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Album review: 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' soundtrack

December 26, 2011 |  4:47 pm


For those of us who have always respected Trent Reznor's musical ideas but have often been annoyed by his voice, his film score collaborations with Atticus Ross for director David Fincher -- "The Social Network" and now "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" -- are a very welcome turn of events.

The score is filled with deep, tense electronic and acoustic music that moves in strange and haunting directions; on it, Reznor and Ross reveal a way darker, more sinister aesthetic -- which is right up Reznor's alley. Much of the soundtrack sounds as if it were recorded in a darkened cavern, where the plonk of a piano melody sounds positively evil as it moves through the darkness.

As the score to a film, Reznor and Ross' work is a success, but what's best is that as a sound recording stripped of visuals, it's a nearly three-hour experimental love letter to rich analog synths, spooky cellos and bells, and weird ambient soundscapes. At times, these 37 pieces -- which include both quick miniatures and epics at seven and eight minutes --  recall the abrasive Japanese noise recordings of Masonna; at others,  the ethereal beauty of Nino Rota's more minimal scores.

Taken together, Reznor and Ross' score to "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (available as a three-CD set and as a download) not only does its job in service of Fincher's vision, but it's also one more step in the ongoing evolution of a restless musical mind. At this point, anyone who bemoans the death of Nine Inch Nails should keep quiet; what Reznor's doing these days is way, way more interesting.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" soundtrack
(Null Corp.)
Three and a half stars (Out of four)


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-- Randall Roberts