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Diablo (Timothy Williams)

January 23, 2016


Timothy Williams, 2016, Milan Records
21 tracks, 57:39

Timothy Williams is on the move; on the way up. With each score this man impresses more and more. Will “Diablo” continue that trend?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

A young civil war veteran is forced on a desperate journey to save his kidnapped wife. Directed by Lawrence Roeck, the film stars Scott Eastwood (nearly a spitting image of his dad) and Danny Glover. The original score is by Timothy Williams, who has a long-standing working relationship with Tyler Bates (amongst others), but is steadily making a name for himself as a top-notch composer in his own right.

What does it sound like?

The album opens with a big, and in a way quite theatrical, song called “Bloodline” by Zella Day (who was personally brought in by Tim Williams). I’m not familiar with her work, but her voice and style of singing here reminds me of Florence (and the Machine). Deep rolling guitars, trumpet and the occasional ‘hey’ are clear giveaways that this is written for a Western – it’s got all those elements that have been associated with Westerns since Ennio Morricone practically invented the genre many decades ago. Anyway, I don’t often write much about songs, but there’s something quite appealing about this one.

Timothy Williams’ score opens with “Colorado Territory”. The sound of wind, whistling and solo violin are the key elements here. It instantly paints a desolate picture. With “Alexandrea Kidnapped”, the composers ramps it up a few gears, with growling brass and rattling percussion. It doesn’t last long, but it’s a big sound. It promises we might be in for a treat! Strings take over and we are presented with one of the score’s key themes. It’s not the most memorable theme, but it is nice, functional and adaptable.

“The South Trail” opens low-key, again emphasising a lonely or desolate feeling, before the main theme takes centre stage. Horns are accompanies by rich, swelling strings and deeply resonating percussive accents. There’s almost something a little Zimmer-y about the theme. It somehow reminds me of “The Last Samurai”, but it’s not that minimalistic. That said, the odd string spiccato ostinato in “She’s Gone” again reminds me of Zimmer, though I can’t quite figure out where I’ve heard it. A lush theme for strings sits on top of this. Again, it’s not a belter of theme, but the overall sound and atmosphere is fantastic. Great stuff!

The director, Lawrence Roeck, and I discussed the tone at length and felt a more traditional western guitar driven score might feel a touch overused and might not serve the film well,” Williams described. “The story played much better as a psychological thriller, so we agreed that we wanted to head in that direction and try to capture the emotion of a man whose wife has been taken and the immense turmoil he faces on his journey to get her back. We wanted to contrast the great beauty of the surroundings with the darkness and twisting of the events.

“Arturo” is a great example of what Williams is talking about. It’s a tense track for tremolo and dissonant strings. “Ambush at the River” continuous in this dark manner, before violently stabbing percussion and string ostinati take over. In fact, the majority of the score is tense, either in a ‘thriller’ kind-of-way or in an ‘action’ way. Eerie string writing and energetic action passages seem to alternate throughout many cues. In “Peyote” Williams adds flute effects to give it a ‘Native’ flavour, but the wavering strings, pitch-bending trombones, rattling percussion, and so on, make this another tense cue.

“Carter’s House” offers some brief and beautiful respite (for strings), but Williams pulls out all the stops with “Carter’s Death”. This is one heck of a powerful, aggressive cue. The string ostinati, light but incessant percussion, the long out-drawn brass notes… remind me of Marco Beltrami, and even Elliot Goldenthal.

“Reunion” is another cue that reminds me of Beltrami, due to its experimental nature. It’s orchestrated for ‘slapped’ guitar, distorted cello (I guess) and various odd sounds – for lack of a better, or more accurate, description. The score concludes with “Not Afraid”, which largely reprises the excellent “Carter’s Death” cue, though it makes for a dark and oppressing end.

Two songs finish off the album – the intense “Preacher’s Theme” performed by Spindrift (which revolves around acoustic guitar, mysterious synth chords and another quite typical Western theme, including vocal shouts); and “Taken” by Jenavive (which is an altogether much softer affair for piano and female vocal).

Is it any good?

Tim Williams’ “Diablo” is one heck of a solid score. It’s one of those scores that, realistically, aren’t going to set the world on fire, but that are just incredibly well written, orchestrated and produced. There’s a really big sound to it all, even without the full orchestra playing. It’s all very intense, and dense, but I’m not sure whether this is down to the choice of instruments, the electronic effects, or the mixing and recording of it all. It’s probably a combination of all of the above. Still, everything is perfectly clear in the mix. I’ll be honest and say: I don’t really know why I love this score as much as I do. It’s not particularly memorable or original, but it is very well done. It means business – and I like that. I like it a lot!

Rating [4/5]


01. Bloodline – by Zella Day (3.50)
02. Colorado Territory, 1872 (1.26)
03. Alexandra Kidnapped (2.50)
04. The South Trail (3.21)
05. She’s Gone (3.37)
06. Arturo (3.51)
07. Ambush At The River (1.20)
08. Ezra (2.22)
09. Horse Shot (4.09)
10. Gallop (1.42)
11. Peyote (1.43)
12. Carter’s House (2.02)
13. Carter’s Death (3.04)
14. Sun Was Still Not Down (3.26)
15. Reunion (1.15)
16. Hide Her Away (1.12)
17. The Reckoning (2.30)
18. Kill Every Last One (3.35)
19. Not Afraid (3.22)
20. Preacher’s Theme – by Spindrift (3.35)
21. Taken – by Jenavive (3.27)

Review (C) 2016 Synchrotones

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