Before Chris Vrenna parted company with Trent Reznor, he was the perfect drummer/programmer for Nine Inch Nails. Vrenna was always very musical, and Nine Inch Nails is among the more musical and melodic outfits in the industrial field -- while some industrial bands have thrived on brute force for the sake of brute force (Skinny Puppy and Throbbing Gristle, for example), Nine Inch Nails offered melody and harmony as well as aggression. Not surprisingly, many of the alternative rockers Vrenna has worked with as a producer or programmer (Marilyn Manson, Hole, Rob Zombie, among others) have a strong sense of melody. This 2001 release, however, isn't alternative rock. Best described as instrumental electronica, this CD is the soundtrack to American McGee's Alice (a video game that is based on Alice in Wonderland). Those who associate Vrenna with alternative rock might find it surprising that he would compose instrumental music for a video game, but then, Vrenna has been a flexible musician/producer. And in one sense, this soundtrack isn't unfaithful to his history -- like a lot of the alt-rock that he has been a part of, American McGee's Alice is a perfect example of his obsession with the dark side. The melodies that he wrote for this soundtrack are quite dark and eerie -- in fact, they are downright creepy. No one will accuse Vrenna's Alice score of being bright and cheerful. They will, however, acknowledge that the CD is extremely memorable and well-executed; Vrenna obviously put a lot of thought into these melodies. One need not be a fan of video games to be impressed by this soundtrack and feel that it is among Vrenna's finest accomplishments.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
|American McGee's Alice, video game music|