This is a very interesting score for an equally interesting concept for a movie. Marco Beltrami composes and the score mixes his skills with horror, action, and ambient sounds. Beltrami, also known for "Carrie", "Mimic", "Scream 4", "The Thing", and "World War Z" (among plenty others) does some really unique things with this particular piece. One of the first things that I noticed is that this score has a lot of great piano work in it. Track 1, "This is the End" begins with the haunting sounds of wind and snow and moves into a pulsing piano that sounds slightly out of tune. It is accompanied softly by strings and then suddenly explodes in the middle of the piece like that of a horror movie. One of the cool things about the score is how Beltrami uses the musical instruments to represent sound...such as wind, steam, screeching of brakes, etc. Track #14, "Steam Car" is a good example of this because you hear the rumble of the orchestra like a train moving down the tracks and then the steam from the engine. This is all done with keyboards and orchestration. Track #19, "This is the Beginning", is one of my favorites and I like how at one point the music sounds like a train slamming on the brakes and grinding down the tracks. Some of the tracks go for a more horror ambient vibe and Beltrami has plenty of experience with that. Track #15, "Seoul Train", is a techno sounding piece which seems a little out of place with the rest of the score but it must highlight some particular event in the movie. I haven't seen the movie yet and probably won't have a chance to until it comes out on Bluray.
Another interesting piece is Track #9, "Water Supply". Bleak, miserable, out of tune piano, out of tune guitar...it reminds me of a western where someone is dying out in the desert. Tracks #3 & 4 remind me of Bernard Herrmann for some reason. It's almost if Bernard Herrmann was composing a modern score - very Hitchcock sounding. Maybe fans of Herrmann and Hitchcock movies can see the similarities too. The last track, "Yona's Theme" begins with a screeching out of tune violin accompanied with the out of tune piano. Crazy sounding I know...but the music adds such a cool effect and it isn't bad...just very unique. The track ends with a church sounding hymn that sings about the train never stopping and that it is eternal. Very weird indeed.
So...we have out of tune instruments, orchestration that fills in for sound effects, creepy ambient music, Herrmann inspired music, western sounds, techno, and hymns. This probably is one of the most diverse soundtracks I've listened to and one of the more unique. Supposedly, the last of humanity is rolling around in this train (remember...I haven't seen the movie) and the music that paints this picture is the last mix of what is left too! It is an interesting concept that works well.
The physical CD is released by Varese Sarabande which is a label known for soundtracks. They are always a little skimpy on the extras but thankfully they do release these scores to us soundtrack fans. The booklet contains no liner notes but it does have a few pages of photos and concept art from the film. The score clocks in at 56 minutes.
I recommend the score and commend it's uniqueness and the many interesting things that you'll hear in it.