Graeme Miller and Steve Shill – The Moomins
- Fiona Shepherd
- 27 January 2017
DIY score is endearing and eerie
Some might say that The Clangers had all the best tunes. Graeme Miller and Steve Shill would beg to differ. In 1982, those two post-punk performers, from the same Leeds scene which spawned Gang of Four, home-recorded a lo-fi synth soundtrack for the televisual incarnation of The Moomins, Tove Janssen's adorable creature creations who starred in a series of beloved children's books.
The stop-motion animated series – adapted and produced by the woman who would later bring us the brazenly lysergic Teletubbies – was broadcast in the UK in the 1980s (not to be confused with the later Japanese amine series and its jaunty easy-listening country theme tune), but its soundtrack has never been commercially available until now. Good news for fans of the gentle Nordic creatures and of whimsical vintage synthesizer music alike.
Necessity was the mother of invention and, surely inspired by the plaintive simplicity of Vernon Elliott's soundtracks to various Oliver Postgate shows, Miller and Shill created their DIY score using a Wasp (an early, rudimentary digital synthesizer with all the finesse of a Stylophone) and an ocarina (or wind flute) to create that Clangers-like suggestion of naïve inquiry.
In keeping with the darker atmosphere of its European production, their soundtrack has its eerie moments but is every bit as endearing as the lovably rotund Moomins. The engaging theme tune ambles along with a drunken hurdy-gurdy backdrop, and folk whistling of the kind you would normally only hear during the more rustic entries to the Eurovision Song Contest. Like all good themes, it ultimately gets under the skin. The rest of the score contains some ambient oddities, quirky vignettes and what sounds like a didgeridoo on the otherwise Middle Eastern-inspired 'Hobgoblin's Hat' but its charm prevails.
Released 3 Feb.