The Chronicle of the Black Monk features selections from the original soundtrack for a Swedish historical film. The music presents a range of musical ideas: late romantic compositions and orchestral coloring techniques; medieval music; and more modern genres. There are nine tracks on the album. Film scores are geared to providing background music for cinematic action, and are not necessarily as coherent as program albums are.
Track 1: Codex Dei draws on that late romantic orchestral work theme. Track 2: Gerhard the Monk presents forceful vocal-choral textures that give a dark, intense mood. Track 3: “1040 AD” features a jaunty fiddle dance tune with renaissance-style woodwinds and percussion.
Track 6: Sea Battle is a lengthy 12:15 minute piece that shows a lot of compositional development. The focus is mostly on the string sections, with woodwinds and percussion added for emphasis at certain points in the music. The mood shifts from contentious, to oceanic, to an instrumental dialog, to full-out orchestral battle mode. It’s a long, complex piece of music that draws the listener through a variety of moods and musical environments with its deft use of textures, dynamics, and leitmotifs.
Track 7: The Ancient Book is another fairly lengthy piece at 7:10 minutes. It’s a dramatically jazzy yet somewhat atonal piano composition, the only piece in this collection featuring a solo instrument. It sounds improvisational and stream-of-consciousness as new ideas continue to flow through the piece.
The music on this CD is a disjointed because it is a collection of background film music pieces. It showcases Daniel and Mikael Tjernberg’s scope as composers and allows interested listeners to separate the music from the on-screen action. Recommended for fans of the Tjernbergs and those who enjoy soundtrack CDs.
~Review by Elizabeth Hazel
Artists: Daniel and Mikail Tjernberg
Venus Aeon, 2018
9 tracks, 51:41 minutes