Even though Julio De La Rosa’s OST for True Detective-vibe-like thriller La Isla Minima is not a unique masterpiece, which would mark a groundbreaking moment in this composer’s career, there is something hauntingly beautiful that emerges with each song passing by.
Julio De La Rosa’s score pays a tribute to the newly emerging genre of minimalist, electronic soundtracks. The opening song titled just like the film – La Isla Minima – sets the mood, which is hardly ever changed throughout the entire soundtrack. Yet quite surprisingly, Da Rosa managed to grasp various emotions with this simple guitar, bass and electronic whizzing compositions – the opening credits, which are accompanied by almost fairytale shots from birdseye perpective, are introduced with slowly emerging guitar and howling-like, electronic sounds and crescendo augmented with a screeching electric guitar (reminds of Hans Zimmer’s Joker buzzing sound from The Dark Knight OST). In a track called Funeral these sounds come in a fully nostalgic manner, whilst Los Muertos Le Estan Esperando transmits the mysterious past of one of the detectives. The score ends with more lively, but kept within the same frame track Fin.
On one hand, this soundtrack is vastly repetitive. Tracks flow like a river of disturbing electronic whizzing, whilst a sad, nostalgic guitar strives to find its place. Nonetheless, there is a modern vibe to this piece of music, as Da Rosa seems to be vastly influenced by Jóhann Jóhannsson’s minimalist OST from Prisoners, Antony Partos’ disturbing music design in Animal Kingdom, Trent Reznor’s pieces from Gone Girl or Mychael Danna’s deeply harrowing score in Devil’s Knot. Just as all of those soundtracks were perfectly fitted to the films they accompanied and this is the case of Da Rosa’s work too. The claustrophobic, depressing images and dark story told by Alberto Rodriguez required a score that would become a sound design, equally disturbing and sad – Da Rosa did his best to do so.
La Isla Minima OST is another example of the new wave of composers, who sacrifice their creative freedom to make their work be a background design for the film – not one of the main characters. It surely pays off, as several other quite recent examples prove. Julio De La Rosa’s score is undeniably a well-thought piece of art, very minimalist and mysterious. Just as the film dwells into darkness of the past, the soundtrack dwells on its own haunting dimension.