Back in college when I first bought my copy of Junkie XL’s debut album Saturday Teenage Kick little did I imagine that Tom Holkenborg would become the accomplished film score composer that he has, though maybe hearing the album track “Dealing With the Roster” on the 1998 Blade soundtrack was a precursor of things to come. A fine fusion of rock and electronica in the vein of The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, Teenage Kicks saw frequent rotation on my car cassette player in those days (yes, it was a cassette player and yes, I know I’m old).
Though since that debut in 1997 Holkenborg has only put out six standard albums as Junkie XL, he has amassed a terribly impressive soundtrack discography for both films and video games with some very high profile titles in both media.
Some of these high profile titles were collaborations, as in his collaborations with the great Hans Zimmer on The Dark Knight Rises and Man Of Steel in which he was credited as composer of “additional music” and in which his presence was often discernible through the more electronic elements on those scores. Others, like 300: Rise Of An Empire and Divergent, were solo projects that he carried on his own.
Mad Max: Fury Road is the latest big budget Hollywood film that Holkenborg has completed as the sole composer and it’s a solid addition to his soundtrack discography. It does carry on the contemporary trend of percussion-driven, electronica-infused soundtracks, and the Hans Zimmer fingerprint is perhaps indelible since Zimmer has forever influenced film scoring the way John Williams did in his own heyday.
A focused listening of an originally composed soundtrack is always an interesting experience. On one hand, some original soundtracks are terrific listens from beginning to end on their own (for me, Daft Punk’s soundtrack to Tron Legacy is one of the best examples of this). For others, this isn’t necessarily the case but it doesn’t mean they’re bad soundtracks. After all, the whole purpose of a soundtrack is to be evocative while supporting the movie and without drawing too much attention to itself so that audiences aren’t jarred out of the immersive cinematic experience—a tricky and difficult task if there ever was one.
As a standalone listen, Mad Max: Fury Road – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack isn’t quite as riveting a standalone listen as, say, Tron Legacy or The Dark Knight Rises, but if I were to review this soundtrack in the context of the film (which is really the only way to review a soundtrack), I would say it is an excellent sonic accompaniment for what the movie is: basically a two hour long chase scene (and an awesome one, at that!).
Highlights (and there are many) include “Chapter Doof,” “Survive,” “Many Mothers” and the rousing “Brothers in Arms” which, for me, encapsulates the spirit of the film and summarizes all its key emotions and motifs.
My only caveat is that the Deluxe Version feels like bit of an overkill. I don’t know about you but 2 hours of any single film soundtrack is a bit wearying for me because original film scores, by their very nature, tend to become inevitably repetitive after a while. After a few full listens of the complete deluxe edition what I ended up doing for myself was create a playlist of the original version which brought overall listening time down to a more manageable length.
But for most of those who loved the movie, and I’m one of them, Mad Max: Fury Road – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack will bring back the rush of exhilarating feelings from the movie. It sure makes for a great pick-me-up during the morning drive to work.