[2 May 2012]
PopMatters Assistant Editor
With soundtracks like The Fountain and Black Swan under his belt, Clint Mansell doesn’t have to worry much about proving himself. He’s composed what are very likely some of the best film scores ever recorded; as I’ve argued before, The Fountain should be held in high regard, despite the film’s divisiveness that still exists all these years later. Though his most frequent collaborator is Darren Aronofsky, his work is not limited to that director; many of the scores he’s done for other films, 2009’s Moon being an excellent example, have nearly matched the standard set by his most well-known recordings.
And while it’s shorter than most of his previous works, the score to Last Night nevertheless retains the emotive power that makes him such an important composer. I haven’t seen the under-the-radar film from which it’s sourced, but like any good film score this stands on its own as an independent piece of music. Each of Mansell’s scores have had something of a central sonic, due in large part to their arrangements: The Fountain‘s was a mix of chamber classical and post-rock, and Black Swan‘s featured a larger orchestra. Here the music is piano-based, which creates a very intimate, very moody feel. With its melancholy arpeggios, album opener “First Movement” brings to mind Philip Glass’ Metamorphosis. That somber air drapes itself over the entirety of the album, save for the sunny “Streets of New York”, which sounds like a somewhat chilled out Mogwai.
Don’t let the album’s relatively short length fool you: this is incredible, powerful music that runs through a whole range of emotions over the course of its runtime. Mansell wastes no time in this score’s seven track length, making a powerfully emotive case for his status as the best film composer alive.