The Best Soundtracks Of 2013

From electro-psychedelic overload to tightly wound sex-club funk and existential Gallic jazz, we salute the top 10 soundtracks of the year.

A Field In England

It’ll soon be time to wave goodbye to 2013, which means it’s time to begin our series of genre Top 10s.

First up is our essential selection of the last 12 months of film soundtracks. Whether a brand new recording, a longed-for reissue or a first commercial release for an unearthed treasure, each is a gleaming reminder of that intoxicating moment when sound and screen find a perfect harmony.

Watch a clip from each film, and enjoy its musical accompaniment, below.

The following was written by the MOJO staff from a list originally compiled for MOJO by Jonny Trunk.

10.  Morgiana – Luboš Fišer

10. Morgiana – Luboš Fišer

Our knowledge of European soundtracks would be laughable without the remarkable work of Andy Votel and Doug Shipton at Finders Keepers. This year they delighted us with a beautifully designed 10" of previously unreleased liturgical psych hallucinations from the late Czech composer behind the equally strange and magical Valerie & Her Week Of Wonders.


9.  Witchfinder General – Paul Ferris

9. Witchfinder General – Paul Ferris

Paul Ferris’ score for his friend Michael Reeves' 1968 Vincent Price pastoral horror only became officially available this year, remastered from the original quarter-inch master tapes in the de Wolfe archive. Romantic and terrifying, like the film itself, it is as much a part of the English folk revival as the recordings of Fairport Convention and David Munrow.


8.  A Field In England – Jim Williams, Martin Pavey, Blanck Mass

8. A Field In England – Jim Williams, Martin Pavey, Blanck Mass

Ben Wheatley‘s black-and-white chamber horror, set amidst the strange margins of the English Civil War, is a puzzling, inexplicable nightmare, made all the more disturbing by Williams' spare, brooding score of early music textures that gradually morph into electro-psychedelic overload, aided by Martin Pavey's sound design and – in one terrifying sequence – the use of Blanck Mass's Chernobyl.


7.  Solaris – Cliff Martinez

7. Solaris – Cliff Martinez

Reissued via Portishead's Geoff Barrow's Invada label, Martinez's score to Steven Soderbergh's 2002 re-imagining of the Stanislaw Lem novel is, wrote Ross Bennett in MOJO 242, "an ambient masterpiece... its sub-zero transmissions of exhaling strings and unnerving percussion constantly morphing between the soothing and the sequestered... one of the most compelling soundtracks of recent times."


6.  Coogan's Bluff – Lalo Schifrin

6. Coogan's Bluff – Lalo Schifrin

As bizarre as it may seem, 2013 saw the first official release of Lalo Schifrin’s remarkable score for Don Siegel's 1968 Clint Eastwood urban cowboy vehicle, a canny blend of big western themes with bustling downtown jazz and tightly-wound sex-club funk. Alternate scores, unused sequences, and radio cues, all mastered from Universal's original 1/2" three-channel stereo session masters.


5. French New Wave (Jazz On Film Vol. 3) – Various

5. French New Wave (Jazz On Film Vol. 3) – Various

Five CDs for £18, containing the remastered soundtracks for seven (count 'em) Nouvelle Vague classics: No Sun in Venice (The Modern Jazz Quartet); 
Lift To The Scaffold (Miles Davis); 
Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Des Femmes Disparaissent (Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers); 
A Bout De Souffle (Martial Solal); Eva (Michel Legrand); and Barney Wilen's super-cool score to Édouard Molinaro's existential 1959 policier, Un Témoin Dans La Ville.


4.  Utopia OST – Cristobal Tapia De Veer

4. Utopia OST – Cristobal Tapia De Veer

Dennis Kelly's apocalyptic conspiracy thriller was one of the TV highlights of early 2013 but if Kelly's visceral mix of suspense, sex, horror and dark comedy unsettled as many as it beguiled, the eclectic score from Chilean composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer was a unanimous success, a rule-breaking collage of beats, drones and world rhythms, with human bones as flutes and dried rhino turds as percussion.


3. Les Visiteurs – Georges Delerue

3. Les Visiteurs – Georges Delerue

Between the start of his career in 1950 and his death in 1992, Delerue created over 350 scores for film and television, many never officially released. This CD brings together the French composer's gorgeous, overlooked TV work for French director Michel Wyn, on a 1972 Gaston Leroux adaptation and deeply peculiar 1980 sci-fi TV series Les Visiteurs.


2.  Screenplay: The Film Music Of John Parish – John Parish

2. Screenplay: The Film Music Of John Parish – John Parish

Best known for his work with PJ Harvey, John Parish has been composing film scores since 1998, starting with his work on Patrice Toye’s tragic teen drama Rosie. This compilation brings together highlights from all his home-studio-based scores, showcasing a remarkable range that moves from expansive Morricone guitar epics to intimate music-box romances.


1.  The Epic of Everest – Simon Fisher Turner

1. The Epic of Everest – Simon Fisher Turner

Writing on this site in September Danny Eccleston described Simon Fisher Turner's score for the BFI's restoration of Captain John Noel’s 1924 footage of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine’s tragic attempt to scale the world’s highest mountain as nothing less than "extraordinary". Others agreed and it seems only right that this deep, dark and profoundly moving work of ambient atmospherics should be deemed MOJO's top soundtrack of 2013.