After a much praised premiere at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, director Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Sicario’, starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and James Brolin will go on UK general release on October 9th. Johannsson, the composer of the soundtrack, is a Golden Globe winner as well as an Oscar and BAFTA nominee, so needless to say, expectations surrounding this collection are high.
This soundtrack opens with ‘Armoured Vehicle’ and offers up quite a surprise. Don’t be tricked into turning up the volume as a result of how softly it starts, as before long, the sound level, as well as the enjoyment, rises sharply. Following on from that is ‘The Beast’, full of percussion and a synth that claws at you from the moment it begins, so it’s a shame that as the piece draws to an end, it does so with a moaning whimper than the bang and roar it perhaps should.
Fortunately, ‘The Border’ fares better – it’s heavier, grittier and a perfect to accompaniment to the film it’s attached to. The same can be said for ‘Drywall’ and there’s a menacing aura about it, notably during the opening forty-five seconds as it reaches a crescendo. It’s a shame therefore that ‘Explosion’ doesn’t quite live up to its name, and is likely to find itself being overlooked by many who give it a listen.
The cello on ‘Desert Music’ means the piece is somewhat monotone and depressing, although the mood is lifted slightly thanks to the synth-led underscore. The menacing, dark underscore returns via ‘Target’ although in all honesty the moments of sound interspersed with complete silence are a little aggravating. ‘Convoy’ meanwhile doesn’t offer anything particularly different or exciting, but there’s something strange about the piece that makes it worthy of a repeat listen.
The next few tracks ‘The Bank’, ‘Surveillance’ and ‘Reflection’ are some of the best the soundtrack has to offer and are suitably placed among the collection, while ‘Melancholia’, coming in at close to five minutes in length is far longer than it needs to be and may yet find itself being cut off half way through by those who have heard enough.
Things improve thanks to the arrival of ‘Night Vision’, and the score once again pays close attention to the darker, deeper and more mysterious side of things, which works strongly in its favour, but ‘Tunnel Music’ is excessive in terms of both length and the overpowering cacophony of noise it delivers.
There’s a sense of walking down a dark alley alone (bad idea!) that plays throughout ‘Fausto’, which is the only good thing it offers, while the subdued mood/atmosphere continues throughout ‘Balcony’ and the piercing ‘call’ that features on ‘Soccer Game’ makes it a standout piece, as does the way in which the musicianship and production of the track come together so well.
Closing number ‘Alejandro’s Song’ brings back the piercing call/whistle, which is enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, so it’s disappointing that the piece is let down by the 5 minute plus length – had the track been 3 minutes instead of closer to 6, it’s likely the end result would have been much more impactful.
This soundtrack is not the easiest or most enjoyable to listen to, but with those critics who have seen the film for which it was written and composed praising both the actors and Johannsson for their work, it may yet find itself earning a bigger, more appreciative audience come mid-October.