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El Arbol sin Sombra (Marc Timon Barcelo)

March 20, 2015

Cover_elarbolsinsombraEL ARBOL SIN SOMBRA

Marc Timón Barceló, 2015, ScreamWorks
20 tracks, 49:26

The first horror score of composer Marc Timón Barceló, the man who delivered a great Rosza-Zimmer hybrid with “Coliseum”. Is he able to sustain that success?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Co-written and directed by Xavier Miralles, “El árbol sin sombra” tells the story of Ingrid (Mima Riera) and Tina (Paloma Alma), two girlfriends who have chosen different paths in their lives. Before Ingrid leaves for college, the two decide to go camping one last time… The girls however meet another group in the forest and their conflict with them reveals that the link they thought was so strong is actually quite weak….

This is the first horror score of composer Marc Timón Barceló (“The Little Wizard”, “Coliseum“) which won the Jerry Goldsmith Award for Best Music at the 2014 Film Music Festival at Cordoba.

What does it sound like?

The album opens with the score’s main theme, which is presented as a lovely (if fragile) piano melody. It’s of a call-and-answer nature, with five short notes following two longer ones. Briefly there is some playful music to be heard in “Calm Lake” before things turn decidedly darker. “Hunt and Escape” has a distinct Herrmannesque feel to it (as does much of the score), with its racing strings and ominous brass chords. The score displays plenty of traditional horror techniques (e.g. the string effects and growling woodwinds in “Was It In The Wind” or the disonant strings in “Our Nature” and the brass trills in “Rob’s Lesson Part 2”), but it’s not an overtly scary score, as a note on the label’s website confirms —

Though it was written for a horror film, the music for “El árbol sin sombra” is actually more focused on the deteriorating relationship of Ingrid and Tina than the horror that puts them in jeopardy. As the composer explains: “The score is based on a main theme which gives life to the rest of the music in just a few notes: a single piano melody with strings contains the mystery, the loneliness and the fear in the story. By deconstructing the main theme, many more other themes, colors and textures are born from this initial idea. Its structure is simulating a heartbeat for every two measures, the melody is born from his own echo.”

The overwhelming majority of the score is written for piano and strings; some woodwinds and a little bit of brass. Flute performs the main theme in “Tina’s Dream”, whilst low brass stabs and trumpets play a pivotal role in “In Just A Moment”. It’s clearly performed by a small orchestra. It is mostly a sombre affair – quiet and subtle. Yet, the melodic approach garantuees that the music is constantly on the move. It is worth making absolutely clear that “El Arbol” is nothing like “Coliseum”, which may have garnered the composer some new fans, due its big and opulent style. “El Arbol” is much smaller, much more intimiate.

The main theme receives a grander treatment in “The Last Test” and appears in a nicely ‘resolving’ variation in “Hector’s Lament”, which is then followed by two further suspense cues. Programming-wise this feels a little uncomfortable. Luckily we are then offered a larger (but not large) orchestral arrangement of the main theme in the album’s titular track “The Shadowless Tree”. The album ends on a guitar-driven pop-song, called “Cold”. It’s an alright song, though I quite like its percussion.

Is it any good?

Marc Timón Barceló’s “El árbol sin sombra” is a slick, stylish horror score, that emphasises the characters’ relationships more than the horror that unfolds. It offers a nice free-flowing main theme, which recurs many times throughout the score. Written predominantly for piano and strings, there are some nice solos for cello, whilst woodwinds and (to a lesser extent) brass are also present. It is a fairly quiet and subtle score (a little too much so for my personal tastes), but the use of the main theme in virtually every other cue keeps things moving along. After showing off his ‘Rosza’-side, Barceló now shows us his “Herrmann” side. I look forward to hearing more from this promising composer.

And I just love the cover art. Very nicely done…

Rating [3/5]


01. Theme from ”El arbol sin sombra” (1:20)
02. Calm Lake (2:20)
03. Hunt and Escape (2:21)
04. Was It the Wind? (3:41)
05. We Are Nobody (2:20)
06. Our Nature (1:40)
07. I Won’t Be There (3:00)
08. Hector and Alex (2:11)
09. Rob’s Lesson: Part 1 (2:40)
10. Rob’s Lesson: Part 2 (1:59)
11. Tina’s Dream (3:06)
12. Through he Flames (1:37)
13. In Just One Moment (3:22)
14. Tina’s Doubts (1:45)
15. The Last Test (3:54)
16. Hector’s Lament (2:07)
18. Together Again (2:10)
19. The Shadowless Tree (2:09)
20. Cold (4:04)


More information and audio clips on MovieScore Media/ScreamWorks.

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