Score Reviews‎ > ‎

Westworld: Season 1 by Ramin Djawadi (Review)

posted Feb 7, 2017, 12:42 PM by Kaya Savas

Ramin Djawadi continues to dominate television with his score for HBO’s Westworld, which is a modern adaptation of the 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton. The original film had a sequel called Futureworld and then a short-lived TV series called Beyond Westworld. This adaptation comes to us from Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, who have given it the edge of sex and violence that seduces us so well. Ramin came onboard to score the show after Jonathan Nolan met him on Batman Begins, and Ramin’s score for Game Of Thrones only fueled Nolan’s wish to work with Ramin. Ramin delivers a wonderfully intricate, interesting and engaging score to the sci-fi series that is haunting yet resonating.

With a main title sequence like Game Of Thrones under his belt, I think people were interested to see if Ramin could replicate the magic. He does indeed. The haunting yet exquisite opening features a player piano echoing the tune played across images of hosts being created. The score fleshes out the series in interesting ways, one of them being that it never becomes a “western” score. It was easy to expect some kind of western styled approach, but it’s almost a relief that Ramin didn’t have to resort to knocking of Morricone to capture the fantasy world of the titular park where the rich come to play out their wildest dreams. A few motifs help anchor the score and make the narrative of the season easy to get lost in. The main purpose of the music is definitely to create that heightened curiosity and intrigue. Things feel kind of off-kilter and you know something is building. That was indeed an interesting aspect of the music here. It almost felt like the score already knew all the twists and turns, but it didn't want to tell you. It was more or less teasing you with the promise of reveals. That ability to pique the audiences curiosity like that via the score was very impressive. 

Another big section of the show’s music is of course all the references to classic songs. This device was used to remind the audience that this world wasn't real. The player piano in the saloon would normally be playing a rendition of a familiar tune like "House Of The Rising Sun". That familiar tune was designing to pull you immediately out of the scene, and does exactly that. You’d be lost in the dialogue between two characters and go “hey! that sounds familiar!”. Also lets not forget the amazing orchestral arrangement for “Paint It Black”, which concluded an early episode. Overall the season’s score was wonderfully unique, encapsulating and drove the narrative without being too overbearing.

If Game Of Thrones wasn’t proof enough of Ramin’s talents as a TV series composer, then Westworld should seal the deal. Westworld’s ability to hook the audience via certain motifs and take us on a mystery that slowly unravels itself is a real testament to how music was utilized in this series. The music is of Djawadi’s style, but also touches on the synthetic western setting of the park our main characters inhabit. In the end, Westworld never feels like it has been “inspired” by anything. The music feels unique in its own voice, and it's one entertaining and intriguing score that keeps calling to lure you back.