“Watchmen” by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Who would have ever believed that Trent I Wanna Fuck You Like An Animal Reznor would one day score a Pixar movie? Not me, that’s for sure, even though I’m a big NIN fan and certainly know about the musical qualities of this man and his creative partner. But an animated film? One that is rooted in the Jazz genre? Even for the year 2020 that felt a little bit like fake news to me.

But it’s certainly true, thanks to the innovative thinking of Pete Docter, director and creative director of Pixar, who time and again has proven that he likes to push creative limits. So by the end of the year when Soul finally lands on Disney+, we’re gonna lay our ears on a Reznor/Ross Jazz score. According to this Collider interview, it was just a gut decision by Doctor and his team, but I don’t quite buy this casual attitude, especially with a company like Disney behind it.

Maybe there’s an entirely different Reznor/Ross project to “blame” for all of this?

I am of course talking about the limited HBO series Watchmen for which Reznor and Ross took over the composer’s duties and delivered a sprawling, three-part soundtrack set that effortlessly moves through the various genres.

From the typical electronic-industrial tapestry they are known for, to quiet ambient music, as well as spoken-word fragments taken from the show, to, indeed, atmospheric vintage jazz – complete with live instruments and husky female vocals.

It is a turn of events that one could only have guessed due to individual cues on scores such as Gone Girl. But not on this scale. And it may end up as a decisive change of direction for the duo. After all, this year we can also look forward to their score for the David Fincher period film Mank, for which, so they say, they’ve only utilized period appropriate instruments. Perhaps with ambitious projects like these, they’ll finally succeed in earning their long overdue recognition from the elitist circles of film music fans around.

The art for all three volumes comes from American designer Corey Holms, who has quite an impressive portfolio under his belt. He came up with the logo treatment for the digital editions (#2 to #4), but more importantly he created the complete package design for all three physical vinyl releases (#5 to #7).

The fun aspect about those is that they were designed as in-world products taken out of the alternate reality of Watchmen. They’re disguised as a rock band album (Vol. 1), a soundtrack to an anthology series (Vol. 2) and, most interestingly, a long-lost studio album by The Nine Inch Nails (Vol. 03), which interweaves the original history of Trent Reznor’s very own band with the fictional reality of the show in a delightfully creative way. A real treat for any die-hard NIN fan out there.

You can check it out for yourself in these digital booklets below, which I created using scans that recently popped up on Reddit. Enjoy!

3 Comments

  1. I can’t understand how the Watchmen tv score hasn’t been released on CD yet- I imagine it would have been easy enough to combine the three volumes into a two-disc release. I held off buying the digital downloads for a physical release and I’m beginning to realise it seems its never going to happen. Which is really odd considering how successful the show and the music has been.

    For the record, I really did enjoy the HBO series despite my original misgivings, repeating my experience with the movie (I love the graphic novel, owning multiple copies at this point, but was convinced it’ll never be a good movie/it’ll never be a good series and hey, I was proven wrong on both counts). I’ve even bought the series on Blu-ray. I want to buy the soundtrack on CD.

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    1. I too have the graphic novel and the original movie adaptation on DVD, both as super super deluxe editions (I don’t know their actual name but they’re both massive!). But I doubt that there’ll be a CD release of the TV score. It seems like CDs are the new niche market. It’s either cheap (digital) or expensive (Vinyl) production costs. There’s no middle ground.

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  2. Anonymous

    Apparently, Reznor/Ross scores for ‚Soul‘ were only for „Soul World“ scenes. „Real World“ scenes were apparently scored by Jon Batiste.

    ‚Soul‘ definitely seems to be more of an „art-house“ animated film when compared to previous Pixar films.

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