In just a mere two minutes and change the track “She’ll Kill You” from the upcoming volume one of the Stranger Things S/T pulls you from your daily grind and puts you into some other realm. It’s full and dense synth cavalcade washes over you and fills your ears with a pulsating melancholy that’s part Night Flights and part late night sci fi via Russel Mulcahy or Michael Mann.
Sometimes the most poignant and heavy statement can be said in a mere simple sentence. The overstretched and overly dramatic can get bogged down with too much grand vernacular. Cutting to the point can sometimes get the point across just as well. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the Austin band S U R V I V E seemed to have subscribed to the less is more theory in regards to their scoring of the excellent Netflix series Stranger Things. They’re more Tangerine Dream than Zombi when it comes to coloring in the blank spaces with their retro brand of electronic music. If you’ve watched Stranger Things you would know what I’m talking about in regards to the music. It’s there just under the surface carefully nudging the story along as you fall for these relatable characters. Even the ones you start out not caring that much for turn a corner and you begin to root for them. The heavy synth score becomes a subtle, background character. A musical character actor that blends into whatever the scene needs. This is how true artists work. They don’t transform the art to fit themselves; they allow the art to transform them into what is needed to serve the overall piece.
It’s not secret that I love heavy synth music. The ample amount of Death Waltz/Mondo releases, Tangerine Dream records, and Jonas Munk/Jakob Skott albums that pepper my overall collection is proof of that. The Stranger Things S/T was a perfect reminder for me as to why I love heavy synth and why I will continue to love it, and why it’s such a perfect tool for musically coloring in the cinematic and celluloid world. It’s this futuristic, one man symphony. It’s this precise laser shot of symphonic pastiche. The instruments are blended together into this square wave of noise. Electronic orchestration that allows a small show like Stranger Things to have a bigger presence. Don’t get me wrong, I love true orchestration. There’s nothing like a 25 piece orchestra performing a piece for film, but there’s a certain isolation and melancholy that comes with the one-man synth score.
When this score arrives on vinyl I will have it. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein seem to know what the hell they’re doing. And if the Duffer Bros had them in mind all along to score their show, then I think those Duffer dudes know what they’re doing as well.
The Stranger Things love keeps rolling along.