Volker Bertelmann's original score to the lost at sea film, Adrift, is a startling musical exercise. While the composer (better known as Hauschka) is best recognised for his compositions on prepared piano - including the Oscar-nominated score for 2016's Lion - this score also features a full orchestra to bolster Hauschka's music.
As the composer states in the liner notes for the Music On Vinyl release, he had "a lot of freedom to craft the music in its wildness and fragility", which is a perfect encapsulation of what he's done here. The early pieces, such as Destination Unknown and Tami Meets Richard are sunlit pieces of romanticism, but as Adrift's story progresses, Hauschka's score begins to incorporate electronic elements which make it difficult to tell where the music ends and the sound design begins.
Makeshift Mast sounds like a storm is happening as the record spins, as if the stereo speakers are pushing a hurricane into the listener's room. As director Baltasar Kormákur comments in the liner notes regarding his search for a score, "I was looking for something but hard a hard time explaining what. When Volker's music reached my ears, I knew exactly what it was and that I had found it."
One can say the same thing about Adrift as a listening experience: even if one's never seen the film, the story is ably told told through Bertlemann's score. The experience takes the story of ‘Love, Loss, and Survival at Sea’ (as the subtitle to the book on which the film is based states) and relates it sonically, and powerfully.
From love to fear to loss to loneliness to hope, the listener comes along the journey, and while it's at times quite heartbreaking, the thread of beauty which runs throughout it all makes the Adrift score something which will see play over and over again.
In addition to Hauschka's original score, the film's soundtrack includes a cover of Tom Waits's I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love with You by Emilíana Torrini, which is quite lovely and - much like the Hauschka score - finds the beauty in something very sad.
Adrift's first pressing is limited to 750 numbered copies on 180-gram transparent blue vinyl, and comes with the aforementioned liner notes. They're minimal, but reveal the connection between composer and director. The pressing is stellar. It's asking a lot for a record to reproduce the delicate sound of waves striking a ship's hull while also fulfilling the requirements of an entire orchestra, but Music On Vinyl did an excellent job. Putting on headphones only heightens the experience.
ADRIFT / COMPOSER: VOLKER BERTELMANN / LABEL: MUSIC ON VINYL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW