Scoring a movie is, if nothing else, a compromise-driven process, probably
more so than any other musical endeavor scenes constantly change
in length during editing, tracks must be reshaped again and again.
And yet established stars are flocking to the big screen, putting their
music behind such pictures as "Stigmata" (Billy Corgan), "The Story of
Us" (Eric Clapton) and now "Fight Club," whose incidental music was written
by none other than the Dust Brothers.
That's right, the not-actual-brothers, John King and Mike Simpson
responsible for much of the '90s most attention-grabbing music, from
"Where It's At" to "Mmm Bop," worked with "Fight Club" director
David Fincher to craft a suitably ambiguous musical backing to Fincher's
gray-area thriller/think-piece. As a whole, the soundtrack is surprisingly
cohesive and consistent.
Which doesn't mean it's all that engaging as a stand-alone LP. Simpson
says Fincher "wanted the music to be somewhat confusing to have
both a disturbing and soothing effect. He didn't want the music to ever
clue you in as to whether what you were watching was good or bad." That's
a difficult mandate like colors or words, sounds are heavy with
our cultural baggage, and specific sounds provoke specific reactions,
whether we want them to or not. (It was Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel, after
all, who said that D-minor was the saddest of all chords.)
To create the ambiguity Fincher wanted, the Dust Brothers had to throw
many of their normal tricks out the window. They're masters, after all,
of the musical bait-and-switch: creating one set of musical expectations
in the listener but delivering another one altogether; this is the
Odelay formula in a nutshell. Fincher asked them to erase expectations
Without their pastiche arsenal, and not wanting to use sampled material
(for copyright reasons), the Dust Brothers used all original music, save
for some Gregorian chants.
The 15 atmospheric pieces are all spare carefully so, not quickie
cut-and-paste jobs and aren't immediately engaging. As Fincher
wanted, a lot of the music ends up being a little confusing, or at least
neither here nor there. Sometimes sounding uncannily like David Byrne's
score for "The Catherine Wheel," the crisp beats and wispy overtones can
be just slightly paranoia-inducing.
There's the occasional amusing touch, like the electro samba on "Corporate
excerpt), but for the most part, this is the most sedate work the Dust
Brothers have done since their work on Creeper Lagoon's I Become Small
Things only really heat up on the last track, "Finding the Bomb"
excerpt), as the music descends first into chaos, then into
That the Fight Club soundtrack as a stand alone isn't completely
engaging means the Dust Brothers did their job well. It's a promising
debut for them as film composers the music fits the film like a
glove, an almost uncomfortably tight one.