In 2010, electronic music group Daft Punk collaborated with Joseph Trapanese on the score for director Joseph Kosinski’s first directorial effort, TRON: Legacy. This year, Trapanese is back with a new collaboration for a Kosinski film, this time with Anthony Gonzalez of M83. Like the score to TRON: Legacy (my review), the focus is on a more electronic sound mixed with traditional orchestration, and the result is quite satisfactory.
The second track of the album, “Waking Up,” perfectly communicates the grandeur of the film, albeit an empty grandeur, if that makes sense. In fact, much of this score gives us a glimpse into the largeness of the world and the hugely epic moments, such as in “Drone Attack” and “Canyon Battle.” Tracks like “Losing Control” are a bit more muted, but the anxious undertones of low strings and electronic pulse with the overlaying high strings become more and more aggressive before being joined by the brass in a dramatic sort of fanfare that seems to emulate all of Jack Harper’s questions and doubts as he struggles to find his place in this world. “Radiation Zone” is incredibly dissonant and becomes more and more agitated, representing the conflict Jack faces in crossing into the radiation zone and the surprises he encounters there.
One thing I liked about this film, though, was its ability to move effortlessly from big, majestic sets and action scenes to the more intimate moments of contemplation and searching for answers, which the score does great as well. The opening track of the album, “Jack’s Dream,” sounds appropriately ethereal, representing the fuzziness of Jack’s “memories,” and “Horatius,” is filled with a constant pulse that drives it forward, but the quieter nature of the track fuels Harper’s question-asking. The following track, “StarWaves,” is much more personal, acting as background music to a scene between Jack and Victoria in the swimming pool. One of the final tracks on the album, “Undimmed By Time, Unbound By Death,” seems to almost be a reference to the title track from Chariots of Fire, composed by Vangelis; both tracks feature an electronic opening before transitioning into a piano-based theme, though the Oblivion track is decidedly more muted (and less likely to be the go-to song for clips of people running).
Those of you who have read my previous soundtrack reviews know that one thing I always harp on is composers who reuse themes from their previous film scores. While Daft Punk and M83 were credited as the main composers for TRON: Legacy and Oblivion, respectively, Joseph Trapanese had a hand in both compositions, and you can hear some similarities between the two. Thankfully, though, nothing is blatant enough to point out, with the fact that TRON: Legacy‘s score is a bit more electronic-based and Oblivion‘s is more orchestra-based, effectively distancing the two to make them stand out on their own merits.
A film score’s goal is to make the film it accompanies even better and to enhance the emotions and action shown on screen; for the most part, the score to Oblivion does its job. There were one or two instances while watching the film when I thought that the music could have taken a little bit more of a backseat to the visuals and dialogue, but those thoughts never lasted long because of how fun the music is. The bonus goal of a film score is to be entertaining when listened to outside of the film, and there’s no doubt that Gonzales and Trapanese have accomplished that here as well. M83’s score to Oblivion manages to continue the recent positive trend of famous music groups composing for films in a great way.
Note: I purchased the Deluxe Edition of the album on iTunes. For only $3 more, you get more than 45 additional minutes of music. Completely worth it!
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
1. “Jack’s Dream” 1:30
2. “Waking Up” 4:18
3. “Supercell” 4:19
4. “Tech 49” 6:01
5. “The Library” 3:27
6. “Horatius” 2:31
7. “StarWaves” 3:41
8. “Hydrorig” 2:23
9. “Crater Lake” 1:28
10. “Unidentified Object” 2:32
11. “Odyssey Rescue” 4:12
12. “Return from Delta” 2:22
13. “Retrieval” 6:48
14. “Earth 2077” 2:23
15. “Revelations” 1:43
16. “Drone Attack” 3:26
17. “Return to Empire State” 6:41
18. “Losing Control” 3:57
19. “Canyon Battle” 5:58
20. “Radiation Zone” 4:12
21. “You Can’t Save Her” 4:59
22. “Welcome Back” 1:47
23. “Raven Rock” 4:35
24. “Knife Fight In a Phone Booth” 4:39
25. “I’m Sending You Away” 5:40
26. “Ashes of Our Fathers” 3:32
27. “Temples of Our Gods” 3:16
28. “Fearful Odds” 3:11
29. “Undimmed By Time, Unbound By Death” 2:27
30. “Oblivion (feat. Susanne Sundfør)” 5:57
Total Length: app. 114 min.
P.S. – Read my review of this film here!