Walk into the Light is from “I’ll be gone in the dark” – a film soundtrack by Philip Sheppard. It’s available to listen on Soundcloud [bottom of the page], but this link I’m giving is to a location on Philip’s website, where you can find out more about Philip and the film in question.
Two discussion points arise immediately:
Does the track stand as a piece of music in its own right, or do we need to hear it harnessed to the film footage?
Does finding out more about the film and the composer help our understanding and appreciation of the music?
Anyway, here are some of my initial thoughts on a first listen. There are two discrete layers to this piece. The first to grab my attention was the ‘electronic’ layer of relentless echoing footsteps ploughing on through the mist and murk of watery, percussive noises which functions as an ostinato. It is this simple layer which so effectively provides a strong undercurrent of menace and foreboding. Over the top of this we have a small ensemble of orchestral instruments playing much more conventional gentle, lyrical music. It is this juxtaposition of strongly contrasting layers which gives the piece its tension. We are bracing ourselves, waiting for something to happen … and it does.
At the 1:48 mark, the ‘electronic’ layer gets busier and the orchestral sounds come to a gradual halt. Then a new section begins at 2:15 when a fuzz bass sound provides a simple but assertive foundation for a meandering piano melody. The strings are still there but are now providing more jittery nervous interjections – a breakdown of the ensemble as the music comes to a gradual conclusion.
The strength of this short piece lies in its simplicity and lack of drama. Something more bombastic would be nowhere near as effective. By holding the music back, Sheppard draws us into the story – in effect making our imaginations do some of the work by immersing us in the drama.