Saunder Jurriaans & Danny Bensi are US composers. They have been evolving in the film music industry as a duo since 2010, after a nine-years career in the psychedelic rock band Priestbird (you can download the nine tracks from their album Beachcombers, 2011, by following this link)

These guys give me faith in the future of music. This may sound a bit melodramatic but it is the truth. Nowadays any amateur producer with any basic technical skills – so long as he knows every aspect of communication can make his way in the music industry where charts, algorithms and market surveys reign supreme and foretell tomorrow’s expectations. Film music is no exception: producers often quite content just to follow the rules, these packaged recipes based on the same drum loops, the same mid-range electronic rhythms, the same string patterns,  the same horn themes, the same American Beauty-dreamy-piano caught in some misty string pedals (the original remains beautiful) but please, nothing that could shock, awake, surprise… Although I don’t know them personally I have the feeling that Saunder Jurriaans and Danny Bensi don’t give a damn whether they fit the market standards or not. They go forward, constantly renewing themselves.

Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans

I began following their film music career very closely after seeing Enemy, by Denis Villeneuve (2013). The music – playing a fundamental role in this film, immediately struck me. Jurriaans and Bensi chose a relatively small but extremely diverse instrumental set: featuring a clarinet trio, a string quartet, a trombone section, percussions and electronics, the score is both grandiose and secret ; the recording often seems very close and brings a deeply human, almost sensual dimension. Even if the music is in complete harmony with the film, it sometimes gives it an extremely anguished and terrifying touch that isn’t really present in the film, as if the score was a character in its own right, an external threatening presence (I immediately thought of B. Herrmann’s score for Psycho ; not in its style but in its dramatic role, in the connection that it creates with the audience).

Listen to the following cue from Enemy, ‘Control’: a bass clarinet plays a repeated two notes-pattern, forming an augmented fourth three times then a perfect fourth. This leitmotiv will be roaming the entire score, desolate, as a mysterious and interrogative lament. A second clarinet enters, then another, playing a chromatic melody ; this one is the main theme, rather tense and moody. Its first four notes will be used as a leitmotiv  too, throughout the film. The recording/mix of this cue is a little jewel: despite of this subtle reverb, the performers seem so close… we can hear their breathing, the keys clicking. Listen, it’s as if they are whispering in our ears a sweet and chilling song:

This cue defines pretty clearly their unique style and extraordinary talent for summing things up. Each of their scores is a discovery, an outgrowth of an experimentation process. A promotional video released by the recording studio PulseMusic in NY shows them during some work sessions on the Enemy ST:

I look forward to each of their works. They have become increasingly popular over the past five years: after Enemy and Magic Magic (excellent thriller by Sebastian Silva released in 2013 too), they moved from project to project at a breathtaking pace: documentaries, short films, features including The Gift (2015), Christine (2016), The Jane Doe Identity (2016), some episodes from The OA (2016), the video game For Honor earlier this year, Barry, etc. As if, ignoring the market surveys and the charts, audience and movie producers finally needed to be surprised and driven-up. Again.

Benoît Lefèvre


If you want to go furher:

Enemy OST on Apple Music

The Gift OST on Apple Music

Christine OST on Apple Music

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