omposer and musician Clint Mansell is certainly an unheralded hero who seems to be mired in relative obscurity in the cesspool that is professional music production. Despite great success as co-founder and frontman of the popular '80s band Pop Will Eat Itself, and more recent success as nouveau film score composer, few people know the name Clint Mansell. But that may not be the case for much longer...
Born November 7, 1963, in Coventry, England, Clint Mansell embarked upon his musical career at the ripe age of 18, forming the band From Eden in Stourbridge, England, in 1981. Consisting of Clint Mansell, Adam Mole, Malcolm Treece, Chris Fradgley, and Miles Hunt, From Eden played small-time gigs and simply jammed out. From Eden struggled for a time on the pub circuit, but eventually gained enough moxie to support larger acts like Sisters of Mercy. Hunt, Treece, and Fradgley would, however, leave the band to pursue other interests, though bassist Richard March and drummer Graham Crabb were quickly recruited to fill their void. After juggling several names and forming their own label Desperate Records (so-called due to their desperation to be successful), the band sent out several EPs to different labels and vowed to assume the name that attracted the most attention. Although no one came beating down their door with a record contract in hand, one label did respond if only to tell them that Pop Will Eat Itself, one of the monikers they distributed under, was a Hell of a great name. And so, Pop Will Eat Itself was born.
The name Pop Will Eat Itself was shamelessly stolen from an NME feature on the band Jamie Wednesday, written by David Quantick, which proposed the theory that because popular music simply recycles good ideas continuously, the perfect pop song could be written by combing the best of those ideas into one track. Hence, Pop Will Eat Itself.
The 'Poppies', as their fans affectionately refer to them, suffered under the tyranny of major labels for a number of years, initially being picked up and then promptly dropped by London Records in 1988. RCA swooped in for a taste of the Poppies, but were ultimately dissatisfied with the band's lack of wide-ranging, commercial success. Despite the masterpiece that was 1989's This Is The Day...This Is The Hour...This Is This!, in 1993, RCA dumped PWEI. Ironically enough, the last single released on the label, "Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies!" reached #9 on the UK charts, the highest chart position ever achieved by the band. Disillusioned with the treatment they received by the major labels, Pop Will Eat Itself would eventually sign to a small, independent, UK label known as Infectious.
It was about this time that Trent Reznor, founder of the relatively newly-formed, US-based Nothing Records, took a greater interest in PWEI. Reznor even went so far as to fly to the UK to meet with the band, and US distribution rights ultimately went to Nothing. PWEI issued two albums under the Infectious label, all the while slowly abandoning the "Grebo" pop sound that spawned the band, in favour of the new, Industrial vibe. In meeting Reznor and joining the Nothing family, PWEI quickly realized the benefits of the new union, and their new sound clearly reflected it. 1994's Dos Dedos Mis Amigos was a ripe and raw album, featuring a deliriously rude blend of punk, pop, hip-hop, electronic, and Industrial sounds. Many critics argue that in the early '90s, PWEI and Reznor's own band Nine Inch
Nails often reflect one another's sounds and samples.
Despite the critically acclaimed success of the band's new vibe, differences of opinion and differing artistic views would eventually drive the band apart. Graham Crabb would leave the band, leaving sole vocal duties to Clint Mansell. Several other personnel changes would ensue, and PWEI would finally release another album, 1996's Wise Up Suckers. Nevertheless, Pop Will Eat Itself did finally throw in the towel that same year.
Requiem For A Dream is a disturbing film, and it continues to grow more and more disturbing until it finally ends. It is also a brilliant film, in which the script, direction, actors, music, and sound effects come together to teach the audience about the dangers of drug addiction, and that one is no less an addict if they obtain their narcotics in an unknowing and legal fashion than if they got them out in the streets from a dealer.
Jared Leto stars in the movie as Harry Goldfarb, a twenty-something coke and heroin addict, who at the beginning has a habit that is already quite serious, although it has not completely taken his life yet. The movie begins with him
borrowing his mother's television to buy some drugs. His mother Sara, played by Ellen Burstyn in an Oscar-caliber performance, would later purchase the TV back from the pawnbroker and deny her son has a problem. The lives of this duo are the two separate, yet eerily similar, storylines into which this plot unfolds.
