Almost three years after R.E.M. retired, the alt-rock band’s frontman Michael Stipe has released his first solo effort of music. Using the Salon website as distribution, Stipe has composed a three minute long orchestration that plays over a scene from the 2013 film The Cold Lands. The music is welcome news to Stipe’s fans who have been waiting for any sign of musical production from the 54 year old singer.
The music was composed for his longtime friend director/writer Tom Gilroy. Gilroy is most well known for his 2000 independent hit Spring Forward, which tells the growing friendship between two very different men played by Liev Schrieber and Ned Beatty. Gilroy’s upcoming film The Cold Lands tells the tale of a boy named Atticus who flee into the wilderness after the death of his mother. Unable to cope with the harsh environment around him, he encounters and starts a friendship with a drifter named Carter. The film is available for instant stream here.
Stipe’s music plays over a bonus scene of dialogue from the movie, with his music replacing what may be key information for the context of the scene. “I actually didn’t care if there was talking.” Claimed Stipe to Salon. “If there were scenes where there would be dialogue, you’re seeing their mouths move, but nothing’s happening. In fact, I find that kind of thrilling. It makes you wonder what’s happening.
It is unknown at this time whether Stipe’s recent effort will spell a reuinion of sorts for R.E.M.. What seperates the R.E.M. breakup from many others is that it was a decision the band came to believing they had done all they could do as a band. This is a rarity in music where bands break up left and right due to artistic differences and wind up on terrible terms. Stipe claims to have no regrets or urges to return full time to music. “Music is like emotion. It takes such a huge amount of effort and headspace to move around. And I can step away from that for several years and be very happy.”
Stipe formed R.E.M. while attending the University of Georgia. Soon after meeting, the four members dropped out of school and began recording music. Ironically, the band found success on college radio for most of the decade, garnering critical acclaim without achieving international exposure. In 1987, the band released their fifth album Document, which featured two mega popular singles “The One I Love” and “It’s the End of the World as We Know it”. From then on the band was a household name that produced 15 albums and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2011, after the release of their aptly titled final album Collapse into Now, the band retired.
The soundtrack can be heard on Salon’s website along with the full interview with Gilroy and Stipe