Off the Beaten Musical Track: Under-heard Film Scores From 2022
The year 2022 witnessed the development and evolution of a handful of film composers and film franchises in fresh and mostly successful ways.
We heard the latest work from Jonny Greenwood, The Power Of The Dog, the most recent iteration of The Batman and James Bond from Michael Giacchino and Hans Zimmer respectively.
We journeyed to the upside down with Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon, listened to James Newton Howard’s continuation of the themes of the Wizarding World, and wandered through the dreaming with David Buckley.
We continue to experience the expansion of content through streaming and the changes in theme and concept that composers explore across television and film. And we continue to hear the wonderful sonic worlds created from the combination of digital and analog tools that modern recordings technology reveals.
For the end of the year however, here is a look at a small collection of scores that seemed to have fallen relatively under the radar.
HANIA RANI – ‘VENICE INFINITELY AVANT-GARDE’
Venice Infinitely Avant Garde. Credit: Sharmill Films
Hania Rani is a Polish pianist who has consistently been producing high-quality and ear-catching music since the release of her debut album Esja in 2019. Her work blends elements of classical music, electronics, and jazz in similar ways to Max Richter.
She composed the score for the 2022 documentary Venice Infinitely Avant-Garde, directed by Michele Mally. The film “explores Venice and its openness to the world, and to the future, through its arts and its museums, its canals and its narrow streets”.
Rani’s score blends piano and strings in a timeless and beautiful way. Her track “G-Minor” opens with a steady, arpeggiating piano figure overlayed with an array of cello, viola and violin.
Fading through shades and rising and falling in reverie, the piece moves through several sequences of a strong harmonic progression, until a climactic passage reveals a subtle and delicate outro with string solo wailing at a whisper.
CARTER BURWELL – ‘THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN’
Carter Burwell is a composer of film, dance and theatre works, who has collaborated closely with famed duo The Coen Brothers, scoring the majority of their films, along with films by Spike Jonze, Todd Haynes and Martin McDonagh.
Burwell collaborated with McDonagh this year on The Banshees of Inisherin, a dark, tragic-comedy about the consequences of a falling-out between two life-long friends.
Burwell’s score blends orchestral colours with elements of Irish folk music into a plaintive, pastoral and pondering score.
The opening cue, “Walking Home Alone”, opens with a gentle, slightly dark riff plucked on strings.
A floating melody enters on a bell, followed by an echoing motif on the flute. Clarinets join the ensemble on the second iteration of the chord progression, as the melody simply repeats itself again until the cue ends.
A simple and elegant tune.
ABEL KORZENIOWSKI – ‘TILL’
Till. Credit: UIP Malaysia
Abel Korzeniowski is a Polish composer for film, television and commercial music.
Coming from a family of musicians, he studied under the renowned Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki and has since established himself as a leading figure in the contemporary film score world.
His score for Chinonye Chukwu’s 2022 historical drama Till is a stellar example of dramatic writing for string orchestra and piano.
His cue “Through The Tunnel” opens with a rhythmic, stirring string figure accompanied by a simple melody on the piano. After a few developments, the strings take the melody and the cue expands into a lush and sweetly melancholic moment.
It is somewhat rare to hear a contemporary score without major use of electronics and Korzeniowski displays his composing and orchestrating prowess in full.
NICHOLAS BRITELL – ‘SHE SAID’
She Said. Credit: UIP Malaysia
Composer Nicholas Britell had quite a busy and successful year.
He has had two major scores, one for the Maria Schrader film She Said, documenting the story of the journalists covering the victims of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, and another for the new Disney+ Star War series Andor, following the story of Cassian Andor, one of the main protagonists of Rogue One.
Britell has been producing stellar work for over a decade for a number of high profile directors.
His score for She Said is heavily rooted in the piano, his chosen instrument, primarily with string accompaniment. The score is dramatic, reflecting the obviously intense and revealing nature of the plot.
His “Main Title” opens with a strong and powerful piano figure outlining some tense and dark harmonies, with a pulsing bass rhythm driving the figure to a quick climax in less than one minute.
BRIAN TYLER – ‘1883’
Television series 1883 is director Taylor Sheridan’s prequel to his hit series Yellowstone. It takes place three generations before the original, providing epic and intense backstory to the original characters.
Sheridan recruited composer Brian Tyler to score Yellowstone and Taylor returned to continue developing his work on 1883.
While Jonny Greenwood’s score for Power Of The Dog was the high-water mark for a western-themed film score, Taylor’s work is exceptionally well composed and orchestrated.
His “1883 Theme” opens around a droning string chord, with a mournful and tragic melody floating in a decent amount of reverb. The use of space and the relative width and openness of the orchestra is a suitable match for the seemingly endless landscape of the American west at the end of the 19th century.
The theme grows to a climactic point around 2:00 where we are treated to more simple, yet elegant and emotional melodies before the passage concludes.
ASKA MATSUMIYA – ‘AFTER YANG’
After Yang. Credit: A24
A classically trained pianist enamoured with punk and electronica, Aska Matsumiya’s score for director/producer/editor Kogonada’s 2022 release After Yang blends warm, intensely human sounds with digital and machine-learning based processing to create a score that melds the best of both worlds in a fresh and unique way.
The film traces the story of Yang, a robotic child that parents Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner Smith) raise alongside their adopted daughter Mika.
Matsumiya’s cue “Yang And Mika” is a stellar example of this sort of composing style. A simple, pointalistic figure is warmed by a synth pad that delivers a feeling of familial tenderness and gentleness.
The cue is not overly composed, instead relying on the simplicity of the sounds in a way that is rather refreshing.
SARAH SCHACHNER – ‘PREY’
Sarah Schachner provides the gripping and suspenseful score for the fifth installment of the Predator franchise, aptly titled Prey.
The film takes place in the 18th century, following a tribe of Comanche warriors as they simultaneously fend off the Predator alien, as well as French fur trappers attempting to hunt and kill the buffalo which the Comanche rely upon for food.
The film was the first feature film to feature a full dub in the Comanche language.
The cue “Predator Instinct” features heavy riffing on the low orchestral strings, drawing comparison to the score for Sicario for example.
The tension is real and the cue is ripe with dissonance and suspense. It almost makes you start sweating just listening to it and imagining yourself tracking the predator through the wild.
NICK CAVE AND WARREN ELLIS – ‘BLONDE’
Blonde. Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. Credit: Netflix © 2022
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s collaborated on a score for the 2022 film Blonde, the second film adaptation of the 2000 novel by Joyce Carol Oates.
The film was written and directed by Andrew Dominik and featured a short theatrical release before it was moved exclusively to Netflix for streaming.
Blonde marked the fourth collaboration between Cave, Ellis and director Dominik. The film blends elements of classic orchestral writing, ambient synth passages, and reworked moments from Cave’s work with his band The Bad Seeds.
The cue “Pearly” is one such ambient synth affair, calling to mind some of Angelo Badalamenti’s work with David Lynch on Twin Peaks.
Cover: Blonde. Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. Credit: Netflix © 2022
For more articles on Film Scores, read:
- 10 Movie Soundtracks Worth Checking Out
- A History of Sci-Fi Film Scores
- Exploring Michael Giacchino’s The Batman Soundtrack
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Writer | Edward Bond
Edward Bond is a multi-instrumentalist composer, performer, and writer currently bouncing between Trondheim and Berlin. He apparently has the eyes of the devil, enjoys leopard prints, and will read your tarot, but not your future.