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Oblivion by Joseph Trapanese and Anthony Gonzales (M83)

Oblivion

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Oblivion (Soundtrack) by Joseph Trapanese and Anthony Gonzales (M83)
Oblivion (Soundtrack) by Joseph Trapanese and Anthony Gonzales (M83)
Oblivion (Soundtrack) by Joseph Trapanese and Anthony Gonzales (M83)
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Oblivion (Soundtrack) by Joseph Trapanese and Anthony Gonzales (M83)

Oblivion
Composed by Joseph Trapanese/ Anthony Gonzales (M83)
Back Lot Music (2013)

Rating: 8/10

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ďWith both the dreamy lyricism and the driving reliability that electronic music uniquely provides, OBLIVION is one of those soundtracks you can play in the background, again and again, no matter what you are doing.Ē

Duoblivion
Review by Helen San

 

OBLIVION is a visually stunning sci-fi blockbuster about drone repair personnel on a post-apocalyptic earth, with enough mind-bending plot twists to give Phillip K. Dick a run for his money. Billing Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, and Morgan Freeman (itís mostly just Tom Cruise), the filmís scene-stealing star was actually its breathtaking CGI cinematography. And where you have beautiful images, you must have beautiful music.

Iíll be honest. I am not a big fan of forays into film music by electronic bands. Didnít much care for FIGHT CLUB by DUST BROTHERS. Definitely didnít swoon over HANNA by THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS. When TRON: LEGACY director Joseph Kosinski recruited the French electronic band DAFT PUNK to compose the score, film music fans like myself were skeptical. On one hand, the Tron franchise wears the mystique of avant garde electronica quite well. On the other handómemories of THE SOCIAL NETWORK by Nine Inch Nails (ahem, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) still make me shudder.

But TRON: LEGACY turned out to be a fantastic and eminently listenable score. DAFT PUNK had some chops. And they had arrangement help from a classically trained composer, JOSEPH TRAPANESE. So when I sat down to listen to a score to another Kosinski film, by a French electronic band (M83), with Trapanese as co-composer, I was rightly hopeful. M83ís OBLIVION is every bit as enjoyable as TRON: LEGACY, and then some.

As a reviewer, I would be remiss if I didnít see a pattern emerging: Kosinski and Trapenese. Kosinki seems to have an intuitive talent for directing good music for his screens; he knows how to pick them and shape them. And Trapanese knows how to marry electronic music to orchestral arrangements for film like nobodyís business. What they give us is the kind of collaborative genius that makes for a darn good soundtrack.

Or soundtracks, rather. OBLIVION was released twice, once with 17 tracks (69 minutes long) and once with 30 tracks (Deluxe Edition, 108 minutes long, iTunes only). The obvious question is, are the extra 13 tracks worth it? The shorter, regular release contains the best tracks from the film. It is probably sufficient to buy the shorter version. If you must have an extra 13 minutes of awesomeness, add these three deluxe edition tracks I found mesmerizing: Supercell (4), Unidentified Object (10), and Knife Fight in a Phone Booth (24).

Waking Up (2) introduces us the majestic main anthem, the kind of grandeur you want for placing a flag on a new moon. The same theme is woven into the rest of the score, of course, and into the obligatory, catchy end credits pop song ďOblivion.Ē One advantage of electronic music is that certain amount of repetition is expected, and revisiting of the same main themes feels more natural and at home than in a symphonic piece.

The most noteworthy tracks include Earth 2077 (14), an excellent example of Gonzalezí and Trapaneseís grandesse. As I am partial to the Remote Control sound, Canyon Battle (19) is probably the most played on the album: part X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (Jackman), part TRANSFORMERS (Jablonsky), and all hooray. The track that melts me the most is Iím Sending You Away (25), which can be summed up thus: OMG.

One of M83ís finer skills is contrasting softer rhythms or poetry over loud, instrumental largesse. And they like to carefully build this layered music into an ovation-worthy epic finale. It may sound formulaic, but it works. The music meanders from hearting somber drama to pounding, adrenaline action. The genius behind it all is a very consistent sound and undercurrent, such that the transitions dance smoothly from track to track. With both the dreamy lyricism and the driving reliability that electronic music uniquely provides, OBLIVION is one of those soundtracks you can play in the background, again and again, no matter what you are doing. It is just so easy on the ears.

I am still wary of electronic band scores, but for now, I will make an exception for any Kosinski-Trapanese collaborations. After listening to OBLIVION, I am inclined to buy anything they make in the future, even if it includes Nine Inch Nails.
 

Rating: 8/10

 

Standard Release Soundtrack


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Jack's Dream 1:22  *****
2 Waking Up 4:09  *****
3 Tech 49 5:58  ***
4 Starwaves 3:41  *****
5 Odyssey Rescue 4:08  ****
6 Earth 2077 2:22  *****
7 Losing Control 3:56  ****
8 Canyon Battle 5:57  *****
9 Radiation Zone 4:11  **
10 You Can't Save Her 4:56  ****
11 Raven Rock 4:33  *****
12 I'm Sending You Away 5:38  ***
13 Ashes of Our Fathers 3:30  ****
14 Temple of Our Gods 3:14  ****
15 Fearful Odds 3:09  *****
16 Undimmed by Time, Unbound by Death 2:26  ***
17 Oblivion (feat. Susanne SundÝr) 5:56  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 69 minutes  
       

Deluxe Edition Soundtrack (iTunes only). Additional tracks in bold

Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Jack's Dream 1:29  *****
2 Waking Up 4:17  *****
3 Supercell 4:18  ****
4 Teach 49 6:01  ***
5 The Library 3:26  **
6 Horatius 2:31  **
7 Starwaves 3:41  *****
8 Hydrorig 2:22  ***
9 Crater Lake 1:27  ***
10 Unidentified Object 2:31  ****
11 Odyssey Rescue 4:11  ****
12 Return from Delta 2:22  **
13 Retrieval 6:47  **
14 Earth 2077 2:22  ****
15 Revelations 1:42  ***
16 Drone Attack 3:26  ***
17 Return to Empire State 6:41  ***
18 Losing Control 3:57  ****
19 Canyon Battle 5:57  *****
20 Radiation Zone 4:11  **
21 You Can't Save Her 4:58  ****
22 Welcome Back 1:46  *
23 Raven Rock 4:36  *****
24 Knife Fight in a Phone Booth 4:39  *****
25 I'm Sending You Away 5:39  *****
26 Ashes of Our Fathers 3:32  ****
27 Temples of Our Gods 3:15  ****
28 Fearful Odds 3:11  *****
29 Undimmed by Time, Unbound By Death 2:26  ***
30 Oblivion (feat. Susanne SundÝr) 5:56  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 108 minutes  
       

 

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