Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer (Archenemy, Some Kind Of Hate), the new psychological thriller ‘Daniel Isn’t Real’ sees Luke (Miles Robbins) resurrect his imaginary childhood friend Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger) in an attempt to cope with the reality of a violent family trauma. Now a college freshman, Daniel isn’t the innocent and friendly face Luke remembers…

‘Daniel Isn’t Real’s soundtrack was composed by Brighton-based artist Clark, responsible for scores behind ‘The Last Panthers’ (starring Samantha Morton and John Hurt), ‘Rellik’ and Channel 4’s ‘Kiri’ (starring Sarah Lancashire). Already renowned for his captivating film compositions, Clark’s latest project sees him exploring dark and twisted sounds, with a vision for the soundtrack nothing short of terrifying.

“I like how dark and unusual some of the harmony is. There’s an energy and diversity. It’s a continuation of my experiments with acoustic instruments like on ‘Body Riddle’ and ‘Iradelphic’. Bernard Hermann, Oizo and Thelonious Monk are also in the mix somewhere. All of this stuff is like gobbling up as many musical resources as I can and metabolising it into new Clark gear.”

Clark
Clark (Photo by Joao Paglione/Future Music Magazine/Future via Getty Images)

Originally composing the music through MIDI, Clark utilises classic horror instrumentation to help the soundtrack slowly creep into the viewers consciousness and inject the eerie ambience straight into their veins. Taking influence from orchestral scores and working with the East/West Orchestra in Budapest, Clark later replaces his MIDI tracks with real cello, viola and double bass recordings.

“I’ve had no formal education in music and am largely self-taught, so have a mild sense of being an outsider / imposter. But I have strong intuitions that lead me places. ‘Isolation Theme’ is one of my first investigations into more complex harmony, using tonal centres that constantly shift and dissolve in an emotionally engaging way. I composed this as a four-part harmony, slowly going out of phase and building. Spiky angular motifs played with widescreen orchestral textures really became vital to the musical identity of the film. It was magical hearing it played in the room by the orchestra in Budapest. I’d love to perform this live, with more players…hearing it played by real humans after you have concocted the geometry in a theoretical space on a score, that moment of waiting to hear it come alive is thrilling.”

Clark

Clark’s 20-track score for the film includes three new bonus tracks, ‘Creel Etude’, Amor’ (C.B. Rework) and the Thom Yorke remix of ‘Isolation Theme’.

I started working on ‘Daniel Isn’t Real’ around the time I was asked to remix Thom’s track ‘Not The News’, so it has a neat circularity closing the expanded edition of the score with him remixing me. I was surprised how well the midi translated to his remix. He got such a good pure electronic tone out of it. It amazes me how simple note information, if it has a nice shape, can transmit to multiple voicings.”

Clark
Thom Yorke (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

After collaborating with one another, Yorke’s dark compositional talents proved tailor-made for Clark’s horror score. Heavily focusing on the ambience of the song, Yorke projects the dooming feeling experienced at the start of lockdown, capturing the sound that a new kind of fear instils in us.

I took Clark’s score of ‘Isolation Theme’ and simply made it feel like the moment we were entering; being told to stay indoors, entering a new type of silence. I guess I simplified it in a way, into waveforms that were being disrupted. I was surprised how frightening it became”

Thom Yorke

The score certainly captures a gut-wrenching aura of terror and experimentation, leaving you looking over your shoulders and under your beds. Self-describing the fear-inducing tracks, Clark likens the music to, “a clown about to ruin someone’s 5th birthday party, whimsical and unassuming in contrast to galvanising strident synth action, a primitive motif of pure minor sadness, gabba, thrash metal and daffodils”. 

Listen to the adrenaline inducing ‘Isolation Theme’ below. 

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