Ok I think you all know I am not great fan of the soundscape approach to scoring movies, or for that matter the use of the DROOOOONE sound within scores, I think it is more annoying than anything, and ok yes it underlines scenes, but is it really classed as music? When I heard that JUNKIE XL was going to provide the music for the new TOMB RAIDER movie I was not that over enthusiastic but saying that I would not dismiss the score without even listening to it. So here we go then, from the start of the score the music and yes it is music, sounded ok, it was string led and also had a richness to it and a leaning towards a hint of a theme, the composer adding little nuances performed by piano, and also introducing a more upbeat if not subdued background, the string section fading in and out of the proceedings acting more like a punctuation to the synthetic sounds that gradually built beneath them. RETURN TO CROFT MANOR is a sombre and fragile sounding piece, which I have to say was something of a surprise to me, the cue however does alter towards the end of the track, with more upbeat electronics coming into the equation, but these are supported and augmented by the strings which seem to maintain a more melodic approach and keeping the synthetics at bay. I know that electronics, samples etc are here to stay in contemporary film music, and I suppose how the composer uses these tools is more important than what he utilises to create the sounds he thinks are correct for the movie. Recently composer Ludwig Gorasson scored BLACK PANTHER, and I was intrigued at the way in which he combined both synthetic with symphonic, I have to say that JUNKIE XL, right that’s it! His name is Tom Holkenborg, has fashioned a score for TOMB RAIDER in a similar style, by this I mean he has utilised both conventional instrumentation and bolstered this with synthetic elements which fit in wonderfully with the more symphonic parts of the work. The symphonic leads at certain points and is supported by electronic sounds and stabs which underline the symphonic statements, but then at other key points within the score, the symphonic becomes the supporter of the electronic, both complimenting and acting as support for each other. The composer creates some powerful moments in the soundtrack, his use of brass and strings combined with the electronica is well thought out and effective. This is not a soulless or toneless work filled with jagged and harsh sounds, it is a soundtrack that is very entertaining and also commanding in its overall sound and style. Of course, one can hear the influences of Hans Zimmer, but its not a bad thing on this occasion.
Holkenborg must be congratulated for fashioning a score that has drive and contains touches of fragility and melancholy, although there are a couple of cues that are highly percussive and can grate a little upon the listener, but it supports the movie, so I guess that it is doing what is supposed to. There are several lengthy cues on the soundtrack release, the composers unrelenting and assertive style shining through, enhanced by proud sounding brass and strings that give the work an anthem like feel, as in track number,7 and number 13, FIGURE IN THE NIGHT and BECOMING THE TOMB RAIDER, respectively. This is one to savour, one to listen to over a couple of times, I am confident it will grow on you.