Soundtrack

EXPRESS YOUR PINEAPPLE: REMINISCING THE SOUNDTRACK
October 28, 2016 4:20 am

So, here’s the thing. I’m supposed to write a serious music review, and I totally could, except it’s 2AM on a Friday and I’m watching Pineapple Express on TNT (We Know Drama). I should really be sleeping. That’s what a sensible person would be doing. They’d be sleeping there all numbly-bumbly thinking how sweet it is being asleep safe and sound right as rain, all cozied up gaining valuable, usable energy for the strenuous day that may or may not be ahead of them, I don’t know, I don’t know who we’re talking about. But I cherish that thought, that sleepy paradise. I want it so bad. Dammit if I could only just produce some content first lickety split. And also dammit because this is a great movie. I will, without a doubt, watch this entire thing right now instead of sleeping. Can’t leave Dale and Saul hanging.

m-i-a

This soundtrack too though, this is a work of art. This is the real winner, all the way through til the end. This is a content goldmine staring me square in the face screaming “Hey what’s up let me just turn your whole world upside down for a second here thanks.” I’ve been thinking about this all wrong, what am I doing?! Well I guess about to review this movie soundtrack, that’s what I’m doing. Buckle up.

Okay first we have Paper Planes, duh. Gotta be first on the list. M.I.A. blew up that year, not saying all because of this movie, but hey I’m not saying otherwise neither. That was a great year for everybody. Stay woke. The song isn’t actually in the movie, but I mean everyone remembers that trailer, right? Fuck this is a good movie.

The real headliner is Electric Avenue from Dale’s sweet opening “you’ve been served” montage. Instant classic. The scene, not the song. It’s an old song. Eddy Grant was already “classic.” But the movie really brought him to the forefront, at least for me, and I’ll always be thankful for that. We need to focus on the good things in life. “Out in the streets!” That’s what he says in the song, and it’s pretty good, because it’s a song about a street. Pure genius.

Next up is the most dopety-dope song ever, and by “next” I don’t mean chronologically next, but rather in terms of my vaunted quality-assessment hierarchy, determined through my capacity as self-proclaimed official movie-soundtrack reviewer. I’m talking of course about Poison by Bel Biv Devoe, and if you don’t know that then you don’t know jack. Wake up. Your world is not as it seems. What a seriously good song, mad props to Pineapple Express. They really nailed it with this whole soundtrack. Jeez Louise!

9671_seth-rogen-pineapple-express

Uh oh, look out, we got a piping hot track coming fresh out the oven–Public Enemy‘s Lost At Birth. I like this scene because he says “melon farmers,” which is what they say instead of motherfuckers on TNT (We Know Drama). You’re not allowed to swear on television. Wow, Public Enemy really ties this whole scene together. Somebody did their job real good when they picked that song for this scene. What a sick nasty awesome so fucking sick movie soundtrack.

Damn there’s a lotta reggae on this mix. Wanted Dread and Alive (see what they did there? With the dread?! Cuz they have dreads!), a Bob Marley deep cut (well obviously), a reeeal laid-back Ring Of Fire cover (like Johnny Cash but way chiller). See, the movie is named after a kind of marijuana from the movie, and there’s a lot of people who sometimes associate reggae music with marijuana usage for some reason. So when a movie gets made about a hairy Mary Jane strain, they’re gonna mix up a little reggae in there. That’s just the world we live in. We didn’t choose it, we were born into it. Forced from the warmths of prebirth out into the cruel, unforgiving hellscape we inhabit every waking hour of our lives. I mean it’s just monstrous out here.

Well, that’s all the time we have for today. The movie is over so I’ve now fully exhausted my content resource. Thanks to all who participated, especially you still reading this and also the good people over at TNT (We Know Drama). Let it be known that this is a can’t-miss, won’t-disappoint, doesn’t-even-flinch-as-it-knocks-you-out-of-your-socks kinda flick, and if you haven’t seen it, well why did you read this entire review of a soundtrack for a movie you’ve never seen? Yeah, that’s what I thought, you’ve definitely seen Pineapple Express. It has a pretty awesome soundtrack. I know, right? Cool, glad we’re on the same page. Let’s be sure to always stay positive in the face of any near-universal suffering we might encounter on a regular basis. Okay bye!

