Soundtrack Review: Inception (2010)

Reviewer: JØrn Tillnes
Inception Soundtrack Review

Inception Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the motion picture score Inception by Hans Zimmer.

"Zimmer loves to experiment and dissect sounds to create new ones and he is a sound engineer of stellar class which he proves again in Inception."

So Inception, what is it really about? The trailers, although fantastic and ranks as some of the best trailers I have ever seen, doesn't give much away. It's all about the invasion of ones ideas and dreams and how powerful and dangerous it can be. Ideas are dangerous, but the idea of putting director Christopher Nolan and composer Hans Zimmer back together is surely worth some kind of genius award. The movie is already getting rave reviews and with Nolan's vision and Zimmer's music, can it be anything than a sensational success?

Track List

1. Half Remembered Dreams****
2. We Built Our Own World****
3. Dream Is Collapsing*****
4. Radical Notion****
5. Old Souls*****
6. 528491*****
7. Mombasa*****
8. One Simple Idea*****
9. Dream Within A Dream*****
10. Waiting For A Train*****
11. Paradox****
12. Time*****

Secret To Success

Here's why Hans Zimmer is more successful than anyone else. He keeps things simple instead of going for the complex. This isn't a complicated score by all means, but that happens to be one of my favorite Zimmer traits. The themes are kept simple for a reason, it's effective and easy to remember. I also finds it intriguing that he can use 2, 3 or 4 tones and create a fantastic emotional theme with buildups that makes your hair stand, literally. Who does that? Ok, he's been experimenting as of late, with Sherlock Holmes and other scores, but we always know Zimmer can't stay far away from what he does best. Inception is such a score that reminds me of some of his best work to date.

It starts off a bit slow, but when 'Dream is Collapsing' is playing, you have to drop everything and listen to the fantastic main theme and it's buildup. It has a bit of a Bondian feel to it, but it goes way beyond the simple idea of a main theme. It really enters your mind and builds up to a fantastic and epic show stopper of a cue. Try putting this on the trailer and get your goose bump moment number one. This is what I love about Zimmer, the long sweeping emotional buildups that ends in tears of joy.

Blade Runner

The track 'Old Souls' is a fantastic piece that reminds me of Vangelis legendary score to Blade Runner by Vangelis. I always thought the trailers to this movie could fit the music of Blade Runner, because it has such an epic sci-ifi and visual style that only Nolan can pull off these days. Nolan is a huge fan of Blade Runner and I heard Zimmer mention how nostalgic and great that movie was in a recent interview. The Inception score could well be the Blade Runner of today. Now it has to be said that the slightly vibrating electronic underscoring felt vaguely familiar to me, something I had heard not long ago and I was right. It is quite similar to David Arnold's 'Night at the Opera' from Quantum of Solace. This score has it's share of Bondian influence, but OK, I will stop with my Bondian speak and get back to the score.

The cue mysteriously called '528491' is the one I think was used on the second trailer to Inception. Another massive track with all emotional buildups and it ends in the massive horn that Zimmer uses and is of course in the trailer.


Zimmer brings some hi octane action in the track 'Mombasa'. Surprisingly perhaps, this score uses extremely little percussion (that we hear), and this track probably has 80% of it. This score is all about provoking your emotions, creating an epic sci-fi feeling that just blends in with what's happening on screen. This was Nolan's goal as well, to have it all seem like one, like an audiovisual extravaganza. Back to 'Mombasa', a fairly light start, but it soon explodes into a fantastic action cue that brings me back to his pre-Crimson Tide/The Rock action scores. It breaks off a bit from the rest of the score, but it fits like a glove, it really does.

'Time' is a fantastic piece of music that I could clearly hear on the 30 second samples I had heard beforehand. It combines some of Zimmer's trademark. It has an emotional buildup from start to finish and it does it with an amazing theme. Prepare for a tears because it's that good. This is probably the cue which most people will truly love. It's Inception's version of 'Journey To The Line' or 'Chevaliers De Sangreal'. I can listen to this a thousand times and not be tired of it. Truly inspirational.

The longest cue of all 'Waiting For A Train' is another Blade Runner inspired track. It feels very nostalgic and quite similar to 'Old Souls', but it has a lot more to offer. Around 3 minutes in, it changes the feeling completely and becomes a lot more bleak and dark in nature. At 6 minutes in, it get's more dramatic as Zimmer brings out his Vangelis-like synths. But can someone tell me why Edith Piaf is in there at around 7:04? Not that I mind 'Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien' which is a classic, but it still sounded strange in there. Nevertheless, it's 9 minutes and 29 seconds of wonderfulness.


This score is both epic and zen, and maybe now we hear the fruits of Zimmer's recent experiments like Sherlock Holmes and also the sound he created for Batman Begins/The Dark Knight. Zimmer loves to experiment and dissect sounds to create new ones and he is a sound engineer of stellar class which he proves again in Inception. He toys with the mind and emotions all the time and the small subtleties is usually the thing that gets you. It seems to have everything a true Zimmer fan requires: wonderful themes, perfectly aligned electronic sounds and a soundscape that blows your mind and to top it off he even includes the emotional buildups that was so hugely succesful on The Dark Knight. It's evocative and dramatic, sure to be another Zimmer classic and one of the best scores of the year. Go grab it... now!


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Listen to Inception by Hans Zimmer below:
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27 Feb 2011, 17:29
@RIku You're completely right. I always want to punch Hans Zimmer a little, whenever a soundtrack gives me a "The Rock" fibe. Like, DUDE don't gimme that 90's-The-Heros-are-winning-melodram crap again, DON'T freakin' do that ! I even hate Klaus Badelt when he does that.

"Time" did that, so all my Oscar favors went to Tschaikowsky- Scrap that: John Powell.
27 Feb 2011, 02:12
@Sniu You gotta love the epicness :) Like RIku already mentioned, Time is a wonderful cue.

@RIku Time is exceptional along with many of the cues on the album. Great stuff from Zimmer.
25 Feb 2011, 14:24
@Sniu: You're missing freaking Time. Also, if you're talking about the Black Swan score, that couldn't have been nominated because it wasn't original. It used music from Swan Lake.
25 Feb 2011, 05:33
Lot's of love for the epicness, that was the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack - Inception, well not so much.

"Dream Is Collapsing" made it for a few weeks on iPod, don't know what I'm missing. Especially, since the score got nominated for an Oscar, while the Mansell man got left out - buuuh !