Decoder Ring should stick to their day jobs - as one of the country's most enigmatic and, since they often play in the dark, disembodied instrumental acts. The moods they scope on guitar (Kelly), keyboards (FitzGerald) and percussion (Schutzinger) defy description. But over the course of three years, one album and legions of live shows, the Sydney band has created countless sounds tracks in search of a movie. Then last year, while watching the rushes of Somersault in Jindabyne, director Shortland was handed their CD by music supervisor Norman Parkhill, and the sound chimed with her vision. "Do you know that Icelandic band Mumm?" Shortland says. "We were listening to them as well, and Björk, and Goldfrapp, so there's a lot of sampling of that Austrian mountain music."
Decoder Ring's score has the crystalline quality of ice forming - Kelly calls it "glock rock." To get in the mood, the band spent two weeks in a makeshift studio near Kiama, on the N.S.W. South Coast. "We took a Method approach," explains FitzGerald. The acting analogy is apt, since the music provides much of Heidi's inner voice. You can hear it in Heidi's Theme, where a delicate xylophone arpeggio rises above the earthier glockenspiel, perhaps symbolizing Worthington's character Joe. But it's not all so harmonious. For Rough Sex, Decoder Ring provide a jarring guitar riff to accompany one of Heidi's teenage tumbles. It lasts barely three minutes. Elsewhere in Somersault, the frisson between image and sound is pure cinema. "Cate's a real lover of music and we're real lovers of film," FitzGerald says of their match made in moody heaven.
For last year's national tour with Gerling, Decoder Ring played with 16-mm film projectors on stage, beaming out images of oceans and industrial landscapes. "If a picture can tell a thousand words," says FitzGerald, "we have quite lyrically dense songs." Just don't try singing them. Like the mystery rings found in '70s cereal boxes, "We send out messages, but it's for you to decode what they are," FitzGerald says. "It's a postmodern sort of thing - code, decode, recode." The sound is music to Heidi's ears.