Monday, April 20, 2015

CD (Fan) Review – Chappie Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, by Hans Zimmer (Additional Music by Steve Mazzaro and Andrew Kawczynski)

In an era when Hollywood film composers are concocting increasingly complex and convoluted themes that are melodically elaborate but ultimately unmemorable, veteran Hans Zimmer continues to prove himself to be a master of minimalist motifs that leave long-lasting impressions. Such is the case with his excellent score for the equally excellent and unfairly underrated film Chappie.

Once again, Zimmer demonstrates that less is indeed more, achieving with just a few simple riffs what others fail to do with a preponderance of notes. The result is a masterpiece of percussive, pulse-pounding industrial techno music that brilliantly underscores the film's explorations of sentient technology, unconventional families, human and artificial existentialism, and societal breakdown and chaos.

What sets this soundtrack apart, aside from its addictive appeal, is that it is Zimmer's first entirely electronic score in over two decades (with the exception of, as Zimmer puts it, “a chap whistling”). Zimmer and his team – which includes Steve Mazzaro, Andrew Kawczynski, and Junkie XL among others and which Zimmer dubs the Chappie Elektrik Synthphonia – created and programmed the music on 40-year-old analog synthesizers.

The electronic sounds and textures recall Jan Hammer's acclaimed pioneering work on the iconic 1980s Miami Vice TV series, but on a much more grandiose and epic level. Others have also likened Zimmer's score to Vangelis's electronic music for Blade Runner. Like those other scores, the soundtrack for Chappie not only perfectly suits the movie, but stands on its own as a compelling and bold work of art.

--Raj Manoharan

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