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Soundtrack Review

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What Lies Below
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composer: Gavin Keese
Label: MovieScore Media
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 14 January 2021

MovieScore Media releases the Original Movie Soundtrack for What Lies Below. Written and directed by Braden R. Duemmier, the film follows the experiences of 16 year-old Liberty Wells who returns home from summer camp to find that her mother Michelle has a new boyfriend she intends to marry. But the generic name of ‘John Smith’ and his general behaviour leads Liberty to believe he may be harbouring an otherworldly secret. The score comes from Gavin Keese, who has contributed additional music to scores by Bear McCreary, including Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Outlander and The Walking Dead. He has also contributed to NBC’s Blindspot, as well as more recent smaller projects of his own. For this one he was asked to compose music which sounds like it’s from an alien planet. This incorporates heavy processing to disguise the identity of the instruments to identify with the film antagonist’s affinity with water...

Track List: 'What Lies Below'; 'The Landing'; 'John Smith'; 'Shower Stalker'; 'Looking For Clues'; 'I’ll Take Care of Her'; 'Night Swimming'; 'Scales'; 'Alien Ship'; 'Stillborn'; 'Fighting John'; 'Captive'; 'Specimens'; 'End Credits'.

Rather than describe in detail the intricacies of each separate piece, it’s necessary here to point out the soundscapes utilised to create off-kilter otherworldly atmospheres, as there is no music as such – certainly not in the form of evolving suites. There is a multitude of instruments disguised with processing, particularly in order to form a water-related score. This is sometimes furthered alienation from reality by reversing the conglomerate of sounds and adding potentially creepy incidentals like echoed church voices, whale communication, tinkling bells and scuttling like insects. Background acoustics move forcefully forward and back again, making their presence known. Various clicks, scrapes and shuffling, tapping, clinking and dripping – some of which are multi-layered – make themselves known.

However, it isn’t all sound effects. There is a chugging and chuffing synthesiser piece in 'Looking For Clues' which briefly reminds me of John Carpenter’s theme for Ghosts of Mars. 'Scales' has an electronic beat that, unfortunately, is very short-lived, and 'Fighting John' goes further with electronic stomps. 'Alien Ship' features the first rasping horror sound, but by this point the same tricks are being reutilised over and again. 'End Credits' is an amalgamation of all the most effective sounds across the entire soundtrack, making this easily the most stand-out track. This composition is not without merit. It is certainly different and experimental to a certain degree. It works over a few tracks; however, it doesn’t bear sustained close scrutiny.


Ty Power

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