March 23, 2014

Almost forgot to post this here! Great OST and score, mediocre follow-up to the Zach Snyder original.

Junkie XL: 300: Rise of an Empire (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

By Karl R. De Mesa on Mar 10, 2014


(WaterTower Music, 2014)

Rating: 8/10

There’s something about buff Greeks defending democracy and their country that requires a classically rousing score.

The music that set the tone for 300: Rise of an Empire (Warner Bros/20th Century Fox) is written and managed by the artist known as Junkie XL. Born Tom Holkenborg, the man is a Dutch multi-instrumentalist, producer, and engineer who’s collaborated with famed musical directors like Hans Zimmer by providing music for the movies The Dark Knight Rises, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury, The Animatrix, Resident Evil, as well as quite a few video games.

Director Noam Murro recalls getting Junkie XL on board for the movie: “I started listening to different composers who were recommended to me to score the film, and I put in this CD and his music just touched me. When we talked on the phone and via Skype, I knew he was the one I wanted to collaborate with. I think that there is an interesting mixture in his music. There is modernity and there is action and there is compassion and there is drama. I think it embodies the language of this film, which looks back and also looks forward.”

As the sequel to the highly successful Zack Snyder-directed 300, the film follows the Persian emperor and God-King Xerxes (a gigantic Rodrigo Santoro) both before and after the first movie’s Battle of Thermopylae, as events elsewhere in Greece lead to conflict that engulfs the whole nation in the wake of King Leonidas and his Spartans’ sacrifice at the Hot Gates.

It stars Sullivan Stapleton (Gangster Squad) as the Athenian general Themistokles, Eva Green (Casino Royale) as the Persian naval commander Artemisia, Lena Headey as the Spartan Queen Gorgo, and Rodrigo Santoro in the role of Xerxes.

It’s based on the graphic novel Xerxes by Frank Miller, who, despite failing to deliver said comic before the film’s release, has called his forthcoming book “a more complex story” than its predecessor. Okay, Frank; whatever you say, old man.

Though nominally an electronic artist (check out 2012’s Synthesized), Junkie XL’s OST and score are two things that aren’t all over the place in this movie. This is his first time as the musical director in charge of both OST and the score, and he does a superb job managing the talents of diverse artists like Jo Blankeburg and Audiomachine, who contributed music for the movie.

The score never calls attention to itself, and finesses the sonic with the cinematic. The motive for revenge of the Greek woman turned Persian naval general Artemisia, for one, is compellingly revealed in the electronic notes and haunting female vocals of “History of Artemisia,” which actually dovetails quite superbly with “From Man to God-King,” whose twisted, long notes and vibrating bass synths sound like desert sands blasted through plague-infested mystic caves, a great companion for the apotheosis of Xerxes from handsome young prince to monstrous giant with golden skin (and, apparently, psychopathic tendencies and a propensity for facial piercings are also heightened in this grotesque transformation). Both tracks reveal the intertwined, poisonous double-helix of Artemisia (her desire for vengeance on her former homeland) and Xerxes (his ambition to dominate the world) that motivates the launch of the war against Greece.

Read the rest of it over at PINOYTUNER’s Rice Radio channel.


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