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Soundtrack review: Black mirror – Hang the DJ (Alex Somers & Sigur Ros – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: Black mirror – Hang the DJ (Alex Somers & Sigur Ros – 2017)

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“Black Mirror” is a British science fiction anthology television series created by Charlie Brooker, with Brooker and Annabel Jones serving as the programme’s showrunners. It centres on 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. The plot of the “Hang the DJ” episode says A new dating app hits the scene, but insists that singles need to meet before 12 hours. Alex Somers and Sigur Ros wrote the score.

With these two names attached I know I am in for a whimsical, ambient ride, suavely dark and alluring; Alex Somers wrote one of my favourite scores of 2016, “Captain Fantastic”, while Sigur Ros has that unique Nordic predisposition for quiet, misty and dark minimalism. Sigur wrote 2 cues on this album, the rest being Alex Somers. “Hang the DJ” is the kind of score that has no middle ground for listeners: you either love it or you hate it. If you are into minimalistic, melodic music that burns as slowly as in a Nick Cave and Warren Ellis score and has the occasional chimes, vocalisations and solo string or percussion moments you can’t go wrong with this one. Me, I’m always more drawn to this kind of mood so I welcome any composition that experiments within this musical zone, the Radiohead instrumental like zone. There are moments during this score when I feel I am listening to outtakes from “Kid A”.

The music of “Hang the DJ” is not all melodic or sane; it’s often fragmented, neurotic, in a world of its own while other times it’s whimsical, fairy tale like as in “Sleeps”. The atmosphere in this score is quite unique and for me it’s one of those rare occasions when the music completely challenges my imagination and makes me think of different astral plains, of a world totally opposite to the real one, a world where everything is quiet and where every single element has its specific noise, it’s own sound that only makes sense in the context of that world, combined with the other sounds.

Alex Somers writes music that is hard to explain or describe; his music is a creative expression that’s better to be experimented by everyone because even if you will hear the same cues I did I am sure they will affect you differently. This composer has an almost unique ability to decompose emotions to their smallest components so each listener or viewer can recombine them in a way that suits him or her. You get in “Hang the DJ” a collection of lego pieces in many shades of blue, white and grey that you can start building imaginary worlds out of.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 34 / 34

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:
All Mapped Out
Sorry
Hours, Days, Months
Into Place
Match (Sigur Rós)
Out There
Sleeps
See You
Treasured
Ruined It
One Year
Doubts
Three, Two, One
We Agreed
One, Two, Three, Four
There’ll Be a Reason
End (Sigur Rós)
Over and over Again

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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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