Sondre Lerche and longtime collaborator producer/performer Kato Ådland, who has also worked with bands such as Röyksopp and Datarock, together have composed an effectively eerie, ambient soundscape for the low-key indie thriller The Sleepwalker. One-third songs, two-thirds score, the soundtrack's tone and sound palette are adhered to so loyally throughout, it plays like a full-length score album, if not a fully instrumental one. Fans of Lerche's Dan in Real Life soundtrack will be surprised to hear that The Sleepwalker has more in common musically with Jerry Goldsmith's Planet of the Apes than with Lerche's prior tuneful, guitar-centric film work, which has also included an original song for Dinner for Schmucks and work in film shorts. Those who can appreciate an appropriately foreboding atmosphere will discover much to admire in the score. It nails "unsettling" via moody dissonance -- such as "Suffocation" with its repetitive, needling guitar and crashing keyboard chords -- peppered with irregular and varied percussion, recognizable instruments (strings, guitar) mixed with unnatural electronic effects, and an inescapable sense of heartbeats and panting. As for the songs, Lerche fans hoping for a vocal appearance are treated to a remix of "You Sure Look Swell" (from 2006's Duper Sessions) that takes the song out of the prom and into the air ducts or maybe our nightmares. He also performs one original song, and it works well as a stand-alone for playlists as well as in context on the soundtrack: the haunting, sexy, and rhythm-driven "Palindromes," which sounds like nothing he's ever done before and is still entirely in his zone. Thematically supporting the film's lead characters (two estranged sisters), female vocalists lead the other three of the soundtrack's five songs. The traditional spiritual "Lord, I Want to Be a Christian," distorted with electronic and percussive noise, is delivered by the elegant Sylvie Lewis, and the wistful, harmony-drenched "Take Everything Back" is sung and co-written (with Ådland-Lerche) by Lewis and Marit Larsen. The Creamer-Layton vaudeville-era tune "After You've Gone" has vocals by Nathalie Nordnes. Morsels of some of the songs appear elsewhere. Most notably, "Sleepwalking #1" has disturbing, punchy electronic effects with a mechanical drone that is visited by and eventually taken over by a melodic guitar callback from "You Sure Look Swell," distorted like a dream. Ultimately, there's something here for score-seekers and song-philes alike. The latter won't want to miss the originals, "Palindromes" and "Take Everything Back." Score aficionados will find The Sleepwalker fits into their 2014 collection alongside the likes of Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor's Gone Girl, Antony Partos' The Rover, and Mica Levi's Under the Skin.
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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson