Nowhere in Africa (Soundtrack) by Niki Reiser available at



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Nowhere in Africa (Soundtrack) by Niki Reiser

"Somewhere in Germany"
Review by Christopher Coleman


Nowhere in Africa (Soundtrack) by Niki Reiser

Nowhere in Africa

Nowhere in Africa (Soundtrack) by Niki Reiser

Niki Reiser
Niki Reiser


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Category    Score

Originality 8
Music Selection 6
Composition 8
CD Length 7
Track Order 7
Performance 8
Final Score 7/10


Real Audio Clips



Quick Quotes

"Nowhere in Africa is a superior effort to combine Western and African elements into a package that is both interesting and pleasant to regular listeners of orchestral scores, even though the album contains sounds that may, at times, be too foreign for their enjoyment."

Christian Clemmensen - Filmtracks Reviews
Nowhere in Africa




Music composed and by Niki Reiser
Performed by The Basel Symphony Orchestra
Released by Higher Octave Records on May 6, 2003

Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa) was certainly one of the gems of 2002. The German film directed by Caroline Link has also produced one of film-music gems of 2002 as well. Of course, the soundtrack release didn't come until almost half-way through 2003. The film received worldwide acclaim and numerous awards including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for 2002. Among the barrage of "recognition-hardware" was the German Film Award for Best Music which went to composer Niki Reiser.

Somewhere in Germany, Niki Reiser has been quietly laboring within the confines of the small but feisty film industry.  Thus for many film music fans, the name of Niki Reiser may be a relatively obscure one.  Trained at the Berkley college of Music in Boston, MA, Niki Reiser also studied under the tutelege of Ennio Morricone and Jerry Goldsmith. Nowhere in Africa marks Reiser's third collaboration with director Caroline Link. The previous two films being Puenktchen und Anton (Annaluise and Anton), and Jenseits der Stille (Beyond Silence).

Nowhere in Africa is far from the typical Holocaust film. This film, based on the autobiographical novel by Stefanie Zweig, follows the Redlich family from the growing threat in Nazi-Germany to the mysteries of life in Kenya, Africa. As the beauty of the land and its people are brilliantly captured by the cinematography and direction of Link, equally impressive is Niki Reiser's score as it communicates the various tones of the setting and its people.

Reiser's melodic score plays a stronger part in the film than notices initially. The opening 15 minutes features musical score almost non-stop. It is when the music finally fades away that one is made aware of its previously constant presence. Niki Reiser's score succeeds as in combining melodic, western musical elements with the substance of African percussions and vocalizations. The score helps to communicate the motif of "cultures, not clashing, as much as adapting to one another"...and underscores the point of these Jewish refugees finding more of a home in Kenya than in their own homeland of Germany.

Throughout the score western and African instruments take turns in coming to the forefront as the other gracefully bows and takes a step back; rarely disappearing completely. Great examples of this can be heard in track 5, Journey through Kenia and in track 6, Africa - Europe Track 9.  Still, there are tracks that could be considered exclusively Western such as track 1, Lorely.  Likewise there are those which are primarily African such as track 12, Ritual.  The overall effect of the soundtrack is a subtle yet surprising harmony that makes for a fairly unobtrusive listening experience. 

The title track (3) Nowhere in Africa begins subtly, but both Western and African elements are heard from the very onset - the oboe being accompanied by various percussion. Soon strings are added in playing the melody and likewise additional percussive instruments work their way in. The end result is an intriguing crescendo of both elements which finally gives way to a string solo. Track 6, Africa-Europe, begins with unaccompanied Swahili vocals but are soon joined by strings. The blending is understated yet remains poignant - neither element taking precedence over the other and together producing something neither could have alone. 

The main themes of the Nowhere in Africa are oft repeated and while they worked seamlessly within the film itself, as good as they are, the soundtrack does become a bit repetitive by its conclusion.   As performances go, that of the Basel Symphony is restrained but used effectively.  It is the spontaneous joy of the African vocals, errors and all, which ultimately brings a specific sort of life to this score.

Both the film and score are subtle triumphs worthy of one's full attention.   The score is a tender exploration of the European and African cultures.  Echoing one of the themes of the film, Niki Reiser's score shows how things so apparently different are, if one will look closely enough, not in conflict but in harmony.  Niki Reiser's effort for Nowhere in Africa and the resulting attention the film has garnered should help to make his name a more frequent screen-credit listing.


Track Listing and Ratings


Title Time


1 Loreley 1:23  ****
2 Daddy's Back! 0:54  ****
3 Nowhere in Africa 3:40  ****
4 End of War 2:41  ****
5 Journey Through Kenia 5:30  ****
6 Africa - Europe Track 9 2:50  ****
7 Regina's Melody 1:02  ***
8 Hansel in Gretel in Africa 0:49  ***
9 Goodbye from Regina 4:47  ****
10 Jetel's Melody 2:43  ****
11 Toto 0:49  ***
12 Ritual 2:05  **
13 Nowhere in Africa II 2:05  ****
14 Poland Means Death 4:16  ***
15 My Brave Angel 1:07  ***
16 Closing Frame 1:55  ****
17 Visiting the Camp 1:24  ***
18 Reichskristallnacht Track 10 3:37  ****
19 Love Scene 1:38  ***
20 Reunion 0:59  ***
21 Celebration of the Pokot/Home Country 5:17  ****
22 Grasshopers 2:45  ***

Total Running Time


Nowhere in Africa (Soundtrack) by Niki Reiser

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.






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