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Inception by Hans Zimmer

Inception

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Inception (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer

Inception
Composed by Hans Zimmer
Watertower Music (2010)

Rating: 8/10

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Christopher Nolan's projects lend themselves well to the type of music the HANS ZIMMER excels in these days; dark, pulsating mixes of the natural and synthetic sound that is at once other-worldly yet still embraceable. 

Theme-weaver
Review by Christopher Coleman

I, like a few others, set director Christopher Nolan's latest project, INCEPTION, as the film that would save the Summer of 2010. Given Nolan's  track-record with efforts like MEMENTO, THE PRESTIGE, and THE DARK KNIGHT, there was good reason to do so. That amount of collective expectation; however, normally crushes the feeble foundations of most Hollywood, Summer movies. But that's actually where Nolan's strengths lie. His films, including INCEPTION, are built upon the foundation of solid storylines, compelling characters, and mind-bending concepts.

INCEPTION doesn't buckle under this weight. It thrives. While most Summer blockbusters go for high-tech, visual, cheap thrills - the type that so many are quite happy to plop their hard earned money down on, Nolan says to us, "Let me entertain your brain. Let me dazzle your eyes and ears. Let me give you an experience that will stay in your psyche long after you have vacated the theatre (...or at least until you return to see it again, that is).

While Nolan's early career found him paired with composer David Julyan, as the scope and gravitas of his projects grew, he has formed a new collaborative partnership with HANS ZIMMER. With BATMAN: BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT under their belts, (with notable contribution from JAMES NEWTON HOWARD) the two come together again to tell a doomed-love-story against the ultimate in corporate cloak and dagger, all while exploring the psychological realm of the dream. This unique concept opens the door to creative sound and musical possibilities that are rarely approachable in studio backed films. The end result is a sublime musical experience that is so tightly woven into the fabric of INCEPTION that it seldom, if ever, stands out on its own. At the same time, something indescribable or even quantifiable would clearly be lost, if this ZIMMER's score was to be removed.

Musical expectations were set with the advent of the first teaser trailer featuring a heavyweight track by composer MIKE ZARIN (Sencit Music). I have little doubt that Nolan had much to do with this trailer for that reason alone (which isn't always the case). He was preparing us; planting a seed, an idea, in our collective minds; setting our expectations for INCEPTION. So the question that naturally arose was, "What would Hans actually do?"

HANS ZIMMER's work for INCEPTION perfectly follows the tone established by Zarin's teaser music. And, not surprisingly, goes on to deliver much more detail and depth. Zimmer's score is founded upon two main ideas. First, we have the main theme for INCEPTION which translates Zarin's original tone into a more forceful, orchestral experience. Although quite a few of the tracks contain certain elements of the theme at large, tracks such as "Dream is Collapsing" (3) and "Dream within a Dream" (9) are the boldest examples. Building from Johnny Marr's simple, repetitive guitar licks to an ever expanding and deeping performance on strings and blasts of brass, we finally reach the nearly iconic, bevy of powerful, gutteral, orchestral hits. These are a collection of moments of the sublime that few film scores dare to try and reach.  Finally, in "Time" (12), Zimmer delivers a hopeful variation on this indelible theme giving the audience an odd sense of both resolution tinged with ambiguity.

The second musical tent-poll for INCEPTION is Zimmer's romantic element. What could get lost amidst the film's intriguing concept and amazing visuals is the fact that INCEPTION is also a story about a love lost; warranting a fairly significant romantic component. What ZIMMER does so brilliantly is to blend a sense of tragedy and mystery within this love theme; thereby integrating it seamlessly into the weighty tone of the score. The idea of this theme is Introduced in "We Built Our Own World "(2), yet we don't hear the central melody until "Old Souls" 5) where it played on piano and then by Marr on guitar. Again we hear the ghostly theme at the onset of "Waiting for a Train" (10) before it makes a ominous transition into the main, dream theme again. With a title theme as bone-jarringly aggressive as INCEPTION's, it shouldn't be overlooked that Zimmer's love theme helps to bring balance to the listening experience.

Now, the contribution of guitarist Johnny Marr has gotten the lionshare of media attention, yet someone else's efforts for this score should be spotlighted. MEL WESSON's sound palette created for this film goes a long way in making INCEPTION what it is. Blurring the lines further between the acoustic and the synthetic, sounds he created synthetically were then written out, performed by the orchestra and recorded. That very choice undergirds one of the main ideas of the film "What is real and what is not?" This is just the sort of brilliant choice that we've come to expect from Christopher Nolan and those that he works with...and why he is one of the few who actually deliver films that equal, if not exceed, expectations.

Christopher Nolan's projects lend themselves well to the type of music the HANS ZIMMER excels in these days - dark, pulsating mixes of the natural and synthetic sound that is at once other-worldly yet still embraceable. INCEPTION features one of the most well constructed and implemented scores of 2010 and it will be difficult to top it. Certainly, one can find vestiges from the likes of THE THIN RED LINE or THE LAST SAMURAI here, but those who enjoy Zimmer's work for THE DA VINCI CODE or THE DARK KNIGHT, in particular, will be dreaming of the INCEPTION score for quite some time.
 

Rating: 8/10

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Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Half Remembered Dream 1:12  ***
2 We Built Our Own World 1:55  ****
3 Dream is Collapsing 2:23  *****
4 Radical Notion 3:43  ***
5 Old Souls 7:44  ****
6 528491 2:23  ****
7 Mombasa 4:54  ****
8 One Simple Idea 2:28  ***
9 Dream Within A Dream 5:04  *****
10 Waiting for a Train 9:30  ****
11 Paradox 3:25  ****
12 Time 4:35  *****
  Total Running Time (approx) 49 minutes  

 

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