Article: A Sine of Quality: Five Great Synth Soundtracks

Synthesizer music is experiencing a resurgence (thanks to the film Drive and synth-wave) and here are five films that we at The Movie Sleuth think are worth listening to.

Blade Runner (1982) 

Vangelis knocked it out of the park with this score as he composed a lush and dark musical atmosphere perfect for the retro-futuristic cyberpunk aesthetic of the film. He writes classical style pieces that most people wouldn't immediately associate with electronic sounds, but his expressive brassy leads are the stuff of legend (with fans still trying to emulate that sound even today). There is melancholy element to his score, with its ambient undulations as ever present as the steady rain the characters seem to find themselves traversing through. Blade Runner would just not be the same without his music in the background.

It Follows (2014) 

It Follows was a sort of a retro throwback horror movie with a slightly more artsy approach and its score, composed by Disasterpeace (AKA Richard Vreeland) embracing the same concept. While his score is a callback to older '80s films, he uses a much more experimental sound. His roots are in chiptunes (8-bit sounding music) and previously he did the music for a video game called Fez. There is a very strong and iconic theme to the score in It Follows, with the rest rounded out with reverb-heavy ambient sounds with a bit of glitchiness thrown in for good measure. It's incredibly moody and adds immensely to the foreboding feel of the film. 


Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)

Jeremy Schmidt AKA Sinoia Caves's soundtrack is a synthesized love note to the 80’s, the uncertain time period Cosmatos emulates in this one of a kind film. Every song is a sinister injection, mirroring the film’s new wave ethos with an array of cult melodies that are entrenched in the surreal.  


Sorcerer (1977)
Tangerine Dream's vivid score provides a perfect tonal reflection of the film’s existential core and merits recognition for its amazing synthesized record of the men's nail biting sojourn.  Recording during the band’s heyday, this score is a character unto itself, whispering dangerous premonitions into the viewer’s ear with each track.    

A Clockwork Orange (1971):
Nearly a decade before her groundbreaking electronic score for the 1982 Disney film Tron, Wendy Carlos was a pioneer in the early use of the newly developed (at the time) modular Moog synthesizer. Popularized by her work on the album Switched-On Bach and having recently completed a new composition known as Timesteps, word began circulating that filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was beginning production on one of her favorite science fiction novels: Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. Through incredible luck, Carlos and co-collaborator Rachel Elkind got in touch with Kubrick’s lawyer and before they knew it they were on a flight to London, England to the director’s home.  
The result of the collaboration is among the very first iconic electronic scores written for a film. From the theatrical trailer’s use of Carlos’ take on the William Tell Overture to the thunderous opening cue Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, A Clockwork Orange is instantly cemented in the ears of the listener as the synthesized keyboard music manages to look years ahead into the future while ultimately evoking the past.