Trent Reznor may be amidst the most prolific stretch of his career — and for a guy whose discography boasts upwards of 20 releases, that’s saying something. Reznor is just weeks removed from Nine Inch Nails’ Not the Actual Events EP, and he has two more major releases from the band planned in 2017. All the while, he recently scored Leonardo DiCaprio’s climate change documentary, Before the Flood, and Patriots Day, Peter Berg’s new film about the Boston Marathon Bombing. Now comes word of a third composing project.
As the New York York Times reports, Reznor and collaborator Atticus Ross wrote more than two hours of original music for acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns’ latest project, The Vietnam War. The 10-part, 18-hour documentary is set to air on PBS in September, and Burns personally charged Reznor and Ross with the entire soundtrack.
“I don’t think he finished the sentence before I said, ‘Yeah, we’re in,’” Reznor told the Times. “That’s a no-brainer.” Reznor added that by working on multiple soundtracks simultaneously, they achieved a sense of creative freedom. “The tone of concern in Before the Flood led perfectly into the pure dread, evil and melancholy that we explored in Patriots Day, which also provided us the momentum to make the Nine Inch Nails record ugly and confrontational,” he explained. “We could go deeper in each pool knowing it wasn’t forever. We could take a break from the end of the world by going into a terrorist bombing, or take a break from that by making an ‘I want to kill myself’ album.”
For this project specifically, Reznor and Ross used field recordings of “mortars, helicopters, people talking — we would process those sounds and use them as rhythmic starting points.”
Along with original music from Reznor and Ross, The Vietnam War will feature reworked bits from Nine Inch Nails songs and their scores for The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The soundtrack is rounded out by original music from Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, along with songs by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and more.
Elsewhere in his interview with the Times, Reznor said that while Nine Inch Nails will headline NYC’s Panorama Music Festival this summer, a full tour is unlikely in 2017.
Update: Hear an excerpt of Reznor and Ross’ score in the below teaser.