Perfume:  The Story of a Murderer (Soundtrack) by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil

 

 

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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by
Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil


Perfume:  The Story of a Murderer  - D1 One sheet Poster
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Perfume:  The Story of a Murderer (Soundtrack) by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Composed by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil
EMI Classics (2006)

Rating: 9/10

Buy Perfume:  The Story of a Murderer by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil  from Amazon.com

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“Tykwer and his composers have successfully reversed the translation process, transforming the olfactory into the auditory. Musically speaking, murder has never sounded so good.”

Incense for the Ears
Review by Cap Stewart

Perfume: few things affect the senses so strongly. A carefully concocted fragrance, with the right number and ratio of chemicals, has the potential to bring immense pleasure. Some scents are so appealing they’re to die for—or, rather, to kill for. At least, that’s the way it is in Tom Tykwer’s film PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER.

The narrative revolves around Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a young man who lacks any personal scent, while also exhibiting an almost superhuman sense of smell. Ostracized because of his condition, he becomes obsessed with creating the perfect scent, the ultimate in perfumery. His unorthodox—nay, depraved—method involves killing select females and distilling their natural scents.

If Clint Eastwood was the best example from 2006 of why a director should not compose his own scores, Tom Tykwer falls on the other end of the spectrum with PERFUME. The auteur’s contribution to his film’s music (along with the efforts of Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil) is nothing short of intoxicating. With the right blend of lush strings, aerial choir, and various other elements (including harp, violin, and glockenspiel), the trio has forged a most enjoyable perfume for the ears.

This score is quite a feat in its own right, especially considering that a majority of the music deals with rather sinister elements. (After all, a serial killer isn’t the most likely candidate for material of this melodic caliber.) There is a dark beauty that permeates every cue on the album, even the most suspenseful moments. This suspense is conveyed in different ways—sometimes by a softly pulsating electronic undertone, lurking beneath the music like a shadowy stalker (tracks 3 and 10), or by a heartbeat sound effect mixed in with the orchestra (track 4).

There is also a main theme, which is appropriately foreboding, albeit in a paradoxically appealing manner, frequently performed by the choir. The theme goes through numerous variations in “Moorish Scents” (track 8), constantly changing throughout the five-minute duration of the cue. In addition to this theme are several motifs—often simple in structure, yet anything but boring. “Richis’s Escape” (track 12) features one such motif almost exclusively, without ever becoming monotonous.

I know I’m treading on sacred ground when I say this, but the use of The State Choir of Latvia in PERFUME occasionally comes close to matching the emotional impact of James Horner’s legendary choral writing in GLORY. That’s not to say that PERFUME’s choral work is featured as prominently as The Boys Choir of Harlem was in GLORY, but the performance of the choir and soloists in PERFUME is nonetheless comparable in quality. For example, in the heavenly “The Crowd Embrace” (track 16) the choir combines melody and harmony without any instrumental accompaniment. Other outstanding choral moments include the religious overtones of “Lost Love” (track 7) and soprano Chen Reis’s performance in “Meeting Laura” (track 9).

In discussing the significance of the music for PERFUME, Tykwer says in the liner notes of the album, “the entire vocabulary of perfumery derives ultimately from music theory…. In the perfume business, you also talk about chords and notes.” Tykwer and his composers have successfully reversed the translation process, transforming the olfactory into the auditory. Musically speaking, murder has never sounded so good.
 

Rating: 9/10

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Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Prologue - The Highest Point 1:51  ****
2 Streets of Paris 3:11  ****
3 The Girl with the Plums 5:27  ****
4 Grenoulle's Childhood 5:16  ****
5 Distilling Roses 1:52  *****
6 The 13th Essence 2:29  ****
7 Lost Love 1:45  *****
8 Moorish Scents 5:15  ****
9 Meeting Laura 4:14  *****
10 The Method Works 3:32  ****
11 Grasse in Panic 5:33  ****
12 Richis's Escape 4:30  ****
13 Laura's Murder 3:06  ****
14 Awaiting Execution 3:06  ****
15 The Perfume 5:32  ****
16 The Crowd Embrace 3:04  *****
17 Perfume - Distilled 7:12  ****
18 Epilogue - Leaving Grasse 3:01  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 69 minutes  

 

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