MP3: Looper (2012)

October 12, 2012 | By

Return toHome Soundtrack  Reviews / J to L


Rating: Excellent

Label: Cut Narrative Records / La-La Land Records/ Released: September 18, 2012

Tracks & Album Length: 19 tracks / (48:27)


Special Notes:  n/a.


Composer: Nathan Johnson




Selectively using organic, synthetic, and digital manipulation that often blender sounds into beautifully abrasive creations, Nathan Johnson’s Looper is a perfect impression of what it would physically and emotionally feel like when all the normal elements of one’s world are frayed after some grievous blunt trauma.

There is a strong humanistic element to the score – a solo keyboard offers a brief thematic fragment in “A Life in a Day” after Johnson applies a great sonic crunching of mechanical sounds & high-register strings – but the core to Looper’s world is its impressions of industrial sounds (a few are very reminiscent of Brad Fiedel’s industrial designed Terminator 2: Judgment Day [M]), which maintain a sense of urgency, disjointed reality, and a coldness that’s appropriate when characters have to suppress vulnerable emotions in order to meet their desperate goals.

Unlike Fiedel’s hard metallic hits, Johnson has his sounds undulate and bellow, flutter and blur, and his creations often swerve between specific evocations, like warning sirens in the marvelous “Time Machine.” Some of the score’s most abrasive elements recall Brian Reitzell’s 30 Days of Night (2007), but Johnson doesn’t stay in one domain. Symphonic elements are part of the mix, and a stellar example of warped classical sounds is “Hunting the Past,” where a grinding motif gives way to brass; the cue’s opening pulses are later reiterated by the orchestra and deepening low brass stabs, and Johnson also injects a quick set of Herrmannesque chords reminiscent of Pyscho (1960).

Perhaps the most striking aspect to Looper’s design is the recurrence of humanistic material, as with the largely orchestral “Everything Comes Around,” an almost rhapsodic theme reiteration which quickly decelerates to a music box variation. “Her Face” is equally lush and highly romantic. Granted the score is designed to match screen action, but the decision to play with warm and frayed elements between and within whole cues gives the score great dramatic power. It’s also striking elegant, being modern and classically Hollywood without dwelling in either idiom & style whole-heartedly, and the album has a steady build towards a fast-action climax.

Some of the final cues are very brief (less than a minute) and the final cue ends on a dramatic hook, but Cut Narrative’s digital album features a solid presentation of one of 2012’s best scores. Note: those wanting more music should go after La-La Land’s CD, which features 7 additional cues & remixes, giving the album a more natural dramatic denouement, and a 24-page colour booklet with brief comments from the film’s director and composer.


© 2012 Mark R. Hasan


External References:

IMDB Soundtrack AlbumComposer Filmography


Return toHome Soundtrack Reviews J to L

Tags: ,

Category: Soundtrack Reviews

Comments are closed.