Paolo Sedazzari’s 2005 horror film didn’t go unnoticed when it did the festival circuit a little while back and scooped top prizes at both the Festival of Fantastic Films, UK and the San Fernando Valley International Film Festival. While the plot may have been a little dusty, i.e small town is threatened by the incarnation of a local mythical madman, the production design is top notch. Of course being a low budget feature, and one which faced no end of post-production troubles, it’s no surprise that there was little budget for an original score. That small fact didn’t seem to faze composer Miguel d’Oliveira, who took the fifty pounds, yes fifty pounds, and went about creating one of the most inventive and creative horror scores I have heard in a long while.
Having mastered a number of instruments, the composer delved into his own toybox and was able to perform a variety of the voices he needed himself. This includes saxophone, trumpet, guitars, piano and viola, plus whistling and even kitchen knives! Added into the melting pot are vocals, various woodwinds, trombone and violin, all coming together to create a rich sonic landscape that is immediate and atmospheric.
‘I Still Have Nightmares’ sets the mood from the outset with creative sound design, whistling and an off-key childlike theme which becomes the main thematic thread for the score. Rumbles, off-key woodwinds, bow clacking, distant vocalisations and all sorts of trickery play a part in cues like ‘The Legend of Jake the Midfolker’, while cues such as ‘Norfolk Stories’ and ‘On My Own’ see a slightly more reflective tone, with the latter featuring a cool, slow electric guitar riff that wouldn’t be out of place in a Tarantino movie.
While this album is one big highlight, one cue, ‘Conrad Meats the Hook’, is particularly satisfying. It starts off subtly unsettling and spirals into a deluge of clacking, scratching, rumbling and grizzly strings, all weaving around a central piano waltz, which quickens and is itself very listenable.
Bringing the selection to a close is ‘My Dear Family’ and ‘Epilogue’; the former is another highpoint for me, with a wry melody for pizzicato strings, guitar and glockenspiel that repeatedly detunes and bounces back. The final cue sees wailing woodwinds give way to a haunting epilogue for piano and strings. Although this is a relatively short album, I think that it is in fact just the right amount of time for this style of music; any more and it might perhaps be too much. Ultimately though this is a real winner and the boundless creativity exhibited by Miguel d’Oliveira never fails to impress me each time I listen. The Toybox is a wonderful feature debut and I think it’s great that Film Music Downloads have seen fit to share it. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing more. Go to www.filmmusicdownloads.com to hear it for yourself.