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Composed and Co-Produced by:
Ludwig Göransson

Conducted by:
Anthony Parnther

Orchestrated by:
Pete Anthony
Jon Kull

Co-Produced by:
Christopher Nolan
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WaterTower Music
(September 2nd, 2020)

WaterTower Music
(November 6th, 2020)
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Both the regular and "Deluxe" editions are commercial releases, though the latter is also available on CD and vinyl. The regular edition was withdrawn from distribution within the first six months, leaving the "Deluxe" edition as the primary option even for digital downloads.
Nominated for a Golden Globe.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... solely for the mood of its beaten character, the score sufficient only as a tool of distraction and disillusionment in its struggles to achieve an ambient creativity it never realizes.

Avoid it... if you hope that Ludwig Göransson can defy the influence of Hans Zimmer's techniques for Christopher Nolan, all the usual, strategically unfortunate traits of a Nolan score carrying over to this oddly boring work.
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WRITTEN 2/20/21
Tenet: (Ludwig Göransson) Despite all the hype, Tenet is a surprisingly pointless exercise in film music experimentation that doesn't push the envelope either forwards or backwards. Appended to that album presentation is a hip-hop song that fits surprisingly well with the score, and a "Deluxe Edition" of the product adds 10 minutes of pointlessly anonymous, pounding action music from the two lengthy score cues. Ultimately, the score is a distracting mess on screen and strangely a bore on album. There are moments of hope in the work, like the crescendo of keyboards and electric guitar in the middle of "Foils," that start to peel back some emotional layers, but they never get far. A cue like "Freeport," with its pulsating insect-like electronic effects against a meandering exploration of the main theme, does nothing to extend the narrative or sustain much of a mood on album. But the remainder of the score, both in suspense and action, is largely devoid of the needed character to make it engaging enough to enjoy or awful enough to laugh at. There is some contemplative new-agey, Vangelis-inspired atmosphere in moments like "Windmills" and "The Protagonist," and the aforementioned summary of the main theme in "The Algorithm" is largely palatable despite its battle with atonality. The most surprising aspect of Göransson's music for Tenet is how boring it is in the majority of cues. The composer does prove that Zimmer's trademark "horn of doom" can't be stopped in either direction, however, adapted for growling guitar-like effects in the nasty "Rainy Night in Tallinn" opera opening but returning during the rolling airplane sequence in "747" in more expected foghorn brass form, even if it's joined by a little Black Panther coolness from electric bass. Ironically, despite the temptation to litter the whole score with such obnoxiousness, Göransson actually doesn't intentionally try to damage listener's brains all that often, "Rainy Night in Tallinn" joining the Sator material in leading that assault but the tone of the rest of the score a little more muted. In the event you want a little more eroticism from the Nolan breathing and whale noises, you can appreciate it again in "Red Room Blue Room." The second half of "Sator" contains the most heinous film music of several years, aggrieved whale noises and Nolan's breathing combined with tortured Killmonger material from Black Panther that together make one of the most effective roommate torture sounds of all time. The most hysterically awful is the material for Kenneth Branagh's villain, Sator, who is treated to the sound effect of Nolan's own breathing since people moving backwards in time need an oxygen mask to absorb air. Other stabs at musical creativity in Tenet are not only ineffective but also laughingly bad.

For the listener to perceive such a thing, the affected motifs have to be short and distinct, which these are not. For all the reported talk about manipulations of the music to match the direction of the action on screen, none of Göransson's efforts to this end ultimately work. The accelerating distorted note that occupies the end of "Meeting Neil" is another example of this cheapness. This film needed more than stupid backwards edits, reverse reverb, and the use of partially reversed elements in a mix presented forwards to give some semblance of normalcy; the worst of this material exists in "Trucks in Place," which is a laughably poor cue with these techniques. The flipping of performances so they are backwards, or, alternately, the recording of the progressions backwards and then flipping them so that they move forwards, is more of a cheap reverb trick that doesn't cut it here. The simplicity of this theme allows the composer to flip around those progressions for a backwards version of the idea that doesn't really reveal itself until "The Algorithm," which serves as the defacto suite presentation of the idea on album. Göransson's one theme for Tenet is dominant, its forwards-facing version starting with a single note and then meandering through pairs after that. All of these performers have to contend with a final mix that emphasizes droning ambient delusion rather than a cohesive narrative intent. Guitars occasionally offer some depth as well. The instrumentation does contain strings, brass and percussion associated with an orchestral ensemble, but these elements are never truly organic in the film. Instead, synthetic manipulation of electronic keyboarding and loops provides the bulk of the experience. Unfortunately, some of his tactics are also too predictable. The result of Göransson's toils indicates, as expected, that the composer sought to bend the rules of film scoring to augment the warped perceptions of the film's basic tenets, and so it's no surprise that his music doesn't follow many conventional film scoring strategies. As such, there's just as much Jóhann Jóhannsson and Hildur Guðnadóttir influence on the general approach to executing Nolan's ideas as there is from Zimmer's Dunkirk and Inception. Keep in mind that much of Göransson's approach to Tenet was dictated by Nolan, and when he did have an opportunity to explore his own paths, the trend toward post-modern, manipulated ambience as an artistic statement in film music informs the rest.

Composer Hans Zimmer had become accustomed to Nolan's extremely engaged role in determining the style, character, and placement of his film scores, and with the veteran unable to fit Tenet into his schedule, rising darling of experimental coolness, Ludwig Göransson, was called upon to produce essentially the exact same result that Zimmer would have. The film's music thus became a controversial subject, as it was often obnoxiously placed in the mix and thus worsened the plot's already dubious clarity. The sound mix of Tenet was especially ridiculed, as Nolan intentionally dialed back dialogue in favor of sound effects and music in order to emphasize ambience over substance. Unfortunately for Warner Brothers, the delays and muted box office returns from the cinemas caused the movie to lose $50 to $100 million overall, a tremendous failure due also in part to the concept's extremely disorienting narrative and distracting post-production elements. Nolan refused to allow the global pandemic to force Tenet into digital streaming, so it represented the first major picture to appear back in theatres when they started re-opening. One goal is to offer sequences first backwards and then explain them by repeating them moving forwards, and the whole thing is wildly disorienting. Rather than exploring this concept with intrigue, Nolan instead takes it to all-out warfare with global destruction at stake, allowing for a senseless series of fight and battle scenes shown with characters from both forwards and backwards timelines together. Being a Nolan film, the characters are flimsy and necessary only to convey the mind-bending concept and all the visual and aural splendor that comes with them. They can interact with forward-moving people and objects and essentially affect the past by doing do. With a full disclaimer that nothing in Tenet is meant to be scientifically accurate, he postulates that a future techo-wizard device can shift people into a reverse of time, where they experience life but in real-time reverse order. He seems to delight in making movie-goers ask that question of themselves, and 2020's Tenet may finally be the proof that it is indeed Nolan who requires psychiatric assistance. One has to start wondering if filmmaker Christopher Nolan is mentally ill.

Ratings Icon
Average: 2.38 Stars
***** 15 5 Stars
**** 23 4 Stars
*** 37 3 Stars
** 60 2 Stars
* 55 1 Stars
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Soundtrack is meh
A Loony Trombonist - September 12, 2021, at 1:06 p.m.
1 comment  (34 views)
Loved it !
Alsi - May 29, 2021, at 9:15 a.m.
1 comment  (240 views)
i do not understand   Expand >>
aldok - April 5, 2021, at 8:44 a.m.
2 comments  (916 views)
Newest: April 5, 2021, at 9:11 p.m. by

Track Listings Icon
WaterTower Regular Edition Tracks   ▼Total Time: 86:23
• 1. Rainy Night in Tallinn (8:01)
• 2. Windmills (5:16)
• 3. Meeting Neil (2:16)
• 4. Priya (3:24)
• 5. Betrayal (3:56)
• 6. Freeport (3:39)
• 7. 747 (7:05)
• 8. From Mumbai to Amalfi (4:26)
• 9. Foils (3:11)
• 10. Sator (2:51)
• 11. Trucks in Place (5:32)
• 12. Red Room Blue Room (3:29)
• 13. Inversion (3:32)
• 14. Retrieving the Case (3:20)
• 15. The Algorithm (5:58)
• 16. Posterity (12:42)
• 17. The Protagonist (4:48)
• 18. The Plan - performed by Travis Scott (3:05)
WaterTower Deluxe Edition Tracks   ▼Total Time: 96:13

Notes Icon
The cover art is the same on both products. The insert of the physical version of the album includes extensive information about the film and score, including notes from both the director and composer. Printed on the back of the CD's jewel case is "DISC MADE IN MEXICO."
Copyright © 2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Tenet are Copyright © 2020, WaterTower Music (Regular), WaterTower Music (Deluxe) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 2/20/21 (and not updated significantly since).
Copulation would be most interesting if it involved one person moving forward in time and another person moving backwards in time. A porn parody awaits!
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