Composed By: Nathan Johnson

Distributed by: La-La Land Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the future, time travel will have been invented, but will be declared illegal, something that is only available on the black market.  It may be the future, but the mob still remains and the job of a hitman has become technologically advanced.  Now, when the mob wants someone taken out, they send that person thirty years into their past, where they are greeted none too nicely by a Looper, the hired gun waiting to rid the mob of its "problem."  Joe Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has been a Looper for some time, but his latest assignment has given him cause to regret his career choice - his latest target is none other than future Joe Simmons (Bruce Willis) and present Joe has been assigned to take out his future self out!

                The musical score of Looper was created by American composer Nathan Johnson, who began his musical career touring with his band The Cinematic Underground in the mid-2000s. In 2005, Johnson began a foray into movie scoring with Brick, a movie written and directed by his cousin Rian Johnson. Since then, he has created musical scores for such notable films as The Brothers Bloom and The Day I Saw Your Heart.

                Rian Johnson has had an on-going work relationship with his cousin Nathan, so it was no surprise that he would call on Nathan to create the musical score for his latest movie, especially when he realized that this big action film was crying out for an unorthodox massive score.  Not wanting to emulate the traditional action movie scores, Rian knew that Nathan Johnson would be the best choice to compose the musical score of Looper.  After all, Nathan is known for his innovative scoring and his use of unconventional musical instruments.

                Thus, the Looper Soundtrack features orchestral sound mixed with sound effects gleaned from pitched industrial fans, tuned treadmills and a wide range of intricate rhythmic elements.  According to Nathan, "it quickly became clear that our starting point was going to be drums…but not drums as we know them...we began going on these rhythm reconnaissance missions, searching for metal and plumbing and plastic.  Basically what you find in a hardware store.  LA has an impressive selection of parking garages.  We found one in particular that had an amazing natural reverb and then we just went to town recording metal and chains and eventually all of these car door slams that would become our custom kettle drum kit."  This hybrid mix of horns and strings and unconventional instruments were then manipulated, looped and cycled at varying speeds.

                My favorite tracks contain a beautiful piano theme (the first example of this can be found in the sixth track, A Life and a Day.  The piano theme is somber with a beauty that seems somewhat bittersweet in stark contrast to the fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping, hard-hitting action-based music found on the rest of the album.  Having never seen the film, I could imagine the piano theme being used in scenes involving flashbacks or more tender moments in the film. 

                The Looper Soundtrack is an amazing rollercoaster ride featuring fast-paced, adrenaline pumping uniquely composed by a master at unconventional music scoring.  Of all the musical scores by Nathan Johnson that I have heard to date, his score for Looper is my absolute favorite, perfectly capturing the futuristic style and action theme of the film.  This is definitely one album worth taking a listen to...and if you can, check out the special iTunes booklet to learn about the truly unconventional instruments and sounds used to create the musical score of Looper.


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