NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t



When filmmaker David Fincher asked Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and his songwriting partner Atticus Ross to compose the music for his U.S. film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher had one request: for the music to sound ‘textural.’ So Reznor and Ross, who won an Oscar for their score of Fincher’s 2010 film The Social Network, experimented with sounds created by stretched-out bell tones, piano beds filled with nails and clothespins, and mixes of distorted instruments played imperfectly. “We wanted to create the sound of coldness — emotionally and also physically,” Reznor tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “We wanted to take lots of acoustic instruments … and transplant them into a very inorganic setting, and dress the set around them with electronics.” Reznor and Ross’ hauntingly beautiful soundtrack features three hours of new instrumental music and two cover songs — Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” with lead vocals by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ Karen O, and a cover of Bryan Ferry’s “Is Your Love Strong Enough,” with lead locals by Reznor’s wife, Mariqueen Maandig. Those two covers complement the instrumental score, on which tracks are layered with simple melodies, machine-like noises and unsettling synthesizers to create a dark, moody atmosphere and complement the foreboding images on screen. “[The instrumental sounds are] processed and stretched and manipulated into a setting where it may sound harmonically familiar, but if you tune into it, it’s not behaving in a way that you’re accustomed to that type of sound behaving,” Reznor says. “I find experimenting around in that is an interesting place to work.” MORE

RELATED: Industrial music is all about the intersection of man and machine, drawing sonic tropes from the pneumatic wheeze of moving parts, and taking lyrical cues from the existential exigencies of life in a mechanized world. Trent Reznor made it speak to the punkish angst of youth trapped in dead-eyed factory towns in the dawn of the Information Age — and became the new Man In Black. MORE

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