Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Trent Reznor’s third recent collaboration with Atticus Ross (the other two being the Academy Award winning The Social Network soundtrack and the post NIN band How to Destroy Angels) is the soundtrack to the David Fincher directed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
The album is framed by a bookend of cover versions – the opener is a cover of Led Zeppelin‘s Immigrant Song, which is probably already one of the most played songs this year, featuring in the trailer for the film that has received millions of YouTube viewings. Featuring Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs on vocals, its the most guitar heavy piece on the soundtrack. Bar the final track, the rest of the album is made up of dark, ambient, atmospheric instrumental music.
Reznor & Ross worked together during the latter Nine Inch Nails years, most notably on the Ghosts I-IV album, so this dark electronica is a continuation of their previous work. An early highlight on this 39 track release is What If We Could?, a gentle piano piece that stands out from the darkness of the preceding music. With The Flies follows, and is one of the most disturbing tracks on the album, with an incessant buzzing hinting at what are probably gory visuals in the forthcoming film.
A Thousand Details is an uptempo NIN-like romp, but the parts of the album I enjoy the most are the atypical, softer pieces, of which One Particular Moment is a particular highlight. The bar-room piano motif is underpinned by soft synth pads that give way to razor sharp buzz synths. Please Take Your Hand Away continues with the bar-room piano and adds some eerie, discordant flute to the orchestration.
The Same As The Others is another highlight – with a simple guitar refrain, and whistling wind effects. While Waiting stands out due to the rare use of voice – but still no words. The Seconds Drag ticks along at a metronomic pace, underpinned by bells and a nagging guitar line. Bells feature on many tracks on this soundtrack, and are one of the key sounds that repeat and re-arrange themes throughout the album.
Parallel Timeline With Alternate Outcome is a slow-burning piano led track that starts to change when the buzzing flies previously used appear and lead to a disturbing end to the track.
The album closes with the second vocal track, and the second cover version, in the shape of Bryan Ferry‘s Legend track from 1986, Is Your Love Strong Enough?, performed on this soundtrack by How to Destroy Angels. This haunting version, stripped of the clunky 80’s snare of the original, is a fine end to the album. It’s the only track featuring vocals from Reznor (towards the end of the song) and does make you hanker for a new Nine Inch Nails album (which may be on the cards for 2012).
Obviously, the main aim of a soundtrack is to accompany visuals, heightening tension, and strengthening the viewers emotional response to scenes, but sometimes soundtracks work as stand-alone listening experiences. For me, this album joins Ryuichi Sakamoto‘s Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and Clint Mansell‘s Black Swan as non-song based soundtracks that can be enjoyed in isolation of their accompanying films.
Buy The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on Amazon