Top positive review
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A truly remarkable composition that is complete and coherent within itself.
on 22 February 2014
From my point of view there are three main categories for official soundtracks:
1) Music which brings back into your mind either the whole of a favourite film of key scenes from it. For some people, such OST's could be the music for 'Les Miserables', 'Mary Poppins', 'My fair lady', one or more of the 'Harry Potter' series, 'Shakespeare in love' etc. etc according to your own tastes.
2) Collections or selections of music which constitute compilations of music which individuals enjoy. Such selections might encompass lots of different styles or artists, or be drawn from the work of just one group or person. Examples might be the music used in 'Phenomenon', 'Mama Mia', 'Forest Gump' etc. etc.
3) Music which can be listened to pretty well for just the music. Maybe you saw the film, maybe not, that becomes less and less important. What does become important is the cohesion and completeness of the music itself. Maybe music from 'The rock' or one of Ennio Morricone's soundtracks or the 'Pirates of the Carribean' fall into that group for you. For me, I'd place the OST from 'Oblivion right at the head of what I think of as this third category.
M83's sountrack is, for me, effectively a fully-formed techno symphony. It flows smoothly from one track to another with themes recurring and evolving as the music evolves. Tracks can almost be thought of as 'movements' in the symphonic sense. The OST begins quietly and moodily but quickly develops a strong rhythmic and dramatc quality which leads you forwards into a series of peaks and troughs, crescendos and moments of calm which become compelling and almost hypnotic - but without the constant repetitiveness which can make some techno music become more akin to spaced-out dance music or pulse-infused trance. The whole OST is a coherent and cohesive piece of music in its own right.
And that brings me to two features which really surprised me:
First - the song which ends the film and, therefore, the soundtrack, isn't just something that has been tacked on to span the time as end credits roll across the screen. It genuinely fits and completes the whole composition and provides just enough of a difference and a climax to bring the 'symphony' to a satisfying end.
Second (and this REALLY surprised me) - it was only when I sat down to listen to the soundtrack on my earphones (as opposed to listening to it on speakers as I pottered around doing other things) that I actually went through the CD insert and realised that although M83's music is definitely techno in style, it is NOT driven or saturated with synths, sequencers nor rhythm machines. In fact, virtually the whole composition is recorded using a massive orchestra and choir with just one reference to an ANALOG synth tucked away in the small print. Despite sounding as good (or better) than the best of techno or Tangerine Dream in terms of sound, rhythm and depth - the only thing that is synthesised is the overall feel of the techno style and what might be thought of as the 'typical' techno sound. There is a battery of violins, violas, celli and double basses plus French horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba, percussion, timpani, Rhodes piano, electric bass and normal guitars, drums and .... a touch of analog synth programming. There are also sopranos, altos, tenors and bass singers a-plenty. Yet, despite all those elements of traditional orchestral composition, what you hear is as modern a symphony as you can get within the overall arena of techno.
Truly remarkable and totally successful.