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Soundtrack review: Flowers II (Arthur Sharpe – 2018)

TV

Soundtrack review: Flowers II (Arthur Sharpe – 2018)

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“Flowers” is a British black comedy TV series written by Will Sharpe and starring Olivia Colman and Julian Barratt. It was commissioned by the British broadcaster Channel 4, in association with the American TV streaming service Seeso. The series follows the Flowers family, consisting of depressed father and children’s author Maurice (Barratt); music teacher wife Deborah (Colman), their 25-year-old twin children: inventor son Donald (Daniel Rigby) and musician daughter Amy (Sophia Di Martino); Maurice’s senile mother Hattie (Leila Hoffman); and Maurice’s Japanese illustrator Shun (Sharpe). Arthur Sharpe wrote the score and this is a review of the music for the second season.

Silva Screen records is one of my favourite labels because it’s my one source of music for BBC dramas and comedies of which I am a big fan. There’s always something different, something extra in these scores. This one starts with “The passage”, a creepy percussion based cue that puts the “black” in “black comedy”. The music turns to whimsical then with “Summer flowers” and I am both charmed and intrigued by what I am hearing. I know Julian Barratt from “The mighty boosh” so I know what kind of shows he stars in and Arthur Sharpe’s weird, sometimes over the top music matches my expectations. This is not a normal score, this is not a generic score, this is a compositions that invites the whimsical, the magical, the mysterious and distorts the normal play of some instruments while combining the sounds of other in innovative ways. The percussion plays hide and seek while the strings are more plucked than played.

I don’t hear often a cue like “Die Auserwählte”, a suffocating mix of strings, choir, percussion that simply draws me in and captivates me. It’s a combination of orchestral and electronic with a pace that makes me want to turn up the volume. It’s just one of the wow moments of this composition which is mostly experimental but fascinating in the same time.

“Flowers II” is one of those scores that are worth a listen no matter what because it’s not something you hear every day. It’s an eclectic and alert mix of sounds that’s bound to reveal something you will enjoy. Sometimes the music find refuge in the most lyrical piano motifs like “Heathen’s wood”. For me it was a very rewarding standalone listening experience from beginning to end and the atmosphere it evokes makes me want to give the show a try and see how these quirky sounds match the on screen antics.

Cue rating: 81 / 100

Highlights:
Summer Flowers
Die Auserwählte
The Baumgaertner Trick
The Curse
Living with the Devil
Shun’s Clearing

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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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