Well, it's been three weeks since the arrival of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' Watchmen: Vol. One soundtrack, and you know what that means: it's time to take a look inside the Watchmen: Vol. Two soundtrack, which landed on our doorstep earlier today. Like the Vol. One release, this thing is packed with little easter eggs and intricate details.
It also continues the meta approach established on Vol. One: whereas that album was presented as a Sons of Pale Horse release, the Watchmen: Vol. Two set is designed to look like the soundtrack for American Hero Story, Watchmen's show-within-a-show. You will not be surprised (especially if you caught Watchmen's sixth episode last night) to learn that Hooded Justice landed the cover on this one.
The front cover features a sticker reading "WARNING: This content has been deemed SATIRICAL by the Redford Administration. If the facetious intent of the artist is misconstrued, this material might be harmful to MEN, WOMEN, CHILDREN, MASKAPHOBES and SURVIVORS OF THE 11/2 PSYCHIC SHOCKWAVE. Consult the Red Code Index. BE ADVISED."
The vinyl itself is slipped inside this insert, which features an episode-by-episode breakdown of American Hero Story on one side (check out that list of "Content Warnings"!) and an interview with the fictional show's creator, J.T. March III, on the other. Here's a closer look at one of the episode synopses:
The other side features an interview with March, who digs into the drama surrounding the show's release, including the controversial - and unaired - finale (which may or may not have included an eight-minute orgy sequence set on a blimp, featuring "200 extras, 22 different species of animal and untold gallons of potato soup").
Below: a closer look at the March interview. Couple interesting things to note here! One, this is the second time we've seen Nine Inch Nails referred to as "The Nine Inch Nails" in a piece of Watchmen supplemental material. Is this their official name in the Watchmen universe? And secondly, check out the mention of David Lynch's Axxon N. (second question down). In Lynch's Inland Empire, Axxon N. is the name of the longest-running radio play in history. Raise your hands if you expected to see a deep-cut Inland Empire reference in the middle of the Watchmen: Vol. Two soundtrack (no one better be raising their hands).
Below: a look at the back cover of the vinyl, which - like the Vol. One soundtrack before it - features a faux track list and credits (The Nine Inch Nails are credited again here).
Open the card that accompanied the album, you get the actual track listing.
Then there's this newspaper clipping, ostensibly from 1955. This was folded up inside the album - I almost overlooked it entirely, but it slid out while I was taking the photos above. The article itself's about Hooded Justice, who's come under fire by the government for refusing to reveal his identity to the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (If you saw last night's episode, you already know why he's so reluctant to remove that mask).
All in all, the Watchmen: Vol. Two soundtrack is right on par with the excellent Vol. One release. They have really gone the extra mile on these things (I'm trying to think if any other TV series has gone this above and beyond for its soundtrack releases - I'm drawing a total blank) and I'm pretty goddamned excited to find out what they've done with Vol. Three, which will be along later in December.
Stay tuned for that, and more on HBO's Watchmen as further updates become available.