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Westworld
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  • Ramin Djawadi's success in composition for film and television has been immeasurable in the past decade. And after gaining further prominence with his innovative score for Game of Thrones, he has now delivered his score for the first season of HBO's widely acclaimed Westworld. Kicking things off is the main theme, a piece that effectively encapsulates the show's overall feel; composed of staccato violins, pronounced piano melodies, and grainy ambience, it manages to depict all the intertwining moods within the story through sweeping strings and a galloping tempo bookended by ominous bars of foreboding bass. The soundtrack also says something about Djawadi as a music lover himself; of course, it is now widely known that every episode of the show incorporated unique cover versions (ranging from honky tonk saloon piano to lone, forlorn violas) of popular songs, and it's clear that he is a devoted Radiohead fan through the inclusion of three of the band's tracks. These treats also include other greats such as Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black," the Cure's "A Forest," and the Animals' "House of the Rising Sun." However, the score is strongest in its most mood- and character-driven pieces, as brilliantly exemplified by "Dr. Ford," a track that involves a recurring motif -- lone, haunting yet romantic piano notes decorate a sweeping, vast, and morose canvas of violas and cellos. Suddenly it falls away into a rising and falling arpeggiated synth chord before gradually returning to its majestic string-swept centerpiece. "Violent Delights" is a sure-fire highlight; pulsating, static-tinged synth chords wobble up and down alongside tremolo-laden basslines, pounding timpani drums, and sweltering synth pads. It's a track that builds and calms, resulting in a fine piece of music for one of the show's most action-oriented sequences; instead of opting for booming bass and bombastic drums like most cinematic action sequences seem to require, it manages to mix pacing and excitement with the relentless determination and awareness evident within the story's characters. It should also be noted that, like other contemporary composers (such as Hans Zimmer's pieces for the Dark Knight trilogy), Djawadi successfully manages to envelop the overall tone with just two or three chords segueing into one another, really filling up the mix during the sustain. "Someday" is another example of how much beautiful orchestration is placed throughout this soundtrack. Djawadi has a natural talent for treating each part of a string ensemble as its own essential ingredient in a larger, burgeoning feast of emotional music. By featuring electronically tinged neo-classical pieces, large string suites, and niche cover versions, Westworld is a very different and varied television soundtrack. With many different twists and turns throughout its 34 tracks, it holds up as an effective piece of score work intended for intelligent storytelling without ever feeling like random compositional experiments merely thrown together. ~ Rob Wacey
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