The Big Little Screen

Keeping Score | A Segment on Original Soundtracks

5 Great Shows that are Elevated by their Original Atmospheric Soundtracks

Oh Yeah!

There are times when you tend to doom-scroll your way through the never ending list of streaming platforms and are incapable of zoning in on that one piece of content that will satiate your cravings both on and off the screen – you’re most probably going to be punching that remote while that pizza gets cold!

Whenever I veer down that path, I don’t just give up and watch a re-run. HELL NO! I revert to the process of scrolling – albeit on another app, my IMDB List to be precise – and browse through a horrendously large catalogue of directors, cinematographers, composers, actors & studios, studying their filmographies and shortlisting pieces I may have missed out on.

The faster way around this would just be to fire up my Watchlist. But that’s the painstakingly easier route. Who wants easy?! After all…

Photo: Courtesy FanPop

Over the years, the process has yet to disappoint and is my go to method to find diamonds in the rough. Coincidentally – or maybe not – some of the best content has received acclaim because of their well rounded, immersive and enriching sound compositions.

I’ve always been fascinated by soundscapes – with my appreciation only growing and blossoming after developing ‘For The Love Of’.

After all that hard work – yes, you’re welcome! – you’re just a click away. Here are 5 Great Shows that are Elevated by their Original Atmospheric Soundtracks.

As a bonus, each show will start off with how I came to know about these by association – a list tracing the journey from a known piece of content to the show in question.


Amazon Prime Video

Photo: Courtesy Amazon Prime Video

Dane DeHaan is an extremely enigmatic character in the industry yet a truly magnetic force who continues to churn out some fascinating work. But he’s not the only reason I turned to the crime thriller by Stefano Sollima.

Enter Mogwai, one of my favourite post-rock bands, and I was sold!

Mogwai | Photo: Courtesy Neale Smith/Press

Synopsis: “Following a consignment of cocaine from the moment a powerful Italian cartel decides to buy the cocaine until it has been delivered and paid for. On the way, it is packed in Mexico and transported across the Atlantic.”

A sweeping & atmospheric score – that breathes, swells and builds as the story unfolds – coupled with a gorgeous Title Sequence that brilliantly sets the tone for what comes next. We really need to get rid of that Skip Intro Button!

P.S. Mogwai returns to the small screen with ‘Black Bird’ an Apple TV+ limited series starring Taron Egerton.


Disney+ / HBO

  • The Investigation (absolutely love True Crime. HBO does a great job at these and it’s even better if the BBC is involved)
  • HBO Series
  • Industry (a fresh show, with new faces and what do you know?! In association with the BBC!)
Photo: Courtesy HBO

There aren’t many tv shows that have exhilaratingly beautiful scores that pull you in from the get go. But this right here is an exception. Nathan Micay’s ambient soundscape sets the tone straight off the bat – elevating and embodying the fast paced and high stakes culture in HBO’s ‘Industry’. ⁣

Nathan Micay | Photo: Courtesy Karina Galindo

Synopsis: “Young finance graduates venture out in the cut-throat competitive world to get a job during the recession times that followed as a result of the 2008 financial crisis.”⁣

With Season 2 on its way – and Jay Duplass (Transparent) joining in on the fun – ‘Industry’ is on the up!

Here’s a deep dive: Nathan Micay on creating the music behind HBO’s ‘Industry’ | Composer Magazine

P.S. The Season 2 trailer dropped while writing this! Micay returns and mixes things up a bit. Can’t Wait!


Amazon Prime Video

Photo: Courtesy NBC

Bryan Fuller’s ‘Hannibal’ surprisingly still remains one of the most sophisticated, gorgeous and tastefully crafted tv shows – an undisputed champion of the genre – considering it’s about a sociopath who devours his victims.

Apart from serving up a stunning and sumptuous visual treat, Brian Reitzell brings purpose, richness and a sense of foreboding – through an amalgamation of ambient sounds – to the critically acclaimed psychological horror series.

Brian Reitzell | Photo: Courtesy Louder than War

Synopsis: “Will, a criminal profiler with a unique ability, slowly sees his sanity taking a hit. The FBI advises he see Hannibal Lecter, a forensic psychiatrist who is secretly a cannibalistic serial killer.”

Here’s a deep dive: Composer Brian Reitzell Explains His Psychotic Music for NBC’s Hannibal | Vulture

P.S. Having spent some time on Netflix and now on Prime, I really hope they revive the show for one last hurrah! Bryan Fuller himself has put out a petition. What are you waiting for?


Disney+ / HBO

Photo: Courtesy Feedly

Craig Mazin is a genius. A fantastic cast combined with one of the most horrific true stories – a mini-series to fill that large void created by that lousy Game of Thrones ending – gave rise to

With HBO’s mini series ‘Chernobyl’, the creators made an intriguing choice in Hildur Ingveldardóttir Guðnadóttir who is an Icelandic musician and composer and a classically trained cellist. ⁣

Hildur Guðnadóttir | Photo: Timothée Lambrecq

Synopsis: “In April 1986, the city of Chernobyl in the Soviet Union suffers one of the worst nuclear disasters in the history of mankind. Consequently, many heroes put their lives on the line to save Europe.

In order to capture the bleak and foreboding atmosphere of the show, Hildur created the ambient tracks by recording the sounds of a decommissioned power plant in Lithuania – a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack that is both ominous and frenetic.

Here’s a deep dive: Anyone Can Write Music” – An Interview With Hildur Guðnadóttir | Score It Magazine


Disney+ / HBO

  • It’s no coincidence that 3 out of the 5 shows are HBO originals/collaborations. Also, Billions had started losing some steam.
  • HBO Series
  • Succession (the rest is history!)
Photo: Courtesy HBO

Where would we be without this wondrous, messy, over-the-top drama?!

Nicholas Britell has been hailed as one of the most important composers of our time and has worked on some fantastic films – Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Big Short.

Nicholas Britell | Photo: Courtesy The Playlist

Synopsis: “The Logan family is known for controlling the biggest media and entertainment company in the world. However, their world changes when their father steps down from the company.”

Britell enthrals the senses by perfectly capturing the essence of power, money & greed, and giving them their due, through his inimitable score and Opening Theme.

Here’s a deep dive: ‘Succession’ Composer Nicholas Britell On the Show’s Hypnotic Theme, Working With Pusha-T, and “L to the O-G” | Complex

P.S. He’s busy working on ‘Andor‘ at the moment.

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