He Scores Again!!

Clint Mansell

High Rise, OSTHigh-Rise pic

Silva Screen Records, 2016                                                              

Well, he’s back. Clint Mansell, that is. For those, not aware of Mr. Mansell, this guy was, about, say, 20+ years ago, in Pop Will Eat Itself, a British band which was, well, maybe a little bit like Prodigy, but not as “edgy”, rather, they were more “bouncy”, while coming up with some “dope beats” and fun stuff to remix and blast in the clubs, etc. But, now, for many people, Clint Mansell may be better known for the movie scoring he’s been doing for a time now. He’s worked with director Darren Aronofsky on, first, his breakout film, the intriguing and terrific Pi and then, Clint really rose to the challenge when he scored Aronofsky’s next, still quite memorable Requiem for a Dream, starring the great Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) which is a vivid, rollercoaster ride of a “thriller” that some who’ve seen it think was anything but “thrilling”and, because of this, the film remains, still today, somewhat controversial, at least in that it seems to evoke strong feelings and/or debate about issues portrayed. Anyway, Mansell went all out and did some, well, I suppose you could call them “challenging” music for the Requiem soundtrack and he succeeded in creating some great musical effects in a great score that, according to a couple readings about it that I’ve glanced at, at times, seems to “sound difficult” or, in what is most definitely a praise of Mansell, someone wrote that he had done such a good job writing the score of the film, that at certain points in it, his music becomes “difficult to listen to”. Reading that made me think of some of the great avant-garde or just-plain thoroughly post-modern (before its time) composers, such as Penderecki, Varése and Iannis Xenakis, to name just a few. In The Exorcist, a bit of music by Penderecki is in it and it sure fits well: “Polymorphia” is a great example of something (though not originally written for any film) which can really intensify a scene in a film.

But now, let me get to now so I can talk about the new work from Clint and that is his score which is nicely represented on the soundtrack to the movie High-Rise a film that is something definitely worth seeing. This may be one of the first times I’ve listened to the soundtrack to a movie before I’ve even seen the movie. Unfortunately this is a review of the soundtrack and not a movie review as well. Gotta stay focused!

What I do know about High-Rise, the movie, is that it’s directed by Ben Wheatley, stars Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and James Purefoy. It’s a “thriller”, based on JG Ballard’s 1975 book of the same name. The story follows a young doctor who finds all kinds of strange, intriguing, sinister goings-on, living in this nice new high-rise in England, set during the1970s. Yes, I admit, I have not seen the movie- as of this writing- but I intend to see it as soon as I get a chance!

As far as the music goes, it’s quite good! Beyond that – even though I haven’t seen it yet- the music on here does have a cinematic style to it. It’s also scored well and represented nicely on this recording, unlike a lot of Hollywood-ish movies, the ones that put all kinds of pop music in it and/or older music or whatever, then, when the soundtrack comes out on CD you get basically a collection of previously released songs that goes back to the 60s or so; a collection of songs that really don’t have any connection between them, except for the fact that they all – or sometimes not even all of them – appeared, if even for just 20 seconds, in the movie.

As with a few other well-done soundtracks from films which were also quite good, Mansell’s soundtrack to High-Rise works quite nicely on two levels: Mansell has turned out a great score to an interesting film and he’s also recorded an album which, on its own, is a delight to listen to. -KM.


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