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Crimson Peak (Fernando Velazquez)

December 15, 2015

Cover_CrimsonPeakCRIMSON PEAK

Fernando Velazquez, 2015, Quartet Records
36 tracks, 74:47

Fernando Velazquez is the master of melodic horror, and therefore seems the perfect match for “Crimson Peak”. But can he deliver?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds – and remembers.

This gothic drama / horror is directed by Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) and features an original score by Fernando Velazquez. On paper, this seems a match made in heaven. On CD… this is confirmed.

What does it sound like?

The album opens with “Edith’s Theme” and it is absolutely gorgeous. Broken piano chords accompany a lush melody for strings and solo cello. It’s as beautiful as anything Velazquez has yet written, and the counterpoint between the strings and the cello is simply sublime.

Via the downbeat “My Mother’s Funeral” we arrive at the slightly more playful “Buffalo”, where Edith’s theme is accompanied by quirky string ostinati. “McMichael” may only be a minute long, but again displays exquisite writing for strings and cello. With “Valde Sur une Berceuse Anglais” Velazquez offers a authentically classical-sounding waltz for strings.

Following the waltz, the mood starts to shift as “Ghost I” and “Optician” introduce some darker tones. “Allerdale House” is one of the longest cues of the album and offers both a lush rendition of the main theme, as well as some darker chords. Solo piano makes for a pleasant interruption in “Lullbaby Variation”, whilst flute adds a beautiful colour to “The Attic”.

Velazquez unleashes the horror in “Ghost II” and “Ghost III” (as well as in “Bubbling Up”, which feature screeching choir and various aleatoric effects. “The Machine/The Box” reprises Edith’s theme, with racing string providing a sense of urgency. This continues in “Key’s Chase”.

“I Know Who You Are” and “Lucille and Showdown” make for 19 minutes of exquisite horror music, with racing strings, brass stabs, rolling percussion and a generally unnerving atmosphere. “Finale” and “Credits” offer a romantic and melodic resolution to the album, though Velazquez still insist on keeping you on the edge of your seat during the latter.

Is it any good?

Fernando Velazquez’s “Crimson Peak” is an exquisite work for orchestra and choir, with a distinct emphasis on strings and cello. “Edith’s Theme” is one of the composer’s prettiest themes, romantic yet full of sadness, and it forms the basis of many a cue. With its lush romantic melodies, its dense orchestrations and uncompromising horror cues, “Crimson Peak” is a perfect example of a ‘gothic’ score. It’s not quite up there with the composer’s own “The Orphanage”, but it’s not far off either. With a play time of 74 minute, split over 36 cues the album does feel a little long and might have benefited from a little trim. That said, even those shorter ‘filler’ cues are of high quality and either help to establish a mood or offer a variation on the score’s themes. On the whole it’s a gorgeous album that I’ve returned to many times over the last few weeks, and will continue to do so for some time to come.

Rating [4/5]


01. Edith’s Theme (1:56)
02. My Mother’s Funeral (0:50)
03. Buffalo (2:08)
04. After the Ghost (0:36)
05. Soft Hands (0:46)
06. McMichael (1:05)
07. Valse sur une berceuse anglaise (1:18)
08. Ghost I (1:41)
09. I Desperately Need Your Help (0:54)
10. The Butterfly (0:52)
11. Optician (1:26)
12. Return to Your Ghost (3:55)
13. Allerdale Hall (6:19)
14. The House (1:48)
15. What Was That (0:41)
16. Lullaby Variation (1:41)
17. The Book (0:53)
18. The Attic (1:47)
19. Ghost II (0:51)
20. Crimson Peak (0:54)
21. Ghost III (1:42)
22. I Have to Get Away from Here (1:22)
23. Letter from Italy (0:38)
24. I’m Here (3:02)
25. The Machine / The Box (1:28)
26. Bubbling Up (0:22)
27. Key’s Chase (0:57)
28. You Didn’t Drink Your Tea (0:58)
29. The Gramophone (3:04)
30. You Are Awake (1:40)
31. Let Me Help You (0:53)
32. We Stay Together (1:15)
33. I Know Who You Are (8:15)
34. Lucille & Showdown (10:46)
35. Finale (1:52)
36. Credits (4:11)


See the Quartet Records website for more information.


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