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Soundtrack review: One strange rock (Daniel Pemberton – 2018)


Soundtrack review: One strange rock (Daniel Pemberton – 2018)



Darren Aronofsky…Will Smith.. Daniel Pemberton; a trifecta of director, star and composer that would make everyone think of one of the most exciting blockbusters of the year, right? Well, not quite this this team has assembled actually for a National Geographic documentary, an epic, cinematic event series that will redefine science and natural history filmmaking. Hosted by Will Smith, “ONE STRANGE ROCK” promises to be a mind-bending, thrilling journey exploring the fragility and wonder of our planet, one of the most peculiar, unique places in the universe. It’s the extraordinary story of why life as we know it exists on Earth, brought into perspective by the only people to have left it behind: astronauts. This 10-part series from Nutopia and Protozoa Pictures brings cameras where they’ve never been before, having filmed in 45 countries, on six continents and from outer space on the ISS. Daniel Pemberton wrote the score.

It was only a matter of time before this composer, one of the most exciting working today, make his way into documentaries as well; I am very curious to hear how his eclectic, experimental sound fits with a project like this. The lack of titles for the cues was a clear indication that I was in for a textural, homogeneous score. I am all in for that since ambient, reflective music is my favorite genre. In recent years nature documentaries like Planet Earth or Blue Planet have benefited from the highest class of composers, Hans Zimmer included, and have become some of the more highly anticipated scores.

With a composer like Pemberton, the most expected thing is the unexpected. Whenever I listen to one of his scores I know two things: that it’s going to be very good and that I have no idea where it will take me; genre, story don’t matter as he innovates and experiments and creates memorable and exciting scores. A journey like “One strange rock” could only inspire him and after the expected ambient, quiet start I am treated with music that reminds me of Jean Michel Jarre’s legendary album “Waiting for Cousteau”; it’s the same electronic exploration, vast and beautiful. As a huge fan of electronic music I just revel in this experience.

Even the truly quiet, poignant moments make me think of a documentary that focuses on underwater life, on that deep mystery. Daniel Pemberton’s music has rarely been so tame, so slow burning beautiful as he usually can’t sit in one place. It’s refreshing to hear this side of his craft and to welcome him to the ambient fold. I also like the feeling of a journey that this score brings, the feeling of different sights as the tone and pace change with the one constant being the electronic background. There are also his usual sonic experiments as well in the third and fourth of the four parts in which this score is divided.

For “One strange rock”, Pemberton does Jarre (the son, although I’m sure he has it in him to write as lyrical and romantic as the father did) and I have a bunch of new ambient cues to add to my collection. The trend of very good documentary scores goes on.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 33 / 65

Album excellence: 51%

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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  1. FaresTdkr 30th March 2018

    Waiting for the album…


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