The intertwining of fiction and music, ah what a beautiful thing. Every Wednesday on Science Fiction Mix Tape I pay homage to the SFF stories hidden inside songs, but today I have a music-story connection of a different kind. Behold, the book soundtrack!
After writing Finch, Jeff VanderMeer commissioned Murder by Death to write a soundtrack. He had listened to their music extensively while writing the novel and felt they could capture the mood perfectly. And oh boy they did.
My only regret is that I didn’t hear about the soundtrack before reading the novel. I would have been the geek who read it with the soundtrack on. Listening to it today as I do robotic freelance work, I am transported to Ambergris. I see Finch, I see people in the streets, fungal formations, grray caps. I see someone pulling a gun. (I see a great deal more of Shriek: An Afterword than I should when listening to a soundtrack for a different book.) Each track on the album is named for a scene, and each captures the mood and then sends the spores of the idea into your house via stereo.
In an interview with At Length Mag, VanderMeer (and Murder by Death) talk about the creation process. Quoth VanderMeer: “I think there’s a very real similarity between novels and music in this respect, which is to say that I think that the listener and the reader bring a lot of their interpretation to it in a way that you can’t with a movie. You can interpret things in a movie, but not in the same way because the images in a movie are already given to you. So you might have lyrics in a song, but they’re suggestive. The listener is still filling in information and bringing their own interpretation, just like when they read a book. So in a way it’s more immersive than a movie but in a different way. Like you say, there’s a long time scale when you read a book as opposed to listening to a piece of music, but they’re both equally immersive if you let them be.”
Amen. Now go listen to the soundtrack: