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Comments about the soundtrack for Angels & Demons (Hans Zimmer)

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Comparing A&D and Da Vinci Code
• Posted by: tk421   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009, at 9:36 a.m.
• IP Address:
• Now Playing: Carnivale - Jeff Beal

Alternative review of Zimmer's latest:

Marc Checkley

ONE of the most anticipated sequels or prequels (depending on whether you read the books before watching) this blockbuster season is Angels & Demons. The film lands symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) in a nail-biting race through the streets of Rome to save the very heart of the Catholic church.

Like its 2006 predecessor, director Ron Howard employs the talents of German-born Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight) to scribe the gothic chords of this action thriller. After being nominated for a Golden Globe and Grammy for The Da Vinci Code, which took Zimmer’s music to new holy ground, the pressure was on for A&D.

From the outset, the score furiously hammers out a dark mix of choir, orchestra and electronics that matches the frenetic and ubiquitous relationship between Faith and Science.

This is fervently present in the first track, 120BPM, whose pulsating bassline is a definite test for any good sound-system – warn the neighbours first – and God Particle, which visualises the awesome power and beauty of antimatter, the Illuminati's weapon of mass destruction.

But it's not all earth shuddering. Zimmer also maps a spiritual, almost hypnotic soundscape that can make even the hardest of atheists shudder. Science and Religion is the most lengthy of examples. The 12-minute suite draws the emotional pull of faith shadowed with the inescapable questions ever-present in our modern-day quest for answers.

Subtle nuances, such as the rustle of wind through reeds and the haunting chants of the gregorian chorus make this the most mesmerising of tracks.

Being a strong proponent of electronic music, Zimmer has gained and lost fans over the years, with his use of synthetic sounds, which sometimes replace the orchestra altogether. A&D has been 'economised' somewhat, with an orchestra half the size of Da Vinci Code's but the digital pulses rarely overpower the more acoustic elements of the score.

This ‘restraint’ adds more layers to the soundtrack, something which Zimmer has been accused of omitting in his more recent compositions, such as Madagascar and the last Pirates of the Caribbean voyage.

While lacking the thematic intensity of The Da Vinci Code, the composer hints at motifs first developed in the 2006 film, blending the two stories together. This is embraced fully in Election By Adoration and 503, which also features the soaring strings of American violinist Joshua Bell (The Red Violin). Unfortunately, the pace of A&D doesn't give Bell near enough 'airtime', but his inclusion enhances the listening of the soundtrack sans the film.

Coming in at a short 56 minutes, the soundtrack is only a taste of the full score that seldom goes quiet during the film's 138 minutes run-time.

Despite this, the Angels & Demons soundtrack still packs a pious-punch, that is edgier and darker than Robert Langdon's first cinematic outing.

Straits Times, Singapore

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