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By James Whittington, Thursday 30th January 2020 Knives and Skin - Original Soundtrack Nick Zinner Lakeshore Records
Knives and Skin from director Jennifer Reeder was one of the strongest and most original movies from FrightFest 2019. Its hypnotic and sometimes surreal plot contained some superb set-pieces of nerve tightening drama. To make the film even more memorable it had a score which added a delicate beauty to the whole experience.
Part suburban nightmare, part neon-soaked teenage fever dream, this tantalizing mystery traces the wave of fear and distrust that spreads across a small Midwestern town in the wake of a high school girl's mysterious disappearance. As the loneliness and darkness lurking beneath the veneer of everyday life gradually comes to light, a collective awakening seems to overcome the town's teenage girls-gathering in force until it can no longer be contained.
Composer Nick Zinner delivers a score filled with so much emotion that you can't fail to be moved by it. Filled with retro sounding synthesizers it floats right in front of you, creating an atmosphere of fragility and sadness that feels as it could be punctured at any moment but then ends with a feeling of hope.
This review focuses on the music rather than the unforgettable images they accompany so there are no spoilers to be found, as to mention any part of the movie would ruin it for you.
Let's start with "Lisa Dreams/High School Hook Up", a playful, floating piece which establishes the hypnotic tone the score comprises of. "Renee and Doug" contains a sinister moment that's at odds to its hypnotic main whilst "Renee and Doug 2" slows these themes down slightly. This leads to "Searching", one of the longest tracks which retains a reverberating hook but is hollower in tone which, right at the end, contains a proliferation of high notes and a somber conclusion.
"Homecoming" takes you to the American highway of noise which is felt again on "Mixtape" but with a more subtle edge. "Melting" slowly takes form, increasing in volume whilst "Clown Car" has an industrial feel to it which flows into Help Me but takes away the urban grind thought still holds onto your attention.
"Moms" is an incredible track; a powerhouse of melodic pounding and a drum beat that feels as if it's coming out of your chest that's first heard right at the start of the album.. "Sadness" actually feels nothing of the sort but is a piece which keeps building itself up, as if rising out of some musical prison.
"A Way Out" and Finding Our Way ends the score on a note of positivity, as if musically finding your way through a situation or dark period of time, metaphorically feeling the sun on your face and knowing the world, your life and the people you care for will be OK.
OK, I've gone off track for this review, but this is far more than a score. Zinner has created a musical work which stands by itself, a compilation of musical moments that can be listened to in any order and still satisfy. The movie Knives and Skin, at its heart, is about raw emotions and Zinner has captured nearly every emotion possible with this score.
If John Carpenter, Fabio Frizzi and Vangelis decided to create a soundtrack together it would be something like this. One of the best scores I have ever heard from one of the best movies of recent times.
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