Clint Mansell: The Fountain

Clint Mansell - The Fountain soundtrack CD cover The Fountain sees Clint Mansell teaming-up with Mogwai, a Scottish post-rock band, as well as with the Kronos Quartet, famous for their work with Philip Glass. This specific combination of artists proves to be an explosive one. For those familiar with Mansell's Requiem for a Dream, you will immediately recognize the "desperate yet beautiful" feeling that stems from the music. Those familiar with the works of Philip Glass, especially the Noqoyqatsi score, will also detect a strong influence. This is the third time Mansell scores a Darren Aronofsky movie, and it certainly won’t be the last. These two artists are part of the great musician-director collaborations that clearly illustrate the link between music and cinema as inseparable.

"The Last Man", our opening track, merges minimal piano with superb string work by the Kronos quartet; the sound and atmosphere are similar to the impressive Noqoyqatsi soundtrack in which Chinese cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed alongside Philip Glass. "Holy Dread!" enters the realms of avant-garde, without being deconstructive or overpowering in its technicality; drones and instruments collide, single notes thud in perfect sequence, and huge gong-like echoes detonate in the distance before fading out slowly. These two initial tracks paint the musical concept for the whole score; and it becomes obvious that this is the most original soundtrack of 2006.

“Tree of Life” surprises with its heavy electric guitar strings and its fiery ambiance, all of this entangled in lush electronic soundscapes. The sheer beauty of this track is that it refuses to inhabit any genre, it is neither electronica or post-rock; it could be classified as fusion, but then...why bother classify such a perfect arrangement. This one is bound to foul the musical press. “Stay with Me” and “Xibalba” are romantic ambient tracks that have to be experienced with a superior sound system, outside of the films context. They are truly entrancing. It would be hard to say which track out of the ten is the most unique and compelling, but “Finish it” has to be the heart and soul to Mansell’s score. It captures the other-worldliness of the movie, sounding almost like some ancient folklore to an unknown dreamlike civilisation.

The Fountain is without doubt the best score of 2006. It has already gained recognition from many musical circles, and has to be experienced. Quite simply, this is a masterpiece of modern film-music history. The soundtrack album is available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

Reviewer: Robert Purvis

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