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Into The West by Geoff Zanelli (Review)

posted Jul 22, 2013, 8:39 PM by Kaya Savas

Geoff Zanelli’s Emmy-winning score to Into The West has made a long journey to finally find its proper and official release. The mini-series aired in 2005 and Geoff’s score went on to win at that year’s Emmy Awards for best score. That was 8 years ago. To this day fans of this score had to scour the internet to find the leaked promo in subpar quality. Finally La-La Land Records came to the rescue, secured the rights and released this amazing score in the release it deserves. Into The West is told through two perspectives; one from that of white settlers and the other from a Native American family. The score is rich with the setting, the characters and the emotional journey that fuels the story. This is not your traditional western score in that Zanelli made sure to make it feel as organic as possible and not feel cut from the cloth of the genre. This is one of if not Geoff Zanelli’s most accomplished work. It’s a brilliant masterpiece from one of the best composers working today. 

What makes Into The West special is very plain and simple. It’s the pathos that Geoff has infused into every note of the music. The soundscape is so rich with the hearts and lives of the characters involved that it completely sucks you in from the opening credits. I noticed that character took priority over setting throughout the score. Meaning that when you hear excerpts you know you’re listing to music tied to another human being and not just a setting or style such as your standard spaghetti western fair. However that is not to say that setting is neglected at all in the music. The instrumentation and style Geoff used to identify the Lakota and Wheeler families definitely create separate identities but they blend together to give the music a physical place and tangible action.

The scope is very grand as it paints a picture of the land and time. There are some very large and beautiful compositions that are simply stunning. Even in the smaller subtle moments lies a grand sense of scale. Goeff did infuse a bit of romanticism into the soundscape and it works very well. The way the music moves gives off a sense of wisdom, elegance and presence that’s hard to describe. Think of a majestic elephant walking through an open plain, that’s how the music moves. Versus something like a mouse scurrying through the brush. The melodies are beautiful, touching and moving as the central motifs hold everything together. The total running time for the score reached nearly 6 hours but we have about 1.7 hours for this release. The music flows like water allowing the listener to experience everything it has to offer. By the time the album closes you feel as you’ve traveled an expansive journey, are emotionally moved and blown away by how gracefully Geoff Zannelli was able to handle this mammoth undertaking.

Into The West is a perfect score. Geoff approached this 6-part miniseries as if it were a giant film. The story and character arcs run through the entire length of his score and there is nothing episodic feeling about the music at all. The way Geoff was able to build the characters, setting and plot through the music is simply amazing. The beauty of the score runs throughout so you’re always at awe while listening. The quiet moments are as stunning as the big ones as everything is perfectly approached and executed.