[Hey, apologies. I've been away for a while. But now I'm back, so here's a long overdue post]
I went to see Oblivion, Tom Cruise‘s latest movie. I was excited about it, but when it was all over, I realised all I really enjoyed, apart from the memory of the Iceland in the vision, was the music. The film itself was a major letdown, but I’m not going to waste time on that because this is all about the music.
Tom Cruise on the set of Oblivion, a.k.a. Iceland, hopefully listening to M83 and not reading the script.
Director Joseph Kosinski, who made Tron: Legacy before this flick, picked out M83 to write the score for Oblivion. Given he got Daft Punk to create the music behind Tron:Legacy, his track record of picking composers is, in my view, faultless. It’s a shame his movie making skills don’t match those of his musical collaborators. But hey, I said I wasn’t going to talk about the movie, so let’s move on.
M83, or Antony Gonzalez as he is known off stage, has produced a stunning debut score for Oblivion. His epic soundscapes and dramatic electronic signature is evident throughout and matched the pictures absolutely perfectly. In fact I could watch sweeping Iceland landscapes and listen to his music quite happily forever and a day, minus the script in this case, which was completely uninspiring and almost superfluous given the visual and aural treat that overwhelmed it.
M83 obviously has a pretty solid track record when it comes to unique, dramatic sounds. Since releasing the self-titled debut album in 2001, fans have flocked to his music to, I imagine, escape the stresses and strains of real life and be swept away on a blanket of compositions that at times appear other-worldly. His chord structures have always been effortlessly beautiful and the score for Oblivion is no different. From the outset, it heightens your senses, thumping heartbeat kick drums, bold, lush pads through out and, above all, unwavering atmosphere.
Kosinski claims he was listening to M83 when he wrote the story of Oblivion. I can relate to that. Many times I’ve done the same, using Gonzalez’s sounds to empty my mind and help me concentrate on projects, particularly when photographing, where it has helped me countless times to find images I otherwise would have missed. Here’s a little clip on how it all came about:
Susanne Sundfør, who I’ve also been a fan of for some years, collaborates on the original song Oblivion, which I dearly hope is nominated for an Oscar because her and Gonzalez are a musical match made in heaven. Her soaring vocals, so wonderfully demonstrated on The Brothel album of 2010 and more recently The Silicone Veil, poured over M83′s incredible sound, is the audio equivalent of the most lush massage you can imagine. It’s breathtaking.
The one disappointment, though, is that all this music is associated with such an ordinary movie. Despite the money spent – the budget is reported to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars – and the awe-inspiring location that is Iceland, the film fails to create any emotion. Personally I had no empathy for any of its characters and while the action and special effects were exceptional, along with the sets and costumes, unfortunately I can’t recommend seeing it.
But I can recommend purchasing a copy of the soundtrack. Wrap some headphones over your ears, close your eyes and listen. You’ll be far more entertained and emotionally fulfilled than you will watching the film, and hey … it’s cheaper, too.