This thesis is based upon information from a variety of sources dealing with the soundtrack for the film Liquid Sky. One of these sources is the movie itself, which can be aurally and visually confusing without peripheral sources of reference. Because comprehending the film Liquid Sky is intrinsically linked to understanding the soundtrack, character and plot analysis is relevant to this study. This thesis acknowledges Liquid Sky as a cult film, but it also provides a context for defining cult films, as well as the characteristics that set them apart from films in other genres. Subsequently, these are used to show how Liquid Sky fits into the genre of cult film.
As the main focus of this thesis, the music in Liquid Sky is identified, and its origin and context within the film are explained. The music is organized categorically: adapted, original, and borrowed. Additionally, the possible reasons for the use of these various kinds of music in the film are proposed.
The music in Liquid Sky sounds unusual, however the process of creating the music for the film was truly unique for the time period. The main catalyst for the music in Liquid Sky was a synthesizer known as the Fairlight CMI. Although several synthesizers had preceded it, the Fairlight was the first digital model. The machine was specifically chosen by the film’s director because of its ability to manipulate real world sounds. He eventually recruited Brenda Hutchinson and Clive Smith to compose the soundtrack on the Fairlight. A series of correspondences with Hutchinson and Smith provide insight on their own personal experiences while creating the film’s soundtrack, but also the aesthetic wishes of the director for the music.
It is my ultimate hope that, taken together, the information provided in the following pages supports the fundamental goal of this thesis, which is to show that Liquid Sky was a ground-breaking, if not overlooked, milestone in cult cinema, and film scoring. Most people did not know what the Fairlight was in 1982, much less how to operate it, and it is effectively used in Liquid Sky to create a sound palette to complement a film that can be most aptly described as alien.