Music by Frank Ilfman

Film music speaks to us in the most purely emotional language. Nothing bridges generations better than a symphonic sound imbued with a sense of wonder. Music with memorable themes encourages us to brave dark places and embark on thrilling adventures, with the assurance that we’ll find a friend beyond our wildest imagination. Such is the vocabulary of Frank Ilfman’s (Big Bad Wolves) score for the Israeli fantasy Abulele, reminiscent of kindred melodic spirits like E.T., The Goonies and Harry and the Hendersons.  Rather than having Middle Eastern music that called attention to the film’s setting, Director Jonathan Geva and composer Ilfman knew that the production value of a large orchestral score would be essential to translating Abulele to a world audience.   The score was recorded with the London Metropolitan Orchestra at Air Studios, their sumptuous work enhanced by recording engineer Paul Golding (The Lord of the Rings) and mixer Casey Stone (Ant-Man).

Abulele is Israel’s first major fantasy film, anchored by a convincingly realized, Cheshire Cat-inspired creature. Yet even with glowing yellow eyes and the power of invisibility, Abulele proves to be anything but fearsome to the withdrawn Adam (Yoav Sadian Rosenberg). Haunted by his elder brother’s death, Adam is given new purpose in life when he discovers the lumbering, lost Abulele in the shadows of his apartment’s bomb shelter.  Abulele helps Adam triumph against bullying kids and an unsympathetic teacher. The boy eventually faces a more perilous challenge, however: evading a military “Organization” hell-bent on capturing this gentle giant at any cost.

Vivid, exciting orchestral score by Frank Ilfman for first major Israeli fantasy feature! Makram Khoury, Yehuda Mor, Yoav Sadian Rosenberg star, Jonathan Geva writes, directs. Drawing inspiration from film world of Steven Spielberg, movie spins tale of young boy, grieving over loss of brother, finding new purpose in life upon discovery of large creature with glowing yellow eyes, power of invisibility.

Composer Ilfman, director Geva are part of newer generation of Israeli film makers hoping to create larger-scale pictures that might play beyond Israel borders. Abulele is part of that new voice. Film has fantasy elements with creature effects and darker side with parallels to real life in Israel so Ilfman responds in kind. Resulting score has moments of poignancy, gentle melody as well as aggressive action sequences, darker suspense. Melodic portions offer rich harmonic vocabulary, action cues feature dynamic low brass & percussion rhythms. Both thematic and action-oriented cues get equal time under the spotlight. Gentle melody and sweeping variants play through “Prologue”, “The Legend Is True”, “We Are Friends”, “Adam’s Theme”, “Returning Home”, “End Titles” while dynamic rhythms and excitement play through “First Encounter”, “The Creature”, “The Assault”, “We Will Hunt It Down”. But Ilfman has yet one more musical trick up his sleeve: portions of score take two afore-mentioned styles into third direction with brittle yet playful idea that maintains melody while simultaneously offering rhythmic energy. “Meeting Abulele” highlights this mode. Ilfman states that score draws inspiration not from local ethnic colors but from bigger 80’s Hollywood fare with full symphonic scores on display. His score here offers welcome return to that now-mostly abandoned era of powerful symphonic film music. Another big plus: several lengthy cues afford overall score a degree of genuine coherency, rich musical architecture.

Leading this pack are “It Will Come And Catch You” with meld of emotion, energy, “The Legend Is True” with warm harmonic vernacular on display, “We Will Hunt It Down” with dazzling array of dramatic, exciting ideas to savor. Great film score! Having Paul Golding record at world-class AIR Lyndhurst Studios in London is yet another big plus! Liner notes by Daniel Schweiger flipper-style cover design by Joe Siloryak allows listener to pick between mysterious darker artwork, brighter fantasy artwork. Matthew Slater conducts London Metropolitan Orchestra.

Label: Intrada Special Collection Volume ISC 339
Date: 2015
Time: 67:05

01. Prologue (1:34)
02. First Encounter (5:06)
03. The Creature (1:29)
04. A Story About A Monster (2:48)
05. No Way Out, No Way In (1:46)
06. The Legend Is True (6:49)
07. We Are Friends (7:38)

08. It Will Come And Catch You (8:06)
09. Meeting Abulele (1:59)
10. Adam’s Theme (4:52)
11. The Assault (2:21)
12. We Will Hunt It Down (12:10)
13. Returning Home (5:01)
14. End Titles (5:18)