Recently there have been a number of outstanding TV series gracing our small screens, one such series is THE HANDMAID’S TALE, which has been receiving so many positive reviews and gaining the following and the admiration and devotion of many. The series was created by Bruce Miller who based his ideas upon the novel by Margaret Atwood, which was published in 1985. The plot focuses upon a dystopian future which follows the aftermath of a second American Civil War. In this post war society fertile women who are called Handmaids are forced into childbearing slavery. Since the series’ first aired in 2016 it has received much acclaim and has also garnered numerous awards. These include Prime time Emmy Awards, A Golden Globe and many nominations for Outstanding Drama Series. Elizabeth Moss also won the Golden Globe for best actress.
The music for the series is the work of composer Adam Taylor who has fashioned an interesting and dark sounding work to accompany the proceedings. It is a soundtrack that one would probably not take a lot of notice of whilst watching the story unfold on the screen, but that in a way tells me that the music is doing what it is meant to, in other words it is punctuating and enhancing the scenarios on screen without being intrusive or overwhelming. Which after all is what music in film or in this case TV is all about. The composer creates an unsettling and somewhat sinister atmosphere for the series and when one listens to the music away from the film that atmosphere and the mood of darkness and chilling musical auras remain. Taylor underlines and adds depth and a greater dimension to the stories as they are revealed to the watching audience, he achieves this with not a grand or sweeping style but more often than not with a subdued and downbeat sound that is realised via strings, and synthetic sounds which growl and pulsate bring to fruition a brooding and richly dark and ominous musical entity. There are a few lighter musical interludes, but not in the romantic or even melancholy style, they weave in and out of the work and are in most cases gone before they have had time to develop or establish themselves. The score is fearsome and foreboding and for me personally just overflows with a sense of virulence that dominates throughout. The track OFGLEN AND OFFRED is one of the cues on the recording that comes closest to being less shadowy or apprehensive in its musical make up. The composer utilising the string section and electronic instrumentation to purvey a more calming atmosphere, but even here there is an underlying sense of uncertainty. Then there is track number 11 THEIR FIRST TIME which in comparison with the remainder of the work is positively delicate and fragile with a pleasing piano solo that does give us at least a little respite from the dark and sinister sounding material throughout.
This is a smouldering and intelligent score that I have to say I enjoyed, the bitter sweet melodies are certainly there, but maybe they are disguised as something more ominous and threatening, to be honest as I said at the start of the review when one is watching the series, the music does what is supposed to and interacts and supports each and every scene, so I suppose its not scary or unnerving music but instead its music that heightens the darkness and the unsettling elements of the series and its many scenarios. Recommended.