Modern Movies & Television Shows With Synth Soundtracks
Post date:Thu, 09/14/2017 - 13:36
At the peak of the synthesizer craze, it was almost impossible to find a movie that didn’t use one for the soundtrack. This resulted in a few very memorable compositions, such as the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis or the music for The Fog, created by John Carpenter himself. However, while synthesizer soundtracks were very popular in the 80s, this doesn’t mean you won’t find them making an appearance in modern movies or television shows. Sometimes synths are used in modern media to evoke the feel of the 80s if that is the time period in which the story is set, and other times composers simply use them because they sound great. Here are just a couple of more recent movies or television shows where you’ll hear vintage synths cropping up.
The comic book adaptation, Deadpool, was one of the surprise hits of 2016 with its fourth wall breaking humor and faithfulness to the source material. It eventually went on to become one of the highest-grossing R-rated films, breaking numerous records in the process. For a movie with such a unique style a memorable soundtrack was needed, which is why the composer, Tom Holkenborg, opted for some vintage synthesizers. In addition to the Roland JD 800 digital keyboard he used for a few of the romantic scenes, Tom also made use of a clone of the Arp 2600 to create some of the signature riffs heard throughout the film. For a behind the scenes look of how Tom made use of the vintage synths for the soundtrack, check out this video on his official YouTube channel.
Stranger Things, the television show released on Netflix in 2016, is an unashamed love letter to everything 80s, so it is no surprise that synthesizers feature so heavily on the soundtrack. The duo behind the soundtrack is Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon, members of an electronic band named Survive. To give the movie its distinctive sound, the composers incorporated everything from an old Arp Odyssey to a Roland SH-101, Roland SH-5 and Korg PolySix. Fans of vintage synths will recognize their influences, which spans from the work done by John Carpenter on his films to the music of Tangerine Dream. For a behind the scenes look at the gear used by the composers, check out this video they did for a radio station.
Although it was released in 2015, Kung Fury is a short film that looks like it was ripped straight out of the 80s. The entire movie is one big homage to the goofy martial arts and police action films that were all the rage during the 1980s, so of course the soundtrack is heavy on the synths as well. A couple of notable names in the synthwave community, such as Mitch Murder, Betamaxx and Highway Superstar were brought in to give the movie an authentic 80s feel that matched the retro inspired visuals. Fittingly enough, the official soundtrack album was later released on vinyl record. Listen to the title track by Mitch Murder to hear what all the fuss is about. For those interested in how Mitch Murder creates his music, he has stated that he prefers using a DAW like Renoise and some VSTs. For more of his unique sound, check out his Soundcloud.
Halt and Catch Fire
The television series, Halt and Catch Fire, first premiered in 2014 and has been going strong ever since. With the personal computer revolution that started in the 1980 as its backdrop, the show makes good use of synthesizers for its soundtrack. However, this show has scored an advantage in terms of authenticity by using Paul Haslinger as the composer. Those with fond memories of the 80s music scene will know that Haslinger was part of Tangerine Dream, a group famous for their use of synthesizers. While he is no stranger to scoring soundtracks, his work on Halt and Catch Fire comes the closest to capturing the tone that Tangerine Dream was famous for. For a preview of the soundtrack check out the official video:
Synthesizer music and science fiction movies have always been a perfect match, which is why the synth laden soundtrack for 2015 works so well. Instead of typical Hollywood style rogue robots and common genre tropes, Ex Machine opts for more psychological thrills. Because the story is more moody and laid back than what is typically found in the genre, it also required a more restrained approach to the music, which was handled by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow. The duo went for a mix of organic and electronic sounds in order to create music that matches the theme of the movie. The result is a dark and atmospheric soundtrack that has just as many layers as the film. Check out this interview with Ben and Geoff for more insights about the thought process behind the score.