Editor’s note: The Fourth Wall is knocking down barriers between entertainment industry talent and the audience. This recurring feature is a platform for creators, actors, and industry insiders to bring the readers behind the scenes of the production process.
As Wayward Pines season 2 gets ready to premiere this month, Charlie Clouser returns to the studio to work on the soundtrack for the FOX series. Clouser’s unique style of musical composition has produced distinctive soundtracks for horror films like the Saw series and Resident Evil: Extinction as well as TV show themes and scores for Wayward Pines, NUMB3RS, and American Horror Story. So what can musically-inclined fans expect for the futuristic conspiracy thriller this season?
If the main theme is any indication, the music will continue to sound foggy and staticky, which works nicely with the obscured atmosphere and the surveillance-heavy environment in which the show takes place. “In the fictional town of Wayward Pines, there’s a lot of bad things lurking off in the distance, kind of obscured by fog,” explains Clouser, “so I try to have the music kind of mirror that murky approach.”
“Pretty much all of the sounds come from bowing metal instruments like a waterphone,” says Clouser of the soundtrack’s instrumentation, “although by the time they’ve been manipulated so heavily in software and with plugins, they don’t necessarily sound like what they started out as. But I think that helps give the score kind of a wobbly and uneven feel, and it’s not precise and mechanical, I hope.”
The town, which has a thin veneer of normality over the disturbing social experiment the controls the lives of the residents, is a character unto itself, and the music reflects the futuristic world controlled and manipulated by technology. “There is some element of high tech in the world of Wayward Pines what with the sort of hibernation chambers and all of their video surveillance and so forth,” Clouser agrees.
The static and the dial tones that are prevalent in the music convey the constant surveillance present in the town as well. Clouser says those sounds are “tortured and in pain in their own way, you know? A lot of those sort of filtered and bleepy kind of percussion sounds sound like they’ve been through a lot on their way to the speakers.”
“When I’m approaching something like Wayward Pines,” explains Clouser, “I’ll try to find the emotional category of the sounds… It’s sort of finding those sounds that feel like they’re in the place that the show’s taking place in. I often categorize sounds as sounding like they’re indoors or outdoors or bright and sunny or rainy and foggy.”
As to how will season 2 differ, Clouser has some ideas that come from continuing storylines from season 1. “Season 1 kind of led us into the story and the weird world of Wayward Pines, and in the first couple of episodes it might have just been this quirky little mountain town, something straight out of Twin Peaks, where everybody’s in on something, but you don’t know quite what it is.” The music from the earlier episodes mirrors this uncertainty.
“Now for season 2, the stakes are kind of raised in terms of the conflicts between the characters and the different factions battling for control of the shady future of Wayward Pines,” says Clouser, “so there’s a lot more kind of rugged, fight-type music and a lot more of the strong kind of conflict and battle drums that we started to see at the end the first season.”
Apparently, the sub-plot of the program surrounding the children of the town will be coming to the forefront in season 2, and Clouser features that element in his music. “That’s just a messed up storyline!” says Clouser. “And that’s got its own weird, off-kilter little family of sounds that I hope are going to be a nice contrast to some of the more bold and rugged conflict and battle type music that I’m just starting to get into now for this season.”
Wayward Pines returns to FOX on May 25 at 9pm ET, but fans don’t have to wait that long to hear some of Clouser’s music. Here’s an exclusive cue entitled “Theo and Rebecca,” no doubt referring to the new leading man, Dr. Theo Yedlin, played by Jason Patric, and his wife Rebecca, played by Nimrat Kaur.