- Composed by Max Richter
- WaterTower Music / 2014 / 37m
The Leftovers is Damon Lindelof’s show about unexplained (and indeed unexplainable) events and coincidence-driven plot devices, marking a real departure for the writer from his past works, such as Nash Bridges and some other things. You don’t need to know anything about the show to enjoy its excellent music, fortunately. It’s by Max Richter, who mixes film and tv assignments with widely acclaimed album compositions. I must admit that despite all the acclaim for his work, this is the first I’ve heard by him; and it’s certainly left me impressed. In the show, original pieces are mixed with some from his earlier albums; this soundtrack features just the original material, beginning with the striking main title music, which leads into the exceptional piano theme “The Departure”. Then some dissonance, very modern ambient textures. Richter’s fusion of styles is so brilliantly executed, it reminds me a bit of a more classically-informed version of Hans Zimmer – there’s an innate understanding of showmanship here, but it’s combined with real musical chops – the depth here comes emotionally, dramatically, musically – it’s the complete package.
The album has so much going for it – every piece is worthy of considerable attention. Little ideas are generally stated and developed, motifs swirl around kaleidoscopically as intriguing orchestration choices come and go (each piece generally has its own little feel – sometimes just a solo piano, sometimes a chamber ensemble, occasionally wider forces). Unlike a lot of what might be termed “modern” music, it’s genuinely accessible and emotionally direct – and that emotion is overwhelmingly that of sadness, with a haunting feel running throughout. For every moment of sheer beauty, there’s another of desolation and these contrast so well, the extremes of each simply exaggerating the effect of the other. I can’t remember the last time I heard music this good, this striking being written for episodic television – it’s thoughtful, potent stuff, one of the most wonderful musical surprises I’ve had in a while and I can’t help but think Richter’s in that almost perfect position in that his music should appeal both to lovers of “traditional” film music and lovers of the Zimmer-influenced modern variant.