Release date (US): August 21st, drugstore 2012
Running time: 64 minutes
Composer: Michael Stearns, viagra canada Lisa Gerrard, Marcello De Francisci
“Half of this type of filmmaking is the music. It’s 50/50. The music embellishes the experience with feeling— it’s the dialogue, but it’s in a feeling form.”
~ Ron Fricke, Director
If, like me, you watched Baraka many years ago and fell in love with both the stunning visuals captured by Ron Fricke and the ethereal score composed by Michael Stearns and the Australian band Dead Can Dance, then you might’ve been somewhat surprised to hear of Samsara, the follow-up film that came 18 years after it and 26 years after Chronos. Admittedly, it was only in 2002 that I first saw Baraka and heard of Dead Can Dance, but the experience left me moved beyond words by what I saw and heard in the film’s 96 minutes, so I was more than a little curious as to what delights this new score might yield.
Opening with the track Bali Girls it immediately transports us to a world that fans of Baraka should be familiar with. With light percussive movements and a soothing vocal it’s the perfect start before Ladakh changes the pace with its winded instruments. The low sounds create an atmosphere that quickly tells us this is a world far away from modern man’s technology, a place where time stands still or at least moves at its own pace, unconcerned the human “race” towards oblivion.
The percussion continues on Modern Life, but by Jerusalem this is where we get to hear the haunting vocals recorded by Lisa Gerrard. It’s this I was waiting for. Her dramatic contralto range can be heard here, giving the track a rich, deep, dark and mournful sound, easily making it a highlight both in the film and on the score. Villages and Freeways is another favourite from this collection. The instrumental piece is reminiscent of many of my favourite pieces from film and television composers such as Angelo Badalamenti, Clint Mansell, Mark Snow and George S. Clinton.
1 Bali Girls
3 Modern Life
5 Villages and Freeways
6 Swimming and Skiing
8 Food Chain
14 War Machine
18 St. Peters
19 Thousand Hands
20 Organics Excerpt
Swimming and Skiing is a short piece with a strong Eastern vibe to it, again with more percussion while Dubai, a longer piece, introduces us to some synth. The tenth track, Manila has a beautiful and soft melody with something like a distant vocal heard toward the end, again it’s quite short.
On Sagazan we hear chanting, intrusive horns and re-appearance of those percussive sounds before it grows calm again for Pagan, a track which I’ve been listening to on repeat for quite some time since I first heard it.
By the thirteenth track, Geisha the direction changes again. This is another Lisa Gerrard and as it starts it reminds me of Sanvean, The Host of Seraphim and One Perfect Sunrise but then something happens almost one third of way into it and we hear the beats and bass kicking in, giving it a more modern twist, evocative of electronic bands like Enigma and Dusted. On the next track War Machine we hear the rhythmic sounds indicative of a marching army but as we get closer to the end of the album, Cebu continues that modern vibe from Geisha but brings in more of a club feel, sounding more like a dance track, albeit a generic one.
The closing track, Organics Excerpt feels more like something we’d hear on a William Orbit album but it sits very much at home here, bringing Samsara to warm and yet sombre close. Despite its many highlights though there are a few noticeable omissions from the collection including the song from the beginning of the film, the organ pieces used during the cathedral scenes and a memorable African song. These could’ve made the soundtrack perfect instead of the numerous short and sometimes too similar pieces that are here instead.
Still, there’s a lot to enjoy here and as was expected Lisa Gerrard’s involvement alone has made Samsara an album I’ll no doubt be listening to a few more times.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .