Soundtrack Mix #22: The Sounds of 2021

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The year in movie soundtracks.

By Florence Scott-Anderton

The Sounds of 2021 mix of movie soundtracks comes in at just over two hours: a synergy of cerebral, graceful, paranoid, turbulent, and wondrous sounds from across all genres, merged to tell its own sonic story. The focus is mainly Hollywood and American indie movies, with a few excursions to Ethiopia, Chile, Japan, France, United Kingdom, Italy, and Sweden. My moviegoing practices became ever more erratic this year after a move to a new country, on-off rule changes in cinemas, and a tendency to have cinematic interests in something specific that was not part of the current slate. That being said, there was excitement in the air when it came to new cinema that felt more powerful this year than last and I hope that grows. New work from Mica Levi, Ludovico Einaudi, and a country soundtrack from Clint Eastwood’s latest film are a few of the exciting moments from this year's cinema sonics that you’ll find in the mix. Below are a few highlights.

The beginning track, “Drive My Car (Cassette),” taken from Eiko Ishibashi’s score for Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car, has a mixtape-for-a-long-car-ride quality to it and for this reason felt like an apt place to start. The whole score is beautiful and features throughout. Following that is Tim Fain’s delicate and haunting classical meets lo-fi scuzz for The Bones. Paul Schrader appointed Robert Levon Been for The Card Counter (his late father Micheal wrote and performed the score for Schrader’s 1992 quiet gem Light Sleeper), and in this mix I chose the ambient moments from the score, favoring them over the vocals. Eli Keszler’s score for The Scary of Sixty-First is a total knockout, a giallo trip with an abstract twist just released by Deeper Into Movies, who have recently branched out into releasing scores by new filmmakers—this being their first release—and reissuing forgotten classics. 

Both Daniel Hart and Harry Gregson-Williams’ scores for The Green Knight and The Last Duel share tones of folklore, choral majesty, and whispers of ghostly forgotten tales. The medieval hints are done subtly and there are moments of transcendence in both. This mix features “Blome Swete Lilie Flower '' from The Green Knight and “Marguerite de Carrouges” from The Last Duel. 

Mycheal Danna (responsible for one of my all time favorite soundtracks, Atom Egoyan’s 1994 Exotica; Danna and Egoyan were frequent collaborators during this period) is behind Tom Mccarthy’s Stillwater score, marrying the sounds of Marseille and Oklahoma respectively. The melancholy guitar piece “Bill Baker” is the theme for Matt Damon’s character of the same name and features in the mix. Joe Delia and Abel Ferrera continue their longtime alliance with Zeros and Ones. It is (unsurprisingly, as with all Delia’s work) cool, sparing, and toes the perfect line between the particular ambience film scoring is meant to provide and the originality and style for the music to play out beyond the screen. 

Continue reading and listen here.