Anybody who has ever paid any attention to my various witterings on social media will be fully aware that I am a complete Scandiphile. The landscape, the culture, the music, the TV and film, even the food (surstromming aside). Ever since I first visited Stockholm over a decade ago and started watching the Krister Henriksson version of Wallander, I’ve been hooked.
So, when my path crossed with Uno Helmersson last year and he suggested I might like to do some synth programming for the fourth season of The Bridge, a programme I was already addicted to, it could be said that all my Christmases had come at once!
The Nordic Noir genre is fully of brooding detectives, snowy landscapes and grisly murders. So it does not call for a great deal of cheery music (though there are lighter, more ambient moments to be found, if you look really really carefully). But what made working on The Bridge an even more interesting challenge was that Uno and Patrik (Andren) asked for sounds that were unconventional, disturbing and strange.
After they sent me a few cues from season three of the show, it was clear that one of the key elements to the score was that ensembling of rhythmic patches (both tonal and percussive) that used different time signatures, to create an uneven syncopation and polyrhythms. Essentially, nothing should leave the viewer/listener feeling comfortable. No regular beats and bars, but odd movements, overlapping and disparity.
Plus, there were the individual sounds, full of darkness and experimentation. I really pushed myself to make sounds that bore no resemblance to what I had done with Zebra before (as Zebra was the synth of choice). It was a truly rewarding and creative experience; like opening up a new avenue of sound.
In fact, so much so did I enjoy the experience during my sound design sessions, I made far more patches than they could ever have needed or used. That’s why Nordsund is split into two sections: Blood and Gold.
Blood is very much a compilation of the weirder, more extraordinary sounds. It’s full of noise, distortion, creepiness and unexpected intensity. It’s unsettling, but with glimpses of unstable light.
Gold, on the hand, is a little more “vanilla”. There are fewer odd time signatures, a little more ambient atmosphere, and generally patches that have a slightly more familiar vibe. Though that’s not to say they are without their own secrets and shadows.
Nothing could ever inspire me as much as working on a Nordic Noir series, and that is why I think this is one of my most compelling sound collections yet. It pushes boundaries and is full of surprises – both good and bad! Working with two amazing and friendly composers as Uno and Patrik really helped the process too. Their music for The Bridge is genuinely riveting, experimental and deep. Not always an easy listen, but endlessly fascinating and original. To have been a small part of it was a genuine pleasure.
Now, here’s hoping someone decides to hire me to write the music for a dark, Scandinavian detective series. That would be a dream come true!