Under Review

Sinoai Caves

Beyond the Black Rainbow (Jagjaguwar)

by Fraser Dobbs

Two major things are intensely bizarre about Sinoai Caves’ excellent soundtrack to the Vancouver art film, Beyond the Black Rainbow: the paranoid 1980s synthesizer dreamworld that artist Jeremy Schmidt has created, and that it’s taken four years for the score to be released separately from the film. The film, which ostensibly follows a test subject’s imprisonment and eventual escape from a disturbingly sterile research institute, is an art-film wet dream of psychedelic visual effects, almost completely indecipherable set-pieces and the twisted vision of an ’80s universe sadly lacking in Miami Vice-runoff pop culture. Schmidt’s soundtrack, itself an homage to modular and analog synthesizers, captures, or rather sets, the tone of the film perfectly. Make no mistake, this is no Daft Punk-inspired dance music: instead, the rapidly arpeggiating leads, summon claustrophobia and shallow breathing. The score is the terrifying white walls of the Arboria Institute itself, entrapping both the listener and the viewer in a decidedly uncomfortable dreamland. While the Beyond the Black Rainbow OST lacks the dissonance and noise of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ take on The Road, it’s almost more insidious because it’s played within the confines of a keyboard. Heavy, pulsating bass triggers are the proverbial heartbeat tying most of the seven tracks together, and despite the OST moniker, the album is exceptionally listenable as a stand-alone piece. While other scores tend to fall flat when pulled from their dramatic source material (eg. Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy), because so much of the drama of the film evolves alongside the haunting background music, Sinoia Caves has not only produced an outstanding soundtrack but an outstanding record as well.