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A Wrinkle in Time (Ramin Djawadi)

March 22, 2018

I have to say, I have no intention of seeing A Wrinkle in Time. The story sounds a bit far-fetched and the trailer looks… let’s say unconvincing. The score is by Ramin ‘Game of Thrones‘ Djawadi, a composer of whom I’m not a big fan. We’re off to a great start, aren’t we? Having said that, I enjoyed his The Great Wall a great deal more than I thought I would; and WiT sounds promising, though still has a few issues.

Let’s start with the main theme, heard in “A Wrinkle of Time”, “Uriel”, “Tap into Your Mind”, “Sorry I’m Late” and “The Universe is in All of Us”. This theme frustrates me, a lot. It starts really beautifully. The first couple of bars are right up my street. It momentarily reminds me of an old nursery rhyme, but that’s by the by. After that initial statement, it moves into a b-section which doesn’t flow nicely at all. There’s even something of a third section, like a post-script. It’s only those first few bars that really work for me. After that it lacks clear direction. It just sort-of carries on almost randomly, as if the composer is improvising, searching for a way to complete this melody… but not finding it. Also, harmonically it doesn’t always feel right. There are moments, where it sounds muddled, even plain wrong. A clear example of this is 20 seconds (and onwards) into “The Universe is Within All of Us”. It’s not the only example, but it’s the clearest to hear. Am I being too harsh? Am I hearing it wrong? Or is Djawadi trying to do too much?

What frustrates me is that there’s great potential in that theme. It’s full of great intentions, I can hear it. That children’s choir adds heaps of charm to it. The notes are right; they just need to be played differently. I feel the same about “Be a Warrior”, which presents another theme for choir, but again it seems to float around aimlessly. The sound is beautiful, but the writing is too nondescript.

Beyond the main theme, there’s little particularly remarkable about the score, neither in a good nor in a bad way. Djawadi combines orchestral and electronic elements; and sometimes that works really well (and sometimes not so well). “Tesseract” is a lovely cue for aching strings, with piano providing a slow and steady beat. There’s something really beautiful and inevitable about this cue; and it’s focused!

There is plenty to like about A Wrinkle in Time, but it doesn’t quite come together. The main theme starts off lovely, but too quickly wanders off. Orchestrations and use of electronics are fine for the most part; though there are a few moments where the harmonies seem to get muddled, as if two different things are playing at the same time. I forgot to mention it earlier, but that 80s vox sound in the opening cue is brilliant… odd, but brilliant. And I think 44 minutes of score is just right in this case. Oh, there are a few songs at the start of the album. They’re horrendous, so I won’t waste my words on them. So, I’m frustrated. As I said, lots to like, it could’ve been really great, but it needed much more fine-tuning in the melodies-department. [2.5/5]

A Wrinkle in Time, Ramin Djawadi, 22 tracks, 72m, Walt Disney Records 2018.

Review by Pete Simons (c) 2018 Synchrotones.

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