The Animatrix: The AlbumIt’s kinda sad, really, that in a careful listen to all of the Matrix franchise soundtracks post-dating the original movie, the biggest revelation turns out to be the quietly-released Animatrix soundtrack. Released along with the DVD in some deluxe packages and released on its own with almost no fanfare, the Animatrix CD contains the music from which the cues used in that collection of nine animated shorts was derived. Now, there’s no doubt that Don Davis is the sound of The Matrix saga for long-form feature films. But I listened to the soundtracks from Animatrix and The Matrix Revolutions back-to-back, and Animatrix is the one that begged for repeat play. In some ways, it’s almost unfair competition: Animatrix had such a wild variety of settings and environments, each crying out for their own unique sounds, that it’d be hard for a movie to keep up. But in that respect, it also resembles the original Matrix more – because wasn’t that movie’s music also a daringly diverse and yet paradoxically cohesive whole?

A special edit of Peace Orchestra’s pulsating “Who Am I?” leads the disc off appropriately enough (this is the song heard during the DVD’s main menu). Free*Land’s “Big Wednesday” and Layo & Bushwacka’s “Blind Tiger” offer another one-two punch of really good stuff – not overpowering, not too bass-thumpy, but just right. Meat Beat Manifesto’s “Martenot Waves” track is just weird – I just couldn’t get into it for some reason. Almost living up to the Rob Zombie/Marilyn Manson cocktail that closed the original movie is “Ren 2” by Photek, but it just isn’t quite heavy enough, erring on the side of techno instead of metal. “Hands Around My Throat” opens with an alluring smooth groove, and then turns into a rather repetetive techno-rap of sorts – not really my cup of tea, but your mileage may vary.

Things improve with “Beauty Never Fades” by Junkie XL; it’s a good solid song, even though the same group let me down a bit later in the disc. “Supermoves” is a bit predictable – nice stuff, but it sounds almost like a catalogue of clichès that you’d expect to hear from a techno-metal number.

Jumo Reactor – a name no doubt familiar to anyone who’s heard the soundtracks from The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions – contributes one of the better tracks, “Conga Fury”. The final two cuts, both heavily-remixed Don Davis score tracks from the first two movies featuring copious amounts of film dialogue, aren’t as striking as that seemingly promising combination of elements could have been – if anything, within a couple of minutes, I tend to find them annoying. And that sums the whole CD up, really – the elements are 3 out of 4there for something really cool, but it falls just a little bit short…and yet there’s a fairly compelling energy that binds the whole disc thematically. I’ve got to give at least half the album a recommendation though – there’s something here for just about everyone, but that also means there’s undoubtedly at least one track that’ll rub someone the wrong way in a musical sense too. An interesting listen – and you can take that however you like.

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  1. Who Am I? by Peace Orchestra (6:00)
  2. Big Wednesday by Free*Land (4:52)
  3. Blind Tiger by Layo & Bushwacka (6:21)
  4. Under The Gun by Supreme Beings Of Leisure (3:30)
  5. Martenot Waves by Meat Beat Manifesto (7:43)
  6. Ren 2 by Photek (4:08)
  7. Hands Around My Throat by Death In Vegas (5:07)
  8. Beauty Never Fades by Junkie XL (6:15)
  9. Supermoves by Overseer (4:48)
  10. Conga Fury by Juno Reactor (7:26)
  11. Red Pill, Blue Pill by Junkie XL and Don Davis (9:00)
  12. The Real by Tech Itch and Don Davis (8:01)

Released by: Maverick / Warner Bros.
Release date: 2003
Total running time: 73:11