Imogen Heap is a superb musician and her music has always been lush, layered and full of wonder and richness right the way back to her iMegaphone days. She’s created a wonderful back catalogue of music and whilst I haven’t seen the musical which she has scored, nor am I a Harry Potter fan (I’ve not read the books and only seen a couple of the films), I know all of the music on this soundtrack inside out. Why is that? Almost all of the music here is based on her previously released solo music. It’s all very familiar but with some lovely twirls to it – like karaoke or instrumental versions strung together into seamless acts.
It’s immediate from get-go that ‘Platform 9 3/4’ is an instrumental of ‘First Train Home’, ‘Welcome to Hogwarts’ is the instrumental of ‘Lifeline’ and ‘Anything from the Trolley Dears?’ is the karaoke of ‘Ah-Ha!’ These are some of the tracks that are taken almost note from note from the originals and whilst are lovely, they are also available from any listener that has purchased the deluxe edition of her albums to get the instrumentals. The differences are that here her backing vocals are left on whereas before they were vocal clean. Almost all the songs you can hear either in full or in large quantities are from Speak For Yourself onwards – there is no iMegaphone love here – but it’s surprising how taking these tracks and layering cinematic effects over the top of them (musically thankfully) gives them all a fresh coat for the ears.
Where things really spice up though is when you look beyond this, Imogen Heap has taken really specific elements of her catalogue of sounds and melodies and redone them in really interesting ways. ‘The Owlery’ takes the piano samples from ‘You Know Where To Find Me’ and makes it feel duskier before bringing things to a more cine-synth sound. ‘Wand Dance’ takes the magical ‘Circle Song’ and creates something more arcane rather than Eastern. ‘A Nice Day’ reprises ‘Goodnight and Go’ in a whimsical childlike way. There’s also a beautiful raj like choir rendition of ‘Hide and Seek’ as the track ‘Edge of the Forest’. Her track ‘The Moment I Said It’ is broken up into several sections – all of which end up getting lavish echoes and production to make them even more dramatic and cinematic. It’s this attention to detail and reworking that really drew me into the album and I spent ages thinking ‘ooh that’s a mbira only version of X’ or ‘that’s the riff from Y!’ Yes its a fanboys wet dream and I don’t care! There are some lovely new pieces of music too which all sound like they could drop into most Tim Burton films like the wonderfully kooky ‘St Oswalds’. Other tracks are more industrial ambient laden that give off a stormy cloud or mechanical darkness vibe.
As someone who hasn’t heard Imogen Heap’s music before, this review is probably not very helpful but I’ll say the electronic and symphonic magic that she provides here across 42 tracks and 78 minutes is one of awe and wonder. For those who know her work well, this is like taking a magical ensemble train ride back through everything from Speak For Yourself onwards and enjoying how the whole thing can tell a story. Magic.
Recommended track: Platform 9 3/4
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