Album Review: Radical Face – Missing Film

Besides a chirping bird and some atmospheric “ooooooohs”, Radical Face‘s new album Missing Film is instrumental. So, being a reviewer driven by the narrative in music, how can I approach a review of an instrumental album?

The key is in the images it evokes and if those images are pretty. And the music, does it arouse some sort of sentiment?

Pianos and strings cultivate this rich soundscape. I found the songs took me to various locales from a walk in overgrown grasses between old oak trees with the breeze brushing the branches together on a summer afternoon (“Horizon Lines”) to a cold morning on a battlefield, puffs of breath crystallized with soldiers gripping spear hafts and waiting to find out what destiny holds for them (“Tension”). Or there’s some friends running (“I’ll Be There Soon”) supported by a playful synthesizer. And then death, and sadness and love lost (“Ashes in the Wind,” “Waltzing in the Ashes,” “Hearsay,” “Leaving the Ground”). But that’s what the producer in my mind’s eye sees. What does yours?

This album affirms my suspicions that Ben Cooper (the force behind the band) could score a moody indie drama. His music, already featured in films and TV shows, inspires such rich emotion- generally along the sad and/or nostalgic tenor- that he’d have little problem hitting the climactic highs and intense lows that a film project would ask of him.

And lo, it is true. The purpose of the album (clearly indicated by its title) is for producers to use- under an open license, for free. It’s all meant for the visual- as stated by producing label Bear Machine Records. And that concept also explains the thematic differences in the song without a clear through concept.

Like great poetry that speaks to the individual these instrumental songs are left to be interpreted by those that would use them. Many of us are travelling at some point this holiday, studying for finals, and/or trying to get a lot of work done before a few days vacation. This album could provide that soundtrack for you. It’s unobtrusive yet beautiful. You’ll be deep in thought but find yourself pause to smile at a smooth rise or fall in action within these tracks.  And whether it’s an audition tape for producers or an altruistic gift to filmmakers it’s worth checking out.

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