SUICIDE SQUAD ALBUM REVIEW: RUN, DO NOT WALK TO THE WILD SIDE
August 17, 2016 6:37 pm

 

Whether you loved the colorful action or hated the bland villains and plot, Suicide Squad is out and strong opinions are flying everywhere. Rotten Tomatoes is famous for in depth/no shame ratings of movies, their Critic Score stands at an abysmal 26% rating while the fans score is at 69%. This split on the movie either being horrible or mostly good is everywhere. But with all this controversy over the film, nobody can deny that the soundtrack is amazing. This magic mixtape of artists and styles is impressive, creative and in reality is far better than the movie.

I would describe the attitude of the album as heroically rough around the edges. Just like the villains gone hero in the movie, the songs have a dark intensity while being oddly uplifting and easy to relate to. The album is basically split into two song types: reflective and slow or fast and powerful.

Starting with Skrillex’s and Rick Ross’s Purple Lamborghini could not have been a better choice. This song seemed underwhelming at first for me, but the more I listened the more I saw their subtle teamwork to make a brutal dubstep/hip-hop/rap song. “Wreak Havoc” by Skylar Grey is the perfect punch to the face pop song and Grimes brings her electronic magic right after it. The second to last track is Panic! At The Disco’s cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which is obviously not better than the original, but comes close in reality. From the similarity in the voice to the modernized rock section with added emphasis in the orchestra parts, Panic! At The Disco does it incredibly.

As for the mellow side of the album, “Sucker For Pain” slows it down with a more personal song that speaks the the darker sides of people, but in a good way. With Imagine Dragons, Logic, Lil Wayne, X Ambassadors, Ty Dolla $ign and Wiz Khalifa all packed into this song, I was genuinely surprised how good it turned out. Twenty One Pilots continues the slower and deeper reflection tones from movie with the odd and beautiful “Heathens”. “Gangsta” and “Know Better” by Kehlani and Kevin Gates respectively are the weakest songs on the album, but they’re not bad, just not up to par with the others. The last track is “I Started a Joke” by ConfidentialMX featuring Becky Hanson, and this song is not that complex when it comes to instruments or vocals, but that’s the best part of it. It starts slightly innocent sounding and then gets darker and more grim as it goes, a true black rose: dauntingly beautiful.

This album is awesome, but there are flaws for sure. Some songs are sound like filler or too geared toward pop culture appeal, but overall it’s worth your time. Being a compilation album with so many artists, I’m impressed that it turned out to be so good. To summarize all this, I would honestly recommend skipping the movie and watching it when it comes out on Netflix or RedBox and then using that ticket money to go buy this album, totally worth it.

 

THE NEW HOME FOR GAME MUSIC ENTHUSIASTS
June 14, 2016 12:23 am

Do you listen to soundtracks? Are John Williams and Marty O’Donnell your idols? Do you have epic scores constantly forming in your head? ThinkSpace Education is starting three different video game audio Masters programs that you can do from the comfort of your own bed.

These programs will be starting in September and so if you want in, better start looking into it. This will be the first ever Masters Degree(s) based in video game music and sound design. A number of people who teach are those who have worked on various famous scores, for example: Assassin’s Creed, Dragon Age, Bioshock 2 and Mass Effect. These are some of the biggest names in the industry and they would be your tutors and mentors. Pretty amazing right? Well, it gets better. 

Your job as a student would involve testing games, creating scores and sounds for those games while familiarizing yourself with a vast amount of software and hardware, most of which is used by professionals every day. The games you work on are not only trials created for virtual classroom learning, but are also part of the formation of a commercial game. That means some of your own work, or the work of your fellow students at this school, may be present in some of the games you and your friends play in the future. 

I could go on about the possibilities. ThinkSpace’s site is filled with so much stuff I have no shortage of topics to discuss about music and the games they accompany. But to wrap up, they have three specific areas to dive into. The first is in music and audio, a focus on how the music and audio interacts and portrays the game. The second is in composing, taking musical genius to the max with scores that grab the player and can even be interactive and ever changing. The third is sound design; every gunshot, animal growl and transforming robot has a unique sound, and you would be the one creating it.

