Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sanctum - music

Sanctum, David Hirschfelder, Soundtrack, Varese Sarabande, February 1, 2011, 18 tracks.

Track Listing:
  1. A Sacred Place
  2. Espiritu Esa Ala
  3. The Doline
  4. The Dive
  5. Saint Jude's Cathedral
  6. Listen! The River Is Returning
  7. Flow Stone Falls
  8. Luko My Friend
  9. Through the Restriction
  10. We're Not Gonna Die
  11. The Sacred River
  12. I Can See You
  13. Push On? You Decide
  14. What About Carl?
  15. Help Me Into the Water
  16. Down to a Sunless Sea
  17. Are We Home Yet?
  18. Sanctum Suite

My thoughts: David Hirschfelder is a lesser-known composer, but I doubt he will be for long. This is his second soundtrack for a large-scale film (Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole was his first), and I believe many more will darken his doorway.

One of the many things Hirschfelder does really well is utilize the Papua New Guinea's feel in the music. You can hear a native chanting at times, and some cultural instruments were used. When the characters are in danger (which happens throughout) the music is really driving and intense (Flow Stone Falls is a good example).

All of Hirschfelder's music has become quite iconic to those who have heard it. However, the themes are much more complex, and can't be adequately replicated with a simple hummed line; much more is layered in.

Something I can't ignore about this soundtrack is the amount of references to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan. (the entire poem is below) These are mostly in the track titles, (A Sacred Place, The Sacred River, Down to a Sunless Sea) but there are several moments in the movie itself that reflect ideas in the poem. A sense of wonder and wild danger permeates the film and soundtrack, and matches well with Kubla Khan.

I recommend this soundtrack to those who enjoy complex, involved, and slightly dark instrumental music.

My rating: 5 stars

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.


  1. Sounds good, thanks for the review.

  2. You're welcome! Thank you for reading :)

  3. I'm going to blow my budget because of all these soundtracks you are posting about! Sheesh! haha...
    Really good review. (I'll need to you to do an honest review about my trailer album... when I finally release it. haha) thank you for posting! I really do like the soundtrack reviews. But I'm kind of biased...

  4. Haha! No rush :P

    Thank you! (I will definitely do so!) You're welcome, and I understand. Any musician does.