I was just listening to some BIONICLE movie soundtracks on BioMedia Project. While it's good for a nostalgia kick, I'm finding that much of the music is just as generic as I remembered.
I don't mean that in the sense that it's not memorable or distinctive. It definitely checks both of those boxes. But there's nothing about it that makes it a particularly apt fit for the BIONICLE story and universe in particular. A lot of it sounds like it could just as easily belong to an adaptation of any adventure story, like an adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Most of the instrumentation feels like very typical Hollywood adventure movie fare.
Anybody else remember BIONICLEmusic.com? Something that's always stuck in my head was the description on the mixer page: "The music of BIONICLE is a mixture of the mystical and the mechanical. Like the Toa, it blends the power of high technology with a raw elemental force." The only music that checks either of those boxes in the first three BIONICLE movie soundtracks (at least the selections featured on BMP — I don't know how much they might be omitting) is the end credits music. In the first movie, the end credits movie has some very clear tribal drum rhythms, while in the second movie it includes both those rhythms and some synthesized electronic/mechanical sounds. The third movie's end credits music keeps the exciting drumbeats but for some reason loses the electronic sounds once again.
I respect Nathan Furst's work here, and what he's capable of, but this is the reason these have never really ranked among my favorite BIONICLE music or my favorite soundtracks in general.
What kinds of soundtracks do I generally like? Well, the soundtrack to The LEGO Movie is one good example. The music in that has a feel that perfectly suits the janky, stop-motion-style action that characterizes the movie. Likewise, the soundtracks for Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra both do a fantastic job evoking the Asian-inspired fantasy world with their rhythms and instrumentation. Even LEGO Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu does a good job with this — give this playlist a listen if you want to hear plenty of amazing examples.
If next year's BIONICLE revival has a soundtrack even half as well-suited to the franchise as any of these franchise's soundtracks, I will consider it a major improvement. BIONICLE has had some fantastic music over the years, but I feel that in the movies in particular, it too often came at the expense of the soundtrack's sense of identity.