Musical Score By: Charlie Clouser

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Jigsaw, the eighth movie in the Saw franchise, picks up over a decade after the death of the Jigsaw killer.  A series of murders bearing the same markings of the infamous serial killer have the local law enforcement wondering if the man that evaded them for years is really dead.  Is it a copycat killer or is John Kramer (Tobin Bell) back from the dead to remind the world that life is a gift not to be taken for granted?

                The musical score for all eight Saw films was created by American keyboardist, record producer, remixer and composer Charlie Clouser.  Playing keyboard, synthesizer, theremin and drums, Clouser is also known for his music programming, engineering and mixing.  Best known for performing with Nine Inch Nails, he began his film scoring career in 2003 with music he created for the television series Las Vegas.  Since then, he has been known for his horror scores for the Saw series and for notable projects such as Resident Evil: Extinction, American Horror Story and Wayward Pines.

                As I listened to the Jigsaw Soundtrack, I realized that this was really a tale of two soundtracks.  One theme is industrial metal/rock, fast-paced and adrenaline-pumping with electric guitars, synths, percussion and strings.  The other theme is quieter, more ominous, with long, tremulous draws of the bow on strings and disjointed electronic sounds.  But there is more to those ominous sounds than meets the…well…ear.  According to Charlie Clouser, “There’s a builder of experimental musical instruments named Chas Smith that I’ve worked with since the first Saw film, although in the past I’ve always gone to his studio to record because most of his instruments are permanently installed and far too bulky to be moved.  When I was just beginning work on Jigsaw, Chas was preparing to move his studio for the first time in more than thirty years, and I was able to convince him to finally sell me one of the instruments that I’ve used on all of the Saw scores! This instrument, called Que Lastas, has a large sheet of stainless steel with piano strings and metal rods attached.  It is played with a cello bow to create scary tones that are often dissonant but always ominous. It’s become an important part of my sonic palette for the Saw films, and I’m so happy to have been able to finally bring it home.

                In addition, Clouser used a Chinese ghuzheng to produce those tremulous sounds.  According to the composer, he: “also used a Chinese ghuzheng, played with a bow to create shuddering patterns that create a sense of nervous tension, as well as a pedal steel guitar that I play with an e-bow to create more ominous drone-like tones. Besides all of these weird acoustic sources, I also used my collection of modular synthesizers and circuit-bent toy instruments for many of the more aggressive electronic sounds, and of course there were plenty of heavy, hard industrial metal guitar sounds in there as well.”

                The fact that the Jigsaw Soundtrack features such differing themes throughout the album is actually a positive.  You never get bored with too many horror cues or too much rock theme.  There is a happy medium in the mix and a depth in the music.  This is quite the unique horror soundtrack and one I thoroughly enjoyed listening to.  But, of course, who better to know just what music would hit the mark with Jigsaw than the man who has composed the score for the entire series.  Another job well done!


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