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Annihilation Soundtrack

Music Review: Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow – ‘Annihilation’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Annihilation Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is currently available digitally from Lakeshore Records and Invada Records with CD and vinyl options on the way. The standard version contains 18 tracks, while the expanded bonus/deluxe version – see tracklist for disc 2 below – offers 11 additional tracks that include exclusive works as well as alternative tracks.

This Paramount Pictures film from director/writer/filmmaker Alex Garland stars Natalie Portman (as Lena), Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny as an all-female military squad. They are sent to investigate some strange happenings in a zone surrounded by a mysterious material referred to as “shimmer” after a previous expedition, which included Lena’s husband (played by Oscar Isaac), ended in mystery.

Annihilation is based on the 2014 novel by Jeff VanderMeer, which the first in a series of three books known as the Southern Reach Trilogy. February 23 is when the movie hit cinemas in the U.S. (but none near me, so I didn’t watch the film before reviewing this time), and on March 12 in other markets, such as the U.K. and China – it also scared up a lot of attention on Netflix starting on the latter date.

This solid score/soundtrack puts listeners in a unique, receptive mood with some thick, textured emotion as well as predictable scares backed by traditional orchestration, sustained vocals, and synthetic movements from Salisbury and Portishead co-founder Barrow, who also teamed up for Garland’s memorable 2015 film, Ex Machina. This collective approach provides impressive results through variety, emotion, and harmony. “Were You Me?” is the best example of the combination of sustained vocals and synthetic music, while “The Alien” represents all areas in a brilliant, epic 12-minute opus. “The Bear” satisfies at almost five minutes and definitely offers the scariest music experience on this soundtrack.

The title track is very strong along with the opening number “What Do You Know?,” “The Watchtower,” and “The Beach.” The minute-and-a-half “Cells Divide” is another highlight thanks to the great (folky) acoustic guitar work.

“Annihilation” distorts strings in a dramatic way and then deepens with distorted keyboard in a driving rhythm. “Annihilation” is only one of two five-minute-plus works on the standard version and includes familiar movements.

“What Do You Know?” gets the closest to percussion with some effect chime-like thuds full of blending harmony and the familiar technique of sustained instrumentation and memorable acoustic guitar work with a melody you just want to play over and over. “The Watchtower” clues listeners into these musicmakers’ successful approach through the title alone and showcases the human side of this sci-fi spectacle with more soft acoustic guitar work.

The alternate version of the “The Beach” combines sustained vocals with haunting synthesized music for even more scary satisfaction. “Shimmer Reveal” (also from the deluxe version) swells into a loud climax where listeners can easily imagine visuals of what characters might be seeing. “Abandoned Army Base” from the deluxe version mixes fantasy wonder with horrible fright, while “In All of Us” offers important human emotion with a key guitar part. “Disoriented” has that signature acoustic guitar work too where listeners can relate to and imagine the human condition.

Memories of the highly recommended Annihilation Original Motion Picture Soundtrack stay with you long after listening. The variety, high emotion, and unique movement reach a high level of entertainment and artistry. One just wishes this soundtrack included “The Mark (Interlude”) by Moderat.

Annihilation Soundtrack (2018)

Tracklisting

Disc 1:
1. “What Do You Know?” (2:36)
2. “Ambulance Chase” (2:58)
3. “Approaching the Shimmer” (1:52)
4. “Disoriented” (2:37)
5. “The Alligator” (1:02)
6. “For Those That Follow” (2:48)
7. “The Swimming Pool” (2:57)
8. “The Watchtower” (2:08)
9. “Sheppard” (2:45)
10. “The Body” (2:03)
11. “Plant People” (2:44)
12. “Cells Divide” (1:37)
13. “The Bear” (4:52)
14. “The Beach” (4:23)
15. “Were You Me?” (3:02)
16. “Lighthouse Chamber” (2:05)
17. “The Alien” (12:03)
18. “Annihilation” (5:22)

Disc 2:
1. “The Beach” (Alt Version) (2:52)
2. “Coma” (2:27)
3. “Southern Reach Questioning” (2:06)
4. “Shimmer Reveal” (0:38)
5. “Abandoned Army Base” (2:10)
6. “Camp Awakening” (0:35)
7. “Two Theories” (2:12)
8. “In All of Us” (1:46)
9. “We Are Headed That Way” (2:10 Album Only)
10. “End Titles” (Alt Version) (1:18)
11. “End Credits” (Alt Version) (4:04)

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