Chernobyl [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
One of my favourite albums of the year, and my favourite film score, was Hildur Guðnadóttir’s music for the film Joker. (I didn’t exactly like the film). But the must was sublime, both in the movie-watching experience and removed from it. Ahead of that I had been listening to Guðnadóttir’s music for Chernobyl – also quite stunning, but I’m only getting around to documenting that now since I’ve just started watching the TV mini-series (also brilliant).
Guðnadóttir is having an impact on the film-scoring world not unlike when Trent Reznor downed tools with Nine Inch Nails and sat with Atticus Ross to make enthralling mood-music for a variety of cinematic projects. So it is with Hildur. She’d been in demand as a collaborator ahead of her film composing work but last year’s score for Mary Magdalene (with Jóhann Jóhannsson) appeared to be a real statement of intent.
Here, as with Joker, on-screen concrete grey/green worlds are translated to musical notes, deep, menacing, brooding for the most part. But there’s a choral interludes here (Vichnaya Parmyat by the Homin Lviv Municipal Choir) that comes on with the slow-building force of Gorecki. It’s a distinct mood change from some of the dark rumbling machinations of Guðnadóttir musical mind (Turbine Hall, Bridge of Death).
These are short, punch-packing cues for the most part (13 tracks, 38 minutes – created for a five-hour TV show).
From the eerie (Pump Room) to the abrasive (Corridors) to the strangely serene (Líður – Chernobyl Version) this music moves with a purposeful slow-grind (Evacuation).
It won’t be for everyone, but it’s my idea of sublime. I’ve been listening to it well ahead of a first dive into the filmed images. And it’s been a mediation-music of sorts, spiritual and calming. Watching the show now and revisiting the music with knowledge of the scenes that helped to create it is a new experience altogether.
I hope almost all of 2020’s movies and TV shows are at least pitched to Hildur Guðnadóttir. She has a way of making the cruel, sad, heavy, dark moods wring and ring with a beauty.
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