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The Animatrix by Don Davis

Return of The Matrix - Tracksounds Special Feature

The Animatrix

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 The Soundtrack
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The Animatrix (Soundtrack) by Don Davis and Various

The Animatrix
Various Artists + Don Davis
Warner Records (2003) + Promo Release

Rating: 5/10

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“Given the cyber-punk origins of the franchise the use of chill-out, break-beat, industrial or trance sub-genres remain a natural fit.  While musically providing an isolated, fabricated, man-made environment for most of the shorts to be told in, not all of the selections make for entertaining listens outside of films themselves. ”

Back-beat Story
Review by Christopher Coleman

Like few other films or film franchises, The Matrix projects are equally defined by the source music implemented as much as they are by original score.  Each film contains hefty helpings both edgy electronica as well as scintillating orchestra pieces.  Even two of the games of the franchise: ENTER THE MATRIX and THE MATRIX ONLINE contain this musical highbred.  Along with THE MATRIX RELOADED, THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS and ENTER THE MATRIX, a special collection of anime shorts straight from this unique world of The Matrix.  THE ANIMATRIX contains 9 uniquely envisioned shorts directed by some of Japans most renown anime directors:  Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Takeshi Koike, Mahiro Maeda, Koji Morimoto, and Shinichiro Watanabe, as well as other notable directors like Peter Chung and Andy Jones.

This soundtrack release is primary comprised of electronica source cues from the likes of Peace Orchestra, Meat Beat Manifesto, and Juno Reactor.  The final two tracks are remixes not heard or used anywhere within the shorts.  Suffice it to say most of the cues included feel like a natural fit for the Matrix franchise.  Given the cyber-punk origins of the franchise the use of chill-out, break-beat, industrial or trance sub-genres remain a natural fit.  While musically providing an isolated, fabricated, man-made environment for most of the shorts to be told in, not all of the selections make for entertaining listens outside of films themselves. 

Among the more enjoyable are found in the first half of this release.  "Who am I" (1), which is found in the short "Kids Story," "Blind Tiger" (2), "Under the Gun" found in "Detective Story," (3) through "Ren 2" (6) all provide a head-bobbing listen, if not an edgy one.  Ranging from the ambient "Big Wednesday" to the almost acid-jazz "Blind Tiger" the first half of the CD makes for a nice diversion from one's average orchestral diet. 

Things change a bit when hitting the second half of the album.  One of the least enjoyable pieces is "Hands Around My Throat" (7), which features a quirky, new-wave-style, and is perhaps the most unfitting of the lot.  "Supermoves" (9), found in "The Second Renaissance Part 2," echoes the frenetic tempo and rhythm of "Dragula" (the Hot Rod Herman remix) from THE MATRIX original soundtrack.  Finishing up the tracks actually used in THE ANIMATRIX comes something from the familiar, matrix-name of Juno Reactor.  "Conga Fury" is a mediocre piece that actually opens THE ANIMATRIX's first short, "FINAL FLIGHT OF THE OSIRIS."  A sparring dual between two crew members of the Osiris is set to Juno Reactors hyper-paced rhythms.  While the piece doesn't work as well as the remixed "Leave You Far Behind" by Lunatic Calm used in the famous sparring scene between Neo and Morpheus, "Conga Fury" manages to deliver a similar overall feel.

Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of music contained in these shorts which have not made it to this release.  For instance, in "Program" one of the better short-films, no source music is used at all but contains several minutes of score by Don Davis.  What the producers chose include on the release instead are two, very long, remixed tracks to conclude album.  Both "Red Pill, Blue Pill" (11) and "The Real" (12) contain dialogue samples from THE MATRIX are are layered over dance rhythms and break beats.  While the target audience for this album will probably find these two tracks worthy of a listen or two, the general score fan will likely prefer to have had more of Davis' work released instead.

THE ANIMATRIX remains a fairly bold experiment by the Wachowski Brothers and, though very different from the films or games, is visually compelling.  The music selection for these shorts remains consistent with the rest of the franchise efforts, but this album release does no justice to composer Don Davis' contribution.  What has floated around is a single-track promo of his work on "Final Flight of the Osiris" which features his patented sound.  For those who are fans of the likes of Peace Orchestra and Junkie XL, this release will have plenty to offer.  Those looking for more orchestral wizardry from Don Davis should beware.

Rating: 5/10


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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Who Am I? (Peace Orchestra) 5:58  ***
2 Big Wednesday (Free Land) 4:50  ***
3 Blind Tiger (Layo & Bushwacka) 6:19  ***
4 Under the Gun (Supreme Beings of Leisure) 3:28  ***
5 Matinot Waves (Meat Beat Manifesto) 7:41  **
6 Ren 2 (Photex) 4:06  **
7 Hands Around My Throat (Death in Vegas) 5:05  **
8 Beauty Never Fades (Junkie XL [animatrix edit]) 6:13  ***
9 Supermoves (Overseer) 4:18  ***
10 Conga Fury (Juno Reactor) 7:24  ***
11 Red Pill, Blue Pill (Bonus Track) (Junkie XL/Don Davis) 8:58  **
12 The Real (Bonus Track from The Matrix) (Tech Itch/Don Davis) 8:02  *

Total Running Time

72 minutes  
  Promo Track - Final Flight of the Osiris by Don Davis (Not included on Soundtrack release) 6:45  ***




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