PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Underworld: Frankenstein: Music From the Play

By summoning Underworld to score his production, Danny Boyle found the real key to his victory. While Frankenstein the play has its flaws, Underworld's score is largely remarkable.


Underworld

Frankenstein Music From the Play

Label: Underworld Live
US Release Date: 2011-03-17
UK Release Date: 2011-03-17
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Danny Boyle, Oscar-winning director and present-day Morrissey lookalike, can either do no wrong or has become a populist scientist. By returning to stage direction for the first time in nearly 30 years, he helmed an adaptation of Frankenstein, pulled Benedict Cumberbatch (star of a recently televised and very well-received Sherlock Holmes adaptation) into the fold and compelled most of London to get to the theatre. Boyle also summoned Underworld, who had previously scored his 2006 film Sunshine, to score the production. In doing so, Boyle found the real key to his victory. While the production has its flaws, Underworld's score is largely remarkable.

Being a play about a monster created from different parts, it is only fitting that Underworld's score follows suit and takes elements from all styles of music. There are sea shanties and wedding toasts, industrial flashes, touches of folk and even flamenco. The only purely Underworld moment—which soundtracks two beggars attacking the creature—lasts all of 58 seconds. With or without knowledge of the visuals, it is a thrilling almost-minute.

The mix of styles is apparent from the opening "Overture", a 17-minute collage of key moments from the score. Although this piece gives little indication as to where the play is heading, it provides enough teasers to get the listener excited. "Overture" gives way to "Incubator", which plays as the Creature takes its first steps. Appropriately, the song invokes heartbeat, sudden movement and energy. The heartbeat sound returns on closer "Come Scientist Destroy", bringing the score—and the production as a whole—full circle. Musical parallels appear throughout the score. "Creature Banishment and Cottagers Burn" and "The Alps" both make use of industrial noises, the clanking and turning of mechanical wheels, to illustrate the Creature gaining power and exacting revenge, something manmade short-circuiting and overpowering its inventor. This disruption occurs again at the end of "Wedding Song". The piece begins with the wedding party singing a toast to Dr. Frankenstein and his wife Elizabeth, then devolves into terror as the Creature disrupts the newlyweds' brief spell of happiness. All moments of beauty are short-lived and less memorable than the score’s more foreboding moments. "Dawn of Eden" and "Faery Folk and Nightingale" use choruses and gentle guitars to create flashes of optimism that are swiftly torn asunder by high-wattage violence and, in the case of "Female Creature Dream”, touches of sensuality.

In interviews, Underworld members Karl Hyde and Rick Smith have mentioned that they initially approached scoring Frankenstein by studying musical styles relevant to the era in which the play is set. Although Boyle appreciated their baroque findings, he encouraged them to soundtrack the play with more contemporary sounds. In this suggestion Boyle again revealed his savvy. Although a baroque soundtrack would root the production more firmly in classical theater, a patchwork of sounds gave Underworld the freedom to mold the score to their whim, from heightening the action unfolding on stage to expanding the mind's eye and imagination of those who couldn't get a seat to the play or catch one of the National Theatre’s broadcasts of the production. If Boyle continues to dabble in theater direction, we can only hope that he continues using Underworld as his secret ingredient.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.