City of Ghosts
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
The documentary, City of Ghosts, follows the journey of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a small group of anonymous activists who banded together after ISIS took over their homeland in 2014. This is the story of a brave group of citizen journalists who risk their lives to stand up against ISIS, living undercover, on the run and in exile.
The musical score of City of Ghosts was created by the composing team of Jackson Greenberg and H. Scott Salinas. Studying music at Princeton University, The Royal College of Music in London and the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television Program at the Thornton School of Music USC, Jackson Greenberg has worked with Randy Newman, written songs for a number of others and performs at various venues in addition to composing music for national television commercials, short films and more. H. Scott Salinas is an award-winning composer who became the youngest Grand Prize recipient of the Turner Classic Movies Young Film Composers Competition in 2002. Since then, he has worked on a number of projects including Zipper, The Newsroom, Birth of the Dragon, Murder in the First and Cartel Land.
The City of Ghosts Soundtrack features an orchestral score blended with electric and electronic sound. The first track, City of Ghosts, is disturbing. I believe the double bass is used in this track, creating an incredibly dark and ominous undertone to the score at the onset. The music is incredibly somber throughout most of the tracks, especially during the track Nagi Dies. Satellite features an interesting guitar solo that begins slow and builds in speed, adding some electronically manipulated sound. The only upbeat track on the album, Walking Through Berlin, features hand claps as percussion and a fast-paced ethnic guitar sound. But we soon return to the somber sounds we have become accustomed to on this soundtrack.
While I have no doubt that this score works exactly as expected in concert with the visuals of the documentary, enhancing the feelings of danger, despair and determination felt by the activists fighting for their homeland, as a standalone soundtrack, the score is rather depressing – as dark and emotional as the subject matter it was created for. The team of Greenberg and Salinas did exactly what it set out to do with their score for City of Ghosts.