Harry, accompanied by his friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) and his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly), have come up with a plan to deal drugs and save enough money to never want for a fix again. Unfortunately, nothing turns out the way they wanted and their combination of bad luck and ever-growing addiction ends up sending each of them to different extremes in order to get more drugs.
Sara Goldfarb, however, in a completely separate story, suddenly finds herself addicted to both uppers and downers after visiting the doctor to get some help with dieting. Her obsession with being on television, coupled with the false hope given by a telemarketer in a scam promising she would be famous, forces her to be in a state of unawareness about her addiction until it is too late. Ironically, the only person who even notices she is on drugs is her son Harry, during a visit that is far too brief for him to be of any help to her.
Darren Aronofsky's (writer/director) use of the camera in this film more than hammers his point home. There are two techniques he uses which have been imitated many more times since this movie's release. The first is the way he films the series of events leading up to any of the characters obtaining a fix, focusing on close-ups of second-long clips of the process involved, such as a line of coke, a bloodstream, a dilated pupil. The other is the way he straps a camera to the front of an actor so it is filming a sort of fish-bowl view of their face as they go through some very profound, personal experiences.
The soundtrack, composed by Clint Mansell, is a wonderful follow-up to his work done in Aronofsky's Pi, and accompanies the film with an original score that is part industrial, part symphony. The drum mixes perfectly accent the frantic drive of the visual affects, and the haunting, recurring melody of strings highlights the pain and desperation of an addiction gone awry.
There is no satisfying conclusion, only a slow panning out of the camera to show the wide angle of the final and lasting effects of these drugs on all of the characters in the film. The viewer is left with a dark understanding of just what people with addictions such as these will do, how the people who are supposed to help those in these situations often do little more than make it all worse, and how unfocussed society's "war on drugs" really is. One cannot help but leave this movie with a new perspective of what drug addiction is, how it should be treated, and what could have prevented it to begin with.
Clint Mansell was not yet done with the music industry, however. Unlike his former bandmates who went on to form new musical projects, including Richard March's Bentley Rhythm Ace, Mansell decided a change of scenery was in order. Moving to the United States, Mansell developed several contacts, undoubtedly through the aid of one Trent Reznor. In 1998, director Darren Aronofksy recruited Clint Mansell to score the film Pi. Even making his acting debut as a photographer in Pi, Mansell's score received massive acclaim, especially at the Sundance Film Festival, and Clint Mansell suddenly found himself immersed in a blossoming new career.
again, Mansell had hit a home run, and suddenly, Clint Mansell was an in-demand composer.
After scoring Requiem, Mansell returned to his continuous work on his first solo album. In the fall of 2000, Mansell debuted the track "The Mechanic" on the (then) newly-established nothingrecords.com website. Mansell continues to work on his solo project, but scoring films has claimed the majority of his attention.
Mansell would go on to score six more films between 2001 and 2002. No longer scoring struggling, smaller films, Clint Mansell had now reached the big-time of Hollywood, working on major projects, such as Knockaround Guys, starring John Malkovich and Dennis Hopper, The Hole, and Murder by Numbers, featuring Sandra Bullock.
One thing is for certain: Clint Mansell has made a significant impact on the film industry, and is likely to be around for quite sometime. Watch for Mansell's name in future marquee films, including 2002's Abandon, starring Katie Holmes and Benjamin Bratt, as well as his work on Nicolas Cage's directorial debut on Sonny, slated for release sometime in 2003.
There have also been continual rumors, particularly on Mansell's official site, clintatthecontrols.com, of an upcoming solo project, though the rumors have persisted for literally, years. Nevertheless, Clint Mansell is a name to become acquainted with, and it certainly isn't smallest of Nothing.
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Impressed with the success of Pi, Aronofsky tapped Mansell to compose the score for his ambitious follow-up, 2000's Requiem For A Dream.
Even more successful than Pi, Requiem For A Dream earned Mansell kudos from The Online Film Critics Society, who awarded him Best Original Score of 2000. Once
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