Jazz baby! This soundtrack is unapologetically cool. With clarinets and vibraphones being chucked into the mix, this is a swinging lounge bar, a sophisticated cocktail party where adults in swirls of tobacco smoke talk about Sartre and Proust, with the occasional light laughter cutting through the air, triggered by an insightful moment of wit, possibly in another language.
The opening track, ‘Chess Game Shuffle’, starts as a deceptively simple piece of whimsy on the piano. But then come the drums and other percussion. More instruments join as the melodic theme that will continue throughout the album comes into focus. Each layer adds more complexity, the melody that was defined now being played with, and it’s hard to resist nodding along to the music as you’re carried into a smart, classy world.
A jaunty jazz accompaniment seems like an odd choice for a political thriller, but listening to this album the main image is one of a seedy, smarmy lounge predator with hooded eyes and slick hair. The cocktail party version of a political shark.
As we continue listening it’s clear that this album is not all finger snapping smoothness. ‘Running Over Deer’ is moody, dark and deeply atmospheric, a nighttime of tribulation that eventually moves into light, flickering notes bringing us back to that calm, controlled main theme. Then there is ‘Prison Riot’, a particularly edgy piece, threatening at times to spill into all out free-jazz.
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The only criticism is that there should be more. The nature of this kind of TV show soundtrack album is that each track will be short, a sugar rush of a feeling. It would be lovely to have a few of these pieces expanded. A longer version of ‘Chess Game Shuffle’ could give each member of the group time to take us on a fun little solo.
‘Charmian Pepper’, with its soulful clarinet always feeling as though it’s on the verge of bringing us to another level that doesn’t emerge, could expand and grow into something spectacular. But it’s a half-hearted criticism at best. This is a truly superb soundtrack that will leave you wanting to walk around with a black bow-tie draped casually around your neck.
Harry Escott’s original score for Roadkill is available digitally from Silva Screen Records.