By Erika Harwood, Daily Arts Writer
Published April 9, 2013
M83 frontman Anthony Gonzalez is no stranger to soundtracks. The sounds of M83 have been littering both the small and big screens for years and could be heard in everything from BBC documentaries to movies like “Project X.” But when Gonzalez announced that he would be composing the score for the new Tom Cruise sci-fi movie, “Oblivion,” obvious questions emerged: Will the score echo the classic shoegaze sound M83 cultivated throughout six albums? How will the fans react to it? Will the soundtrack only be different remixes of “Midnight City”?
Oblivion: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The Michigan Theater
While electronic artists like Daft Punk have been able to score movies while maintaining their recognizable sounds, Gonzalez, along with composer Joseph Trapanese, tones down the classic M83 sound about 10 notches for “Oblivion.” M83 doesn’t give us Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming or Saturdays = Youth cloaked in the appearance of songs Tom Cruise can run to (we can talk about how awesome that would be another time) — he gives us a soundtrack comparable to the style of Hans Zimmer.
The vocal-less songs build into dramatic, fully orchestrated arrangements with shimmering electronic elements occasionally filtering through. Without even knowing what events in the film these songs will correspond to, Gonzalez beautifully created tension and induces suspense through the different tracks. “StarWaves” calmly begins before crescendoing into a full sound reminiscent of M83’s own “Outro” on Hurry Up. Songs such as “Canyon Battle” and “Losing Control” seem perfectly crafted for a blockbuster film, meticulously composed with swelling orchestration that incites anxiety and anticipation.
The shining star, and most recognizable M83 moment on the soundtrack, is the title track, “Oblivion,” which will presumably play as the credits roll, and everyone quickly shuffles out of the theatre unaware of the incredible song narrating their exit. Norwegian singer Susanne Sundfør shows off her strong vocals while the orchestration builds and Gonzalez’s recognizable synths finally get to have their moment. The song conglomerates all the elements in the proceeding tracks of the soundtrack and adds flawless vocals, creating a stunning finish to the soundtrack and perhaps the entire film.
The work done on the “Oblivion” soundtrack proves that M83 is more than just another French electronic act and establishes Gonzalez as a versatile and accomplished artist. While it’s too soon to say whether the film itself will be a success, if M83’s contribution is any indication, it will do just fine.