Three years ago we worte about The Golden Age, the wonderful debut album of French artist Woodkid aka Yoann Lemoine. He recently released the soundtrack of the movie Desierto directed by Jonás Cuarón and produced by Alfonso Cuarón. Watch the lyrics video of the track “Land of All“.
His words about this collaboration:
“I met Alfonso a few months after the release of Gravity, and he happened to be a fan of my work, which really surprised me. He liked the percussive dimension of my work and asked me to compose and produce the soundtrack of his new project Desierto. Later, I met Jonas, his son, in Paris and we discussed the idea to create a piece that was radical, earthy and dark.
After a few tests, Alfonso pushed us further and wanted the score to be unique and avoid any reference to traditional soundtracks. Jonas wanted the music to be the voice of the desert itself, always half way between sound design and music. We wanted the wind to harmonise with the drones played by the orchestra, same with the engine of the truck, the footsteps. We tried to tune the nature with the music.
Although some of the pieces are written for 3 cello voices, most of my work on this film has been to deconstruct and destroy the sound of the orchestra, sampling individual voices of instruments and destroying them digitally, chopping them, looping them, pitching them. Make winds sound like strings and brass sound like woodwinds… I was interested in how extreme time distortions algorithms can destroy digital sounds and recreate crystalline glitches and overtones over the original sound. I played with these algorithms and these destructive processes a lot, drowned them in reverb, stacked overtones and microtones to create vibrations and dissonances.
We made the cellos bark like dogs and slowed them down in post production, recorded french horn on tape and played the tape 4 times slower in order to get sub frequencies that would still sound organic and breathy. I remember laying down meters of tape in the corridors of the studio and dipping it in acid to alter the recording. We wanted the music to be an emotional actor and were not afraid to make the music exhausting and annoying when it had to be. There is a very cruel scene in the film that is only scored by 2 minutes of the same loop of a grotesque sample of a distorted oboe. It sounds like an animal crying, and the never-ending repetition of it is brutal and cynical. I think it’s Jonas favorite part of the score.
I remember being in studio in Paris when the Charlie Hebdo attacks happened. I was editing and composing on terrible images of mexican immigrants being shot like animals, and the news on TV were even more disturbing. It was winter and I had not seen the light of day for a long time. Studios are pretty dark places. Everything collided in my head and I had to call Jonas to take a break, I realised the film was really affecting my mood. After a few days I called him saying I wanted to write and sing a song for the end credits, he accepted instantly. Land of All is about the idea of home, about missing home after you try to settle down somewhere else.
I also used Land of All in one of the climatic scenes of the film, but I pitched down the whole song, and reproduced it to make it sound like slow motion. If you listen carefully, you can hear my voice singing the theme like the grotesque grunt of an animal, an inner dark voice that painfully pushes the chord progression forward.
As we were building the film with Jonas, and as he was adjusting the edit of the film, we both realized that working on this film at this exact moment in time was providential and much more meaningful that I would think“.