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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Music for Aging

The Marcus Fischer score to the film Youth, on which I was the music supervisor

Last year I completed work on the score to Youth, a science fiction film directed by Brett Marty and produced by Josh Izenberg. I served as music supervisior and collaborated on sound design with the film’s composer, Marcus Fischer. Fischer has edited the score for release as an album, and it was published this week, first to supporters of the film, and then as a general release on Bandcamp. It’s titled Film Variations and features Ted Laderas on cello. I wrote the liner notes for the album, which appear below:

“Sounding Out Time”

It’s a love story. Like many love stories it has a quality of being timeless. Unlike most love stories it deals centrally with matters of time — and because it’s a science fiction film, time is a quite tactile element, something that humans can, for both better and worse, warp to their own desires.

The film in question, Youth, tells a dark tale of growing old in an era of eternal youth. Not to give too much away, the couple at the heart of Youth have been together for a very long time, and thanks to futuristic technology they get a glimpse of an opportunity to extend that romance.

When I was approached to assist on the film as music supervisor, I found a lot of material in it that I was excited to explore. A key notion, to me, was how much the future within the film looks like aspects of our present day, and how elegant and enticing that sleek normality is for the viewer. The attractive homes, like the attractive physiques of the protagonists’ circle of friends, mask the repercussions of what technology has wrought. My suggestion was that the score could be quiet and calm, itself as refined and tasteful as the scenery, and similarly let slip echoes of darker truths.

After discussing numerous potential composers whom I proposed to the film’s director, Brett Marty, and producer, Josh Izenberg, we commissioned our resulting unanimous first choice: Marcus Fischer. The plan was for Marcus to develop lovely music with an undercurrent of dread. Aspects like clocks ticking and chimes glimmering would connect to the story and to the sun-dappled setting of near-future San Francisco.

Sealing the deal was Marcus’ long-running collaborative relationship with Ted Laderas, a master of the electronically enhanced cello. Ted’s job, as featured soloist, was to inject just a bit of old-school sentimentality into the score, to serve as the sonic representation of the main characters’ mutual affection and personal history.

This album collects themes from the Youth score, lightly edited and reworked with standalone listening in mind. It was initially produced as a reward for the generous supporters whose pledges helped fund the film. Now it’s available for a general audience. It makes a great soundtrack for everyday life, albeit with occasional reminders of our collective mortality.

More on the film at brettmarty.com, the director’s website.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • By Let’s Get Physical on January 30, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    […] music-making device. I’ve followed his work for a long time, and gotten to know him, and even worked with him a bit, and I marvel at the subtlety and emotion of his music, and at the visual acuity he brings to how […]

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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