The Canal

Composed By: Ceiri Torjussen

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the Irish horror film, The Canal, Rupert Evans is David, a film archivist who believes his wife Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) may be cheating on him with one of her clients (Carl Shaaban).  Adding to the stress David is under is the footage he receives from his boss for archive, revealing that the beautiful period house by the canal that he has moved into with his wife and son (Calum Heath) was the scene of a brutal murder in 1902.  David begins to have horrific visions of an evil presence he believes is inhabiting his home.  Becoming more unhinged with each passing moment, David's actions begin to place his family and everyone he cares about at risk.

                The musical score of The Canal was created by Ceiri Torjussen.  Born in Wales and raised in the United States, Cieri Torjussen became interested in music at a young age, learning to play the trumpet and the piano at the age of eight.  He began his foray into musical composition soon after.  Trained in classical music, but arranging and performing in bands spanning the musical genres, Torjussen began composing for television documentaries while in high school.  Described by the Los Angeles Times as a "sudden creative bolt of lightning," Torjussen has created musical scores for Test, Big Ass Spider!, The Devil's Dozen and more.

                According to the movie's director Ivan Kavanagh, "I asked him for a score that sounded like no other, that contained unique sounds and textures, that was terrifying, evocative and atmospheric, that would be the heartbeat/ the pulse of the film."  He wanted Torjussen to create a score that contained unrecognizable instruments, but to do so without using electronic sound.  According to Torjussen, "The film called for strange noises and disturbing whispers, deriving from the organic roots of the wood, stings, keys and breath of each instrument."

                The resulting soundtrack is less music and more spookfest, using regular instruments in ways that would not exactly translate into music but more horrific sounds.  Some of the interesting sounds employed to put a fright into the listener include scraping against the strings of instruments, loops of slapping noises (wood or rubber), the oft-employed fast-paced scratching of high pitched violin strings, out of tune woodwinds, looped sounds, plucking of strings and hammering of piano keys.  Particularly creepy is the sound of the scratchy old record, which sounds something like a love duet out of the early 1900s, accompanied by ominous dark music (By the Old Bleak Stream).

                While I wouldn't probably purchase The Canal Soundtrack for anything except a haunted house effect on Halloween, I must admit the imaginative score Ceiri Torjussen came up with for the film is rather creepy.  It would definitely fit with the visuals of the movie, helping to outline the downward spiral of a deeply troubled man and his eventual destructive behavior.  The sounds you will hear on this soundtrack will definitely cause the hair on the back of your arms and neck to stand on end, achieving just what Torjussen was hired to do.  And I love that he was able to do it without the use of electronic sound.  Quite an interesting project to say the least and a perfect way to spook out Halloween partiers this year.


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