For over twenty years, Brooklyn’s T. Griffin has been composing atmospheric film music. To date, he has around fifty feature-length scores to his credit, as well as five solo albums and many other collaborations. More recently, Griffin provided the soundtrack to the 2020 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Boys State and the Academy Award-nominated Life, Animated.
On June 11, The Proposal releases as a limited art edition on Constellation and acts as the original score for Jill Magid’s film of the same name. Described as ‘an art-world docu-drama that traces a cryptic and meditative path around the legacy of Mexican architect Luis Barragán, raising questions of intellectual property, appropriation, reification and obsession along the way’, The Proposal’s soundtrack is able to stand up on its own, even when the film’s imagery is revoked and completely severed.
The music is high quality in terms of its composition and engineering, but it also excels in its diverse instrumentation. Fretless banjo, guitar, percussion, keyboards, field recordings, and samples are aligned and in perfect symmetry with its electronic instrumentation. Add to this an excellent cast of contributors, such as Matana Roberts, Jason Ajemian (Helado Negro, Jaimie Branch), Jim White (Xylouris White, The Dirty Three) and Sophie Trudeau (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and The Proposal is a very strong soundtrack. The ambient opening is as light as they come, but a deafening, booming bombast of percussion is just a track away, and it develops into a deep flirtation with jazz.
The electronic sonar blips of ‘Manufacture’ provide stability as more electronics come and go, shifting and swaying in ultra-bright, strobing patterns and displaying all of a rainbow’s colours. At this point (just three tracks in), the music has already proven itself a genre-less and diverse expanse, capable of chameleon-colours and effervescent lighting. Barragán used colour in interesting and irregular ways, accentuating the beauty of the natural environment; he believed that his buildings were places of serenity, places to evoke emotions and sensations, and amplify inner experiences, fantasies, and nostalgia.
The music’s diversity may represent the differing episodes in Barragán’s life, but it also reflects his architecture, which explains the bloom and the flamboyance of its musical colours. Experience shines through, as The Proposal is capable of switching it up, going between introverted and subdued ambient, intricate classical guitar, and striking electronics. The entire record is a balance between these more introspective, quieter elements and more outgoing, excited moments, but both extremes are passionate flare-ups of expression. When combined together, living under one soundtrack, they add so much more to its music and its vitality. Like his architecture, The Proposal overflows with life.