Audio: On the Score with Rolfe Kent

By • December 23, 2013

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

If there’s a composer in Hollywood with an unmistakable voice, then credit would certainly go to Rolfe Kent. African percussion, blarting brass, Spanish tangos, jazzily eccentric rhythms, Texas hoedowns and the sonorous winds of a Chinese erhu make up but some of the many wildly unique touches that have filled such scores as “Mean Girls,” “Election,” “Sideways.” “About Schmidt, “Freaky Friday” and “Gambit.” It’s a telltale, droll wackiness that makes Kent a one-man band in what’s often a stylistic company town, resounding with a grab bag of melodically distinctive styles that have made him a true game changer in the world of comedy scoring.

However, that doesn’t mean Rolfe Kent can’t play with a straight face, as he ironically did early in his career for such barely seen movies (but worthy scores) as “Oxygen,” “Mercy” and “Mexico City.” And while Kent did get to make a musical trip to Bosnia with the sardonic political thriller “The Hunting Party,” and give a lush sense of youthful romance to “Charlie Saint Cloud,” one might say that there were still distinguishable rhythmic traces to be found. And that’s exactly what makes “Labor Day” all the more astonishing when it comes to Kent completely disappearing into his work. For it seems that another musician might well have written this haunting score that uses endlessly hypnotic sustains and glass-like orchestrations, conveying the menace of being seemingly held hostage inside a house over the holiday weekend. But as an escaped prisoner shows he’s anything but a menace to an already isolated mother and daughter, Kent’s score gradually reveals an equally eerie bucolic side to it, capturing a subtle tenderness and the pain of the past, all while refusing to give in to the easy love strings that any other romantic score might have gone for.

“Labor Day” marks the most powerful pairing between Kent and filmmaker Jason Reitman, a collaboration that’s found ironic humor in pitching death sticks with “Thank You For Smoking,” flying across the country to fire longtime employees for “Up in the Air,” or conveying the immature mind of a writer of tween fiction in “Young Adult.” But for all of these movies about quirky behavior, “Labor Day” offers their most impactful insights to the human condition, while completely surprising with its cinematic, and musical authorships. Now on a new episode of “On the Score,” Kent talks about going inside this quietly torn household to deliver a work of completely unsuspecting poignancy, one most definitely not in his “usual” voice, while completely familiar for the composer’s sense of musical innovation.

Click above to Listen Now

a Buy the Soundtrack: LABOR DAY
a Buy the Soundtrack: UP IN THE AIR
a Buy the Soundtrack: THANK YOU FOR SMOKING
a Buy the Soundtrack: GAMBIT
a Visit Rolfe Kent’s website

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