Soundtrack review: Stella Blomqvist (Helgi Sæmundur – 2018)
Heida Reed (“Poldark”) stars as quick-witted lawyer Stella Blómkvist, in this stylish neo-noir crime drama that’s as sexy as it is dangerous. Stella Blómkvist is not your typical lawyer. Smart and ruthless, with a dark past, a fluid sexuality and a taste for whiskey and easy money, Stella takes on cases that always lead to danger; and the only thing she likes about rules is breaking them, or using them to break her opponents. Her moral flexibility and sympathy for the underdog ensures that she is always the right person in the wrong place at the worst possible time. Her investigations in Season One include the murder of young woman Halla, an assistant to the Prime Minister of Iceland. Helgi Sæmundur wrote the score and I am excited to discover a new composer from Iceland.
With composers from this area the music can either be quiet, reflective and deep or aggressive experimental. By the sound of the opening cue “Stella” I gather in this case it’s all out electronic discomfort. This opening track is a collection of noisy and piercing sound effects that if heard in a club with flickering lights might cause a seizure. This sound however does fit the “Girl with the dragon tattoo” like main character. The complexity, the ambiguity, the taste for danger and murky adventures could call for a frantic and uncomfortable electronic score.
As in any neurotic experimental electronic score there are also quieter moments like “My childhood” or groovy rhythmic, almost retro sounding cues like my early favorite “A good friend”. Since I am a fan of most genres of electronica I do find enjoyable moments in this score and I am glad that this variety of sounds exists. Of course, if you are not a fan of chaotic electronica you will not enjoy this score as the composer takes a journey into the bowels of this genre. This album rarely gives me the impression of an actual score as it’s constructed as an electronic music album. I haven’t seen the show so I can’t comment on how well it fits in context but by reading what it’s about and hearing the music I imagine it works better combined with the images.
“Stella Blomqvist” is not always an easy or comfortable score to listen to. The “Girl with the dragon tattoo” vibe is strong, as is the sonic discomfort in some moments. Once again the music was written to support the show so I understand the composer’s creative choices. As a standalone listening experience it works for me in specific moments when the chaos dies down and the best features of electronic music surface, like the aforementioned “A good friend” or the superbly retro “Where is your client” and “I’m ready to talk”.
Cue rating: 72 / 100
A Good Friend
Where Is Your Client?
Trips To Mali
I’m Ready To Talk