Absorbing The Light Of The African American Avant-Garde: Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe's Baker’s Dozen

In an epic Baker’s Dozen, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe lets Stewart Smith into the secrets of his Candyman soundtrack, and celebrates Black excellence from Don Cherry to Moor Mother, Olly W. Wilson to Pamela Z

When Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe performs as Lichens or under his own name, he is concerned with transforming a space. That carries over to his film work. On his soundtrack to Nia DaCosta’s reimagining of the Candyman mythos, Lowe creates an atmosphere of terrible beauty by manipulating his vocals into demonic choirs, shadow orchestras and claustrophobic drones, augmented by hypnotic keyboard motifs and bone-chilling percussion. Hugely effective in the context of the film, it also stands up as a superb piece of music in its own right. If there’s any justice, he’ll follow his friend Hildur Guðnadóttir, who plays cello on the soundtrack, to Oscars glory. 

Lowe was approached by producers Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld for the score. “I love the original [1992] film and I’m also a big fan of Clive Barker's work in general. It was nice for me because I always like to be as involved as I possibly can be with a film project. Obviously, the film has a legacy. And that's something that that we wanted to breach in some way, but also keep it separate enough so that this Candyman lived in the universe, but was not necessarily tethered artistically to the original film.”

In addition to using his own voice, Lowe made field recordings in Cabrini Green, the Chicago project where the film is set. “I thought that it would be a really interesting idea to take recordings of the location while the film was shooting to somehow transfer some of that psychic energy into the score. To have it live as a textural element inside of the score. It was all about this idea I had of world building, creating this very specific landscape for the story and the imagery that you were ingesting.”

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Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe