PJ Harvey and composer Tim Phillips’ Bad Sisters Original Series Soundtrack album is out now, and you can listen here.
The 13-track collection assembles an otherworldly soundscape reflective of the show’s emotional ebb and flow using banjo, drumkit, bass, hand drums, staccato strings, and various synths stitched together with PJ Harvey’s entrancing vocal conjurations. This earthy approach adds another dimension to the series itself, deepening the atmosphere.
Regarding the Soundtrack, Phillips commented, “Bad Sisters needed to have its roots in an earthy, feminine place and also to show heart, humour, mystery and suspense. We decided that central to this should be the use of PJ’s vocals, so we devised a novel method of working: we created a vast sample library of her singing all sorts of different things such as howls, whoops, cackles, whispers, scales of notes, quarter tone note bends, vocal slides between notes, and specially assembled melodic lines of public domain Irish poetry. We built it into a massive sample instrument so her voice would be available on demand for the scoring of the production. It was then put through a variety of sonic treatments to turn her voice into a very flexible sonic texture, sometimes heard singing words, sometimes as an instrument in the ensemble.”
PJH added, “I loved working with Tim, who was well prepared and knew exactly what he needed from me in order to create the sound he was hearing in his head. My job was to get it all done, and I spent a full day providing him with all manner of curious and other-worldly vocal expressions. I thoroughly enjoyed it and had a full vocal workout. I think it is magical how Tim has used our created instrument, affectionately known as ‘The Pollytron‘, in order to access the perfect emotional soundscape for this unique series.”
Among other standouts on the album, PJH and Phillips deliver a haunting and hypnotic cover of the American Songbook staple ‘Run On’, also known as ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’, made famous by Johnny Cash. They summon the soulful darkness of the original above ghostly production with PJH’s inimitable delivery in the spotlight.