Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
Stranger Things 4 (Original Score From The Netlix Series)
Lakeshore Records Records
The Duffer Brothers get everything just right for their hit show, Stranger Things. I’ve just watched all four seasons on the trot – to catch up with the action and remind myself of the earliest moments in anticipation for the epic scale of season 4. Four was bigger (and better). Much hyped of course, due to three years of delay (thank you pandemic). But it delivered. With bigger, longer episodes, new characters, great developments, new villains and creatures. The works.
A crucial component, always, is the music. And Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein have always understood the assignment. Right back to the original season of Stranger Things, the music has been, erm, instrumental. The Tangerine Dream-isms, the John Carpenter-esque cues fitting with the vibe and setting – both the sci-fi/horror genre and the 80s location.
But Stein and Dixon (from the band S U R V I V E – a synth-based project itself in tribute to horror scores) have built enough of their own flavour. Lovely gossamer shimmers that are just modern enough without ever feeling like they break to into today and leave the 80s permanently behind.
Perhaps more than ever on the score for Stranger Things 4 we have that move, that mood, those lovely, fragrant feels (Top Secret Location) but there are absolutely hints back to that Carpenter-circa-Halloween III vibe (Gates of Kamchatka) and the Tangerine Dream of Firestarter (You Should Go East).
The bigger picture is built, though, from the continued sonic exploration of Dixon and Stein here. Mining deep into the dark at times (Unfortunate Development) and then kindly bringing in some light (Letter To Willy).
The music for much of Season 4 is bolder (Hellfire Isn’t A Cult), braver (A War Is Coming To Hawkins) and more hypnotic (Brenner’s Little Pet) which matches the tone and feel and development of the images it was created for of course.
It’s also just more epic – in size and scale – again befitting the overall optics of the season.
So this score is 80 tracks and over three hours.
And this is just the score. The actual soundtrack filled with Beach Boys and Kate Bush and Metallica and all sorts, will be out in physical form later this year. And people will lap that up of course. The song selections were key to the building of the mood and era. But for me, I’m still most enthralled by the score. Such wonderful stuff, by talented composers who deeply understand and feel the assignment.
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