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The Return of the Matrix: Reloaded Edition


by Christopher Coleman

(Originally Posted in 2007.  Updated: May 2013)

In 1999, the movie business was in dire need of a revolution. It just didn't know it yet and neither did the movie-going-public. The Wachowski's upstart production of THE MATRIX shook up an industry that had all but given up on creativity. The biggest cultural-phenomenon started by a single film since 1977's STAR WARS, THE MATRIX not only introduced a new vocabulary to many but helped propel the perception of the computer-geek from zero to "the one.". THE MATRIX was intelligent and visually engaging at the same time...two things that seemed to have become mutually exclusive in the world of film. Interweaving the religious and the philosophical, Japanese anime, and the Chinese, kung fu genre, THE MATRIX was a blend that few had even dared dream about, let alone follow that dream through to a feature film. THE MATRIX could be considered the first cyber-punk film to move into the mainstream. It went on to influence a number of films and television shows and commercials, which sought to capitalize on some of the groundbreaking effects and growing interest in cyberspace. Not to be lost amidst of the visual effects and philosophical messages was this film's innovative blend of electronica and orchestral score. The music of The Matrix went to on influence the world of film music almost as much as the film had influenced it's world.

DON DAVIS was selected to provide the orchestral music while music supervisor Jason Bentley selected tracks from the underground world of the electronica genre. Such a movie would have suffered if an inventive approach to the film's music wasn't adopted. Rather than place the entirety of the project on Don Davis compositional shoulders, Jason Bentley, with help from Tobias Enhus, helped select previously recorded music from the world trance, big beat, and tribal dance, and remix and re-edit these selections as needed. While Davis had input into this selection process as well and did a number of temp tracks to cover specific set pieces until negotiations were complete with the other artists, the final fusion of  artists' talent gave THE MATRIX films and games a unique personality.

With the clear success of THE MATRIX, plans to produce and release two sequels, THE MATRIX RELOADED and THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS were were made. In keeping with their air and flare for the groundbreaking, the Wachowski's also decided to develop and release a series of animated shorts in and about The Matrix, dubbed THE ANIMATRIX, as well as a game, ENTER THE MATRIX, which were set just prior to the events of the two sequel feature films. An aggressive production schedule would allow them to release all four of these projects in the same year of 2003 - which would lead Time Magazine to proclaim, "The Year of the Matrix."

While the sequels were not, in general, received or reviewed as well as the original film, nor was their first game, the cult status of the franchise had already been cemented. One of the great consistencies between all of the Matrix projects was the involvement of composer Don Davis and Jason Bentley. The consistent use of Davis trademark-Matrix-orchestral-sound clearly tied the trilogy together as well as its use in ENTER THE MATRIX and particularly in the episode, "Final Flight of the Osiris" from THE ANIMATRIX.

Some two years later, the next two video games of the franchise would be released - each taking a different music path. In the first half of 2005, THE MATRIX ONLINE was released with new music by Don Davis. THE MATRIX ONLINE would be the franchise's entrance into the genre of the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game), the events of which take place following the conclusion of REVOLUTIONS. THE PATH OF NEO would be released for the holiday season of 2005 and would seek to correct one of the biggest complaints regarding the first Matrix-game. Although the events found of ENTER THE MATRIX connected directly to THE MATRIX RELOADED, gamers were dissatisfied. In PATH OF NEO the player would finally be able to portray one of the main characters of the franchise as opposed to the secondary characters of Ghost and Niobe in ENTER THE MATRIX. THE PATH OF NEO would be the greatest departure for any Matrix-project in terms of music. This time there would be no direct involvement from Don Davis and the reigns would be handed over to TOBIAS ENHUS, who had already had his hand in previous-Matrix projects.

After a couple of years of relative silence, a renewal of interest was sparked with the release of all of the feature films, documentaries, and animates shorts, into one mega-package, THE ULTIMATE MATRIX. No doubt, it would become one of the most sought after titles in high definition, originally as an HD-DVD release only, but years later finally brought to high-definition-victor, Blu-Ray.  It's release issued a return of The Matrix to home theaters.  Simultaenously, there was a reintroduction to the genre bending music of the franchise, a unique feat which has yet to be matched since THE MATRIX was born into our collective consciousness back in 1999.

Below you will find Tracksounds' reviews of seven soundtracks from the universe of The Matrix.  You will also find links to interviews with two of the main-men behind the sound of the franchise:  Don Davis and Erik Lundborg.


The Matrix (Score) by Don Davis


The Matrix (Score) by Don Davis

Released by Varese Sarabande Records (1999)
Rating 7/10

The film was a multilayered, visual feast that combined great western philosophical premises with eastern religion with cinematic styles also from both occidental and oriental realms. The end result was a movie like no other. While the essence of the one layer of the tale can be summed up in saying it is about a war between man and machine, where machines have enslaved the human race, and mankind is fighting for its freedom again, there is much more to uncover details and motivations of this film. Helping to give further shape to this film, which would become a mega-franchise, was it's genre fusing music.

