Friday, June 25, 2010

1 million views: Crooked (Orcus) Rot

Huzzah! The YouTube presentation of Crooked (Orcus) Rot has just reached over 1,000,000 views. I'm pretty sure that's the biggest (accumulated) audience I've ever had. Crooked (Orcus) Rot is a stop motion film by David Firth, for which I composed the music and sound design. It is also, according to The Daily Telegraph, "the 2nd creepiest thing on the internet".

David Firth is a talented English young man who shot to internet stardom around 2005 at the age of 22 with entertaining yet disturbing flash cartoons such as Salad Fingers and Spoilsbury Toast Boy. His sensibilities often call to mind the work of David Lynch and Tim Burton, but still he manages to sustain a personal artistic voice very much his own.

Crooked (Orcus) Rot is an amazing little short, which actually made it quite difficult for me to score. The fact that I instantly fell in love with it really raised the bar for me; I really wanted to do it justice and find the kind of music and sound design that fit the images perfectly -- supporting them and never getting in the way. The fact that the film itself is very much a kind of 'visual music' prompted a need for a specific kind of score.

The soundtrack is quite abstract compared to "conventional" music. No discernible themes, melodies, etc. -- I opted for a feverish atonal and timbre-driven score, attempting to erase the borders between music and sound design -- and thus the score hopefully fuses quite naturally with the film itself. My ambition was for the soundtrack to be a natural, organic continuation of the film, instead of just being a musical accompaniment running parallel to the it.

As for the overall sound design of the film, Firth provided the voices and foley effects (the physical sounds such as wheels spinning, a cigarette being lit, typing on the computer keyboard etc.) while I provided the more abstract sound design (intro sequence weirdness, the wobbling halo, sparks of electricity etc).

The great animator Peter Chung once said that "...animation is the creation of the illusion of spontaneity (...) because nothing is in fact less spontaneous than the process of animating." I think this is also very appropriate for the kind of soundtrack I created for this film; the aim was to produce a natural flow that feels effortless, when in fact it was long, hard, frustrating work to arrive at a result that felt "right". In the end I was pleased with my efforts, and to my great satisfaction Firth was very enthusiastic about the finished score. I hope you enjoy it too, and I urge you to check out Firth's site for more amazing and disturbing cartoons.

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