Peter Broderick Music for Confluence Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

Berlin-based boy wonder does it again.

Spencer Grady 2011

Who would have thought the musical accompaniment to a film about a series of Idahoan murders could be so beautiful? There’s such an abundance of fragile sweetness here – delicate piano arpeggios, whispered tones, glacial strings – that the incremental creep of wickedness pervading beneath the sleepy surface can go undetected, until you find yourself fully entangled in its hex.

This American-born, Berlin-based composer’s uncanny knack for tension-building is one he shares with Clint Mansell, with whom he recently collaborated on the Last Night soundtrack. Music for Confluence exploits this to the full, revelling in a ploy of distant agitation, setting in motion an edgy brew that percolates away beneath simple piano cascades or an arcing grace on the violin. The poisonous interloper seems safely at arm’s length, for now. But theirs is an inescapable and constant presence. This cosy idyll teeters on a precipice.

From its very beginning Music for Confluence exhibits a palpable sense of unease. Curtain-raiser, In the Valley Itself, flitters around like a buffeted snowflake in an eddying winter breeze. Piano ripples and guitar filigrees combine with Arone Dyer’s angelic voice to sound like no one so much as mystic Finnish forest freaks Paavoharju. There’s the same dark magic beating at its heart, an evil eye peering out from under the fauna. The delay-laden bass anchoring What Was Found even recalls Death in June, or any number of apocalyptic neo-pagans, but the accompanying string sweeps raise it beyond that coterie’s politically problematic doldrums.

The only curveball is the melancholic hymnal Old Time, which departs from the previously balanced confluence of shades like an orphaned soul at Confluence’s denouement. Recorded for the film’s end credits, it sees Broderick in duet with Dyer, doing his best Arthur Russell (really, you would swear it was him). But it’s so touchingly rendered that you’d be churlish not to forgive this special talent a little charade.

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