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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Sunday, July 27, 2014

CLINT MANSELL "Noah: Music From the Motion Picture" (Nonesuch)

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Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014 5:00 am

Clint Mansell’s mood music for Darren Aronofsky’s take on the great flood recalls some of his earlier work for the director, especially the 2000 soundtrack to the addiction-ruins-everything study Requiem for a Dream and the 2006 time-jumping sci-fi epic The Fountain. All three employ the Kronos Quartet in programs that use the strings to bring out the tragedy and melancholy of Aronofsky’s material. Mansell has simplified his approach for Noah’s story even as he’s created music as grand as Genesis’ tale of creation. The majority of themes here are of two and three notes, repeated statements that echo the back-and-forth shifting of waves at sea and the toil of construction, backed by percussive clanking that suggests the breaking of stones. The nearly 80 minutes of music are broken into four sections — “Wickedness,” “Innocence,” “Judgment,” and “Mercy” — that generally define the music’s tone without overdoing their associated emotions. The grander pieces gain depth and dimension with additional strings and brass. They’re tempered by synthesizer and prepared piano played by the composer, touches that dilute the music’s heaviness. Patti Smith’s lyric on “Mercy Is” (written with Lenny Kaye), her bitter tones framed somberly by the quartet, makes for a surprisingly beautiful finale. Though reminiscent of his earlier scores, Noah marks Mansell as one of the most consistently accomplished film music composers. 

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