LODO – Sergio Lasuén

Original Review by Alan Rogers

Spanish composer Sergio Lasuén has composed an eclectic score for Karlos Alastruey’s first feature, Lodo (aka Mud). The film, described using terms such as “unconventional” and “surreal”, explores the functioning of the human mind and follows Sara’s journey between her various levels of consciousness. The film has picked up numerous awards at various film festivals (awards include Best Surreal Film at the 2010 New York City International Film Festival) and Lasuén’s score has also been recognised, winning best soundtrack/score awards at both the Cyprus International Film Festival (2009) and the Reel Film Festival Los Angeles (2010). Lasuén’s score is written for a small ensemble of musicians including piano, strings, various woodwinds including didgeridoo and seems to reflect the “unconventional” tag of the film. Lasuén uses various combinations of instruments and switches between melody and the abstract to conjure up an aural world that mirrors the various states of mind of the characters.

The score is at its most melodic when piano, strings and woodwinds are used. Two or three motifs/melodies recur throughout the score and represent the score at its most conventional from a thematic standpoint. The opening track “Síntesis” starts with statement of a piano melody reminiscent of the piano film music of Yann Tiersen. Support from pizzicato strings and woodwinds give the beginning of the album a light and upbeat feel. This property of the theme takes on an increased level of importance later in the score since the score as a whole takes on a darker (and more surreal) tone quite early on and the theme’s appearance in tracks such as “Sombras en El Bosque” and “Bosque Electroacústico” bring a respite from the somewhat oppressive aural world that the composer establishes. A further theme, heard in “Encuentro” (interestingly here played on cello) and more prominently later in tracks such as “No Todo Está Escrito” (solo piano) and “Primeras Grietas”, again provides a break from the assault on the senses of the subsequent cues of the score. The second piano theme features as a song (vocals by Ana Gaudó) for the end credits (“Swift – Canción y Créditos”). A second song, “Breathe In The Void”, accompanies the title sequence and credits at the beginning of the album (and the film itself) and short portions of the song are featured later in the score (e.g., tracks 12 and 27). The use of a didgeridoo to open and close “Breathe In The Void” give a hint to the descent of the score into something other than what is suggested by the first two tracks of the score.

“Zona Oscura” signals the change in the overall character of the score. Sustained chords and low register strings move the score away from the melodic and to a soundtrack that is much more ambient and fragmented. A recurring electronic guttural gurgling motif and the increased presence of the didgeridoo mark the passage to the different states of mind of the main character. Tracks such as “Un Desierto en El Vacío”, “Sombras en El Bosque”, “Difícil Elección” and “Fulminación Linfa” have the didgeridoo as an always-present feature of the score, giving it an almost oppressive feel. The various piano motifs from the beginning of the score, as well as fragments of various woodwind motifs, all seem to fight for attention in this new world. It’s as if the various levels of consciousness of the main character are battling for attention and/or supremacy. The score then takes another musical turn with the statement of the melody used in the end credits (track 15, “No Todo Está Escrito”). Now the didgeridoo and guttural gurglings become less prominent and piano and woodwinds slowly begin to re-establish themselves as the prominent musical character of the score. A strong piano cue, “Desierto de Amapolas”, almost feels like a victory for normality, a re-establishment of both a mental and musical order…that is until the ominous tones of “Tremblor” and the mechanical, electronic/static tones of “Segundo Punto de Giro” bring the album to a close with an unsettling mood.

A score such as Lodo, with it’s emphasis on setting up a specific soundscape and what seems to be specific musical signposts for on-screen situations, is going to work best when heard within the context of the film itself. But, as a listening experience alone, it should reward the listener who puts the effort into sitting down and focusing on what the composer is trying to do in the score, particularly when one knows a little of what the film is about. It was the rather startling artwork for the album that initially drew my attention to Lasuén’s score but it is the various elements of the score itself that brings me back (admittedly only occasionally) to Lodo. The score is available on iTunes, Amazon and other online digital retailers.

Rating: **½

  1. Síntesis (2:02)
  2. Breathe In The Void (3:11)
  3. El Violonchelo de Progeria (0:55)
  4. Encuentro (2:37)
  5. Zona Oscura (2:47)
  6. El Bosque (0:56)
  7. Un Desierto en El Vacío (1:19)
  8. Sombras en El Bosque (2:28)
  9. Voces (0:37)
  10. Aorta: Final del Túnel (1:28)
  11. Bosque Electroacústico (2:02)
  12. En La Puerta (0:38)
  13. SMS (0:53)
  14. Difícil Elección (2:50)
  15. No Todo Está Escrito (0:41)
  16. Fulminación Linfa (1:04)
  17. Oboe Sin Rostro (0:33)
  18. Primeras Grietas (1:05)
  19. A Nadie Le Gusta Quedarse Solo (1:01)
  20. Acto III (1:27)
  21. Gas Station (1:00)
  22. Fulminación Cólera (1:10)
  23. Volviendo a Casa: La Hija Pródiga (1:31)
  24. Voces II (0:53)
  25. Desierto de Amapolas (1:15)
  26. Temblor (0:27)
  27. Breathe Unplugged (1:17)
  28. Antesala (0:55)
  29. Music Box (0:24)
  30. Segundo Punto de Giro (4:40)
  31. Swift – Canción y Créditos (5:17)

Running Time: 49:34

Sergio Lasuén Hernández (2010)

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