Hans Zimmer, Henning Lohner and Martin Tillman

Hans Zimmer, Henning Lohner and Martin Tillman

Hans Zimmer, Henning Lohner and Martin Tillman

The Ring/The Ring 2 OST

Decca/Universal

A steady hand at the orchestral film score, Hans Zimmer has been attached to plenty of big flicks in the last 20 years, from Rain Man to Gladiator, even picking up an Oscar for The Lion King along the way.

But for the scores to the American retelling of The Ring and its sequel, Zimmer has enlisted the help of two of his protégés to create a palpable theater of calm-before-the-storm sonnets and brief moments of chilling tension. Cued by the shrill, unnerving scares pioneered by Psycho maestro Bernard Herrmann and the mournful, old-world grace of Wojciech Kilar’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula theme, Zimmer & Co. have done the Ring movies more justice than they deserve (particularly the sequel).

The opening “The Well” builds from ghostly piano tickles into a haunting swell of weeping cellos, which soon serve as undercurrents to violin solos and sparse keys, soon dissolving mysteriously. It faithfully sticks to its film’s creepy narrative. “The Ferry” is another example of Zimmer’s ability to transcend a scene’s melodramatic tendencies (Last Samurai notwithstanding) and offer a minor-chord symphony that doesn’t need tears to instill emotion.

But inexplicably, the final four songs veer sharply from the purely classical strains, with the brief “She Never Sleeps” sounding like Aphex Twin-lite and “Seven Days” offering breakbeat touches with its dark textures. I’m not sure what Zimmer’s crew was thinking with this quarter of the album, but as much as I appreciate the surprise, it definitely doesn’t mesh well with the first 7 or 8 tracks. The closing “Television,” which sounds like Rammstein during soundcheck, is the scariest thing on this soundtrack, and for all the wrong reasons. I’m guessing these final numbers had more to do with the mediocre sequel, than with Zimmer trying to stay hip with the kids by offering more uptempo, contemporary sounds. My advice to Zimmer: stick with what you know, buddy.

Universal: www.universalclassics.com

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