Death Defying ActsThe first thing you’ll think after listening to the almost eight minute long opening track of the score for Death Defying Acts is, “Why haven’t I heard of Cezary Skubiszewski before?”… unless of course you’ve heard of him before, in which case you’ll be asking yourself, “Why haven’t more people heard of Cezary Skubiszewski yet?” Though the polish emigre has been heralded up and down the coasts of Australia, he hasn’t yet been given the chance to put his stamp on a major Hollywood film. But after his work on this score, that’s likely to change… if Skubiszewski wants it to, that is. It seems like he’s doing well enough in Australia. 

Death Defying Acts centers around the infamous magician Harry Houdini (Guy Pearce) and his obsession with contacting his deceased mother. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Saoirse Ronan work as a mother/daughter team to find out as much as they can about Houdini in order to convince him that they are psychics. After the relatively lukewarm reception of The Illusionist and The Prestige, it seems unlikely that this film will be scoring big at the box office, but that’s beside the point. Skubiszewski’s score bears a listen whether you’re interested in the film or not.

Opening with an impressively memorable eight minute theme track, Skubiszewski prepares the listener for something more than your standard score fare. But the truly impressive part of the album is how much variance Skubiszewski allows himself while still staying within the confines of a specific thematic style. In the track “Princes Kali” the music is boldly overpowering, bringing in the zurna, oud, and even a dholak, along with a piano accordian. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Hello Edinburg” is remarkably commonplace, with more standard strings and backup choral work.  It’s the way that Skubiszewski bridges the gap between these diverse tunes that makes all the difference. There’s a tango in “Maid Does the Dishes” and tension-building chimes fading in and out of a melancholy background theme in “Love or Money.” “The Final Curtain” brings back some of the thematic elements of the opening, as well as pieces that were heard throughout the album. Overall, this isn’t an album to miss, and whether you’re looking to discover a new composer or hear Skubiszewski’s latest, Death Defying Acts is worth a listen.

Zach’s Rating: A
Perfect For: The adventurous listener
Stay Away if: You’re not all that interested in uber-heavy music
Buy this on Itunes: “Death Defying Suite”

To purchase the Score for Death Defying Acts, visit Amazon

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