MovieScore Media (MMS-06003)
Release Date: 2006
Conducted by Brad Sayles
|5.||Sarah's First Vision||1:48|
|6.||Who's Alec Stainer?||1:06|
|7.||Done With You / Premonition||1:58|
|13.||Joan of Arc||0:57|
|14.||I Hear Things||1:30|
|15.||What Is the Glory of Kings?||1:26|
|19.||Recommitment / Sarah's Second Vision||6:25|
|20.||Why Did I Love Him?||3:45|
|21.||Midsummer Night's Play||1:36|
|22.||Into the Woods / The Rescue||7:36|
|23.||Christopher Returns / The Wedding||5:18|
|Total Album Time:||56:06|
|by Jonathan Jarry
July 16, 2006
There is a lot to admire in Brad Sayles' film score debut Echoes of Innocence. The musical talent and vision exceed the production means, resulting in a compelling and touching score with sometimes great solo performances over stilted samples that do not flow quite as well.
While the movie itself is receiving high praises from the Christian groups (the story does concern a high school virgin struggling with her faith and her curious visions of Joan of Arc), the score is not an over-dressed, skirt-below-the-knees affair. Its only religious mark is that of a choral ensemble, The Houston Boychoir, perfectly recorded as if performing in a church while we are standing at the back, the pure, dreamy choral sound always remote and reverberated. The Boychoir's echoes of innocence voice the main theme in the opening bars of "Main Title", a great and infectious short theme with a high impact that has stuck in my mind ever since I first heard it. The string ensemble carries much of the emotions in the score, sounding good yet a bit artificial, which might turn some people off as a real orchestra could not be afforded. This somewhat stiff sound is complemented by more realistic performances by the choir and by an oboist in most of the tracks. A piano fleshes out the more personal aspect of the score, introducing us to Christopher's Theme, a complex melody with a rhythmic left hand, in "Remembering Christopher". Modern beats unfortunately infringe upon the religious beatitude of the main melody in "Main Title" and "Sarah's Speech"; Sayles' drum machine sounds out of place and synthetic and detracts from the established musical signature of the movie.
Most of the score is consonant and melodious, but Sayles experiments with dissonance and more primitive performances for the vision sequences, such as "Sarah's First Vision" and "Into the Woods". Percussive hits reminiscent of Elfman's Planet of the Apes trademark sound are accompanied by a whole array of percussion, bat screams from the violins, and savage flutes being overblown. Consonance is rescued from these brutal attacks by the main theme performed by the choir. While the main theme is a great find, Sayles gets carried away by its beauty and simplicity, restating it one time too many. The score could have used more thematic material to achieve a better balance, a point which is reinforced by the last track, "Christopher Returns / The Wedding", which laces beautiful performances by a live cello and violin duet with melodic material that sounds fresh and slightly different from the rest of the soundtrack. The main theme blossoms through layered harmonies for the choir and we are introduced, albeit late, to another avenue the score could have taken to achieve a more balanced feel. It is this diversification and fleshing out which would have benefited an album that, while good, becomes repetitive over its one-hour running time.
Brad Sayles' score to Echoes of Innocence is certainly a strong entry into the industry despite its low budget. The use of the Houston Boychoir is both lucky (for such a small endeavor) and resplendent, bringing credibility and a certain spiritual awe to the music which can be undermined at times by thin samples and a dreadful drum machine. Sayles' talent goes beyond his means in Echoes of Innocence; here's to hoping future projects allow him the use of a live orchestra or ensemble (and a much better drum machine if he insists on using one).
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