Film scores

Soundtrack review: Maryland (Gessafelstein – 2015)

gesaffelstein-maryland-soundtrack

Disorder (original title: Maryland) is a 2015 French drama film directed by Alice Winocour about a home invasion starring Matthias Schoenaerts and Diane Kruger.It was screened in competition in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Vincent, is an ex-soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He is hired to protect the wife of a wealthy businessman while he’s out of town at their luxurious villa, Maryland, in France. The score was written by French techno artist Gessafelstein and I was very curious about it, first because I’ve heard his work on the latest Jean Michel Jarre album and second because oh let me think how did the previous two incursions of French techno artists into film music fare? Hm… “Tron: Legacy” and “Oblivion” are two of my favorite scores from the last 20 years so yeah… bring it on!

The opening is gothic, almost religious and ushers me into a mysterious world I was to explore. The music tells me that I might be alone in that world but it trust the eerie mood as if it was the alluring siren’s song. Then truly comes “Disorder”; now I must advise you before listening to this cue…this can hardly be considered music. It sounds like the muffled noise of an industrial hall; I hear machines being moved on the stone floors, I hear echoes and screeches and everything sounds as if coming from a place I can’t see. I like weird, I like experimental so I find this cue interesting. I’m afraid some of you might stop listening to this score instantly.

I go further. “Trauma” gets back to the gothic echoes. The score is dark and twisted and you should know this from the get go. After “Disorder” though this is music to my ears. Chalk it up as the echo of a faraway organ. “Theme for Jessie” makes me the most curious because it should be a theme. Sure enough the composer lets the piano do its job and we get a lonely and melancholic break that leaves a thick trace of sadness. “Espial” is a swarm of bees coming closer and closer. Or is it water rushing through a rusty pipe…?

So “Maryland” isn’t really film music; it’s an experiment in sound design and mental disturbance. Some parts of it I can’t understand while others (“Pronoia” for example) make sense to me. The composer wanted to set a unique, twisted and uncomfortable atmosphere with his score and he succeeds with flying colors. I am sure the people who dismissed Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will say that Gesaffelstein’s sounds could be very well used for torture. Lucky for me I like them dark and twisted so this one is right up my alley. “Ultra violence” for example takes me back to many hours of listening to Radiohead, NIN or Infected Mushroom.

Even if it might be one of the most hated scores of the year, “Maryland” was worth the time for me.

Cue rating: 76 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 18 / 54

Album excellence: 33%

Highlights:

Theme for Jessie

Ultra Violence

A Pledge

Wall Of Memories

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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