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Our Frankenstein Playlist

24th May 2024 by Lauren Randall

A crucial part of bringing our recent adaptation of Frankenstein to life was creating a world and an atmosphere that enveloped the audience – from the set projections and lighting to the music and the soundscapes. We were privileged to work with the brilliant James Hamilton (Composer and Co-Sound Designer) and Rory Howson (Co-Sound Designer and Technical Manager and Audio Engineer on Tour) on the latter, which also included excerpts of Gustav Mahler’s song cycle Kindertotenlieder (1904), or Songs on the Death of Children, to backdrop movement sections in the piece. The duo also put their heads together to curate and collate a playlist of instrumental pieces to be played pre-show, interval and post-show, helping us build our world before the curtain rose and keeping audiences in the space of the production after it came down. 

Now available to share with our audiences, you can listen to Rory and James’ selection right here: Frankenstein Pre-Show Playlist on Spotify

Find out more about the tracks and the reasons for selecting them below.

Track List:

La Damoiselle Élue – Víkingur Ólafsson & Hania Rani
Storm – Hania Rani
Day 4: Fox Tracks – Ludovico Einaudi & Federico Mecozzi 
Woven Song (Piano Reworks) – Ólafur Arnalds & Hania Rani
A Shimmer – Nils Frahm
Day 4: Full Moon – Ludovico Einaudi & Federico Mecozzi
Loom (Piano Reworks) – Ólafur Arnalds & Eydís Evensen
Struggle – Hania Rani 
L’entretien Des Muses – Víkingur Ólafsson & Hugar
Öldurót (feat. Atli Örvarsson & SinfoniaNord) – Ólafur Arnalds 
Day 7: A Sense Of Symmetry – Ludovico Einaudi
The Haunted Victorian Pencil – A Winged Victory For The Sullen
Still / Sound (Piano Reworks) – Ólafur Arnalds & Sophie Hutchings
Mountains – Hania Rani
Undone – Ólafur Arnalds & Magnús Jóhann
Only The Winds – Ólafur Arnalds
Atomos lll – A Winged Victory For The Sullen
Reflection: l. Reflection – Víkingur Ólafsson
All Farewells Are Sudden – A Winged Victory For The Sullen

Frankenstein Rehearsals at Leeds Playhouse. Rory (top left) and James (top right) enjoying a laugh with Andrew Crofts (bottom right) and Simon Wainwright (bottom left). Photo by Ed Waring.

Rory Howson, on the inspiration behind the choices:

‘Prior to going into the creation and rehearsal process, James and I had been in touch a little about what kind of vibe and world we felt we wanted to explore in terms of our design. Part of this was sharing what we had been listening to or watching and what we felt around the Mahler pieces [included in the production] and current version of the script. The things that we were looking to draw on and would no doubt play some influence on how we approached the design.

‘All the artists featured on the playlist are ones I was already aware of, a fan of and listening to on a regular basis. Ólafur Arnalds being a standout one for both James and I, given the genius composer and artist he is. However, I personally find all these artists utterly incredible, and I had been drawn to them for Frankenstein as within their music they really play with subtlety – the minutia details created within the instruments and performance, textural sounds and, at times, the almost haunting undertone that comes with some of their pieces.

‘Many of these artists also play with high gain structures, which creates another almost white noise element to their music, while some play with their environment, making recordings outside or capturing the sounds from particular places. For me, these elements fed into what I imagined that Frankenstein world to be: the overall unease at what was being created, the heightened sense of hearing when on and surrounded by ice and snow, the stillness that can bring but then also the fine textures of snow and ice even in the bombardment of winds and gusts. That tension that comes with those haunting undertones and then also the sense of movement and development. They also fed into the narrative thread of the couple for me, this idea of them listening to thought-provoking and unsettling music whilst sat considering the world and what it is to bring life into that world. Almost a sonic picture of potential thought processes in those moments, I guess.

‘As for specific songs or general further specifics, I primarily went for those tracks or album concepts that stood out to me when I first heard them and then resonated with the Frankenstein we had been and were exploring.

‘I wanted to feature tracks from Ludovico Einaudi’s ‘7 Days Walking’ as I loved the concept for these albums as well as the tracks. It’s a series of seven albums over seven months, all of which focus on a different day of the same walk in the Alps and how the days change and details on those walks change or new things are discovered. 

‘Although only one track, ‘Öldurót’, I had to get something from Ólafur Arnalds’ ‘Island Songs’ into the playlist and I just love this track. The album was recorded across Iceland with various different artists and people that Arnalds chose to collaborate with. There are recordings in local churches, with choirs, teachers and poets, etc. featuring on these tracks. It’s a journey and a concept I love, and I think it sits well with our Frankenstein. I did feature a few Ólafur Arnalds tracks in the playlist, which I would argue needs no justification whatsoever and I won’t go into details of each, but I will mention one more. I chose ‘Only The Winds’ from ‘For Now I am Winter’ because I know it’s James’ favourite album of his and because it’s an incredible and beautiful track, not to mention the rather fitting album and track titles.

‘I chose Hania Rani songs from ‘On Giacometti’ as the album is simply genius and so fitting to the Frankenstein world we were diving into. The album is stunning and the few songs I chose, I think, are awesome and really speak to our Frankenstein. Rani’s album was written in winter in the Swiss mountains whilst working on the score for a film about Alberto Giacometti. I mean, it couldn’t be more fitting really, given the environment in which it was written and, in some ways, the subject matter too. Rani described the album as dealing with themes of ghosts and spirits and the moments between life and death, again all of which seemed rather fitting. I rest my case.’

Indeed. Our Co-Artistic Director and show creator, Andrew Quick loved the selection so much that he asked for it to be played at the end of the show as well. It’s also been the soundtrack to some of our working days too…even if we do find ourselves getting lost in ‘these sublime and magnificent scenes’ of Shelley’s writing all over again.

Frankenstein Production Photo by Ed Waring.

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