Daniel Blumberg

The World To Come OST

Featuring the voice of Josephine foster and clarinets by Peter Brötzmann, Alex Ward and Yoni Silver, Daniel Blumberg's score for *The World to Come* is a close and cathartic affair, finds Charlie Brigden

“I wish I knew how to quit you,” may be a famous line from Brokeback Mountain but it could also easily apply to Daniel Blumberg’s gorgeous score for another queer western drama, Mona Fastvold’s The World to Come. Set in New York at the death of the nineteenth century, the picture stars Katherine Waterston and Vanessa Kirby as two wives who begin a relationship away from their undesirable husbands. Blumberg’s score is powerful and entrancing, a mix between something from Carter Burwell and Tobe Hooper and Wayne Bell’s score for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

At the centre of the score are two themes for the wives, Abigail and Tallie. Abigail’s is more prominent throughout and has a harsher feel, based around a trio figure played on bass clarinet that is often later embellished with a clarinet playing counterpoint. Tallie’s is a much more flowing affair with a sweeter melody, almost feeling like an interloper in the sonic world Blumberg has created. Abigail’s theme has the air of a hard and not especially rewarding life and relationship, the perfect contrast to Tallie’s, which can only feel seductive in comparison, introducing passion into a life where there was none.

Blumberg’s score expertly captures the intimacy and beauty of Abigail and Tallie’s relationship while always being cautious of the dangers involved, the latter of which is communicated through a bed of ingenious musical effects. These exhibit a sense of disquiet throughout the album and, together with off-kilter modulation, offer a truly uncomfortable sensation for the primary melodies to fight against. There are also some tracks that lose any pretence of subtlety and go for the jugular, with insectoid strings and screaming woodwinds that put dissonance in the foreground – especially on ‘Finny Letter’, which takes a doomgrind direction on the low strings approaching the obscenity of the music Coil originally composed for Hellraiser.

The latter half of the score dips into much murkier waters, with a wonderfully sinister driving variation on Abigail’s theme in ‘The Fire’, but it never fails to fascinate or delight. There’s a beautiful track near the end called ‘Rooftop’ which initially features Abigail’s theme on solo clarinet before the counterpoint comes in, also on clarinet, and it’s an incredibly cathartic piece; it feels like venting. Perhaps that sums up The World to Come: there’s so much passion under the surface that Blumberg presents that some form of purging is not only needed, it’s inevitable.

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