They say things come in threes – well that has indeed been the case for French electronic acts and their film soundtracks. Stepping on to the big screen on this occasion is Sebastian, aiming to emulate compatriots Daft Punk and Mr Oizo in the art of scoring a film.
His label head Pedro Winter is a strong advocate of the soundtrack, and it seems French electronic acts have the sense of occasion needed to complement the visual material. Yet here it would seem Sebastian is the joker in the pack, proving to be the most imaginative of the three soundtracks.
He was chosen to score the film by its director Romain Gavras, making his first foray into features after an already notorious music video career including M.I.A.‘s Born Free. The film itself looks to have been similarly provocative, calling as it does for a musical response on many different emotional and stylistic levels.
Seemingly freed of the constraints of the Hollywood pressure that must have been exerted on Daft Punk for Tron, and possessing a scope that even the diverse and baroque-tinged Mr Oizo doesn’t show, Sebastian delivers a suite of short numbers that are impressively diverse yet which link together beautifully.
The scoring itself reveals classical inspiration and a sense of drama, but at the same time Sebastian is able to work these into the electronic tracks, creating a bond between the different numbers. The intriguing piano octaves of Axis sound like a disembodied excerpt from Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition, but broaden out to include a more orchestral setting, while the latent power harnessed to the string tremolos of Dies Irae is the closest we come to the sound of Tron, full of tension and foreboding.
Sebastian delights in the extremes of his material. While Retro cuts loose with thrilling abandon, there is a real sense of time and space to Fauve. L’enfance d’un chien meanwhile, reveals yet another side of this cosmopolitan score. Co-written by Sebastien Tellier, it exudes Gallic charm.
As with most soundtracks, the chief regret is that the tracks aren’t longer – in this case Retro does not become the 12″ club stormer it should be, and the feeling is that Dies Irae still has room to grow.But make no mistake, what Sebastian has achieved here is a very fine and consistently strong piece of work, using its influences liberally but in a way that is wholly his.