The Task (directed by Alex Orwell) is a low-budget horror film that received a very limited release at the beginning of 2011 before quickly finding a larger audience on DVD. Filmed in Bulgaria and starring a group of British actors attempting (with varying degrees of success) American accents, the plot sees the group being kidnapped to take part in a reality show where they have to spend the night in an abandoned prison to win $20,000. They are assigned to complete a series of tasks but strange things begin to happen. Is there someone (or something) loose in the prison with them? Get the picture? The score for this atmospheric flick is composed by little-known Belgian composer Ernst W. Meinrath who is called upon to basically generate tension and atmosphere through the medium of music.
Meinrath’s score – on the evidence of this album at least – relies heavily on a whole library of industrial-style sounds that are layered on top of one another and are augmented by growling guitar riffs, various percussion rhythms and the occasional unusual sampling of voices. The album opens with “She’s Got The Aaaah”, a short rap-style vocal track that certainly grabs the attention if nothing else. We are then launched into the industrial soundscape that is augmented by some sampled squealing pigs (yes, you heard me right) in “The Task”. (Weinrath uses unusual samples several times in the score: “The Warden Attacks” features a chanting crowd.) Although predominantly atmospheric in nature there is surprisingly a lot of the album is actually quite listenable, as Meinrath spends a lot of time using a variety of ostinato motifs to set up tension (e.g., the beginning of “Pick Up Your Chess Piece” has an interesting electronic repeating device that then has a ticking clock laid over it and in “Free The Dead” there’s an interesting guitar and cimbalom ostinato passage that’s remarkably light in tone). The reliance on these tension-generating ostinato sequences and soundscape compositions is understandable because of the claustrophobic setting of the film that, presumably, has extended periods of time where there’s actually not much happening on screen.
There are a number of highlights on the album worth pointing out for those still interested. “Angel’s Task” features a motif (and uses similar instrumentation) that will be recognisable to anyone familiar with Charlie Clouser’s scores for the Saw film franchise. It’s not original but a welcome addition. Also, I found the 7-minute track “Stanton Is Served” to be a particularly enjoyable track – though I am not sure why. Full of various electronic sounds, indistinct wordless whisperings, frenetic drums, squealing mechanical crescendos of sound and ending with a short sequence of acoustic guitar, the track as a whole seemed to be structured in such a way that it ends up being a satisfying listening experience.
Ernst W. Meinrath’s score for The Task is definitely not a score that everyone will enjoy – you would certainly not use it as an introductory example of film music. There’s very little melodic material but the composer brings together a whole series of elements and fashions a score that has many interesting bits to it. It’s not going to win any awards but I think that it would be quite interesting to hear in the film. The chances of me actually seeing the film are pretty slim so dipping into this album every now and then will probably have to do. The Task is available at most of the usual online digital download stores.
Audio samples can be found HERE and then click on arrows for samples of entire album or individual tracks.
- She Got The Aaaah (1:13)
- The Task (3:09)
- Pick Up Your Chess Piece (2:39)
- Huey and Dewey (0:21)
- We’re Part of The Game (2:01)
- The Warden Attacks (3:35)
- Angel’s Task (4:01)
- Stanton Is Served (6:53)
- Free The Dead (3:35)
- The Task End Credits (5:56)
Running Time: 33:26
PALE BLUE (2011)