29 November 2013

Sound-Tracking 2013 #2 - Oblivion



This excerpt is the second in my Sound-Tracking 2013 series, looking at the wonderful score crafted by M83 for Joseph Kosinski's already underrated sci-fi cracker "Oblivion". The content is from a review I penned for The Boar in June. Placed below is a compilation of the serene and melancholic motifs from the feature.  

Following a successful partnership with Daft Punk on the soundtrack for his debut feature TRON: Legacy, director Joseph Kosinski turns to synthpop outfit M83 to score his sophomore sci-fi epic Oblivion.
Given the feature is an unusually pensive and graceful blockbuster, M83’s unlikely musical motifs work well, melding with Kosinski’s picturesque backdrops and devotion to apocalyptic contemplation to deliver a lugubrious tone entrenched within whitewashed beauty. As a solo experience, the album also pulses with life and mournful vitality, beginning with the hypnotically ethereal ‘Jack’s Dream’. The opening chapters of the disc communicate the emotional heft and visual expanse of the movie spectacularly, bringingM83’s distinct sound and channelling it through the offbeat action set-up that informs Kosinski’s filmic vision.
Other notable tracks in the first portion of the album include the seductively epic ‘Tech 49’ and the bellowing-yet-immersive ‘Earth 2077’, which ditches some of the M83 staples in favour of providing a more traditional Hollywood sound. It’s a nice and merely temporary deviation within the work that suggests the electronica band have a future beyond discos and cult fascination.
‘Canyon Battle’ takes the soundtrack in another direction, blending synthesisers with the machinations of fully-powered action movie scoring. Once again, this reinforces the work’s admiration of sci-fi tradition, as well as emphasising the stylistic curveball deliberately inserted in the form of M83’s sublime, trancelike musical fusion. It’s an expressive offering courtesy of an artistic contributor who understands the cinematic legacy Kosinski’s film adheres toward (if you’ve seen the picture, it cribs quite liberally from celebrated genre tropes), spicing up  proceedings with a sonic sound that combines smoothly with Kosinski’s eye for glacial beauty.
The album concludes with a collaboration with Norwegian songstress Susanne Sundfor, which harks back to a different era of cinematic music, when theme songs and operatic vocals were par for the course. This retro touch influences the film’s unique identity right at the death, providing an amiable and unexpected helping of certifiable closure. All in, the Oblivion OST is an album worth consuming; a sensory and urgent delight which should please M83 fans as well as those seeking an innovative musical accompaniment alongside whizzing celluloid.

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