From coming-of-age drama to coven-esque horror with sensuality as the only, likely, tie between the two, Luca Guadagnino is proving himself to be one of the most interesting directors as of late. The release of his “cover version” of Dario Argento’s classic Suspira has been edging its way up on my list of most-anticipated releases of 2018, not only because of the gorgeous cinematography teased in its trailer, but also because it has a great soundtrack to live up to. Yesterday the first song, by Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, dropped and I was quick to pick it up. Yorke has written 25 original compositions, including instrumentals, interludes, and singles, for the film and, despite this being his first film soundtrack, this first single, Suspirium is a very strong start with its muted style.
Suspirium – Thom Yorke
(go on, give it a play!)
Starting out with only a piano in a 3/4 waltz timing, the song feels instantly familiar,
the beat bringing to mind dancers which is presumably its desired effect given the nature of the films narrative. There’s something melancholic about the piano in this piece but it is undeniably beautiful. As the piano melody loops, the lyrics come in:
“This is a waltz thinking about our bodies, what they mean, for our salvation…Is the darkness ours to take?…All is well as long as we keep spinning.”
All pertinent ideas to the film, and Yorke’s voice is calming and clear; the same mellowness of Radiohead. The vocals at times wander into minor notes, reminding me of Radiohead’s Daydreaming, and plays against the airy feel of the song.
When the flute comes in, played by flutist Pasha Mansurov, there is an understated depth added to the piece; it provides a hypnotic aspect to it, drawing you in with a delicate, uneassy sense. This is furthered as its melody moves forward, the notes move higher up following the lines of the lyrics, with a lightness that feels youthful. The whole song is a dance, and it reminds me of a music box. It’s beautiful, but it’s not hard to find something unnerving within it.
Though it would be silly to claim that Suspirium tells us anything that we don’t already know about the film, it isn’t too wild to surmise that it will have the same sexy, dream-like, surrealism of his instant-classic Call Me by Your Name which brought more eyes, and ears, to the serene work of Sufjan Stevens whose style is not too dissimilar to that of Yorke’s here.