The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Soundtrack

Composers: Trent Reznor/ Atticus Ross

Trent Reznor, fresh off his Oscar winning score with Atticus Ross for The Social Network last year, returns for more David Fincher action; this time with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (the score of which already has been nominated for various awards).

Quite how Reznor manages to churn out such high quality in a 25 year career is anyone’s guess. Once the embodiment of American Industrial Rock band Nine Inch Nails, Reznor has dipped his toes from time to time into the world of film by arranging songs for select soundtracks. He did this for Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers; he also did it for David Lynch’s Lost Highway and on both occasions did a sterling job. His Nine Inch Nails work has been used countless times by various directors, Tony Scott in particular is forever using his work.

After putting Nine Inch Nails on leave, he continued to work with others in the form of How To Destroy Angels, and then last year provided the world with his first full on score for a film, the above mentioned Fincher flick. Now he’s back for more after a year and it’s another sterling piece of work.

Working again with Ross, Reznor reforms his sound from the electronic ambience of The Social Network to something all the more hazy like some of the best Reznor frustration to distort through a speaker. But it isn’t all sound and fury. Over the course of 3 CDs and a total of 39 tracks Reznor and Ross traverse the chaotic, nightmarish and still manage to make it all sound like a wonderful soundscape of wonder.

There are moments of quite ponder that tick along with the off-timed clock of what made Nine Inch Nails so eerie at times (see “Hidden In The Snow” for a pure example).

This is a soundtrack extravaganza of pure mood with very little inclination that they are ever trying to coerce the audience into being thrilled or frightened. Fincher famously used Nine Inch Nails “Closer” for the opening credits of his film Se7en. That track set the right tone and mood for that film. Reznor is even more restrained here though, and far from hitting anything on the nose.

You listen to a track like “How Brittle The Bones” and you wonder if he is trying to channel Thomas Newman through his digital set up; But then you’ll be elsewhere on the soundtrack wondering if this music was made for a fantasy soundtrack (the dreamlike “While Waiting”).

This is all an indicator of the artists’ capability when it comes to playing in (and to) various genres and not confining themselves in the genre they are working for at the time. It’s a lesson well demonstrated to current working artists who need to loosen up a bit when creating sound for film. Audiences can accept it, and if anything it will have all the more effect the less you pander.

The soundtrack is bookended with a couple of vocalised cover songs. The first uses Karen O with the much more familiar sound in ”Immigrant Song.” The final track performed by Reznor’s How To Destroy Angels is a cover of Bryan Ferry’s “Is Your Love Strong Enough” which interestingly was written and used for Ridley Scott’s Fantasy Legend back in 1985.

Alan Moulder (long time producer and sound mixer for Nine Inch Nails) is also in on the mix proving that although Trent likes to change course, he retains the right engine to get where he’s going.

Steven Hurst

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