Graeme Revell | Aeon Flux | Varèse Sarabande VSD 6707 | TT 48:50 | 15 tracks
Graeme Revell finished what has been a very productive year, which saw four complete scores and two co-written projects, with Aeon Flux. The movie, based on the mid 90s MTV animated series, stars Charlize Theron as the titular heroine and is set four hundred years in the future. Earth is deserted, bar a single walled city called ‘Bregna’, which is ruled by a group of scientists. The ‘Monicans’ are a group of underground rebels, of which Aeon is a top member. The film sees her sent on an assassination mission, which leads her to unravel a world of secrets; exciting stuff to be sure, particularly with Revell’s ultra contemporary score to help move things along.
The music is based firmly in a hybrid orchestral/synthetic setting, awash with Revell’s arsenal of funky synths and techno rhythm loops. Piano, strings and some percussion are the only orchestral elements in the score; there is no brass or woodwinds evident.
The album opens with ‘Bregna 2415’ which is immediately otherworldly; ambient sounds mix with haunting piano and strings to create the world of our future. ‘Torture Garden’ has some very powerful percussion, both synthetic and acoustic as far as I can tell; it almost has a tribal quality to it toward the end of the cue. Also here we have some wonderful string work, which, as in a lot of the cues, has an ethnic vibe to it. The strings also perform some spine-tingling shrieks, which is great fun. A female vocal completes the arrangement for the cue, which is a highlight of the album.
This pounding rhythmic progression and ethnic style string work is a staple of the majority of the cues and it is these elements that drive the score along. Tracks such as ‘The Panoptican’, ‘Grenade!/Monorial Chase’ and ‘The Relical and Keeper’ are fine examples of this, with the latter exhibiting some fun anvil striking. The pace does lessen in places and the music chills; it is a nice rest from the ‘power house’ style of the other cues. ‘Cloning Discovery’ achieves this with a meandering, string/piano ambience, as does the closing track, ‘Aeon Flux’. This final cue exhibits a prominent theme in the strings that, until now, wasn’t really recognisable, as the majority of the orchestral parts are drowned out by the relentless techno rhythms and sound effects. It is a plaintive melody that becomes almost anthem-like when joined by drum kit and electric guitar.
Aeon Flux has some very cool moments and is ultra sexy in its general make-up. The cues, however, tend to be rather samey and I must admit to getting a little bored by the halfway mark. I imagine the music serves the film extremely well though; the rhythmic quality of the synth loops is trippy and exciting, while the orchestral elements, though sometimes gasping for breath in a sea of sound, give the music an organic/human quality. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider had some of these qualities, though it is public knowledge that Revell wasn’t best pleased with that score (due to his last minute hiring, the dislocated recording sessions and shoddy album preparation). Perhaps Aeon Flux could be heard as the Tomb Raider score that never was.