Music, much like literature, has the power to drive your imagination; it can lift the soul and create real emotion. This is Bookish Beats, a feature which will showcase some of the soundtracks which have enriched the worlds I’ve found between the pages.
Ex Machina (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Score Composed by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow
Listen to with:
A tense science fiction thriller
Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds
The Ex Machina soundtrack is pure atmospheric ambience. Created by Ben Salisbury and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, this is a soundtrack which celebrates electronic music; transporting you to another time, another place… and maybe even another world. Dark electronic synths fall across a backdrop of moody reverberating tension to create a score which could only have emerged as a result of pure science fiction inspiration, and which succeeds in creating an incredibly evocative backdrop for reading any science fiction thriller. The Ex Machina soundtrack is subtle and understated yet retains a flair for the dramatic that excites, ripples with tension and keeps the button pressed firmly on repeat.
From the opening track – The Turing Test which, with its distinctive combination of a rolling and beating melody interwoven with dark electronic synths, introduces one of the soundtrack’s main themes – this soundtrack establishes an unyielding atmosphere which remains undiluted throughout the entire score. Watching continues this ambient theme but is overlaid with an electronic beat which slowly transforms into a beautiful creeping melody before disappearing beneath a cloud of tension, cut through with a low and wavering bass.
Ava is an entirely different type of track. There is a certain innocence which permeates the background of tension and the melody is reminiscent of the tune from a musical jewellery box. This same melody is echoed in other tracks such as The Test Worked, a piece which is saturated in gentle ambience until the score’s other main theme – a rousing and repeating electronic melody – cuts in. Skin also features echoes of this ‘jewellery box’ theme before transforming and intensifying until the gentle beat becomes a pounding, climactic finale. Out, which is one of the score’s stand-out tracks, plays with this same gentle tone but transforms it into fast-paced and melodic electronic number.
Falling is an incredibly beautiful track which is a combination of atmosphere, gentle melodies and intensifying tension which reaches a pounding and dramatic climax. This tension is an essential characteristic of the entire soundtrack and, in tracks such as Hacking / Cutting and I Am Become Death, is intensified and entwined with ambience, rhythmic beats and almost discordant sections, which gradually build the pace until cutting out to a whining reverberating chord. Bunsen Burner, a track by Cuts, uses the score’s electronic theme to create a tense and sweeping action track which creates a triumphant finale to phenomenal score.
This is a soundtrack which impresses with its subtle drama and tense atmosphere. If you’re looking for an ambient soundtrack which echoes the character of a moody science fiction thriller, then Ex Machina may just be the perfect score.
Top track for action
Top track for tension
Top track for emotion
If you like the Ex Machina soundtrack, you may also want to try The Machine soundtrack