French Gabriel Yared is an extremely versatile composer and has many times expressed his frustration at being typecasted in Hollywood as a composer for primarily romantic movies. But in France, the composer has done practically every genre, and type of score, there is.
This first volume in French label Cinefonia's Yared collection includes two scores by the composer written back in 1980. The first, Sauve qui peut la vie (Every Man for Himself), relies entirely on electronics as its instrumental and sonic palette. It also happens to be Yared's very first film score, after having abandoned his producer/orchestrator career, to study counterpoint and other musical techniques and pursue a career in composing.
The score is a mixed bag of various moods and styles. At times rather funky, like the second track, "Le Commerce", revolving around a often repeated 8 note little melody, performed entirely by synths of various types - and where not talking about synths trying to mimic acoustic instruments here, but pure synth sounds - the score also sports a more relaxing and intimate side. "L'Imaginaire" is a lovely piano solo, performed by the composer - as is the entire score, by the way - with a nice jazzy, piano bar type of sound, which halfay into the cue is abandoned for some soft and lush underscore, providing lots of atmosphere. But the funky electronics dominate the score, and they're really not that bad and the waltzy main theme has a tendency to stick.
Malevil was Yared's second attempt at film scoring, and the score - written shortly after his first - has the classic Fairlight sampler as its instrumental backbone. The films tells of a world where all life has been destroyed, except for a couple of friends now seeking shelter in the castle Malevil.
It's an unusual score, with a lot of fresh ideas. Some good, some not so good, but no matter the result one has to admit it's all rather inventive, something that always should be applauded. The score for Malevil is dominated by pure underscore, however, which sometimes can be quite demanding listening to for a longer period of time. As a listening experience, it's quite pale when compared to the first score on the disc.
The booklet includes notes by Yared himself about his scores for the two films, as well as some information about Yared's opinion and synths and how he likes to incorporate them into his scores.