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The Matrix Revolutions - Don Davis

the matrix revolutions soundtrack CD cover It is interesting to observe how the soundtrack releases accompanying the Matrix trilogy have evolved through the series. Whereas the Don Davis music for the original film The Matrix seemed to be released as an afterthought to the "from and inspired by" CD, the equivalent CDs were equal partners on the double-CD release for The Matrix Reloaded. On with the conclusion to the trilogy there is no "from and inspired by" CD at all, and it falls largely to Don Davis to provide the matrix sound on this release. We say "largely" because Juno Reactor provide rhythmic support on three tracks (with Ben Watkins composing their material), and "In My Head" by Pale 3 is the single token artist track. Although Davis has provided a consistent and unique soundscape to the worlds of the Matrix, it too has evolved over the course of the three soundtracks. Although the third movie provides swarms of the emotionless machines as the main foe, the music emphasises the human emotional aspects as it focusses on the shared plight of the inhabitants of Zion and the personal journeys of Trinity and Neo.

If you are familiar with the music from the other films you will know what to expect, but the music is still evolving into this final installment. It provides resolution to the previous development, both on the grand scale and at the personal level. People have called Davis' music for the Matrix films Wagnerian because of its grand concept and scale spanning three films, with huge orchestral and operatic sounds. Davis himself clearly describes the story in these terms with its mythological and religious resonances. Two tracks directly reference works by Richard Wagner - "Kidfried" is "Siegfried" and "Neodammerung" is "Gotterdammerung", two operas from Wager's Ring Cycle. It is possible to take analogies too far, but worth noting that Wager liked brass instruments, inventing the "Wagner Tuba". He also made extensive use of leitmotifs, themes to represent people. Davis doesn't do this to the same extent but does employ thematic ideas, notably for Trinity and the Matrix motif itself.

Availability and track listing

This album is available at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. The full track listing is as follows (all tracks by Don Davis unless otherwise stated):

  • The Matrix Revolutions Main Title - with this compressed (even hurried) version of the familiar main title, you already know that events are reaching a climax
  • The Trainman Cometh (Juno Reactor and Don Davis) - starts off as gentle traditional film music, before Matrix-style strings and brass figures followed by Juno Reactor drums and percussion drive the track onwards
  • Tetsujin (Juno Reactor and Don Davis) - varied matrix-style orchestral sounds accompanied by varied Juno Reactor drum and percussion patterns
  • In My Head (Pale 3) - the single popular music track, with suitably weird vocals
  • The Road To Sourceville - a choir chord, the ubiquitous strings and brass, and even some bubbling woodwind
  • Men In Metal - introduced with more woodwind, the repeating rhythmic figure on this track gives it a strong military flavour, which is later emphasised with a snare drum
  • Niobe's Run - tensions are definitely building now, before this becomes an all-out action track
  • Woman Can Drive - this sequence continues in various modes depending on the action: strings alone, strings plus solo brass, then with full tutti brass
  • Moribund Mifune - the choir provides another instrumental layer, while the militaristic idea of the snare drum is reinforced by a reverential solo trumpet at the end
  • Kidfried - amid some all-out action, there are more contemplative sections hinting at previous thematic ideas, and does the trumpet really mean to suggest "beautiful dreamer"?
  • Saw Bitch Workhorse - a fever pitch battle track with only a few moments of brief respite
  • Trinity Definitely - in complete contrast this is a love theme tinged with sadness, on strings and woodwind led by solo English Horn
  • Neodammerung - Neo plays God as he goes to meet the machines, and the apocalyptic choir this time sing words from an obscure Sanskrit text (printed on the sleeve notes) which seems to fit the occasion perfectly
  • Why, Mr. Anderson? - back in the matrix for the final showdown with the viral Agent Smith, part talk and part action, the start is Wagnerian and the final chorus suggests the "Dies Irae" chant
  • Spirit Of The Universe - you can hear the daylight breaking through into the Matrix, a boy soprano, and the Matrix's alternating theme is symbolically tamed by woodwind and harp
  • Navras (Juno Reactor vs. Don Davis) - the end title music is a fitting fusion of world music, electronica, choral and orchestral