Italian composer Luca Ciut was born in Italy and after composing ballets and soundtracking theatre and TV productions in the country of his birth, he decamped to the USA to take on a chance at film scoring at the UCLA. ‘Seventeen Million Lonely Angels’ is a project inspired by the sounds of Los Angeles and one where his outsider view paints a very different picture from the one we are used to seeing.
It is a rare album indeed which chooses to begin with simultaneous samples of police sirens and bird song. They are very much in the background though as Ciut’s fluid piano melodies and cello accompaniment stride into view; already giving a unique and unexpected perspective of LA living. ‘The Time Is Now’ is bright and cheerful, with the twinkling keys giving voice to summers past and summers to come but thereafter the mood is largely downbeat yet never depressing. Thanks to the heavy, even breathing underscoring it, one assumes that ‘New Obsession’ indicates a devotion to running and ‘A Quiet Place’ dips its toes into jazz.
Of the two tracks containing vocals, the melancholic shadows painted on ‘Things Are Getting Better’ contrast the title completely, suggesting nothing but dark times lie ahead whilst ‘Back To Life’ is elegantly matched with waves and mournful trumpet. Elsewhere, the album hits on a consistently pleasant patch rising from its relative slumber for the stirring ‘Lonely Creatures’ and concluding quietly with a stately ‘More Than You Think’.
Piano music is often the obvious choice for soundtrack work. It’s subtle enough to exist in the background; occasionally happy to run in parallel with the dialogue but also stirring enough to encourage emotional reactions. Pleasingly, there is a triumphant air to some of these instrumentals and some well chosen samples, which not only affirms why Ciut has been selected for a number of soundtrack commissions but also makes one think that piano music doesn’t always have to be morose.
Sigur Ros, Library Tapes, Benjamin Finger