The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Reloaded soundtrackA curious two-disc offering, the soundtrack from The Matrix Reloaded combines the usual from-or-inspired-by-the-movie cocktail of songs on disc one, and instrumental score tracks on disc two (though there are some instrumentals on the first disc that accompanied some of the movie’s more atmospheric moments, namely Rob Dougan’s “Furious Angel” and Fluke’s “Zion”. I hope no one will be really upset if I only touch on the former and spend more time with the latter. I don’t have a problem with the techno and hardcore death metal pieces on the first disc, but it’s just not the kind of stuff that keeps me coming back.

Disc two is the real meat, however, for those of us looking for the score – and the original score album must not have sold all that well, because it looks like this is as close as we’re getting to a score album this time. The traditional Matrix opening – virtually identical to the opening of original movie – is followed by “Trinity Dream”, an action scene whose music screams “something’s going wrong here” as Neo gets his first premonition of Trinity’s fate.

Techno group Juno Reactor – with whom I’m most impressed and may indeed check out their own non-movie works – joins forces with Gocoo for “Teahouse”, the busy eastern-flavored percussion-fest that we hear as Neo fends off the Oracle’s protector blow-for-blow. Not just one of my favorite scenes, but also one of the better selections from the soundtrack. If this doesn’t make you want to get up and do something – run a few blocks, do some kung fu, or what have you – you’ve obviously misfired your CD changer and were listening to Wayne Newton instead. This track will make you want to get up and do something, trust me.

My favorite track on either disc, however, is “Burly Brawl” – a track I grew to love about a month before seeing the movie or knowing where it fell in the story. Big action, big beats, big fun, and those usual choral-and-orchestral interludes that go with Neo flagrantly disobeying all known laws of physics. The track gets positively frenzied toward the end, almost comically so, but it’s all good – and wouldn’t you know it, the Neo/Smith fight wound up being my favorite action setpiece in the whole film, perhaps in part because this music was there.

The second disc ends on a lengthy suite of more subtle instrumental cues, all very nice and intriguing, but…it’s 20 minutes long! The remainder of the disc is taken up by video previews of the Enter The Matrix video game.

3 out of 4A nice package, though I might have been just as happy buying a single CD of the score and leaving the songtrack half of this collection to those who were more inclined toward that style of music – though it’s hard to complain at the single-CD price, and it has convinced me to check out Rob Dougan’s Furious Angels album. Ahhh…the power of cross-marketing.

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    Disc one

  1. Linkin Park – Session (2:25)
  2. Marilyn Manson – This Is The New Shit (4:21)
  3. Rob Zombie – Reload (4:27)
  4. Rob Dougan – Furious Angels (5:32)
  5. Deftones – Lucky You (4:10)
  6. Team Sleep – The Passportal (2:57)
  7. P.O.D. – Sleeping Awake (3:28)
  8. Unloco – Bruises (2:38)
  9. Rage Against The Machine – Calm Like A Bomb (5:00)
  10. Oakenfold – Dread Rock (4:42)
  11. Fluke – Zion (4:35)
  12. Dave Matthews Band – When The World Ends (Oakenfold Remix) (5:26)
    Disc two

  1. Don Davis – Main Title (1:32)
  2. Don Davis – Trinity Dream (1:58)
  3. Juno Reactor featuring Gocoo – Teahouse (1:06)
  4. Rob Dougan – Chateau (3:25)
  5. Juno Reactor & Don Davis – Mona Lisa Overdrive (10:11)
  6. Juno Reactor vs. Don Davis – Burly Brawl (5:54)
  7. Don Davis – Matrix Reloaded Suite (17:35)

Released by: Warner Bros.
Release date: 2003
Disc one total running time: 49:49
Disc two total running time: 41:41

Pete Yorn – Day I Forgot

Pete Yorn - Day I ForgotIt was almost inevitable that Pete Yorn would suffer a bit of a sophomore slump with Day I Forgot, his followup to musicforthemorningafter – if I started raving about Day I Forgot as much as I did about the last album, you’d probably suspect me of being on the Yorn payroll. But “not being as good as one of Dave’s Damn Near Perfect albums” is not all that penetrating a review, so I feel compelled to say a little bit more on behalf of what is, in its own right, a fine musical achievement.

