This is the third in a series of lists in which I share five soundtrack recommendations. Specifically, these are tunes that I’ve found are great background noise when I’m busy drawing. I know the Dark Knight Rises OST is already available online, but I have this personal rule of not really diving into a film score beforehand, as it becomes a bit of a distraction when I get to view the movie. But all that aside, here are some excellent musical scores to some movies I actually have seen.
The Social Network (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross)
Bit of an oldie but still a mainstay in my hard drive, the accompanying theme to the deceptively naive and cutthroat world of software infringement helps me get in the zone when I’m trying to power through layouts at 3 in the morning. The industrial flavor is just manic enough that you get an extra buzz with your coffee, without distracting from whatever text or research material you need to go through to get your job done. This OST has gotten a lot of hype from many more eloquent than I, so I’ll mainly just recommend you find out for yourself if you haven’t checked it out yet.
Contagion (Cliff Martinez)
Echoing the film’s ominous mood and fairly large scope, Martinez’ mix of dark ambient electronica and acid jazz results in a throbbing collection of tunes that practically grows into a “presence” in your music archives. I got a very strong sense of build up from this OST and highly recommend it to anyone still getting started on a day’s pile of crap to do. That’s right, nothing gets me in the mood to make a living like the sound of people dying (not really, but that metaphor was too good to pass up).
Stand out tracks in this are They’re Calling My Flight, Bad Day to be a Rhesus Monkey, and Handshake.
Deus Ex (Michael McCann)
While we’re on the subject of electronica, there’s no forgetting the soundtrack for Deux Ex. I’m not a gamer per se (I play around three or four “new” games a year, and don’t always finish them), but I love the cyberpunk sub-genre of science fiction. With something as niche as the human augmentation trope, I first thought I was just going to end up comparing this to Ghost in the Shell when I first gave it a listen. While sharing some flavors, Deus Ex boasts a very unique Middle Eastern vibe to its music, which is something I personally had not come across in this facet of science fiction.
Moneyball (Mychael Danna)
I guess because I’m Filipino, I don’t have a natural love for baseball. I once cracked a really colonial joke stating that the reason why Americans love the game so much is because it involves hitting things and claiming land as their own. But yeah, I guess it’s just not my thing. That said, I enjoyed Moneyball quite a bit, and thanks in no small part to the film’s score. Equal parts uplifting and tension inducing, it never fails to give you the sense that what you’re doing is waaaay more important than it actually is. If you hear a crowd roaring in your head every time you finish a chunk of work, this is for you.
The Ides of March (Alexandre Desplat)
Been doing a lot of writing lately, which can be argued takes a little more active thought than drawing. A lot of times when I’m illustrating, part of it becomes muscle memory, but writing is never quite that for me. I don’t know if I just haven’t done enough of it, or if I’m simply not very good at it. But that’s that. The OST for the Ides of March is a nice steady collection of tracks that never become overtly tense or downright boring. Each track, in and of itself, very richly lends to storytelling that it has very quickly become one of my favorite work themes. And when all is said and done, I think what we’re looking for is not just music that reminds us of something we enjoyed anyway, but sounds that help us create something special of our own.