Christopher Nolan's new movie Tenet has finally been released, in a limited capacity, in the USA. With it comes the official soundtrack, composed by Black Panther Oscar winner Ludwig Goransson.
He replaces Nolan's usual collaborator Hans Zimmer, who reportedly pursued another passion project in the form of Denis Villeneuve's Dune. Nevertheless, Goransson's energetic and inventive Tenet soundtrack is a more than worthy substitute for Zimmer. Scroll down to discover our soundtrack highlights.
WARNING: TENET SPOILERS AHEAD
Atypically for a Nolan movie, Tenet is guided by a distinctive main theme. (That makes it akin to Hans Zimmer's work on Interstellar, sumptuous with its swelling organ arrangements.) Primarily carried on electric guitar and low strings, the theme gives an identity to The Protagonist, played with poise and cool charisma by John David Washington. The track 'Windmills' has an air of quiet anticipation about it, as Washington's character trains inside a wind turbine and awaits his briefing on the Tenet operation with Clemence Poesy's scientist.
There are echoes of Vangelis' Chariots of Fire in this superb track, probably the best on the album. The overwhelming percussion is ditched for propulsive electronics that skim and bob along in the manner of the catamarans that feature in the scene. Not just evoking past Zimmer scores for Nolan, the track also falls very much in Goransson's own wheelhouse, carrying echoes of his work for Childish Gambino, not to mention prior soundtracks such as Venom.
Throughout the Tenet score, there's a constant battle between the organic and the sampled, reflecting the film's central conceit that entropy can be violently disrupted and reversed. At various sections, including this track, we hear the orchestra playing backwards, laid over which are eerie breathing effects that play into the motif of oxygen masks. The challenging yet defiantly purposeful tone of Goransson's music gives real backbone to The Protagonist's decision to reverse time and save Kat's (Elizabeth Debicki) life.
Everything comes to a head in this gargantuan, 12-minute onslaught, which accompanies the bewildering 'temporal pincer movement' during the film's climax. With its onslaught of changing time signatures and ever-evolving harmonics, variously favouring brutal electronics and the steady encroach of The Protagonist's theme, it's an intriguing twist on the usual save the world music. Once again, Goransson's extensive production experience, relying on sampling and arranging, comes to the forefront as he emotionally guides us to the film's conclusion.
5. The Plan
As mentioned, Goransson has collaborated with numerous performers during his production career. Childish Gambino (aka Donal Glover) is perhaps the most famous of these – he and Goransson worked together on 2018's era-defining 'This Is America'. The Tenet score unexpectedly (or expectedly, given Goransson's background) culminates in a rap anthem from JackBoys and Astroworld artist Travis Scott. The song translates The Protagonist's noble theme into a pulsating arrangement, perhaps implying that his fight hasn't ended at the onset of the closing credits...
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