Dune Soundtrack

Dune Soundtrack

I’m looking forward to seeing Denis Villeneuve’s take on Dune this weekend, when it finally gets its UK release (technically Thursday). I came to Frank Herbert’s novel in my early teens around the time that David Lynch’s version of the film was released.

But more about all of that when I’ve seen the film.

In the meantime, the soundtrack for the new iteration has been crafted by one of my favourite composers, Hans Zimmer. Indeed there are to be no fewer than three different soundtracks, two of which you can already listen to on streaming services.

First out of the block was The Dune Sketchbook (Music from the Soundtrack), described as “extended, immersive musical explorations of the ‘Dune’ film score.” It has 9 tracks and runs to about 1 hour 41 minutes with individual tracks run as long as 18 minutes each.

Then there is Dune: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack which has 22 tracks running to around 74 minutes of music.

Finally, there is to be The Art and Soul of Dune which is to accompany the book of the same name and will apparently be available as a free (?) download. [Update: This third album is out now, but even though I was emailed a link to a “free download”, you’re actually directed to streaming services including the free YouTube account where you can listen to the entire thing. No sign of any mp3s. [Further Update: You can buy the mp3s] Nor indeed a physical release of this version.]

You can listen to quite a lot of this music right now, free of charge. YouTube has lots of it available to stream – and I don’t mean via the paid YouTube Music/Premium services. Tracks include a 1 hour looping version of a couple of pieces of music.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, I still like to actually buy some of my music. I mean – something physical, not just virtual bits.

Now, there is a limited edition triple LP of The Dune Sketchbook but that has been and gone now – with pre-orders selling out before I even found out about it. (In any case, ordering from the US might have been expensive).

OK – let’s just get a CD then.

Well the good news is that Amazon has both The Dune Sketchbook and Dune: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on sale at amazon.co.uk. But the former costs £20.92 (for a double CD) and the latter £21.63 for a single disc! [Update: At time of writing it had dropped to “just” £17.30.] That’s quite extortionate for a new CD – particularly the regular single-disc soundtrack. And then I couldn’t help but notice an Italian reviewer of both discs claim that the manufacturer had essentially shipped CDR versions of the soundtracks. For younger readers, CDRs are those kinds of discs you can burn on CD-Writer on your computer. Fine as far as they go, but notoriously susceptible to damage and degradation over relatively short periods of time. Now I can’t definitively say where Amazon’s Italian customer got their discs, but both their purchases are labelled as a “Verified Purchase” by Amazon. Indeed, they blame WaterTower Music (Warner’s in-house music label) for being cheap in how they produce these discs.

I realise that buying discs is somehow something “old” these days. I could just buy the mp3s from Amazon or wherever – they each retail at £9.99, less than half the price of the disc versions. But as I look further afield, it’s hard to actually find anywhere else even selling these discs.

Searching HMV’s site only turns up Toto’s soundtrack to the 1984 Lynch version of the film, and searching further afield on sites like Zaavi or Norman Music just finds me at best, a vinyl copy of that same 1984 soundtrack.

It’s got to be said that even getting a CD soundtrack copy of another recent Zimmer soundtrack, No Time To Die, isn’t especially easy. HMV has it for £10.99, although Amazon seems keener to flog me the £24.99 vinyl edition, with the CD only available via third parties.

One final thing to note. The Dune soundtrack is also said to have been the first that Zimmer has mixed in Dolby Atmos. How do I get to hear that? Good question. Apple Music seemingly has it, but as I already subscribe to YouTube Music (and, er, Spotify), I’m not adding another service to the mix. In any case, I want longer term access, and I want something beyond headphone listening. I have a decentish home cinema set-up, and would ideally like something that could feed all those speakers properly. Amazon Music has also just added spatial features. Perhaps I’ll give a quick trial to see if it’ll work, although part of the problem is that even if Apple or Amazon offer it, whether their respective smart TV apps on my TV, my Nvidia Shield or Amazon Fire Stick offer Dolby Atmos through that hardware is another question. I need to be able to send a signal to my Dolby Atmos capable receiver and on to my speakers. Reading the details of Amazon’s spatial audio offering, it seems to be limited to their mobile app and headphones.

Perhaps, with the film still yet to open, I’m just being a little fast off the block. And maybe they’ll package up all three soundtracks into one luxurious boxset, ideally with an additional Blu Ray Audio disc or similar that I can play back via my home cinema set-up. But I’m doubtful.

Update: More about buying soundtracks in this follow up piece.