A Clint Mansell score is always something to look forward to.
Ever since Pop Will Eat Itself disbanded in 1996 and Mansell provided the music for Darren Aronofsky’s debut Pi, he has proven himself to be one of the most consistent and interesting people working in the field of film scores. His most impressive works have been his collaborations with the similarly consistent and interesting Aronofsky, the best of which are his scores for The Fountain and Requiem for a Dream, particularly the former with Mansell, the Kronos Quartet and Mogwai forming a superb team. For his latest score, he has once again partnered up with Aronofsky, this time for the atheist director’s audacious take on the biblical tale.
Proceedings open ominously with the foreboding ‘In the Beginning, there was Nothing’. The track starts off dark, with its gloomy horns and clanging percussion expertly building tension, until the strings enter, ushering in light, like the Biblical doves. However, an underlying sense of dramatic intensity is retained. This essentially encapsulates the entire score – it effortlessly flirts between darkness and light in a manner that is both musically impressive and pleasing to the ears. This dynamic is evident in standouts like ‘Sweet Saviour’, main theme ‘Make Thee an Ark’ and the aforementioned opener.
The album concludes with the melancholy ‘Mercy Is’, performed by Patti Smith and the Kronos Quartet. It’s a fitting (particularly in terms of tone) and satisfying conclusion. However, the real attraction remains the score itself.
This score is one that works perfectly within the context of the film (often heightening the impact of certain scenes), whilst also being great listening when taken on its own merits. That’s often a seldom occurrence in the field of film scoring, but not for Mansell. Noah: Music from the Motion Picture finds Mansell conjuring imagery that seamlessly floats between beauty and despair, while also effectively juggling a range of moods and styles – from majestic to epic to intimate to brooding – and combining them to craft an arresting piece of music that easily ranks amongst his best works; in fact, it even equals his score The Fountain. And that’s saying something.
Words: Matt Jones