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
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
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
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...
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