Album Review: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’

(This is a review for BBM Magazine, also available here:

Already nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross follow 2010’s Academy Award-winning soundtrack to 2010’s The Social Network with another ambient masterpiece aimed at maneuvering your insides. The score, the second at the behest of director David Fincher, underwrites The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo with all the moody tones and tickling clicks of The Social Network besides new, post-industrial machinations in the disturbing. This 30-track score sits on you like clay.

So heavy is this soundtrack with the haunting noise of the production line and of meaty industry that the first track, ‘Immigrant Song’ (featuring Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs), sounds like Led Zeppelin on fire in a mine. How To Destroy Angels unsurprisingly pop up to cover Bryan Ferry’s ‘Is Your Love Strong Enough?’ and rattle it around a steelworks. ‘Pinned and Mounted’ sews and threads, ‘You’re Here’ is a racket of glass, hammers and drills. This is sumptuous stuff, deliciously laden, thickly spread and heavy set. Much of it sings like Mogwai or a dirty Sigur Ros. Tormenting and smart, it broods like The Social Network but skillfully balances shuttling keys with sombre shadow.

The tonal balance is not always nimble. Often, it sprays itself a little too much in synth-farts, like a Doom soundtrack, or some of the less fortunate middle eights of late-90s nu-metal. ‘With The Flies’, for example, feels like the accidental lisp of an old stereo that ought really to be thrown away. ‘Another Way of Caring’ comes and leaves like a reminder to put the washing on.

But some – nay, most – of it soars. Really soars. ‘A Thousand Details’ hums and snarls like the finest of The Prodigy. ‘Parallel Timeline With Alternate Outcome’ is sweetly atonal, imbued with a romantic cyber-seduction. ‘A Viable Construct’ is almost tangibly disgusting – it pulls you into the final act like a nauseous sprint to the kitchen sink. And if there is a better piece of work released this year than ‘What If We Could?,’ 2012 is an unfathomable barrel of roses. This is not just a dark and ominous score – Reznor and Ross set out, it seems, to singe with white noise and static, to fill your maw with the dull ache of muddy drums. It is pure kinesis.