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Soundtrack review: Oblivion (deluxe edition) – M83, Anthony Gonzalez and Joseph Trapanese (2013)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Oblivion (deluxe edition) – M83, Anthony Gonzalez and Joseph Trapanese (2013)


We don’t have to talk all the time. I know he’s there, I know I can call upon him anytime I want or need…Sometimes I call just because I have nothing better to do and I know his company will enrich the hours I have ahead. Sometimes I just replay some parts of conversations in my mind and it’s enough. There are times we don’t even communicate weekly. When we do see each other and talk though, we have the most comfortable and pressure free time. Sometimes everything is more intense and we might talk to each other every day for a while, or spend an entire day together.  It doesn’t change a thing between us. The wire that connects us doesn’t even shiver. I know it’s there. I’ve reached such a comfort level with this friend that the lack of surprises is compensated by the excitement of knowing which path I will follow to get to him. I know that path. I know every bump in the road, every single turn, and I am so comfortable taking that road that I could take it with me eyes closed. I know this friend perfectly. Our connection is there, forever, undimmed by time, unbound by death…
…Oblivion is currently my best friend from the movie scores I’ve met and listened to. It might not be the best score I’ve ever heard, but it’s the one I feel the most comfortable with. I know every single note, every inflexion, every twist that M83 and Joseph Trapanese crafted in there. It has a replay value of 100%; this means that I will surely listen to it over and over again, be it before I go to sleep, or when I need to muffle the sounds of the world around me, or if I’m at home with nothing better to do. I might listen to it while I’m running. I might listen to it three times in one day, or forget about it for a month (not yet though, this score isn’t even one year old and I am still listening to it at least once a week)…and I am referring to the iTunes deluxe version, 30 tracks, almost 2 hours worth, not the regular 17 track release.
Oblivion is not your typical movie score. It’s another marvelous experiment from director Joseph Kosinski, after the one with Tron: Legacy , scored by the unlikely but brilliant choice of Daft Punk. That was one of the best scores of 2010, and Oblivion followed in its footsteps. For a Hans Zimmer fan like me, the influences in this score are clear and wonderful. I hear sounds that might echo back to Inception, or The Dark Knight, and that can only enhance the experience of listening to this score.
Surely, as with any best friend, not everything is exciting all the time. But the very few moments when this score doesn’t shine (tracks like “The Library”, “Horatius”, or “Drone attack”) are long forgotten by the time the second half starts. Everything from “Return to Empire state” down is an electronic and atmospheric feast and I dare anyone to push pause or stop until the score ends with Susanne Sundfor’s voice singing over the main theme. This is a score that comes full circle and it would be a shame to interrupt it. Memorable cues include “Return to the empire state”, “Losing control”, “You can’t save her”, “Knife fight in a phone booth”, “Fearful odds”, “Undimmed by time, unbound by death” or “Oblivion”. But none of them come close to “I’m sending you away”, a magnificent, emotional, intense and haunting cue that made the list of best cues of 2013.
And when this score is over, I just feel like maybe listening to the first couple of cues again (“Jack’s dream” and “Waking up”), just to keep the momentum going. And then my best friend and I start the conversation all over again…

My ratings:
Cue score: 91/100
Total minutes of excellence : 99 / 109
Score excellence: 91%
Replay value: 100%

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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