CD: Child 44 (2015)

April 21, 2015 | By


Child44Score: Very Good

Label: Lakeshore Records

Released:  April 12, 2015


Tracks / Album Length:  24 tracks / 59 mins.

Composer: Jon Ekstrand

Special Notes:  n/a




Jon Ekstrand’s palette for this period thriller is largely locked onto a modest string orchestra with slight percussion accompaniment, evoking a grim, grey, emotionally dead world – no coincidence, since the child murder plot takes place in Stalinist Soviet Russia. The viola leads the score in several cues, and Ekstrand often pairs the instrument with piano and chamber strings, as in the gorgeous “Opening” and “Orphaned” cues which start the score.

There’s a rare full theme statement in the tender “Raisa’s Confession” with tender piano, but as a whole, the music of Child 44 eases in and out of scenes. Rather than function as a stealth score, it doesn’t take long before certain grey-coloured elements add extra dourness to a scene, rarely receding with any closure. Sustained chords are heavily used throughout the more suspenseful cues, while more kinetic material appears in the tense “The Usual Process” with agitated strings, intersecting tones, and light clattering backbeats that foreshadow later percussion track “Return to Volsk,” an agitated track that also sounds a little like an echo of The Bourne Identity’s backbeats, frenetic strings, and pliable tones.

Ekstrand also puts extra emphasis on thick vibrato and some shrill and airy effects in more atmospheric cues, but the score’s low-key design kind of mandates repeated listening to really appreciate the nuances that sustain Child 44’s grim atmosphere. The score’s final pair of cues close the drama with warmth, yet “Leo and Raisa Demidov” still retains faint musical strands of tragedy, and Ekstrand closes the track with just a partial finale: his theme slows down, becomes elongated, and fades out on an unresolved chord.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



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