Community Music today released the original motion picture soundtrack to the Robert Redford film “All is Lost.” The score features 11 new compositions, all written, composed and produced by Alex Ebert, frontman of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
“This project was a dream – an open space to play in but also space to listen to the elements – wind, water, rain, sun, are the story’s other characters to me,” Ebert said. “I knew I had quite a task ahead of me: to at once allow the elements to sing and to give Redford a voice with which to, once in a while, respond.”
“All Is Lost” is an open-water thriller about one man’s battle for survival against the elements after his sailboat is destroyed at sea. The film is written and directed by Academy Award nominee J.C. Chandor, who was became a fan after discovering Ebert’s solo album, “Alexander,” in 2012.
“The director had met with a few other composers and was looking for someone who had more of a personality that they could bring to the show,” said the band’s manager, Bryan Ling, of Community Music. “(JC) discovered that Alex had written and recorded all of this music by himself, and he was intrigued by Alex. So Alex and I met with the director at a hotel, and they started to talk about soundtracks and scores they’ve been into. From there, a rapport was built and it was clear that he wanted Alex to be a part of this.”
The soundtrack features the first solo work from Ebert since his solo album Alexander in March 2011, Community Music said in a release.
While the film has very little dialogue, Ling said the biggest challenge for Ebert was giving up creative control.
“The hardest process for Alex was that it was not his film,” Ling said. “Writing music, singing it, and not being able to have input on where it’s placed and have it edited … that was the toughest process. Alex isn’t used to really giving up the reigns. But it was very apparent early on that his insight on the film and with his music to the film was important. That was the most challenging thing for him. You can write music to anything.”
Edward Sharpe fans were given an early taste of the soundtrack on Sept., 10, when the final song of the soundtrack, “Amen,” was released via streaming on Soundcloud.
“It’s really beautiful because it really has a soul behind it; you can feel it,” Ling said. “The film really didn’t have a ton of score in it, and a lot of that was a decision that Alex and the director made together — taking the music out of it, just the sound design of Redford on the boat and going through it. It’s a little more real. For the soundtrack, thankfully we were able to include full pieces rather than some of the smaller parts that were used for the film.”
Ebert says he played various instruments, including synthesizer, crystal bowls and Tibetan bowls. According to the press materials, Ebert also came up with themes on the piano, then mocked them up with sampled flutes or other sampled instruments. He brought in other musicians to play certain parts, including Seth Ford-Young, bassist for ESMZ, and Mark Noseworthy, guitarist for ESMZ.
“The biggest challenge was walking that fine line between truth and melodrama,” Ebert says. “You don’t want to undershoot it and you don’t want to overshoot it. You want to nail the emotion precisely. Anything else is not doing it justice.”
According the press materials from the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, “All is Lost” was Ebert’s first film project.
“It was sort of a shocker in some ways,” Ebert said “It’s amazing that J.C. would have that kind of faith in someone who hadn’t scored a film.”
“We’re excited about all of it, and we’re lucky enough now to be on a plane where are be able to do more creative projects and have creative projects brought to us,” Ling said. “This band is not just a band that just writes a record, puts it out, tours, then goes back to the studio … Hopefully we’ll have more creative things to be involved in in the future, and be able to create.”