Hi. My name is Joseph and I have a problem. I can’t stop listening to the Interstellar soundtrack. My girlfriend has stopped talking to me, electing to simply roll her eyes and find somewhere quiet to read in the evenings. When my boss calls, I can barely hear his tinny voice over rich sweeps of intergalactic bass. Earlier today I was chopping sweet potatoes, a task with dire relativistic effects on one’s perception of time, and blasted wormhole road trip music into my brain at near deafening levels. I don’t remember much of my life before starting intra-aural Zimmer use, and what I can remember I no longer recognise. I can’t stop. Please help me.
An overlong and probably tasteless opening paragraph I think you’ll agree, but in all seriousness this is a phenomenally good soundtrack. Hans Zimmer had previously been relegated to the lowest circle of my cinematic Inferno (inside Uwe Boll’s ever masticating gob) for creating the abominable ‘Inception Honk’ that plagued roughly 99% of film trailers released in the last 4 years. He has thoroughly redeemed himself with a set of lush, emotive tracks that just sound like travelling through space to save humanity.
If you went to see Interstellar at the cinema and have no particularly strong memories of the music, I can completely understand. In between the ludicrously loud sound effects and mind destroying visual spectacle (front row at BFI IMAX felt like having my eyes glued to the sun) it was easy to get lost. My only enduring memory of it was the world ending organ blast at the very end, which thanks to the IMAX’s laser aligned sonic weapon technology nearly rendered me unconscious anyway. Happily, it’s available on Spotify, and even if you didn’t enjoy the film that much, I would urge you to give it a listen.
Sweeping and tentative strings provide much of the necessary mystery and ‘spacey-ness’ to proceedings, operating in an intriguing mix of minor and major keys (music nerds feel free to jump in here with technical details) that evokes at once promise and loss. Lovely stuff. The real star of the show however is what to my ears sounds like a demented pipe organ approximately the size of Stoke. Knowing Zimmer’s penchant for collaborative technofuckery it is probably not an organ at all but the sound a real wormhole makes, captured by a microphone made of gravity and electronically manipulated by a bootleg copy of Garageband from the future. Either way it sounds like an organ and it sounds incredible. Twinkling high register runs sound like stars falling to earth, and grand rumbles of earth shaking bass add instant gravitas to any sweet potato based domestic tasks. I would gladly listen to an entire album of wildly incongruous covers recorded on the thing. I’d pick standout tracks from the soundtrack but there hardly seems a point – it deserves to be listened to in its entirety.
There’s a certain argument to be made that the score veers dangerously close to the overly sentimental and faux grandiose. There’s merit to this view and at times I’d say it doesn’t just veer, it positively clears the central reservation into the ridiculous, honking its own horn like the Dukes of Hazzard. But also, on the other hand, who gives a shit. It’s cliche to a degree, but also it’s just better than that which defined the cliche of bold, loud, orchestral music coding for high concept space sci-fi in the first place. Also Spake Zarathustra can fuck off, there’s a new standard of brash cosmic honking now.