Murcof – Lost in Time

Photo by Paola de Grenet

Mexican electronic musician Fernando Corona goes by the name of Murcof. Lost in Time is the soundtrack to Patrick Bernatchez’s film of the same name. Corona’s electronic compositions alternate between the holy and the unholy, capable of ascending and descending, and thus revealing both the angelic and the terrifying. Murcof’s music is above and below, its chapters somewhere between Heaven and Hell. Lost in Time’s two parallel narratives are ultimately entwined with one another. You can hear these narratives in the music and see it in the image. One piece can be considered thunderous and malevolent to its core, while another chapter, immediately following on, will be Heaven-sent, a beautiful aria in a clearing of peace and echoes; out of time rather than lost in time.

The painful, ugly process of death, the frosting over of things, can be heard in the midnight drones, but there’s a resurrection to come, a new life emerging out of the darkness, and these themes of perpetual renewal are central to Lost in Time, each ending leading to a new beginning.

A helmet-clad, faceless rider and his horse fill the screen, lost in a magnificently blank and bleak landscape of ice and snow, a merciless, desolate, and hostile sheet of white. Lost to the elements, absent in its unknown geography, the music is lost in space and time. The second narrative follows a strange scientific experiment, but both narratives embed themselves in dark and dystopian science-fiction. The two protagonists are ‘beings who are forever trapped in a time loop where life and death ceaselessly rotate’, the cold, sterile geography manifesting as an alien presence.

The aria is slowly erased by a cold-hearted drone. The electronic current slithers over barren ground, a low, devilish thing sweeping across the ice lands. Vacant save for a few people, the music feels isolated and vengeful. Black figures walk on and on, moving hesitantly towards their Area X, their awaiting fate, silhouetted against the whiteout. Their presence is an anomaly; their steps are doomed.

The original soundtrack to the film blends the aria of the Goldberg Variations, sung by Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal, with Murcof’s dark undercurrents. They spill into the arias, overtaking them with oily tendrils of menace and subterfuge. The darker drone feels disconnected from the comfortable light of the aria, its distance increasing all the time.

Releasing on the aptly-named Glacial Movements, the music is pretty darn cold – cold enough for a thick coat – but at its end, the drone begins to melt, its higher, crystalline notes beginning to drip, leaking from splintering cracks in the ice, and this seems to suggest an approaching re-emergence. A thawing is underway, to be revealed at a later date. Murcof’s music is patient and powerful. The engulfing sound devours everything it comes into contact with – perfect for an area so removed from everything else.

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