I'll be honest, I didn't know what to think of Steve Nolan's score to Sodium Party. Sent to me on tape (yes!), my previous experience tells me that there are a lot of people who want to be John Carpenter. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but variety is a necessity, and it's more and more difficult to stand out when everyone is doing the same thing (see also Hollywood action scoring).
This is why I was overjoyed when I hit play on Sodium Party. What hit me wasn't a driving synth but sparse piano notes, emotionally strained. When the synth tones came in, they were in the background, foreboding, textural. The album continues with the delicate piano, giving it a fragile and haunting vibe from which to spin off into some wonderful melodies, such as the warm 'Wondermental' and the propulsive 'The Walking Day'.
But it also spins off into darker areas, and there are elements that are dissonant and disquieting, such as the static-esque 'The Cold Trap'. And while that is instantly followed by the ethereal beauty of 'Party Bench', even more threatening and uncomfortable. These shifts help underline the journey of the score, and it stands out as a musical narrative away from the original context of the film.
I'd be lying if I said Sodium Party was an easy listen - it's not, but that's just what makes it great. It's uncomfortable at times and emotionally wrought, but it's also beautiful and affecting, and that itself makes it an exceptionally rewarding listen. -CB
Sodium Party is available now from Spun Out Of Control