Album Review: “Interstellar (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” by Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer has written a lot of music. With over 150 films under his belt, you have heard his work—whether you can name a movie he’s done off the top of your head, or spot a tune when you hear it.

While Zimmer began his music career playing synth for new wave and punk bands (see The Buggles‘ classic “Video Killed the Radio Star“), he’s perhaps best known for his marrying of electronic and orchestral sounds. If you’ve seen Rain Man, The Lion King, The Dark Knight, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc, etc, etc, etc, Hans Zimmer has wormed his way into your ears.

Hans Zimmer - InterstellarBeyond a doubt, Hans Zimmer’s work on Interstellar is singular in his career. The true magic of Interstellar is that Zimmer did not compose this music as a background to the film. Rather, he worked hand in hand with Christopher Nolan to create the score in tandem with production. While I highly recommend the film (particularly in IMAX, for which it was specifically tailored), Hans Zimmer’s score absolutely holds its ground as a stand-alone album.

If you’re at all interested in the music of Interstellar, you should definitely get your hands on a CD copy of the album. Not only does it feature essays about the scoring process by both Zimmer and Nolan, but the CD and packaging serves as a working star wheel (or planisphere) itself. If you’re an astronomy junkie like me, the functional design is an added bonus.

The packaging and liner notes included with the Interstellar soundtrack drive home the fact that Zimmer—along with Nolan, who serves as executive producer on the recording—wanted this music to exude the themes of the movie. The accompanying materials reveal that Hans Zimmer and Christopher Nolan met before filming began, at which point Nolan gave Zimmer one day to create some piece of music based on the main themes, with specific instructions to throw away past motifs common to Zimmer’s work. With no corresponding footage or plot points, Zimmer created “Day One,” which—even as an early track—serves as an emotional backbone of sorts.

Interstellar Star Wheel
This is how you do CD packaging right.

As the recording process continued, Zimmer and Nolan worked closely to integrate film and music, and it really shows. If you’ve seen the movie (again, it’s plainly worth your time), hearing Zimmer’s score will pull you back to the core moment these pieces represent.

Interstellar was almost an electronic score, but on a hunch, Christopher Nolan convinced Hans Zimmer to record an orchestra, and most notably, a full 2500-pipe organ. The real innovation in Zimmer’s score is a masterful implementation of the pipe organ. It is unequivocally and decidedly massive. Zimmer’s essay in the liner notes indicates that this was a stressful gamble, but it clearly paid off.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the Interstellar score is that Hans Zimmer proves he is unafraid of dynamic range. Unlike many modern scores (and almost all modern albums), Interstellar takes full advantage of subtle lows and impressive intricacies at volume. Pulsing synthesizers and gentle strings provide an effortless floating sensation. Tense or exciting moments are driven through with blasts of energy. Tracks like “Stay” and “Detach” are unabashedly epic.

Alright, I think I’ve satisfied whatever gland in my body has been gushing praises for the Interstellar score by now. Unlike any other work (or almost any other album of 2014), I have listened to Interstellar many times since its release. If you’ve read this far, however, I guess I can share with you the parts of which I’m not a huge fan. In all honesty, there are only two gripes, and as minor as they may be, they will likely be turnoffs for less patient listeners.

Continue reading Album Review: “Interstellar (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” by Hans Zimmer

Get to Know a Murfie Staffer!

Our operations team is the best! Ops staffers are here seven days a week, ripping discs, checking metadata, processing downloads, sending kits, and more. This week you can get to know an operations pro:

                ALEX SCHACHERL

c8babb38-df3d-11e2-8ec3-3520997e13f8Where are you from? > I’m originally from Galesville WI, about 20 minutes north of La Crosse, and I moved to Madison in 2010.

How long have you been working at Murfie? What is your role? > I’ve been here since February 2012, and by now I am a 9th level Audio extractor with cross class capabilities in Download Protection (Operations Staff).

