Andrey Dergatchev: The Return

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Andrey Dergatchev: The Return The most successful film scores are often the ones that go by unnoticed, yet whose absence would significantly alter the perception of what's on the screen. A classic example is Bernard Hermann's score to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. While the music stands on its own, the integration of sound and sight is what makes the classic shower scene all the more visceral, despite the fact that there is not a single shot of graphic violence.

Similarly, one can imagine Russian composer Andrey Dergatchev's score to Andrey Zvyagintsev's film The Return enhancing the visuals, something made possible by the inclusion of a number of stills from the film in the CD booklet. Combining everyday human interaction with everyday visuals that range from the starkness of nature to the clutter of the city, Dergatchev's score manages to blend the ancient with the contemporary, utilizing musical devices that spread equally across the temporal spectrum.

Dergatchev blends elements of ambient music, minimalism, gentle rhythms, spoken word, found sounds and melodic fragments, managing to somehow bring together disparate ideas in ways that not only make musical sense, but echo the paradoxical nature of the film as well. "Titles-Run joins drum programming and Armenian duduk, creating a timeless atmosphere that evokes feelings of antiquity and modernity while being neither in any direct sense. Plaintive and powerfully emotional without resorting to excess or melodrama, it's the most articulate example of the film's contradictions.

"Georgians mixes a haunting vocal sample—complete with vinyl ticks and pops—with a soft synthesizer wash, gradually layering snippets of varying lengths of the vocal sample, resulting in the same kind of magical confluence found on Brian Eno's Ambient 1: Music for Airports (EG, 1978).

Dergatchev's use of modern technology is so organic that when a soft, minimalist electric piano pattern blends with the sound of engines on "Port, it makes perfect sense. In many ways an extension of Eno's work, in particular Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (EG, 1983), Dergatchev's music for The Return should be considered less as a manifestation of traditional musical concerns, more as an enveloping audioscape. Film soundtracks are often presented as short and discrete sound bytes, but the beauty of The Return is that it's a more or less continuous fifty minutes of music, with its own emotional and narrative arc. It's not necessary to understand the occasional snippets of Russian dialogue to appreciate the general pervading melancholy.

"Final Titles is perhaps the most conventional of the score's seventeen pieces. Still, while the insistent drum program and vividly melodic theme make it the easiest and least amorphous piece to grab hold of, Dergatchev's visual approach to the music and his innovative ability to combine the most contradictory of sounds prevent it from ever becoming ordinary or commonplace.

The most enduring film scores stand on their own, and while this soundtrack to The Return clearly works to enhance the film's understated drama, it also has its own story to tell.

Visit Universal Classics on the web.

Track Listing: Underwater; Old Man; Shorty; In the Bedroom; The Road; Mugam; Titles-Run; Japan; Bekhtovo; Port; Mozart; Rehearsal; Culmination; Piano; Georgians; FInal Titles; Rain.

Personnel: No Personnel Listed.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Beyond Jazz


More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Spectre" CD/LP/Track Review Spectre
by Mark F. Turner
Published: July 24, 2016
Read "Forest Grove" CD/LP/Track Review Forest Grove
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Live In Brooklyn" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Negative Spaces" CD/LP/Track Review Negative Spaces
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "Collective Effervescence" CD/LP/Track Review Collective Effervescence
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 24, 2016
Read "Shovel Down" CD/LP/Track Review Shovel Down
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!