Snowdrops - Manta Ray Original Soundtrack - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Snowdrops - Manta Ray Original Soundtrack

by Jeff Penczak Rating:7 Release Date:2019-03-15
Snowdrops - Manta Ray Soundtrack
Snowdrops - Manta Ray Soundtrack

Soundtracks have always had an inherent bias to overcome in that the music usually only works in conjunction with the visuals it was composed for. It is also an unusual way for artists to begin their career, as with French keyboard duo Snowdrops (Christine Ott and Mathieu Gabry), who debut with this soundtrack to the award-winning Thai film Kraben Rahu, aka Manta Ray. Of course, Mogwai furthered their career immensely with their three brilliant soundtracks to Les Revenants, Atomic, Living In Dread And Promise, and Kin, which rank amongst the best work of their career. As with most soundtracks, particularly instrumental work, the song titles are the best signposts to understanding the material, particularly for people who have not seen the film.

The opening medley ‘Introduction’ / ‘Gemstones in the Forest’ offers ominous effects and brooding atmospherics, which continue throughout. Oppressive bass piano notes threateningly get under the listener’s skin throughout ‘The Mangrove’, while eerie electronics lay at the root of ‘The Monologue’. Melancholia comes in waves of synths washing over you during ‘Weird Dance’ and the self-explanatory ‘Losing A Friend To Death’.

‘Hot Springs’ features vocals by Thai singer Rashmee that remind of the spiritual efforts from US folk/blues/soul legend Odetta, and the haunting humming harmonics in ‘The Harmony of Rohingya’s Voices’ recalls Richard Chamberlain’s eerie, surreal meeting with Nandjiwarra Amagula, the Aboriginal shamen in The Last Wave, whose soundtrack by Michael Wain shares much the same mood as the Snowdrops’ soundtrack.

The music is certainly emotional, with elements of Eno’s ambient works and classical piano pieces. Still, one cannot avoid issues imposed by the distance from the visual material nor the absence of a sense of grounding for what we are listening to. Also, some of the tracks are too short to fully absorb. They feel like excerpts from more polished pieces. Admittedly, this is another dilemma with musical cues for visual accompaniment, but the aura of detachment can impact a listener’s overall enjoyment of the often rather beautiful, mesmerising music within.

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