Salomon Ligthelm is literally all over the place: all over the world, all over the internet. And when we Skyped with him recently about the exclusive Musicbed release of the ANOMALY soundtrack, he was all over Defacto Sound’s studio. Outside briefly, inside briefly, popping in and out of various offices and stairwells. Salomon is frenetic in the best possible way. And that energy comes across not just in his conversations, but in the things he creates. It all feels very human and very alive, which, he told us, was exactly what he was after with this latest score (composed by Ryan Taubert).
“It’s a really messy but beautiful score,” Salomon said, “and that’s exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want something that sounded pristine.”
We are stoked to have the ANOMALY soundtrack available exclusively on Musicbed, and we’re also stoked to get a behind-the-scenes look into its creation. Here’s Salomon.
Before you continue on to our conversation with Salomon, watch ANOMALY in its entirety below.
Tell us all about this ANOMALY soundtrack.
Even before we started production, I asked Ryan Taubert if it would be possible for him to write some sketches for us. I wanted something that could inspire the whole process. There was no expectation that we’d use everything he made. It was more that he might come up with an idea that might trigger something for the story. He ended up writing these 10-minute tracks that would just evolve throughout. Just all these ideas thrown onto a timeline. It was really messy. But I’d told him not to think too much about it, not to be too precious with it. Some of it was just noise, but it was awesome and really inspired a lot of ideas.
As we headed into production, I asked if he could keep scoring stuff for us. I had written some profiles for the characters and some ideas for what their signature sounds could be. So he went off [to do his thing], and by the time we were done shooting, we probably had about 30 tracks. He was whipping out a track every day. And again, some of it was music, and some of it was just noise and sound. But that’s exactly the approach I wanted. I didn’t want everything to feel too musical. I said to Ryan, “How can you blur the lines between sound design and score?”
One thing I was careful about: I didn’t want to go too digital with it. I really wanted it to have an analogue feel because the movie plays out in the late sixties and early seventies. I wanted this analogue sound that was right on the cusp of digital. So most of the instruments, if not all of the instruments, are organic instruments, real instruments, with some processing to give them this lo-fi analogue sound.
It’s a really messy but beautiful score, and that’s exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want something that sounded pristine. I just got the masters last night. I listened to them and I was like, Man, I’m really proud of this.
How much of this score is Ryan Taubert and how much is Salomon Ligthelm?
Ryan carries the weight as a composer on this. I helped, but this is definitely a Ryan Taubert score.
When you first approached Ryan, what did you give him to work from? Did you give him the script?
I didn’t. I just told him the textural elements of the story. It’s this astronomical story, but it’s also very human. It’s a human predicament. This couple finds themselves in a very unbelievable event set against this very large space backdrop. I told him I didn’t want it to feel very spacey. I wanted it to be human. So there are a lot of visceral elements to the score. Using heartbeats as rhythm patterns. That sort of thing.
What other types of sounds and instrumentation did you guys use?
Aside from the noise and the distortion, there are three instruments that do a whole lot of work. One is the piano. The second is pulsating woodwinds. And the third is really messy strings — string that don’t play melodic lines but are all over the place. Wrapping around that we have some brass in there. And then just a lot of distortion. Not like heavy metal distortion, but distorted violins, distorted piano. It’s a weird mix between Max Richter, Jonsi, and Trent Reznor. Beautiful, distorted-type stuff. It’s a bit hard to define because I feel like it’s unique.
How did the soundtrack turn out compared to how you imagined it turning out?
You know what? It’s all that I could have hoped for and better. I was listening to the cues last night, and I was like, Man, I am absolutely in love with the work Ryan has done. Usually the way it works with Ryan is that his demos are very crude — but in a very awesome way. I really, really love the way his demos sound. Not overly produced. Not Hollywood. I love that. But then what happens is we go through a process where he’ll take his crude layers and make them really nice. He’ll produce it up a lot. And that’s when I’m like, “Ryan, no! What have you done? All these layers were so awesome before, and now they’ve gone pretty.” So then we sit down and go, “Okay, let’s dirty this up.”
I don’t know if Ryan will like me saying this, but during the process of dirtying things up, I called him one night and was like, “Hey, dude, how’s it going?” And he was like, “Dude, it’s going soooo good. I think I might have had a little bit of whiskey, and it’s reallyhelping.” It made him less precious. So our agreement now is that when he works on a score for me, I have to send him a bottle of whiskey to loosen him up.
Some of it was music, and some of it was just noise and sound. But that’s exactly the approach I wanted.
So how did the scoring process work with you and Ryan being in different locations?
I actually captured some of our method on video. Skype and screen sharing made the whole collaboration possible.
Are you and Ryan pretty good friends?
I love Ryan. He’s honestly one of my greatest friends because he’s such a unique guy. He’s very Southern and not the type of person you’d expect to be as absolutely brilliant and diverse as he is. He completely takes me by surprise. We’ve found a really good rhythm of life together. Ryan is a bit of loner, but that’s where he and I get together. We’re very similar like that. We’re not good in big crowds. We both love film and music so much, and we’re both so happy doing our own thing. Being antisocial. Being highly introverted. It makes us very good collaborators.
We are thrilled to have Ryan and Salomon’s score exclusively available on Musicbed. These tracks are every bit as beautiful and strange as Salomon describes. Be sure to check out the score and watch the release of ANOMALY at the top of the post!