The power of this film, much like 2001 – a film that this draws many influences from – would not be the experience that it is without Johann Johannsson’s bespoke soundtrack to accompany it. It hits every note to match its accompanying scene perfectly. Such as when we first see the incredible ship that has landed:

Then we make first contact – we see the creatures for the first time – and this alien sounding track could not be more appropriate. Much like its title: ‘First Encounter’. Like most of the tracks here, it sends chills up my spine every time I hear it:

As the film starts to pack an emotional punch, some melodies warm the music from the cold, alien experience that it has been for the most part. A brief reprieve from the unearthly sounds that fill this album:

As someone who dabbles in music-making, I would love to know how this man created these sounds. The power of it is enough to suck you in on its own, while the more alien sounding elements grip me every time I hear them. Just listen to this and tell me it doesn’t sound like it is from another planet:

How?! I want to know, damnit!!

Having also brilliantly scored Villeneuve’s last film Sicario, Johann Johannsson has set a very high bar for himself now. I’ll be keeping an eye on what he is up to, not to mention what else he has done in the past, as he is certainly a composer of incredibly powerful music that can deeply affect the film it accompanies.

In this case, the music is so powerful, the movie would not be the same were it any different. Soundtracks can be powerful albums, and this is perhaps the best yet, though the scores to Under The Skin, The Witch and It Follows are pretty damned amazing too.

Another fine track from near the end of the film:

This has quickly become my favourite album to listen to, at any time. While trying to sleep, while writing, while driving, while sitting on a train… it doesn’t matter how, as long as the bass and the intricate sounds can be heard clearly through high-end speakers or headphones. The experience is hypnotic and trance-inducing, much like the film.

Close your eyes and be taken away to a far away place.

16 Comments on “MONDAY @ THE MUSIC – ARRIVAL

  1. Gotta agree with you here man, the soundtrack is so integral to the mood and the atmosphere. I can’t believe I spent exactly zero lines on Johan Johansson’s contributions to Arrival. I feel a little silly. It filled a major space in what I might only barely hesitantly describe as my favorite sci-fi flick from the last decade.

    Hans Zimmer’s ‘Interstellar’ score is pretty sick too, but often I feel like he drowns out the piece with his arrangements. Like he almost does too much. Sometimes it is good to sit back a bit. But what do I know, he’s over there making millions doing his thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome post Jordan! Glad you highlighted the music here, which I thought perfectly complements the tone of the film. I hope to review this film later this weekend!


  3. Pingback: A Thanksgiving Post: 24 cinematic things I’m thankful for in 2016

  4. Amazing post and yes, I have to agree with everything you’ve written here, the soundtrack is just amazing and I myself have found listening to it many times, especially at night before going to sleep. Which hardly ever happens to me with film soundtracks, really!

    But Johannsson has been on my radar for quite some time – this guy is a genius and I don’t know how he does it. Not only is he composing so many movies, he always does a brilliant job at it and his scores are so diverse! It’s this diversity that I admire so much; if you compare this score to that of Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, or The Theory of Everything… it’s hard to believe it was written by the same man. I really have nothing but admiration for him.

    Also, so good that you brought up Under the Skin! Another outstanding movie that had an amazing soundtrack.

    I really like this idea that you’re writing two separate reviews – one for the film as a whole, and another dedicated just to the score. I’m looking forward to more posts like this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are a few old similar posts under the menu at the top, though they are old and I expect that the videos have been removed.
      I do plan to get back into it though, I have similar posts planned for Hell or High Water, The Witch, High-Rise and hopefully The Neon Demon, if I can somehow get a hold of the soundtrack

      And yeah, I’m with you all the way on Johann, the diversity is incredible. And he has certainly formed a strong bond with Dennis, having scored Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival, all of which I own and love. I too find myself listening to Arrival at night… it still gives me chills. Perhaps the best original score I have ever heard. Another album that has been really getting to me is Nick Cave’s latest. Look out for my next post about the doco he made about the making of that album. It was made after he lost his son, and the film is extreeeemely personal as he explains how the process of writing music is a sort of catharsis, a way to make sense of a world turned upside down. I was entranced.

      Have a listen, this is pretty much how it looked in the film – awesome camerawork, amazing atmosphere:

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amazing, I’m definitely looking forward to your post about Cave’s documentary! I haven’t seen the film yet, but his latest album has helped me through some very difficult times. I am a fan of his music for as long as I can remember, but the latest album got released just weeks before my dear friend passed away and this album gave me solace when nothing else could. Every song, every lyric… everything resonated with me completely and I can honestly say that this album has helped me grieve and to come to terms with her untimely death. I’m pretty sure seeing this documentary will be an emotional roller-coaster for me, but I think it will ultimately be a cathartic experience, as it usually is with great art. 🙂


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