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Album Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:
Dan Romer

Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Mark Graham
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Walt Disney Records
(June 18th, 2021)
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Commercial digital release only, with high resolution options.
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Decorative Nonsense
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you can admire Dan Romer's loving adaptation of Italian film music traditions into a blend of unabashed animation optimism and his own quirky, sparse mannerisms.

Avoid it... if you tend to be bothered by film scores that introduce a wealth of attractive themes but struggle to develop them to meaningful and consistent narrative ends.
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WRITTEN 8/11/21
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Luca: (Dan Romer) After a series of acclaimed films exploring serious reflections about death, Pixar returned to lighter topics in 2021 with Luca, a coming-of-age tale combining myths about Italian sea monsters and everyday childhood friendships. In the Italian Riviera of the late 1950's, sea monsters exist peacefully beneath the surface and occasionally infiltrate the human population with their capability to transform into normal-looking humans when not wet. A pair of restless young sea monsters decides to seek a new life of adventure on land, setting their sights on winning riches from a children's triathlon to buy a Vespa scooter and travel the world. Naturally, they meet a human girl in the local seaside town of Portorosso, their priorities change, and they ultimately reveal themselves to the townsfolk in redemptive Pixar/Disney fashion. Received extremely well, Luca is championed as a "coming out" story despite no such sociological intentions by Pixar veteran but first-time feature director Enrico Casarosa. The movie was intended to be the studio's major 2021 theatrical release, but it ultimately gained its broad audience mostly on Disney's streaming platform. The settings and interactions of Luca were intentionally modeled after Federico Fellini and classic Italian cinema standards, and that personality has a heavy impact on the movie's soundtrack. The film utilizes a wide variety of vintage Italian opera and film music, Casarosa not afraid to play up the ethnic element through music. Surprisingly, he hired rock producer-turned-composer Dan Romer because of his unconventional, catchy music for Beasts of the Southern Wild and the just-preceding Wendy. Romer had also been in the news at the time for his assignment to the James Bond franchise, though creative differences sent him packing from that project. For Luca, he found himself originally applying experimental, dreamy tones to the concept before Casarosa redirected him to the Italian folk and classical standards he had in mind (not an unwise choice), and after Romer originally went too heavy on the Italian flavor in his next stab at the music, a comfortable balance between the ethnic conventions and Romer's experimental inclinations was reached.

There is undoubtedly a touch of Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota, Luis Bacalov, and Nicola Piovani to be heard in aspects of Romer's approach to Luca, primarily in the generally smaller and more intimate sound to the score. The instrumental flavor may get all the headlines, but it's really the constrained scope of the score's soundscape that defines the tale's era and story. While 82 musicians were used, they were recorded separately due to pandemic protocols, and Romer intentionally kept the depth of the orchestra's sections limited so that even the fully symphonic portions appeal to memories of vintage Italian film scores. For some listeners, this restrained sound will seem odd for a Pixar fantasy flick, and the lack of depth does hinder the experience on album, but the decision is understandable and helps Romer realize the dry, intimate sound he seems to prefer. Instrumentally, the players are highlighted by mandolin, accordion (courtesy Romer himself), clarinet, and acoustic guitar, the string section also plucking its lines more often than not. Percussion is not to be overlooked, either, as many of the score's highlights offer rambunctious drum activity. That said, metallic percussion is so incredibly dry in the mix as to be ineffective. (Cymbal hits really suffer in this score.) Some electronic embellishment can be heard in the underwater and early aspirational sequences, and these applications work well. The tone of the score is pitch-perfect, Romer truly excelling at capturing the free spirit, enthusiasm, and action elements. His handling of the "Mickey Mousing" techniques when needed is smart, and never does this score become substantially obnoxious. Even in the two themes for the villainous human boy and Luca's bumbling parents, the composer addresses their humor and danger without breaking the generally positive personality of the whole. Few scores yield such seemingly effortless optimism, a product of Romer's major-key sincerity and intelligent pacing. The score also features one of the most upbeat conclusions to an animated movie of late, Romer succeeding despite a prominent song placement and somewhat muddled thematic core to the story. Lack of clarity in the many themes of the score, despite their impressive intertwining, is the unfortunate downside to the work. These animated films require easy melodic attributions, and while Luca has some great themes, they don't always develop in ways that make sense.

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Average: 3.4 Stars
***** 23 5 Stars
**** 33 4 Stars
*** 28 3 Stars
** 18 2 Stars
* 8 1 Stars
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Pretty much what Christian said
A Loony Trombonist - September 10, 2021, at 10:15 a.m.
1 comment  (163 views)

Track Listings Icon
Total Time: 64:27
• 1. Meet Luca (4:08)
• 2. Did You Hide? (1:04)
• 3. The Curious Fish (1:39)
• 4. You Forgot Your Harpoon (0:39)
• 5. Phantom Tail (2:09)
• 6. Walking is Just Like Swimming (2:02)
• 7. Vespa è Libertà (1:42)
• 8. You Hold the Ramp (0:59)
• 9. Silenzio Bruno (0:41)
• 10. That's the Dream (2:05)
• 11. The Bottom of the Ocean (1:52)
• 12. Take Me, Gravity (1:44)
• 13. Portorosso (1:36)
• 14. Signor Vespa (1:17)
• 15. This Isn't Any Old Race (2:55)
• 16. Buonanotte, Boys (1:27)
• 17. Land Monsters Everywhere (0:55)
• 18. Buongiorno Massimo (3:03)
• 19. The Out of Town Weirdo Tax (1:48)
• 20. Rules Are for Rule People (1:08)
• 21. How Humans Swim (1:03)
• 22. Not Our Kid (0:49)
• 23. Telescope (2:46)
• 24. Beyond the Solar System (1:02)
• 25. We Don't Need Anybody (1:54)
• 26. The Sea Monster (3:33)
• 27. I Wish I Could Take It Back (4:01)
• 28. The Portorosso Cup (7:34)
• 29. How to Find the Good Ones (5:14)
• 30. Go Find Out for Me (1:39)

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There exists no official packaging for this album.
Copyright © 2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Luca are Copyright © 2021, Walt Disney Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/11/21 (and not updated significantly since).
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