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Soundtrack review: Mr. Robot (volume 4) (Mac Quayle – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: Mr. Robot (volume 4) (Mac Quayle – 2017)

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“Mr. Robot” is an American drama–thriller television series created by Sam Esmail. It stars Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson, a cybersecurity engineer and hacker who suffers from social anxiety disorder and clinical depression. Alderson is recruited by an insurrectionary anarchist known as “Mr. Robot”, played by Christian Slater, to join a group of hacktivists called “fsociety”. The group aims to destroy all debt records by encrypting the financial data of the largest conglomerate in the world, E Corp. Mac Quayle wrote the score and the music of season 2 has been split into two volumes. This is a review of the second of them.

This score picks up, naturally, just where volume 3 left off, with a powerful retro electronic piece that makes me want to turn the volume as high as possible. “2.5_1-h4ndshake.oga” is among the cleanest and most optimistic cues I have heard in the “Mr. Robot” scores. It takes me back to years and years of listening to electronic music when I first started getting into music. As always with Mac Quayle there is variety in the music and a fast paced cue can be followed with a dreamy ambient gem like “2.5_2-being-gods.opus” and a paranoid pulsating piece like “2.5_3-nginx.ivs”. There is something for every one in here. Me, I listen to “2.5_4-youaremy4nswer.msv” and I don’t need anything more; this right here is the ambient mood I dream about and I want to find as often as possible in film or TV scores. There’s nothing better for me than this dreamy dark electronic atmosphere punctuated by sparse keyboard sounds every now and then; this is my drug, I am addicted to this mood and this is the warm and perfect core of the album. With pieces like this Mac Quayle can get very quickly among my favourite composers.

This 4th volume of music is quieter than the precedent one; maybe the second half of the second season is more emotional, more intense, but I marvel with each cue at this composer’s craft in writing electronic and ambient music. I feel it, I am affected by it; I dream, I dive in this immersive sea of sound and I don’t need anything else when I hear music like this. I’ve said it before but it’s amazing how enjoyable even the more uncomfortable cues sound; there is something about the warmth in the music that makes me want to listen to more and more and I am just grateful to Lakeshore Records for releasing so much music from this TV show. I don’t need electronic music compilations anymore as the “Mr. Robot” releases offer me the variety, intensity and reflective moments I always look for. Volume 4 also reminds me the most of “Tron; Legacy” with its melodic metallic beauty. On the other hand the sharp edges cut and bruise and I still want to go deeper and explore the dark musical maze that Mac Quayle created. Pleasant and unpleasant moments fascinate me alike.

“Mr. Robot – volume 4” is the dark and silent alter ego of volume 3. The cues here explore different emotions as they deal with angst, abandonment and depression rather than paranoia and anxiety; silence can sometimes be more dangerous than loudness but equally enjoyable as music. Mac Quayle is a wizard and a visionary and his music for the “Mr. Robot” TV show is now right up there with the likes of “Game of thrones”, “House of cards” or “Vikings” on my list of most expected and appreciated TV scores every year. Two volumes per season is not enough. I am addicted and immersed and I don’t want to get out.

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 62

Album excellence: 64%

Highlights:
2.5_1-h4ndshake.oga
2.5_2-being-gods.opus
2.5_4-youaremy4nswer.msv
2.5_5-rev0lution.Act
2.6_1-h1dden-pr0cess.dvf
2.7_1-init_5.fve
2.8_2-ph4se.vox
2.9_2-hang1nthere.dct
2.9_3-woman0ftime.m4b
2.9_4-silentobserver.webm
2.9_7-youPOS.ape
2.9_9-takeb4ckcontrol.act

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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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