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The Matrix


Colosseum (4005939602626)
Varèse Sarabande (0030206602623)
Movie | Release date: 05/31/1999 | Format: CD, Download
 

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# Track   Duration
1.Main Title/Trinity Infinity3:53
2.Unable to Speak1:13
3.The Power Plant2:40
4.Welcome to the Real World2:25
5.The Hotel Ambush5:22
6.Exit Mr. Hat1:20
7.A Virus1:32
8.Bullet-time1:09
9.Ontological Shock3:31
10.Anything is Possible6:48
 29:52
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The Matrix - 08/10 - Review of Tom Daish, submitted at
Don Davis is perhaps more widely know as a orchestrator and has orchestrated many scores for such big names as James Horner, Randy Newman and others. I've heard a few of his previous scores and I must admit that I was never overtly impressed. They were perfectly serviceable, but nothing special. However, the Matrix is a much improved effort and it is a extremely fortunate that Varese decided to release it since it's well worth hearing. The most striking thing about the score to the Matrix is the superb atmosphere that most of the music creates and the fascinating uses of ordinary orchestral instruments. The Main Title utilizes brass chords which fade in and out and while this is not necessarily a new thing, it makes an interesting change from the more traditional approach to scoring and orchestration. The scoring of the action sequences is remarkably fresh sounding and doesn't rely on Goldsmith or Zimmer style synths to propel everything along. In fact, running strings and Planet of the Apes style piano riffs are more prominent. The rumbling piano riff is something which James Horner uses quite frequently, perhaps showing that Davis has picked up a trick or two from his orchesrtating assignments. This is not to say there is a complete lack of synths in the score since they do form a good supporting role, but most of the more interesting musical effects are produced acoustically with skillful craftsmanship. The action slightly hints at more minimalistic tendancies, although this is far from pure Steve Reich or Philip Glass style minimalism. A brief hint of Joel McNeely's sputtering trumpet triplets from Soldier are evident in The Hotel Ambush and work very well in the tapestry of this score as well.

There is a sparing use of choir and which always makes a stunning impact when used. The first is The Power Plant which offers a very apocalyptic sound with doom-laden brass fading in and out. Most impressive on disc, but stunning when combined with the film's marvellous visuals. The following track, Welcome to the Real World features a solo soprano to give a very mournful feel, kind of a cross between the male soprano from Elliot Goldenthal's uncompromising score to Alien 3 combined with the cycling string patterns of Jerry Goldsmith's V'Ger music from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Anything is Possible provides for a more exuberant and upbeat use of the choir and provides a thrilling climax track to the score.

For all the good things about the Matrix, it is by no means perfect. There are a few somewhat mediocre passages where not a great deal happens and the lack of any strong themes means that even a quiet version of the main theme can't be relied on to liven these sections up. Tracks like Unable to Speak utilise chaotic out of control orchestral effects which work fine in context but aren't that great unless you're a fan of less compromising modernistic writing. However, with the relatively short running time, the less agreeable sections don't last long and in many ways add a much more decisive edge when compared to the much more listenable scores we're used to. Perhaps the score's biggest flaw is that the different ideas aren't put together as coherently as they might. Whereas Jerry Goldsmith would have moved from one idea to the next without breaking into a sweat, Davis occasionally darts from idea to idea which can give the score a somewhat fragmented feel. This is especially noticeable in the choral sections which, while sounding superb, don't last long enough and become a fraction frustrating since they could easily have been used for longer. Having seen the film, I do understand why this jumping about is evident. The action sequences jump from slow-mo to hyper active and back and so the rate of action varies so much it's impressive that Davis could keep up so well. I hope that Davis manages to get a few more scoring assignments, indeed this kind of sci-fi thriller seems to suit him and he has certainly provided the film with a great deal of its atmosphere, perfectly mirroring the techno, dark and faintly surreal world where the film exists. Not perfect by any means, but with so many good ideas, it's well worth picking up and certainly grows with each listen. Don't get it confused with the pop CD since they have virtually identical covers.... unless you like that sort of thing!
The Matrix - 10/10 - Review of Andreas Lindahl, submitted at
The Matrix can probably be considered Don Davis' big breakthrough as a composer. His score for the widely succesful film, directed by the Wachowski brothers, starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburn, can be described with one word. Power. It's been a long time since I heard a score this powerful, dark and agressive.

Davis makes us of a big orchestra, choir, synths, boy soprano and an abundance of percussive instruments, such as bongos, and the result is of course a sound that is huge and simply great. Add to this fresh and inventive ideas, and you have one of the most interesting and memorable scores of 1999. Opening with "Main Title/Trinity Infinity", Davis sets the tone of the score immediately. With dark swirling strings and incredibly powerful brass, it builds, but then fades away, only to build again towards some extremely furious music, and all the time with the low, rapid strings in the background.

There is almost no thematic material at all in the score. Instead Don Davis relies on sound, but the way he does it is just excellent - The Matrix is like a wall of sound that smacks you right in the face. Still, the music never gets uninteresting, as it is so full of energy and the fact that there's always something going on. I suspect that a lot of the music was improvised by the musicians during the recording sessions, as it often is just total chaos, with every instrument playing its own, unique, part.

Although the score often is loud and powerful, there are some almost eerie parts, like for instance in the beginning of "Welcome to the Real World", which includes the haunting voice of the boy soprano, supported by primarily harp and brass.

Soundtracks from the collection: The Matrix

Animatrix, The (2003)
Matrix Revolutions, The (2003)
Matrix, The (1999)
Matrix Reloaded, The (2003)
Matrix Reloaded, The (2013)
Matrix, The (1999)
Matrix, The (2008)


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