System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian, who has been writing film scores for some years now, has composed the music for the disaster film Spitak. Ahead of its U.S. premiere in Glendale, California on December 7th, Tankian is releasing its soundtrack album via his Serjical Strike Records imprint in the U.S. on Friday.
The film depicts the aftermath of the 6.8-magnitude earthquake that ravaged Armenia in 1988, as seen through the eyes of a man named Gor, whose family was at the quake’s epicenter. In his quest to find his home, he encounters several others who have tragic stories but he holds onto hope. Filmmaker Aleksandr Kott has described it as “a requiem film.” In real life, the quake claimed the lives of some 25,000 to 50,000 people, and injured up to 130,000.
Tankian constructed the score’s morose atmosphere with piano, strings and other orchestral elements. “Spitak is a powerful film,” he said in a statement. “It truly makes one feel vulnerable as this can happen to any family. The music is a minimalist requiem mixing with the sounds of the cranes and other machinery prevalent in rescue operation efforts.”
The film won Kott a trophy for Best Director at the Moscow International Film Festival. It was also nominated for best feature at the Dublin International Film Festival. The film’s producers have submitted it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for consideration as a Best Foreign Film contender at next year’s Oscars.
Tankian previously scored a movie about the Armenian genocide, 1915, a documentary about the genocide, Intent to Destroy and the adventure film, Furious, among others. In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, he said he was enjoying the challenges of writing scores for film. “It’s not that I don’t ever want to sing,” he said. “It’s just that I’m focused on doing film music more than anything right now. It’s where I’m really feeling the muse come.”
He also described his work on Spitak in the interview. “It’s a really heavy film,” he said at the time. “I’m writing a modern-sounding score with very light pianos and ethereal soundscapes for this one. It’s very dreamy, sometimes dark, sometimes bright.”