Alex Somers may not be a recognizable name for most of the film enthusiasts out there. Most people will instead recognize his partner’s name, Jónsi from Sigur Rós fame. The couple formed a side project known as Riceboy Sleeps after Alex moved to Iceland to live with Jónsi where the two would create visual and musical art. They are now affectionately called Jónsi & Alex, and they have ventured into film scoring with efforts like Cameron Crow’s Aloha as well as the show Manhattan. Captain Fantastic marks Alex Somers’ first solo effort, and it is a truly inspiring entry in ambient scoring. Captain Fantastic tells the story of a devoted father who is intent on raising his family off the grid to protect them from the influences of society. He is forced to bring them into the real world for the first time, and faces challenges of reintegrating into society. The film is directed by Matt Ross (better known for his acting work such as in HBO’s Silicon Valley).
Alex Somer’s ambient score may irk any traditionalists out there, but the approach is done so well that you become fully absorbed into the emotions. And that right there is one of the benefits of ambient scoring, the music can only focus on emotions versus having to also build narrative structure. If you enjoy Sigur Rós I’m telling you right now that you’ll enjoy this album immensely, it echoes that style very much. Somers solo voice as a composer is clear and focused even if the music may not seem to be. The music fills the air and is constantly breathing and growing, strings and more textural sounds build soundscapes of emotional states. If you lay down and close your eyes to let this score work, you’ll notice that there is a shape to the story and you will feel the flow of the narrative. It may come across as shapeless sounds, but there is a really deep emotional story being told here. There’s something innocent and beautiful about the music, something truly fragile and unique. It’s almost as if you can see this beam of light from its initial spark into existence, almost fading away into darkness and then finally shining bright at the end. There is a progression, it’s there and it works beautifully.
Captain Fantastic is a special score. It’s beautiful and very human. You will go on more of an emotional journey instead of a fixed narrative one, but that approach is perfect for this film. If you’re looking for something truly fresh and original in a film score, then this is something worth getting lost in. It’s a near-perfect examination of emotional growth that may have benefited with some more tangible recurring motifs, but overall it will awaken or reawaken something inside of you for sure.
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