Thursday, September 23, 2010

Composer with the Dragon Tattoo

What with the global mania about Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, wasn’t it only a matter of time before we had the film scores released on CD? Well, Salander fans, wait no more. Composer Jacob Groth’s dark, twisty, and highly thematic scores for all three films are now available on two discs from two different labels.

Milan Records’ soundtrack from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was out first. The music is quite something, compelling in every way. It so easily could have been melodramatic, but Groth avoids this, creating instead a mysterious, sometimes horrifying soundscape for these characters -- and plot -- that are, one must admit, just a little bit “off.”

The pulsing sounds of the opening track, “Warning Cry,” gives way to the gentle, though threatening tones of “Evil Men.” This is menacing, string-heavy music, offset by the gentler, introspective “Mother & Daughter.” For “The Rape,” Groth focuses his orchestra low on the scale, with persistent heartbeats that signal Salander’s horror at what’s happening to her. The rest of the CD is filled with pounding action cues, introspective pieces, and the like. Groth, one of the most celebrated Scandinavian composers, has done incredible -- even indelible -- work here. I can hear him doing James Bond scores in the future, bringing a certain gravitas to the spy’s otherwise airy proceedings. My only complaint: I wish the final track, “Salander,” were allowed to segue into the closing credits, which contains superb music.

Silva Screen Records has quickly followed up the original release with a compliation CD called Music from Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Triology that features music from all three films. Here the menace continues, allowing the films -- directed by two different men -- to retain a welcome sense of continuity. The music is, therefore, much the same in tone, with pounding dark colors, rich melody, and cues that seem triggered by characters' memories. And there's a real yearning here, too.

Both CDs are wonderful examples of Groth’s work. They’d be wonderful to play as you read the books. That is, if you somehow haven’t done so already.

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