Musical Score By: Atli Örvarsson

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            In the dramatic film, Rams, brothers Gummi and Kiddi live side by side in a secluded valley in Iceland, tending their sheep, their ancestral sheep-stock considered to be the best in the country.  Though they share the land and their way of life, the two haven’t spoken to one another in four decades, but when a lethal disease begins to affect the sheep, Kiddi and Gummi find they will have to work together if they are to save the special breed of sheep passed down from one generation of their family to the next.

The musical score of Rams was created by Icelandic composer Atli Orvarsson.  As a child of two professional musicians, Örvarsson was always surrounded by music and began training on the harmonium at age five.  By seven years of age, he switched to playing the trumpet.  Örvarsson eventually began performing in one of the country’s most popular bands, before leaving it all to study music at the Berklee College of Music.  He would eventually work for a number of well-known composers, including Mike Post, David Schwartz and Hans Zimmer.  His first feature film was Stuart Little 3.  Since then, he has created musical scores for such notable projects as Vantage Point, Law & Order: LA, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The Eagle and Colette.

The creation of this musical score was very special to Atli Örvarsson who felt a special connection to the film: “Rams was filmed in a valley in Iceland called Bárđardalur, which is where my mother’s family is from.  In fact, she was actually born in the farmhouse which was used as one of the brothers’ homes in the film.  Moreover, my great grandfather was the organ player at the local church in the valley.”  The score features an accordion theme that is sometimes performed on an organ, by strings or woodwinds.  According to the composer, “I was thinking that the theme would work well on the church’s organ there, but decided to bring my father’s accordion along as he had passed away 4 months earlier.  When I got there, I quickly realized that the theme was not quite right so I wrote and recorded a new one on the spot, first on my father’s accordion and then overdubbed on the very organ my grandfather played all those years before…I wanted to use the instruments that people there have had at least for the last 100-200 years.  The instrumentation is mainly the church organ from Lundarbrekka church in the valley, along with my father's Borsini accordion.  There is also violin and an old Norse instrument called Taglharpa which is a string instruments made from the hair of a horse's tail.

The Rams Soundtrack also features some songs that sound older and somewhat scratchy in nature, perhaps old records being played by the main characters?  The score is somewhat sad, speaking of loss and hardship.  I enjoyed the exotic sound of the score.  The accordion is not often used to create a movie score and it made for an interesting listen.  I always enjoy an Atli Örvarsson score and his music for Rams is no exception.  Well done!


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