Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provide a sparse and haunting soundtrack to the first clip from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s upcoming documentary, The Vietnam War.
The clip examines the notorious Christmas Bombings, which leveled areas around Hanoi and Haiphong between December 18th and 29th, 1972. Reznor and Ross’ soundtrack emerges amidst harrowing footage of the devastation and two starkly different interviews given by an American prisoner of war and a North Vietnamese man. Synth wisps build into an ominous melody anchored by distant thumps as narrator Peter Coyote details the horrified reaction to the bombings from protestors and politicians around the world.
Along with original music from Reznor and Ross, The Vietnam War will feature new music arranged by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, and additional music by David Cieri and Doug Wamble. The soundtrack will also feature a slew of songs from the era, including tracks by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone. The 10-part docu-series premieres on PBS in September.
Per a press release, Burns and Novick had Reznor and Ross in mind for the score since they started working on the film. The filmmakers shared rough cuts of scenes and interviews with the musicians, detailed descriptions of the moods they hoped to evoke, as well as sound effects from the Vietnam era that Reznor and Ross could work with.
“The sheer scale of the project combined with the magnitude of the subject matter was initially daunting for us, but the commitment, care and reverence they displayed made the experience deeply satisfying on many levels,” said Reznor and Ross in a statement.
The Vietnam War marks Ross and Reznor’s latest soundtrack project, after providing music for Patriots Day and the documentary Before the Flood last year. The pair have also been at work on new Nine Inch Nails music, releasing an EP, Not the Actual Events, in December and reportedly prepping two projects for 2017.