Well this is a bit special. The soundtrack to Béla Tarr’s 1994 cinematic masterpiece Sátántangó is a quiet marvel, a haunting well of death knell bleakness and aching accordions by Mihály Víg - a go-to guy for the sparing but vital musical accompaniments to Tarr’s peerless body of work.
Béla Tarr based his immersive seven-hour film "Sátántangó" on László Krasznahorkai's postmodernist novel, famously filming every moment in the book. For the soundtrack, Tarr's regular collaborator Vig - who also plays a lead character in the film and wrote elements of the screenplay - composed themes that appear sporadically to punctuate the long, ponderous takes told in 12-parts thru Tarr’s signature style of lingering, glacial movement in black and white. Víg’s score inseparably gilds some of its most haunting and devastatingly beautiful scenes, his music as elusive yet poetically portent as the lead role he also portrays; the false prophet Irimiás. Trust that last fact hits hard when one joins the dots, and only lends extra gravitas to the unforgettable imagery and epochal story
Víg’s work here is a mix of diegetic sound, including the ring of church bells drifting over muddy flatlands, which bookend the film and this LP, as well as accordions, as used to “carnivalesque” effect in the film’s pivotal pub scenes shown from multiple perspectives, while also providing its non-diegetic, melancholic motifs that colour and connect the rest of the movie. The accordions directly link to the film’s eponymous “tangó”, following the scheme of going six moves forward, then six back. Their sustained, harmonic wheeze accentuates the melancholic register and softens the harder edges of the imagery, and comes to reflect the village’s knackered industry while literally breathing life into scenes to leave a deep impression that oozes forth from this record, whether you’ve seen the film or not.
The soundtrack's most synapse-frying moments are when he works with church bells, contorting the familiar, haunted chimes - a far cry from relatively upbeat British change ringing styles - into doomy dark ambience. 'Harang II' concludes the set, and sounds almost like Thomas Köner as chimes swerve thru extended reverb trails and high rings echo in the distance.
Fixating, resonant, highly moving music from one the greats of our time.