Film Music Review
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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)






Music composed and conducted by Brad Sayles.

23 Tracks (Playing Time = 55:55)

Music produced by Brad Sayles and Patricia Sayles. Oboe Solos by Alecia L. Lawler. Featuring the Houston Boy Choir, Carole Nelson director. Engineered by Todd Hulslander. Recorded at the Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting, KUHF Studio.

MovieScore Media MMS-06003

Rating: ***


Movie Score Media’s third release coincides with the DVD release of ECHOES OF INNOCENCE by first-time director N. Todd Sims. The movie is a Christian allegory about teen abstinence from this Dallas-based production. It received a brief premiere a year ago in LA and another one in September and also made a limited appearance at a couple of film festivals, most notably at Worldfest Houston where it won a “Platinum Award” for “Independent Theatrical Feature—Drama.” The score by Houston-area composer Brad Sayles also received a special jury award. Sayles is the chief recording engineer of Houston’s NPR affiliate and this is his first film score, though he has other concert works to his credit.

Sayles’ score is at its best when the wordless choral work is layered into the fabric of his music. The music is similar to the crosses between ambient sounds and lyrical solo lines. Though the information says the music is “conducted” by the composer, the orchestral instruments (especially strings) all sound synthesized but they are all on the high end of quality. The addition of piano lines helps recess the sounds and adds just a little bit more to the overall sound. So really the score itself, like many written for low budget features, suffers more from the inability to use a larger ensemble. Sayles is thinking along lines of anything that would appear in an art house setting with more studio underwriting. So given the chance to have that ensemble at his disposal one can expect great things. “Remembering Christopher” is perhaps the better of the tracks mixing acoustic and synthesized instruments together so that they are less obvious. It sounds better than your average movie-of-the-week score. “Childhood Memories” is a gorgeous track with a wonderful lyric flute line. There are several moments in the score where Sayles has these wonderfully flowing melodies. They never sink into melodramatic film writing which is surprising given the subject matter of the film. The music works best when it is left to a single solo line or choral sound. The synthesizer sounds take some getting used to but if you let that go, you will find much to admire here.

The ambient soundscapes that Sayles creates for the vision sequences are impressive as are the wilder, darker parts of the score. At it’s worst then, ECHOES OF INNOCENCE sounds like a television score for any number of cable channels. At its best, which is more often than not, it sounds like a very good score for a B-picture aspiring to be more. It is the score which has its sights set on grander things than the film itself may have expected and that only means that we should be hearing more from this composer in the future.

As a first effort, this is a quite an accomplishment.

They can be admired for giving “new” composers a chance at great exposure. If the release suffers from anything it is that it is quite long and could use some editing to a smaller length. As with many of these independent releases, one is reminded that while 30-40 minute CDs seem like a waste, they often allow for a far better picture of the truly best moments of a score. For film score fans though, it is great to live in a time where too much of a good thing is possible around many corners.

--Steven A. Kennedy, 2 April 2006

MovieScore Media specializes in digital distribution of its scores so the score can be downloaded at iTunes:

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