And boy, is this one a doozy. Not many artists release big albums this time of year. Lucky for me, this little film is coming out, and two major players in the game are responsible for the soundtrack that accompanies it. Trent & Atticus did the soundtrack to The Social Network a few years ago, and blew the damn thing away. I'm really interested to hear what's going to happen on this one.
A few notes before we get started: This is actually three CDs long, with 39 tracks in total, and lasts about 3 hours. Hence, no long intro here. Also, I won't be including many, if any, videos. Also also, this wasn't put on Spotify, so yay for YouTube, hopefully. Some of you maybe heard some of the tracks thanks to a 6-song sampler that was put out a few weeks ago. Also, the digital version of the entire collection was released on the 9th. Today marks the released of the physical CDs. I have not read the book yet, and I don't plan on seeing the movie until I do. And I have 6 books in line to read before I start it. I am strictly coming at this from a music listener's perspective.
Ready? Track-by-track time!
"Immigrant Song" starts things off. This is a Led Zepplin cover, and features Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and was the major single to come from this whole project. The swell that builds it is awesome. And yup, I know right away which Zepplin song this is (Shrek - Snow White anyone?). From the few trailers I've seen from this movie, this is extremely fitting. It works to get things moving and your heartbeat racing just a little bit more.1.
Next we go into the haunting "She Reminds Me Of You." This music is going to set a hell of a tone for a film, I can tell you that much already. You can feel that there's a story there, and it get even more prevalent as we go into track three, "People Lie All The Time." The tones are more static and jaunting as it moves through. The title fits - suspicion is abound in the track. Then, toward the end, there's the higher-pitched notes that hit in the same fashion, but have a more individualized sound. Hm.
"Pinned and Mounted" is next. There's a more moving rhythm here, but something's strangely off. Something's wrong, but not in a musical way, just in the mood. Hearts are definitely getting anxious and racing. I've heard about a scene that's in this that I'm almost positive this is the music behind it. Regardless, this is an insanely wonderful track.
I know the word haunting is probably going to be overuse in this review, but hopefully that's what they were going for. There's a lot of slow moving buildups in these songs, and that continues with "Perihelion." I know it's a film score, but this may be unlike anything you've heard in a major motion picture before. I think it's different from anything else that's been nominated for a Golden Globe (I could be wrong on either of these accounts) as well. I could definitely see this one moving out and into "What If We Could?" which has a muffled piano slowly playing in. There is, for sure, some melody involved here. Those tones in the back are trying to take over though. Eventually, it seems like they win, but then a third element is introduced with major tones instead of minor, allowing the piano to eventually prevail.
"With The Flies" has a background noise to it of busy. It's still all mysterious and airy and very... hm. Industrial, in possibly the weirdest way ever. The title is fitting, and the song is clearly one for a film score. The length of these alone shows that (each song is somewhere between 4-7 minutes or so long), but they move in a strange way because there is a story to be told over them. "Hidden in the Snow" takes us in another direction though, sort of. There's just more to listen to in this song. There's an overlay of some tinkering around on a piano at first... and then we're back to the ominous air of industrial tones. I mean, the tinkering comes back, but it's melding together. Again. Until it all dissolved into this mess of technical sounding noise.
I appreciate what they did here, but sometimes you don't need the entire score to be the major release for the film musically. Anywhos. "A Thousand Details" takes this odd muffled piano sound and picks up the back tones a little more. Oh, now we're getting into something. There's got to be running or some extreme montage going on here. This song is what we think of when we think Reznor. Funny how the titles work - this goes fades down into "One Particular Moment," which is back to the slower sounds. It's almost like one note was focused in on and held out; like one bit of piano was found and pulled out from something else. This would make an awesome ballet, come to think of it.
"I Can't Take It Anymore" is actually less than 2 minutes long, surprisingly. It's got that going-crazy kind of sound to it, with high pitched notes being hit along a piano, but so much reverb you'd be amazed if there were cushioned walls involved (god I hope someone understands what I just wrote there). "How Brittle the Bones" is much closer to earth though, and you can feel every break, or rather, note, as they are plucked. There's an odd asian feel to this, and many other tracks, but not one you can necessarily put your finger on.
"Please Take Your Hand Away" looses the industrial feel for a minute, with this just so beautifully sad violin opening of call and response. It melts back into the previous themes it had been using the whole time. Remember that old story where each animal had its own instrument to speak? That's how this sort of works, I think. Subtlely though.
And now, ladies and gents, we've finished the first CD. Stretch. Get ready. Two more to go. It'll be interesting to see how these CDs match up with the acts of the movies.
"Cut Into Pieces" starts off the next album, with the same feel but different sound completely. There's electronics being used for this one, and it literally sounds like it's cutting something as it gets going. There's still the weird metal-on-metal/industrial feel to it overall, but something's changing a bit. Something's actually happening. CD was most definitely act 1 - exposition. Now we're getting into the conflict and the real story. "The Splinter" continues this, and it almost sounds like rain falling, or maybe spiraling down a funny metal tube. My friend just sent me a message on HeyTell after hearing one from me while listening to this going "what IS that noise in the background? It sounds like a million little flutes!"
"An Itch" picks it up a little bit. Again, we're on the move here. There's strings in play, or at least machines that make the sounds of tortured strings. There's almost an updated Matrix feel to this one. Not so much in the next track, "Hypomania." This sounds like it's played almost entirely on the lower half of the piano, with a synth or xylophone playing the overlay. There's layering to this as it progresses, definitely fitting the name it was given. The end picks up, almost overtaking the original melody, or at least trying to.
