Fight Club Score, The Dust Brothers (1999)

For those of you piqued by David Fincher's recent cinematic assault (I would write a 5 star review of said film for the movie section, but to do so would violate the first two rules of Fight Club), and/or those out there enamored with moody electronica, I highly recommend picking up the film's score. Composed, arranged, and produced by the legendary Dust Brothers -- the wizards behind, most notably, The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique -- the Fight Club score offers up a solid hour of dense, brooding atmospheric beats. In sum, it's the perfect soundtrack for both a friendly gathering of fisticuffs or a lonely bout of spiritual malaise.

Despite all the eminently quotable quotables offered by our humble narrator throughout the film, the Dust Brothers choose to forego the Tarantino/Reznor route (NBK, Pulp Fiction, etc.) of including dialogue snippets amid the tracks. Regardless, the Dust Brothers' unpredictable rhythms more than compensate for any hope of pithy voiceover chatter.

Indeed, repeated listenings to the tracks -- and a second viewing of the film -- only underscore the Dust Brothers' contribution to the film's enthralling power. Many of the most memorable scenes are propelled along on the power of Dust: The Brother's "Single Serving Jack" - used in Fight Club to offset Jack's airportman hysteria, offers a wickedly hypnotic pulse that slowly begins to unravel and slow into a crawling murk. "Corporate World," the music accompanying the narrator's cubicle life, begins with a perfectly insipid bossa nova beat - early Casio style - before spilling off into darker territory. Another stand out is "Jack's Smirking Revenge," heard in the film when the narrator suddenly finds himself apartment-less and thus envisions the possible cause (a pilot light - gas leak) -- It alternates long contemplative pauses with sudden bursts of energetic rhythm. And "Marla," the Brother's Badalamenti-on-a-bender ode to Helena Bonham's Carter's escape from corsetland, proves that great fighting music and great shagging music, scarily, can be one and the same.

If you enjoy electronica but haven't seen Fight Club, go see Fight Club. But, in case, you still need a referent, Fight Club's score sounds much like a more masculine, instrumental version of Portishead, or perhaps if the two french guys from Air started hanging out with Roman Polanski. This is not the retro-funk stuff served up by Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers these days - if anything it's more on the acid jazz side, with (literally) a little Gregorian chanting to boot. Very very dark, very very good.

Given the film's popularity and undeniable cult status, a "soundtrack" to accompany the score can't be far behind - The main evidence for this forthcoming soundtrack (not to mention one of the score's few faults), is the lack of inclusion of The Pixies' "Where is my Mind?," the song that closes the film. Stay tuned, space monkeys.

[First appeared on Epinions, 1999.]

Back to the GitM Music Review Page.

Main Page/Family/Links/Gallery/Biography/Soapbox/Writings/Weblog