A shining sound
Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow, the brilliant creators behind the riveting soundtracks to films like Annihilation and Ex-Machina, have released their latest project for Julius Onah’s LUCE. The music draws from gospel influences with its sacred melodies and punctual silences, all the while bringing authentic elements of experimental sound design to the forefront.
In “Luce’s Theme,” a smooth organ-like instrument enters and establishes the overall mood to the entire soundtrack. It’s pensive, airy and sad. You can hear a similar instrument in “Goodnight Amy” which then plunges into cinematic strings. It’s more fast-paced, and the coarseness of the strings has hints of the duo’s music piece for the exhilarating alien scene in Annihilation. Salisbury and Barrow create such a beautiful and original set of sounds, and they impressively blur the line between intense and spiritual in their melodic progressions.
Salisbury and Barrow are also capable of creating some of the eeriest sounding noises. Heard in tracks “Breakdown Aftermath” and “Debate” the tonalities are off-putting and even frightening at times. Detuned horns cry out as strings wash over to create a feeling of movement, peril and danger. “Try Again” also has a dark and melancholic feel to it, heard within the cinematic strings holding frail bodies.
A standout in the soundtrack is “Skyhooker.” Perhaps the most experimental track of the project, the song opens with airy percussive noises coming in and out while a man produces strange adlibs. There’s a tempo here, a bit like Jamie XX’s “GOSH.” The duo’s direction is more progressive and modern in the simplicity of the beat, and the addition of synthesizer pads brings the melody to a whole new dimension.
Then, there are several tracks that sort of wash over in the softer ambient feel they give. Songs like “Stephanie” and “Everything’s Fine” provide room to breathe before delving back into the more intense sounds. “You Can’t Run From the Blood” features a quicker organ-like synthesizer met with bells that give the track a gospel choir aspect. It’s cool and rich in different timbres. The glittery, dark and mesmerizing sounds continue in “Amy Follows Luce.” The different harmonies here are intriguing and smart.
It’s safe to say that Salisbury and Barrow are phenomenal composers. Their sound is unmatched by any other. They bravely welcome an experimental approach to their soundtracks, in turn propelling them into a whole new world of sound. In terms of creating music that elevates the picture, the soundtrack to LUCE is simply another masterpiece on the musical duo’s resume.