Sonic Inkblots and Soundtracks

Sam Mortimer

Music helps the energy in a story explode with atmosphere. Sound is also like sonic inkblots as we figure out what particular songs mean to us and why. I wrote the first draft of the Screams The Machine in silence, so I started developing a soundtrack in my head as the story progressed. I make music in an electronic rock band called Anifail, so writing the songs one day will be a pleasure. That day, however, is not today. There are already great artists and songs that would provide a richer, even better soundscape for Screams The Machine.

Stars of the Lid music should play intermittingly throughout the duration of the story.  Their song “Requiem for Dying Mothers” would significantly enhance an intense scene where Elizabeth’s mother is passing from Cash Disease. Experiencing the death of a loved one is traumatic and gravely heartbreaking. “Requiem for Dying Mothers” captures that fact, but also provides an anthem of beauty.

Near the end of Randal’s visceral and phantasmagoric withdrawal, “A Meaningful Moment Through a Meaning(less) Process” could work. I listened to it on repeat as the heaviness of his pain started lifting. Stars of the Lid’s entire album “Gravitational Pull vs The Desire for an Aquatic Life” would be magical and compliment Screams The Machine. I’d be happy if that album was the story’s official score.

For more adrenaline-based scenes such as Randal walking neon-stained streets, starting his journey in Screams The Machine, Nine Inch Nails might be proper.  “Me, I’m Not” could compliment the dystopian feeling and technology-drenched atmosphere.

Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” and “Rhapsody in Blue” should make auditory appearances, specifically at Vintage Hotel when Randal gets clean from his addiction. It’d be epic to have Miller’s 1940s big-band energy at this point. Miller’s songs, if placed correctly within Screams The Machine, offer a chance to Randal feel born anew, but also echo the past. Hopefully the reader or viewer would absorb the sensations.

Also, at Vintage Hotel ,Alex Treaty and Georgia attempt to inform Randal of the direness of reality. The Solution is a bigger problem than Randal ever knew, and it’s not everyday someone hears that an organization has capabilities to become deified.

I’d love to have Michael McMann’s music, especially songs similar to his work in the video game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I listened to that entire soundtrack while writing Scream The Machine’s third draft. “Icarus” is an epic song and would fit perfectly when Elizabeth is discovering her connection with Ultimate Reality. Any scene where the characters are running from The Solution, if “First and Last” is playing, the scene will be great.  If you enjoy soundtracks, I highly suggest Michael McMann’s work.

Every time I read a book, I wonder what music that author was listening to. When I watch movies, I realize the importance and power of a soundtrack. A great composition enhances scenes. Think of one of your favorite scenes in a movie. What’s the soundtrack like?


Cash carries a disease; one that’s already killed a large majority of the population and something needs to be done. To stop the crisis from escalating, The Solution (a worldwide organization) is formed and rises to great power. They monitor people’s dreams and shape reality to fit their own wants and needs. In an effort to control existence itself, The Solution is searching for what they believe to be the ultimate tool; a person with the ability to master a deep connection with the mysterious, pervasive energy known only as The Ultimate Reality.


Watching her neighborhood decay, her friends and family perish, Elizabeth Reznik needs to find meaning in her life. She discovers her existence is more meaningful than she could ever have imagined. Operatives of The Solution seek her out, take her from her home and perform brutal experiments on her. Their conclusion? Elizabeth is the one they have been searching for; she is the key to gaining complete power.


The stratagem of The Solution is single minded – own the resources and you own the people. And the last resource available is free will. They will own your thoughts, they will orchestrate your dreams; they will dine on your fears. But there is always a cog in the machine… or in this case, a scream.


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Author Bio:

Sam Mortimer has worked the graveyard shift in law enforcement, attended film school, and has been writing strange stories since age eleven. He loves reading, music, and strives to meet the demands of his five cats.



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