CD: Age of Adaline (2015)

May 14, 2015 | By



Score: Excellent

Label: Lakeshore Records

Released:  May 19, 2015

Tracks / Album Length:  23 tracks / 58 mins.

Composer: Rob Simonsen

Special Notes:  n/a




Rob Simonsen’s score for this variation on eternally young-but-cursed characters is the orchestral equivalent to Cliff Martinez’ Solaris (2002), in the sense of the score capturing a specific, narrow bandwidth of emotions, and rarely straying from that spectrum nor allowing for any resolution.

Haunting and alluring could describe Simonsen’s approach, and yet it’s a much deeper work in spite of its relatively discrete design. Cues may drift in and out, often without any sense of closure or progressing steadily towards an immediate resolution, but the specific chords and richness of the strings – never low, never achingly high – ensure a curious amalgam of warmth and melancholy, aptly supporting a character in an ageless state, yearning for peace, if not closure.

Adaline’s theme is very simple – just a few notes initially heard on piano – which recur in a series of variations, occasionally with Elfmanesque female voices, or in more robust dramatic fashion with a full orchestra (“No Scientific Explanation”). Other variations have loose tempo, such as “William Recognizes Adaline,” with glassy tones that evoke memory flashes which slowly congeal into a full recollection.

Human voices – either overt or performed almost as wispy echoes – seem to be Simonsen’s replacement for brass, and while there are uses of percussion and subtle synths, this is a virtually brass- and kaboom-free score. The challenge is exploiting the power of string instruments, and a standout cue is “Twisted Around the Truth” in which the orchestrations of eddying, spiraling string figures live up to the cue’s name. It’s also a cue that’s indicative of the sublime orchestrations, mining every instrument for vivid colours to create one swirling crescendo of sound before a fast yet gentle recession, and a reiteration of the Adaline theme.

Thematic closure doesn’t occur until the second-last cue (“To a Future with an End”) which manages to avoid being saccharine in spite of the fast conversion of high register voices and a pulsing Zimmerlisch back-beat & synth chords – the latter element functioning as a natural lead-in to the End Credits vocal which is more upbeat and poppish.

Lakeshore Records’ album is neatly mastered, bringing out the fine details of the strings, especially the warm tones and vibrato which are integral to conveying Adaline’s inner conflicts. Age of Adaline may seem modest, but it’s a great breakthrough score for newcomer Simonsen.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



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