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In Time by Craig Armstrong

In Time

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In Time (Soundtrack) by Craig Armstrong
In Time (Soundtrack) by Craig Armstrong
In Time (Poster and Memorabilia)

In Time (Poster and Memorabilia)

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In Time (Soundtrack) by Craig Armstrong

In Time
Composed by Craig Armstrong
Promotional Release (2010)

Rating: 8/10

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“...ARMSTRONG’S score is certainly not the most memorable of Sci-Fi soundtracks, but is a constantly engaging listen, and does a fantastic job in supporting the film.”

Simultaneous Warmth and Cold Feeling
Review by Richard Buxton

Creating a believable and engaging Sci-fi world requires a balance of both the familiar and the uninhibitedly ambitious. Director ANDREW NICCOL, director of the low-key but invigorating GATTACA, is certainly capable of creating such a world. The musical world of IN TIME is an altogether different prospect to that of the typical Sci-fi. The exploration of Andre Niccol’s visualised future comes in the form of a reflection on human life and most importantly: mortality. As a result, CRAIG ARMSTRONG bypasses the typical overly synthetic soundscape of a visualised future, and has crafted a score that is constantly ticking as its running time counts down.

ARMSTRONG’S interpretation of IN TIME’S future is comprised of duelling textures and thus emotions. This clash is immediately apparent in the score’s main theme “In Time Main Theme” (1), as a blanket of warmth is expertly grafted onto a cold and ambient exterior. The opening of pulsating synths and hollow strings soon swell into life to create a simultaneously warm but pensive texture. The propulsive synth heard in the main title is a common theme throughout the score, and is translated onto the percussion that acts as a pacemaker for the entire soundtrack. A feeling of perpetual movement is felt as the percussions ticks over throughout.

The following track, “Lost Century” (2) acts as a fantastic example of ARMSTRONG’S efficiency in utilising the aforementioned hollow, but ultimately very effective sound for this score. Swirling above the percussion is a wailing string progression that, when accompanied by a relentlessly ascending and descending string pattern, acts almost as a siren’s call. Upon first hearing the track, it is hard to shake a feeling that something is missing from the sound, that the string section is devoid of the necessary warmth needed to create an attractive sound. As the track develops however, the strings and percussion make for an intense and chillingly exciting action-piece that makes for the origins of the score’s greatest asset: action.

This asset, and the score overall reach their peak in the tracks “Abduction” (11) and “Rooftop Chase” (18). Both work from similarly rhythmic bases, as the percussion drives the erratic strings forward towards climactic conclusions of orchestral mayhem. The rising action theme is heard throughout both at various points and again in “Leaving the Zone” (22), with each variation evolving as the overall sound reaches new highs in of chaos. The writing of such relentlessly evolving and intense music often brings with it the danger of sounding forced and ultimately formulaic. The orchestration and multitude of layers heard utilised by CRAIG ARMSTRONG in the action-oriented side of IN TIME, and these two tracks in particular, show just enough restraint to avoid becoming overbearing or forced. The sound has a controlled-frenzy manner to it that combines well with the airy strings to craft moments of outstanding and unrelenting intensity.

ARMSTRONG also experiences success away from the tumultuous action scoring, having moulded a calmer but equally engaging sound for IN TIME’S less chaotic moments. Heard in the likes of “Mother Times Out” (5) and “Ocean” (10), the subtle variations on the main themes maintain the cold string texture whilst adding slight layers of warmth as the overlapping strings meld together.

ARMSTRONG shows that he is adept in switching between the two prevalent styles heard within the score by seamlessly shifting from one to the other. “Whatever We Have To” demonstrates this twice throughout its running time as ARMSTRONG switches from synthetic and percussive suspense, to swirling strings, and finally to a combination of both. The result is a smooth transition between emotional states that avoids any jarring and ultimately off-putting switches.

One of the great staples of a Sci-fi score is the use of synthetic sounds in order to apply a more futuristic quality to a score. This can occasionally result in unforgettable music, but is all too-often used in an almost obligatory sense, without any real purpose other than to tick the boxes. ARMSTRONG avoids this fate by intelligently integrating a subtle use of synthetic sounds into the orchestral texture that dominates the score. A continuous percussive synth is the perpetual accelerant in “There’s Still Time” (24), whereas the pulsing synths heard in “Giving It Away” (17) slowly creep in towards the climax of the piece, adding a propulsive backing to the strings and woodwinds that expertly demonstrates ARMSTRONG’S careful use of electronics, making sure that they do not dominate the score and become almost token in nature.

Based on critical reception, IN TIME is unlikely to be at the forefront of Sci-fi as a film genre in years to come. Likewise ARMSTRONG’S score is certainly not the most memorable of Sci-Fi soundtracks, but is a constantly engaging listen, and does a fantastic job in supporting the film. In the end, that’s what film scores are for.


Rating: 8/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 In Time Main Theme 1:36  ****
2 Lost Century 1:58  ****
3 Dawn in Dayton 1:27  ***
4 The Cost of Living 1:40  ***
5 Mother Times Out 2:56  ****
6 Zones of Time 2:12  ***
7 Welcome to New Greenwich 1:11  ****
8 Waking Up in Time 0:45  ***
9 An Hour Ahead 0:53  **
10 Ocean 1:33  ****
11 Abduction 2:25  *****
12 Whatever We Have To 2:38  ****
13 Mother's Dress 0:45  ***
14 Clock Watching 2:26  ***
15 Sylvia Shoots 2:09  ****
16 Backseat Love 1:39  ****
17 Giving It Away 1:13  ****
18 Rooftop Chase 2:52  *****
19 You Saved My Life 1:07  ****
20 Surrender 1:54  ***
21 To Be Immortal 1:53  ***
22 Leaving the Zone 1:31  ****
23 In Time Choral Theme 3:20  ****
24 There's Still Time 0:46  ****
25 In Time Theme (Orchestral) 2:25  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 45 minutes  


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