Stella Artois "Ice Skating Priets"

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Peter Raeburn's music is attached to a name-droppable list of directors-Lars von Trier, Frank Budgen, Traktor, Daniel Kleinman, and Fredrik Bond. But he's known best, at least in the advertising soundscape, as the right hand music man to Academy Films director Jonathan Glazer. Since the iconic Guinness "Surfer," Glazer has enlisted the South African-born and U.K.-raised composer on most of his notable work, like Wrangler's "Whatever You Ride," Guinness' "Dreamer," Levi's "Odyssey"; as well as the directors well-received cinematic endeavors, Sexy Beast and Birth. On the small screen, the pair recently teamed up again on one of our top tracks, for Stella Artois' "Ice Skating Priests."

The tune is not an original-in fact, it's the familiar "Hungarian Dance No. 2" by Franz Liszt, which many would associate more with Looney Tunes than men of the cloth. Nevertheless, it tinks along with verve to complement the hijinks of skating clergymen as they attempt to retrieve a case of Stella that's fallen through the ice. Raeburn, who works out of London's Soundtree, which he founded in 1997, says the task was deceptively difficult. The biggest challenge was arriving at the classic tune. As is typical on most of his Glazer projects, Raeburn sat down with the director and editor Paul Watts prior to the shoot to explore musical ideas. "As Jonathan discovers what the film is, then we discover what the soundtrack needs to be," Raeburn explains. "The two things work concurrently and unpredictably together." Originally, the team wanted a track that they ultimately couldn't secure and "in the end, I was sitting there scouring through so many things and then I actually heard that melody in my head. I didn't remember straight away what it was, and it's so strange that that's what ended up on the commercial."

Raeburn and Glazer decided on the Liszt song because "it could be both celebratory, not take itself too seriously and have magic in the beginning." The pair chose to build off "an amazing unpretentious recording" by Pester Kameval in 1970 Budapest. "There were very many versions of that that didn't work, including orchestral ones," Raeburn notes. "They were too bombastic and kind of overcrowded the picture." On first listen, the track sounds like a simple, vintage solo piano accompaniment. But careful examination reveals stealthy textures that can't be accomplished on mere ivory. "Of course, piano achieves a combination of things: a nod to silent movies, a nod to storytelling, a nod to simplicity," Raeburn says. But "we wanted to push the music into a clearly modern feel, but let it be classic at the same time. When the priests are above the ice, there are other things going on there, some incongruous sounds, but they're all within the world of the piano."

Raeburn worked closely with Soundtree colleague Nick Foster as well as sound designer/mixer and longtime collaborator Johnnie Burn of Wave, who also worked with him on "Surfer." "We did additional production and made some shadows and other sounds, some darker, but within the mix, to create a bit more of a texture," he explains. "It's heard within the piano rather than as separate elements. It comes from that world, enriches the track but doesn't try to draw attention to itself because we really need to concentrate on what's going on visually and narratively. But you would miss them if they weren't there. These are my tricks of the trade. I don't want you to write too much about them," he laughs.

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