Composed By: Jˇhann Jˇhannsson

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the action crime thriller Sicario, Emily Blunt is Kate Mercer, an idealistic FBI Agent enlisted by a CIA task force official (James Brolin) to help in the war against drugs.  But as she finds herself crossing the border into Mexico and working with a mysterious consultant with a questionable past (Benicio Del Toro), Kate starts to question everything she has ever believed in.

                The musical score of Sicario was created by Icelandic composer Jˇhann Jˇhannsson.  Well, known in the Icelandic alternative music scene, Jˇhannsson has written music for plays, dance and theatrical performances and film.  Movie score credits include The Good Life, Varmints, For Ellen, Prisoners and The Theory of Everything.

                When asked about his approach to creating the musical score of Sicario, Jˇhannsson said, "Like Prisoners, itĺs quite tense and has a certain sense of dread, but the instrumentation is very different. While Prisoners had practically no drums at all, there is a lot of percussion in Sicario; I recorded 5 different drummers and did a lot of electronic manipulation of the recordings... I wanted to capture a kind of relentlessly slow and mournful but still ferocious and brutal energy...I used a combination of 65-piece orchestra and individual soloists, combined with extensive electronic manipulation of the recordings, to create the score. The orchestral writing is textural rather than melodic."

                The resulting score features orchestral and electronic elements.  The music is dark and ominous, featuring low registry horn blasts and heavy percussion that often seems to mimic the sound of a heartbeat, mixed with ambient and electronic sound.  The effect gives the listener the idea that a dangerous evil is underfoot...that not all is as it seems and, if Kate is not careful, she can be sucked into something so dangerous and despicable that she may never come back from it.  The percussion also lends to the action of the film as the combined force of the FBI and CIA take on the drug cartels in Mexico.

                I had to turn up the volume for much of the Sicario Soundtrack.  So much of the music is low registry that you have to raise the volume to hear it.  The downside to that is that when the music turns to a more action pace and sound, it basically blasts you out of your seat and you find yourself rushing to turn it down.  I get what the composer was trying to do with this score, but I think it is best paired with the visuals of the film, rather than as a stand alone album.  I'm just not sure that anyone, other than diehard fans of the film or the composer would purchase this soundtrack.


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