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Soundtrack Review

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composer: Rob Simonsen
Label: Sony Music Soundtracks
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 19 November 2021

Sony Music Masterworks releases the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, by Rob Simonsen. In the film – directed by Jason Reitman and written by Gil Kenan & Jason Reitman – a single mother and her two children move to a small town where they discover their connection to the original ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind. Based in Los Angeles, Simonsen has worked with the director previously on the films The Front Runner, and Tully. His other scores include Our Friend, The Way Back, and Love, Simon. He co-founded The Echo Society to inspire and enrich new sonic and visual art. His debut artist album Reveries was released on Sony Masterworks in 2019...

Track Listing: 'Trapped'; 'Dirt Farm'; 'Chess'; 'Summerville'; 'Research'; 'Under the Floor'; 'Nice Replica'; 'Culpable'; 'Laboratory'; 'Lab Partners'; 'Definitely Class Five'; 'Go Go Go'; 'Trap Him'; 'Don’t Go Chasing Ghosts'; 'Mini-Pufts'; 'Down the Well', 'The Temple Resurrected'; 'The Plan'; 'Suit Up'; 'No, I’m Twelve'; 'Getaway'; 'Callie'; 'Protecting the Farm'; 'Showdown'; and 'Reconciliation'.

After the disastrous reception of the previous sequel Answer the Call, Afterlife gets well and truly back on track with many fans citing this one as the best since the first film released in 1984. The music is, as you might expect, a mixed bag of tributes to the original themes, as well as new pieces which fit and even segue into the old style – modernising the whole concept. I have never hidden the fact that I believe twenty-plus tracks to be too many to gauge any sort of combined suite. This depends mainly on the substance of the individual tracks, which are often noises or music cues to fit the film. Rather than presenting the pieces as they fit the films, I long for edited-together longer suites which can showcase the skills of the composer and allow the listener to go on a journey. Not so here. There are some nice longer pieces which incorporate all the tricks of the trade to really mix things up. So we get acoustics, electronica and orchestra sometimes all at play in the same piece.

The opening track has tentative and spooky moments, a sprinkling of quirkiness and brief but explosive horror clashes. Electronic whistles are employed for low-key instances, along with hints of quiet brass or strings early in the composition. The feel seems to be to create trepidation hinged with a certain jauntiness, most obviously evident in the Jazzy piano of 'Lab Partners'; not surprising, as this film is targeted at a family audience. Undercurrents is probably the best description for the linking pieces. Even the cathedral/grand music is slow, low and brooding but with fluttering over the top – the idea being to walk a fine line between frightening and fun. Family action themes but with difference, being less condescending and more creative. The first dramatic moment comes in 'Culpable', and is continued in the orchestral movements of 'Go Go Go', 'Trap Him', and 'The Temple Resurrected'. The balance of this score is best served by an underlying menace capped by scampering lighter tones, and it works pretty well – if a little overutilised.

It's a fine score, with standout moments including the opener 'Trapped', and the two emotional closing pieces 'Showdown' and 'Reconciliation'.


Ty Power

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