Clint Mansell – In the Wall

3 out of 5

Label: Mondo

Produced by: Nigel Wiesehan (mixed by)

Great theme.  What else ya got?

Clint Mansell’s scores have worked for various outer films by pivoting appropriately to the genre.  While I wouldn’t say that, as a composer, he has an exactly distinctive style that can be outright identified, his ability to sink into the flicks on which he works, melding so effectively with the visuals so as to add to them but not distract perhaps is his defining trait.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure this approach necessarily makes for the best albums for standalone listening.  You often wind up with some great moments where he allows himself to be more expressive – the opening and closing – and then a lot of tracks that are spot scoring or cues.  In the Wall fits that mold.  What’s misleading is that the main theme so effectively suggests the creepiness of the film’s horror genre that when the same theme pokes its head into other moments, the songs feel richer than they are.  Side A works this pretty well: After the fantastic main titles, some mood setting (slowly creeping ambience) happens before Aftermath picks up the theme again and deconstructs it a tad.  We then live in the ghost of this song until the end of the side – Nightmares – perks up once more.  (The side actually ends with Nightmares’ reprise, but anyway…)  Side B ends up not having much to work with by this point.  Opener sex = death brings some life (ironically) to things temporarily, but its rather short.  Then the Aftermath reprise is a scattered version of the superior original, leading into very minimal cues until the adventurous End Credits closes things out.

One can imagine how effective these inbetween moments would be when melded to imagery, but on  their own, it’s fairly spotty.  But its short, and bookended by those two great compositions, so certainly an engaging enough listen.  But it also doesn’t deter my general Mansell experience, which is loving the work in-film, but then not nearly as moved by it on its own.

The Mondo mastering of this is questionable.  The quiet/loud ratio is frustrating; there’s some punctuated purposeful feedback that’s way too loud when you’ve got it turned up to hear the quiet bits, which you can’t hear at all if that’s kept at a reasonable volume.  Sure, my system is average, but that shouldn’t be such an annoyance either way.  There’s also quiet a bit of noise on the B side, or at least my copy.  Includes a poster and a flat, both depicting the film poster.