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Baker's Dozen

Immersion Through Disturbance: Clint Mansell's Favourite Film Soundtracks
Kiran Acharya , May 14th, 2014 11:46

The former Pop Will Eat Itself singer turned film score maestro tells Kiran Acharya about the 13 soundtracks that have inspired him most

Photograph courtesy of Ivan Bideac

Darren Aronofsky's Biblical epic Noah might have only been out for a couple of months, but composer Clint Mansell has already moved on to making music for The Imitation Game. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the persecuted and brutalised Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing, and the new project has allowed Mansell to incorporate cryptographic themes into the music.

"I thought it would be interesting to create some sort of code that allowed me to write the music without actually writing the music," he says. "I did simple things like putting the alphabet across two octaves, with the first musical A relating to the letter 'A', for instance. The second might relate to 'N'. Then you create codes and pick out the notes of the words, using those notes to create the music."

This kind of challenge is important for Mansell, who found that scoring films like Requiem For A Dream, Moon and Black Swan opened a new musical world compared to the one he occupied as the singer with Pop Will Eat Itself. As part of the group, he found there was almost an obligation to pay attention to musical moments that seem faddish when looked at almost twenty years later.

"This is what I prefer about my job now to my job in the band," he says. "The world I live in now, musically, allows me to not react so strongly to a particular trend - sampling, hip-hop - or a moment, if you like. There's a broader palette that I can not only pull from, but which also feels relevant to what I'm trying to do."

Although he doesn't listen to all that many soundtracks, he explains that the ones he loves share an unsettling and often ominous quality, the kind of music that immerses through disturbance instead of acting as an emotional handrail. With a nod of acknowledgement to Broadcast's work on Berberian Sound Studio and Thomas Bangalter's disorienting soundtrack to Irréversible, his Baker's Dozen choices include two from David Lynch films, one featuring a youthful Tom Cruise, and a cheery surprise from a vintage musical, as well as the biggest influence on his own work, John Carpenter's classic, written-in-three-days synth score for Assault On Precinct 13, first encountered by Mansell as a penniless teen in the heart of the Black Country, watching a £1 Friday night double-bill.

The Noah soundtrack is out now via Nonesuch. Keep updated on Clint's activities via his website and click on his image below to begin scrolling through Clint's choices

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