Film scores

Soundtrack review: Debug (Timothy Williams – 2015)

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“Debug” has the premises to be a very interesting score. The movie is sci-fi horror set on a prison in space (and the last Sci-fi horror I heard was James Griffiths’ amazing “The drift”, check it out if you haven’t already), it’s scored by Timothy Williams who had two scores I enjoyed last year (“Walking with the enemy” and “Red Sky”) and what he did was take his orchestral recording and abuse it in every way possible: reversing, unusual delays and so on. He calls this technique “reversed orchestra”. I am sure he matched the vision of the director since the two of them have been friends since they were kids.

Right away I am pulled into a very “Alien” like atmosphere which is OK since that’s the standard for a subject like this. The music is creeping like a thick oil slowly covering everything. I has a very lonely feel and I am expecting something bad to happen. The electronic beats signal the action. The story is about six computer hackers fighting with an artificial intelligence so it would have been strange not to have electronic beats in this. “Hack into the network” is thrilling with its high paced pulses and makes for the first highlight of the score.  It represents the wake up call.

I am enjoying the electronic melodic parts. “Message home” and “Kaida steps up” have that and the actually remind me a little of John Murphy’s “Sunshine”. The have the same quality and give me the sensation of a heart beating faster and faster and pumping blood through a freezing body, waking it up. The Kaida character seems to benefit from the most interesting themes. “Kaida’s last mission” is my favorite track from “Debug”. It has an awesome buildup and I really want to see what the scene is about. I will also try this cue for my runs, I can already see myself pushing to the limit while listening to it.

“Debug” is lacking the real scares though. I like the more emotional parts and I like the pounding action parts, but when the mood gets darker the score doesn’t go beyond thriller. The atmosphere suits the story fine but as a standalone listen it doesn’t sound like anything I haven’t heard before. I think I got too attached to the parts where the piano rises from the ruins and warms everything and I am not enjoying the cold of the rest of the score so much. I like those parts and I wanted more of them. I wanted more ambient cues. Even at the end, when I hear “Rebirth” I feel like going back once again through “Debug” to recapture those moments.

Timothy Williams’ instrumental experiments are worth the listen. He got a free hand to explore his musical ideas and they mostly worked. The few atmospheric parts were enjoyable as well and there’s a killer action track on “Debug”. It makes for an alright thriller score. The mood is there and you will find enough moments to dream on and imagine things.

Cue rating: 73 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 6 / 42

Album excellence: 15%

Highlights:

Hack into the network

Kaida’s last mission

Rebirth

About the author

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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