♫♪  Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow - “The Alien (Edit)”

Image stolen from Nerdist.

ABSTRACT SPOILER ALERT (for those of you who want a clean mental palate before the film)

I read Jeff VanderMeer’s books a second time before going to see Annihilation, a film hotly anticipated by me and a few other non-book-readers whose expectations were unreasonably high thanks to me not shutting up about it. We were so giddy that as we walked out the door to head to the theater, my brother and I started singing this song, substituting the word “Annihilation” in the obviously appropriate place.

Actually, it was more of a march to the car than a walk.

If Annihilation is director Alex Garland’s “dream” of the book Annihilation, could you consider this response to be my “dream” of the soundtrack to the dream of the director’s dream of the book Annihilation? Sure you could. It’s all subjective. Garland said so himself.

Ben Salisbury (Drokk, Dolman) and Geoff Barrow (Portishead, Beak>), who collaborated on the soundtrack to Garland’s last film, the spectacular Ex Machina, here reunite to imbue Annihilation with its sonic cues, which, I’m happy to report, foreground themselves or recede into the background when appropriate, pushing a motif or filling in for the silence of the characters more than admirably. That translates to the artifact, the souvenir: Annihilation (Music from the Motion Picture) (on both Lakeshore and Invada) is an immersive, shifting experience that evolves and mutates and refracts in synchronization to the film’s action.

True to the nature of film scores, Annihilation (Music from the Motion Picture) unfolds in bite-sized chunks pinned to specific scenes: “Ambulance Chase,” “Approaching the Shimmer,” “Disoriented.” But the tracks manage to retain their identities, providing a listenable experience beyond their connection to the film’s visuals. At times tense, but never overpowering; at times removed, like the library music of a nature doc; at times mimicking lucidity as confusion and fear threaten to overtake and overwhelm the characters: Salisbury and Barrow’s compositions evenly guide listeners through the journey — a lovely acoustic guitar motif even pops up here and there suggesting the idea of a road trip or other lengthy excursion where the passage is the point.

And the film’s climactic scene features some of the most jaw-dropping sound art in recent memory. It appears on Annihilation (Music from the Motion Picture) in its full twelve-minute form.

After the movie, we went out to dinner glazed, enthralled, captivated, and satisfied. Perhaps our DNA had been altered in some way, though, during the events of the afternoon — maybe it was our proximity to the film that brings this to mind — but reactions to things such as the mere act of swallowing food differed from those previously experienced and unconsciously expected. So it was that I had to give my brother the Heimlich maneuver to clear a piece of pork he was choking on. As I spent twelve of the next eighteen hours at the hospital with him, we ruminated on the potentialities of a pork tree sprouting from his esophagus. He’s fine, by the way.

Enjoy a taste of Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow’s soundtrack for Annihilation (Music from the Motion Picture) by streaming “The Alien (Edit)” below:

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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