Telling the story of a blind vigilante set in the same timeline as Thor and Guardians Of The Galaxy is no easy task.
However, The Netflix Original Series, Daredevil is the most satisfying installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Critics and fans alike have praised the show’s sharp writing and impeccable performances from its ensemble cast, but another vital aspect can be found in its sound design. Most notably the original score from John Paesano.
The trio of Marvel Netflix shows: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage are stories of broken people. The protagonists use vigilantism as means to clean up their respective cities as well as deal with their own personal issues. Daredevil‘s Matt Murdock is a blind defense attorney who goes out at night using everything from karate to torture to achieve his own personal brand of justice. A character in a constant struggle between religious conviction and ridding his hometown of murderer and corruption.
Paesano didn’t have the luxury of historic culture Ali Shaheed Muhammed and Adrain Younge had with the soundtrack for Luke Cage, nor did he have the opportunity to house a jazzy, film noir driven score like Sean Callery had with Jessica Jones. Daredevil is an abrasive tale of corruption and violence that needed an original score to match the bone shattering street fights of a vigilante, but also accentuate the delicate poise of a blind attorney.
The score for Daredevil drops the sweeping fan-fare found in most superhero films and replaces it with a more industrial influence.
This lets the music run parallel with the chaos on screen. From the heart racing aggression of “Fogwell’s Gym” to the emotional soundscapes of “Ben Urich”. Each cue is crafted to keep the viewer invested in the story instead of having them in the clouds with an orchestral crescendo. Paesano might only have a few high profile projects under his belt at the time of scoring this series, but he already has a firm grasp on how the soundtrack can make or break a scene. It’s subtle when it needs to be and bombastic when the scene calls for it. By the time the album reaches the title track, the listener feels as if it they’ve been part of Murdock’s journey in becoming The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.
The same level of detail found in Paesano’s score, can also be found in Mondo’s physical release. Pressed on heavy, 180 gram blood red vinyl and limited to only 3000 copies, the clean art design is nothing short of amazing. As with most Mondo releases, Daredevil feels more like a collector’s item you would put on display rather than something you would drop a needle on during a party.
Even though the original artwork from the legendary Matthew Woodson is gorgeous and the packaging having a luxurious weight, it would be a disservice to play the album only a few times. The sound quality begs this record to be played loud and often.
Daredevil features some of the greatest sound design in terms of vinyl mastering I’ve ever heard.
The bass is rich and heavy while the tension between string and synth is both chaotic and breathtaking. You feel every single pulsing beat as if you’re in the middle of one of Hell’s Kitchen’s unpredictable street fights. The poetry of violence has never sounded better.
Mondo’s vinyl treatment of Paesano’s score sets a new standard on how soundtracks should be mastered and pressed. It’s a gorgeous addition to your vinyl library for those who love to collect limited edition releases, as well as a reference quality album to show off what your sound system can do. No matter what purpose your collection serves, Mondo understands the Devil is, in fact, in the details.
Aaron (or Coop) is a freelance writer, multi-instrumentalist and overall lover of all things music. As an advocate for indie record labels and artists, he is passionate about local scenes and do-it-yourself artistry. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, he’s not afraid to explain why.