Simon Fisher Turner’s soundtrack for the BFI’s restoration of The Epic of Everest has been scaling the peaks of the music press’s end-of-year polls. First came MOJO magazine, which named Turner’s score their number one soundtrack of the year, and now the cognoscenti at online zine The Quietus have placed it number two in their list of 100 best soundtracks, reissues and compilations.
Following his score for The Great White Silence, our restoration of the film of Captain Scott’s polar expedition, the BFI turned to the same composer to lend sonic atmosphere to this historic record of the doomed attempt on Everest by George Mallory and Andrew Irvine in 1924.
Previously known for his collaborations with director Derek Jarman, Turner spent over a year working on the Everest project, resulting in a score that merges influences from jazz and Tibetan folk music yet remains abstract and otherworldly. “It’s a soundtrack made from found and stolen life sounds,” explains Turner, “alongside new music and fake foleys.”
“It seems only right that this deep, dark and profoundly moving work of ambient atmospherics should be deemed [our] top soundtrack of 2013,” wrote MOJO, which placed Mute Record’s release above a reissued score for Witchfinder General (1968) and the brooding music for A Field in England (2013).
Wrote Colm McAuliffe for The Quietus: “On its own merits, The Epic of Everest is a remarkable exercise in ambient aurora, a gloriously slow awakening of an electronic dawn. The album could easily be tagged as a polar cousin to the KLF’s Chill Out, with its similar usage of delicate waves of sound, punctuated by brief fragments of conversation, the braying of Tibetan llamas and E-Bow guitar yawning and seeping through the sunlight.”
British Sea Power’s music for another BFI archival project, Penny Woolcock’s From the Sea to the Land Beyond, was named number three in the Quietus list, while Broadcast’s soundtrack for Berberian Sound Studio, made with support from the BFI Film Fund, came in at number seven.