Review: The Interstellar OMP Soundtrack
Four scores and eight years ago, Hans Zimmer began his now long-standing collaboration with director Christopher Nolan. He now returns to be part of his latest endeavour, Interstellar. It presents itself to be not only of his best work not only with Nolan but his film scoring career.
Unlike what you’d expect, the soundtrack to Interstellar isn’t very “spacey”. The usual sounds of the “final frontier” such as synthesizers and droning ambient passages are instead replaced with something as archaic as an church organ. Nolan consciously wanted to move away from the genre tropes found in science-fiction scores. He led Zimmer down a path where he didn’t even know he was being asked to work on a science fiction movie. Nolan came to Zimmer and let him with free reigns create a page of music. Later on Nolan would sprinkle in details, such as a father/son relationship and pieces of dialogue from the film to steer him ever so slightly.
Zimmer latched on to these details and created the sound of what he feels it’s like to be a father, and to have a son (it was only later revealed to him it was a father and a daughter in the movie. A clever move by Nolan as Zimmer has a son, not a daughter). The piece Zimmer wrote under this notion became the core of the entire soundtrack. This theme is the soundtrack’s strength but also in parts its weakness. If there one gripe I have it’s one that becomes mostly apparent from and out-of-the-movie listen. The main theme is repeated often throughout the soundtrack. Which is expected, and hard to criticize all to harshly. Variation in the performance of the theme is at least found in the different tracks. Changing the intensity or amount of instruments. But its use is often the same. A build up and then finish with the theme. Making the soundtrack, at times, a bit too predictable.
Roger Sayer is also a name that should be cemented in this review as it is this British organ soloist who is the true performer on the record. Showing both Nolan and Zimmer the capabilities of a church organ, he has managed to utilise the complexities and breadth of sounds, colour and tone it offers. The organ has the capability of creating a huge amount of sounds but also as small and quieter ones. Which is very important as it’s these passages which bring an air of mystery and wonder to the whole affair. Many a movie soundtrack deliver on the epic, intense moments only to sprinkle in the quieter movements that often are forgettable (at least outside of the film experience). Zimmer and crew have managed to make these parts matter. Managing to portray the insurmountable isolation the realities of space offer through the interplay of the quiet and loud, or rather massive and small. The insignificance of a human or a spaceship compared to the not-even-comprehensible distances and scales the film deals with are felt here. There is a true sense of dread is found in this soundtrack.
The wheezing beast that is the church organ are coupled with sound effects, classical arrangements and other instruments to diversify and reign in the sound. For instance, the lone piano on “Message from Home” is exquisite. A track that is more reminiscent of neo-classical works from say fellow German Max Richter, and breaks the tension and heavy handiness of the soundtrack which could easily get tiring.
Overall, the outcome is stunning. It, for anyone who has seen it, manages to match the sheer scope and beauty of what the film portrays and is if possible, best experienced that way. Which is why Nolan decided to delay the soundtracks release to three weeks after the movie premier. Having seen the film first it’s hard not to think of images and landscapes from the movie whilst listening, but it’s stands surprisingly well on its own without the visual accompaniment (What one might conjure up without the movie’s visual is something I’d like to read).
The staunchly scientific and realistic movie (as far as big budget movies go) that is Interstellar, brings a flair of religiosity to it with its unconventional soundtrack. Featuring a heavy dose of church organ that will from here on out not only be something reminiscent of the church but also act as a reminder of space.
The soundtrack is out now. You can buy it in three different formats: Wheel Constellation Chart Digipak (16 tracks), a digital-only version (22 tracks), as well as an Illuminated Star Projection Edition, which features 30 minutes of unreleased music (28 tracks). The above is a review of the 16 track version.
Interstellar OMP Soundtrack Review by Felix Englund Örn.