Why Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s Soundtrack to “The Social Network” is a Classic — 5 out of 5 stars
Thu, 10 Mar 2011 07:35:16
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With all of Trent Reznor's recent accolades, we've decided to delve deep into the soundtrack of The Social Network and why it's just so timeless…check out ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino's essay below...
Trent Reznor is this generation’s Bernard Herrmann. That’s why he deserved an Academy Award this year and many more in the future.
Like Herrmann, he’s made a career out of twisting odd, strangely unsettling sounds into unique, unforgettable, and undeniable music. Reznor’s work with Atticus Ross on The Social Network yielded one of the greatest film soundtracks of all time. It’s haunting, hypnotic, and harmoniously destructive at all the right points, mirroring and supporting the film’s themes of paranoia, distress, evolution, and cultural upheaval.
However, the soundtrack begins with the airy elegance of “Hand Covers Bruise.” Calculated key strokes paint a feedback swell in the background with a vibrant deliberate sonic sense of color. It’s a gorgeous slow-burner of a track that allows listeners to fall down the rabbit hole with Reznor and Ross, much like the former’s classic albums—The Slip, Year Zero, The Fragile, The Downward Spiral, Broken, and Pretty Hate Machine—encourage still to this day.
If the soundtrack to The Social Network had a kindred spirit in Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails output it would be The Fragile. That 1999 epic illuminated Reznor’s genius to the fullest with its cinematic scope and timeless exorcism of a myriad of demons. The soundtrack mounts through madness similarly. There’s the propulsive pulsating synth stomp of the aptly titled “In Motion” and the mutedly brilliant “It Catches Up With You,” which will stay etched in your head for days because of its resounding piano. “Painted Sun In Abstract” volleys from a Casio-style intro into deeper electronic sounds, wrapping the swells in a warm embrace. “On We March” shakes and shivers with tension and tenacity as an industrial hum envelopes the encroaching keyboard sounds. The textures in the background resound like buzzsaws and Reznor builds an all new kind of Pretty Hate Machine.
The soundtrack’s finale—“Complication With Optimistic Outcome,” “The Gentle Hum of Anxiety,” and “Soft Trees Break The Fall”—conclude with a genuinely welcoming darkness. In terms of changing what’s possible in a film score, the tracks nod to Herrman’s work in Taxi Driver, Vertigo, and, of course, Psycho, but the execution proves completely fresh. Reznor changed the face of rock ‘n’ roll, and he’s going to do the same with film soundtracks. With work for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on the horizon [David Fincher is like Reznor's Alfred Hitchcock, in that respect], we can only wait with baited breath until Reznor brings us further down the spiral with more transcendent music.
It’s incredible to see and we’re waiting with ears wide open for the next batch of tunes film score, How To Destroy Angels, and Nine Inch Nails.
What’s your favorite Trent Reznor album or song? Do you dig this soundtrack?