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Soundtrack Review

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The Dune Sketchbook
Music from the Soundtrack


Composer: Hans Zimmer
Label: WaterTower Music
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 03 September 2021

WaterTower Music has released The Dune Sketchbook: Music from the Soundtrack, the first of three separate album releases of music from and in celebration of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ Dune, another adaptation of Frank Herbert’s bestselling book. All three albums feature the music of composer Hans Zimmer...

It would seem that studios are starting to find new and exciting (?) ways to monetize soundtracks. Lorne Balfe's incredible scores for His Dark Materials was one of the first I witnessed experimenting with the idea. In that instance, SilvaScreen Records released a concept album a month before the final score was released. This "concept" album allowed the composer to showcase the series' main themes in a more pleasing ways for fans. In truth I actually enjoyed those releases more then the finished scores.

But does the latest adaptation of Dune (the long believed, yet often attempted, "unfilmable" novel) warrant three albums? My first thoughts, influenced by the first listen of the material on this first release... No! No, it doesn't.

On The Dune Sketchbook, Watertower Music, the music "is comprised of extended, immersive musical explorations of the Dune film score". Confused? You're not alone. I think most people are likely to wait and pick up the finished soundtrack and then, if they enjoy that enough, seek out the other releases in this series. Apparently there will be three "album releases of music from and in celebration of" the Dune movie.

On more than a few occasions I was reminded of Karl Jenkins's 1995 Adiemus project album Songs of Sanctuary. And on every now and then I was reminded of sitting alone in a tube station late at night as the brakes of the underground train's squeal out from the darkness of the tunnels.

On a first play through I thought that this album was stretched beyond breaking and then stretched some more. What could have been conveyed in a concise form was long, drawn out and, in all honesty, not overly interesting. Yes, there were little nuggets of themes hidden under the atmospheric cues, but as it stood, I thought this was a rather bland soundscape album.

You know when, in a sci-fi movie, the central character suddenly realises they have stumbled upon something previously thought impossible? When they look up to the starry skies and are hit by the fact that their view of the universe has suddenly been massively expanded... Well those scenes usually come with a haunting, choral segment of music that is uplifting and engaging. Zimmer tries to capture that here for an entire album.

All I can say, is thank goodness I never listen to a soundtrack just once before I review it. Because it's in familiarising yourself with the themes and general atmosphere of the music and settings that you're actually transported to Herbert's universe.

I am really looking forward to hearing the final score album, but I can't help feeling that the universe, painted here by Zimmer's mind, is going to be pretty hard to beat. This is an album you will be engrossed in, once you've listened to it a few times. This is more than a score to a sci-fi movie. This is building an entire soundscape to an entirely new universe.


Darren Rea

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