The album opener by Free Blood, Never Hear Surf Music Again starts off with an interesting arrangement but then moves on to total pandemonium! If you fast forward that noisy one minute or so, things get mildly interesting again. In any case, whether or not you hear Surf music again, chances are you will never listen to THIS music again! And then enters The A R Rahman with Canyon. There is nothing much in the track, just a strings section with probably some keys in the background. A purely situational piece. But things start picking up with Liberation triad. The first one, Liberation Begins, is again a functional track with pretty much nothing apart from a guitar strumming on a plain loop. But Liberation In A Dream sees Rahman build on that plain loop to create a haunting track. And in Liberation ARR adds a lot more instruments, reaching a wonderful crescendo!
Acid Darbari is a sedate composition in raag Darbari. The continuum fingerboard and the strings section form a very heart-rending combo. The song has a very South-Indian feel though, complete with the shouting sounds in the background. Touch Of The Sun is another minimally orchestrated situational track, and hence would be better viewed than listened to as a track. RIP sounds quite like a requiem as it should, Harshdeep Kaur doing a brilliant job of complementing Rahman’s orchestration that gets superbly pacy towards the end. ARR’s final track, If I Rise comes in the form of a collaboration with Dido, the composer himself doing the vocals alongside the singer. The orchestration here is mesmerizingly serene, highlighted by the motif on what sounds again like the continuum fingerboard the harpejji (thanks to @aham_sarvam for correcting, and providing the link to the music video where ARR is seen playing it). Towards the end there is also a sweet cameo by the Gleehive Children’s Choir from Mumbai.
Of the remaining tracks, three are reworks of yesteryear classics and need no specific comments, wonderful as the originals were. Bill Withers’ 1977 hit Lovely Day, Esther Phillips’ If You Love Me (which was itself a cover of Edith Piaf’s 1950 hit Hymne Ã l’amour), Plastic Bertrand’s Ca Plane Pour Moi all sound beautiful. Vladimir Ashkenazy’s tribute to Chopin with his version of Nocturne No. 2 is as much an exhibition of Ashkenazy’s talent as it is of the composition’s beauty. The soundtrack ends with Sigur Ros rendering Festival. The nine minute long track starts off on a very un-Sigur Ros-ish note, before shifting gears halfway through to their typical style.
127 Hours surely won’t enjoy the popularity that Danny Boyle-AR Rahman’s Slumdog Millionaire did, but to me this soundtrack rates above Slumdog as it is such albums that show the class act that ARR truly is.
You can see the complete album credits here.
Music Aloud Rating — 8.75/10
Recommended Tracks — Acid Darbari ,Liberation, RIP, If I Rise, Festival