Music Reviews

Artist: Ben Lukas Boysen (@)
Title: Restive (OST)
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Rated: *****
'Restive' is an original motion picture soundtrack by Ben Lukas Boysen to an Independent film by the same name written and directed by Jeremiah Jones. Briefly, the film is a suspense thriller, a dark and hopeless exploration of domestic violence, about a woman trying to escape the emotional abuse and tyranny of her husband. After years of this, the wife decides she isn't going to take it anymore and stands up to bully-dad. 'Mr. Big Stuff' enlists the aid of a couple of his sadistic pals to take the wife (Jeva) and her young son out to the woods to 'let the pain flow through'. Somehow Jeva and son manage to escape the clutches of their captors and become the hunted. I haven't seen the film but I can't imagine it ending well. However, this review is about the soundtrack, not the movie.

Ben Lukas Boysen might be better known as Hecq, an IDM/ambient project with nearly a dozen releases and also remixes - Architect, Borealis, In Strict Confidence and Snog being among them. Boysen has also done soundtrack work for several other films as well as commercial sound design. To say his soundtrack for 'Restive' is dark and moody is an understatement. He excels here in creating a depressingly oppressive atmosphere that evokes the kind of melancholia reserved for life's unsweetest moments. Long passages of sustained strings, sparse, sad piano with lots of reverb (an oft used technique in movies and TV dramas), subtle noise/synth ambience and grating high pitched drone are just some of the tools in this composer's box. I suppose you could call it cinematic dark ambience as it has many of the elements of minimal dark ambient music, and holds its own with some of the best I've heard. It isn't until track seven, 'Junkyard' that percussion enters the picture, deep, plodding, and relentless. The atmospheric sonics that accompany the track are perfect. Boysen's use of sophisticated textures and sound sculpting throughout this work are admirable, and even when it gets noisy, as it occasionally does, it is still highly listenable. Throughout the album, the atmospheres build in intensity with some respite here and there. It is a psychological intensity, not necessarily a dynamic one, likely in keeping with the film. I should mention that the last track, 'Closing Credits' is by Nils Frahm, but being mostly sparse and melancholy piano does not detract from Boysen's compositions at all.

Altogether excellent, and even if I never see the film (which I probably won't), Ben Lukas Boysen's 'Restive' soundtrack is a remarkable achievement.

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