Wolfram de Marco’s score for Loft (2008), the latest thriller from Erik Van Looy (Memory of a Killer / De Zaak Alzheimer), is an incredibly addictive suspense score that’s driven by a simple rhythm over which a brooding melody is dragged over and over without any resolution. In place of closure, de Marco gives us a two-note comma so he can reset his rhythmic hook again, adding more percussion textures, discrete synths, and variable intensities of brass which never give the listener a break.
Whether intention or simply a coincidence, de Marco’s rhythm is a striking riff of “No Future,” the punchy and equally driven cue by Tangerine Dream in their score for Risky Business. The transposition is from electronic to largely orchestral, but the textures and dynamic waves of specific passages have perhaps more in common with Ennio Morricone, who frequently crafted a circular theme – think Revolver (1973) – and kept it going for minutes on end with hardly any resolution.
De Marco comes back to his Loft theme throughout the score, but there are some significant variations, and between each recapitulation are more streamlined versions which have soft, tender aspects (“Flirt,” and particularly “Traitor,” with sustained strings and soft piano), or the ambient, impressionistic “Shadow,” with its muted percussion clusters.
If a film score is largely drawn from a singular theme, part of the fun comes in hearing how the composer creates sometimes unrecognizable derivations, and that’s perhaps where his/her skills are really put to the test: either audiences are treated to the same material verbatim, or the theme is reinterpreted to suit not only a scene’s drama, but a character’s emotional progression from a safe and comfy spot to a place of utter desperation, and the total collapse of every safety net.
The emotional nadir is present in the snarling “Revenge,” characterized by the combination of stumbling percussion hits, shrill metallic waves, and small ornamentation, like low, solo bass clarinet (or something akin to its tight low timber) undulating in the background.
As of this writing, Loft has yet to appear outside of its native Belgium, but if the score offers a mere taste of the film’s power, it may also be a surprise gem. De Marco’s score is a beautiful, tense, and utterly addictive creation, and one can’t stop playing the album over again, and very, very loud.
The contrasts between strings and synths still presents rich layers of vibrato and textures, and the album’s longest cue – the epic “Casino” – is stunning, even with its soft midsection. It’s a simple and driven cue, but illustrates so well how tension and a thickening atmosphere can be crafted by emphasizing specific instrumental groups.
Easily one of the best suspense scores this year.
© 2008 Mark R. Hasan