A Walk Among the Tombstones

Composed By: Carlos Rafael Rivera

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Based on the series of mystery novels by Lawrence Block, A Walk Among the Tombstones stars Liam Neeson as Matt Scudder, a former NYPD cop, now unlicensed private detective walking the thin line between right and wrong.  Reluctantly taking on a case to hunt down the men who kidnapped and brutally murdered a heroin trafficker's (Dan Stevens) wife, Scudder soon realizes he has gotten into more than he was expecting.  These animals have done this sort of thing before...and will do it again unless Scudder can stop them.

                The musical score of A Walk Among the Tombstones was created by Carlos Rafael Rivera, a protégé of well-known singer, songwriter and composer Randy Newman.  Working in both classical, contemporary and popular music, Carlos Rafael Rivera has created compositions performed and recorded by a number of prominent artists around the world, including Arturo Sandoval, Colin Currie, Chanticleer, Cavatina Duo and the New England Philharmonic.  He has performed as an opening act for The Who, been the composer in residence for the Miami Symphony Orchestra and more.  Having provided guitar work for Brotherhood of Murder, Scrubs, Crash and Dragonfly, A Walk Among the Tombstones represents his first feature film movie score composition.

                Liam Neeson has been playing somewhat the same character in his movies of late.  Usually, he is a dark, brooding man with a rough past that he is trying to move past, somewhat unsuccessfully as events from his present seem to keep dragging him backwards.  That's not to say that this sort of character is a bad thing.  A complex individual with a rough past and dramatic present...throwing in quite a bit of action here and there...makes for an interesting theme throughout the score of whatever movie he is in.

                To create the theme for this movie's score, Carlos Rafael Rivera, "looked for something malleable, haunting, dreadful.  And a motif of thirds shifting by half steps became central in establishing the two dark characters that inhabit the story. This really was the engine behind the score."  This theme offers the listeners a sense that the main character is haunted by things in his past. 

                The score consists mainly of keyboards, electric guitars, orchestral sound and a choir.  The keyboards don't sound exactly like a piano...or if it is a piano, it's slightly out of tune, offering up a spooky, disjointed sort of sound.  the high registry violin strokes also add a spooky flare to the music.  Low registered vocals from the choir add a sense of dread...a horrific edge to the music.  And if you really want a scary track, check out Kenny in the Basement which features what sounds like the distorted screams of a man in severe pain.

                The score of A Walk Among the Tombstones is the perfect music to accompany the dark and mysterious storyline of the film.  It is also dramatic enough to stand alone as a regular instrumental album telling a dark and scary story through music.  Carlos Rafael Rivera did a very nice job in composing this, his first full-length feature musical score.  Makes me want to go out and see the movie!


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