Now streaming across the US, exclusively on HBO, Slipping Into Darkness is an award winning short film that highlights the perpetual cycle of many Latin-Americans who ultimately fall into generational incarceration. The picture features an original score from LA artist and composer Paul Zambrano, and it’s easy to hear why this music made so much sense as an accompaniment and enhancement for the topics and emotions portrayed in the film.
Presenting six original compositions, the Zambrano score takes listeners on a finely tuned, expressive and captivating journey, placing them right beside the characters of the story, inflicting a sense of realness and thus igniting powerful empathy, which stays with you long after the experience comes to an end.
The eerie quietness of each piece allows the moment to fully envelop the listener. Though each offering is brief, the attention to detail, these waves of intensity and juxtaposing calm, create a much greater sense of depth and intention. From Visiting Dad, through Choices to Real Paper, the transitions are seamless, and the story rightfully builds and compels increasingly along the way.
Then we get to the true darkness and terror of the lifestyles in question, as the drama and industrial weight of Deception strikes with unapologetic ferocity. This gritty and chaotic, unsettling composition marks an immense change in mood and direction, depicting a moment in the film that’s impossible to ignore.
Flashback follows with more of the same darkness, alongside sudden hits of fear and unease that reverberate to fully create a feeling of being trapped between realms. Zambrano’s skill as a composer is incredibly impressive throughout this project, but his meticulous sound design really begins to peak during this latter half. The sheer fusion of notes and effects, the contrast between subtlety and fierce blatancy, is immense.
The Slip and The Darkness continue to enthral, holding your attention with faultless certainty, furthering the connection between the audience and the real-life characters portrayed in the story. A throbbing rhythm section helps really separate the latter of these two for a sudden moment of deeply unsettling threat and dread. The cinematic power is undeniably on point for these final audio moments in such a poignant film. Only when the credits arrive is there a brief moment of melodic pause and acoustic calm – a cleverly presented moment to reflect on all that came to pass.
Whether you’re able to watch the film or not, the skill and professionalism of this score from Paul Zambrano delivers perhaps one of the most intriguing and mesmerising creative soundtracks to emerge in recent years. Clearly a name we’re likely to be hearing more from in the near future.
Stories that need to be heard can, more often than not, benefit immeasurably from accompanying music that effectively bridges the gap between the narrative and an otherwise disconnected audience. That’s precisely what Zambrano has achieved with this project.