Dubois Records releases a soundtrack album for the BBC and Netflix limited series The Serpent.
The album features selections of the show’s original music composed by Dominik Scherrer who has worked on The Missing, Primeval, Ripper Street, The Widow, and Requiem.
The Serpent is developed by Tom Shankland & Richard Warlow and stars Tahar Ramin, Jenna Coleman, Billy Howle, Mathilde Warnier, Ellie Bamber, Alice Englert, Gregoire Isvarine, Sahajak Boonthanakit and Fabien Frankel. The 8-part drama tells the true story of Charles Sobhraj, a murderer, thief and seductive master of disguise, who was the the chief suspect in the unsolved murders of up to 20 young Western travelers on Asia’s hippie trail in the mid-70s.
The Mammoth Screen production currently airs in the UK every Sunday night on BBC One and will premiere worldwide on Netflix later this year.
“This is a real story: a very fascinating one, but also an extremely disturbing and frightening one. The victims were real, and some of the characters are still alive. The material needed to be treated with respect and sensationalism avoided,” said composer Dominik Scherrer on his inspiration for scoring the serial killer drama.
Lead director Tom Shankland and I already discussed this project five years ago. It had been in preparation for a long time. In terms of the music, Tom wanted the story to be told through a haze of psychedelic 1970s upheaval: drugs, ruthless politics, the old world order changed,” continued Scherrer.
For a story set in the 70s, it would have been all too easy to resort to cliches such as funky Wah-wah guitars. We wanted the music to live in this tumultuous, cultural restlessness, and to create an environment, where Sobhraj’s brutality could breed, and go undetected for so long.
Charles Sobhraj was an admirer of Nietzsche, dominating and subjugating his victims, as if he saw himself perhaps as the superior ‘Ubermensch’. I was keen to infuse the musical strands with a kind of Zarathustran drive to banish otherworldly values. The young hippies were in search of these otherworldly values, they wanted to explore the teachings of Eastern spirituality, and Sobhraj put a brutal end to their journeys.
In the 1970s, composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass started to draw influence from Asian music. Their study of southeast Asian music, such as gamelan, on its subsequent influence on Western minimalism was an inspiration for the score of The Serpent. Their music felt forward-thinking, which was important as we wanted to avoid the notion of ‘retro’ throughout the score. ‘Retro’ would have resulted in cosy nostalgia, the opposite of what we wanted.
“Score recording took part in London and Bangkok, where most of the filming took place as well. At Karma Sound Studios, some of the country’s finest singers and instrumentalists played gongs, ranat ek (Thai marimba), phin (Thai mandolin), khaen (Thai harmonica), together with a Western line-up, and myself on piano in the same room. Other solos were simply recorded in Bangkok hotel rooms. The idea was not to pursue ethnic authenticity, but to evoke the aforementioned cultural tumult clashing with the kind of eastern spirituality as explored by George Harrison and John Lennon.”
“Another influence were the new developments in advanced synthesis, which in the mid 1970s was seen a major new avenue in music creation and performance. In the early 70s, a huge, room-filling modular synthesiser called “Tonto” was built and musicians created extraordinary sounds with what is still now the largest polyphonic analogue synth ever built. It was subsequently used by Steve Wonder and Michael Jackson. It still exists, and our synth programmer Stephan Baer, who happened to use the same technician who also serviced ‘Tonto’, managed to recreate patches of that synth, which contribute to the sound of “The Serpent” with unexpected and brutal elements.”
Sight & Sound said, “Dominik Scherrer’s marvellous score, a riot of analogue synths and percussion drawing on exploitation movie soundtracks of yore to intoxicating effect, and adding just a hint of illicit viewing pleasure to spice up the schedules.”
About Dominik Scherrer:
Dominik Scherrer has created award-winning music for some of the finest film and television dramas in recent years. He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for the critically-acclaimed series The Missing, and recently won his second Ivor Novello Award for his score on Netflix’s Requiem, which he co-composed with Natasha Khan, aka Bat for Lashes.
Dominik first won the prestigious British Ivor Novello Award and received a Royal Television Society (RTS) nomination for his riveting score on Ripper Street. He earned two additional Ivor Novello nominations for Amazon’s The Collection and the British crime series Agatha Christie’s Marple.
Dominik recently reunited with the Williams brothers to score Amazon’s thriller series The Widow, starring Kate Beckinsale. He also scored the landmark dramas An Inspector Calls and Monroe.
Equally accomplished in film scoring, Dominik’s credits include The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz for which Dominik won the Best Music Award at Spain’s Estapona Film Festival; Alice Through The Looking Glass starring Kate Beckinsale; Alina Marazzi’s Tutto Parla Di Te (All About You); and Scenes of a Sexual Naturestarring Ewan McGregor and Hugh Bonneville. He scored Appetitestarring Ute Lemper, and wrote the film’s title song which reached No. 2 on the UK classical charts.
Dominik also created, directed and composed the kinetic operaHell for Leather, which premiered at Sundance and won 10 awards on the festival circuit.
In addition to scoring film and TV, he produces sound design and composes for fine art installations – most notably for artist Suki Chan – and creates performance music for theatre.
Dominik is a British-Swiss composer and works from his studio in London.
1. He likes to Escape (1:50)
2. State of Flux (2:46)
3. Herman in the Rain (1:14)
4. Drive to Kanit House (1:08)
5. Discotheque Darkness (0:29)
6. Teresa Knowlton (3:47)
7. Afghanistan Driving (2:24)
8. Embassy Phone Calls (1:04)
9. Malevolent Beach Game (0:54)
10. Searching Apartment 504 (1:47)
11. Homocidal Übermensch (1:31)
12. Colonel Somphol of Interpol (1:59)
13. Dominique’s Passport (2:51)
14. Gem Dealers (2:42)
15. Front Page News (1:50)
16. Copy Shop (1:08)
17. Cashing Cheques (1:08)
18. Tihar Jail, Delhi (3:02)
19. Epic Journey (2:11)