Listening to Johann Johannsson’s final score, a twisted and disturbing work drenched in sadness, misery and darkness, is certainly a sobering prospect. It is hard to seperate it from the perspective of the composer’s sudden passing earlier this year. As an unintended footnote of the man’s career it is stark and unforgiving. In some ways it is quite unlike his other work (although hints of it’s darkness are strewn across many of his works) but the almost unbearable melancholy of the love theme -one of the saddest love themes to grace a movie- betrays the score as being that of Johannsson, while the ’80s electronic soundscape of the final track ‘Children of the New Dawn’, presumably the end title (I haven’t seen the film yet), evokes the John Carpenter scores of that era so authentically its hard not to do a double-take at the credits.
It hints that perhaps new directions for the composer lay ahead of him- perhaps a reaction to his rejected BR2049 score? Then again, and its a grim game to play, but listening to some of the moodier, menacing and almost experimental tracks I have to wonder if there’s actually indication here of what some of BR2049‘s score may have sounded like, some of its atonal horror harking back to some of the original Vangelis score’s underscore. Which seems at odds to reports of Villeneuve thinking that Johannsson’s score was too much a deviation from the Vangelis original, so likely I’m wrong here (and unless the rejected score gets released someday we’ll never really know).
In any case, while its hardly easy listening there is something rather hypnotic about the terrible darkness of this music, especially in relation to it being the composers final work we are likely to hear. The sadness wallows within and about the music, dreadfully.