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The Awakening by Daniel Pemberton

The Awakening

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The Awakening (Soundtrack) by Daniel Pemberton
The Awakening (Soundtrack) by Daniel Pemberton











The Awakening (Soundtrack) by Daniel Pemberton

The Awakening
Composed by Daniel Pemberton
1812 Recordings (2011)

Rating: 7/10

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“PEMBERTON’S score is one of great potential, but it is clearly held back by the nature of the horror genre.”

Held Back by the Horror
Review by Richard Buxton

Musical offerings in the horror genre are often a mixed experience of glorious highs and mind numbing lows. Beyond the pedestrian scores heard in the various celebrations of mindless violence in recent years, horror has often been an exercise in patience that is occasionally rewarded with quite simply stunning music. JAMES NEWTON HOWARD could be seen as one of the catalysts for the evolution of the horror score beyond atmosphere and scares, as his music for the SHYAMALAN films SIGNS and THE VILLAGE both transcended the genre, and combined unremitting tension with emotionally stunning scores. Both of these scores provided a master class in guiding the listener through the horror with timely suggestions of a beauty beyond the terror that culminated in rousing catharsis at the climax of each movie. Taking a similar approach, FERNANDO VELAZQUEZ wowed the ears with his show-stopping music finale for THE ORPHANAGE/EL ORFANATO, reducing listeners and viewers to emotional wrecks. It’s clear that composer DANIEL PEMBERTON has taken note of previous successes and has admirably attempted to craft a score beyond the bare minimum.

In what seems like a nod to his predecessors, PEMBERTON begins the score and the main theme with a 6-note ascending and descending string pattern that bears resemblance to HOWARD’S shape-shifting main motif for SIGNS. While PEMBERTON’S motif doesn’t reach such a level of transformation and flexibility, it certainly manages to seduce the listener with its hypnotic pattern whilst forewarning of the terror to come. The main theme initially starts out as one that hints at potential for greater exploration, both in its initial appearance in “Seeing Through Ghosts (Theme from The Awakening)” (1) and throughout the entire score, but it’s the unfortunate reality that the theme receives little significant development beyond its original statement and form. The theme again can be heard sprinkled across the score in the tragic “Florence Cathcart” (6), “Damaged People” (18) and the final piece and best extended example of the theme “Reprise (Theme from The Awakening” (28). Solely heard alone, the theme is evocative and haunting, but when considered as a part of an entire score it fails to ignite.

THE AWAKENING truly finds form in the various choral and orchestral eruptions heard throughout the score, starting with “The Séance” (2) and its cacophony of vocals set to a backdrop of foreboding strings and ominous percussion. PEMBERTON often utilises the choir in a more traditional and atmospheric fashion to good effect, in “Don’t Tell Tom” (22), but it is when the vocals are let loose that his score shines. The rhythmic strings of “Arrival at Rookford” (7) blend excellently with the solo vocal and the backdrop of haunting choral crescendos.

Like many horror scores before it, THE AWAKENING finds its calling at the back-end of the score as the loose ends unravel in moments of orchestral and choral brilliance. “Chorus de Susticatio (Chorus from The Awakening” (23) proves a magnificently haunting and rousing precursor to the scores climax with its dominant and turbulent vocals. The vocals drop dramatically to allow a solo voice to be heard in “A Death Remembered” (24) before coming to a close with the beautifully restrained “Florence is Free”, a cue that mercifully combines the choir with the main theme, albeit briefly. Had PEMBERTON been given the chance to develop the theme in this way more often, THE AWAKENING could perhaps have been a standout score of the year. Unfortunately this was not the case, and THE AWAKENING is rounded out by the delicately haunting “The Awakening (Credits)” (27) and the repetitious but resolving “Reprise (Theme from The Awakening” (28).

Elsewhere, PEMBERTON’S score is one that hits all the expected notes for a horror score, making use of string suspense “The East Bedroom” (21), and orchestral cacophony in “There is Nothing” (14) and “The Dollshouse” (16). On occasion the score drops into almost silence which, while adding to the sense of horror in the film, does little more than cause confusion as to whether certain tracks have finished or not. Tracks such as “Patience” (19) are initially so quiet that it may be questioned as to whether the track has even begun at all.

PEMBERTON’S score is one of great potential, but it is clearly held back by the nature of the horror genre. The vocal side of the score is often stunning when it is given the chance. Here’s hoping that DANIEL PEMBERTON is given greater opportunity to explore his orchestral and vocal flair in the future.

Rating: 7/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Seeing Through Ghosts (Theme from The Awakening) 1:44  ***
2 The Sèance 2:05  ****
3 Oh Coccinelle/ Deep Breaths 2:21  **
4 High Over Cumbria 0:55  ***
5 Empty Classrooms 2:12  ***
6 Florence Cathcart 1:53  ****
7 Arrival At Rookford 1:16  ****
8 Semper Veritas 1:30  ***
9 Preparations 1:48  ***
10 Chasing Footprints 3:21  **
11 Lock The House 1:25  ***
12 The Hallway 1:01  ***
13 Scars 1:03  ***
14 There In Nothing 1:00  ***
15 Don't Go Away 0:58  ***
16 The Dollshouse 1:42  **
17 No Walls or Floors 1:42  ***
18 Damaged People 0:59  ****
19 Patience 3:04  **
20 Florence Vanishing 1:25  ***
21 The East Bedroom 3:30  ***
22 Don't Tell Tom 2:37  ****
23 Chorus de Susticatio (Chorus from The Awakening) 1:56  *****
  Total Running Time (approx) 56 minutes  


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