Human beings are such wacky creatures that our behaviour is sometimes split into two, whether that’s being bipolar, having multiple personalities, or just needing to be different people at different times. The latter applies to Richard Kuklinski, notorious mob killer who also appeared as a loving husband and family man. His story has now been told in The Iceman, with Michael Shannon as Kuklinski, and an intense score by Israeli composer Haim Mazar.
As sadistic as they come, Kuklinski had two families: his wife and children, and the mob. Mazar’s music is used to illustrate this, with the use of tender and delicate piano and strings for the family life, and a darker palette of electronics, percussion and low strings to represent his ability to change into contract killer mode. It’s an intense experience at times, made extra powerful by the thoughts of Kuklinski’s real-life acts.
The album starts with ‘No Looking Back’, a rock track by American outfit Crash Kings. The song has an appropriate edge to it, a mournful and soulful song about facing up to being who you are and the choices you’ve made, and not going back on that. It’s a good song, reminding me of Alice In Chains, particularly the guitar sound, and an interesting opener.
Mazar has a few interesting strings to his bow that he uses. The score has a haunting quality at times, with a delicate piano plinking away with a dreamlike quality, and warm but ethereal strings with darker undertones. The music builds this way sometimes, beginning with a more innocent tone before slowly twisting further – usually with electronics – until it explodes violently.
And when it explodes, it’s pretty scary. The electronics come out in force, with some of it sounding industrial, while others could almost be played in a club. But the electronics are in tandem with the orchestra, with spitting and piercing strings, heavy drums, and eerie piano. Electric guitar is used on occasion, and it really does feel like madness rising, like a brain just switching into a different, altogether more primal and destructive gear.
The album runs just over fifty minutes so it doesn’t feel overlong. It’s an interesting score, and Mazar is definitely a composer to watch, with a solid voice and the ability to blend orchestral and electronic elements thematically. An impressive work.
THE ICEMAN is out now from Relativity Music
Words: Charlie Brigden