I mentioned in my musings on the score for The Matrix that the techno music made the biggest impression on fans of the film. I won’t say that Don Davis’ work was ignored, because his signature Matrix motif is very recognizable. But his dense tension and action music is the kind that supports the visuals but not in an obvious thematic way. While this was an innovative direction for film scores of the time, it was only the beginning. With The Matrix Reloaded he was going to switch things up a bit.
While The Matrix was primarily a horror and suspense score, Reloaded plays much more like an action film score. The pure horror moments are replaced with a more triumphant sound for the Zion sequences, and fleshing out of the love theme for Neo and Trinity.
The biggest change comes in the form of Don Davis teaming up with techno music artists like Rob Dougan and Juno Reactor. This fusion works wonders during the action scenes, adding electronic driving pulses to Davis dense style. The final result takes the trilogy’s music to an entirely different level, one that is much more accessible in some ways.
For me there are two highlights for the electronic and orchestral combo in Reloaded. The first is the Burly Brawl where Davis and Juno Reactor score the fight between Neo and the infinite Agent Smiths. The music starts out aggressive, almost like a battle between the orchestra and the electronics. It builds and builds and builds into a frenzy of insanity.
My favorite cue is the techno heavy Mona Lisa Overdrive, which accompanies the intense freeway chase in the film. Here Juno Reactor dominates the music creating a dance worthy piece that works Don Davis’ orchestral sound, and warps it. The track is relentless, building a bit with each battle, but then returning to a constant motion. It’s one of my favorite tracks from the whole series and from the 00s in particular.
Thos looking for pure Davis material will find some really great stuff with the moments between Neo and Trinity, and a bit more melodic interludes when the heroes confront the Merovingian. But Reloaded is a score this is all about the action tracks, and the techno fusion.
For film score fans, Matrix Reloaded was an odd release. In 2003 at the time the film came out, a two-disc album was released. The first disc included mostly songs used and inspired by the film. But also had some of Rob Dougan’s contributions Furious Angels and Dread Rock, both are worthy additions. The second CD contained the score and Juno Reactor and Don Davis material. But most of the Davis only material was relegated to a 17-minute suite at the end. It was OK, but not a great representation of the album.
La-La Land came to the rescue in 2013 with a new two-disc set of the complete score. All of Davis’ material is included, as well as all the key music from Juno Reactor and Rob Dougan. The only thing missing was Dread Rock, but you get some interesting alternate versions of tracks and source music.