Prior to the 2011 TV series, writer / director James Kerwin’s first poke at his sci-fi / noir concept was this 2008 feature film, shot in black & white, and scored by Kristopher Carter with a mix of lounge jazz, orchestral underscore, and a several vocal pieces.
As a singer, co-star Chase Masterson adopts a melodic, spoken word style to uplift the facile lyrics, making her two lounge songs lesser works on the CD, and her range is sweetened with digital effects in the contemporary pop vocal “He Won’t Forget You,” but the rest of Carter’s score is a surprisingly rich blend of beautiful orchestral cues and noir jazz as filtered through nostalgic, contemporary lounge arrangements.
Carter’s underscore combines piano and keyboards to tie to the film’s jazz component, and the modern orchestral writing captures the experience of being trapped in dark places, or on a constant search for some mystical truth.
“Dream Time” nicely sets the tone with an elliptical piano pattern, and eerie chords that smack of human desperation from stressors beyond rain-soaked streets and alleys. Carter’s harmonic transitions from strings to brass are flawless, and worked into the cue is a sly quotation of the Dies Irae. “Aker,” another long cue, blends orchestra and contemporary synths, but its main driving force is a sad violin solo which provides a moving emotional statement for the score’s finale, punctuated with a dramatic synthetic stab at the very end.
In terms of jazz, the most overt is “Nice Set,” written for piano, muted trumpet and string bass, and “6.626 x 10-34” features another silky theme rendition with sax added to the jazz combo.
A wailing sax is replicated into an echoey pattern with electronics in the brief cue “Cat State,” and electronic vibes and atmospheric synth tones in “Trauma Creates Ripples” recall Cliff Martinez’ ambient textures, as does “Ajna” with light keyboards before the gradual addition of lush strings.
The CD also comes with a pair of bonus cues – “City Talks,” a rock source performed by Simon Shapiro, and “Can You Help Me?” a score cut from a deleted scene – plus a booklet with liner notes.
Carter’s better known for his massive animated film and TV series work, including Teen Titans, Justice League, The Spectacular Spider-Man, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but Yesterday Was a Lie features a darker writing style with nostalgic nods to classical noir imagery.
© 2011 Mark R. Hasan