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Soundtrack Review

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The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composer: Arthur Sharpe
Label: Milan Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 05 November 2021

Milan Records today releases The Electrical Life of Louis Wain by composer Arthur Sharpe. The film tells the true story of Louis Wain, the eccentric British artist known for his psychedelic depictions of cats. Moving from the late 1800s through to the 1930s, we follow the incredible adventures of this inspiring, unsung hero, as he seeks to unlock the "electrical" mysteries of the world and, in so doing, to better understand his own life and the profound love he shared with his wife Emily Richardson...

The soundtrack for The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is an orchestral score that also incorporates an ensemble of unorthodox instruments including the musical saw, the theremin (performed on the score by a descendant of Leon Theremin), the mellotron, and more. The resulting 25-track collection (57 min, 42 sec) captures both the electrical innovations of the time period that inspired Wain's artwork as well as the sweetness and levity inherent in both his own demeanour and the cats he became famous for representing.

Discussing the music, composer Arthur Sharpe, says: "The story is set in a certain era but Louis was thinking years ahead, so we tried to acknowledge that, especially when exploring his inner world and the theme of ‘electricity’. Louis's idiosyncrasies are a huge part of what we explored with the music, and there is also the romance and the playfulness of the cats themselves. We had to find a way to marry all of those themes together, themes which could seem disparate on the face of it. It was a case of using traditional instruments, orchestral instruments, strings, woodwinds and so on but marrying that with things like the theremin, the musical saw, and other electrical textures. We wanted to explore electricity in different ways. It’s definitely been a film where I’ve been able to research all sorts of weird and wonderful things."

While I enjoyed this score immensely, what gave it an edge and really made it stand out was the use of unorthodox instruments including the theremin and the musical saw.

'Electricity' and 'The Electrical Life of Louis Wain' opens with a beautiful, brief homage to 'Nimrod' from Edward Elgar's 'Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36', more commonly known as the 'Enigma Variations'. Both of which are arguably represent the score's main highlights.

It's a rich and varied score and has just the right mix of melancholy themes that make it an album that you're eager to return to time and time again.


Darren Rea

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