Radiohead drummer Philip Selway's new album Let Me Go is the soundtrack for the film of the same name.
The record is due out in hard copy October 27 via Bella Union. It will be available digitally from September 15 to coincide with the film's release.
The drama Let Me Go is based on a memoir by Austrian-born Helga Schneider. Helga was just four years old when her mother Traudi walked out, never to return, in order to train as a guard in Germany’s concentration camps.
Helga never knew the truth until, as an adult, she decided to track her mother down in Vienna. She discovered not only the horror of the past, but also Traudi’s unashamedly proud memories of the most notorious camp of all, Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Helga wouldn’t return to Vienna until thirty years later until she learned her mother was dying.
Mirroring the film’s haunted and intimate nature, Selway’s score is grounded in strings and piano, plus sharper guitar and electronics creating a paradoxical sense of beauty and unease.
Selway knew Let Me Go director Polly Steel and co-producer Lizzie Pickering when they sent him the screenplay in 2015.
“I read it, and then Helga’s memoir, and I was completely hooked,” he recalls. “The script had so much depth, and tackled very powerful subjects. Polly and Lizzy wanted their film to stay true to Helga’s past, and to allow me the creative freedom to realise the emotional complexity of her story.”
Having scored a 2014 film, Selway had the form. He initially compiled a mixtape – including Max Richter, Agnes Obel and Melanie De Biasio - to underline the mood he wanted to create.
"I wanted a warmth in there too, because there are humourous sequences in the script, which stopped me from getting too dark,” Selway adds.
The soundtrack was recorded with Nick Moorbath at his Oxford studio Evolution, with string arrangements by Laura Moody. Alongside 11 instrumentals are three ballads, with words by Selway.
‘Walk’ features Lou Rhodes, who also appears in the film’s nightclub scene, singing over an acoustic rendition of the track.
“You can apply the words of ‘Walk’ to any of the female characters,” Selway says. “The four women in the script [including Helga's two daughters] were the starting point."
"Each actress as she was cast also shaped my approach," he adds. "Such as Juliet Stevenson, who plays Helga - I immediately thought of Juliet in Truly Madly Deeply, and Barrington Pheloung’s music for the film."
Pheloung also employed the string-quartet approach.
"The interplay between the instruments was a nice metaphor for the different generations," Selway says.
Selway says the intention of the film was to start a conversation about generational trauma: “I feel that the finished film offers this potential. On a personal note, I’m happy with what I’ve written, and the lessons I’ve learnt in my first soundtrack.”
You can hear the album's title track below.
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