As someone who imbibes a perhaps absurd number of filmic hours, I have a habit of bleeding together details of moving pictures in my brain. This is the not the case for Darren Aronofsky’s Y2K masterpiece Requiem for a Dream, due in large part to the iconic score by Clint Mansell. In celebration of Record Store Day 2016, Nonesuch has released this indelible soundtrack on deliciously chunky 180g vinyl, housed in a heavyweight cardboard gatefold sleeve, inviting fans to sink into this ravishing and irrevocable terrarium once again.
Have you ever really forgotten the interstices of prodigiously dilating, heroin-fueled pupils or the sinister dance of the refrigerator? Let’s go ahead and get past the fact that Mansell isn’t carving any new territory in his string writing or electronic production here, or that the Kronos Quartet likely had an easy-breezy payday with this session. The simplicity is an essential thing, from the unforgettable oscillation of B-flat/G–to–B-flat/A motive that weaves throughout the narrative (and in particular, the tracks “Hope Overture” and “Marion Barfs”) to the industrial stomp of numbers like “Party” to the perverse “Bialy & Lox Conga” that signifies the elderly Sara Goldfarb’s crude descent into diet-pill psychosis.
Whether in Pi, The Fountain, or even the relative fiasco that is Black Swan, Aronofsky shimmers at the intersection of grainy reality and elevated, or magical, realism. It follows, then, that Mansell’s DIY approach to composition, coupled with the polish of Kronos (recorded at no less than Skywalker Ranch), would be a symbiotic match.
Requiem for a Dream and its score oblige the viewer to reckon with the duality of addiction: the blissful loss of self (“Ghosts”) and the destruction of that same self (“The Beginning of the End”). Faithfully reproduced on vinyl here, the listening experience brings this dichotomy flooding back instantaneously and devastatingly. It’s almost enough to make one forget that male lead Jared Leto fronts 30 Seconds to Mars. Almost.
- Doyle Armbrust