Martha Skye Murphy’s score for ‘The Late Departure’ is an angular and off-centred work which takes listeners further down the rabbit hole. By their very nature, the vocals are experimental and, for the most part, divorced from the norm due to their ghostly sighs. Perceived words are few and far between, and this isn’t just a stylistic choice. The soundtrack must primarily support and enhance the image on screen, and a powerful score is able to stand on its own merits, without the reliance and distraction of film and with only the music playing in a darkened room. Martha Skye Murphy’s score is definitely strong enough to be an independent record.
Her music is focused on the sound of her voice and what it’s capable of, and her intertwining syllables are able to create a new, secret language. The underlying, sparsely-populated, and rumbling instrumentation is necessarily darker to give her voice a lone spotlight and a platform upon which to present her airy vocals, which are also the only source of light, funnelling out from her voice in a series of shivers and frail vibrations.
All of the compositions were written and produced in a single afternoon, offering a smooth segue-and-flow to the soundtrack, which is important for continuity. The heavy reverb creates a drowsy atmosphere, with every composition feeling like a deepening meditation or a strange, lopsided lullaby from another dimension. Opaque, echoing melodies sit in the outer limits, somehow leaning into the supernatural while never fully revealing themselves; mystery and anxiety grows in what you can’t visibly see.
Cello adds to the impressive atmosphere, and although the background is murky, her voice adds tenderness to the sleepy surroundings, particularly on ‘Connecting Flight’, where the low-lying cello snakes around and the vocal drifts high and then falls. ‘Drive Through’ has an older feel to it, thanks to a grainy, wrinkled piano and ponderous strings, and although the higher register may offer up a more hopeful air, a sadness resonates around it, and a dark magic is able to come through to the listener. Throughout its running time, Martha Skye Murphy gives a voice to the secret, a song for those who remain unknown.