Sherlock Series 2 soundtrack review
|REVIEWS - AUDIO REVIEWS|
An in-depth review of a soundtrack with a complexity and brilliance worthy of Sherlock Holmes himself...
If you haven’t indulged in the brilliant modern day take on the Holmes stories, then you are truly missing out on a well-crafted and intelligent program. The series is created and run by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) and Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen, Doctor Who), and transposes some of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s finest stories into a modern day thriller, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch (The Hobbit, Star Trek 2) as Holmes and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, The Office UK, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) as his faithful companion Doctor John Watson. Though there is some creative license taken to bring the stories into the modern day, the spirit of the original tales is there, and the two leads work very well off of each other, making Holmes and Watson feel right at home in 21st Century London.
One of the more interesting aspects of the program is the soundtrack, which is an eclectic blend of orchestra and electronic music. The geniuses behind the music are David Arnold (who, among other things, has scored the last five James Bond films) and Michael Price (Hot Fuzz (with Arnold), Dreamcatcher, Children of Men). Both men have proven their skills up to now, and they continue their brilliant work with Sherlock. The soundtrack begins with a solo violin piece titled “Irene’s Theme”, which is a haunting chamber piece. That is followed by “Potential Clients” a piece that is composed of simple running lines that once layered upon one another create quite an interesting track. “Status Symbols” begins with an Eastern European sounding motif of strings and percussion up to the halfway mark, where it becomes an electronic track worthy of Torchwood.
“The Woman” hints at danger with its low strings and woodwinds, coyly playing on the senses, giving the feeling of unease, which is quite fitting when dealing with a character like Irene Adler. So too does “Dark Times” play upon those sensibilities, with the occasional violin touching those higher ranges in the tradition of Bernard Herrmann. “Smoke Alarm” sounds like it would be at home in Hans Zimmer’s Batman scores, again with low strings and percussion, but almost with a heroic theme behind it.
“SHERlocked” has a very Victorian sense to it, and brings with it thoughts of Jeremy Brett as the great detective. “Pursued by a Hound” spells out danger with its near-chase-like quality, all staccato notes and sweeping motion playing under the main theme. “The Village” blends the strings with more electronic sounds for an unsettling soundscape. So too does “Deeper into Baskerville” blend the symphonic and the electronic, this time delivering a superb action piece, fraught with peril. “To Dartmoor” hints at Celtic tradition, but seamlessly translates them into a very modern sounding motif, but still one of ancient evil. “The Lab” is another Hermmann-esque track that sounds like it might have been lifted from an old horror movie, with those dark strings and disquieting violins. “Mind Palace and Solution” seems to be all over the place, but it is in that dissonant chaos that Sherlock finds his answers. The track seems to capture the chaotic blur that is Sherlock’s train of thought, and it does it skillfully.
[The following paragraph contains spoilers for the show]
“Prepared to do Anything” utilizes those hero themes for half of the piece, until a swelling of strings brings it to an abrupt end, only to continue in a somber tone of orchestra and piano. “Blood on the Pavement” is a beautiful, if sorrowful, orchestral track that seems to pay tribute to a fallen hero, as does “One More Miracle”, up until the end where it goes into the program’s main theme, and gives a hint of a promise of some great surprise. Since Moffat has promised a Series 3 (and since I’ve read the original books), I’m certain that surprise will be one worth waiting for.
Arnold and Price have constructed a wholly original soundtrack for this program, taking cues from composers who have come before and made those ideas their very own. The blending of orchestral and electronic music is done masterfully, without any jarring moments. The music also matches that which is happening onscreen perfectly, capturing the atmosphere of modern day London and two unlikely friends solving the unsolvable crimes of our time. It is also quite dark in theme, which matches the brooding yet manic personality of Sherlock to a tee. The listening experience is not one to be taken lightly, as it is in the layering of so many simple themes and motifs that the complexities of the pieces take shape. Some tracks are line upon line, with each melody playing an equal part, and yet they do not sound like separate components but as one conclusive track.
I can only really suggest this CD to fans of the program who enjoyed the music or to those who are looking for something new for instrumental music. It’s not the sort of album that can be played as background noise, but demands you take the time to sit and enjoy its intricacies. To dissect each piece and take them in, and enjoy them as a very wonderful musical experience. Personally, I enjoyed it immensely, and will be listening to this one more than once.
Sherlock Series 2 Soundtrack is out now from Silva America.
And on the other end of the Sherlock Holmes adaptation spectrum:
A Study in Error: The ten worst Sherlock Holmes
Also check out some more of Caleb Leland's soundtrack reviews:
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