Featuring Hugo Weaving singing Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
Chris Abrahams (pianist and one third of The Necks) has proven his sonic mastery once again with the creation of a beautiful, minimalist and evocative soundtrack for the new Australian film by writer/director Jonathan Ogilvie, The Tender Hook. A stunning piece of compositional work that elegantly melds acoustic instrumentation with electronic sampling, The Tender Hook soundtrack carries all the hallmarks of Abrahams’ mesmerising sound.
The Tender Hook is set in 1920s Sydney – a time when the fledgling city was undergoing immense change – the Sydney Harbour Bridge was being built, political parties were forming, and underworld crime had a powerful grip on the city. Femme fatal Iris (Rose Byrne), underworld figure McHeath (Hugo Weaving) and aspiring boxer Art (Matt Le Nevez) fight it out in the nightclubs, docksides and boxing rings of a wild jazz age.
“Rather than being a re-creation of Australia’s past, The Tender Hook is, to use a Miles Davis-ism, a yester-now tale. Its a film that is complicit with the fact that it is made in 2007 but uses icons of the 20’s in a playful sort of way like using archival footage and mixing our characters into that,” says Jonathan Ogilvie.
This anachronistic approach is most explicit when Hugo Weaving’s character sings dark ragtime arrangements of Leonard Cohen’s ‘I’m Your Man’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ (the two vocal tracks on the soundtrack).
“Jonathan and I decided very early on that the music should not be welded to the period. Nor should the music be overtly ‘jazz’ based. To attempt a Marvin Hamlisch style, Scott Joplin-esque aesthetic, would have detracted from the film’s realism and it’s setting in pre-Harbour Bridge Sydney. This is not to say that I wasn’t influenced by the film’s time period but overall it has a more post-rock, folk sound.
Some of the tracks use the instrumentation of the era – banjo, trumpet, bass, piano and drums but I also augmented it with a lot of electronics – samples and synthesisers,” explains Abrahams.
Abrahams’ gentle artistry and diverse range is evident in the shimmering quality of tracks like ‘After The Bridge’, the ebb and flow of ‘Tender Hook Theme’, the lilting melancholy of ‘The Iris Label’ or the twin reflections of ‘Bolshie’ and ‘First Fight’ that sit alongside a myriad haunting vignettes.
The Tender Hook Soundtrack features musicians: Chris Abrahams, Tony Buck, Jonathan Zwartz, Hamish Stuart, Todd Hardy, Carl Dewhurst and Phil Slater.
The Tender Hook starring Hugo Weaving, Rose Byrne, Matt Le Nevez and Pia Miranda is in cinemas nationally Sept 18 (ICON films).