Essentially an indie rock mix CD, the Fast Food Nation soundtrack can hardly be expected to convey the power or force behind filmmaker Richard Linklater and writer Eric Schlosser's scathing expos of the fast-food industry. Wisely, they opt for a whimsical mood instead and come up with a multi-flavored program of songs that alternate between vaguely Tex-Mex, electronic, and '50s rock overtones. The instrumental Arizona trio Friends of Dean Martinez contributes seven songs, which brings a thread of continuity to the CD. Linklater is nothing if not thoughtful about the music choices he makes in his films, and it shows once again here but doesn't overpower the good-for-driving pleasure of this group of songs.
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By contrast, the music of The Fountain takes you fully into the absorbing mindset of the film. Composer Clint Mansell has scored all of director Darren Aronofsky's work to date, so there is an established trust in their working rapport that carries over into Mansell's score, which layers the modern chamber outfit Kronos Quartet over an initial foundation by experimental rock group Mogwai. The marquee value alone of this adventurous pairing should entice drooling anticipation from fans of both groups. A refreshing change from the overbaked orchestral work that plagues Hollywood, The Fountain conjures an eerie, nightmarish landscape perhaps unparalleled since Alien. This music might at first sound like languid droning, but Kronos and Mogwai focus heavily on building tension and hit their spots when they have to change gears into the longing and helpless love that's central to the film.