M83: Oblivion OST

frontIt’s been a while since I picked up an OST, and I was excited to pick up this one since I saw M83’s name on it. The first thing I thought when I heard this soundtrack was, “Oh, this is just like what happened with Daft Punk in Tron Legacy” By that I mean, it didn’t sound like Daft Punk, although you could hear them in the mix every now and then—in many ways this felt like an extension of the that original soundtrack. Of course, I wasn’t surprised when I realized that the same composer, Joseph Trapanese, arranged the music for this film alongside Anthony Gonzales of M83. It was an enlightening listening experience for me because I got the chance to notice some of Trapanese’s tendencies, like how he’ll boost the dynamics on a riff to make the development more intense and climactic, or those outstanding unison hits he likes to write in the percussion. Again, this album feels more connected to his work than that of Anthony Gonzales’ however, having once binged on albums like Saturdays=Youth and Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, M83’s electronically-charged sound really made sense of this collaboration.

My only qualm with this album is the amount of filler music, ambient tracks that add volume to the empty space of a scene where perhaps people are talking or a character is quietly performing some task. I felt like I had to wade through a lot of that near the beginning to get to the really juicy stuff– the fight scenes!

Although I haven’t seen Oblivion in theaters yet, I can already tell that there are going to be some crazy battles, dramatic moments, and lots of intense action. The wild and boisterous drums on ‘Radiation Zone’ were probably the highlight of this whole soundtrack to me– it sounds like heavy metal popcorn. At one point I was happy to hear that iconic ascending progression in ‘Canyon Battle’ (you’ll recognize it as the first four notes in a major pentachord) which always makes music more triumphant and gets me every time. That was actually one of the coolest tracks because of all the changes of tempo, meter, and scene.

There’s some really cool themes used throughout this soundtrack, but nothing so recognizable as a John Williams motif– mostly certain dissonant chords and specific rhythms. There is one theme that is only recurs twice throughout the soundtrack, a pretty little thing with dark undertones– you’ll hear it in the first track, ‘Jack’s Dream’, as well as in the penultimate track.

As far as original soundtracks go, this is a fun one. It’s reminiscent of composers like Clint Mansell, John Powell and Hans Zimmer who are not afraid to plunge into the realm of electronica. A fine collaborator, Trapanese is a composer who is definitely going to be making more appearances in Hollywood films. I’m looking forward to seeing him grow…9.5/10

*Previously Published on http://www.violentsuccess.com*