Pondering one’s life 30-years into the future might seem like a mundane thought experiment, but Director Michael Eric Hurtig transformed it into a compelling and entertaining journey with the use of a clever narrative vehicle: time travel.
Composer Bryan Rheude worked with Hurtig to create a sonic landscape that would heighten this notion of time-travel; however, the subjects of this film aren’t traveling through space but rather leading down-to-earth lives in America, so the challenge was to create music without the usual sci-fi trappings. Fast-Forward highlights the work of the M.I.T. AgeLab and follows a few multi-generational families as they go through its “aging bootcamp”. Rheude created a score that propels us along while staying grounded in the approachable, middle-American world of the featured families.
As Rosario Dawson narrates us through the experiences of these characters, the music finds its roots in approachable and intimate sounds endemic of these every-day folks. Rheude relied on accessible instruments like an upright piano, acoustic guitar, and dulcimer, but with physical treatments and ample doses of creative effect processing. One technique was to insert a layer of aluminum foil between the piano hammers and strings, creating a metallic, sizzling texture. Rheude then took that sound and processed it electronically: reversing and filtering it to create the signature time machine motif.
As the characters faced the many challenges of growing older, both physically and emotionally, the experience naturally triggered a fair amount of reflection. For the more emotional moments, Rheude expanded the palette to include a small chamber orchestra of Strings and Woodwinds–including solos from long-time collaborators Jim Gailloreto on various woodwinds and Jill Kaeding on cello–to heighten the sense of human concern and uncertainty as the subjects faced the realities of a distant future.
Fast-Forward also features the insights of several top aging experts. For these moments, Rheude dipped into his trove of vintage synthesizers to create a more technical sound, but one that maintains the warmth and near organic qualities that these analog machines can produce.
In Director Hurtig, Rheude was thrilled to find a ready partner in experimentation. Rheude says, “It’s the dream of any composer to embark on a project with the stated assignment being the creation of a truly unique sonic world that helps tell the director’s story–as opposed to just recreating some standard musical tropes–but it takes real courage and faith in the process to explore all the nooks and crannies of an idea before you find that truly special musical solution. Eric and music supervisor Michael Paoletta were incredible partners on our own little journey to create just such a world that elevates this important story; after all, it’s a story that we all will someday experience.”
Soundtrack available at all streaming services and bandcamp under Bryan Rheude.
About: Bryan Rheude is a scoring composer who works on both long-form projects and with agencies and brands on branded-content. His alter-ego is Dudadius, an electro project, centered around the use of modular synthesis and vintage synths. Existing somewhere between ambient and melodic electro, he’s dubbed it Electro Humanism.