Title: Desert Dancer
Composer: Benjamin Wallfisch
The Film: Desert Dancer is based on true events and tells a story of Afshin Ghaffarian who forms an underground dancing group with his friends that opposes Iranian cultural bans (imposed after presidential election in 2009) By doing that, they put their lives at risk. The film is a feature debut for Richard Raymond and wasn’t particularly well received by critics.
The Score: A frequent orchestrator and conductor for Dario Marianelli, Benjamin Wallfisch is an excellent composer in his own right and, similarly to his Italian collaborator, demonstrates real knack for writing intelligent complex music. ‘Desert Dancer’ offers him a chance write a gentle and sensitive score with slight ethnic touches.
Distinguishing Features: The opening track, ‘Afshin’s Theme’ features lovely vocals alongside solo cello. Wallfisch makes a great use out of ghostly distant voices that he expands upon in ‘Beat Him Artistically’. In ‘Somewhere to Rehearse’ and ‘Elehah’s Aution’, composer puts a particular emphasis on a solo piano. ‘We Can Breathe’ brings back ethereal female vocals once more. But they never get stronger than in the aptly called ‘Silent Protest’ (it’s a pity this cue is so brief). The 9-minute ‘Desert Dancer’ spices things up by heavier use of percussion and woodwinds. The finale track brings a bit more modern touch: with the aids of guitars the score reaches a pleasant resolution.
Final Thoughts: The 40-minute album is a gentle listening experience that will soothe and calm. It’s not the type of score that is filled with big themes, the attraction lies almost solely in textures and those are expertly executed by Benjamin Wallfisch and his intelligent orchestrations. Recommended.
Desert Dancer is out now from Varese Sarabande