SOCIAL NETWORK – Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and his collaborator Atticus Ross have become a powerhouse duo when it comes to Hollywood scores. This adaptation focusing on the tumultuous birth of Facebook and it’s creators was their first film for the legendary pernickety David Fincher (they subsequently worked together again for his adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and they managed to bag the Best Original Score at the Oscars for their effort. Not bad going for their second feature-length film, and the praise lavished upon their work was entirely justifiable. It’s a superb achievement and sounds quite unlike any previous music used in a biopic – case in point the pounding, bleepy soundscape found in the track, In Motion.
DRIVE Frequent Nicolas Winding Refn collaborator Cliff Martinez (and ex-The Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer, trivia hounds) always delivers in the director’s idiosyncratic offerings, be it the ethereal retro pastiche of The Neon Demon or this popular 2011 genre effort. This synth-laden score works incredibly well against the film’s cool neon backdrop, adding an almost mythic slant to proceedings. It also pays loving homage to the electric scores of yesteryear, particularly Tangerine Dream’s effort for Michael Mann’s Thief (a film which is something of a visual and thematic prototype for Drive).
UNDER THE SKIN Watching Jonathan Glazer’s already mesmeric 2011 sci-fi head-bender is greatly enhanced by Mica Levi’s abstract, otherworldly score. Listening to the soundtrack in isolation from the film can turn into an unsettling experience, particularly the track entitled ‘Death’ (below), with its discordant strings and slow, dulled percussion. It all adds up to unforgettable hypnotic sensory experience, and like the film’s title, it buries itself deep inside your subconscious. Levi has, unsurprisingly, found herself in high demand following her work here, and Pablo Larraín’s 2016 unconventional biopic of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy also benefited from the composer’s eccentric musical approach.
TRON LEGACY The film itself might have come up a little short, but the enigmatic French duo Daft Punk delivered with their celebrated brand of glitchy electronica, often marrying it up with lashings of a Hans Zimmer-like dramatic orchestral score. The thrilling end result offers a stunning counterpart to an equally striking visual landscape on screen. The soundtrack proved so popular, that a follow-up remix album was later released, entitled Tron: Legacy Reconfigured. Daft Punk also put in a fun cameo appearance in the film, as robotic DJs decked out in their usual chrome and digital attire to spin the film’s standout track, Derezzed.
OBLIVION Another superior soundtrack to a middling film. Director Joseph Kosinski (who was also behind the aforementioned Tron sequel) sure knows how to pick his composers. Here M83’s Anthony Gonzalez crafts a beautiful, shimmering score that breathes vivid life into the impressive-looking but unremarkable Tom Cruise-headlining dystopian sci-fi. The closing title track below (with gorgeous vocals courtesy of Norwegian singer Susanne Sundfør) is a soaring cinematic treat. It’s also a reminder of a time when many big-scale Hollywood productions would include an accompanying movie tie-in single, once an essential part of the summer blockbuster experience. A number of M83 tracks have since cropped up in TV and film, and Gonzalez also composed the score for his brother Yann’s 2013 directorial feature, You and the Night.
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