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Oats Studios: Volume 1 by Lorne Balfe (Review)

posted Jul 21, 2017, 12:43 PM by Kaya Savas
(Unofficial Cover Created by Film.Music.Media for reviewing purposes)

Neill Blomkamp has secured a pretty dedicated fanbase as a director due to his distinctive and unique visual style. District 9 was a surprise hit, but was followed by lesser acclaimed films like Elysium and Chappie. There was a time when Blomkamp was being considered to take on the next Alien film, but after Ridley Scott took the reigns back Niell was left with an open creative slate. Oats Studios then seemingly popped out of nowhere.

Oats Studios calls itself an experimental filmmaking lab. An independent place for filmmakers to incubate ideas and have them born into pretty much anything. Right now, the idea is to start with short films and eventually work up to full-scale feature films. All of this seems to be born possibly out of frustration with the current Hollywood studio system? Who knows. But what we do have is definitely a collection of some weird, creepy and dark sci-fi projects that all have the pleasure of being scored by the fantastic Lorne Balfe. And the best part is you can watch everything on YouTube on the official Oats Studios channel.

The soundtrack, which sadly is only available on STEAM, is made up of all the Volume 1 shorts. Volume 1 is made up of 3 longer short films titled Firebase, Rakka and Zygote with a few shorter pieces peppered in. The cool thing here is to see Lorne work across all of them. It means we get to hear Lorne’s unique voice as a composer across different stories amongst this collection. Also, it’s pretty unique to see an accomplished composer who scores films like Terminator: Genisys and 13 Hours back in the short film world. It’s great though, because it shows that short films shouldn't be considered lesser than feature films. Just because the running time is less, doesn't mean it’s a “lesser” film. It sort of breaks down the notion that short films are a starting ground for novices and students.

Anyway, the scores themselves here are a real treat. We get some pretty cool textures and lots of tension building. Firebase is definitely the more action-orientated score with some big melodic swells that spill into propulsive action. God is a quirky short with a comically dark turn at the end, but the etherial chorus that Lorne composed is a perfect compliment. Rakka has a lot of electronic tension building, but the textures give a very tangible feel to the whole thing. Zygote amps up terror and tension and just lays it on nice and thick. Overall the album presents a nice stroll through the soundscapes of Volume 1.

Volume 1 from Oats Studios has given us a couple of shorts that are just pure stylish entertainment. The idea of a “filmmaking lab” is a cool one, and it’ll be interesting to see how Oats Studios will grow from here. Lorne Balfe has given us some pretty entertaining scores here for the selection of shorts in Volume 1, and it was lots of fun getting to hear him play around in different arenas with cool textures and builds. There’s not much in terms of deep and emotional storytelling going on here, but that’s not what these shorts were about. These shorts were about kickstarting a new studio and getting their feet wet with some cool stylistic ideas. Lorne got to cook up some fun stuff with Neill Blomkamp and the rest of the Oats Studios team and it’s definitely worth a look.