The Signal

Score Composed By: Nima Fakhrara

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            In the sci-fi thriller The Signal, three MIT students (Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke and Beau Knapp) head out on a journey to California until a mysterious hacker detours them off the beaten path.  They could never have known just what taking that detour would get them into...a frightening new journey, of alien proportions.

            The musical score of The Signal was created by Iranian-born composer Nima Fakhrara.  As a young boy, Nima Fakhrara's interest in music was sparked by listening to his uncle play the santour.  Learning how to play the instrument himself, Fakhrara became well-versed in Persian classical music.  Upon moving to the United States, Fakhrara continued his musical studies, earning a degree in composition studies, while still entertaining another passion - learning how to construct instruments of varying natures and cultures, adding a new dimension to his musical scoring.  Composing credits for Fakhrara include the musical scores of Heist, Evolution, Tumblers, The Courier and Gatchaman.

            The premise of The Signal contains a great deal of mystery as well as quite a few science fiction elements.  The musical score for such a film calls for a futuristic, otherworld type of sound.  According to Nima Fakhrara, "We wanted to achieve a certain sense mystery and tension throughout the film.  Our characters are being pulled and pushed in many directions so the music had to feel the same.  We also wanted keep the audience guessing throughout the film by scoring scenes in unconventional ways."  In an effort to achieve this and still maintain that otherworld sound, Fakhrara used some unconventional instrumentation: "I built three instruments that became the signature sounds of the project.  The Pagoda (tree-like thing), the Transmission (what seems like a transmit ion) and the Steel Marimba (Marimba looking thing).  They are used in many different ways, both by using their natural sounds and manipulating the sounds to get cool textures."

            Listening to this score without knowing anything about the film, I was immediately clued in on the idea that this was a science fiction film with a dramatic motif.  There were the sci-fi elements of the simultaneously high tech and other worldly sounds like whispering winds and weird, woodwind-like noises, intertwined with dramatic piano and string pieces.  At first, the listener is introduced to the idea of a bit of drama between lovers or friends, but as the soundtrack moves forward and more interesting musical sounds are introduced, we get the idea of an outside force at work, one causing our main characters even more stress and anguish...perhaps even placing them in danger as the music becomes darker and more dramatic.

            By blending traditional sounds with unconventional instruments built by the composer, Nima Fahkara has created quite a unique and interesting listening experience that does well as a stand alone album as well as background music for this science fiction thriller.  Nima Fakhrara's score for The Signal is a job well done and definitely worth the listen.


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