Wednesday 24 March 2010

Sherlock Holmes Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer 2009 Sony Classical

Just taken Hans Zimmer’s newish Sherlock Holmes soundtrack out for a spin.

This is definitely one of the best scores of last year (just... the movie wasn’t released until Boxing Day) and I have to say that, after all this time of keeping Zimmer at ears length... I have started to warm to him quite a bit in the last couple of years. His choral extravaganza of a cue, 160BPM from his score for Angels and Demons is certainly one of the best two musical cues I heard last year (along with Bear McCreary’s Gaeta’s Lament from Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica).

The album starts off with the absolutely cracking “Discombobulate”. Lots of cimbalom punctuated with some frantic fiddling against a thumping modern beat... it works really well and is quite infectious. If you don’t believe me, click below for this fantastic spoof video of Discombobulate made by Zimmer and Robert Downey Junior and director Guy Ritchie... Zimmer is the one playing the cimbalom on the video.

I think this track is actually the opening bars of the score as heard at the start of the pre-credits sequence with the end title music spliced onto the end of it.

The whole soundtrack is populated by scritchy scratchy violin figures (think Bernard Herrmann scoring The Devil and Daniel Webster aka All That Money Can Buy) presumably because Holmes played the violin... but it’s used very effectively and although it seems to have a very Hungarian feel to it, it also does feel very much of the period of Arthur Conan Doyles original stories. Actually the Hungarian tinge to the score has been remarked on by a number of people who seem to feel that this score is very similar in tone to Wojciech Kilar’s score for the Coppola version of Dracula... I don’t see it myself (and I certainly don’t hear it) but I’m not here to argue... much. Sounds closer to Chris Young’s Drag Me to Hell score to me.

I seem to remember there was also a lot of Irish music in the film but none of this seems to have made it’s way onto the album (that’s fine with me... it was fairly annoying in the movie).

The soundtrack also seems to be a lesson in playing with contrasting volumes of sound. Discombobulate, for example, seems to start off deliberately mixed too low in an effort to get you to turn the sound up before he hits you with the percussion and the main melody (a tactic I believe Zimmer employed similarly on the aforementioned Angels and Demons album). The whole of the Sherlock Holmes album seems to operate with this as it’s guiding principle... lots of long subtle sections which suddenly get loud and beat you over the head and then slip back down into the quiet range again. I’m not knocking it... it works really well (just don’t expect to hear more than half of it on your ipod on the bus).

All in all, Hans Zimmer’s Sherlock Holmes is a very entertaining listen which certainly doesn’t outstay it’s welcome at a reasonable 52 minutes. Definitely recommended.

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