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Soundtrack review: Mindhunter (Jason Hill – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: Mindhunter (Jason Hill – 2017)

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“Mindhunter” is an American crime drama web television series created by Joe Penhall, based on the true crime book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Set in 1977 – in the early days of criminal psychology and criminal profiling at the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Mindhunter revolves around FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), who interview imprisoned serial killers in order to understand how such criminals think and apply this knowledge to solving ongoing cases. Jason Hill wrote the score.

This was one of my most awaited TV shows this year as David Fincher and the agent that inspired Will Graham from “The silence of the lambs” novels are fascinating names for me. The opening cue “Main titles” is a longer and more developed version of the one we see in the show. It’s textural and minimalistic, unsettling in a Twin Peaks / Millennium style. I am a big fan of minimalistic and ambient music especially when it’s dark but music like this is also harder to write about and explain; it’s something to be experienced. “Mindhunter” is not usually reflective or dreamy; the music is eerie at times but metallic in taste and with some electronic elements that make me thing of the pioneering ages of tech. As soon as things settle in I get into my comfort zone with “Wendy suite”; this is my kind of chiming ambient piece that entices my imagination and helps me dream. This is a cue I wouldn’t mind hearing extended to half an hour.

I think “Mindhunter” will be very polarising especially as a standalone listening experience; pieces like “Fantasies” for example will only appeal to fans of ambient experiments since it’s hardly music. It’s a purely textural quiet piece that I personally enjoy hearing and exploring but it might get too quiet and minimalistic for some. In the context of the TV show it works perfectly as the investigative and exploratory parts of the story are the most important. The darker moments of this score remind me of “Zodiac” and I guess I associate it with stories like these.

Even for me “Mindhunter” is an uneven composition though as I can connect easily with some cues and not so much with others like “Tell the parole board”. Still I am immersed in this soundscape and whether I like the cues or not, I listen to the them all and try to hear all the nuances and subtleties the composer hid in there. For me it’s a time lapse type score meaning I drift away with the sound and forget everything around me and have no idea how much time has passed since I started. If it intrigued you in the context of the show it’s worth exploring as a standalone listen as well but if you didn’t notice it there or even disliked it things will not change once the images are out of the way.

Cue rating: 83 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 70

Album excellence: 32%

Highlights:
Wendy Suite
Beyond The Pleasure Principle
Welcome to Nowhere
From A Motel Phone
Ed Kemper’s Cage
Crime of the Century

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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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