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Soundtrack review: Steve Jobs (Daniel Pemberton – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Steve Jobs (Daniel Pemberton – 2015)


“Steve Jobs” is a 2015 American biographical drama film based on the life of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender in the title role. The film is directed by Danny Boyle, and these two names for me are a guarantee of a great film. I am not an Apple fan myself but I have to admit the influence Steve Jobs had on the industry and I understand the fascination with this character. The movie is set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac. An equally exciting name was in charge of the score: Daniel Pemberton, spy film music specialist who already delivered one of the scores of the year with “The man from U.N.C.L.E.”. It’s exciting for me to see a great composer tackle a score different from I perceive as his comfort zone.

The score starts with “The musicians play their instruments”; you might think this is just a title of a cue, or a metaphor but I’ve been to enough concerts to tell you that it sounds like musicians actually playing their instruments, like the orchestra warming up. Interesting idea and interesting way to start the score. From interesting we go to even more interesting with “It’s not working”. Amazingly, Daniel Pemberton manages to keep his relentless pace from the spy score and tone it down a beat, turning it into a simple repetitive sequence of beats, pulses and a constant pounding in the background. It’s hard to call this music but it’s so addictive and intriguing that I need to listen to it again and again. It sounds as if an army of ants is marching menacingly towards me and I can somehow heard very loudly the noise of their collective steps.

Yes, yes, yes. Pemberton is going with the ambient electronic it seams and I couldn’t be happier. Child (father) charms me and brings me nostalgia and makes me dream of the simple interface of my first computer. This cue would have fit perfectly in Harry Gregson Williams’ “The Martian”; it sounds like the perfect companion to “Hexadecimals” and I haven’t gotten tired of that sound.

But see, this is not your usual electronic score. Daniel Pemberton takes the idea and does something very special with it. “Jack it up” begins with a sound which I can only describe as a ping pong ball bouncing time and time again; then it turns into a charming beat cue. I am loving this score more with each cue because just like the subject of the story, it’s special and is a visionary among film scores. Just like the first apple products, the key is exceptional through simplicity. This is how the score sounds and it’s fascinating.

Electronic music is not your thing? Could Daniel Pemberton interest you in an opera aria? We have two of them actually, the two parts of “The circus of the machines”. Was this how Steve Jobs looked at devices? Is this how his inspiration came about? I know how the composer’s inspiration came about… he chose to mirror the creation and evolution of the gadgets with the process of writing a film score and the result is marvelous. If you are looking for an electronic score from another time, with a twist, get this one. It’s one of the more intriguing and innovative scores of the year and Daniel Pemberton has done it again.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 50 / 65

Album excellence: 76%


It’s Not Working

Child (Father)

Jack It Up

Change The World

The Skylab Plan


It’s An Abstract

Life Out Of Balance

The Nature Of People

  1. The New Mac

Father (Child)


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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