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Soundtrack Review

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Queen of Hearts
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composer: Jon Ekstrand
Label: MovieScore Media
Release Date: 10 May 2019

MovieScore Media’s latest release from the Scandinavian film music scene is courtesy of Swedish composer Jon Ekstrand (Child 44, Life). Co-written by May el-Toukhy, the family drama Queen of Hearts has already won major awards at Sundance and Göteborg film festivals. It tells the story of a woman named Anne who jeopardizes both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson, Gustav and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences. The largely textural musical accompaniment paints a portrait of disturbing family relations and painful secrets lurking in the shadows until an emotional catharsis unties the family’s bonds...

Jon Ekstrand's score for Queen of Hearts won't be to everyone's taste. It's not a traditional score by any stretch of the imagination. In places it reminded me of Vangelis's score for Blade Runner, and at times it brought to mind the sporadic alien music elements of John Williams's soundtrack for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

"With the score for Queen of Hearts, I wanted to create a feeling of being inside a bubble and slowly falling down the rabbit hole and finally reaching the bottom and with no way getting back up," summarizes Ekstrand about his involvement with this most unsettling score. "My directions for the musical accompaniment was that there could not be any melodies in the music for the first 2/3 of the movie and that “nature” and “wood” should be my guiding words throughout the score and that we wanted to work with the looping voices as rhythmic element and tonal pads."

The album's 11 tracks (39 min, 17 sec) are unsettling and eerie. And while this isn't the sort of music I'd generally get a lot out of, there's something intriguing and hypnotic here that's hard not to be impressed by. Sure, it's not the sort of music that everyone will enjoy, and I doubt I'll listen to it much in the future, but as a collection of interesting themes that are both unsettling and inviting, this is a score that everyone should listen to at least once.

The three part 'Adagio for Gustav' visits the realms of classical music helping to add another element to this quirky album.


Darren Rea

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