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Soundtrack review: Animal world (Neal Acree and Michael Tuller – 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Animal world (Neal Acree and Michael Tuller – 2018)



“Animal world” is a 2018 Chinese movie which stars Li Yifeng (The Founding of an Army), Zhou Dongyu (The Thousand Faces of Dunjia) and Michael Douglas. The movie stars Yifeng as an imaginative teenager who gets lured into a dangerous game of wits overseen by an icy arch-villain played by Douglas. Neal Acree and electronic artist Michael Tuller co-wrote the score.

Neal Acree has always amazed me with his epic music for games but this is a different animal. The nature of the movie, the ambiguity and violence of the story bleed into the music and I find myself listening to a bad ass, aggressive, industrial score that hits me with a quick one two in the beginning to make that statement. The first warm moment comes in “Is there an end to this”, a simple and effective piano based cue that I instantly take a liking to. I like how quickly I am sucked into this neon like flickering mood as the electronic music vibes make it feel wonderfully hallucinatory at times. There is a huge contrast between warm cues like “Rooftop” and the hypnotic “Vision”.

I am a fan of electronic music, the darker the better so I enjoy Michael Tuller’s influence on this album. “The loan” is a straight up uncomfortable, dark electronic piece, opaque and claustrophobic, that makes me feel the atmosphere of the movie even without seeing it. This sound though is just in the middle of the sonic spectrum of this score, as the composers go full, violent dark in pieces like “Chasing a dream”. The music gets threatening, oppressive while never leaving the industrial electronic sound behind. The balance is brought by warmer, more melodic moments.

“Animal world” is not a comfortable score to listen to on its own and I imagine this is why it works so well in the context of the movie; the sounds are raw, aggressive, punishing most of the time and the score is quite different from Neal Acree’s usual output. He visits a wasteland he’s rarely been to before with this one and in the end the music makes a point and brings to the listener the menacing, unforgiving setting of the story.

Cue rating: 60 / 100

Setting things right

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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