The songwriting skills that first hooked me on Yorn are still in evidence on this album. More importantly, he and partner R. Walt Vincent show a ton of talent for building a song from layer after layer of instruments. The best songs on Day I Forgot build momentum from an enthusiastic point-counterpoint duel between numerous guitars, percussion, keyboards, and whatever else they could find in the studio to make some noise. That Yorn and Vincent play most of them while co-producing most of the tracks is almost enough to qualify them as a tandem musical hermit crab. They do have some able help, such as mixers and occasional co-producers Andy Wallace and Scott Litt. R.E.M.’s Peter Buck even shows up to play mandolin on one track, further confirming the man’s good taste.

My three favorite songs on the album are all up-tempo rockers, although only Burrito has the boundless energy of Life On A Chain. I simply can not not move when I hear this song, and I only wish it were longer than 2:45. “Crystal Village” and “Committed” are both a little more sedate, a little more clearly bittersweet, but they are excellent songs. I was listening to “Crystal Village” on headphones, and there’s an acoustic guitar part sort of buried in the right channel that just worms its way into your brain and doesn’t let go. The umpteen other guitars on top just echo and build on that small part to create a great listening experience. “Committed” is just…I don’t have the words for this song. There’s a very specific emotion that this song just captures, a sort of resigned acceptance of life’s pitfalls mixed with the realization that life’s still pretty darned good.

4 out of 4I want to rate this album at three, because it’s on the short side and a couple of the songs are merely OK. But the good songs are SO good – I was holding my one-year-old daughter while listening to “Committed”, and tears starting streaming down my face. Anything that can move me in such a fashion has to get a top score, but be aware that especially in this case, your mileage may vary.

Order this CD

  1. Intro (0:47)
  2. Come Back Down (3:24)
  3. Crystal Village (3:46)
  4. Carlos (Don’t Let It Go To Your Head) (3:29)
  5. Pass Me By (3:51)
  6. Committed (3:29)
  7. Long Way Down (3:38)
  8. When You See the Light (2:43)
  9. Turn Of The Century (3:03)
  10. Burrito (2:45)
  11. Man In Uniform (2:41)
  12. All At Once (4:04)
  13. So Much Work (4:47 – technically, this is track 14)

Released by: Columbia
Release date: 2003
Total running time: 42:44

Afro Celts (Afro Celt Sound System) – Seed

Afro Celts - SeedSo, according to the press blurb, the Afro Celt Sound System shed the “sound system” portion of its name because the band is refocusing on a more organic, acoustic sound. Yes, that’s why their new album opens with a vocoder-and-synth solo, because they want to sound more natural. In all seriousness, though, the “more acoustic” claims aren’t entirely unfounded. What they’re talking about is a more audible presence for some excellent and decidedly non-electric guitar in many of the ten new songs. It may not seem like this would make a huge difference, but you’d be surprised.

Other than that, the band’s sound is largely the same. Where their third CD Further In Time found the Afro Celts trying to reach for a world music fusion that seemed to reach well beyond the ethnic implications of the band’s name, and it was a truly lovely thing to behold. With Seed, they come down unquestionably on the “Celt” side of Afro Celt, and while the polyrhythms are still present, the focus this time around is definitely on the Irish sound. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you.

The album’s first two tracks remain my favorites, despite the incongruity of “Cyberia”‘s “more acoustic” vocoder opening. The title track is a sweeping epic along the lines of Further In Time‘s “Lagan”, another favorite of mine. The4 out of 4 guest vocalists this time around aren’t quite the high-profile rock legends that the group welcomed on their previous album, but that’s okay too. It may just be that the band has found a sound that could get some attention and airplay without the publicity stunt of a famous voice in front of the mix.

Excellent stuff, even if I do keep calling them the Afro Celt Sound System.

    Order this CD in the Store

  1. Cyberia (7:41)
  2. Seed (6:25)
  3. Nevermore (4:45)
  4. The Other Side (7:01)
  5. Ayub’s Song / As You Were (7:32)
  6. Rise (3:07)
  7. Rise Above It (10:11)
  8. Deep Channel (6:48)
  9. All Remains (7:30)
  10. Green [Nevermore instrumental] (5:57)

Released by: RealWorld
Release date: 2003
Total running time: 67:00