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Ceremony by Eric D. Johnson

Ceremony

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Ceremony (Soundtrack) by Eric D. Johnson
Ceremony (Soundtrack) by Eric D. Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ceremony (Soundtrack) by Eric D. Johnson

Ceremony
Composed by Eric D. Johnson
Lakeshore Records (2011)

Rating: 4/10

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“What makes CEREMONY truly difficult to approach as a score is not only the style of the music, but the progression heard throughout and the way it is structured.”

Unceremonial
Review by Richard Buxton

One of the greatest dividing aspects of the success of a film score is the in-film experience and the out-of-film listening experience. Your regular run-of-the-mill underscore might be employed expertly in creating suspense and atmosphere as the film motors onwards, yet as a pure listening experience it may categorically fail. Depending on your musical tastes, ERIC D. JOHNSON’S score for CEREMONY epitomizes this conflict between listening states.

CEREMONY, written and directed by MAX WINKLER, tells of young writer Sam Davis (Michael Angarano) and his attempt to halt the wedding and win the heart of Zoe (Uma Thurman). What unravels is somewhat of a love it or hate it film and the same can almost be said of the score.

Heard as an accompaniment to the film, ERIC D. JOHNSON’S quirky guitar-laden score is undoubtedly a good fit. Not once does the music threaten to outshine the film, rather it accents it, emphasizing the awkward and seemingly futile optimism seen in the character of Sam. The underlying atmosphere of the onscreen events is of a constantly contrasting nature. A happy-go-lucky façade lays way to an almost disturbing depression as the protagonist constantly corroborates the suspicion that he has little going for him. The consistent uplifting buoyancy of the score, exemplified in “Dos Gauchos en El Camino” (2), works well in conveying the character of Sam and the initially deceptive character depth.

What makes CEREMONY truly difficult to approach as a score is not only the style of the music, but the progression heard throughout and the way it is structured. Little to no development can be heard, no matter what order the tracks are played in. Playing the soundtrack in reverse, even when including the licensed tracks offers no insight into the events of the film, a characteristic present in most traditional film scores. The grooving bass line of “Married?! (8) is of a significantly differing nature instrumentally to the meandering “Overture” (1), but offers no indication of the how different the emotions felt during the moments it is heard in the film might be. The lackadaisical wandering of “At The Mohican” (3) is effectively cloned in the subsequent track “Uncle Teddy” (3), with only the tempo seeing a significant change.

This unwavering consistency will make for a difficult and lethargic listening experience for anyone outside those who take an immediate liking to the sound JOHNSON has crafted. The composer has certainly created an effective sound, in that it is unerringly faithful and entirely convincing to the style he has chosen. The instrumentation and the methods with which he has used it are honestly very efficient “Sam by the Window” (10) would be an evocative and effective piece in any other score, but placed between the incessantly dreamy strumming of “Paper Chase” (14) or the relaxing “Uncle Teddy” (4), the emotions heard in the piece are a dime a dozen.

JOHNSON’S score could easily masquerade as a regular album release, devoid of the name CEREMONY, and the majority of the general public would be none-the-wiser. Away from the film, it offers no indication that it actually is a score and undoubtedly suffers when evaluated as a film’s musical accompaniment.

While it shouldn’t come as any surprise, the licensed tracks are no different, which is perhaps a great compliment to those involved in selecting these tracks for inclusion. The likes of “Papa Hobo” (15) and “Plots and Entrees” (11) are almost unnervingly similar to ERIC D. JOHNSON’S score. Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy” (12) is most likely the greatest deviation from the general feeling of the score, but still retains a strikingly similar atmosphere.

The most impressive aspect of ERIC D. JOHNSON’S score for CEREMONY is just how well his music fits the film. It is in placing the music in a track-list that it ultimately fails however, and becomes an often-irritating experience for those that do not take an immediate liking to the style.
 

Rating: 4/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Overture 1:34  **
2 Dos Gauchos en El Camino 3:10  ****
3 At the Mohican 1:31  **
4 Uncle Teddy 1:20  **
5 Brief Encounter 2:00  **
6 La La La Lies (by Peter Townsend) 1:58  ***
7 Zoe on the Beach 1:44  **
8 Married?! 2:02  ***
9 Never You Done that (by General Public) 4:11  **
10 Sam by the Window 1:57  ***
11 Plots and Entrees (by Van Dyke Parks) 0:54  ***
12 It Don't Come Easy (by Ringo Starr) 3:03  ***
13 Marshall Finds the Ring 0:47  **
14 Paper Chase 1:25  *
15 Papa Hobo (by Ezra Koenig of the band Vampire Weekend) 2:34  **
16 Good Times (by Eric Burdon & The Animals) 3:00  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 33 minutes  

 

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