Borg McEnroe [Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture]
Sound by Struck
The film is a masterpiece, I’m quite sure of that after two screenings. And one crucial component of this great movie is the score. That was obvious almost immediately. Also obvious was the fact that this music stands up – in the way the best scores do – as a musical experience when removed from the pictures. So compelling was the music within the movie-watching experience that within minutes of watching the film for the first time I turned to the score. It has since held up over several listens and then after a second screening of Borg McEnroe I (you guessed it) headed straight for the soundtrack (yet again).
Okay, so what’s so special? It’s right in my wheelhouse I guess – reminiscent of some of John Williams’ recent work (The Post comes instantly to mind) and some of what Cliff Martinez and Clint Mansell (and Jonny Greenwood) do so well in the layering of strings with very subtle electronics.
Here Jonas Struck (Danish guitarist for Swan Lee and film composer) brings out beautiful textures that seem more expansive than their 1-2 minute cue times (Labbe Talks) and there are moments (Suspicious Rituals, Be There When He Falls) that remind me of Max Richter’s score for Disconnect.
Co-composer/performer here is Vladislave Delay, a Finnish glitch-hop producer, experimenter and drummer – and though it’s impossible to tell who is responsible for what here it’s most certainly a winning formula. Take a piece like 8mm Memories (which flows directly into Pinball, another short, impressive cue). There’s a minimalist build, the strings sitting deep inside the piece. Gorgeous, but also I think one of the things that makes this score so worthwhile as a divorced-for-the-screen listening experience is that it doesn’t in any way feel like it is tied to the movie’s action – it works in that context, but here we could be listening to music from a political or psychological thriller.
Even the music that was created for the final matches – so brilliantly helping to ratchet the tension – still seems to exist in its own time and space when its just about hearing the music. This is not as easy as it sounds, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Borg McEnroe’s score is something you could find yourself sitting comfortably inside even if you have no plans to ever see the film.