Innovative. That’s the first word that springs to mind as I listen to the score for Looper. Composer Nathan Johnson didn’t exactly go for the traditional approach – and I, for one, am delighted that he didn’t. According to one interview, his stated goal was to write music evocative of Looper’s futuristic, wormhole-riddled world; a world which is, quite literally, falling apart. In pursuit of that goal, Johnson and his team got creative with their instrumentation… like, really creative. They scavenged hardware stores for plastic tubing and sheets of metal. They captured the audio of slamming car doors and used it as a foundation for kettle drums. They even found a way to incorporate the clicking sounds of a revolver (as if emphasizing the movie’s violent premise). Crazy stuff. Awesome stuff. But of course, all this innovation wouldn’t be worth squat without heart and brains to back it up: Looper has both. I trust it is no exaggeration to say that this is the coolest, cleverest, most exquisite sci-fi soundtrack to come along since 2010’s Inception.
A Day in the Life gives us an first aural taste of the main theme, which resurfaces throughout the score in various forms. Part of the fun here lies in keeping an ear out for it, listening to the way Johnson builds it, reshapes it, and tucks it away under layers of other music. It’s like a treasure hunt for soundtrack geeks. Hunting the Past is tense and bristling with apprehension; Her Face is tender, melancholy, and sweet, and so is Revelations – until the final two minutes, when it throws away restraint for driving intensity. La Belle Aurore serves as a sort of prelude to Showdown, another action cue that simmers for awhile before erupting halfway through. Last but not least is the track Everything Comes Around, which is simple, yet mesmerizingly atmospheric. A brilliant way to end a brilliant score. Here’s hoping the film is brilliant, too.