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SONIC DEATH MONKEY SOUNDTRACK REVIEWS - Matrix: Revolutions & Travelling Light

Sonic Death Monkey is seen every Saturday
by Michael Collins

Every beginning must have a marketing campaign and we get part of that with the soundtrack. Itís a exercise in contrast this time with the soundtracks to two films that could not be more different. The mega-hype of The Matrix Revolutions and the indie introspection of Travelling Light. Unsurprisingly itís the stronger emotional resonance in Travelling Light that produces the far more effective soundtrack. Revolutions is big loud and brash, yet the careful selection of tracks for Travelling Light gives it more poignant significance.

Revolutions opens with that familiar signature theme of all the green weird stuff dropping down the screen. It then quickly establishes the main mood of the soundtrack. That of frantic orchestral arrangements that help us hurtle through the frenetic action.

Tracks may start off quietly enough yet they quickly change.

The quiet moments like in the beginning of The Train Man Cometh and Tetsujin begin gently enough. Train Manís serene beginning is all too brief whilst the intro of Tetsujin has a dark foreboding feel. Tetsujinís second half quickly turns into a pumping mini techno piece. Itís funny, while recalling watching the film this music doesnít seem at all familiar. It certainly works, you just canít pick what part of the film it was in.

In My Head - a good title for a movie that often sets questions of what is real and what is just happening inside a personís mind - is a dark techno-goth number. All very scare-your-mother stuff here. It seems that everybody is into industrial goth in the future.

The Men In Metal is another one of those hyper-emotional orchestral pieces. This is actually my least favourite type of music to listen to as a soundtrack alone. You like to have music match your mood, and funnily enough. when Iím at home I am never in a frantic hurry or life and death struggle. So this type of music - regardless of how well it may fit the film - is not the sort of music I prefer to have on the CD player.

I guess if you wanted to relive those roller coaster emotions then this music is fine, but when the soundtrack is detached from the film then itís not something that I am particularly into.

Niobeís Run is again the same. The computer game like sequence that features in the film was all close shaves, tight fits and doing what noone else would dare. So the music ranges from the aforementioned frenetic pace and mood to some occasional lulls to catch our breath. Woman Can Drive continues this action in a similar fashion. The mood shifts are quite jarring - youíll never be in the mood for this entire album - just bits of it at a time.

If dramatic operas are your thing then maybe youíll like this soundtrack. Other tracks incorporate operatic vocal choirs and industrial-style metal clanging sounds not unlike the Terminator soundtrack. This is a huge over dramatic score here, but itís so overblown, it makes your head spin.

And so we move to something that couldnít be more different with Travelling Light. From the overblown to gentle emotional resonances of a far more personal nature. Although a far more successful album, the Travelling Light soundtrack is let down by the same weaknesses that were present in the film.

The soundtrack is an amalgam of a couple of new tracks, tracks from the late 60s/early 70s (fitting in with the setting of the film) and score music from Richard Vella.

Vellaís work has no large orchestra, opera chorus and industrial clanging - and itís all the better for it. To get you an idea of this soundtrack is coming from the opening title theme and opening track of the CD is only 29 seconds long. Thatís all thatís needed. The point is made and we move on.

This admirable restraint would have been welcome on the Revolutions soundtrack.

Vellaís contributions are gentle acoustic guitar led pieces ranging from the reflective and pensive to the playful. The longest of his tracks is only just over two minutes long. You really wish that they were longer. They really are very good. The almost ambient nature of them has you longing for more and itís a shame that they are only a small part of this soundtrack.

Contributing the modern song is Alex Lloyd with Coming Home. Itís a cracking tune. Iím not usually a fan of his work, but this one rocks with itís rock ní shuffle beat and upbeat feel.

Lloydís contribution matches the mood of the majority of the album which pilfers from the proto-hippie hits of the 60s and 70s. Thereís Cream, Donovan, Steve Balbi and the Universe and er, John Rowles. Itís hippie, but not too hippie, and on the whole it has a nice vibe about it. Hey with all this hippie stuff in the air, we wouldnít want some bad karma floating about.

Pulling things down is a rather dreadful version of Beatles classic Eleanor Rigby by Zoot and some dialogue excerpts from the film which are examples of banal hippie bullshit at itís very worst.

Those failings thankfully do not ruin the rest of the album and itís a nice example of a period compilation piece to suit a general mood and vibe.

It is surprising to find that Revolutions and Travelling Light have something in common with the theme of destiny and choice. It is an important theme in both films yet it is far more successfully recreated in the Travelling Light soundtrack. It aims small, but hits high - itís a far greater success than the excessive Matrix: Revolutions.

The Matrix - Revolutions

1 Matrix Revolutions Main Title
2 The Trainman Cometh
3 Tetsujin
4 In My Head
5 The Road to Sourceville
6 Men in Metal
7 Niobe's Run
8 Woman Can Drive
9 Moribund Mifune
10 Kidfried
11 Saw Bitch Workhorse
12 Trinity Definitely
13 Neodammerung
14 Why, Mr. Anderson?
15 Spirit of the Universe
16 Navras

Travelling Light

1 Opening Titles - Richard Vella
2 Coming Home - Alex Lloyd
3 Because I Love You - Steve Balbi
4 Cosmic Wheels - Donovan
5 Whose Plot Is This? - Lou Bonetti
6 Cheryl Moana Marie - John Rowles
7 Super 8 - Richard Vella
8 Part Three Into Paper Walls - Russell Morris
9 Think About Tomorrow Today - Masters Apprentices
10 Eleanor Rigby - Zoot
11 Turn Your Mind Off - Lou Bonetti
12 Sunshine of Your Love - Cream
13 Rio De Camero - Masters Apprentices
14 Only A Matter of Time - Russell Morris
15 Bus Ride - Richard Vella
16 Catch the Wind - Donovan
17 Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Simon Burke
18 Because I Love You - Richard Vella
19 Closing Credits - Richard Vella


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=850
originally posted: 11/09/03 08:11:05
last updated: 02/01/04 08:43:23
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