"Under the Midnight Sun" comes in in a quite dark way. If the first CD was creepy and/or industrial, this one has taken on a very dark and haunting tone. There are these very slight glimmer of hope hidden within the rest though, and it's only barely noticeable. About a minute and a half from the end, there's almost a breathing-type noise. I know that's not what it is - it's almost like water dripping too. In turn to this tone that I was getting at before though, "Aphelion" modernizes the sound a little, bringing minor harsh chords in that give the song a whole other kind of power. That's what this song it - it's power.
And if that was a turn, "You're Here" is a complete 180. It's got rhythm, melody, and different bell sounds that change it up completely. This is like an intellectual action movie track. It's impressive and intimidating. "The Same As The Others" though, takes both tones of what we've been hearing and combined them. Everything on this soundtrack as a slightly muffled sound to it, which makes it all the more appropriate to be a film score as it is behind the movie itself as support.
"A Pause for Reflection" brings back the asian theme that, I think, is becoming a general thing for this soundtrack. I like how they're playing with this sound and making it so subtle but not losing the ability it has to set a mood. This this track, we're slowly fading down on this one as the moments go on. Then "While Waiting" begins, and... any of you ever heard one of those mobiles above a baby's crib? It's a lot like that, but in vein of a creepy carnival. Hauntingly beautiful, yet again.
I was not looking forward to "The Seconds Drag," mostly because I feel like some of these songs have been doing just that. There's a ticking in the track, making it more acceptable. Actually, the whole track is quite acceptable as a seconds ticking mode. It gets more interesting as the song goes on, bringing in more beats and rhythms that fill it out really interestingly. The next track, "Later Into The Night" takes that ticking sound in a different direction, instead with lighter beats and a much darker back tone. It's almost like a polarized version of the last song.
"Parallel Timeline With Alternate Outcome" is the final track to this album. It's ominous - perfect to end out this act. There is still a lot of piano and regular beat being hit, so there's a distinction here that we didn't really see in the first album. This is a slow play out of the act. It picks up toward the end, and seems to be wrapping up every emotion we've experienced in this act as a whole.
Greetings again from Hershey, PA. I'm up here because an old friend of mine was Donkey in Shrek: The Musical, and I came to see his AMAZING performance. Winding down the night with the last portion of this soundtrack!
We open up the third album, and I would have to believe third act, with "Another Way of Caring." The backing tones are about the same, but seem to be done with a different instrument or at least method. There's a change here, sort of. "A Viable Construct," instead, picks things up, bringing that electronic sound we heard earlier back and more powerfully backing the asian influence movements. It's a nice mix of things, and feels like we are finally heading toward some sort of solution to whatever problem has happened. We're at least working towards it.
"Revealed In The Thaw" takes out the ominous tones for a minute and replaces them with a beautiful piano playing. It doesn't feel nearly as random as the notes did earlier - this is well put-together. "Millenia" follows up, bringing up the pitch of the tones completely, and adding back the muffled reverb a bit. It's almost a relapse into what we've been hearing.
"We Could Wait Forever" brings the pitch way back down, make the tones more ominous, and almost feels like your outside of a dance club, hearing the walls vibrating. It's actually one of the more difficult songs to listen to on the album as a whole. "Oraculum," instead, brings in... are those drum sticks at work? This is different than the rest, and impressive in sound, and I'd imagine visually. Seeing a percussion ensemble tackle this would be amazing.
"Great Birds of Prey" comes next. Oh, don't worry, we're back to the normal sound. Well, maybe I spoke too soon. The ominous heavy tones of yester-CD are being drowned out by stronger drums and beats that speak of more to life than that. "The Heretics" continues this, instead with what sounds like steel drums in a way - most definitely a take on something you may hear on the islands. It's got this incredible effect on it though that makes it unique.
Five songs to go - hang in there! It seems like the best stuff we're getting is toward the end here, including the next track, "A Pair of Doves." There's more of a hopefulness that's overtaking the rest. There's just... more. Things are coming to a head and then to a conclusion. "Infiltrator" continues this trend, using the techno beat instead. I found the music with drums and pianos earlier better, but I like that this is trying to bring the whole story somewhere.
"The Sound of Forgetting" seems to take on a finalizing tone. We're walking toward the solution of it all. Strength is building in the use of subtle power. "Of Secrets" is the same sort of thing, maybe even taking things to a new place? I think we've now come full circle. We're sticking to full tones that drag out for long periods of time, but there's a different feel to them. This is how we started, and it's appropriate that this is how we're ending.
"Is You Love Strong Enough?" is the final song, and it's actually done by Trent and Atticus' side band project, How To Destroy Angels. It's got lyrics, and they are gorgeous to anyone needing to move forward in life. It's absolutely beautiful, enough to drive someone to tears just out of hearing it. It fits everything this soundtrack has been about in every way.
- "Pinned and Mounted" - YouTube
- "How Brittle the Bones" - YouTube
- "The Seconds Drag" - YouTube
- "Revealed In The Thaw" - YouTube
- "Oraculum" - YouTube
- "The Heretics" - YouTube
- "Is Your Love Strong Enough?" - YouTube
Given the nature of this project, I'd say that this is a pretty good score.
Regardless, for someone who has never read the books and has certainly not seen the movie yet, I did enjoy this. It was compelling enough for me to want to know what the story was that brought about this music. It's really a well done piece of art. Yes, art.
Look Reznor, I'm not disappointed. But it's still no Social Network soundtrack. It's different though, and I really like the approach taken. This was one of the most different things I've heard in a while, and I think it's completely done what it's meant to do when you release an album this early before a film - entice watchers on in.