|11.||Zycie i Smierc||6:37|
|15.||Milosc i Smierc||3:37|
|16.||Zdorwas Mario (sopran solo)||4:15|
|17.||Piesn Szamana (wer. alternatywna)||4:14|
|Total Album Time:||58:40|
|by John Merriman
September 5, 2006
When composers choose to rely nearly exclusively on electronics to provide a film's musical texture, the degrees of range, development, and variety that are sufficient to complement the film can often seem insufficient on album. Perhaps a textbook example of the film versus album dichotomy for electronic scoring is shown with the music for Szamanka, a 1996 Polish-French Swiss production that portrays an anthropology professor's obsession with a mummified shaman and a highly disturbed woman. Composed by Andrzej Korzynski, the album has a brief promising start, but soon veers into the realm of the undeveloped, unimaginative, and sometimes even the unlistenable.
The variety that's sorely lacking in the overall album, however, is provided collectively by the first three tracks. The film's main theme, featured in "Szamanka", is a mysterious melody that effectively indicates something sinister is afoot. A frantic dual choir backs lofty soprano in the next track, "Zdorwas Mario", underneath which is layered a pounding percussive rhythm. The counterpoint achieved by the soprano and the mixture of the chanting choir and steady electronic percussion is noteworthy, as it creates an epic and dramatic sound. The third track, "Szaman", is a decent example of when ambient synthesizer is able to elicit some emotion, although the cue is undercut by a lack of development.
And from this point on, lack of development seems to have been Korzynski's main ambition for the album. The same forceful syncopated beat heard in the second track is repeated in "Piesn Szamana" and "Bebny Szamana", with virtually no variation to distinguish the two tracks from one another, except for the use of electric guitar riffs in the second cue. The result is an aggressive beat constantly in the foreground for more than eight minutes. More repetition follows in "Ironia", which again uses its beat as the lead musical concept, and "Tajemnica", which states the theme repeatedly over a slow drum machine beat. The worst track on the album, "Wielki Piec", features full-on electric guitar over maddening synth percussion that's just a trial to listen to.
There are a few dim bright spots: "Zycie i Smiercl" opens with the same instrumentation as the first track, then leads into passable, somewhat uplifting pop rock music, and "Milosc i Smierc" is able to suggest some emotion, although the cue is nearly identical to the third track. The second-to-last track is an alternate of the second cue that eschews the percussion and chanting; the resulting soprano backed by foreboding synth is reasonably effective here. The last track is an alternate of the fourth and amounts to be a combination of that track and the fifth cue, which makes it a wholly unnecessary inclusion.
All in all, save for the first three tracks, the album for Szamanka is too repetitive and tedious for active listening. Had Korzynski offered more of the variety heard early in the album, instead of frequently recycling his material or focusing so heavily on his electronic beats and effects, the score would've been a more inviting and engaging listen.
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