Travelogue: A Headphone Matinee

Who doesn’t enjoy curling up on the sofa over a weekend and taking in a film or binge watching a great television show? You can certainly do that with the productions shown here, but the focus of our little travelogue is the music that was created for each by a group of composers whose solo work we’ve been equally happy to feature on the blog in the past, namely Galya Bisengalieva, Aaron Martin, Freya Arde, and Ólafur Arnalds.

Galya Bisengaleiva – Hold Your Breath: The Ice Dive

Kazakh-British composer Galya Bisengalieva uses the full range of her violin with drones and field recordings to create a stunning soundtrack to the story of freediver Johanna Nordblad as told in the Netflix documentary Hold Your Breath. In it she manages to create a palpable sense of the isolation and extreme winter weather conditions that serve as the backdrop for what is ultimately a very personal story. The only one of the productions featured here I have had a chance to watch myself, it is an absorbing and surprisingly emotional film, and Galya’s score not only serves it well, but is able to stand alone as an immersive listening experience.

What Joanna achieved is truly inspiring and incredibly brave. It would have been extremely easy for me to focus on the jeopardy of her record attempt. However, the story that is being told is her love of the cold water, her sister, family, and the nature she communes with every day. My music needed to reflect the personality of an extremely determined and loving woman…The music hints at danger and the power of nature but always comes back to Joanna’s intimacy with the icy water.


Aaron Martin – The End of Medicine

Having previously worked with him for his short film Test Subjects, BAFTA award-winning director Alex Lockwood once again enlists American composer & cellist Aaron Martin for a score, this time for feature length The End of Medicine from executive producers Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix. The documentary explores threats posed to the entire human population by zoonotic diseases and antimicrobial resistance. Being involved from early on in the filming and working in the context of its expanding scope and complexity as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Aaron embarked on what turned out to be a nearly two-year journey that challenged him musically according to the label…

The uncertainty about the pandemic and the pressures of creating his first feature-length solo film score, pushed Aaron to reach deeper into his personal approach to music and to further grapple with the idea of adapting a process steeped in vulnerability to the language of film. The result is not only an exploration of the scenes and ideas contained in the documentary the music is intended to serve, but also a direct extension of Aaron’s solo work.

Lost Tribe Sound

Built around his core instruments of cello, bowed banjo, and bass and adding occasional percussion and elements narrative tension, Aaron meets the soundtrack remit quite capably while still managing to express himself as beautifully as ever with pieces such as “Above a Clearing” and “Emptied at River’s Mouth” which stand up with his most poignant solo work.


Freya Arde – Viva Forever

German composer and guitarist Freya Arde has a number of films to her credit and her release of songs from here score for Viva Forever is succinct distillation of the music she created for Sinje Köhler‘s film, it is a delight to listen to as a collection of sun-drenched melodic vignettes just long enough to transport the listener to another state of mind. Other than Katharina Lattke on drums, Freya played all the instruments on the album which also makes a nice call back to the beautiful solo record Spirit Awake she released about two years ago. The EP makes for a lovely summer confection and hopefully a sign of more to come soon from this very talented artist.


Ólafur Arnalds – Surface

Fans of Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds will undoubtedly enjoy his music for the Apple TV series Surface. Much in the vein of his BAFTA award-winning soundtrack for Broadchurch, Arnalds strikes gold again with wistful melodic themes and compelling interplay between piano and strings wrapped in lush but understated atmospherics. Enhancing the listening experience, the album version of the soundtrack flows seamlessly from track to track toward the stillness and beauty of its final coda.

For this series I wanted to find a way to portray memory loss through music. To make this nostalgic but scary sound I created magnetic loops of simple motifs and let them deteriorate until they started to feel distant and distorted. This turned out to be a very inspiring musical metaphor to build the rest of the score around.