Musical Score By: Craig Safan
Distributed by: Varѐse Sarabande
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
On June 1, 2018, Varese Sarabande released Sirens, an album by Craig Safan, available digitally and on CD. The album featured music inspired by the classic Greek myth known as The Odyssey and the numerous locales in which the story takes place. Being a fan of Greek mythology, I decided that Sirens might be an interesting album to check out.
A graduate of Brandeis University and recipient of the Senior Prize in Drama and Music, Craig Safan is both a composer and a teacher, giving seminars at The American Film Institute, USC Film School, ASCAP Film Music Workshop, Berklee College of Music and UC Santa Barbara. In addition, Safan is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (he sits on the Music Executive Committee of the Academy) and serves on the Selection Committee for the Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship in New York City. Safan has composed music for over thirty feature films, including Stand and Deliver, Major Payne, Nightmare on Elm Street IV, The Last Starfighter, Cheers and Life Goes On.
Apparently, I share something in common with Craig Safan – we both have a love for mythology. According to the composer, “Sirens is inspired partly by my love of The Odyssey and partly by my lifelong love of myths. I've been enchanted by both since I was a child. These tales and their magic have resonated throughout my life. With Sirens I'm not portraying the literal tales in The Odyssey, but rather the innermost feelings and memories they convey. The inward experience and journey, the wanderings of our lives, our relationship to family and home, and the deeper sonorities of existence.” In an effort to get a feel for the locale in which The Odyssey takes place, Safan traveled to Europe: “I found that while they are mostly unknown and imaginary, many scholars put them in and around Sicily. There I found many places that are named after the sirens, the Cyclops, the wind god, Aeolus, and Odysseus, as well as the straits where Scylla and Charybdis lurked. I traveled along the coast and visited the Aeolian Islands, exploring caves and ancient quarries, recording the natural sounds and the unique echoes and reverberations of each.”
As I listened to Sirens, I was immediately reminded of the siren song of Greek mythology. Sirens were creatures who appeared to be part woman and part bird. The sirens would lure sailors with their enchanting song. Sailors would become beyond all reason upon hearing their song, often dashing their ships upon the rocks in an effort to get closer to their island. In The Odyssey, the great sea captain, Odysseus, was curious about the siren song. He had all of his sailors place beeswax in their ears to deafen them to the song, then tie him to a mast, ordering them to leave him tied there no matter how much he begged for release until they passed out of earshot of the song. The album features an orchestral score mixed with synth vocals. The female vocals set to synth keys were unsettling, but also mesmerizing. Exotic movements on the album featured Celtic and sometimes distinctly Mediterranean-inspired sound.
Craig Safan perfectly captured the mood and the locale of the mythological tale of Odysseus and his travels. Sirens is a terrific album for fans of mythology who can appreciate the story told through the music medium. Definitely an interesting composition worth listening to.