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Soundtrack review: Impulse (Deru – 2018)


Soundtrack review: Impulse (Deru – 2018)


“Impulse” is an American drama web television series based on the novel Impulse by Steven Gould that premiered on June 6, 2018 on YouTube Premium. The series is executive produced by Lauren LeFranc, Doug Liman, David Bartis, and Gene Klein. LeFranc also acts as showrunner for the series. Impulse follows “16-year-old Henrietta, AKA Henry, who discovers she has the ability to teleport. The first time she realizes this, she is in a truck with her high school’s Golden Boy, who tries to rape her. She has a seizure and teleports, in the course of which she inadvertently crushes him, leaving him a paraplegic.” The show goes on to “explore Henry’s need to reconcile what her assaulter tried to do with the consequence, and her feelings about discovering she can teleport with her feelings about the assault. The music was written by Deru, the musical name of Benjamin Wynn.

As I listen to this score I feel hypnotised; the music is quiet and has a carefully created flow and it’s right in that minimalistic sweet spot, not melodic or deep enough to affect, not quiet enough to be forgotten, just there to set a reflective, never ending mood that I just love to get lost in. I get a strange sensation as if the music is levitating and I can’t figure out how; the composer manages to keep it just above ground, trapped eternally, not falling down, not flying any higher either. It’s a kind of musical suspended animation that makes me want to see the TV show as well to hear how this sound fits in context. I’ve always been drawn to minimalistic music and so I welcome this score, I embrace it, I enjoy it. Even when the pace picks up a bit and the electronic pulses are louder, like in “She just needed to understand”, the music remains suspended and captivating.

As I focus on the music, since it’s so inviting to reflection, I start to discover more nuances as if I had been staring at one of those 3D paintings that don’t seem to mean anything at first. I hear emotion, I hear subtle melodies, I get what the composer is telling me. These strange, dark sounds are inspired by the Cristal Baschet, a French instrument that involves getting your fingers wet and rubbing glass rods that make two metal radiators vibrate and come to life. I hear that subtle buzz every now and than and it all makes sense. This instrument creates an eerie mood, sometimes reminiscent of the music that played over the scenes in the woods in “Twin Peaks”: dark, grinding, mysterious.

“Impulse” is a dark electronic ambient score that finds a niche for itself even in today’s dark, electronic film music soundscape. It’s definitely worth more listens for me.

Cue rating: 72 / 100

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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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