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Soundtrack review: The Gospel according to Andre (Ian Hultquist and Sofia Hultquist – 2018)

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Soundtrack review: The Gospel according to Andre (Ian Hultquist and Sofia Hultquist – 2018)

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André Leon Talley has been a fixture in the world of fashion for so long that it’s difficult to imagine a time when he wasn’t defining the boundaries of great style. Kate Novack’s intimate portrait, The Gospel According to André takes viewers on an emotional journey from André’s roots growing up in the segregated Jim Crow South to become one of the most influential tastemakers and fashion curators of our times. Novack’s film draws fascinating, heretofore unexplored connections, between the elegance of André’s beloved grandmother and the Black Church of his youth and his later iconic, barrier-breaking work at publications like Women’s Wear Daily, W and Vogue. Ian Hultquist and Sofia Hultquist wrote the music.

The score opens with “Time travel” and it’s a vivacious, sunny cue that uses a robust string motif blend with a nice electronic percussion sound to put me in a good mood right from the start. I like this intro, I like how the different layers of sound join in as if they were part of an imaginary choreography. “At home with Andre” tones it down with a more sparse solo piano motif. I like the piano pieces form this sore, especially the joyful and elegant “Like a princess”. The two composers keep it simple, with just piano and strings and the combination of vivid piano and restrained strings that i head in “Jo Belle” works very well. “Fantasy covers” is my kind of cue, with the almost fairy tale like piano sound.

I keep mentioning the piano because for me this is the best part about “The gospel according to Andre”, the prominence and the clarity of the piano melodies. “My escape, my world” is a cue I will keep close, honest and minimalistic, a simply beautiful piano theme that makes me think of a pleasant sanctuary, away from the madness of the outside world. Ian and Sofia Hultquist create a cocoon of musical tenderness to protect me and this is a feeling valid for the entire score, together with nostalgia.

The music is not always joyful and positive since the story also asks for tense cues like “Across town”. The tension is evoked by barely touching the strings. There is also a jazzy big band piece “The mouth that roared” inserted in there for variation. I like this section of the score, with the contrabassoon and the trumpets, this jazzy passage that continues with “Taxi cab” and “Bloody Mary’s”. I know my head likes to go into weird places so that’s why I am mentioning that these cues remind me of the jazzy pieces from “Twin Peaks”.

The pleasant surprises the composers have in store for me continue with the retro synth, 70’s like “New York City”, “Andre-isms” and “American in Paris” and the whimsical, magical “Vreeland”. There is a lot to discover in “The gospel according to Andre” and this is one of my favorite kind of scores, the ones that lay in front of me a complex and meaningful tapestry, with nuances and subtleties that only get better with further listening.

Ian and Sofia Hultquist manage to build a musical equivalent of the flashy, glamorous world in which Andre Talley lives and creates. This album should be a lesson in combining modern with retro, in mixing genres into a cohesive composition. “The gospel according to Andre” tells a story and I love listening to stories, in whichever form they come. Whimsical, almost fairy tale, lullaby like in some moments, very pleasant to hear on its own and innovative, “The gospel according to Andre” shouldn’t be missed. For me the best way to describe it is actually through a cue title from it: “A veil”.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Highlights:
Like a Princess
Fantasy Covers
My Escape, My World
Taxi Cab
Bloody Marys
New York City
Vreeland
Studio 54
More Than a Prince
Y.S.L.
André-Isms
Americans in Paris
Your 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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