These are three scores that have been dominating my brain the past couple of weeks. I suspect you’ll dig them something fierce.
Mark Korven – The Lighthouse (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse is an extraordinary film — a beautifully claustrophobic exercise in surrealism that’s absolutely drenched in cold saltwater. To properly score this black-and-white, lo-fi, and often Lynchian experience requires the right amount of darkness and organic sounds. Mark Korven delivers. He gives us haunting uber-glissandos on the strings and soul-crushing blasts from a formidable horn section that often functions like a foghorn warning us of impending danger — not merely to warn of a storm, but of the inevitable dissolution of our sense of reality.
Korven’s music serves the story well, often taking on a life of its own amid the subterfuge and dissembling of the characters portrayed by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Available now via digital and physical formats. Sacred Bones and Waxwork partnered on the excellent vinyl release.
Drum & Lace and Ian Hultquist – Dickinson
One of the most exciting launch shows for Apple TV+ is Dickinson — created by Alena Smith and starring Hailee Steinfeld in a black-comedy take on Emily Dickinson’s life that is set in her time but with modern vibes. But what really hits me in the face with bliss is the kaleidoscopic electronic score by Drum & Lace (Sofia Hultquist) and her husband, Ian Hultquist. Both have scored using a variety of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, depending on the project — hear their collaborations on shows like At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal or Ian’s Assassination Nation score, to choose from a vast catalogue.
For this electro score, the focus is on innovative samples, gorgeous sound design, killer synths, and delectably propulsive beats — often the hallmark of their work. This is one of my favorite scores of 2019. Basically, scores like this make me excited to write about film music. (A note: It’s only available via Apple Music and iTunes right now via Milan.) Sample some cues below:
Reznor & Ross – Watchmen, Volume 1 (Music from the HBO Series)
Damon Lindelof’s stab at Watchmen is a largely well regarded take on Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’ comic book series, not the least because of Trent Reznor’s and Atticus Ross’ haunting score. Over time, Reznor and Ross have shown a penchant for blending ambient synthscapes, experimental sound design, and Reznor’s knack for memorable melodies to complement a film’s story in the best way possible. (Consider their work together on Gone Girl and The Social Network, for starters, but don’t forget their great scores for Patriots Day or Bird Box.)
On Watchmen, there are dark ambient passages, delicate piano segments, and gritty electronics befitting of Reznor’s legacy especially — some cues sound like bona fide Nine Inch Nails numbers. Strewn about this, though, are also segments with more traditional cinematic orchestration. It feels like the culmination of both Reznor’s and Ross’ life’s work. They pulled out all of the stops.
“Müller Time” is likely what it would sound like if Reznor and Ross ever score a Bond flick — cinematic menace paired with sonic experimentation. “Nun with a Motherf*&*ing Gun” is classic NiN, with its distorted riffs paired with driving and memorable grooves. So too “The Brick,” like Reznor crossed his Lost Highway days with a neo-western. “Never Surrender” is another stand-out cue that will leave you wishing it were far longer than two minutes. (Maybe they can do an eight-minute version live?)
Those are just some examples. This is a supremely engaging score that I, to put it simply, just really highly recommend. You can easily listen to it without watching the show, but I would recommend just watching the show, too.
You can buy the score on vinyl via the NiN store (or stream it everywhere). The remaining two volumes are set to release periodically throughout the season’s run.