CD: Field of Lost Shoes (2014)

October 6, 2014 | By


FieldOfLostShoesScore: Excellent

Label:  La-LaLand Records

Released:  September 9, 2014

Tracks / Album Length:  26 tracks / (72:38)

Composer: Frederik Wiedmann

Special Notes:  n/a




With an orchestra and choir at his hands, Frederik Wiedmann’s written an epic score for the Civil War drama Field of Lost Shoes, based on the 1864 battle in which teen recruits defended the Shenandoah Valley.

What’s interesting about Wiedmann’s approach is that although the score contains its share of heroic themes and variations, musical evocations of naivete, and the glory / horror of battle, right from the “Main Title” there’s always an undercurrent of motion running throughout the score, either from overt percussion material, a rhythmic pattern churned out by the strings, or little tonal swells and distant, airy sounds. The various implementations of discrete momentum infer youths that are soon to meet danger, and each cue seems tailored to keep hinting at aspects of traumatic destinies.

The first third of the album has a few lighthearted cues – “Young John Wise” is a wily and rustic theme version with fiddles and other organic period instruments, while “Sunstruck Rat” is energized with pizzicato strings – and genteel romance dominates the lovely “Libby,” with the main theme slowly shifting to a darker arrangement with some percussion and grim chords.

When the youths are immersed into the trials and shocks of battle, Wiedmann avoids jingoistic material and maintains a focus on the characters by integrating thematic fragments on fiddle with large-scale orchestral material that emphasizes character reflections rather than overt acts of heroism and bravery. Field of Lost Shoes ultimately builds into an elegy for the fallen and battle survivors, and not unlike James Horner’s best writings for war films, the integration of boys choir and long sweeping passages (“Thoughts on War”) are quite moving.

The score’s genuine action cues often pause or trail off for short periods instead of blossoming to full percussion-dominated cues (the exceptions include the kinetic, clattering sounds in “Send the Boys In,” and the lengthy “Storming the Hill,” with furious strings and thunderous drumming). In the album’s final cues, Wiedmann shows the same respectful restraint in holding back the power of the orchestra and treating his theme arrangements as gentle waves, especially his heavier integration of a large boys choir that wraps up the score.

La-La Land’s engineering is pristine, and brings out every nuance of the instruments and Wiedmann’s very slight electronic enhancements. It’s a solid war score that keeps a respectful distance from bombast, ensuring listeners won’t feel manipulated and are treated to a more restrained, humanistic approach to warfare.



© 2014 Mark R. Hasan



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