Chappie soundtrack by Hans Zimmer (CD review)

If you think you already know exactly what a Hans Zimmer soundtrack sounds like and, in your head, you’ve got the famous sweeping orchestral sounds of the ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ or ‘Gladiator’ themes, prepare yourself for a surprise. The soundtrack to ‘Chappie’, a Science Fiction film about a law enforcement robot who gets kidnapped by gangsters, is a frenetic electronic adventure with scarcely a recognisable instrument in earshot.


If you really want those sweeping orchestral scores, this probably isn’t going to fulfil that craving, but if you’re willing to give it a go, ‘Chappie’ delivers some cracking tunes in its hour-long playlist.

My absolute favourite track is the immensely entertaining ‘Illest Gangsta On The Block’, which is a real homage to early platform games with their jaunty 8-bit soundtracks. It’s by far the happiest tune on the album and, every time I hear it, a huge smile erupts on my face and I want to bounce around the room. I haven’t seen the film but I get images in my head of this little robot strolling down the street with a little swagger and looking really pleased with himself, just like he’s conquered the final boss battle in his favourite game.

It’s almost unfair to pick out other tracks on this album, because each one has something different to offer. Within the space of 16 tracks, we’re treated to a wide range of electronic sounds, with themes ranging from the aforementioned 8-bit style of ‘Illest Gangsta On The Block’ to the contemplative dreamscape found in the opening section of ‘Use Your Mind’. Combine these with the sinister overtones of ‘Welcome To The Real World’ and frantic pacing of ‘The Only Way Out Of This’ and Zimmer begins to show us just how versatile electronic music can be.

Even within some of these tracks, there are a range of moods and styles that build to tell their own little stories. Take ‘A Machine That Thinks And Feels’ as an example. It starts out with a quiet, innocent chiming melody with the feel of a lullaby or musical box, then moves abruptly to a harsh discordant version of the same tune before taking us on an increasingly faster and more heavily-layered journey following striking beats. Just as suddenly, it’s all taken away again, leaving us with a few lonely notes teasing us and then we’re once again in a beat-driven frenzy that takes us to a location that’s so far from where we started it’s hard to believe only 3 minutes and 3 seconds have passed.

This building up and breaking down, switching between harsh and mellow, mixing regular beats and barely heard moments of quiet contemplation are not just one-off moments for this track, but occur frequently throughout the album, taking the listener on a real musical journey.

I think that perhaps the highest praise I can give to a music track is that it tells a story all by itself. This album is a set of little stories and, even if you haven’t seen the film, it stands on its own two feet as an album that’s definitely worth a listen.

Vinca Russell

July 2016

(pub: Varese Sarabande Records. 1 CD 1 hour 6 tracks. Price: $13.99 (US), £14.26 (UK). ASIN: B00VBES74K)

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