Le Matos know how to lock into the vibe of a story. Sure, there’s only two examples I can point you toward to prove that statement: Turbo Kid and Summer of 84, which is in the title of this little write-up you’ve begun reading. In their musical DNA, Le Matos are a electronic/techno sort of music conglomerate. Give their albums Join Us, collection Coming Soon 2007-2011, or the ample amount of remixes that have been birthed into the world by this Montreal duo a listen and you’ll hear a concoction of pop melodies, techno push, and the warmth of analog tools pushing you to a point to where you can’t keep your leg from twitching along to the tempo. Hell, give their rendition of the Halloween theme a click. If Michael Mysers was ever going to let loose on the dance floor I’d imagine it’d be with this.
Point is, whether Le Matos is writing for themselves or others the groove is always in their analog hearts. I absolutely fell in love with Turbo Kid long before I ever watched the RKSS 80s throwback film, because I’d gotten Le Matos’ Chronicles of the Wasteland firmly planted in my cerebral cortex. Hours spent in my basement lair with my son spinning Le Matos’ infectious soundtrack while we played old school arcade games on my old school Playstation Gen One with the sound down left an indelible mark(on me and my son.) When I’d first heard about RKSS’ next film project, the quite excellent(and surprisingly dark Summer of 84), one of the first things that popped in my head was “Is Le Matos doing the score?” The answer to that question was yes. The day the film was released digitally we all sat around the ancient 40″ LED and watched the film gleefully. The movie was great, and the score was on another level. Having received my vinyl copy via Death Waltz/Mondo just last week it hasn’t left the turntable. Is Summer of 84 my favorite soundtrack of the year? Quite possibly. Is it my favorite album of the year? Pretty damn close.
I know you shouldn’t rate a soundtrack on whether you can listen to it as a standalone record without the film in tow. It’s not fair to composers that work a score like a mechanic adding nuts and bolts to the overall engine of the experience. I think of Colin Stetson or Mica Levi in that regard. Stetson’s score to Hereditary was like a moving piece of the film. It worked so well and was so pivotal in creating that world that pulling it out of that world does his composition a disservice. Same with Levi’s deconstruction in something like Under The Skin. It pushes and it constructs the quiet and disturbing world in that movie that on its own its like listening to a beating heart with the chest splayed open for all to see this naked, convulsing muscle(editors note: I listen to both of those on their own quite often.) Those scores are like limbs on the overall body of work. Le Matos make soundtracks that satisfy you emotionally in the context of the RKSS projects, but also work as a moving and gratifying experience when sitting at home enjoying a coctail(or playing videogames with your son.)
Summer of 84, much like the film it soundtracks, feels like a throwback to the bygone era of latchkey kids and masks you can cut out of the back of a cereal box. Driving electronic beats, synths blazing, and emotional waves of nostalgia permeate the album. From nods to John Carpenter and Harold Faltermeyer, to contemporaries like Steve Moore and Disasterpeace, this soundtrack fills any voids you may be experiencing in your everyday existence. I never knew I missed my 80s childhood until Le Matos reminded me. The score goes from upbeat radio bangers you might’ve heard on the ride to school during Reagan’s first term to absolute moments of longing and melancholy. There’s also plenty of tension and friction thrown in for good measure(if you haven’t, see this movie.)
There’s also an absolute 80s banger of pop majesty in the closing “Cold Summer”, featuring the exquisite Computer Magic. Perfect sonics, melancholy longing, and an underlying tension mixed into the huge production. It’s like that one big radio hit that was always included on those old 80s soundtracks I used to own by the shoebox full back in middle school.
Summer of 84 is the perfect mix of pop majesty and scene building. Le Matos have done it yet again. They’ve opened a portal to where I can crawl in and get lost for a bit. Maybe play some old arcade games and cut a face out of the back of a box of C3POs. Excuse me, gotta head down to the lair for a bit.
8.6 out of 10