Graeme Miller and Steve Shill “The Moomins” (2016/1982)

This is music from the soundtrack of the British television version of the Polish animation of the Tove Jansson books (the fuzzy felt stop motion Moomins, as opposed to the cell animations of the more recent Japanese cartoon adaptation). The Polish studio worked closely with Tove Jansson and produced visual material faithful to the vision of the books. When the programme was licensed for British television the producers went down the Magic Roundabout route, junking the original audio and creating their own. Richard Murdoch narrated and voiced all the characters while Graeme Miller and Steve Shill somehow got the gig of providing music to the series. With roots in the Leeds post-punk scene they produced music on synthesisers that sill manages to echo the strange folky origins of the Moomins, with the main theme in particular being a classic of hurdy gurdy and flute sounds.

People who have heard of the Moomins but are unfamiliar with them might think of them as just a cute story for kids, with main Moomins looking distinctly like cuddly hippopotamuses. The Moomins themselves are pretty cute but their world can be surprisingly dark, with stories featuring the existential dread of the Groke, the bleakness of separation from loved ones or the prospect of the world’s annihilation. The music is good at capturing the juxtaposition, being at times cheerful and folky and then edgy and suggestive of things lurking at the edge of consciousness. This Finders Keepers record might not be for everyone but I think those of more advanced tastes will find it to be at the very least a fascinating curio.

The record just has the music, with none of Richard Murdoch’s vocals. This is perhaps a shame, as apart from a couple of videos on YouTube the 1980s Moomin cartoon is completely unavailable. The accompanying booklet with the Finders Keepers release is a good reminder of what the programme looked like.

image source:

The Moomins (Finders Keepers)

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