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Review: A Score Resurrected

This post was originally written in October 2021 for Hemispheric News; subscribe at the Patreon site One Prime Plus to receive this monthly newsletter and other benefits that are linked to the Hemispheric Views podcast.

It’s funny how quickly you fall into certain roles or personas when you co-host a podcast. Since starting Hemispheric Views with Andrew and Jason—now a year ago!—we’re certainly recognised for different things by our listeners and friends online. Andrew ‘The Business’ Canion knows a lot about spreadsheets, air conditioning and Toyota’s famous lean manufacturing; Jason loves games, recommends anime and genuinely networks and maintains the tech in his home more comprehensively and reliably than a multinational corporation does for its own offices.

I’ve come to realise that on this podcast, I’ve become known for being:

  • the ‘Feld Foot’ — a somewhat dictatorial orchestrator who prefers predictability and rules, but pretends that he doesn’t;
  • ‘Mr. Default’ — someone who, apart from using Tot, iA Writer and occasionally SwitchGlass, prefers to stick with default apps; and
  • the iPod guy — an old man who walks around with an old iPod Video and spends too much time talking about music and its nostalgic importance.

It’s on this third point that I’m going to concentrate in this edition of Hemispheric News. Although I’m not a musician, I think and talk about music a lot. I love a variety of music, but quite often I listen to a lot of instrumental albums as a way to really escape—especially soundtracks. My favourite soundtrack of all time would have to be The Matrix (Original Motion Picture Score) (1999) by Don Davis. The Matrix is my absolute favourite movie and I talk about it way too much, so it makes sense that it would also be my favourite soundtrack.

Image credit: Don Davis and Varèse Sarabande

One of the most thoughtful things that I’ve ever received as a gift was tickets from Natasha to see The Matrix in the Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House, with the soundtrack played live (in sync) with the film by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. I’ve been to classical concerts and other such shows but my goodness, that was unbeatable.

The orchestra files in to prepare for the show back in 2014.

I’m so nuts about that movie and its soundtrack (along with the other two films) that I c/an generally picture (fairly precisely) what is happening at various points in the story according to different parts of the music. Back in episode four of my Lounge Ruminator podcast, titled Immediate Recognition, I spoke about how our old neighbours once watched The Matrix with the volume up so loud that I stood up and performed the motion of the scene in front of Natasha in our lounge room, roughly in sync with what I could hear. (For your interest, it was the final scene with an orchestral track, titled Anything Is Possible).

You can imagine my excitement when I heard that The Matrix Resurrections (the fourth movie in the franchise) would be released this year. Well, concentrating on soundtracks, you can imagine my extra excitement when I learnt very recently that a new version of the original motion picture score was released this year: The Matrix (The Complete Score).

You see, for whatever reason, the original score that was released in 1999 has ten tracks, running for a total of 30 minutes. Every time that I’ve listened to it, I’ve loved it but thought, I know that there’s a lot of the film that doesn’t have music, or there are parts that have music that isn’t orchestral, but I can sure think of a lot of musical segments that weren’t included in this score on the album. I was correct: this ‘complete score’ that they’ve released has 44 tracks, which run for a total of one hour and 40 minutes! (This is even longer than a 78-minute version with limited release in 2008.)

Whereas the original score from 1999 felt like a wonderful collection of film music, this feels like you’re essentially watching (most of) the movie, albeit in your head. Some are long, some are short and some parts have been renamed but boy, is it altogether excellent. With a few tracks only lasting a minute, I can understand why they perhaps thought it wasn’t worth releasing it all; there is a pleasure in this though, as it feels like a blending of digital fragments among longer sequences and stories.

Favourites such as the persistently named Ontological Shock remain in the list, capturing the excitement of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus flying in a helicopter over the rooftops of Sydney CBD away from Agents Brown, Smith and Jones. Other newer inclusions, such as Ignorance Is Bliss / Cypher Cybernetic, offer beautiful but unsettling moments of juxtaposition with the album’s otherwise frenetic, atonal style, such as when Cypher meets with Agent Smith over a piece of virtual steak. By including more tracks, no matter how long or short, the movie is expressed fully in its aural form, allowing us to imagine its action purely in our heads, in a way that is reminiscent of the characters’ mental projection of their own world.

I know that I’m not the only one who loves The Matrix and its music, and I know that there are others out there who enjoy other great soundtracks. Turning to you, what is a movie soundtrack that has had a profound impact on you? Is there a soundtrack that fills your head with images of the film to which it belongs, or even carries connotations or brings images of faraway people and places? Let us know on Twitter @HemisphericPod, on Micro.blog @HemisphericViews or in the #mediacorner chat in our Discord group. I’d sure love to hear about it!

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