MINE 9 – Mauricio Yazigi

Mine 9 is a survival thriller that follows a group of miners who work two miles under their Appalachian hometown. The miners know that conditions underground are not safe but they must risk their lives for the sake of a job or starve. Film reviews have noted director Eddie Mensore’s vivid depiction of the hardships faced by the workers as well as the dire claustrophobic conditions they must endure. A methane explosion below-ground traps the 9 men and they have limited time to make their escape as oxygen levels dwindle. The film’s soundtrack features a number of traditional and newly-composed songs that help to give the film a sense of place, but this review focuses on the original music score written by Chilean composer, Mauricio Yazigi.

The overriding theme of Yazigi’s music is claustrophobia. Track after track on this short album (running to just over 20 minutes) feels like aural walls closing in around the listener. For example, headphones feel clamped to the head rather than fitting comfortably. Various hums and drones fill the soundscape in tracks such as “Inside The Mine” and “Man-Trip” and repetitive electronic tones give the score a tense, mechanical quality (“No Help”, “The Office”). While many of these aforementioned tracks feel static with little dynamism, there are occasions where there is a sense of energy and movement to the score. Both “The Accident” and “Arriving At The Mine” feature ostinato rhythms (e.g., a knocking motif) that gives a pace to the ambient tones. The final two tracks, with their combination of increasing tonal pitch and volume, and quickening tempo in the percussive elements, gives a distinct finality to the score that leaves the listener hanging. Mine 9 is almost completely devoid of any elements with a human quality but “Keep Breathing” does contain an electronic tone that is reminiscent of human voices, but these ‘voices’ are ultimately lost within the electronic tones and rasps.

Mine 9 is a score that is probably better appreciated by the talents of the composer at establishing a feel for the score and sticking with the musical world he has created rather than enjoying the album’s musical experience. The constant cramped and anxious feel of the score seems to be throughout the score regardless of whether the story is above or below ground. It’s interesting to consider that the score may be doing two jobs: when events are below ground Yazigi’s musical landscape is reinforcing the cramped conditions within the mine, and when above ground the composer is signaling to the listener/viewer how the miners are trapped and hemmed in by the economic constraints that they can’t escape from. It’s all very plausible but, at the end of the day, does it make for a good listening experience? Probably not as a score to return to very often despite the ideas and the execution being solidly realized.

Mauricio Yazigi’s score can be purchased at online stores as a digital download or to stream. A soundtrack album featuring a selection of country, folk and blues songs – original and traditional – is available from the movie’s website.

Rating: **/*****

  1. Inside The Mine (2:49)
  2. No Help (2:19)
  3. We Voted (1:41)
  4. We’ve Got Smoke (1:56)
  5. The Accident (1:13)
  6. Man-Trip (2:34)
  7. Arriving At The Mine (2:12)
  8. The Office (2:10)
  9. Keep Breathing (1:37)
  10. Trapped (2:30)
  11. Blowing Up The Wall (1:19)

Running Time: 22:25

Mauricio Yazigi (2019)

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