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Penny Dreadful by Abel Korzeniowski (Review)

posted Aug 19, 2014, 6:10 AM by Koray Savas

Penny Dreadful
is a new horror series on Showtime that revolves around a slew of fictional literary characters in 19th century London. For whatever odd reason there are a lot of James Bond-filmmakers involved: Eva Green and Timothy Dalton star, and Sam Mendes and John Logan executive produce, with Logan also being the creator and sole writer. Breakout composer Abel Korzeniowski scores, and while the show itself lacks the spark of originality needed to separate it from similar set-ups from the past (The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman), the music is able to live and breathe beautifully on its own.

Korzeniowski, while being a relatively fresh film composer, has unfortunately already fallen into this sort of Philip Glass-esque style of repetition in terms of musical tone and color. Film projects like A Single Man, W.E., and Romeo & Juliet all share a very similar compositional style and all roll into this one singular mood. The scores feature excellent writing without a doubt, but it is a case of 'hear one, hear all' where each musical story lacks its own unique sensibilities that differentiate it from anything else. Penny Dreadful does not break away from that mold entirely, but that is not to say that it is not an enjoyable score. There is plenty of Korzeniowski's signature lush string and piano writing in the explosive main title "Demimonde," "Street. Horse. Smell. Candle." and towards the end of the album. The album's flow meanders a bit, particularly between "Pull The Trigger" and "Asylum," but this is where Korzeniowski showcases some of his most unique writing to date. He does a great job of infusing a dark Gothic sound to the material that is tense but easy to swallow. "Back Hand Of God" through to "Reborn" is where the score shines brightest, with a more quiet and reflective atmosphere that is less vigorous than his usual fare.

Penny Dreadful may not be an entirely new musical vernacular for Abel Korzeniowski, but his experimentation with a less vibrant and more somber and twisted soundscape makes it a fresher listen. He treats listeners to his strong orchestral writing as well as some more moody pieces that make the score a worthwhile journey, though not one that will be revisited too often, as it pales in comparison to his previous masterworks.