Evolution of a Soundtrack

THE FOUR CORNERS MUSIC TRACK | Evolution of track and score

In Four Corners, the prison riot is a prologue to the story, a kind of Greek chorus urging the viewers to anticipate the unexpected as the story unfolds. The prisoners are living according to a ‘proud’ tradition of bloody war that has prevailed in the SA prison system with strict codes and mythologies and its own language for over a hundred years, with rules and myths controlling their lives and decisions in prison.  Feeling that the scene needed a sense of gravitas, to draw the audience into understanding and empathizing with the very brutal, alien but authentic world that prevails in the prisons and emanates into the world beyond, the filmmakers looked for a musical other-worldliness to draw the audience in, revealing a sense of the dark, secret underbelly, and yet a clear sense of light in the dark.   In this way, one could be part of the tough lives of the men who individually make up the riot, yet empathize with the sense of pain, regret and lost dreams, the effect on each individual, an effect that the filmmakers felt was more powerful and important than the bigness of the scene.

Thematically, the Four Corners prison intro and its music score suggests the power that the Four Corners have on the lives of those outside.   So the sounds and themes that are introduced in the prison scenes come back, to haunt the viewer later in the story, as the links between what’s happening outside resonate with the mythological themes first laid out in the prison.

For a film like Four Corners – a story that’s both localized in the heart of Cape Town’s ganglands but also one that portrays the universal theme of fraught family ties – the music plays an important role in capturing the poignant rawness of the characters and the energy of the daily struggle spent living at the fringe of a society. Although structured as a brooding and pensive thriller, the culmination of the lead characters’ journeys in Four Corners is one of hope and possibility.

The original sound track for Four Corners is composed by South African composer, Markus Wormstorm.  Wormstorm’s original score, unconventional arrangements and eclectic inspirations evoke the evolving and unpredictable emotional states of the characters in the film as they navigate the Four Corners.

The film accesses a soundscape of  ’found’ and original South African music by talents as diverse as Felix Laband, Khuli Chana, HemelBesem,  Rattex, Jitsvinger,  Cream, Kyle Shepherd, Isaac Mutant and others  whose original beats give a dynamic, uniquely South African pulse, to home grown film.

Throughout the film, it’s the intimacy of the music that drives the story and tracks the underbelly of rising tensions in Four Corners, gravitating toward the unavoidable climax of the film. Themes of identity, belonging and dispossession are expressed as ethereal classical arrangements overlaid with haunting, almost operatic, Xhosa voice – the dialect of Xhosa having it’s own linguistic oral legacies – which add a crucial layer of emotion and depth to the story as it merges with the ironic Cape Flats hip hop lyrics that interject provocative attitudes and comments into the evolving story on the Flats.

The result of the intense fusing of the composed score with authentic found South African music is a soundtrack that is as genuine and overheard on the streets as the characters and the tale they portray.  For the filmmakers and composer the music process reflects an organic, creative interpretation that compliments the visual language of the film; one that’s a balance between darkness and light, beauty and grit, sadness and hope.