• Ben Erickson

The Girl in the Spider's Web

The Girl in the Spider's Web is a soft-reboot based on the novel by Daivd Lagercrantz, picking up the story of Lisbeth Salander (brought to life by the inimitable Claire Foy), an icon of female retribution that opposes the ugly realities of the world. Composer Roque Baños reunited with director Fede Álvarez for the project, working previously together on the 2013 Evil Dead and 2016 Don't Breathe. The director is even credited on the soundtrack album for performing a piano arrangement of Lisbeth's theme, suggestion he was very involved in the creation of the score. The Synchron Stage Orchestra must be half the size of that of a typical Hollywood orchestra, and yet, despite this apparent disadvantage, Baños' music has more to say than any other score produced this year. An eclectic amalgam of techno beats, cybernetic sound effects, and ferocious growls are met with by stark violins, discordant horn crescendos, cool vocals, reflective piano triads, and refreshingly engaging and varied percussion. Of special interest is a bowing technique used by the celli to represent Lisbeth's fraying relationship with her sister (jeté stroke) wherein the performer throws the bow and allows it to bounce several times across the strings. It was completely by fortune that a visit from my aunt brought us to the theatre and I heard this score. I had not even considered reviewing it beforehand, but on seeing the film I instantly realized I had to make time for this music. I kid you not, it is the most outstanding score I have heard this year. Every choice was informed by the film and it makes such a difference. The music was not just there for show. It spoke to every aspect of Lisbeth's life; her club havens, her computer hacking capabilities, her stoic Russian heritage, her relationships, pleading outbursts to counter her curbed emotions, the thrill of the dangerous situations she inadvertently finds herself in... the music speaks to it all. It is the ultimate union of innovation, intention, and accessibility, and its success has been no small reminder for me to keep an eye out for Baños.