Music composed specifically for films can be a tricky thing. The songs need to fit the mood of a scene without ever stepping on the toes of the visual. It’s a complicated formula, and it means there are often scores that are successful within a movie but can’t stand alone. Brian Reitzell’s score for the neo-vampire flick 30 Days of Night isn’t one of them. Not only does it work well when removed from its visual source, but it’s also scary as hell even without the vampires.
Reitzell has built up an impressive resume as composer. As the drummer for Air, he helped pen the score to The Virgin Suicides, a highpoints of the band’s career. He miraculously pulled My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields out of hiding to collaborate on Lost in Translation. More recently, he worked with Spoon’s Britt Daniel on the wonderfully shambolic and quirky score for Stranger Than Fiction.
Knowing Reitzell’s past work makes his 30 Days of Night soundtrack even better. The sort of warm and sexy work he’s best known for is completely absent here. Instead, he goes for a mix of unsettling ambience (via a pottery wheel) and horrifyingly heart-pounding jolts of fight-or-flight percussion, delivering the sort of nightmare-inducing soundtrack that uses negative space as a medium, as Aphex Twin’s best ambient work does. It’s an impressive album that is just as cold and claustrophobic as the Alaskan setting of the film.