Deutsche Grammophon is excited to announce the 11 November release of Arrival (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) via Universal Music Canada, the country’s leading music company, with music composed and produced by Jóhann Jóhannsson, whose DG debut – Orphée, an exploration of the Orpheus myth and Jóhannsson’s first studio album in six years – is released on 16 September. The Paramount Pictures film Arrival, which premieres today at the Venice Film Festival, is the composer’s third cinematic collaboration with French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, following on from last year’s crime thriller Sicario, which garnered Jóhannsson an Oscar nomination for best original score. As recently announced, their next joint project will be the much anticipated sequel to the legendary science fiction film Blade Runner.

Arrival stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker, Adams playing the lead role of a linguist who attempts to communicate with the alien intelligence controlling a fleet of spacecraft that has suddenly and ominously appeared at sites all around the globe. As mankind teeters on the brink of global war, she and her team embark on a race against time to find out why these craft have come to earth. More than a conventional sci-fi thriller, this is a thoughtful, intellectual drama with a genre twist. “Arrival is a very unique science fiction film and I decided early on that the human voice would feature prominently in the score,” says Jóhannsson. “It seemed a natural choice, given that the story is very much about language and communication.”

Jóhannsson worked with several singers and vocal ensembles and combined both classical and avant-garde elements in his compositions, augmenting his already unique approach of combining orchestral writing with digital sound processing. Among those appearing are the prestigious Theatre of Voices, conducted by Paul Hillier, and artists such as Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and Hildur Guðnadóttir, known for their unique musicianship. Jóhannsson also integrated some “found sounds” from the legendary avant-garde vocalist Joan La Barbara into his score. The soundtrack was recorded in Prague, Copenhagen and his native Reykjavik.

“I basically had carte blanche to experiment musically and sonically in creating this unique sound world,” explains Jóhannsson. “Denis and I have developed a trust where we can work together in a very collaborative way.” He sent some early thematic ideas to Villeneuve during pre-production, based on tape-loop experiments, which were partly inspired by the Ted Chiang short story on which the film is based. Villeneuve responded strongly to one of these thematic ideas and asked Jóhannsson to expand on it. That track eventually became one of the signature motifs of the score. Jóhannsson’s rough cuts were also played on set in Montreal, inspiring the cast and playing a part in determining how certain sequences were shot, his music conjuring Villeneuve’s otherworldly atmosphere to perfection, as the director explains: “I heard the first notes of Arrival’s music before shooting. Jóhann had composed the haunting and hypnotic score for Louise’s first glimpse of the spaceship. I remember being in awe listening to it. A fantastic and inspiring piece. Like music from above. I shot Arrival listening to Johann’s score. His music influenced the whole process and I think moviegoers will once again be blown away by his unique approach to cinematic music.”

Arrival (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) features the complete scored music from the film – a total of 21 tracks. Jóhannsson has composed and produced an accompaniment to the narrative arc that is sometimes menacing – drone-like themes are a hallmark of his work – and always compellingly atmospheric. From the title track Arrival to pieces entitled First Encounter, Ultimatum and Properties of Explosive Material, his score masterfully underlines the tension, power and subtlety of one of the most original science fiction films to appear in years. The closing track on the album is the uplifting On the Nature of Daylight, composed by fellow Deutsche Grammophon avant-garde artist Max Richter.

Arrival will have its European premiere at the Venice Film Festival on 1 September and its North American premiere on 11 September at the Toronto International Film Festival. Arrival (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) will be released by DG/UMC on 11 November to coincide with the film’s North American theatrical release.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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