Very rarely do you find a new voice amongst the scoring community that stands out above the rest as something truly special. A voice that truly has something to say and isn’t fitting into a mold or pattern. John Piscitello is a voice just like that, and this relatively new composer is making a grand mark with his score to the stirring documentary No Place On Earth. The film follows the stories about Jewish families surviving WW2 by finding shelter within an underground Ukrainian cave system. The score is an exquisite, elegant and emotional listening journey that echoes the remarkable journey of these people's journey in truly terrifying times.
I think we all have this preconceived idea of what a documentary score is and can be. Doc scores have a hard time developing rhythm, flow and the ability to have a strong presence. They have to compete with lots of talking and a different storytelling structure, but somehow John Piscitello managed to overcome all the challenges that come with scoring a documentary to deliver a masterpiece of a score. The music here is truly something to treasure as it takes you step by step through this incredible story. The music feels rich with history, layered with a fragile beauty that brings substantial human emotion to every moment. A small orchestra of The Hollywood Studio Symphony help bring John’s notes to flourishing life. The melodies flow like water and feel ever so organic. I don’t know if it’s because I know the story behind the music is real, but I feel very connected to this score. The emotions are never forced and it never tries to fit the mold of what a holocaust score should “sound” like. Everyone thinks Schindler’s List when it comes to this subject matter, but I can tell you that John Piscitello’s score is such a unique voice echoing an especially unique story. He is able to make you feel what these people felt all in a very simplistic approach. Strings and piano make up the bulk of the score, but his structuring is masterful. The score encompasses the pain of tragedy and the beauty of overcoming adversity to survive.
No Place On Earth is something that everybody should experience. John Piscitello’s score is a masterpiece and for this to come from a composer who is practically getting started is just awe inspiring. The music feels alive and has a very distinct personality with many sides to it. The organic emotions that run through it make it one that will stay with you for a long time. This is a score that has true meaning and a real exploration of the human condition behind it. It’s a must listen and an exemplary score that represents the power and meaning of film music.
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