Music from Another Year: Fall On Your Sword

Mike Cahill’s Another Earth made a name for itself at Sundance earlier this year. It’s Cahill’s first narrative feature, and he managed to get the film nominated for the Grand Jury Prize, and win the Special Jury and Alfred P. Sloan Prizes. Another Earth’s high-concept and low-budget made it a risky process that relies heavily on all the individual parts of the film working together seemlessly.  While there’s no consesus on the ratings aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes yet, it’s holding strong at 64% positive reviews (out of twenty five).  I gave the film a positive review (read it here) after catching a screening at the San Francisco International Film Festival, and had to mention the film’s outstanding original score, penned by the group Fall On Your Sword.  It seems I’m not the only one who took notice.

Ever since the Another Earth’s premiere in Park City, there’s been a lot of buzz around the score, which is released this week.  Director Jason Reitman said, “I found my new favorite band at Sundance.”  James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem quipped, “Fall On Your Sword are quite possibly the coolest thing on the planet at the moment.” And Howie Klein of DownWithTyrany said, “The integration between film and music I saw tonight was the inevitable post-Warhol quantum leap.” It’s high praise, indeed, but certainly deserved.

To catch an idea of the type of music, it helps to understand the film’s basic concept. There’s a bright young woman, who’s been accepted to study the cosmos at MIT and there’s the brilliant composer at the height of his career, and just having established a small family. On the night a previously unknown planet is discovered in our own solar system, the two are involved in a deadly car accident. From this, take every synthesized, 80’s-outer-space-sound keyboard, and vacillating tone you’d hope to hear while discovering an inhabited planet within traveling distance of our own, mix it with regretful stringed instruments.  This outstanding score is what you end up with.

But not only is this album an experiment in tonal bursts and textured drum loops (and a successful one at that) that would make Thom Yorke’s minimalist side proud, it’s deftly mixed with a series of classical instruments and even ethereal vocals. What Fall On Your Sword has managed to do is capture both the science fiction side of Another Earth but also the intensely humanistic side that takes center stage in the film.  While many movie scores aren’t strong enough to stand on its own as a listenable piece, this one is.  Take a listen to one of the album’s track’s below.

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