Film scores

Soundtrack review: Spectrauma (Michael Mcgroaty – 2015)

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“Spectrauma” is a thriller about a Ph D candidate who makes a major breakthrough in quantum computer architecture only to expose his team to disturbing possibilities. One by one the research students go missing, or mad, or both. Sounds intriguing. The movie is from 2011 yet the score written by Michael Mcgroaty was only released this year.

I connect with this score very quickly. Even if the first two cues are mere shadows and intentions, both
“Delicate mind” and “Vision” have an atmospheric quality which attracts me. I think I see where the composer is going with this score and I love it. I can’t help but think about the story and how this raw electronic sound fits with it. The music is disturbing and pulsating and I can feel the mind being altered. “Lab trial” actually scares me a bit because I feel lost and disoriented when I listen to it.

With “Doubt” I almost feel I discover a theme. It’s simple, it feels like the beating of a heart and it’s actually melodic. I can’t say the same about many other cues but I understand what Michael Mcgroaty did here: he simulated those mind experiments that are the center part of the story. The music (and I am using the word loosely) is interesting and intriguing. You need a special mind set to sit through a cue like “Meet the family” and an even more special one to fully enjoy it. Luckily it caught me in the right mood and I love its weird inflexions and apparently disjointed pieces. It’s a Frankenstein cue made of a lot of different sound effects and one melodic section towards the end. “Meet yourself” is completely different. It’s nice and almost dreamy and I am starting to feel this score like an actual experiment on my mind.

I get more and more addicted to this strange and moody mix. This score is like a box of chocolates and the surprises come in many shapes and forms. “Down to the basement” is clubby and groovy and it’s followed by “October” which is a lot of static and makes no sense and “The stack” which is made of even weirder sound effects and beats. Many will complain that this is more noise and music but this is both the beauty and the challenge of “Spectrauma”; this variation, this duality, this constant mind game that the composer plays with the listener.

Like I said, my mood may have had a lot to do with it but actually being very tired when I heard this score helped it. These… sounds made their way into my head like tiny and very active worms and I let them in. There is something really additive about Michael Macgroaty’s composition and I can’t look away. I get rewards like “Every atom” and memories of my MRI in “Blueprints of hell”.

Approach this one with caution. The composer is playing mind games and you might be trapped. He probably created the device from the movie. If weird electronic music is not your thing avoid this. But if you are opened to have you mind and ears probed by interesting sounds give this one a try. Strangely but I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Cue rating: 76 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 8 / 33

Album excellence: 24%

Highlights:

Vision

Doubt

Down To The Basement

Every Atom

Beyond Goodbye

 

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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