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Soundtrack Review

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Comrade Detective
Original Series Soundtrack


Composer: Joe Kraemer
Label: Lakeshore Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 28 September 2018

Lakeshore Records release the soundtrack for television series Comrade Detective. The album features original music by action Composer Joe Kraemer. The series is a fictional gritty 1980's Cold War Romanian police procedural steeped in Communist propaganda. Detectives Gregor Anghel and Losif Baciu investigate murder of a fellow comrade in this action-packed and blood-soaked first season. Under the iron fist of Captain Covaci, the pair of red sleuths must unravel a counter-revolutionary plot against the Romanian state by what-else-but the greatest enemy: Capitalism...

Joe Kraemer (Sunrise; Femme Fatales; Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation), once again, delivers an outstanding collection of themes and set pieces on his latest score for Comrade Detective. Of late, I've started to look forward to reviewing projects by Kraemer. I know that it's not going to be a long hard slog, thinking of constructive things to pull out of the music, his work attacks your senses almost knocking you for six.

As I mentioned in my recent review of Sunrise, Kraemer doesn't do things by half. On Comrade Detective he throws the exact same energy and attention to detail that you'd expect from a huge Hollywood blockbuster. The end result is that this is an album you'll get years and years of pleasure out of... and still constantly discover little nods here and there that you may have missed previously.

Sunrise is still an album I listen to as background music while I work. I love it more each time I play it... and I get the exact same vibe with Comrade Detective.

Of the album's 28 tracks (1 hr, 17 min, 34 sec) it's almost impossible to single out highlights, although I did spot a number of homages to some classic scores which made me smile. Most notable are 'At the Mansion' and 'Out the Window', both of which reminded me of Ed Welch's work on The Thirty Nine Steps (1978); and 'The Bus Sequence' and, again, 'Out the Window', which both have segments that are not dissimilar to 'The Last Battle' (which was the original 1977 title of the track) from John Williams's Star Wars (1977) score. In fact I got a Williams vibe (mainly from his work on the Indiana Jones movies) on several tracks, including 'Radio Romania'; 'The Baker'; and 'The Bus Sequence'. The similarity is not necessarily in the themes, more the way that both Williams and Kraemer use certain instruments in the orchestra in a similar capacity.

There's also a nice little referencing of Jerry Goldsmith's 'Poltergeist' (1982) score on 'Deceptions'? And the nod to 'The Star Spangled Banner' on 'Back in NYC', 'Through the City' and 'Deceptions' was especially touching.

It's a tribute to both Kraemer's versatility as a composer, not to mention his attention to detail, that he doesn't rely heavily on the main theme. While it's woven throughout the score, it's used sparingly and when it does appear it's a welcome addition.

On a technical point of view (and this is where I start to sound like a freak) 'There's an audible "squeak" at the opening to 'Family in Danger'. I'm not sure if it's intentional, but it makes me jump every single time. And there's a segment on 'The Bus Sequence' where the mix seems too high, causing terrible distortion for a few seconds.

Ignoring those minor technical issues, this is about as close to perfect as you could possible get to delivering a score that has everything from action, suspense, moments of reflective beauty and a rousing main theme to get behind. This is an essential purchase for all serious soundtrack collectors.


Darren Rea

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