Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!
Michael Vignola is an American composer with a resumé that covers minimalist modern classical music, ambient soundscapes and work for film and television. He has an affinity for creating mood and atmosphere. On the soundtrack to the movie “Sonny Vicious” he takes the neon noir, retro ‘80s vibe of the movie and creates a synth-heavy, retrowave score. It’s short, but it's also sweet and perfectly nails the vibe he was after and does indeed paint vivid neon pictures in the music.
Vignola understands how to channel the glowing synths and beats that are the bread and butter of retrowave into soundscapes that flow, shine and drift while being driven by the relentless bass pulse that flows in and out of each track.
His use of synth sounds strikes the right balance between energy and flow. There are moments of melancholy and bursts of brightness along with that deep throb of synth bass that I mentioned. He also uses the warm and slightly wandering quality of analog synth sounds to imbue everything with a retro feeling.
Vignola has also given this soundtrack a wide-open feeling. There is a sense of cavernous space that is created with the production and it gives all of the various sonic elements a feeling of being swept along on a rush of air.
One track evolves from the other, almost creating a single piece with different movements to it. We open on “Sonny’s Theme” where a rising wind of synth sweeps under spinning arps that also rise and fall slowly over the shifting background sounds, feeling dark as that brighter and airier high synth melody calls out over them.
As the soundtrack flows into “Bring Her Back” there are slow arps that echo out into open space. The synths have a staccato quality as they move underneath as the smooth sounds under them sweep through. A high and yearning synth melody cries out over the bass that pulsates deeply underneath while that melody sings and shines above it, touched by tragic emotion.
We move to “Drive” where slowly revolving arps glow over a steady beat and deep bass, clustering to produce a dense feeling. The drumbeat and bass depth underpin higher synth sounds that float off into open space. The music breaks into shadowed drifts, the synths dark and threatening as they grow in speed.
In “Clarity” long waves of synth rise with a slowly evolving melody that comes in along with higher, lighter synth sparkling and dancing over it. A long series of warm, extended synth notes drift through, seemingly going on into space forever.
The soundtrack finishes on “I’ll Take It (Sonny’s Theme)” where slowly wheeling arps rise up from silence to crescendo as the drums reverberate and the bright lead melody begins to glimmer brightly over the beat, carrying its light on their throb before fading back into silence.
Michael Vignola seems to grasp the essence of the styles of music that he creates and he’s done it again on the soundtrack for Sonny Vicious. The deep throbbing bass, glowing synths and retro-style drums all combine to paint an atmospheric backdrop for the movie. I hope that some day Vignola revists this style of music and gives us a full album. I, for one, would be excited to hear it.