To hear a film score without seeing the film ~ or in this case, even a trailer ~ is a revealing experience. The reviewer has no prejudgments, and is freed to determine whether the music is strong enough to stand on its own. Foscadh recently won the Best Debut Feature at the Galway Film Fleadh and is described by Donald Clark in The Irish Times as “stirring sympathy for a man with little charm and less courage.” Now Sin Fang provides what is in essence an initial peek at a promising film.
This diverse artist is incredibly hard to pigeonhole, having been part of Seabear, collaborating with Jónsi and other Icelanders, and releasing his own works, which include a pair of ambient albums.
The first (and only public) track, “”it’s time for you to stop being a ghost,” is both vast and lonely, a fine reflection of the title and of the film’s plot: a man alone after the death of his overprotective parents, suddenly forced to navigate life on his own. The cover says it all: a road, a mountain, a destination obscured by fog. A series of small tracks, 26 in all, operate as questions: what now? What next? Each area of life becomes a challenge.
The lonely piano of “Going Home” implies the opposite: that there is no going home, once the people have changed. Sin Fang’s vignettes surround the listener with an empathetic caul, while pushing to the life outside. “God bless the work!” implies action in both title and timbre. One of only eight tracks to top two minutes, it includes the extra seconds essential for development. The static charges of the second half come across as labor, a hint of a choir as reward. In “Whispers,” a music box becomes a comfort; but one track later, a swarm of drones descends. We’re curious to see what manner of tension occupies this point of the film. From this point forward, the music seems fraught with danger, as if the man has taken preliminary steps, but now feels regret.
If music, still image and a few words can inspire a full narrative, all three are worthy of praise. In “it’s like their eyes were smiling,” Sin Fang demonstrates what seems like love for the protagonist, despite his irascibility. Everyone hopes the story will end well. The kindness of “There’s nothing wrong with you” comes across in only 42 seconds, and “Laughing in the church” is a sweet relief. Soon the tension will return, and decisions will need to be made, in particular, how do I want to live my life? Even if we can’t relate to the protagonist, we can relate to the quandary.
Sin Fang has created a film score that makes us want to see the film; in its intended setting, the album’s only flaw (brevity of tracks) should disintegrate. Even so, Foscadh is an engaging suite from its humble start to its dramatic two-track conclusion: one track fierce, the other (which we picture playing over the closing credits) liberating. (Richard Allen)