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Soundtrack review: Mr. Robot (volume 5) (Mac Quayle – 2018)

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Soundtrack review: Mr. Robot (volume 5) (Mac Quayle – 2018)

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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 this fifth volume presents music from the third season.

With every new volume, the electronic texture of this show has gotten better, more intense so this release is most welcomed for me. Volumes 3 and 4 were particularly pleasant for me because the composer leaned towards the deeper, more reflective side of electronic music. Not that the rhythmic percussion beats of the opening cue from volume 5 affect in any way the nostalgia trip of this big electronic music fan. “Blackout” gives me a nice Zimmer flashback with that ticking clock Hans obsessed over in both “Interstellar” and “Dunkirk”; it’s a familiar sound that I love and that also goes a bit into Reznor / Ross territory. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear this cue on “The girl with the dragon tattoo”. It’s not an accident as a lot of the cues turn to that rhythmic discomfort. Once again Mac Quayle has changed the game and I am sure his tonal variations match the evolution of the story and action from the show.

The way Mac Quayle wrote this score puts me in a strange position; I love this score and I want to recommend it but the comparison I want to make might put some people off: the electronic atmosphere, the moody reflective cues, the constant, poignant piano motifs, they all make me think of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. I mean I listen to a cue like “3.1_3-nicetomeetyou.omg” and I need to check twice to make sure I am listening to the right score; I love this sound, and I’ve been loving it since the “The fragile” days 20 years ago.

It is also worthy of applause how within the somehow tight confines of “Mr. Robot” music Mac Quayle manages to sort of reinvent his music with each new volume; one would think that 5 albums in the music might get repetitive but it’s not the case, it’s still fresh, it’s still fascinating and hypnotic and it still makes me hungry for more. With every new cue “Mr Robot” as a musical fresque climbs higher and higher in my TV musical saga preferences with a clear identity and a unique, electronically ambiguous atmosphere. It’s hypnotic, it’s captivating and if you are a fan of electronic music, it rarely gets better and more varied than this.

Cue rating: 80 / 100

Highlights:
3.0_1-one2blame.orc
3.1_3-nicetomeetyou.omg
3.1_4-root@kali.0cc
3.2_3-getpacked.ktp
3.3_7-urthegod.mod
3.4_3-microaggression.ang
3.4_5-internal-4udit-team.usf

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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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