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Byzantium (Javier Navarette)

November 23, 2013

Synchrotones’ Microtones Review… all of the opinion, less of the words.


Javier Navarette, 2013, Silva Screen Records
27 tracks, 65:07

What is it? Neil Jordan’s latest film tells the story of a mother-daughter vampire duo who set up a makeshift brothel in the ailing Byzantium hotel in a British coastal town. Having worked with Elliot Goldenthal on a number of occasions (on “Interview with the Vampire” most notably) it is somewhat of a shame that Goldenthal hasn’t returned for this one. Instead however, the very talented Javier Navarette got involved. His score for “Pan’s Labyrinth” is still a stunning work.

What does it sound like? There are two sides to this score – and they are polar opposites. One is very elegant and classical. Not surprising as Navarette frequently (and quite cleverly) quotes Beethoven’s “Sonata in C Major, Opus 2, No. 3 – Adagio”. A cue like “My Mother” is wonderfully lush, as Navarette combines the “Sonata” with surging strings. As the film is set both in the past and the present, this classical side of the music represents the past. Modern day is represented with modern droning sounds. Much of the score, right from the “Main Titles” revolves around electronic sound design – all very dark and unsettling. Presumably it is effective in context, on album it is less than attractive.

Is it any good? Half of it is really quite nice; though that half primarily consists of variations on a theme by Ludwig van Beethoven. The other half is too non-musical to really appreciate on CD.

Rating [2/5]

Review by Pete Simons, (c) Synchrotones

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