Tuesday, 5 July 2016

the neon demon - soundtrack

the neon demon is the latest film from nicholas winding refn, possibly the coolest director working right now (until ana lily amirpour finishes her next movie). famous for his bold visuals, striking colour palettes and surreal reimaginings of classic movie genres, the neon demon is his first horror movie. with the los angeles fashion industry as a backdrop, the film takes on the hollywood dream and repaints it as a neon-drenched nightmare.

for the sountrack, refn once again turned to regular collaborator cliff martinez. while martinez has had a long career working on now legendary movies like sex, lies and videotape, narc and traffic, his score for drive is one of the most bold, standout movie scores of the few decades. martinez worked with refn again on only god forgives and produced another memorable and effective score, particularly the track, 'wanna fight' that plays under the climactic fight scene. there is something about the audacity of martinez's scores that goes really well with refn's striking visuals so it's no surprise that the two would work together again on the neon demon.

for the neon demon score martinez creates an electronic soundscape that is both thrilling and full of dread at the same time. there are echoes of john carpenter here, if carpenter had ever been remixed by nine inch nails era trent reznor, and at times it also reminded me of the tangerine dream scores for movies like manhunter and sorceror.  i also couldn't help thinking of the disasterpiece score for it follows, although in that case i'm not entirely sure the score suited the films visuals as well as this score does. despite it's influences, the neon demon score is classic martinez and manages to feel both slightly retro and ultra contemporary at the same time.

the title track that opens the album really sums up everything that's great about the score, building from a creepy opening to an electronic dirge and all the while conveying a sense of something unsettling beneath the surface. i also liked the more atmospheric tracks like 'ruby at the morgue' and 'i would never say you're fat', and the super-creepy all-out horror tracks like 'something's in my room'. some of the tracks also have an ethereal, other-worldly quality to them, like 'runway' or 'jesse sneaks into her room'.

with the neon demon soundtrack martinez once again proves that he is one of the most relevant and interesting composers working in cinema right now and it's no surprise that he's also crossed over into videogames. if you enjoyed martinez's work on drive and only god forgives you will definitely like this, and yet it's also different enough to ensure it feels fresh. i hope refn and martinez contine to collaborate and look forward to seeing/hearing what they do next.

the neon demon - original motion picture sountrack is available now both digitally and on cd from milan records, and will be released on vinyl on july 8th

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