CD: Viento en contra (2011)

July 30, 2011 | By

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Rating: Very Good

Label: MovieScore Media / Released: July 19, 2011

Tracks & Album Length: 21 tracks / (64:00)


Special Notes: (none)


Composer: Alfons Conde




Although he’s scored only a handful of film scores, Alfons Conde has already established himself as a major new voice in Spanish film composition, and Viento en contra offers a more melodic side of his personality – appropriate for a film about a kidnapping caper, and characters caught in desperate circumstances.

Conde’s main theme is a simple, propulsive work with a sweeping melody, but he doesn’t bring his theme into a firm resolution – it just evaporates. The saccharine-sweet “Patrick and Luisa” presents a fuller version of the theme with buoyant passages that come to a quick but lightly rendered rest, whereas “A Day at Work” retains the gorgeous strings, but Conde adds a synth pulse. The cue begins on an airy, happy-go-lucky mood but gradually morphs into a heavier version – thick bass, and deeper notes from the strings emphasizing a nefarious plots has begin to unspool.

“The Escape” is a wonderful portrait of desperation: a mournful theme variation with elements of the orchestra that swell as emotions intensify, or recede into unresolved chords, as details within the story remain sketchy, clues are beyond the reach of police, and the parents are forced to simply wait. The cue eventually shifts to a kinetic action mode, with electronic and piano providing steady rhythms, and Conde balances the development of screen tension with an interplay between strings and menacing brass. The use of dissonance among the strings is rather evocative of vintage Lalo Schifrin, particularly seventies thrillers such as Rollercoaster and Telefon (both 1977).

“Two Fugitives” has small burst of action, with screeching flutes, but the hour-long score is actually low on overt action cues; Conde’s writing tends to augment character states from a victim’s stance, and he brings the score to a close with a lengthy cue with broad thematic quotes contrasted against eddying four-note patterns somewhat reminiscent of Howard Shore.

Conde’s clearly studied the core ingredients needed to pull off a score that evokes vintage Hollywood crime thrillers, but with his own style and finesse, all of which reflect his gift for exploiting the resources of a large classical orchestra, modern electronica, and minor digital processing. Unlike his horror scores  – The Abandoned (2009), The Dark Hour (2006), and No-Do / aka The Haunting (2009) – this is a muscular work where aspects of the main theme are constant woven into the fabric of each cue, and MSM’s CD features a fat 64 mins. of music that gets better with each listen.

In an era when rhythm and kineticism is de rigueur in action and suspense scoring, it’s refreshing to hear a large orchestral approach with a strong emphasis on themes.



© 2011 Mark R. Hasan


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