Named by IMDB ”the most successful miniseries ever”, Chernobyl has also an amazing soundtrack. I had my doubts when writing about the soundtrack, especially now, after a considerable time after series ending, but, to be honest, one of the main reasons that made me write on this, apart from the score that, as said, is amazing, are the 38 degrees in Bucharest. I saw myself complaining about the dust, the heat, the smell of the boiling concrete and then I remembered Chernobyl and the atmosphere out here in Bucharest.
The music composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir for the HBO's mini series tells a story in every track. Even if the layer beneath Chernobyl’s fictionalised reality is strongly political, as a critique of the former USSR misinformation and power games, the soundtrack does not contain any hidden or subliminal messages on the subject, it just creates an atmosphere.
With her approach based on field recording, Hildur moves further from her predecessor, Kraftwerk, who were the first musical artists to raise the flag about the danger of radioactivity controlled by humans with their seminal track Radioactivity (1975). Hildur’s soundscaping is done exclusively on a real decommissioned nuclear power plant in Lithuania. So, what Hildur does may be seen as a nuclear audio ecology. After recording the actual sounds, walking in kilometers of concrete corridors, the composer heavily modified them, working on the score as the crew went on filming the miniseries.
Haunting and eerie, the results of Hildur's audio manipulation are originated by dark ambient atmospheres, lush but still dark. The young composer talked about the whole process of adding and subtracting nuances of her raw field-recordings, re-creating the personality of the original and massive building with pipes all over. The only human sounds on the records are some weirdly arranged choirs and a classical piece written for piano, cello and voices, called Liour (Chernobyl Version).
Hildur Guðnadóttir also uses the randomly clicking sounds of the dosimeters (used to measure the intensity of the nuclear radiation), pulsating like a quasar in rapid bursts, which add much tension to the motion picture, and she knows precisely when to use them.
The soundtrack of Chernobyl was released by one of the oldest record labels in existence, Deutsche Grammophon. You can buy the soundtrack here.
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