Label: La-La Land Records
Released: October 14, 2016
Tracks / Album Length: 21 tracks / 69 mins.
Composer: Mike Higham,Matthew Margeson
Special Notes: (none)
In a radical move for director Tim Burton, the score for his latest film was written by the collaborative team of Mike Higham and Matthew Margeson, both skilled in composing, orchestrating, and arranging for a diversity of projects (including several Hans Zimmer productions), and Higham himself a veteran music editor.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a work aimed at the family audience, but there’s a sense even if the film were rated PG-13, the score would still deliver the right measure of mystery, chills, and excitement for older crowds.
With an intro theme that unravels to a ticking rhythm, Higham and Margeson have opted for an elegant Barryesque use of strings, and a gentle, breathy flute to ease in their eerie main theme, closing with some bold brass additions and choir before a gothic finale that’s tinged with an organ.
A recurring motif is the use of a series of wind-blown notes on flute, and ever so subtle electronics that blur sounds and soften edges instead of upgrading the score’s contemporary orchestral sound (although one cue, “Handy Candy,” is blatant up-tempo electronica). The tail-end of “The Augusta” illustrates the use of softened chimes and tones which appear as introspective tones before echoing off into the distance. The cue ends with a revolving pattern that’s cross-mixed with airy sounds evoking a hissing leak from an air pressure valve.
The combination of soft and fuzzy sounds are eventually overtaken by the score’s darker elements, including low chords, electrified metallic vibrations, and snarling brass. “I’ll Be Here Forever” doesn’t offer surprises – its menacing content is briefly quoted in the main titles – but its emergence with gusto creates a definite shift from mysterious to daunting.
The most action-oriented cue is “Ymbrunes, Ymbrynes, Here I Come” with its grim chords and addition of percussion, spiraling notes, and organ, but even though the cue kicks into gear with edgier percussion and a sharper ticking motor, Higham and Margeson’s score is really a portrait of ever-shifting patterns and currents: it’s rare when even a delicate theme dominates a cue, which is perhaps indicative of the story’s narrative that seems to move with natural twists, turns, and undulations.
Miss Peregrine’s is meticulously performed and recorded, and cue lengths vary from just under 3 minutes to a few meatier cutes at twice that length. As an intro work, it’s a fine showpiece for the composers, and when there are slight nods to Elfman – the most obvious being the jauntiness in the second half of “Enoch’s Dolls” with rapidly accelerating rhythm and woo-woo Theremin – it’s a cute and appropriately brief homage.
Separate podcast interviews with composers Higham and Margeson are also available.
© 2016 Mark R. Hasan
Category: Soundtrack Reviews