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Hans Zimmer: Inception Soundtrack

img  Tobias Fischer

His second collaboration with Nolan, however, sees these conflicts resolve into absolute determination. Inception's intricate layering of time, complex psychological layers and confusion of dreams, memories and „physical reality“ sparked sounds of previously unprecedented power and depth. When the curtain is raised and the camera zooms in on a stranded Cobb (Leonardo di Caprio) on a surreally beguiling beach, the spectator is greeted with colossal horns which seem to sound straight from the darkest and most obscure corners of the limbus, that ominous place of oblivion, where concrete objects, shapes, thoughts and ideas dissolve into pure and undiluted subconsciousness. Likewise, some of the subsonic frequencies are of a threatening physicality, sending shock waves through the audience.

While these examples may seem to suggest that the work is mostly about suggestive sound sculpting rather than composition, few Zimmer-soundtracks have combined the ambitious with the accessible as organically as Inception. When Cobb is chased through a labyrinth of narrow side-streets, a ferocious bass line and polrythmical percussion patterns are enough to create a hypnotic pull. On other occasions, meanwhile, puckering (analogue?) sequencers provide a sense of subtle, weightless motion.

While these action-movie tactics reference previous pieces like the „Black Rain“ suite, the Inception soundtrack is foremost marked by a poignantly bittersweet chord progression („The Dream is Collapsing“) that holds the different layers together on a thin thread of hope, sorrow, emotional turmoil and inexplicable consolation. While it is the only theme to continuously accompany the narrative's development, it never plainly attains the function of a Leitmotif and is never reassuringly resolved – the ambiguity that is one of the trademarks of the film carries over into its music as well.

Few movies keep their audiences glued to their seats from beginning to end, but Inception even manages to keep them sitting through the entire closing titles. When, on an otherwise empty screen displaying nothing but the title-logo against a black background, the fulminant horn blows make their final and resolute return, they seal the triumph of sound over image in one of this year's most visually stunning feature films.

Homepage: Inception
Homepage: Hans Zimmer

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