- Composed by Marcelo Zarvos
- Varèse Sarabande / 2015 / 57m
The Affair is an excellent tv series which follows the impact of a relationship between a novelist (Dominic West) and a waitress (Ruth Wilson) which develops while he is away for the summer with his family seeking inspiration for his new novel. Its unique selling point is that it tells the same tale from multiple perspectives (just the two in the first season, but their respective ex-spouses come into it in the second) bringing unreliable narration into play. The show’s most notable musical feature is its opening title song “Container” by Fiona Apple, but presumably for annoying contractual reasons it doesn’t appear on the soundtrack album, which is devoted exclusively to the score by Brazilian composer Marcelo Zarvos (he has scored every episode so far) and covers both of the first two seasons. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve watched every episode of the show and until this album was announced I hadn’t even realised it had any original score, so subtly is it interweaved into the narrative, and listening to the album certainly confirms that it is extremely low-key.
However, it does make for a very relaxing, chilled-out hour of listening. There’s a lot of piano, a lot of chimes, subtle electronics, a handful of (possibly sampled) strings and percussion. The ensemble inevitably invites comparison with Thomas Newman and there are echoes of some of his most introspective music, but Zarvos is no stranger to this sort of thing either and the music does cast a certain spell. It has a haunted quality, above all a profound sadness, melodies coming and going like whispers, often gently going up and down like the lapping tide. It’s actually ingeniously done and very appropriate for the show, but it’s fair to say it’s not the cheeriest hour of music and would I imagine make a nicer companion to writing or studying than it does a piece to sit and listen to for its own sake. It is rather monochromatic and the hour it lasts does rather seem to go on forever, so however effective it may be in context at subtly emphasising feelings it doesn’t really do much as an album, at least not for me, which is no slight against Zarvos since his primary purpose was achieved.