What do you like about working at Murfie? > I love the fact that anyone I talk to about my job is instantly jealous of the amazing work environment and job description.

What kind of music can be found in your collection? > Mainly folk, pop/rock, and stand up comedy. Lately I have been acquiring lots of film soundtracks and scores.

Who are your favorite artists/bands of all time? > Mumford & Sons, Tenacious D, Flight of the Concords, The Beatles, and Daft Punk.

29214-largeIf you could have coffee with any musician, from any time, who would it be and why? > Harry Connick Jr., because according to several of the Murfie staff I am his Doppelganger.

Are you a Beyoncé fan? > Who doesn’t love Foxxy Cleopatra?

What album are you really digging right now? > The Greatest Video Game Music, performed by the London Philharmonic. I’m an aspiring game developer, and there’s just something about an orchestrated Tetris theme that I just can’t get over.

photoDo you have any pets? > Currently, my two gerbils, Korra and Katara.

What is your favorite food? > I could probably eat boneless wings for dinner every night.

What can people find you doing when you’re not at Murfie? > When I’m not at work or school, I spend a good chunk of my time rehearsing and performing with Fundamentally Sound, an all male acappella group from the UW Madison campus. Other than that I enjoy gaming, frolfing, and all sorts of other merriment with friends and family!

Now you know more about Alex, a Murfie ops staffer extraordinaire! We love showing off all the cool cats who work here. Stay tuned and meet someone new next week!

Halloween Picks: All-Time Favorite Movie Monsters

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from John Kruse of Mine All Mine Records (and Murfie Ops).

Halloween is on its way, which means it’s a good time to celebrate our favorite movie monsters. We can’t pick just one, so we’ve put together a list of all our monster favorites, and the movie soundtracks they inspire.

Vampires

Just to prove that vampire love is nothing new, we’ve got two great Dracula-inspired soundtracks to show you: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and Wes Craven’s cult horror flick Dracula 2000Bram Stoker’s Dracula may be just another adaptation of the book (a very successful one, admittedly), but it also has a killer score by Wojciech Kilar. As an added bonus, it includes the Annie Lennox hit “Love Song for a Vampire.” If you’re more of a classic horror fan, though, you’ll definitely want to check out the Dracula 2000 soundtrack. It’s got everyone you’d expect: Disturbed, Slayer, System of a Down, Linkin Park, etc.

Werewolves

Okay, so the follow-up to the 1981 classic An American Werewolf in London didn’t quite live up to expectations. In fact, it bombed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still love the idea! An American Werewolf in Paris came out in 1997, so what better way to celebrate our furry friends and relive the late 90s than by snagging this soundtrack? It features tunes from the likes of Bush, Cake, Skinny Puppy and more.

Vampires FIGHTING Werewolves

Instead of teaming up to take down humanity, vampires and werewolves have decided to duke it out in an eternal struggle for dominance. Lucky for us, their grudge means we get to sit back and watch—and Hollywood has certainly provided! Whether you like the dark and gritty tone of Underworld, or you love the love triangle of Twilight, we’ve got you covered. While Underworld‘s soundtrack features a mix of artists that reflect the darker tone of the movie, Twilight is a different story. The series has gained a reputation for producing great soundtracks that stand alone, covering a wide range of pop and indie artists, from Paramore to Iron & Wine.

Zombies

Love it or hate it, the living dead are here to stay. They’re everywhere, from the ultra-serious contagion film 28 Days Later to the trademark quirk of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. Who can resist the compositional skill of 28 Days Later‘s John Murphy or Beetlejuice‘s Danny Elfman? Not to mention that there’s word of a Beetlejuice 2 coming soon!

BONUS: (Boo!) Ghosts

What is there to say about Ghostbusters? You see a ghost, you’ve got to bust it. Just don’t cross streams! Grab an Ecto Cooler, put on your proton pack and blast some Bobby Brown and Run–D.M.C.