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The FYC album in the form of publically available MP3 files has been discovered less than an hour ago by our board, so at the time of me wrapping a write-up on this, this might well be the first dedicated review published on the subject matter.

 

 Since this is only a limited presentation - about a third or maybe even quarter of the entire score, it is hard to judge the score in it's entirety. I will be keeping to the album itself for the most part, and not speculating about music outside of it.

 

My experience was influenced by a deep knowledge of the film's leaked plot, so I knew what a large part of the music, especially earlier on, was about. I won't be spoiling ANYTHING in this review, however, since I am not going to say a word about the film or story---only about music.

 

So, let's get to it!

 

The tracks are short like in a videogame score, which hurts the listening coherence a bit, but I bet that it's only a first listen impression.

 

The palette is serious and mature, synretic to all previous Star Wars scores. In the overall colour palette:

1. it oftentimes sounds like the film music of William Walton, Ralph Vaughan Williams and other primarily classical composers, whenever they were asked to write for cinema. And also Richard Strauss, the way Williams referenced him back in The Empire Strikes Back. There is a requiemish, pastoral vibe to it at times.

2. It also sounds a bit like Michael Giacchino's Medal of Honor war game scores, which were of course influenced both by the aforementioned film scores, and by Williams [for example Black Sunday]. From the rhytms and tension writing to tiny choral moments... It does make me wonder about the thought processes and discussions of Williams and J.J. Abrams. 

3. Return to Stravinsky [Track 16] and other general musical call-backs to the first, 1977 score were also an interesting choice.

4. There are also some clear Herrmannesque moments [Track 20]

 

There are plenty of unique, new, immediately likeable "Star Wars Score" moments. Some aleatoric moments, for example in [Track 17] are bound to feed the interest of those interested in the technical side of music.

 

The melodic nature is clearly an effort on Williams' part. I have to admit that my joining of the serious music fandom relatively late makes me unable to compare it to first listens of other scores, but it resembles the overall catchiness of the underscore of The Phantom Menace, for example.

 

The themes are used in new ways, very well and emotionally, and there doesn't seem to be any overwhelming or overuse. It's an impeccable use of themes, in fact---although I do suspect that the FYC serves to underline the new material, and try not to disqualify it on the basis of relying too much on music from the previous films, so my assessment needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

Many times the themes are used in quite a confident, slower, relaxed way---which is quite refreshing.

 

Curiously, there is a noticeable lot of good use of the harp. Partly possibly because it has been mixed in quite loud, but the variety of (especially loud) techniques makes it clear that it was a definite choice on Williams' part.

There is a lot of focus on the strings in the score, which---as far as Star Wars is concerned, has long been my dream, which I must have expressed in every possible way over the years.

The choral elements in the later part of the score are beautiful.

 

The ending of the album is a bit more quiet and emotional, and much more varied than the giant boom fest of telling themes I expected it to be. Since the leaks did not cover this part, and I've only seen a "the cast retells with emotions their reactions to the ending" I am very intrigued as to what it all is about. The ending is so beautiful and apotheosis-like, that I nearly shed a tear on the first listen.

 

I am very pleased that my predictions of Williams taking the assignment with a personal, invested approach, although it is much different and way beyond what I expected, were proven correct. The score surprised me in many ways. I love what we have gotten, and can't wait until we get even more. Time will tell more about this score, but my gut feeling is that we have a classic here. A very classical classic, in fact.

 

P.S. TROS march from the Anthony Daniel videos, as far as I can tell, is not there, which makes my user name very ironic. Oh, well! It's been fun to speculate anyway.

 

I will be updating this review after consecutive listens.

 

Originally posted: 10.12.2019, 22:40 of central European time

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this is an interesting take, looking forward to what you have to say in the listens to come. 

Thank you. I was very impressed with this. The return to Stravinsky started a little bit in the Last Jedi in the sequence where they blow the door to the bridge to get to Poe and the mutineers. I'm glad to hear more of that. Full circle, indeed.

 

Also, I heard a similarity between the last notes, instrumentation and phrasing of track 14 and the end of a certain track on the Superman soundtrack. I can't say what it is without possibly spoiling something, but I would like to know if anyone else heard this. If you did, please send me a message, I would like to talk with you about it.

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