With the end of the year rapidly approaching, 2015 has seen the soundtrack renaissance at its absolute peak. An insane amount of film scores and soundtracks, old and new, are being released, particularly on vinyl, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down any time soon.
Before we get to the list, just a few things:
- This list is a personal list of new soundtracks released this year….so no reissues or represses are included.
- Apart from my first entry, which I have named my film soundtrack of the year, the rest is in no apparent order.
It Follows – Disasterpeace (Milan Records)
The score to It Follows was penned by Disasterpeace, aka Richard Vreeland, a 29 year-old American composer who previously dabbled in the world of game soundtracks with stunning scores for the likes of Fez and Runner 2. It Follows is his first attempt at composing the music for a film but after this impressive offering I very much doubt it will be his last.
Caked in 80’s style synthesized sounds, pounding electronic drums and an array of unsettling high pitched screeches and drones, Vreeland has meticulously created the perfect companion to David Robert Mitchell’s chilling vision of teen sexual paranoia. Reinvigorating the sound of the best horror soundtracks from the golden era of American slasher films but also adding a modernistic feel to the fore.
The theme song for the film “Title” is one of the score’s highlights; the filtered synth piano melody that fades in and out throughout the track has a familiar ring to it and just like Carpenter’s score for Halloween, gives you that ominous sense of dread….that evil is lurking around every corner.
This is not only MY top film score of 2015, it is one of the best horror scores in recent years.
Favourite track: “Detroit”
Lost River – Johnny Jewel (Italians Do It Better)
Ryan Gosling’s debut film Lost River has polarized critics across the board. However, one thing I think most critics can agree on is that Johnny Jewel has produced an absolutely gorgeous score to Gosling’s bizarre, modern day fairytale. I’m a huge fan of Italian’s Do It Better and Johnny Jewel and was super-excited when I first heard he was onboard to score the film.
As expected, the score is almost entirely electronic and sounds Johnny Jewel to the core but with more reverb, more emotion and even more hypnotic than his usual efforts. Even the 1930’s track “Deep Purple” by Larry Clinton, which is included, sounds like it has been masked in reverb and gives you that feeling like it’s drifting through some kind of underwater, fever dream.
The album highlight is Yes (love theme from Lost River), performed by one of Jewel’s many groups, Chromatics, and is as breathtaking as it is spaced-out.
Some fans have voiced concerns over the sheer length of the score, clocking in at 37 tracks, and perhaps some of the dialogue which is included on a few tracks could have been omitted but nonetheless, Jewel’s Lost River is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.
Favourite track: “Yes (love theme from Lost River)”
Slumber – Pentagram Home Video (No Label)
I first heard Pentagram Home Video earlier this year after their release of the soundtrack for the imaginary 1980’s VHS sci-fi film Who’s Out There/Chi C’e’ La? I was instantly drawn to it’s raw, sinister, dystopian synthscapes.
Slumber marked Pentagram Home Video’s first score for an “actual film”, a science fiction horror short directed by Martin Lancaster and Jack McFarlane. The score, not unlike the previous effort, is packed with lo-fi synth basslines, droning, detuned synth pads and cassette tape hissing that truly captures that 80’s nostalgia of a VHS, low budget sci-fi movie from a distant apocalyptic future. This is a truly remarkable and ethereal score, which at times reminds me of the early days of the legendary electronic Scottish duo Boards of Canada.
Pentagram Home Video recently announced on Twitter that their next project will be released through Death Waltz Originals, news that makes us very excited indeed. Essential.
Favourite track: “Slumber”
The Duke of Burgundy – Cat’s Eyes (Raf Records, Caroline Records)
Cat’s Eyes score for Peter Strickland’s third feature, the sensual, erotic drama, The Duke of Burgundy, was the indie-pop duo’s first venture into the world of film soundtracks. Consisting of Faris Badwan, vocalist for The Horrors and Canadian soprano Rachel Zeffira, together as Cat’s Eyes they pull of something really quite unique. An intriguing blend of orchestral instrumentation and dream-pop, reverberating vocals similar to that of Broadcast. This score is what Victorian-era music would sound like if it was composed by Morricone and produced by Phil Spector after a few puffs of an opium pipe.
Favourite track: “Carpenter Arrival”
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – Various (Death Waltz)
Before I started compiling this end of year list I told myself that I would only include original film scores and not any compilation soundtracks…..but fuck it, this soundtrack is just too good not to include. If you haven’t seen it, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is Iranian/American director Ana Lily Amirpour’s genre defying debut feature. An Iranian spaghetti western, neo-noir vampire movie with a killer soundtrack compiled from a range of different styles.
Amirpour compiled the soundtrack herself and her music background is evident (she is a DJ and bassist). With terrific tracks like Charkhesh E Pooch by Kiosk, which sounds like an Iranian Tom Waits to the Johnny Jewel produced Dancing Girl by Farah sandwiched with Federale the spaghetti western side project of Brian Jonestown Massacre bassist Collin Hegna……A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is one of the most diverse and surprising compilation soundtracks in recent years.
Favourite track: Farah – Dancing Girls
Ex Machina – Ben Salisbury, Geoff Barrow (Invada)
The Guest – Steve Moore (Death Waltz)
Hyena – The The (Death Waltz), Victoria – Nils Frahm (Erased Tapes)
Mad Max: Fury Road Junkie XL (Mondo, WaterTower Music)
Kurt Stenzel – Jodorowsky’s Dune (Cinewax)
Jurassic World – Michael Giacchino (Back Lot Music, Mondo)