British film composer Clint Mansell reprises his collaboration with the Kronos Quartet on the soundtrack/score for Darren Aronofsky's film Noah. He had worked with them previously on another Aronofsky project, the score for 2006's The Fountain. As one might expect, this is an especially dramatic score, and when it comes to performing Mansell's modern crossover classical approach, the Kronos' reach -- as displayed throughout their catalog -- is most welcome. The opening cue, "In the Beginning, There Was Nothing," relies heavily on tense layered cellos, electronic percussion, and keyboards; its tone is brooding, doomy, often foreboding. At over four minutes in length, it also sets up a paradigm for many of the cues that follow. Though there are several brief pieces, most range between four and six minutes -- a rarity for original scores these days. Other notable selections include "Make Thee an Ark," which feints with a brief nod toward Morricone's spaghetti Western themes before opening into a transcendent, rumbling exhortation to obey from the distant margins. (After all, this is the voice of the Divine we're supposed to hear.) The stillness that lies inside the strings, percussion, and guitars in "The Flood Waters Were Upon the World" is actually quite eerie and uneasy. At nearly six minutes, "Day and Night Shall Not Cease" actually recalls Arvo Pärt's use of tintinnabuli during its first third, before it becomes more pastoral and actually evokes the more restrained moments of Vaughan Williams' chamber works as more brief variations are introduced. The closing track, "Mercy Is," features a gorgeous, nearly Anglo-Celtic melody with Patti Smith's lyrics and vocals fronting the Kronos. Noah is an exceptional score, noteworthy even in Mansell's distinguished oeuvre.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek