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Trent Reznor: David Fincher Wanted ‘Massage Parlor’ Music for ‘Gone Girl’

“Imagine that sound starting to curdle and unravel,” the Nine Inch Nails frontman explains

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross at a pre-Oscar reception

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross at a pre-Oscar reception on February 26th, 2011 in Beverly Hills, CA.

Brian To/FilmMagic

Filmmaker David Fincher gave soundtrack composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross some unique direction for what he wanted to hear in his adaptation of Gone Girl: “He said, ‘Think about the really terrible music you hear in massage parlors,'” Reznor recently told The Wall Street Journal. “The way that it artificially tries to make you feel like everything’s OK. And then imagine that sound starting to curdle and unravel.”

Although Fincher corrected the Nine Inch Nails frontman in the interview that he “said a spa, not a massage parlor,” his take on the music he wanted still seems to fit. The movie, which is based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, tells the story of a man (Ben Affleck) who has become a murder suspect after his wife (Rosamund Pike) disappears. “The movie is about the facade of the good neighbor, the good Christian, the good wife,” Fincher explained. “So the notion was to start with music that’s attempting to give you a hug.”

WSJ reports that together Reznor and Ross stumbled on an eerie woodwind motif generated with homemade synths that laid the groundwork for the movie’s confusing sensibility. The paper also explained the pair’s composition style: Reznor works his way through unstructured melodies, which he siphons over to Ross to orchestrate. “That process frees me up to lose myself in raw composition, impressionistic stuff almost,” the Nine Inch Nails frontman said. “And I can leave the room, catch my breath while he’s mocking it up, and when I come back in, four out of five times, it’s better than the thing I had in my head. Without me saying one word.”

Ultimately, Reznor said that he prefers to “operate in purely subconscious mode” so as to evoke the feelings of Affleck’s character, Nick Dunne. “We’ll think about that feeling of the walls closing in for Nick,” he said. “How does that sound?”

Reznor and Ross, who previously put together the music for the Fincher films The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network – the latter of which earned them an Oscar for Best Original Score – announced that they would be creating the music for Gone Girl in January. Since then, Reznor has taken Nine Inch Nails on the road for a tour with Soundgarden and worked inauspiciously as the creative chief of the Apple-acquired music-streaming app Beats.

The first trailer for Gone Girl came out in April. The movie will open in theaters on October 3rd.

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