If I was more involved or passionate about sound design and score developing, I would’ve applied when I first learned of it days ago. I’m not trying to sell you on this place or anything, it just seems like an awesome opportunity to expand your knowledge on something so simultaneously creative and technical. If this sounds like you, ThinkSpace is the perfect place.

EX MACHINA: MUSIC AND TECHNOLOGY, INVERTED
June 7, 2015 3:48 pm

WARNING – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

“Isn’t it strange, to create something that hates you?”  -Ava

Going into Ex Machina, I expected a soundtrack reminiscent of The Matrix: something gritty and electronic, with beeps and boops and screeching computer noise. What I got was far closer to Her than The Matrix, with melodic textures emphasizing a decidedly human view of technology and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Cold, reverberant soundscapes dominate the film, especially scenes involving the humans Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) and Nathan (Oscar Isaac). However, once the artificially intelligent Ava (Alicia Vikander) enters the picture, the soundtrack reflects a distinctly organic quality. The first guitar is introduced just as Caleb sees Ava from afar. Cellos erupt when we first meet Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno), Nathan’s servant and AI prototype. Scenes of nature, however, are peppered with pulsating synths and digital noise. This inversion of humanity and technology permeates the film and gives it its distinctive, otherworldly quality. 

Take, for example, the many sessions Caleb enjoys with Ava, under Nathan’s watchful eyes. A pulsating, heartbeat-esque bass synth enhances each of these intimate moments, helping to underline Ava’s inherent humanity, one of the central themes of the film. Her robotic body belies her very human personality, and the music furthers this contradiction. As Caleb (and the audience) try to decipher and define Ava’s unique reality, our preconceptions are consistently undermined by the instrumentation and mood of the soundtrack.

Ex-Machina the movie

There is one scene in which human characters interact with “human” music, but the effect is notably uncomfortable; Caleb and Kyoko have a bizarre interaction in which Kyoko tries to initiate sex with Caleb, only to have Nathan interrupt. To Caleb’s increasing discomfort, Nathan and Kyoko begin a loosely coordinated dance, complete with loud, overwhelmingly out-of-place disco music. The apparent humanity of the music would be the only outlier of the human/AI inversion-dynamic of the film, were it not for the audience’s natural empathy toward Caleb, and our corresponding feeling of discomfort. 

The intersection of Ava’s artificial intelligence and her humanity lies in her sexuality, which begins as a seemingly innocent byproduct of AI and develops into an invaluable tool at her disposal. At first, these scenes are notably absent of music; Caleb and Nathan discuss the purpose of sex and attraction in a moment of quiet relief. When Caleb and Ava do eventually kiss (during a poorly explained dreamlike fantasy), guitars suddenly burst through quiet ambient synths. As Ava learns how to control her sexuality, the corresponding analog sounds turn more and more digital, so at the final climax when Ava covers herself in synthetic skin and completes her attempt at becoming human, the audience is finally blasted with the computerized, bit-crushed noise that I had expected to hear throughout the film. The effect is powerful, and the inverted relationship between human identity and computerized music reaches its conclusion. 

Ex-Machina the movie

While the technology behind artificial intelligence is central to the film, the more salient point is the process behind Ava’s seamless interaction with humanity. Nathan is the founder and CEO of “Bluebook,” an obvious allegory to Google, and as such he holds an enormous wealth of information at his fingertips. In order to give Ava as much information to work from as possible, Nathan reveals that he has hacked into all the world’s search engine data—yes this is illegal, he says, but the phone companies can’t call him out without revealing that they, too, are illegally monitoring citizens’ private conversations. Apparently this film takes place in an alternate, Edward Snowden-less universe, but the point remains that megadata is very powerful, and a company’s ability to harness this power dictates its ability to grow and develop its technology. Nathan explains that while owning a search engine provides access to what people think, the real treasure is determining how people think, and that with the right analysis of humanity’s megadata we can recreate the human brain, and thus create artificial intelligence.

Whether this is a good idea remains to be seen.

Ex-Machina the movie