Author Topic: quartet/singular---Who can kill a child/-the house that screamed review  (Read 2777 times)

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Offline john mansell

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WHO CAN KILL A CHILD/THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED.
MUSIC BY WALDO DE LOS RIOS.
SINGULAR SOUNDTRACKS (SPAIN)
RUNNING TIME :
DISC ONE 67 MINS 08 SECS. DISC TWO 73 MINS 45 SECS.
RATING ****½
REVIEW JOHN MANSELL. © 2010.

The score for this 1974 Spanish horror movie is one that was certainly ahead of its time musically, composer Waldo De los Rios fashioned a multi faceted score which contains many innovative and highly inventive moments. De Los Rios uses children’s voices to create an atmosphere that is wholly chilling in the same way in which Jerry Goldsmith used them in POLTERGEIST. Right from the offset the composer sets an uneasy and somewhat ominous and unsettling tone with the utilisation of a lone child’s voice which hums sweetly a simple but unnerving little ditty, that is not dissimilar to Christoper Komeda’s ROSEMARYS BABY theme. The cue is short lived but certainly grabs ones attention, the lone voice being joined at the tracks conclusion by children laughing which itself even sounds nerve-jangling. This theme does raise its head again during the work, and is most effective when performed on a barrel organ effect that is supported by an off key sounding music box at times enhanced by lumbering brass. Track 2 is also short lived, and is a brief but again effective extended musical stab of sorts that is made up from strings with threatening sounding woods and subdued but effective use of brass. In fact the first three tracks on the compact disc are short in their duration, but are perfect stage setters for the remainder of the score. Track 4, NIGHT TALK is the love theme from the score and is delicately performed on harp and underlying strings which both act as a background to a keyboard performing the central theme. This is repeated and expanded upon in track number 5, De Los Rios giving the love theme composition a full work out with rich sounding strings, synthesiser, brass and percussion, it is a light airy and haunting piece which I suppose is in a style that one could compare to that of Henry Mancini. The score for WHO CAN KILL A CHILD has no less than 54 tracks, but many of these are but seconds long, by this I mean some are under 30 seconds in length, nonetheless when combined they are unsettling components which collectively create a harrowing and at times down right scary work, that is undoubtedly original, atmospheric and above all entertaining, one finds oneself listening to half heard sounds that are used as background to the main content of the tracks, that are like whispers just audible, but long enough and loud enough to attract ones attention. 

The composer also wrote a number of fast paced almost manic sounding cues, where brass, strings, xylophone, booming and driving percussion and shrill woods create a tormenting and tense atmosphere. Plus there are cues such as track number 29, SLOW DEATH FROM THE INTERIOR, which is a fusion of symphonic, chorale, solo voice or shouts and synthetic sounds, listen to this in a dark room alone and see how long it is before you shut it off and turn the lights up. Waldo Del Los Rios was a composer of worth, and sadly overlooked as a composer of film music, so I am pleased that Singular Soundtracks have unearthed and released some of his film scores for collectors to savour. Because once savoured I am confident the collectors will be wanting more of this music-smiths wares. This double compact disc also contains music from another Spanish horror THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED, again De Los Rios, conjures up an atmosphere of mayhem and terror, the score is performed in the main by strings and brass with woods and the occasional music box effect or chimes being brought into the proceedings with brief female voice interludes. These just add more chills to the work and enhance and embellish certain motifs and phrases within the score, to say that either score is superior would be wrong, as each work stands on its own merits. Track 29, END TITLE is an impressive piece and comes complete with a blood curdling scream that heralds a sumptuous string led theme which is not only dramatic but also romantic, resembling something one would expect to hear in a tale of Edgar Allan Poe that has been scored by Les Baxter or a tale of horror with a soundtrack penned by Michael J Lewis. There is also a slightly more upbeat version of the theme Track number 30, THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED which is almost a pop/easy listening version of the piece, pleasant and rich sounding strings amble along backed by drums and harpsichord until its crescendo which is topped off by a mad sounding half scream half laugh, great stuff.  This is a compact disc well worth getting, and one that will bring enjoyment and torment to its listener. Packaged wonderfully, with eye arresting art work, informative and in depth notes,  sound quality is essentially good, although on the second score it can be a little dull at times, but saying this I am of the opinion that Singular worked hard to achieve this standard, as we all know master tapes are more or less tossed to one side and literally left to rot in dark and dank cellars.  Let us be grateful for labels such as this unearthing gems for our delectation. This is a must have an essential purchase. recommended.  JM.     :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o

Offline Josh Mitchell

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Thanks for posting that, John.  I love the style and sound of that era (70s) in European film scoring, especially films of the horror variety.  Consequently, I've been a fan of De Los Rios' WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? since the 2002 release of the Subterfuge Records CD (which featured only the original LP presentation), so this expanded release of the original tracks was a very pleasant surprise.  The inclusion of THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED was a major bonus as well.  Huge thanks to Singular (now Quartet) for getting this (and others) out there for us to enjoy.

Offline john mansell

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i am sure we will be seeing more from Singular/quartet.  i love the way they present the cds  the art work etc, sound quality is ok   but considering the age of some of the scores   very good...