Music Webmaster Len Mullenger



Don DAVIS The Matrix OST   VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6026 [30:13]





After I listened to the break-neck paced music that makes up the greater part of this album, I had visions of the orchestra crawling exhausted, as though emerging from a desert, towards the nearest bar: those that blow, their tongues hanging out and eyes bulging; and those that banged and scraped with their arms in slings. This score must have been that kind of demanding!

Flippancy apart, this is a tremendously exciting score that must enhance this cyber-thriller box-office success with its extraordinary special effects and equally fast-paced action. Don Davis has delivered a very powerful score, very well constructed and superbly orchestrated that reaches out at you, grasps you by the throat and hurls you along with it. The music is often spiky and abrasive with some spectacular writing for the brass including some glorious long-sustained chords.

To mention just a few tracks: 'Welcome to the real world' brings a little welcome calm but it is a calm that keeps the listener on tenterhooks expecting an explosion any moment and there is an intriguing soprano solo wordlessly intoning as if in a trance or a dream. 'The Hotel Ambush' begins with an odd but effective mix of North African and Caribbean styles before the tempo picks up and the music proceeds with a strong rhythmic drive subtly picking up just sufficient of our old friend the Dies Irae theme as to be recognisable. 'Ontological Shock' introduces some attractive heroic and lyrical material and the final cue 'Anything is Possible' is meditative as well as being noble and aspirational.

Davis's score might falter in inspiration slightly in the middle reaches of this album but it is one of the best action scores I have heard for many months


Ian Lace

and Paul Tonks adds:

Davis worked with the director brothers Wachowski before on Bound. That was an exercise in Hitchcock for him really, with some particularly nice nods towards Vertigo. There is such a distance from one project to another that it's almost impossible to link the two together. (Visual flair certainly carries across.) Davis' accomplishment starts at deserving credit for keeping up with the quantum leap, and grows exponentially from there.

With a budget he has been able to create what so many sci-fi projects have seen to a far inferior degree - a self-contained soundscape. It's a psychotropic aural experience that swells and pools from your speakers. Atonality and dissonances blur with re-phrasings to a point where everything is equally important.

While there are numerous potential motifs to be assumed from recurring acoustic groupings, there is only one vaguely traditional thematic device employed. Whenever one of the characters makes an eye-boggling leap between buildings Davis accentuates the dizzying feat with paired off brass swells that filter between the left and right channels of your speakers. It's exciting enough on the album - but was breathtaking with the film.

The triple credit of composition, orchestration, and conducting puts the whole congratulatory slap squarely on the Davis' shoulders. It doesn't take long to appreciate just how much work it must have been - not just with the basic writing, but with 11th hour AVID editing altering the picture's cut right up to release.

By no means an easy listening experience, this is high definition composition and recording that challenges your aural perception. What you pick up will most likely adapt from listen to listen. We can only pray this is something the industry will take note of...


Paul Tonks

Official web site


Ian Lace

Paul Tonks

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