Tindersticks leader Stuart A. Staples has been director Claire Denis’ go-to composer for over a decade now, and the British musician continues their collaboration with a new score for her upcoming film High Life, which he also sound designed. The movie stars Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, and André 3000, and it comes out in the US on 4/12.
A week before, Staples’ score will be released. One of the songs on it, “WIllow,” features Robert Pattinson. As Staples explains in a press statement: “And then there was ‘Willow’. a seed of a song shared by myself and Dan McKinna that eventually grew to be the conclusion of the High life with Robert Pattinson, the lead actor, singing the song in character to his daughter Willow, a theme that runs through the film.”
The song comes attached to a video featuring footage from the film. Watch and listen below.
Here’s Staples’ full piece on how the High Life score came together:
Most of the music for High Life was made before the filming. The conversation with Claire started maybe as far back as 2012. There were many ideas I wanted to explore and I appreciated the foresight of Claire and the producers in offering me support and encouragement to do this. As well as work with usual collaborators Dan McKinna, Neil Fraser and Earl Harvin, this afforded me purely experimental recording sessions with David Coulter, Thomas Bloch, David Okumu, Julian Siegel, Seb Rochford and the BBC singers. Several long sketches / pieces were created from these sessions that the eventual score was formed from or informed by.
I approached High Life with the simple idea of creating a sort of random music, existing in a void –like the constellations themselves –a framework that was always hidden from the musician and that they had only minimal or no information to play or react to as we recorded. The first piece completed was ‘The Yellow light’ for the early Claire Denis / Olafur Eliasson collaborative short film ‘Contact’ (2014). For this, each instrument / part was played into silence with arbitrary start points creating random movements and relationships when brought together. This theme / way of working runs through the entire making of the score for High life. Musicians generally worked ‘in the darkness’.
For ‘the void’ itself a series of hums and drones were created in the studio -various instruments played, or feeding back, or with their notes Sello taped down, to make the studio space resonate in different keys. These stereo recordings were alive, working and changing within themselves –this approach was informed by my experiences creating the sound installation ‘Ypres’ at the In Flanders Fields WW1 museum in Belgium and the adventure of making this 12th century hall vibrate and resonate with its evolving orchestral score.
And then there was ‘Willow’. a seed of a song shared by myself and Dan Mckinna that eventually grew to be the conclusion of the High life with Robert Pattinson, the lead actor, singing the song in character to his daughter Willow, a theme that runs through the film.
For the flashback sequences on earth I spent many consecutive nights recording in the rain waiting for the right intensity of heavy drops falling from the guttering of my studio onto the carefully positioned paella pans below.
I felt the score should be intimate and hypnotic. Music made of hands and breath-acoustic instruments, electric guitars, fingertips.
The High Life score is out 4/5 via Milan Records (US) / City Slange (EU).