Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hans Zimmer & Rodrigo Y Gabriela - Pirates Of The Caribbean IV: On Stranger Tides

Yes, I reviewed this album. And I saw the movie, one of two I've seen this year, the other being TRON whose soundtrack is more consistent. However, the actual music on this one is arguably better. It's just... the remixes that kill the thing as a cohesive unit.

Those who enjoy following up an adventure film score with drum n’ bass remixes will find the complete package here. Barring Photek’s more than decent rehashing, the rest of the (six) remixes tacked on to the end of On Stranger Tides reek of Disney shmaltz, including a few with sword-on-sword clangs doubling as percussion (read: fail). Were these not involved whatsoever, the soundtrack would be pretty sensational. Hans Zimmer and his composer posse have been hitting home runs lately with scores like Inception and Sherlock Holmes. Here, Zimmer pairs his rock-influenced symphonics with the work of Rodrigo Y Gabriela, a Mexican duo who spent many years busking metal tunes in Ireland before rising to international distinction. The duo ends up stealing the show. Along with a rough sounding violin performer, they give the film a flavor distinct from that of the other Pirates films; it’s their soundtrack, with Zimmer doing his thing in a complementary role. (It’s their “Y” vs Zimmer’s ampersand!) Rodrigo Y Gabriela’s machine gun precision on the acoustic axes is a revelation. (They play so fast they ice their hands after every show!) Their talents are utilized particularly well on the playful “Angelica” and the riveting “The Pirate That Should Not Be”.

Overall the eleven primary pieces are paced very well, but whenever the flamenco/metal duo isn’t involved, Zimmer’s soundtrack seems to be missing that unique something that he seems to conjure time and time again. The forced feminine mystery of the “Mermaids” track sounds like something we’ve heard a lot before, unless one listens on headphones for the bizarre, sickly non-harmonies in the distant background. In the film it does its job - but really, how crazy can a man get when he’s working for Disney? The articulate acoustic shredding makes up plenty for the blatant, orchestral hot points, but those darned remixes continue to perplex.

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