Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Exposure: Clint Mansell

Mr. Black
If you don't know who this guy is, go buy some of his music now. In the last few years he has become my favorite film score composer. Why you ask? Well he can't be compared to anyone else really. Where old dudes like John Williams and James Horner are doing it old school theatrical style, Mansell augments the film rather than overshadowing it. His scores are probably the single best thing to come out of the film industry in years.

Specifically, he's more of a minimalist when it comes to music busting out his arsenal of cellos, piano, guitar, and even electronic bleeps to audibly shape the film. He's probably more similar to Trent Reznor in musical style than any of the forefathers of cinematic scoring. That's not to say he's incapable of creating booming, epic soundscapes, it's just that he's a much more forward-thinking and modern composer in my opinion. He exists in the negative space of film, intertwining the sounds with the visuals rather than overshadowing it as most composers do. Don't get my wrong, Williams, Horner, and even good old Poledouris (who's Conan OST ROCKS) are good and have their place, but Mansell is on the forefront of where musical scoring should be going.

After hearing his soundtracks for The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, and his latest, Moon, other film scores almost seem cartoonish to me now. And as films continue blazing down the realism trail, his music is really the only kind that augments it. Moody, ambient, atmospheric. While Mansell has scored more mainstream films like Sahara, Trust the Man, and Smokin' Aces his true works of art lie in the smaller films: The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Moon, and The Wrestler.

I urge anyone out there who is a lover of music in general to support this guy, he is definitely a small minority in the population of film composers and there needs to be more like him.

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Mr. White
What I really like about Mansell is his almost rock approach to film scoring. This is probably attributed to his days as lead singer and guitarest for the British band Pop Will Eat itself along with lending backup vocals on the 1999 Nine Inch Nails album The Fragile.

While I do enjoy the epic melodies of John Williams there's just something refreshing about Mansell that never gets old. He captures the epic quality well but in a different way. Rather than, as Mr. Black put it, overshadow, Mansell's music peaks it's head out then disappears into dark ambient delight. It builds and falls perfectly more like an extension of the films rather than a competing element. I'm very excited to see what he does on the new Darren Aronofsky film Black Swan.

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