Hans Zimmer

Backdraft [RCA]

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Backdraft is one of the signature scores of Hans Zimmer's career -- an explosive, visceral work fusing orchestra, choir, and electronics with uncommon dexterity, it achieves a balance between craft and bombast the composer would rarely match in the years to follow. A heroic and heartfelt tribute to the fire fighting brotherhood, Backdraft brilliantly evokes the chaos and danger of the world inside a raging inferno -- boldly dissonant electronic effects, screeching strings, and pulse-pounding percussion engulf the listener with near-physical force. Zimmer also emphasizes quiet, melancholy moments, culminating in a beautifully elegiac funeral march that ranks among his most nakedly emotional themes. RCA's original soundtrack album whittles Zimmer's score to roughly 30 minutes to make room for a pair of bland Bruce Hornsby pop songs, "Set Me in Motion" and "The Show Goes On." Moreover, the Zimmer themes that did make the cut are mislabeled and out of sequential order, and one hopes a definitive and expanded Backdraft will eventually surface.

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