Raiomond Mirza’s score for Saul Pincus’ enchanting indie drama NOCTURNE is a classy affair, a heady mix of jazz rhythms and traditional symphonic music, with haunting melodies punctuated by explosive emotions. The relationship between symphonic score and jazz in movies is a lengthy and historic one, from the the scores of Elmer Bernstein to the use of George Gershwin in Woody Allen’s MANHATTAN, and it’s treated beautifully here. Mirza’s score has elements of tension and danger behind it, but pushing it forward is some beautiful symphonic elements.
Part of NOCTURNE involves the reconciliation of past and future events, and appropriately the album begins with a delicate music box melody before segueing to a reprisal on solo piano (‘Origami’). Suddenly the music box comes back as counterpoint and it’s a wonderful moment, albeit short-lived due to the introduction of the mysterious and alluring theme for lead character Cindy. There’s a suspenseful feel to the theme and with the inclusion of xylophone, it has an ethereal quality, full of memories, shadow and fog.
And there are certainly threatening moments, with the thick tense opening brass of ‘Flying In Dreams’ and the chase music of ‘Daymare’, where the fast modern percussion slowly melds into some fierce string work. There are also some wonderful moments where Mirza introduces a playful waltz using the lower string registers that recalls John Barry’s score for KING KONG. But so much of NOCTURNE is filled with absolutely dreamy symphonic pieces that it’s obvious where its real strength lies.
The lovely and delicate ‘Reflections’ is a test run for this early in the score, and ‘Fast Friends’ starts to hint at it but it’s the shimmering strings of ‘The Aunt’s Legacy’ where it begins to open up. ‘The Perils of Pirate Peacock’ provides a delightful piece including harp, but it’s really set up to slowly build to the tense action cue ‘It Ends Here’ and final score track, ‘Going Home’. The latter is a beautiful track, with a measured solo guitar playing a new, hopeful variation on the main theme, to be joined by a chorus of strings that thankfully don’t overwhelm the melody as they might in other scores. Joining the fray to finish the album is sultry song ‘Heaven’s Midnight’, sung by the lovely voice of Niccie Simpson.
NOCTURNE is a wonderful score. I was going to say little, not in a patronising way, but more in the context of its intimacy. A tone poem may be an appropriate description; the album feels at times like poetry, with the aesthetic that comes with that. Either way, it’s a brilliant way to spend forty minutes.
NOCTURNE is out now from the composer and can be purchased and/or streamed below