Album Review: R.A.E.R BETA 0027 – Tommy Simpson

Tommy Simpson’s latest musical endeavour, the original soundtrack for the sci-fi short film ‘R.A.E.R BETA 0027,’ is a mesmerising exploration of electronic soundscapes that perfectly complements the futuristic narrative.

The six-track album, bearing the same title as the film, immerses listeners in a sonic journey that melds ambient textures with synthwave elements, establishing a mood that seamlessly aligns with the film’s dark and atmospheric setting in future Los Angeles.

About the Artist

Tommy Simpson, a seasoned musician with a rich background in classical training and a flourishing career in electronic music under the moniker ‘Macro/micro,’ showcases his versatility in this minimalistic and ambient score. The album’s standout feature is the delicate balance between space-like vibes and nostalgic undertones, creating a unique sonic tapestry that mirrors the film’s thematic elements.

In this review, we illuminate the seamless connection between the original soundtrack and the enigmatic short film, highlighting their beautiful cohesion.

Tommy Simpson is a seasoned musician with a rich background in classical training and a flourishing career in electronic music under the moniker ‘Macro/micro’

R.A.E.R BETA 0027 – A Short Film

In the distant future, a woman struggling to overcome a traumatic loss seeks out help from a tech developer with a device that promises to accelerate the emotional healing process.

The opening credits set the stage with an atmospheric electronica piece that gradually unfolds alongside the enigmatic opening scene. As the camera pans over the mysterious male character, tinkering with electrical equipment in a dimly lit room, the music subtly fades in, casting an immediate spell of curiosity. The use of ambient textures here is particularly effective, drawing the audience into the unknown realms that ‘R.A.E.R BETA 0027‘ promises to explore.

Tommy was kind enough to answer a few questions about the original soundtrack and the contrasting ways the music beautifully reflected the visuals.

Q. The opening credits set a captivating tone for the film. How did you approach creating the atmospheric electronica piece that accompanies the enigmatic opening scene?

A.The opening cue needed to bridge a few contrasting elements, such as blending the mysteriousness of “The Man” (played by Aristotle Athari) and his then-unknown contraption (represented by the airy drone) with his sense of mission and methodical calibration of it (using the arpeggiated synth).

To keep the audience in a state of uncertainty, I made the arpeggiation phrasing somewhat irregular and allowed it to play hide-and-seek with itself which I think helps mask the motivations of his character so they can pay off with greater effect later in the film.

R.A.E.R BETA 0027 takes place about 50 years from now in Los Angeles and is about a woman who’s suppressed a lot of childhood trauma and signs up for an experimental new therapy.

Gnossienne No.1‘ (Ambient Mix):

One cannot overlook Simpson’s decision to incorporate Erik Satie’s “Gnossienne No.1” into the score. The timeless composition finds a fitting place within the narrative, adding a layer of classical elegance to the predominantly electronic soundscape. This choice not only underscores Simpson’s appreciation for musical diversity but also serves as a poignant moment within the film. The original can be enjoyed here on YouTube.

Q. The decision to include Erik Satie’s “Gnossienne No.1” is intriguing. What led to this choice, and how do you feel it complements the overall narrative of the film?

A. “The director (Ryan Jaeger) had a version of it in the temp track but was open to changing it. I was excited to hear it placed as it’s one of my favorite pieces of piano music and assured him we should keep it and make our own rendition. Most performances of the piece are too fast (in my opinion) and played without feeling, so I really wanted to draw out the phrasing of the piece so the listener can get under its skin.”

“The piece sways effortlessly from contrasting feelings of agitated listlessness to airy curiosity, fatalistic nihilism to uncertain hope, which I thought perfectly interacts with the struggle of the main character (Ophelia, played by Samantha Robinson) as she puts up a bright exterior for the world but is completely lost in the darkness of her unprocessed childhood trauma.”

‘Reassembling the Self’:

The closing credits, marked by the track “Reassembling the Self,” takes a departure from the album’s predominantly ambient nature, introducing a more beat-oriented sound under Simpson’s ‘Macro/micro‘ project. This electronic shift provides a satisfying contrast, signalling the conclusion of the film while leaving a lasting impression. The title itself hints at the film’s thematic exploration of confronting one’s demons and embarking on the journey of self-healing.

Q. The closing credits take a more beat-oriented turn. Could you discuss the decision-making process behind the track “Reassembling the Self” and its significance to the film’s conclusion?

A. “At the end of the film, Ophelia finally confronts her demons and is forever changed from the experience. That being said, it’s only the first step towards a very long road to recovery.

I thought introducing a beat driven track for the first time in the film would represent this demarkation point in her life, but, similarly to the opening scene, the trick was to not let the beat be too strong or give the impression that her problems are solved and that this ties up her story in a pretty bow. It skitters, shuffles and moans to indicate there is still lots of hard work to be done, yet there is a light at the end of the tunnel, a north star to orient herself towards.”

Q. What were the challenges you faced while scoring ‘R.A.E.R BETA 0027,’ and how did you overcome them?

A.Honestly, working on this film was probably my smoothest scoring experience in terms of being in sync with the director’s vision and all my initial ideas just worked to both of our liking so well. Probably the most difficult part was at the beginning when I was coming up with a creative limitation to work within.”

“I was inspired by the device and how it was its own character in the film, so I decided I would make most of the score with a small eurorack modular synth system. I have a large case with all my modules, but I wanted to limit myself to what would fit in a briefcase-sized system to match the size of the contraption.”

“I spent a few days trying different combinations of things, and anyone who’s familiar with eurorack knows the annoyance of taking a system apart, putting it together, making tweaks, realizing you’re one slot too short on a row to use a particular module, etc. Once I settled on the case’s arrangement, everything just fell out like water rolling downhill.

Release Date and Streaming

The album released on January 30th 2024 and can be purchased via Bandcamp or streamed via Spotify. You can also support Tommy by following him on Instagram and his website.

Interested in discovering our artist catalogue? Head to our artist page here.

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