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Posted by herodotus on May 30, 2010

Buy it... if you like barbequed ribs with fries and mozzarella sticks to go with your knock-off blockbuster music from the Hans Zimmer clone factory of formulaic emulation.

Avoid it... if you prefer rainbow trout with rice pilaf and boiled asparagus while appreciating music with original themes, original instrumentation, original performances, and an abundance of nuance and style.

After collaborating successfully with Leterrier for The Incredible Hulk, composer Craig Armstrong was assigned immediately to Clash of the Titans, a major plus given the Scotsman's low quantity of musical production for the screen (despite his obvious talent). As could be predicted, he was dismissed from the project during its post-production extensions and replaced with the reliable drones from Hans Zimmer's Remote Control. Armstrong reportedly didn't fully record a score for the film, though he is noted in its ultimate credits for having contributed to a theme (for Io) that remained in the final cut. As for the work of Ramin Djawadi and his hoard of assistants, there's really no point in discussing it as one would an accomplished piece of film music.
It's a functional score despite being idiotic in its simplicity. About this music, Djawadi said, "It was truly exciting to create the musical landscape for this epic film." Create? The first score track contains the heroic theme as nicely packaged as any generic Media Ventures/ Remote Control rip-off since Jablonsky's famous cue from The Island. The subsequent two tracks on album introduce the predictable secondary themes in succession. There are critical gain problems on the album; this review is based on a CD master, but it's safe to say that the MP3 distribution will have volume issues as well. All of the composers' most unique instrumental elements are drowned out by the orchestra's mix. The "Medusa" cue is the most blatant example of an instance where someone absolutely butchers the mix of a score to render its solo performances moot. How can an organization like Remote Control have so many recording and engineering gurus and manage to provide a score so incompetently mixed and/or mastered for album? After piquing your interest in the first few cues, the score hibernates in its middle passages, not just because the writing gets even lazier (which it does) but because its volume seems artificially reduced. The most amazing aspect of Clash of the Titans when you step back from it is not only the mass emulation you hear, but the incredible incapability of populating the entire sonic spectrum with music. The themes, both in their simplicity and their extremely low-register rendering, sound like good baselines for themes that should exist over the top of them. The lack of counterpoint only drives this absence of true balance home. There's only so much dwelling in the bass clef before you get the impression that all of this music is coming from below the waists of the composers. Whether you think it's coming out of their fronts or rears will determine your level of appreciation for it. There was a day when ripping electric guitars were employed by Hans Zimmer for contemporary topics like race cars, cop chases, mountain climbing, or sky-diving. Now, his crew has made them not only acceptable for ancient Greece, but expected. Zimmer has claimed in several interviews through time that he shakes his head in disbelief when hearing his ideas for Crimson Tide and Batman Begins copied so thoroughly by others. So the question really is: when is he going to go down the hall and tell these hacks that they'll never be John Powell or Harry-Gregson Williams unless they do the inconceivable: be original? On the other hand, Clash of the Titans is more tolerable than Iron Man, so maybe we shouldn't complain. Baby steps.

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