Friday, February 13, 2009

Best Music, 2008

The Dark Knight [original music by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard] (100 points/16 votes)

"‘The sound in my life enlarges my prison,’ said the British artist Tom Phillips. He might feel differently writing about the music of The Dark Knight.

“One of the two composers, Hans Zimmer, when asked how he found collaborating with his partner James Newton Howard when he was used to working alone, replied ‘Have you ever walked down a dark alley really late at night in a bad neighborhood? It's much better to have a friend with you.’

“This prison or dark alley is constrained and defined by throbbing. Tentative at first, spiking as the opening burglary becomes nervous low strings turning over the stark and shadowed Gotham facade. It only fades in the echoing parking garage, returning when the real Batman appears to save the day from the amateurs.

“Low and throbbing, that's our theme. Part bizarro Vangelis, and part circling dog, the pulse of the piece is like the animal closing in trying to find a first strike. And then, when the Joker is around, dissonant chords: jet engines crashing in out-of-sync disharmony.

“The throbs, like earthquake waves, come in different rhythms. They are quick in stabs, a staccato patois of string and synth and drum. They are also deep waves of cresting volume, tightly wound to the action on screen. The crest rises and fades, rises higher and fades, but never crashes. It just teases, never releases. What I felt for the bat and clown, I felt largely through my ears and the beat of my heart that followed the pulse of the soundtrack." ~ Martin McClellan

WALL*E [original music by Thomas Newman; music supervisor, Tom MacDougall] (84/13)
Slumdog Millionaire [original music by A.R. Rahman] (79/13)
Synecdoche, New York [original music by Jon Brion; music supervisor Bonnie Greenberg] (66/10)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button [original music by Alexandre Desplat] (59/10)

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