Howe Records (0899158002185)
Movie | Release date: 12/09/2014 | Film release: 2014 | Format: CD, Download

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# Track Artist/Composer Duration
2.Green Movement1:12
3.Haj Agha1:54
4.Election Day2:15
5.New Bloom (Excerpt)Mahdyar Aghajani2:45
6.Dust and Dirt1:44
7.Evin Prison2:21
9.Vagheyi (Excerpt)Mahdyar Aghajani2:13
12.The Confession2:18
13.International News1:24
14.Dance Me to the End of LoveLeonard Cohen6:11
16.Ye Baade Khonak25 Band3:29
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Rosewater - 10/10 - Review of Lamarque Hannah, submitted at
Names like Howard Shore and Jon Stewart really need no introduction. One an Academy Award winning composer, the other a beloved television show host (Ill let you figure out which), both have joined forces to collaborate on a cinematic retelling of Then They Came for Me: A Familys Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival. Moving the best selling memoir to the big screen, Jon Stewart makes his directorial debut with Rosewater, utilising Shores inimitable sound to enhance his images. Taken from Maziar Baharis true life story, the film tells the story of his torment, danger and suffering as he found himself amidst life threatening street riots in Tehran. Later arrested by a man Bahari nicknamed Rosewater, he was tortured and interrogated over the following eighteen days.

Telling the circumstances of Baharis arrest and subsequent incarceration through text might seem like an apparently distanced move but Baharis self-penned memoir soon became a best-seller, making reality even more dangerous than fiction.

Stewarts and Shores tasks were no small matters. Provided with the events as they happened, they were challenged to somehow make the bleakly realistic cinematic, to fictionalise events which really happened. Whilst Stewart was tasked with reformulating Baharis experiences for the big screen, it was up to Shore to add appropriate feeling to the events, to say what the figures on screen could not. In short, it was Shores task to take the essence of Baharis experience and repackage it in order that all audience members could relate to his pain.

Luckily, were in safe hands. From the off, its clear that what Shore has created is nothing less than sensitive, full of impact and musically lasting. Shore replicates the sound of the Middle East without ever being too literal; he balances perfectly sounds from the region with his own musical mark. Opening cue Rosewater is a perfect amalgam of the entire soundtrack. Opening with spoken dialogue, the track is brooding and tense, building sinister threat in its chromatic drones. The central woodwind melody is incredibly haunting, despite its musical simplicity. The instrumental starkness of the cue represents at once the sheer threat of the film world alongside Baharis relative isolation in a country he calls his homeland. Moving to piano, the melody in Rosewater is sensitive and cinematic in equal measures.

The pared down threat of this cue continues throughout the soundtrack, pulling each track together as the film narrative develops. Shore is unafraid to balance traditional Iranian sounds with more familiar instrumentation, balancing the foreignness of Baharis situation with the cinematicism created by Stewart. Cue Maryam continues in a similar vein, building an eery tension that, at times, is difficult to place. The instrumentation is pared down, highlighting the stark contrast between drone and melody in the track. Its only in the barely imperceptible chromatic shifts in the piece that things seem to move into places much darker. The sense of threat builds gradually and silently and it is only when things are turned up that you even notice the presence of danger.

The soundtrack also has more playful moments. Election Day, for example, balances acoustic sounds with gentle percussion to build a more optimistic sense of hope in the score. Dust and Dirt, whilst initially dark and insidious, soon blossoms into a similarly optimistic number, using a similar instrumentation to Election Day. Rising melodic motifs and gently rousing drum beats seem like a brief swell in the otherwise quiet, thoughtful soundtrack.

Its not all down to Shore, though. The soundtrack also features work by 25 Band, Mahdyar Aghajani and Leonard Cohen. Cohens appropriately bleak Dance Me to the End of Love seems a perfect fit in the rest of the soundtrack. Whilst taking a more blackly comic turn, it is appropriately unassuming and straight faced. 25 Bands Ye Baande Khonak seems less obviously a part of the rest of the soundtrack, functioning apparently as a piece of culturally appropriate music. Whilst it seems disparate from the rest of the music, it is hard to consider its function removed from the cinematic end piece. Mahdyar Aghajanis tracks New Bloom and Vagheyi seem a little more functional within the musical whole. Whilst sometimes a little detached from Shores sound, they provide an apt sense of the films culture.

Shores work is a quiet masterpiece. Gradually and imperceptibly building tension, it moves like a shadow in the night, catching up with you only when it is too late to make a move. Shores score is the perfect companion piece to Baharis tale and should be championed for the sheer terror it instills in its listeners.

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