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Gift (Ian Honeyman)

September 13, 2017


Ian Honeyman, 2017, Private Release
23 tracks, 46:48

An interesting blend of Western suspense music and Indian instruments. Ian Honeyman delivers an interesting and satisfying thriller score.

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Interpol Agent Juliette Pribeau suspects that a Munich pharmaceutical distributor is involved in selling counterfeit drugs. Her investigation takes her to India, Germany and eventually the highest levels of international politics. GIFT is an investigative thriller based on facts and backed up by years of exhaustive research. Music is by Ian Honeyman, whose MEISTER DES TODES I reviewed a while back. In the past he’s worked with Klaus Badelt on numerous occasions.

What does it sound like? And is it any good?

I may need to start with an apology – Ian sent me this score a long while ago and I’m only just now publishing a review. On the bright side, in the months since I received GIFT it’s found its way on to my playlists many a time. Many of the things I wrote about MEISTER DES TODES apply to GIFT as well. It’s a score with an interesting colour, mostly atmosphere. It’s a little bit different, without moving outside of anyone’s comfort zone.

The film is partially set in India, which is reflected in the score’s orchestrations. The album opens to the sounds of, I assume, sitar and tampura. That typical Indian droning sound continues in the next track, where it is accompanied by flute and, very effectively, percussion and synths. We are then treated to a simple but compelling elegy for strings.

The use of Indian instruments throughout the score is fascinating. Honeyman uses them in both melodic and ambient ways. “Poisoned” is really little more that a collection of drones, but it sounds very natural making it quite fascinating. In “Confession” the composer appears to use a piano to create a deep bell-like sound. It’s these kind of creative decisions that make GIFT stand out from a crowd of thriller scores.

Melodically…, yes there are melodies or motifs, but nothing that’s going to stick in your mind for any length of time. I think Honeyman provides enough of a harmony to trigger the desired emotional response, and beyond that a lot depends on the sound. Even when a solo violin takes the stage, I believe it’s more about the impact of that particular sound more so than the notes that are being played. I have no issues with that. It’s mostly an atmospheric score – and an expertly executed one at that!

As the album progresses, the music intensifies. The Indian droning is combined with synth pads, basses and pulses. Percussion loops become more complex and sound effects (e.g. scraping string sounds) become more unnerving. As a result the contrast between the suspense and the dramatic cues increases, making the latter feel more poignant, despite their relative simplicity.

GIFT is not one for instant gratification. It’s not one of those where you can easily pick a stand-out cue, like an overture or end titles or a particular action cue. It’s one you need to sit down with and give it time. The album as a whole tells a story and becomes quite immersive. Despite some melodic content, I believe it’s more about the sound, the atmosphere and how this progresses over the course of the album. Indeed, the sum is greater than its parts. I enjoy this kind of thing though I do wish it had a stronger thematic presence; something a little more tangible. I suspect not everyone will agree with me, but I do believe this is one of the more interesting scores I’ve heard this year so far.

Rating [3.5/5]

More details:

For more details, track-list and audio samples, visit Ian Honeyman’s website.
The score is available through various platforms such as iTunes, cdbaby and Bandcamp.

Review (C) 2017 Synchrotones

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