The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded contain a variety of musical styles, yet they also encapsulate a certain period of music from the late 90s and Early 2000s era. The films include influences from dream pop, trip hop, nu-metal, heavy metal, post-hardcore, shoegaze, post-rock, house, acid, jungle and ambient, it’s not easy to put a finger on exactly what the music scene is but, when you hear it, you feel all of it in your blood. This could have easily been twenty tracks, and I offer a shout-out to other artists that didn’t make the cut, including Monster Magnet, Marilyn Manson, Lunatic Calm, Ünloco and Hive. Also, great credit is due to Don Davis - his compositions feature throughout the best moments of the films.
Rob Dougan - Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Variation)
Were you listening to this song? Or were you looking at the woman in the red dress? Most people will remember this iconic moment as Morpheus takes Neo through a simulation, created to highlight the danger of Agent Smith.
‘Kurayami’ roughly translates from Japanese as a pitch-black, deep, warm, ominous and enveloping darkness (thanks Maria for the translation). Such a description perfectly suits the edit of the original 1995 track. The Kurayamino variation manages to convey feelings of apprehension, uncertainty and a building tension. It’s this emotive energy that keeps it an infamous hit today. If you dig it, you should also check out Dougan’s track from Matrix Reloaded, ‘Furious Angels’. It’s got an interesting music video of himself being pulled around by invisible chains.
Deftones - My Own Summer
It was a tricky decision choosing between this track and the more tranquil ‘Lucky You’ from their 2002 album. ‘My Own Summer’, released on Around the Fur in 1997, is more typical of Deftones’ style - it’s the kind of thing you might hear in an early 2000’s skate park, way before scooter kids were on the scene. It's full of heavy guitar, screaming, a disturbing sense of dread, and the music video sees the band playing on mini floating stages.
Meat Beat Manifesto - Prime Audio Soup
This versatile band originated from Swindon and released this track in 1998 on Prias Recordings. ‘Prime Audio Soup’ is floaty and ethereal, making it a great pairing for the moment that Neo enters the matrix for the first time.
P.O.D - Sleeping Awake
My alternative selection is by American Christian metal band, Payable on Death. Over the course of their career, the band has received several Grammy Award nominations and contributed to multiple motion picture soundtracks. This track, ‘Sleeping Awake’, has close ties to the film. In the music video, the first room represents the virtual reality of the Matrix. The second room conveys the real world beyond the matrix, where the band’s dress is inspired by the Zionite characters.
Fluke - Slap It
This is the original version of the song that Fluke remade as Zion for the film - a slowed down and shorter version. Released in 2001, it definitely has that essence of 90s house and acid house music.
Rob Zombie - Reload
Rob Zombie is a man of many talents. This track from 2003 highlights his long history with heavy metal. Another track of his to feature in the films was a Hot Rod Herman remix of Dragula.
The Prodigy - Mindfields
The Fat of the Land is a classic album. One of the better known tracks, it was impossible to leave out, a mixture between various electronic styles present on the album as well as the film.
Rage Against the Machine - Calm Like a Bomb
Another Rage track that everyone will remember is ‘Wake Up’, as Neo flies away at the end of the first film. This one is my favourite however, featured in Reloaded.
Linkin Park - Session
A Linkin Park track that is underrated, from a similarly overlooked album. Meteora, released in 2003, is a great nostalgic listen. ‘Session’ works well with the film, a classic example of a floaty trip hop track.
Team Sleep - Passportal
Team Sleep is an American experimental post-rock group led by singer & guitarist Chino Moreno, better known for a band mentioned earlier, Deftones. ‘Passportal’ mixes on the edges of several genres, therefore being the perfect track to round off this edition of Picks.