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Soundtrack review: Black mirror – Nosedive (Max Richter – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: Black mirror – Nosedive (Max Richter – 2017)

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“Black Mirror” is a British science fiction television anthology series created by Charlie Brooker. It centres around dark and satirical themes that examine modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies. Episodes are standalone works, usually set in an alternative present or the near future. “Nosedive” is an episode where a woman desperate to boost her social media score hits the jackpot when she’s invited to a swanky wedding, but the trip doesn’t go as planned. The music for this episode was written by Max Richter.

Whenever I listen to a Max Richter score (and usually I do that as soon as one is available) I anticipate some of the most beautiful and meaningful piano motifs; there is something almost surreal about the way this composer plays the piano and about the cues he writes for it. He has created his own quiet and elegiac piano sound where the music moves slowly and each key press is poignant and careful. His sound is almost requiem like every time and every now and then he enriches his piano themes with a subtle violin or cello motif that just adds to the tender emotion of the cue. “On reflection”, the opening piece from “Nosedive”, is a 7 minute long classical Max Richter composition, an immersive and addictive piano cue that sets a lonely and reflective atmosphere, a sanctuary of music that I don’t want to leave. For me his music is atemporal and can’t be linked to a story or a script; his music writes its own story and creates its own world and has an almost hypnotic effect on me as if time stops and nothing around me matters anymore. The piano can do that and under the right fingers there is nothing like it. I’ve gotten to a point where I can recognise a Max Richter piano theme anywhere.

When it’s not the piano the music connects more with the movie or the show it was written for, I’ve noticed this in a lot of his scores; here the “Dopamine” cues are rhythmic electronic with just a hint of piano in the background and keep with the ambient nature of the score. The main motif from “Nosedive” recurs here as well but with a different instrument. As always the combination of orchestral and electronic works very well. “The journey, not the destination” is the liveliest and happiest piece from “Nosedive” and it’s just as addictive as the quieter pieces.

I would love to be there for a Max Richter concert and to actually see the piano and the cello play these magical sounds and make them real. I don’t think there are many composers whose music can make me feel so at peace with myself regardless of what happens around me as the piano music of one of the most gifted composers of this generation. “Black mirror – Nosedive” is no exception as his fans will rejoice in hearing another flawlessly emotional composition. It’s the kind of music that leaves echoes of inimitable melancholy and sadness inside while in the same time putting all worries at ease.

Cue rating: 94 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 20 / 25

Album excellence: 82%

Highlights:

On Reflection
Dopamine 1
The Sorrows of Young Lace
The Journey, Not the Destination
The Consolations of Philosophy

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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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