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Fenster zum Jenseits by Daniel Laufer (Review)

posted Dec 13, 2012, 8:33 PM by Kaya Savas

Daniel Laufer is a German composer who you've probably haven't heard of, but you should. The way I found Daniel was by posting an ad in a forum searching for a composer for my film. I got dozens of replies, but each of them all sounded terribly artificial and bland. All of them except one. I listened to one sample of Daniel's and heard something special, so I wen't ahead an dutifully listened to every piece of music he had posted on his website (it was a lot). I then asked him if he'd like to do my film and we went to work. At the time all we did was communicate through AIM, we never spoke. He saw footage, sent me his work, I would make comments and he would tweak. It worked. The end result was a beautiful and haunting score. We wen't on to collaborate once more on my next film; a director in Maryland (at the time) and a composer in Germany. We were both growing as storytellers. Daniel went on to compose quite an epic score for the documentary Dancing With The Storms with director O'Neil Bürgi. The two are now collaborating once more for Fenster zum Jenseits (Window To The Afterlife).

The documentary follows two people who can contact the dead and a journalist who is researching about these communicators. What Daniel has done musically here is create an absolutely beautiful meditation on the subjects of the documentary. It's not a traditional score, but at the same time it is. We start off with an ethereal opening track that establishes the central motif of the score. Daniel actually sampled sounds of the subjects sitting around a campfire making a chanting "Ommmmmm" sound. He then slowed it down and turned that into the theme while a somber piano played over. Soft percussion and other metalic clings are also peppered throughout the score to give it a soft but heavy emotional impact. I listened to the score quietly in my room and was actually moved to tears just by the beautiful simplicity of it. The warmth of the piano and the vibrating air of the tones wash over you and you feel a certain peace that is hard to describe. A gift that Daniel has is that he knows that beauty strives in simplicity and that is evident here in this score. The music is both atmospheric as well as melodically strong and in a lot of ways reminded me of parts of Nick Cave & Warren Ellis' score to The Road. It has some other worldly qualities to it, but in the end it has a beautiful human undercurrent that makes a lasting impact.

Fenster zum Jenseits is by far Daniel's best score to date, and it's a damn near perfect score too (not being biased). His voice as a composer has evolved so much since I last worked with him yet it still echoes his style. This score is a beautiful work. The great thing is that Daniel is just getting started and for a young composer to have such a strong musical voice is impressive. I hear in his work here that same special something that made me want to hire him for my own films. It's still there and it's still growing. I hope anyone who reads this review takes the time to check out Daniel's work as he is truly a fresh voice in a sea of noise.

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