Score Composed By: Charlie Clouser
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Some time ago, I wrote a First Impressions review about a new thriller from M. Night Shyamalan airing on FOX called Wayward Pines. The series stars Matt Dillon as Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke who, while searching for two missing fellow agents, loses consciousness, only to wake up beaten and bruised in a small town called Wayward Pines. As the series continues, we discover that nothing is as it seems in Wayward Pines...there is a possibility that this is all just a government project and Ethan and his fellow captives (and I do mean captives) in Wayward Pines are the project's mice running through the proverbial maze. Lakeshore Records released the soundtrack of the ten-episode event in July 2015 and I was offered the opportunity to check it out.
The musical score of Wayward Pines was created by musician, singer, songwriter and composer Charlie Clouser, who many would recognize as a keyboardist and programmer in the band Nine Inch Nails from 1994 to 2000. Charlie Clouser's first foray into film scoring came with the movie SAW, an instant cult classic. Since then, Clouser has created musical score for such notable films as Resident Evil: Extinction, The Stepfather and The Collection. He has also created score for the television series Numb3rs and Las Vegas, co-written the theme song for American Horror Story and created the score for the video game Singularity.
The plotline of Wayward Pines is a complex one. Things are never quite what they seem and you're really not sure whether the main character's perspective is correct. In creating the score for the series, Charlie Clouser decided to take that into consideration: "The main direction I received was that the score should help with the feeling that ‘something is not right’ in the town of Wayward Pines. For a while, we don’t know if Matt Dillon’s character is hallucinating, or maybe still in a coma and just dreaming, so the score needed to lean toward a ‘malfunctioning’ feel - that meant using sounds that are a little ‘out of whack’. As the series progresses, the score starts to get more and more intense - so we needed to keep raising the stakes while still being able to reference the themes and palette that we established right at the start.”
The opening track, Wayward Pines Theme, features distorted sounds interspersed with electronic music. Right away, you know that this show features a whole lot of misdirection and dark revelations. The rest of the album features suites of music from each episode, interspersed with tracks that were created for rather important moments in the series. While the suites are mainly dark orchestral tracks meant to keep the listener on edge, the special tracks are quite different. Leave Hospital, Steal Car features distorted music with an edge, giving the listener the idea that the main character may be a bit delirious and feeling paranoid. Kill Beverly has that dark, fast-paced edge, designed to give the listener an adrenaline rush from the danger it implies. Please Stay has a breathy sort of quality to it that haunts the listener. Farewell sounds incredibly light as opposed to the rest of the album and, appearing at the end of the soundtrack, gives the listener a sense of release from danger...a sense of closure and safety.
Charlie Clouser has created the perfect score for Wayward Pines. Having watched episodes in the series, I know just how important a role the music plays in getting the point across that Ethan might not be a reliable source when it comes to what is going on in the town around him. It also works to give the viewer the impression that, if Ethan's perspective IS to be trusted, Wayward Pines is a very dangerous place to be in. Clouser has that horror/thriller score thing down pat and has proven it yet again with the score of Wayward Pines, a must listen for any fan of the television series.