Eerie, dissonant, double stops in the strings begin to the closing credits of Flesh and Bone, a score written by Breaking Bad and Blacklist composer Dave Porter. Building upon a motif of scalic patterns, the mystery of STARZ’s new show is echoed throughout the running time of Porter’s unnerving score.
Flesh and Bone details the gritty underworld of professional ballet, following a young dancer, Claire as she joins a prestigious New York City ballet company, and becomes entangled within the allure and darkness of the ballet world. Claire’s self-destructive tendencies amidst her vaulting ambitions drive her in compelling and unforeseeable ways, especially when confronted with the machinations of the company’s mercurial Artistic Director and an unwelcome visitor from her past.
Stretching out the tension through increasing volume and accumulation of instruments, it sees the first track of ‘Meet Claire’ emerge accompanied by a percussive pulse that drives the suspense of this gritty thriller. An orchestra tuning at the end of the track creates an introductory to the performative nature of the TV series. It is very much led by deep cello lyrical melodies, which drones and penetrates with richness, creating a classical orchestral sound alongside Porter’s modern take – reflecting both the dysfunction and glamour of professional ballet.
And whilst Porter’s intentions to retain the basics of orchestral instruments captures the essence of this classic dance, he embraces its atmospheric qualities – allowing sounds to reverberate and take a darker turn. This differing exoticness is heard in ‘Strip Club Sights’, where the electronic resonance creates a spine-chilling emptiness, further exemplified by the sparseness of the piano in ‘Walk of Pain’. A high-pitched dissonance interrupts this seemingly peaceful yet spare chordal progression, fabricating a much more complex and almost perturbed tone – cumulated in one of the most dissonant pieces ‘Glass Slippers’.
Porter’s amalgamation of electronic and classical instruments ensures his score remains distorted and mystifying, encompassing convoluted and tangled layers. For a television score, Porter doesn’t step back and truly impresses – charging this drama with discordant energy and an enigmatic tone. -DZ
Flesh and Bone is out now from Varese Sarabande