Review Summary: An excellent electronic soundtrack that brings our neo-noir future depicted in Blade Runner 2049, one of the best sequels in recent movie history, to life.
The creative team behind Blade Runner 2049 had the daunting task of making a sequel to one of the most influential and unique science fiction films ever made. It was no question that an essential aspect of the original’s artistic success was its intoxicating soundtrack by Vangelis. Praised as a pivotal album for electronic music, numerous songwriters like Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Toby Driver of Kayo Dot have cited it as an influence on their own work. Enlisting prolific film composer Hans Zimmer with Benjamin Wallfisch to score the sequel proved to be a wise move.
Blade Runner 2049
is an engrossing, unpredictable labyrinth of mostly dark atmospheres with some ethereal touches, especially toward the end of the track list. Strings, synthesizers, and even Gregorian chanting make appearances to add more dimension to the visuals and themes of 2049. Because the film is nearly three hours in length, that means there is a plethora of material to enjoy. "Blade Runner" and "Sea Wall" are both tremendous, 10-minute epics that develop gradually and remain breathtaking even when listened to without watching the movie. The mostly meditative pacing of Blade Runner 2049
obviously reflects the tone of the film: somber and practically an exercise in sci-fi/slow cinema, like a modern 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Various motifs from Inception, Gladiator, Interstellar, and other Zimmer scores are obvious influences, with a few subtle nods to Blade Runner
by Vangelis. Tracks like “Sapper’s Tree” and “All the Best Memories Are Hers” are gentle ambient pieces that accompany the more reflective moments of the film and recall the gorgeous “Memories of Green” by Vangelis. Whether it’s a calm synth track or an intense, louder song, the 2049 soundtrack shows its versatility and memorability while capturing the spirit and world of Blade Runner.
A classic from the original, "Tears in the Rain" appears here, and is largely untouched. It is essentially the same piece as the one from the original. Aside from that however, these compositions do not revel in nostalgia or retro synthesizer melodies of the 1980s. While perhaps disappointing to some, it was the right choice to make, as 2049 is very different from Blade Runner in numerous ways. Like the original’s soundtrack, this stands on its own as an excellent electronic album with a wide variety of moods and themes.