Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Mogwai - Before The Flood OST

by paul_guyet Rating:8 Release Date:2016-10-21

Taken out of context of the documentary for which it was created (stream the whole thing below)*, the Before The Flood soundtrack contains compelling, original music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Mogwai, with occasional collaborations between the first three. Reznor and Ross provide their usual electroacoustic depth and breadth of expression while Santaolalla's strings add a decayed pastoral feel, as well as a touch of grandeur and worldliness, and Mogwai...well, Mogwai win the album.

Just about half the score is outstanding: the hopeful fragility of "And When the Sky Was Opened", "8 Billion", which is as heavy and ominous as its title, perfectly capturing the sense of encroaching population, unchecked growth, and then, the silence as the dust settles, but, in sticking with director Fisher Stevens' mission statement of not making things too grim, still manages to infuse the gloom with a delicate light. The two versions of "Thin Ice" allow the listener to see both the clean, crisp surface as well as the murky, freezing water beneath, both "A Minute to Breathe" and its coda "A Minute Later", and pretty much everything Mogwai has here. These all manage to offset the less-than-stellar moments such as "At Dusk" (a toy piano is like a didgeridoo in that it can't sound like anything but itself), "Trembling", "One More Step", and "One Perfect Moment", which has a bit of a "spa at the end of the world" feel to it. An A-Spa-Calypse, if you will.  

Anyone who's heard any of Reznor and Ross' previous score work (or Nine Inch Nails' Ghosts I-IV; "Disappearing Act" could be "21 Ghosts III"'s monstrous, electro-mutant cousin) and enjoyed it will be satisfied but not stunned. Santaolalla sounds like Santaolalla, Reznor and Ross sound like Reznor and Ross, but Mogwai is the clear winner here**, showing how adaptable they can be by adhering to Reznor and Ross' composition style and choice of instrumentation while, at the same time, evolving that style more so than Reznor and Ross did themselves. It was a bit of a disappointment to not have any joint efforts between the whole team, but too many cooks and all that. Whether or not you watch the film***, if you’re a fan of any of the artists involved with the score, you should give it a listen; it might not be rife with innovation, but there’s a lot of good material here.

* Make sure to do your part as a human being and watch said documentary, by the way. We can't save the earth unless you watch this documentary. You are contributing to the end our of world if you don't watch this documentary.

** I know it's not a contest, but I've just made it one.

*** If you don't, you are a monster and a killer and Hoggish Greedly from Captain Planet and worse than global warming.

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