Tag Archives: Archive

Soundtrack Review: Archive (2020)

Milan Records released the original motion picture soundtrack for Archive back on July 10th, but I only recently got the chance to check it out. The music was composed by Academy Award-winning composer Steven Price (Gravity, Baby Driver, Suicide Squad). In Archive, set in 2038, George Almore is working on a true human-equivalent AI. His latest prototype is almost ready. This sensitive phase is also the riskiest. Especially as he has a goal that must be hidden at all costs: being reunited with his dead wife.

Of the soundtrack, composer STEVEN PRICE had the following to say:

“My favourite projects are the ones where the story leads me into new musical areas, and exploring the world of Archive, a movie where technology and humanity meet in a near future Kyoto, proved to be a brilliant challenge. I’d been looking for the opportunity to create a largely electronic score for the first time in a long while and the story of George Almore, his secretive AI project and the mysterious Archive let me do just that… The music follows the developments in George’s work as it progresses, and as he gets closer to achieving his hopes and dreams it was a lot of fun to blur the lines between the electronic and organic, trying to find the sound of his creations. From the moment I read writer / director Gavin Rothery’s ambitious script I wanted to be involved, and throughout the process he proved to be a great collaborator and true supporter of music. I’m looking forward to people experiencing the movie Gavin has created, and it was a real pleasure to be a part of it.”

“Archive was always going to need a killer score, but when I was writing the script, I had no idea how that was all going to happen,” says the film’s director and writer GAVIN ROTHERY, adding, “I wanted the film to be big and cinematic. But I also needed it to feel tight and personal. I wanted some parts to be epic and bold, but others intimate and close. Some parts needed energy and power but others needed space and quiet. Technology needed to fuse with humanity. And it all needed to feel unified and whole. Basically, as is probably true with most directors, I wanted everything.  Steven gave me everything. He delivered the perfect score to Archive. I’m not quite sure how he does what he does. Maybe he’s a secret telepath. Maybe he’s from the future. Maybe he’s a robot. There is one thing that I am absolutely certain of is that he most definitely is. The best.”

The soundtrack for Archive intrigues me. It’s what I like to call a “quiet” soundtrack. It’s not big and “loud” like, oh, for example, the music for Blade Runner 2049 comes to mind. I find “quiet” soundtracks to be very refreshing, because it allows me to actually relax while I’m listening to them.

As Steven Price mentions in the extended quote above, there is a distinct blurring of lines between the electronic and organic music. That is to say, a piece might start with the synthesizer but suddenly switch over to the cello. What I find fascinating is how the tone of a piece will completely shift when either side, electronic or organic, takes over. It’s a subtle change, mind you, but it is there. What I mean is, when the cello takes over from the synthesizer, some subconscious tension releases, because it’s almost more relaxing to hear the organic music.

If I had to pick one piece as my favorite, it would have to be “First Steps.” I really like in particular how this piece ends. It’s clearly building toward a climactic moment (based on the title I would have to guess that the robotic AI is taking its literal first steps) when the music suddenly cuts off. The sudden end to the music catches you off guard, and makes you wonder what happened in the story to make things end so abruptly, especially as things were getting interesting with the music.

Some people might deride the music of Archive, calling it it “too slow.” But I maintain that soundtracks like this can be some of the best music you’ll ever hear. I think too often the science fiction genre is conflated with action films, but this music serves as a reminder that they are not (always) the same thing.

1. So Sorry for Your Loss
2. The Archive
3. You Need to Trust Me
4. This Involves Her
5. Target Out of Reach
6. What Do You Need to Know?
7. First Steps
8. J2
9. Priority One
10. Answering the Call
11. I Didn’t Build You Well Enough
12. I Had That Dream Again Last Night

Let me know what you think about Archive (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a good day!

See also:

Film Soundtracks A-W

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