‘In the Flesh’ soundtrack album review

In The Flesh

Here’s a nice reminder that one of the BBC’s best BAFTA-winning shows hasn’t been recommissioned: the soundtrack to that BAFTA-winning BBC show.

Sorry. Sorry. That’s too jaundiced a way of looking at things, and certainly in respect to a fine soundtrack.

All you Rotter fans, don’t think of this as a reminder of what you’ve lost (#SaveInTheFlesh!), but a souvenir of what you had. The In the Flesh OST is a terrific audio memory to accompany your fallen favourite show. And much like that show, is a more nuanced work than you’d expect from something about the undead.

Headphones on, I was expecting the typical Horror genre hubbub of staccato leaps and jarring stabs at the strings, forgetting that composer Edmund Butt’s score has risen from a show built on moments of great emotional intimacy and personal fragility – and, yes, the odd wonderfully bloody bit – rather than just shock and gore.

In The Flesh

From the restless earth and even more restless domesticity of Dominic Mitchell’s drama, Butt (composer of the spectacular score for 2013’s Doctor Who drama-doc An Adventure in Space and Time) has created a musical experience that can be best described as bucolic horror; a tone poem of tracks which fall about you like an eerie mist in an overwhelmingly concrete village. It’s at once both beautiful and disquieting.

True to the settlement of Roarton, there’s something of the unshut parish gate and the twitching pub curtain about what you hear; a nervous energy that pervades even the most melancholy of pieces. Even in the fragile beauty of a track like ‘Jem Walker’, you’re waiting for something to stir and jump out at you.

Much as Christobal Tapia de Veer’s Utopia soundtracks captured the insanity of conspiracy, so Butt has translated the senselessness of death and the restless uncertainty of rebirth into an album that keeps your ears on tenterhooks (a grisly thought outside of metaphor). One minute you’re frolicking through the dark pastoral whimsy of ‘Amy Dyer’, the next you’re immersed ear-deep in the throbbing, post-traumatic nightmare of ‘PDS’.

In The Flesh

Complementing Butt’s outstanding work, three of the twenty-two tracks are songs from the folk-rock musician Keaton Henson, a singer with a voice as delicate and mournful as flowers laid at a headstone.

You may remember his track ‘You’ from Amy Dyer’s funeral, and it’s included here. There’s a beautiful lugubrious quality to Henson’s ballads – the dreamy notes often hiding lyrics sharp with pain – which makes them feel like anthems for the undead dispossessed. The bittersweet refrains befit the whole album and likely the mindset of the fans listening to it.

Butt and Henson’s work makes for an album that is beautiful for the ears and bittersweet for the soul, and it’s worth your time.

If you’re going to mourn In the Flesh, mourn it well. There isn’t a better album to do that to than this.

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Released on Monday 27 April 2015 by Silva Screen.

> Buy the album on Amazon.

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