Having discussed the contribution of visual style to the texture of space in Lost Highway in the previous chapter, I want to start discussion of sound by revisiting the scene in which Bill Pullman’s character, Fred Madison, returns from the party. Sound plays a significant role in creating the discomfort and anxiety of his movement through the house. Indeed, listening to the soundtrack without the images evokes the sense of a fraught or dangerous space, where sudden shifts between muted reverberations and piercing sharpness build a precarious and threatening atmosphere. As Fred enters the house, diegetic sound (the click of the door latch, the beeps of the buttons as he turns off the alarm) co-exists with non-diegetic music, but as he makes his way up the stairs and into the living room, these sonic indications of his movement within the diegesis disappear under the reverberating strings of the score. That there isn’t a distinct melody, but rather a more abstract creation of dense humming, which tends towards a deep pitch, creates a busy and opaque texture lacking forward momentum, while the edges of the strings are softened by the use of reverberation and sustained notes. The effect is comparable to the density created by the lighting that I described in Chapter 3. Furthermore, when sound originating from within the diegesis returns, it emerges transparently and sharply from under the thickening blanket of score, all the more sudden and jarring because of its contrasting texture.
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