It’s surreal now to consider simply how surreal all of it appeared in 2011. “Wow,” stated a visibly astonished Trent Reznor standing earlier than a crowd comprised of Hollywood’s largest administrators and actors at LA’s Kodak Theatre. “Is that this actually occurring?” he requested, the supply of his shock clutched firmly in his palms. Simply moments earlier than, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman had opened an envelope and revealed that each Trent and his collaborator Atticus Ross had overwhelmed the revered likes of Hans Zimmer and Alexandre Desplat to win the Music (Authentic Rating) class for The Social Community soundtrack on the 2011 Oscars.
“To be standing up right here on this firm is humbling and flattering past phrases,” Trent continued holding his shiny new award. On the time his shocked response made excellent sense. For individuals who had adopted his profession since its noisy, groundbreaking inception, it was a unusual sight certainly to see the person who had as soon as delivered industrial barrages like Happiness In Slavery in a tux, wanting way more Bond than bondage.
It’s value repeating this incongruity as a result of now, in 2021, it’s getting more and more laborious to think about a prestigious movie or TV ceremony ever going down with out Trent and Atticus being there. Over the previous decade, the pair have established themselves as two of probably the most achieved and in-demand composers on the earth. Contemplate this for a second: ought to they win Greatest Rating at this 12 months’s Oscars, one of many fellow award hopefuls they may have overwhelmed will probably be… themselves. Not solely are Trent and Atticus up for his or her work on David Fincher’s Mank and Pete Docter’s Pixar movie Soul (which they co-scored with Jon Batiste), they’re, deservedly, in the identical double-trouble place this 12 months’s Golden Globes.
The query is just not “is that this actually occurring?” however relatively, how did this occur?
Whereas it’s doable to take a look at Trent and Atticus’ breakthrough success with The Social Community as a case of (fairly actually) scoring massive on their first try, it’s additionally considerably deceptive. For over twenty years beforehand, Nine Inch Nails’ music had been assaulting not simply the charts however a number of different mediums. There has, it appears, at all times been one thing about Trent’s sonics – its majestic capacity to veer between soul-gnawing fragility and ear canal-annihilating aggression – that made it completely primed for movie and TV. In 1994, Trent was compiling the soundtrack for Oliver Stone’s controversial movie Pure Born Killers – contributing each new and reprised NIN music. In 1996, he unveiled his pant-browning rating for id’s seminal first particular person shooter Quake earlier than re-entering Hollywood’s orbit the next 12 months by producing the soundtrack for David Lynch’s Misplaced Freeway. Even when Trent wasn’t explicitly soundtracking a mission, 9 Inch Nails’ music was working extra time to lend a sense of grandeur to some movies –2009’s Terminator Salvation might have upset followers, however its menacing trailer set to the strains of The Day The World Went Away was a glimpse of all that would – and may – have been. As tempting as it’s to take a look at the previous decade as marking the ascension of Trent Reznor The Academy Award Winner™, in fact the shock isn’t that he took to scoring a full movie in 2010, it’s that he didn’t do it sooner.
What stays so spectacular isn’t just that Trent and Atticus have achieved such success in Hollywood, it’s additionally the style by which they’ve infiltrated it. Very similar to they did within the music trade, they conquered it on their very own phrases. Trent and Atticus have introduced their very own elegant, eerie and atonal stamp to Hollywood. There are numerous composers that excel at channelling gorgeously dissonant scores – Thomas Newman, we’re you, buddy – however Trent and Atticus’ is a model that’s identifiably their very own. However whereas their scores have supplied the proper foil for darkened materials, equivalent to David Fincher’s Gone Lady and The Lady With The Dragon Tattoo, Peter Berg’s Patriots Day or HBO’s Watchmen, it’s a testomony to their ability that lately their sound has acted as a magnet for movies exterior of that darkened remit, too, equivalent to Mid90s. Irrefutable proof of this got here once they soundtracked Pixar’s 2020 movie Soul – and decreased many to tears within the course of.
What Trent and Atticus have given the movie and TV world is, then, self-evident. However much less thought of is what it has given again to the pair. When it got here to scoring Ken Burn’s enthralling 10-hour-plus Vietnam documentary, it opened up entire new methods to method music.
“Ken despatched us a checklist of phrases that we began constructing stuff round and sort of states of thoughts,” Atticus instructed Okay! again in 2017. “There could be an evocative checklist that Ken wrote that we labored in direction of, creating items that evoked these feelings he described.”
“It wasn’t scoring the image,” stated Trent of the gargantuan scoring activity that they had taken. “Lots of it was me asking Ken, ‘Might you give you a checklist of emotional themes that you just want lined?’ He gave me a actually attention-grabbing checklist of issues that had been nice as a composer [to work with] – for us it was a dream come true.”
All of this has had some unbelievable side-effects for its creators.
“We’ve been very lucky that we’ve been in a position to do different issues which are inventive in barely alternative ways – engaged on movie scores and whatnot – that hold it thrilling,” Trent instructed us in 2017. “What we’ve discovered from working with different individuals on extra soundtrack/scoring kind issues is you’re a part of a workforce and also you’re serving to inform a story – you’re not the only storyteller. It’s an attention-grabbing strategy to work, and it might probably complement what we do after we’re then let out and in a position to do no matter we need.”
“We work quick, and the best way that we work usually is there’ll be one other mission happening,” Atticus agreed. “You possibly can work on 9 Inch Nails for, say, a week or two weeks and provides it 100 per cent, however at a sure level of time it’s labored to vary one’s mindset to deep dive on one thing else. It’s simply balancing. That method nothing ever feels drained, it permits one to really feel energised.”
It’s, it appears, no coincidence that a few of Trent and Atticus’ latter day music – in each movie and NIN – has been a few of their most expressive and experimental. Many collective eyebrows raised in shock when 9 Inch Nails included the saxophone on 2018’s Bad Witch, however it was naught in comparison with the massive band work the pair conjured on Fincher’s Mank. Trent stated he was falling asleep listening to foxtrot music, Atticus in the meantime instructed Selection how they strived to fulfill David Fincher’s edict of creating the music “sound drunk”. It’s astounding to assume the identical individuals behind 12 months Zero’s Survivalism additionally wrote Mank’s A Idiot’s Paradise.
What this all quantities to is a thrilling addition not solely to the soundtrack world, but in addition their very own discography. The very fact is, you can’t discuss Trent and Atticus’ masterworks with out together with the tender Hand Covers Bruise (The Social Community), the Twin Peaksian strains of Like Dwelling (Gone Lady), or the exacting grace of Epiphany (Soul). Atticus and Trent conquered Hollywood a lot the identical method they the music trade. By being themselves.
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Posted on February twenty eighth 2021, 12:00p.m.