By Charlie Brigden
I’m utterly convinced Ceiri Torjussen is Jan Hammer under a different name. Listen to his score to Test and you’ll be awed at the control he has over the era-appropriate synths that the music is built on, and the occasional sojourns into electronic/orchestral crossover. But there are no linen suits and Ferraris here – Test is a serious drama about a dance company at the height of the AIDS crisis, and the score reflects the era historically as well as musically.
In Test, Torjussen alternates between driving synth melodies and more ambient colours and textures. The album opens with ‘Dawn’, which firmly sits on the latter side with its dreamy feel, almost feeling like a tangible thing to wrap yourself up (credit: Whoopi Goldberg). It’s kind of a primer for the album, the antechamber, the preparation, especially given the track that follows. ‘Big Smile’ is the kind of driving synth melody that Miami Vice used to pull out every week – in fact it has shades of ‘Crockett’s Theme’ – and has a kind of affirming feel to it, and a sense of euphoria. The synth in ‘Anonymous Anxiety’ is low and menacing, while ‘Tripped Out’ is more thoughtful and introspective, with a great rhythm section at the end.
‘Hello Dawn’ has a more ambient feel to convey a sense of regret, while ‘Bad Dreams’ uses an eerie buzz to penetrate the passive feel, but it’s ‘Enoesque’ that takes the prize for most ambient cue, appropriately having an atmosphere that makse it feel like you’re floating in a sensory deprivation tank. But while it’s primarily synth, Test sporadically uses orchestral elements to contrast the electronic. The best example of this is also the best track on the record, ‘XXX Dance’, which is a big dance set that starts off as an intense driving synth melody and slowly turns into a beautifully sparse cello piece full of tension.
If you heard Test without knowing the film it’s attached to, you might think it’s from a retro video game or an 80s crime flick. But it’s absolutely age-appropriate, and it’s able to conjure emotions that I’ve heard more traditional scores fail at. Recommended.
Test is out now from MovieScoreMedia.