.

This is maybe the purest form of film music possible since the cues are literally written for a complex experience that doesn’t just include sitting in a chair in front of the screen. Each of the seven conditions gets a separate cue and I imagine it was quite a challenge and a pleasure for the composer to write them and experience them. Naturally I am expecting a very immersive score.

“Birth” is a sombre orchestral piece with deep string tones which is an odd choice as the music seems to focus on the seriousness of the event rather than on on the joy of birth. I guess I took the cue titles a bit too textual instead of focusing of the music as the next one “Love” is also minimalistic, with chiming sounds and tender motifs and without loud effusions melodic elements. Come to think of it the music is supposed to be immersive and ambient without taking anything away from the rest of the exhibition, without taking centre stage so Mikkel Maltha took these creative choices. Strangely enough “Fear” the loudest and liveliest cue so far.

As a fan of both minimalistic and ambient music I can only like this score and each subtlety it provides. I feel the dramatic buildup in “Faith” with the organ motif and it almost ends up as my favourite cue from “The journey”; the composer also goes retro electronic with the delightful “Rationality” which is a synth delight and a piece I will keep in my playlists. I will never get enough of synth music. I didn’t expect to find such variation in this score as it goes from solo piano to purely electronic and it grows on me with every cue.

The two final pieces relate to death and the combination of sweet piano and quiet trembling strings in the background makes me think both of regret and of beautiful memories. The other side of the coin is the very dark, almost horror like second part that focuses on the pain the darkness of death. Once again there is a tortured strings motif that brings warmth to the electronic pulses.

“The journey” worked very well as a standalone listening experience because the composer managed to infuse his short cues with emotion and meaning. Short and enjoyable, this is definitely a score to listen to.

Cue rating: 85 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 6 / 16

Album excellence: 36%


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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