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The Brotherhood (Arnau Bataller)

April 20, 2014

Cover_brotherhoodTHE BROTHERHOOD

Arnau Bataller, 2014, ScreamWorks
13 tracks, 46:06

Some great filmscores are coming from Spain these days. Is Arnau Bataller’s “The Brotherhood” one of them?
Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

A Spanish thriller written and directed by Julio Martí, about a successful horror author (Lydia Bosch) who survives an accident just outside a secluded Benedictine monastery in northern Italy. Even though she should stay in bed, Sara soon finds intriguing secrets about the monastery. Spanish composer Arnau Bataller originally studied to play the violin and got a degree on the instrument in 1998. He then decided to specialize in film music, studying the art form at the prestigious University of Southern California, graduating in 2002.

What does it sound like?

“Main Titles” opens with a strident ostinato for basses and piano, before the track opens up for full orchestra and male choir revealing a grand, gothic theme. A second theme for soprano and strings is introduced during the second half; and receives the full orchestral treatment during “Discovering the Past”. Some dissonant orchestral effects towards the end are the first careful signs of this being a horror.

“First Departure” sees th soprano off-set against female choir. The effect is beautiful, eerie and reminiscent of Elliot Goldenthal’s work on “Interview with the Vampire”. The second half of “First Departure”, “Eli’s Book”, and especially the second half of “Investigations” arguably contain the only real horror music on this album. Low rumblings, pitch-shifting chords, dissonant brass clusters, agitated string work and even some percussion. It’s both effective and beautiful. With the aforementioned exceptions, “The Brotherhood” is not particularly scary. Composer Bataller explains that “even though “The Brotherhood” is a horror/thriller, the director insisted on having a strong theme which I could develop in different directions as our protagonist, Sara learns more about the disturbing secrets of The Brotherhood.

Piano and strings create a spooky atmosphere in “I Have Heard Children”. Brass stabs and a brilliantly fluid ostinato for strings dominate “Get Them!” This is then overlayed with the score’s lush main theme. Brilliant stuff!  “My Daughter” is a beautiful lyrical cue for piano, flute and cello. “The Confession” is a lengthy and magnificent cue, with writing so fluid… the track just glides along, until it reaches an epic-sounding climax. The album closes with “The Brotherhood”, which reprises the score’s main themes. Initiated by soprano, it is then taken over by strings. The bass ostinato and gothic theme are reprised, before the cue returns to the main theme; this time for piano and cello.

Is it any good?

Arnau Bataller delivers a deliciously dark and lush score performed by Barcelona’s Liceu Opera House Symphony and Choir. It’s very well written and richly orchestrated, even if it does rely heavily on familiar techniques (perhaps a little too much to be truly memorably in the longer term). The recording is just fantastic allowing you hear every little detail. Whilst there are a few moments of genuine horror, for the most part this is a lyrical and beautiful score, with the male choir lending it a Gothic touch. When Bataller kicks it into action-mode, it is truly exciting stuff. There is a lot of talent coming out of Spain; and Bataller is another composer worth keeping a close eye on!

Rating [4/5]


1. Main Titles 2:50
2. Discovering the Past 2:07
3. First Departure 4:48
4. I Have Heard Children 2:21
5. Eli’s Book 3:30
6. There Are Children 1:53
7. Investigations 4:12
8. Isolated 3:32
9. Get Them! 2:55
10. My Daughter 4:10
11. It Can’t Be 3:35
12. The Confession 6:18
13. The Brotherhood 3:57

For more information and soundclips visit the ScreamWorks website.

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