Wojciech Golczewski’s score for the 2016 sci-fi film, 400_Days, is a tense, disturbing listen. That should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the composer’s work for such films as We Are Still Here, Beyond the Gates, or Dark Souls, but on this particular work, Golczewski tempers his dissonant, creepy edges with a sense of beauty and wonder. The opening title theme will immediately bring to mind Cliff Martinez’s score for Solaris - even if the thought’s not been planted in your mind by the promo material for 400_Days - but is also highly reminiscent of Martinez’s recent work on The Neon Demon.
The frequent use of chiming tones - which might be either a synclavier-esque patch or simply the altered sound of a xylophone - contrast with the claustrophobic mission the film’s protagonists are in, evoking the possibility of a vastness outside their ship. It’s the sort of music which swings back and forth between the absolute height of terror and sweet sadness, and Golczewski works with a deftness not previously demonstrated.
The title theme combines all of the elements of beauty and fright within one cut, letting the listener know exactly what they’re in for from the start, but the more ambient pieces, such as “The Ship,” exist in such sublime beauty that one wishes they could just go on forever. The themes of these more lovely pieces are repeated in other cuts - the childlike wonder evoked by the xylophone is used to great effect again in “Time,” for instance - while being contrasted utterly by the tense, taut nature of “We Are Moving” and “Final Fight.”
The music stands on its own merits when set apart from the Matt Osterman film, and is exactly the sort of thing which might soundtrack long nights, sitting in front of a computer, looking for a connection somewhere out in the world. As a composer, the music Golczewski creates is always worth listening to, but with 400_Days, he’s set a new bar for himself in terms of mood and structure.
This particular release came courtesy of Spun Out of Control, and is on another of their excellent cassettes. With this release, they’ve also outdone themselves, as the cassette tape itself is clear, but flecked with red, silver, and blue glitter. It’s lovely and almost whimsical, but still perfectly suited to the score and film which it represents. Golczewski lends a short paragraph to explain the music in the hand-numbered J-card, and a download code caps off the release.
400_DAYS / COMPOSER: WOJCIECH GOLCZEWSKI / LABEL: SPUN OUT OF CONTROL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW