The Presence (2010)
Music Composed, Conducted
And Produced By Conrad Pope
Screamworks Records/MusicScore Media SWR11006
21 Tracks – Running Time: 46:46
The Prescence is a darkly romantic ghost story about a woman who travels to an isolated cabin where she finds herself stalked by an apparition who has come to inhabit her space as his own. With the unexpected arrival of the woman’s boyfriend, the dark spirit’s haunting grows more obsessive. Soon the woman begins to exhibit weirdly irrational behavior as the thin line between sanity and possession begins to unravel. The film stars Academy Award Winner Mira Sorvino, Shane West and Tony Curran and the flim was released just this month on DVD and Blu Ray by Lionsgate Films.
Conrad Pope is one of Hollywood most underrated and underappreciated talents in the business. Pope who started off his carrer as a composer for low budget horror and sci-fi writing memorable music for the sci-fi thriller Ghost Ship in the early 90’s and has mainly been an orchestrator for some of Hollywood’s biggest composers. A great list that includes the likes of Academy Award winners John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman, Alexandre Desplat, James Newton Howard, John Powell, Hans Zimmer, Mark Isham, William Ross, Randy Newman, David Newman, Michael Convertino, Elia Cmiral, Don Davis and more. Pope himself has written a few film scores aside from Ghost Ship which include the touching and memorable scores to Pavillion Of Woman and The Rising Place and more recently, In My Sleep.
Pope’s music for The Presence isn’t exactly dark brooding or just simply out for shocks and scares. It’s a pensive, unique and wonderfully melodic score that evokes alot of the ghost story elements of the film itself. With film films like these, you get a rather droning or really brooding over the top score that just really drowns out what the film is really all about. It’s a major detractor for most films of this genre which is hard enough to score as it is without having to hit you over the head with shock or brass stingers all the time to make its point. Phillippe Sarde’s score for “Ghost Story” the 1981 film adaptation of Peter Straub’s novel had a score that features one of my favorites of the genre at times was a score that did hit you over the head, but the score had to amp up the film as it was rather flat and uninspired at times. Pope goes the smart route here creating an almost classical atmosphere that sort of sounds like Alexandre Desplat at times and that’s a good thing because he’s one of the better composers out there right now.
There are elegant and romantic moments in the score such as “A Proposal” with some sweet woodwinds, strings, harp and piano that evoke longing but also love much like “First Night” with its simple piano melody and lush strings. You can easily hear the Desplat influence in “The Outhouse” with a short repeating flute motif that really sounds like him along with plucking strings and returns to the romantic harp and piano theme featured in “A Proposal” for sweetner. With a story like this of course there are some suspense and tense moments with “Whispers” featuring some more plucky string and woodwind work, “Up The Stairs” with some percussive suspense rumblings playing off the harp and string theme already featured throughout, “Alienation” with some stark icy sounding strings and rumbling piano keys and “Confrontation” with shreking strings and aggressive percussion and brass dictating the track. “Revelation” starts out with the shreking string motif from Confrontation and then slowly gives way to a more pastorial and lush classical reading of the longing theme which is very satisfying and melodic. The album and score ends with optimistic “Journey Back/End Credits” which the cello is given a nice solo as well as harps and strings paired off with a flute solo to polish it off.
This is one of the more surprising and interesting scores that I’ve heard recently. It’s a nice little discovery by a composer/orchestrator that definitely deserves more work than he’s really given. Pope is truly one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets and as his work really shows, he could easily be an A-list composer on the same list as people he’s orchestrated for and still does. The album is very listenable and not dark by any means. It’s almost like a chamber score at times and it certainly has that feel of one. For those who enjoy classical music, this would be an album for them to discover for sure. It almost has that crossover feel to it and rightfully so because it’s really good.
The Presence is one of the better scores that Screamworks/MusicScore Media has released this year and certainly one to give attention to for its composer Conrad Pope. The score is one that should be discovered by soundtrack fans and also, classical fans as well. It’s just that good.
The Presence is available from ScreenArchives (www.screenarchives.com), Intrada (www.intrada.com) as well as Itunes
1. Main Title 1:47
2. First Night 3:00
3. The Outhouse 2:18
4. Mr. Browman Arrives 2:35
5. News Clipping 0:34
6. Dawn 2:51
7. Outhouse at Night 2:27
8. A Proposal 3:55
9. Whispers 1:12
10. Estrangement 1:07
11. Up the Stairs 4:35
12. Trapped 1:26
13. The Offer 1:29
14. Alienation 1:50
15. Epiphany 1:33
16. Let’s Have a Little Fun 1:44
17. Time to Act 0:58
18. Talking to the Dead 2:13
19. Confrontation 1:46
20. Revelation 3:26
21. Journey Back / End Credits 4:12