Mr. Robot: Season One: Volumes 1 & 2
Music Composed By: Mac Quayle
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In the award-winning USA Network television series, Mr. Robot, Rami Malek is Elliot, a young programmer working as a cyber-security engineer by day and a vigilante hacker by night. Recruited by an underground hacker group run by Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) to destroy the very firm he was hired to protect, Elliot struggles to resist the opportunity to take down the multinational CEOs he believes are running, and thereby ruining, the world.
In May 2016, Lakeshore Records released a two volume soundtrack for Mr. Robot featuring music by Emmy and Grammy-nominated musician and composer Mac Quayle. In the liner notes accompanying the soundtrack, Mac Quayle describes his introduction to the synthesizer and how it would impact his life as a musician and composer. Some of Quayle's most notable work includes the musical score of American Horror Story: Freak Show, American Horror Story: Hotel, Scream Queens and The People v. OJ Simpson.
Mac Quayle sees a parallel between himself and Elliot: "Elliot uses programming and social engineering techniques to seek and exploit weakness in computer networks, and I use programming and sonic engineering techniques to help enhance the emotional content of each scene...Armed with our computers and an arsenal of software tools, we both attempt to create and discover the right combination of notes (code) and sounds (keystrokes) that help tell the story (access the network)." Those similarities led Quayle to create a mostly electronic soundtrack, the only organic instrument being the piano.
The beauty of using synthesizers and computers to manipulate sound is that you can create any type of sound you want, adding variety to the score with sounds like acid dropping or dream-like chimes, ambient sound, reverb, even sound effects like those noises made by robots or computer keys. The Mr. Robot Soundtrack contains all of this and more. The score is dark, representing the underground activity and its danger, but also contains a sense of urgency as if the main character is rushing to beat the clock.
The idea of creating two volumes was to showcase as much of the score as possible. Thus we find over fifty tracks of music, chronologically ordered by episode. The booklets included with the soundtracks is quite unique - the description of the storyline and characters in the show are presented as a video game instruction booklet. It also contains liner notes from the composer as well as the show's producer.
Though the Mr. Robot Soundtrack is very long, each track is quite unique and things get rather strange sound-wise as we approach the final tracks of the album. Fans of the show will be ecstatic to find that most of the music they've been listening to over the first season of Mr. Robot are included. Those who don't watch the show will note the unique mixing of electronic sound, each track showcasing a new emotion. What a great job by Max Quayle!