After the Oscar winning success of their original soundtrack for the now modern classic The Social Network it came as no surprise to hear that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross would once again be under the employ of director David Fincher for the soundtrack to the so called "Feel bad movie of Christmas." It will also then come as no surprise to hear that this nearly three hour long soundtrack never falls short of staggering. While fans of the former might miss the harsh in your face qualities brought to The Social Network by the duos often jarring score this is a completely different beast which revels in the subtleties of mystery as opposed to confrontation.
Long-time collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are seemingly a match made in programming heaven with their unique ability to produce dark artistry of the most evocative kind. Quite simply put they are not only two of the most interesting and visionary people working in Hollywood today, but perhaps even one of the best collaborations in recent history. Indeed they even managed to find the only possible way of making things better by involving lady of the night Karen O. The Yeah Yeah Yeah's front woman features on the opening song of the record; a cover of Led Zeppelin's classic 'Immigrant Song,' which unless you've been in a subterranean cave off the coast of Japan you must have heard on the trailers for the film by now. As you might expect from these three it's a slightly different take on things and it's now hard to imagine it as it was, it's spikey mechanisms, icy exterior, and screeching childish vocals present the film perfectly.
In 2010's The Social Network the music was hard to ignore and on a first viewing of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo it seems a little unimpressive, a little too subdued and backgrounded, but it festers like the ideas of the film and blossoms in your brain into a thing of innate, terrifying, beauty. Only when you take it on its own merits do you realise how the soundtrack does what it intended to do perfectly; it sits in waiting not detracting from the often sensitive scenes in the film, but heightening their effect with sleight of hand undertones.
This is music which comes from a cold place where tension abounds, it becomes manifest in the electro fuelled nightmares that breakdown into single sultry piano notes after a terse moment of heightened senses and wurling synths. It's a record that plays tricks on you with feedback and repetition; it condemns you to your own mind and then tries to tease you out with neoclassical epiphanies.
I can't pick and choose tracks which do things well or don't quite achieve what they were aiming for, this is a soundtrack and an album which is more than both of those things, it's a three hour concert brimming with a cathartic release of the vulgarity and physicality of human nature, it's a fight between the body and the mind, and it's a reclaiming of lost innocence. If you're going to experience the sadism, the masochism, and most of all the love this has to offer you must hear it in its entirety and give yourself completely to it.
Reznor and Ross are both masters of their field and nobody can manipulate sounds quite like them whether they be musing over a lush piano melody or tearing apart fragments of notes with pitch shifters you will be desperate to hear each and every track on offer here. This is digital music for the digital age and there's nothing more natural than that.
As the soundtrack progresses towards the finale it picks up twists and then drops the sounds we are familiar with from Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, tracks aggressively quicken as the mystery unfolds and the characters come to realise the truth behind this grisly tale. Fincher has once again made a stylish film which is a master class in the art of the thriller, but he has also made it a human tale and his soundtrack compliments it beautifully, it is in all regards an audible equivalent of his vision.
The great film composers of our time like Hans Zimmer will always be there getting the Oscar nods, but in recent years Hollywood has begun to realise that outside of that circle are some minds that can no longer be ignored; Fincher has taken note and as he works with some of the best screenwriters, he now too can say he works with the best composers.