January 28, 2023
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Review: Composers channel M83-sound in ‘Oblivion’ soundtrack

Anthony Gonzalez has been making cinematic-feeling music for years as the leader of French shoegaze outfit M83. It was only a matter of time before someone recognized his penchant for emotive arrangements and mammoth orchestration. Gonzalez just released his first major motion picture composition as the creative force behind the soundtrack for “Oblivion.”

For this composition, Gonzalez teamed up with composer and producer Joseph Trapanese, who assisted with M83’s critically acclaimed 2011 album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” and Daft Punk’s “Tron: Legacy” soundtrack. Unlike “Tron: Legacy,” which featured short two- and three-minute songs, “Oblivion” relies on full-blown five- to six-minute tracks.

Stylistically, the soundtrack shares similar aesthetics with M83’s 2005 album, “Before the Dawn Heals Us” and the aforementioned “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.” Crashing percussion and pulsing synthesizers create an ominous sense of apprehension. But the main difference from Gonzalez’s previous work comes in the form of juiced-up timpani rolls and a gargantuan string section.

One of the biggest alluring features of Gonzalez and Trapanese’s orchestration is their ability to not show their hand too early in a track. A perfect example of this is “StarWaves.” The song tends to ebb and flow, teasing listeners with bits of epic moments to come. Eventually, they go all-in with an onslaught of soaring string lines and hammered drums.

The entire soundtrack is devoid of any vocals except for the movie’s theme, “Oblivion,” which features Norwegian singer Susanne Sundfør. Synthesizers and piano play a more prominent role on this track, which results in a classic M83-sounding conclusion to the compilation.

With this composition, Gonzalez’s music finally finds a home in major cinema. When the visuals of “Oblivion” are paired with the heart-pounding soundtrack, viewers will be in for quite a treat.

3 ½ stars