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Pusher by Orbital (Review)

posted Jan 25, 2013, 7:02 AM by Kaya Savas   [ updated Jan 25, 2013, 11:52 AM ]

Orbital is an English electronica duo formed by brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll. We’ve seen a recent spike in performers making the leap to film composers and it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to slow down. While a majority of composers today started in the mainstream music world, not all of them possess the capabilities to make the transition to film composing. Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, Daft Punk and Trent Reznor are rare examples of making the jump. Unfortunately, Orbital is not among the successful even though this is not their first scoring attempt. Pusher is a mess of a score.

Pusher’s premise takes us into the world of a drug pusher in the seedy club world of London. The action/thriller takes us into nightclubs and back rooms as the protagonist goes deeper and deeper into the gritty world. Instead of painting interesting textures the way Cliff Martinez did in a similar fashion with Drive, we instead get a full-blown electronic mess as a score. Club music and dissonant tones are the two flavors for this score, and for the bulk of it the two flavors are mixed together. The result is dissonant club music. The club music is headache inducing and the dissonance is frustratingly unstructured. You can tell the music is trying to build some sort of suspense, but then you’re smacked across the face with some screeching electronic gibberish. The entire time you can tell that Orbital has a grasp on creating a distinct soundscape. They have a style, a voice and a unique take on it. However they fail to apply it as a film score. Instead the music stays looping in the background with very minimal dramatic effect and no melodic hooks.

As distinct as Orbital’s soundscape is it doesn’t matter if the music fails structurally, and Pusher most certainly does. There is little to no emotional resonance or character in the score, and it spends a great deal trying to create suspense that goes nowhere. It’s stylistically sound, but structurally a dud.