image for Echoic Audio's composition takes centre stage

Echoic Audio's composition takes centre stage

Published on Friday, 10th May 2019, contributed by Carolyn Hair - Freelance Digital Marketing
Bristol-based Echoic Audio is proud to have composed the main titles for the legendary international festival for creatives, OFFF Barcelona. The intense score was perfectly matched to the director, Chris Bjerre’s haunting meditation on the creative process.
The film is set in a parallel universe and explores the transformation of nature and human life when the power grid collapses. The title sequence is a reflection on the creative path, which often involves a period of discomfort in order to evolve and grow. Echoic’s score begins with dark and brooding textures and builds to an emotive orchestral climax that symbolises the re-emergence of human life from the scraps of civilisation.
The award-winning music and sound design studio’s approach was to record a distinctive palette of sounds, both musical and atonal, to give the piece a stylised character. Lo-fi techniques were utilised throughout to represent the decaying world in which the viewers are immersed.
Watch the film here:
David Johnston, co-founder of Echoic, said:
“It was an incredible honour to work with long-time collaborator and hugely talented director, Chris Bjerre on the main titles for the legendary OFFF Festival in Barcelona.
“We’re proud to have created this slow-building meditative score to complement the director’s narrative vision. The progression starts with evolving electrical textures, bass hits and delicate piano referencing the demise of power sources and the melody begins as life starts to mutate and evolve. Finally, as we see the transformation of humanity, beautiful soaring strings build to a powerful crescendo.”
Nathalie Koutia, OFFF Communications Director, noted the emotional intensity of the piece: “No exaggeration, it made me cry like a baby."
Director, Chris Bjerre commented:
 “The Echoic team have been great collaborators over the past four years. They have been great at exploring different styles and are always open for experimentation.”
The process of composition
An experimental combination of orchestral music, double bass, vocals and sound design techniques creates an emotional journey for the viewer from drones and distortion to soaring strings.
For emotional resonance, strings were critical to the piece, and the string quartet was composed in-house and then re-recorded live at Invada Studios in Bristol. In addition, Echoic created a suite of experimental string sounds to use as builds and transitions throughout the piece, including ricochets and group portamentos.
Modular & Sound Design
Drones, electrical and metallic textures and low-end hits were all created from sessions at Elevator Sounds in Bristol. Plucked impacts, using a real spring reverb, can also be heard along with a set of impacts and low-frequency modulations, created with the Novation Bass Station 2 and Korg Minilogue.
Distorted elements are used throughout to represent the broken infrastructure and dysfunctional electricity. Guitar and lap harp strings were recorded using an EBow, which resulted in perpetual drone sounds and harmonic distortions. These sounds were mutated further using guitar pedals such as the Particle Panda and old school effects rack, the Eventide H3000 SE.
Double Bass
The final section of the composition uses a double bass to add weight, warmth and increased significance to the melody line. This was recorded on an acoustic upright with a range of mics, plus a pass with a Barcus Berry contact mic and finally on a stick bass. A combination of all three passes was used in the final mix.
The choir that swells and builds to an emotional crescendo towards the end of the piece was all recorded by Echoic’s composer and vocalist Kambiz Aghdam. A simple combination of multi-tracking and harmonising was used alongside reverbs such as the Black Hole and Michael Norris Freeze. Recordings were not heavily edited leaving breaths and unwanted vocalisations in to add human character to the piece.
To listen to the different components from the OFFF main titles, visit Echoic Audio's website