Soundtrack review: Baron noir (seasons 1 & 2) (Evgheni Galperine & Sasha Galperine – 2018)
“Baron noir” (screened as Republican Gangsters in some markets) is a French political drama television series which premiered on Canal+ on February 8, 2016. The series was developed by Eric Benzekri and Jean-Baptiste Delafon. Baron Noir is the political and judicial saga of Philippe Rickwaert, member of Parliament and mayor of Dunkerque, who is driven by an irrepressible thirst for personal revenge. Between rounds of the Presidential election, he sees his future collapse when his mentor, the leftist candidate, sacrifices him to save his campaign. Determined to reinvent his career, Rickwaert uses cunning and connections to win political fights against those who betrayed him, creating a new alliance with the closest adviser of his enemy. Evgheni & Sasha Galperine wrote the score.
The brothers Galperine have been hit and miss for me so far but I loved their latest score “Loveless”. The opening cue “Towards the rubicon” is surprisingly gentle but maybe I should have expected this from a French story; a quiet cello motif blends with an electronic texture that evokes at atmosphere of light and melodic mystery. When the second cue “Order to kill” starts the strange experimental sound of Evgheni and Sascha Galperine is more obvious; they write brand of shaky and nervy electronic music that keeps me on the edge. There are subtle orchestral inserts into this electronic fabric and this makes the atmosphere uncertain.
The music of “Baron noir” is entirely textural so as a standalone listening experience it all depends on your preference for this sound; you won’t find fully fledged themes or fantastic separate cues in this score. If you like the general sound it brings forth, you will enjoy all of it because safe for a few changes of pace or of intensity of the string motifs the music doesn’t vary much. The tense atmosphere works for me and in the moments when the music cleans up and a cue only features a guitar and a slow piano motif I am even happier. “Philippe et Amélie” is one such emotional piece that checks all the boxes for me. The composers manage to have these emotional moments without straying from the general sound of the score; cues like this and “Amelie” are the equivalent of the same person taking a pill to calm some kind of internal nervousness.
“Baron noir” is the kind of score that works better with the support of the images; outside the context of the TV show it keeps me curious as to what sounds the composers will come up with next. The music feels crumbled and fragmented, reduced to its smallest components which the composers recombine in different ways. It is not always a comfortable score to listen to but it is one of the more interesting compositions around from a team of composers who are carving their own niche in film music.
Cue rating: 77 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 4 / 40
Album excellence: 11%
Philippe et Amélie