The Spool / Podcasts
Mark Korven scores the unsettling future of The Peripheral
The Canadian horror composer crafts a spine-tingling score for Amazon's adaptation of the William Gibson novel.
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Welcome to Right on Cue, the podcast where we interview film, TV, and video game composers about the origins and nuances of their latest works.

William Gibson is the father of cyberpunk, that most evocative of sci-fi genres — where technology meets flesh in the neon-soaked worlds of the corporate-run near future. But explicit adaptations of his work have been few and far between: the closest I can think of is the wishy-washy Keanu Reeves vehicle Johnny Mnemonic. The latest, and most sprawling, attempt comes from Prime Video’s The Peripheral, based on the 2014 novel of the same name about two siblings in a near-future rural dystopia (played by Chloë Grace Moretz and Jack Reynor) who become unwitting pawns in a game of wits and warfare decades further in the future, across differing timelines.

Westworld showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy port over that show’s sense of dour retro-futurism into The Peripheral‘s sleek, minimalist designs and big ideas about the destiny of humanity. But alongside that sits a tightly-plotted and darkly funny slice of rural-tech thriller, somewhere between Ozark and, well, Westworld, with plenty of portentous omens about the destruction of the world and the dissolution of identity along the way.

Mark Korven, The Peripheral (Lakeshore Records)
Mark Korven, The Peripheral Soundtrack (Lakeshore Records)

It certainly helps matters that the show is scored by this week’s guest, Genie and Gemini Award-winning composer Mark Korven. A staple of Canadian horror and sci-fi film and TV, Korven cut his teeth with Peripheral director and EP Vincenzo Natali on films like Cube. But his best-known work is easily his score for 2015’s The Witch, for which he helped invent the innovative new instrument, The Apprehension Engine.

His works are crackling, atmospheric pieces that revel in their own discordance, banging and clanging odd instruments together. That approach dovetails nicely with The Peripheral‘s brutalist sci-fi minimalism, with a hefty drone of synth to soak in the proceedings alongside his homespun methods. On the pod, we talk about the Apprehension Engine, and how he approached his score to The Peripheral.

You can find Mark Korven at his official website here.

The entire first season of The Peripheral is now streaming on Prime Video. You can also stream the soundtrack on your preferred streaming service courtesy of Lakeshore Records.