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Soundtrack Review

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Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composers: Joshua Mosley and Matt Hutchinson
Label: Lakeshore Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 10 April 2020

Lakeshore Records release the soundtrack for Tuscaloosa, which features original music by Joshua Mosley and Matt Hutchinson. The film is set in 1972 with a backdrop of Vietnam war protests and racial tension sizzling in the late summer heat of Tuscaloosa, Alabama...

Tuscaloosa is the first feature film collaboration between Joshua Mosley and Matt Hutchinson, who have worked on multiple previous projects. The album is comprised of 21 beautifully nuanced tracks (40 min, 38 sec). As a standalone album of music, it's slightly less than satisfying, but I'm assuming that the majority of people who will buy the score will do so after seeing the movie. This is not an impulse purchase.

On a first play through, it appears to be mostly made up of atmospheric music cues. However, stick with it and you'll soon unearth some of the multi layered themes and beautiful moments that it hides in plain sight.

Talking about the score, Mosley said: "There were a lot of facets to this film that helped inform the score when it came time to start putting our palette together. One of the things Phil [director Philip Harder] talked to us about was this undercurrent of danger. But it was also a seemingly more innocent time, and part of this story is our main character, Billy, coming to terms with some of these harsh realities. In order to echo these ideas musically, we decided to take seemingly ordinary or traditional instruments, and manipulate them somehow to sound distorted, broken, but still beautiful and emotional."

It's this manipulation of instruments that gives Tuscaloosa its unique style. However, as technically riveting as it is, I can't help feeling this will age the music quite quickly.

Hutchinson said: "There is beauty in Tuscaloosa, but within that is a mental institution where Billy spends most of his time and the civil rights movement swirling around him, and an almost punk-rock attitude that many of the characters exude. The music needed to somehow encompass all of that texture. Working with Josh, we experimented extensively to try and find the secret ingredient for Tuscaloosa. Ultimately, it was our director Phil who kept asking us to take these beautiful musical expressions and find a way to mess them up a little bit. And it was that direction that ultimately set the course and set the tone for Tuscaloosa: broken and dangerous and beautiful - all at the same time."

Overall, a cleverly designed and richly rewarding score if you're prepared to put in the time to get to know it.


Darren Rea

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