There are a few ways to approach the question of what separates “regular” music from something that could suit a soundtrack to a film. The first way is to look back to some of the greats like John Barry, or John Williams, responsible for countless soundtracks for film and TV. There’s something epic and larger than life, almost silly in the theatricality and instant mood setting quality of the composition.
Or you could look at the musicians who write filmic music, as their creation of a sonic landscape encourages a story to emerge. You get lost in it, and they don’t save you after three minutes.
And then there are musicians who have realized that making a song that could be used in a TV show or advertisement is not only lucrative, but gets their music in front of a lot of people.
Kan Wakan was formed by composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Gueorgui I. Linev. He added Kristianne Bautista and Peter Potyondy, and the sound evolved. The new album Moving On is well produced; a skillful crafting of orchestral sounds (was that a French horn?) merges with the jazz lounge inflected vocals. Yet it’s a strange mix. Is it ambient jazz-pop music? Is it an orchestra backing another smoky LA film noir songstress?
There isn’t a star focus here. Instead, the music has so much happening, so many different sounds and effects, that the vocals form more a part of the whole, rather than standing out on their own. It’s a large swirling confection. Moods are created with some care, though there is the risk that if one throws too many elements together then they tend to cancel each other out. It’s experimental at the best of times; distracting at others.
Forever Found combines the sultry vocals of Lana Del Rey with a dash of the 80s pop feel of Tanita Tikaram, on a bed of strings of a late night movie, finished with a spacy synth background reduction and a gentle by the fireside guitar garnish. This sets the tone for the album. It’s all very sophisticated. We recommend business attire or smart casual wear.
Moving On has bright keyboards to start, a jazzy feel. Strings. The keyboard motif continues, while the background has a hint of the meaningful moments in a 70s police drama. The end is slightly Eurovision meets Shaft.
Like I Need You is the next single, apparently. Beginning with drums, it has that late night lounge voice “gonna make you realize, gonna make you understand”. It all builds to a big sound. Strings and ambient atmosphere.
Clear Divide has a moody start. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Miami Vice and Vangelis at moments. The treated vocals blend in at first, then take center stage in a silence that becomes echoing sound and piano notes. Universe expanding ending.
Midnight Moon Part 2 has live sounding piano echoed from side to side. Vaguely space synth joins the party before jazzy drums and saxophone turn up. Bluesy guitar sneaks in, in case you weren’t sure you were supposed to feel sad by the end. No vocals.
Someone bitter or wise tweeted a while ago that it hardly matters what music sounds like any more as all it’s meant to do is be easily interrupted by ads. Now we can have music that goes one better, delivering a crafted sound that segues smoothly between background to life and heartfelt moments on screen, whether plot or product driven. It’s an interesting development, and we will no doubt see more of it.