Now Streaming on NPR: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s Gone Girl. Plus My First Impressions.

For anyone who missed it, NPR is now streaming the entirety of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score for the David Fincher’s upcoming film, Gone Girl.  You can listen to the score here:

http://www.npr.org/2014/09/25/350948108/first-listen-trent-reznor-atticus-ross-gone-girl-motion-picture-soundtrack

I’ll give this a proper review once I’ve spent a little more time with the music and watched the film, but I’ll share a few of my first impressions right now.  I have to say I’m a bit underwhelmed, and I’m starting to wonder if Fincher might benefit from a new composer collaboration.  Granted, Reznor and Ross’s scores for Fincher’s films have always been polarizing; while The Social Network and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were critical darlings for the Pitchfork crowd, much of the film music community has actively despised these scores.  I’ve typically fallen somewhere in the middle, but if nothing else I’ve admired the brazen originality of Reznor and Ross’s earlier scores for Fincher.  With Gone Girl, however, tired familiarity is starting to sink in; sitting through the album, I can’t help but feel like I’m listening to variations on the same ambient, occasionally grungy minimalism I just heard in Dragon Tattoo (and given that Dragon Tattoo‘s soundtrack album clocked in at 3 whopping hours, it’s not like I was in desperate need of a second helping!).

I’ll admit there are some new potentially compelling new ideas, and they might grow on me after I hear them in the film.  The biggest – and most advertised – new conceit comes in the cues where new age “massage parlor” music gradually sinks beneath ugly electronic distortions.  The idea is at least clearly executed, and if I hadn’t just heard Reznor and Ross do something very similar with the chilling “What if We Could” from Dragon Tattoo, I might be wowed.  But even in moments like this, I can’t shake the suspicion that Reznor and Ross’s frequent brilliance as music producers is no longer enough to make up for the stark simplicity of their compositions.  The occasional melodies are about as basic as is humanly possible, and I’m finding myself increasingly less compelled by the intricate sound design that used to compensate for the lack of melodic or harmonic invention.  Howard Shore recently wrote a score with a very similar concept for David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, but Shore’s icy combination of new age synth textures and ominous chamber music is much more compositionally nuanced – and to my ear, much more compelling – than anything Reznor and Ross have created for Fincher’s film.

This is all a first impression of course, and I may take back all of this after I experience the music in the context of the film itself.  At the moment, however, I’m starting to wish Fincher would find new composers to collaborate with.  He’s already worked with such a wonderfully diverse array of artists – among them, Elliot Goldenthal, Howard Shore, The Dust Brothers, and David Shire – that I’d hate to see his films grow musically stagnant.

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