In all my years of reviewing, it’s surprising to me that I’ve never reviewed a soundtrack before. And this is no small-time indie flick soundtrack, this is a syndicated Netflix show, available to millions of viewers around the globe. You can’t get much greater exposure than that! Admittedly though, the show is in Swedish and was given very little fanfare internationally when it debuted on 5th May this year.
Clark follows the story of a certain Clark Olofsson, apparently Sweden’s most notorious gangster, who gave rise to the phrase “Stockholm Syndrome”. This is not your typical Scandi-noir show, however, interspersing crime vignettes from Oloffson’s life with varied, fast-paced storytelling involving animation, grainy footage, newspaper headlines and other disparate film-making styles. This combines to make the show a deliriously heady experience, and it requires a slick and disparate soundtrack to accompany it. Enter Mikael Åkerfeldt.
I really had no idea what a soundtrack by the Opeth leader could possibly sound like, but I couldn’t have possibly expected the 34-track collection of miniature themes that push in all directions of the musical genre compass from haunting prog-jazz in Libertine Theme to tango in Tango Bizarre to funk in Druglord Panic. And that’s just the first three songs!
As expected in a soundtrack, this is a mostly instrumental affair and Åkerfeldt keeps things smooth throughout this varied journey. The songs are never meant to overpower what is happening on-screen so it’s interesting to hear this laid-back side of Åkerfeldt. It’s clear that he had a whale of a time making this soundtrack, with everything but the kitchen sink thrown into the production; we even hear some Middle Eastern influences on La Shay’ Jadid Taht Alshams. To a prog fan’s delight, however, Åkerfeldt often returns to classic prog instruments, making heavy use of keyboard effects such as the Mellotron.
With nearly three dozen tracks to contend with, it’s only natural that some rise to the top and others are less inspiring – any offenders, however, are invariably short and far between. And then there are some great prog workouts like The Hunted Are in the Clear that feature exciting interplay between drums, guitar and keyboard proving, like Goblin did 50 years ago with Dario Argento, that prog can have a place in soundtracks.
Although Åkerfeldt’s tracks are very short, the show’s fast editing chops them down even further, sometimes only using a few seconds of a theme at a time. It’s good, then, that this soundtrack album exists so that one can spend a few minutes at a time enjoying each theme fully. While the show’s mood is tense and fast-paced, Åkerfeldt’s score is anything but; this is a groovy, chill album that you could put on as easy listening, but still offers the occasional prog thrill. Let’s hope that he makes many more soundtracks in the near future!
01. Libertine Theme (1:54)
02. Tango Bizarre (1:48)
03. Druglord Panic (2:33)
04. Rockefellers (2:36)
05. Vintage Modern (3:34)
06. Wish You Were There (2:51)
07. The Weak Heart (2:12)
08. Happiness (2:21)
09. Ode to Confusion in A Minor (2:57)
10. La Shay’ Jadid Taht Alshams (2:19)
11. The Real Me (1:37)
12. Here’s That Sunny Day (3:00)
13. Perfect Horizon (1:56)
14. Sea Slumber (2:37)
15. Then (1:47)
16. The Hunted Are in the Clear (2:07)
17. Northern Hemispheres (2:22)
18. Ordinary Folks (2:57)
19. Distant Spring (1:57)
20. Funky Chicken (2:16)
21. Code to the Vault (1:55)
22. Two Mermaids (1:05)
23. Rags to Riches (1:31)
24. Sunrise (2:14)
25. Red & White (1:50)
26. Headfirst Into the Storm (2:42)
27. Ballad of the Libertine in G Minor (3:55)
28. Lost in San Marino (2:16)
29. Rhodes Rat (2:15)
30. Måndag i Stockholm (2:08)
31. Mother of One (3:18)
32. Vielleicht Später (1:49)
33. Battle for Love (2:09)
34. Night Life (2:19)
Total Time – 79:07
No Info, presumably much of it by Mikael Åkerfeldt
Record Label: InsideOut Music
Country of Origin: Sweden
Date of Release: 5th May 2022 (Digital), 22nd July 2022 (Physical)