By Marek Robert
Panos Cosmatos’ debut feature Beyond the Black Rainbow was released in 2010 and has gained a cult following amongst film connoisseurs and synth score lovers. Four years later and after countless bootlegs by fans, Jeremy Schmidt’s synth-heavy score was finally released in September 2014 through Death Waltz/JAGJAGUWAR to critical acclaim.
Schmidt, a member of the Canadian Psychedelic rock group Black Mountain, was approached by Director Panos Cosmatos to score the film after hearing his previous solo outing under the pseudonym Sinoia Caves with the album The Enchanter Persuaded. In an interview with Vice Magazine he was quoted as saying,
“As soon as I knew that I wanted the film set in the 1980s I immediately knew that I wanted a juicy, thick, old school, synth score. Through luck, a friend of mine is friends with Jeremy and she played me his Sinoia Caves project. That completely floored me. Hearing it, I thought I was listening to the soundtrack for my film. I showed him a rough cut of the film and he totally responded to it. We were both totally on the same page.”
With both Cosmatos and Schmidt having a mutual appreciation for the scores of John Carpenter and Tangerine dream, Schmidt used a bunch of old school 80’s analog synths and equipment like the Prophet V and Oberheim synthesizers and a Mellotron to recreate that classic analog sound. Something that just can’t be achieved using new digital technology.
Beyond The Black Rainbow
The score opens with the track Forever Dilating Eye, which plays throughout the film’s opening credits. A huge eye fills the screen dilating in time with the music connecting both the visual and audio world together. The music begins with a pulsating bass-line followed by some synthesised choir voices that are in a lot of ways reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness score. The track intensifies with a myriad of haunting synth pads until the percussion starts with a bang with almost tribal style drum fills.
With the second track Elena’s Sound World, Schmidt cools things down after such a hard-hitting intro. A track that appears throughout the film, it’s possibly my favourite on the album and is a breathtaking almost classical piece of synth music that is incredibly dark but illuminating at the same time. It begins with a wavering bass drone and builds up with layer upon layer of beautiful choir pads and ambient arpeggios until the euphoric synth strings appear to stunning effect.
For the next piece, Run Program: Sentionauts, Schmidt goes all psychedelic on us and there are echoes of the Pink Floyd song “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, the track that Cosmatos apparently used before Schmidt was on board to score the film. Schmidt combines 70’s style psychedelics with his own sound and the result is another staggering piece of music.
Arboria Tapes – Award Winning Gardens is the piece of music used in the prologue of the film during Dr Arboria’s promotional video for his research facility……and it’s an odd one. A concoction of warm dreamy synths with accompanying bleeps and blopps, weird drones and swirling computer like noises fill your ears almost to the point that it feels like you are almost in some drug fuelled dream like state.
1983 – Main Titles is another cracker and a contender for best track on the album, though there are so many it’s almost impossible to choose. Laced with lush arpeggios and droning detuned synths, when the pounding bass-line and main melody kick in it almost sounds like a euphoric version of the Phantasm theme tune.
The final two tracks Let The Age Of Enlightenment Begin and Sentionauts II bring the album to a close. The former is a 17-minute nightmarish piece of music that sees Schmidt really begin to experiment. It takes place during the most bizarre part of the movie that can only be described as a visually intense brain-melting LSD trip. With so much going on in terms of layers and bizarre electronic noises, it’s a bit of a headfuck and quite a difficult listen but rewarding nonetheless. This leads us into the final track Sentionauts II, a remix of the third track on the album. Although this track is a remix, Schmidt changes it up a little and it’s not just a slightly different version of the original track. It doesn’t have the same psychedelic feel and Schmidt brings in some pounding drums and crashing cymbals to bring the album to a close in very nice fashion.
Beyond The Black Rainbow was hands down my favourite film score of 2014 and is a perfect example of how a score can be just as important as the movie itself. If you haven’t seen the film then I strongly recommend you check it out if you like your movies slow, weird and very visual. With the score, Schmidt has given us a beautifully intense and haunting 80’s style classic, a must for synth and movie score enthusiasts alike.
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