CD: Sender, The (1982)

April 23, 2012 | By

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Rating: Very Good

Label: La-La Land Records/ Released: June 28, 2011

Tracks & Album Length: 12 tracks / (38:17)


Special Notes: 20-page colour booklet with liner notes by John Takis / Limited to 1500 copies..


Composer: Trevor Jones




The Sender actually marks the third collaboration between director Roger Christian and composer Trevor Jones, after the short film Black Angel (1979) and prior feature The Dollar Bottom (1981), and Jones’ own style – often comprised of sustained bass lines and a solo trumpet playing a mournful theme – is apparent in this early thriller score before the composer would move to further tales of disturbed characters with problematic moral dilemmas in thrillers like Angel Heart (1987) and Bad Influence (1990).

During the early eighties, Jones was still primarily in his orchestral period, and it’s intriguing to hear him create signature sounds and motifs using less synthetic material. Most of the cues creep in and out of scenes, but there are little moments when the score takes a good poke at audiences, making use of the film’s stereo sound design. The source tapes used by La-La Land come from an incomplete mono dupe, and although the CD doesn’t feature the full score, what survives is still a faithful representation of Jones’ often chilling music.

Sender features some beautifully fluid amalgams of elements, such as the warbling synths and sustained strings in “Attempted Suicide,” plus a female voice which literally straddles the border between organic and an analogue emulation. Grounding the score is Jones’ central theme which is admittedly oft-repeated (a common issue with his most mono-thematic scores, such as Sea of Love), but his arrangements are quite lovely, moving from deeply sensitive versions with recorder and trumpet to stripped-down versions emphasizing bass lines with a revolving 4-note motif (“The Necklace is Found”).

Cue lengths vary, in terms of longer theme establishments at the beginning followed by short, strategic mood pieces, but the final three cues feature lengthy music montages spanning the film’s conclusion where distrust is the dominant emotion – conveyed by the alternating 4-note motif, and the addition of haunting female voices. There’s also a great midsection in “The Cabin” where a warm, almost saccharine chamber version of the main theme arises from dissonance, worms its way around ugly sounds, and is drawn towards ambient notes on keyboard before the orchestra interrupts with frenetic figures and returning, often guttural voices.

John Takis’ liner notes provide good context to the composer and director, plus cue breakdowns to a film most horror fans have likely never seen, but should.



© 2012 Mark R. Hasan


External References:

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