Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein: Stranger Things OST Vol. 1

Score: Eleven/10 – The noise of nostalgia
The soundtrack for Stranger Things appears relatively straightforward on the surface, but much like the runaway success of Netflix’s biggest hit this year, you quickly find yourself fully sucked down a rabbit hole. In the show it’s all secret government labs, demogorgons and an increasingly hysterical Winona Ryder buying up the town supply of Christmas lights, but here on the OST it’s all about getting subtly lost in the otherworldly sounds of what we’re now calling 80s retrowave
In case you hadn’t noticed, the 80s are well and truly back, or at least the cool bits of it are. As a child of the decade that style forgot, I’ve yet to see shell suits or Pauly Shore #trending on my feeds, but otherwise, the millennial obsession with tweeting about how great things were before the Internet and cellphones could not be more de rigueur right now. That Stranger Things has been so successful is testament to this trend, what with creators The Duffer Brothers’ meticulous (read: nerdy) eye for period detail, and fanboy channeling of Stephen King, John Carpenter et al, but it’s the music that really allows the show to achieve that next-level of nostalgia. Cooked up by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein of the Austin, TX based electronic outfit S U R V I V E, Vol. 1 is a neatly put together blast of synth-based electronica that when played separately from the show reveals itself as being an altogether more understated beast.
From the immediately recognizable opening theme – all sinister synths and creepy crescendos, through to the closing cliffhanger of “Hawkins Lab”, Vol. 1 flows seamlessly despite its relatively limited spectrum. None of the tracks adhere to a classic verse/chorus/verse structure, there are no vocals, and there are really only a handful of sounds at play here – almost all of which are produced by the same analog machine. It turns out that doesn’t matter though. Repeated listens of Vol. 1 reveal a beautifully textured sonic landscape that hovers somewhere between new-age bliss out and paranoid dread. Imagine going for a scenic drive in Silver Creek or even meditating on the porch of a cabin in the woods and you’re kind of in the right area. It might be merely ‘TV music’, but Dixon & Stein have undoubtedly proven that given the right vehicle, projects like Vol. 1 can be a thoroughly immersive and worthwhile experience.
Dan Ashcroft
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