Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor and his old buddy Atticus Ross have been doing a whole lot of film-score work in recent years, and their latest venture could turn out to be their best, even when you factor in the Oscar for The Social Network and everything. Last year, Reznor and Ross announced that they’d be doing the score for HBO’s Watchmen, Damon Lindelof’s adaptation of the canonical 1986 comic-book classic. We are now three episodes deep into the first nine-episode season, and thus far, it whips ass. Reznor and Ross’ music might be the best thing about it.
The Lindelof take on Watchmen — a present-day envisioning that assumes takes place 30 years after the events in the comic — is strange and heady TV, and it can sometimes be pretty aggravating. (Lindelof has a tendency to make his characters speak in riddles even when there’s no non-plot-driving reason for them to do it.) But it’s also tense, exhilarating, exciting filmmaking, and it’s got a tense, exhilarating, exciting score from Reznor and Ross. In fact, the show’s music is one of those rare pieces of film-score music that works perfectly well as straight-up music, heard outside the context of the show.
Shortly after the first episode aired, Reznor and Ross announced that they would release three albums of Watchmen music over the course of the season. They kept cover art and track titles secret to better protect Lindelof’s riddles. But today, they’ve released the first volume. The tracks take the electro throb of prime NIN, strip away the mad-at-your-dad lyrics, and add the odd clip of dialog from the show. It slaps. “Nun With A Motherfucking Gun,” previously shared in an untitled end-credits YouTube video, slaps especially hard. Stream that first soundtrack below.
Watchmen: Volume 1 (Music From The HBO Series) is out now on Reznor’s own Null Corporation label. Watchmen airs Sunday nights on HBO.