Read the full review of The Matrix (Score)


The Matrix Soundtrack by Various


The Matrix Soundtrack by Various

Released by Maverick Records (1999)
Rating 5/10

THE MATRIX - MUSIC FROM THE MOTION PICTURE is a compilation soundtrack released by Maverick Records which features most of main source cues from the film. Unfortunately the soundtrack is launched by one of the more unlistenable tracks, "Rock is Dead" by Marylin Manson. Joining this track in the not-so-hot-list would be "Bad Blood" (3) by Ministry, "Look to Your Orb for the Warning" by Monster Magnet, "My Own Personal Summer (Shove It)" by the Deftones and "Du Hast" (12) by Rammstein which tend towards the rock-roots as Manson...albeit Rammestein's track is infused with a techno-dance rhythm. While helping to keep the sound of The Matrix edgy, these tracks are rugged, but not so "cool." Oddly enough none of these songs are used in any significant scenes of the film, if at all. Following the Rage Against the Machine's unmistakable sound in "Wake Up" (13), "Rock is Dead" does manage to make its way to play over the end credits.
Read the full review of The Matrix (Score)

Read the full review of The Matrix (Soundtrack)


The Matrix Reloaded by Don Davis/ Juno Reactor


The Matrix Reloaded by Don Davis/ Juno Reactor

Released by Maverick Records (2003)
Rating 7/10

Few knew of the media storm that was brewing within the mind of the directing Wachowski Brothers. Two sequels, nine anime shorts (THE ANIMATRIX), and two video games, (ENTER THE MATRIX, THE MATRIX ONLINE), and God knows what else, would come barreling out the tandem's minds. These ongoing revelations of things to come in the Matrix franchise (in the form of innocuous press releases) got fans of both electronica and composer Don Davis, salivating.

Read the full review of The Matrix Reloaded


The Matrix Revolutions by Don Davis


The Matrix Revolutions by Don Davis

Released by Maverick Records (2003)
Rating 8/10

There is a small fraternity of films that have, throughout the years, given Hollywood a much-needed-turn on its ear. In 1999, the Wachowski Brother's thought-provoking and highly entertaining film, The Matrix, became a part of this select group. As most recall, the film's visuals and engaging storyline garnered both critical and popular accolades. Don Davis' well-crafted score quietly took a backseat to all of the bullet-time hubbub and received only modest attention within the film music community. Over the next four years The Matrix franchise would build up a large fan-base placing equally large expectations on the sequels. The level of hype for the two sequels can be summed up with Newsweek's proclamation of the year 2003 being "The Year of the Matrix."
Read the full review of The Matrix Reloaded

Read the full review of The Matrix Revolutions


The Animatrix


The Animatrix

Released by Warner (2003)
Rating 5/10

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.

Read the full review of The Animatrix


Enter the Matrix by Erik Lundborg


Enter the Matrix by Erik Lundborg

Promotional Release (2003)
Rating 7/10

In continuing to push the envelope of interactive story-telling, the Wachowskis, while working on the sequels to the original Matrix, were also involved in the production of THE ANIMATRIX, a series of animated shorts released directly do DVD, and ENTER THE MATRIX, the first video game of the franchise. Unique to this franchise was their choice to integrate important beats of the story that fit, first before the events of THE MATRIX RELOADED and then in parallel. With both THE ANIMATRIX and ENTER THE MATRIX being available just before the release of THE MATRIX RELOADED, this move was a first in being able to get plot information that directly tied into a feature film which had yet to be released.

Read the full review of Enter the Matrix


The Path of Neo by Tobias Enhus


The Path of Neo by Tobias Enhus

Promotional Release (2007)
Rating 7/10

Fast forward to 2005 and the Wachowski Brothers heard the cries of the people. The second game release would be centered on Thomas Anderson's journey to becoming Neo, the One, which was chronicled in the trilogy. Also connected with some of the stories of THE ANIMATRIX, developer, Shiney's, latest matrix game, THE PATH NEO was met with much more acceptance and critical acclaim than it's predecessor. One of the striking difference in THE PATH OF NEO from any other major release from the franchise, was its departure from having composer Don Davis' score as a major part of the accompanying soundtrack. THE PATH OF NEO would wind in a slightly different direction.

Read the full review of The Path of Neo


Interview with Don Davis  Interview with Eric Lundborg


The Matrix (Soundtrack)  by Don Davis

The Matrix (Music from the Motion Picture) by Propellerheads, Rob Dougan, Hive, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Marilyn Manson, Ministry, Meat Beat Manifesto, Monster Magnet, Rage Against the Machine, Rammstein

The Matrix Reloaded (Soundtrack) by Don Davis

The Matrix Revolutins (Soundtrack) by Don Davis

The Animatrix Soundtrack

Enter the Matrix (Soundtrack) by Don Davis and Erik Lundborg

The Path of Neo  (Soundtrack) by Tobias Enhus










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