Woob aka Paul Frankland is an ambient music genius. His two albums for the cult label em:t in 1994/95 were deeply immersive and haven't aged one bit. But it wasn't until 2010 that Woob released the album Repurpose and reminded everyone what they had been missing. Now he has taken a huge leap forward with his first film score, the exquisite Return to the City.
The opening sequence of track 1 'Return to the City (Cinematic)' could for a split second be mistaken for the Tron Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk with its orchestral strings. Then it stops dead in its tracks....maybe to grab us by the scruff and say, there's going to be a lot more going on here. Track 2 'To the City 1 - Alpha' creeps into your subconscious with its chimes, ambience, soaring samples, gentle chanting and well placed beats which merge seemlessly into track 3. Track 4 'Take me with you' is more synthesiser and beat orientated with orchestral flourishes before a softly spoken female voice and the ambience come into play. 'Return to the City' (track 6) is a deeply cinematic number and a reminder of how far Woob has come.
We soon find ourselves on track 7 'Electric City I - Snow-covered Akihabara' with its gentle melody and at once it gives us time to reflect before the menace and unease of 'Showdown'. Tracks 9 and 10 come and go only to make us want more. Track 11 is so finely crafted that's it difficult to put into words. Over it's near ten minute duration we're treated to everything that is good about this album....melody, ambience, orchestral passages, carefully segued samples and powerful sonic manipulation. The same is true of track 12. The album closes on 'Fragment analysis', it's large in its scale and a fitting end to quite a ride.
'Return to the City' immediately engages the senses. But it also reminds us of the Woob sound we first fell in love 17 years ago. It captures the emotion that was so prominent with those early releases. There are many soundtracks that work without the film and this is most definately one of them. This stands on its own and is immensely immersive. It's also his effortless grasp of incorporating modern classical into his sound that really shows us how far he has come. The album as a whole is faintly familiar yet unique on so many different levels. The way he builds his tracks, the sounds that envelop the listener, the textures that flow and morph and the ambience and atmosphere that builds and builds. The bar has been raised. Soundtrack of the year? We definately reckon so.
Album rating 9.9/10
This album is available as a download through bandcamp for only $5. It's also available as a Limited Edition Series 9 Keycard, details can be found on the bandcamp link below.
Woob links to check out below :