CD: Hours (2013)

March 10, 2014 | By


Hours2013Score: Very Good

Label: Varese Sarabande

Released:  December 17, 2013


Tracks / Album Length:  12 tracks / (46:00)

Composer: Benjamin Wallfisch

Special Notes:  4-page colour booklet with director’s liner notes.




In a film where almost the entire drama occurs inside an abandoned hospital, Benjamin Wallfisch (Dear Wendy, Hammer of the Gods) adds both scope and subtext using a driving rhythm, and recurring fragments of a gentle main theme, often played on piano or accentuated with delicate woorwinds.

“Hospital” starts the score with an energetic, rhythmic motor, but “Abigail” is its antithesis, with sustained chords that gradually loosen for a swell of strings and delicate piano to accentuate the lead character’s inner fight to process the impossible situation of losing his wife, but having a newborn struggling to survive in an incubator. It’s an unusually long cue – a full 6 mins. – which allow Wallfisch to map out the full flow of shock, denial, anger, blame, and deep uncertainty, of which the latter dominates the father once he’s alone with his daughter, hand-cranking a battery every 3 mins. to keep the newborn alive until help arrives.

The flashbacks and a brief, hallucinatory visitation of his dead wife bring back warm sounds into what’s ostensibly a cold, quiet, brooding score, much in the way James Horner used soft keyboards over dark chords in small dramas like Class Action (1991). The score’s rhythmic motor – a metallic, grungy pulse with echo, reverberating bass lines, and arcing chords – also evokes a bit of James Newton Howard’s The Trigger Effect (1996) – Hours’ not-too-distant cousin, in terms of a tale involving desperate people surviving in a literally powerless world, but Wallfisch’ music really evokes the hollowness of the hospital, with echoing beats, drones, and digitally reversed sounds capturing the foreboding qualities of a dark building, and the watery danger seeping up from the basement.

It’s also a beautifully orchestrated work, with its small orchestral elements only slightly dominating the score’s genetic makeup. The electronics and digital processing are very subtle, and Wallfisch scatters his evocative motifs for the building and recurring dangers with precision and restraint. In spite of its often lengthy cues, Hours is a precisely designed work with a strong compassionate main theme, and a great sampler of Wallfisch’ skills as composer & orchestrator. 


© 2014 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Soundtrack Reviews

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