UNDER THE SILVER LAKE an interesting and thought provoking film that is set in Los Angeles, released in 2018 it is a dark neo-noir movie, which although in the main is a thriller does also contain touches of comedy even if these do tend to be rather shady. Directed by David Robert Mitchell, the story focuses upon a young man who begins to look into the sudden disappearance of his neighbour, whilst doing so he tarts to unravel a large-scale conspiracy, which proves to be dangerous. The musical score for the movie is by American composer performer, Richard Vreeland, who goes under the name of DISASTERPEACE, I am rather sceptical of composers who work in film and go under a stage name of sorts, but, this year I have been proved wrong as to their merits and talents because of composer collaborations such as GREAT GARBO, and also a handful of pretty good scores by JUNKIE XL. Composer, Mitchell, has provided UNDER THE SILVER LAKE with a soundtrack that for me ticks all the right boxes, and although it does contain a lot of synthetic content, there are also just as many orchestral or more conventional sounding symphonic passes and interludes. The composer manages both the synthetic and symphonic well and gets the balance correct throughout the work. In fact there are definite similarities to the work of both Jerry Goldsmith and John Barry present here, there is an edgy and smouldering musical persona that is akin to the sound of film scores such as BODYHEAT and BASIC INSTINCT, but there is also laced within the score references and little nuances that I would liken to that of the style of Bernard Herrmann and in later years Pino Donaggio when he scored pictures such as DON’T LOOK NOW and to certain extent THE HOWLING, breathy sounding woods conjure up an air of mystery, whilst at other times the composer evokes Herrmann with gravely and growing sounds which draw the listener into the score, there is as the score progresses more an more gentle nods to Herrmann and also the style of film noir scores, as in dissonant, driving, atmospheric and yet melodic and strangely alluring. The composer also introduces a jazz flavour to the work in the cue, WATCH OUT FOR THE DOG KILLER, which begins in a mild and almost comedic fashion, only to alter and change direction and style into a more sinister sounding piece, that could be something straight out of a Hitchcock movie.
The simplicity and also the mainly downbeat and thickly brooding aura that is purveyed throughout the score is its attraction, and it is also these elements that make the music wonderfully vibrant and atmospheric both within the context of the movie and as an experience of listening as just music. I am a fan of scores such as this every so often, because although they may not be grand and lush affairs the music is still effective as in enhancing and supporting the scenarios on screen but is itself entertaining and rewarding. I think yes it is a simple score, but at the same time there are certain areas of the work that are a little more complex, the style that the composer employs is obviously all his own, but as well as the aforementioned composers I thin he could have also been influenced by the likes of Jerry Fielding, who was a master at creating superbly atmospheric compositions that were rather sparse but still aided the picture they were written for. Just take a listen to the track SHADOWS on the score and I think you will see where I am coming from, and it is a style pursued in the brief but effective cue, SEVENTY-SIX. The composer also utilises to great effect solo trumpet and scatterings of choral work. Take a listen it will surprise you in a pleasant way, I hope. Recommended.