Hunt For The Wilderpeople [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
Majestical Pictures Ltd
I loved the film and am looking forward to a re-watch as it’s about to be released on DVD – it would be remiss of me to not highlight the soundtrack though, here available as a standalone score. Credited to “Moniker”, which is half of The Phoenix Foundation – and in some cases on here, judging by the playing, it’s all of the members. Sam Scott and Luke Buda have created soundtracks for previous Taika Waititi films, including brand new compositions and existing Phoenix Foundation (and solo) songs. Here they worked with fellow band member Conrad Wedde to create a range of spacey, synthy washes as well as some tight groove-pieces, the opening choral piece, Makutekahu and of course the Casiotone birthday delight, Ricky Baker Birthday Song (delivered so brilliantly in the film by Rima Te Wiata).
Some of the short cues here (Horseriding) feel like snippets of Phoenix Foundation songs, or like they could be – or could have started life that way – which speaks to the signature sound of the band and its chief composers. There are other times where the quirky grooves and shape-shifting feels of the score (Kahu’s House) exist purely as composed moments for the film – that’s not to say that they don’t shine on the soundtrack. They do. Just that not everything here sounds only and exactly like the members of Moniker’s other band.
In making the music for the recreation of the classic Toyota ad (Crumpy) the groove has hints of an 80s feel, a different 1980s vibe permeates Milestone 2 (Skux Life) where in the very best way of both The Phoenix Foundation and the film-scoring sideline of its principals, the music sounds simultaneously timeless and purposefully dated, hitched to a space in time even as it stretches out to evoke the strange passing of a time (or timeline) created for the big screen.
It is this malleability of their signature sound/s that makes the Moniker trio so clearly right – and happy and at home – in the creating of this music. And that’s obviously been the great connection between them and the filmmaker over the years and various projects; their way with the music matches Waititi’s way with creating a world for his movies – something that isn’t ever quite contemporary but darts in and around it; something that exists in its own space and within its own ideal of time, something that can’t quite be pinned down. There’s an incongruity too to the way these spacey flashes of sound – near prog textures – frame up the beautiful scenes of New Zealand bush. It’s a “majestical” pairing between Moniker and Waititi, between The Phoenix Foundation and Waititi, and within the Phoenix Foundation between its band-members and chief composers, long may it continue. This is their most satisfying score for a Waititi project so far. In fact it’s the best film score the musicians here have created to date. And outside of the Ricky Baker Birthday Song – which was all over the ads/trailers and lasts all of a minute anyway – the music happily exists in its own context outside and away from the film too. You could be buying this as a Phoenix Foundation fan who hasn’t see the film – though the movie is a must in and of itself.