Natalie Holt’s Loki score is a richly thematic, versatile and well-composed work that utilises an exquisite combination of musical styles – including retro 80s-esque instrumentation and (intriguingly) a theremin – to truly great effect, overall grounding the score in a unique and rather brilliant musical setting that sets it considerably apart from previous MCU albums.
By far the most interesting thing about Holt’s immersive score for Loki is that it’s actually pretty different in style to what you’d normally expect from an MCU score. Take opening cue TVA for instance; it’s the main theme for the time travelling antagonists of the Disney+ show (while also doubling as the end credits piece), and it starts rather intriguingly with a classic sounding effect of a TV switching on. A ticking clock then sets the pace, with a loud burst of dramatic 80s-esque electronics playing the villainous motif for the TVA. This then plays through a couple of times to cement itself, before Holt then steps up the intrigue once again by bringing a theremin of all instruments into the fold. Despite the unusual choice however it actually fits Loki pretty well, and helps to add another layer of memorability to the already pretty unique musical style that the composer has going for the show so far. Once the theremin finishes up its debut, the imposing electronics then return once more for a finishing rendition of the TVA motif, before the end credits cue then closes out. Overall, TVA serves as a pretty solid introduction to Loki, both establishing a retro futuristic-y musical style and cementing in a main theme while coming in at only two and a half minutes long. This is just the start though, as secondly we then have the primarily orchestral theme for our protagonist in Loki Green Theme; here loud, foreboding brass takes centre stage, accompanied by elongated synth notes and emphasizing strings. All together, these set quite a dark, mysterious and also rather malevolent tone, with a ticking clock also appearing at various intervals in an interestingly similar manner to that of TVA.
With the two main themes established, Loki Processing then dives into the retro-esque musical style. Sweeping, mysterious synth notes take the forefront here for two minutes of particularly atmospheric score, setting a rather sombre mood that then continues somewhat into the subsequent similarly mood-setting pieces Aix-En-Provence, 1549 and Mischievous Scamp. The former also utilises the established theremin while the latter kicks up the pace slightly with light percussion. Miss Minutes however then completely changes things up, with light-hearted, energetic brass and optimistic percussion playing together with the continually eerie theremin, making overall for quite a tonally all over the place but enjoyably retro thematic setpiece. We’re then introduced to yet another theme in Dangerous Variant; the one for semi-antagonist Loki variant Sylvie. Low-pitched, sinister synth notes form the stylistic centrepiece of this track, with the character motif itself then playing through several increasingly ominous renditions before the cue closes at around the ninety second mark. The enigmatic theremin returns in pensive form in TVA Inner Workings, with the TVA theme also appearing sporadically on strings. Upbeat piano notes and some rather heist-esque percussion then take centre stage in DB Cooper, with the now rather jazzy setting continuing to expand Loki‘s increasingly widespread musical style while also keeping it grounded firmly within it as the established theremin plays interspersed throughout. Cold synth notes then take over in atmospheric piece Oshkosh, 1985, where things stay low-pitched and moody for much of the track until a loud and emphatic crescendo is rapidly reached just as the cue then closes out.
High-pitched, creepy strings and low, moody synth notes open Catch Up, setting a decidedly eerie atmosphere that then edges up into dramatic territory as loud, imposing brass joins the fray at about a minute in with an emphatically grandiose rendition of Loki’s theme. A slow, sorrowful theremin accompanied by gentle strings plays through in Glorious Purpose before Sylvie’s theme then comes back into play with Salina, 1858. Quiet, medieval-esque instrumentation together with some low-pitched, depressed brass set a particularly ominous tone before the motif then starts to gradually fade in, amplifying the downtrodden mood considerably before the track then ends a little while later. The loud electronics from Loki’s theme then force their way back into the fray in Roxxcart 2050, playing just as malevolently as their debut appearance before action starts to kick into gear in the frantic I Miss Randy. Here low, ominous synth notes and frenetic percussion play rather ferociously until fragments of Sylvie’s theme cut through at just over the minute mark, interjecting elements of quiet ominousness for a few further seconds before the music then fades. As the first volume of the score starts to draw to a close, TVA Title Card pays a revisit to the mysterious, retro TVA theme for a lengthy and similarly end credits-esque rendition to that of the original TVA cue. Lamentis-1, 2077 then closes the volume proper with low-pitched, very 80s-sounding synth notes playing Loki’s theme in now typically imposing form.
Volume two opens rather chillingly; cold, horror-like strings and the ever eerie whine of the theremin open first track Headless, with low-pitched vocals also joining the fray to push the tone straight into sinister territory. A few synthy notes from Loki’s motif then sound through towards the end of the piece before things get rather sorrowful in Temptation, with some rather medieval-esque folk instruments taking centre stage and the theremin lurking quietly in the background. Loki’s theme then gets loud and dramatic (even more so than usual) in Pep Talk, with emphatic brass, moody synth and rumblings of percussion hinting towards the motif in the first few seconds before a full, lengthy playthrough then practically bursts into the fray a minute or so later. Dissonant, atmospheric electronics then overtake at the start of the rather short Time Loop, with Loki’s motif briefly re-appearing towards the end for an unusually slow, solemn rendition on low brass. This solemnity then continues through the primarily strings-based Lokius before the action then returns in full force with Alligator Bite; here energetic percussion and loud, imposing brass take Loki’s theme and run with it, with 80s-esque synth and an excitingly epic electric guitar also joining the fray and then dialling the action up to crescendo just before the cue then ends.
Slow, methodical strings take over the show in the rather romantic Reunion, with Loki’s theme reprising once again though in quietly reserved form this time as the instrumentation establishes a gently tender mood. This calmness doesn’t last for long however as rising, almost heroic brass then arrives in Goodbyes, with upbeat strings and an unusually optimistic theremin also taking their places as all instrumentation then starts to rise in both volume and intensity, boosting the already grandiose mood substantially until Loki’s theme then makes a tense but determined appearance to signal track’s end. This also then segues into the start of the volume’s big action setpiece, beginning with the subsequent Living Storm. Loud, aggressive brass and dramatic vocals take centre stage for this track, with the TVA theme making a particularly villainous appearance before things then get really, really interesting in standout cue Classic Builds. Here, bizarrely, brilliantly – Wagner’s Ride Of The Valkyries is the central theme, representing the classic Loki of the show in his epic final stand and played by some particularly grandiose brass and emphatic vocals. It’s an intriguing musical decision by composer Holt, and one that actually works really quite well, so major props there. Time then briefly pulls the score back into mystery with quiet, creepy electronics and solemn folk instruments, before the action then returns in Pruned with a lengthy and decidedly tense rendition of Loki’s motif, emphasized by near-heroic brass and some very worrisome-sounding strings.
Sylvie’s theme makes a welcome reappearance alongside Loki’s in Fibbed, a track that opens with quiet, almost sorrowful strings before then slowly building up into villainy as sinister vocals and dramatic synth notes gradually come forward from the background. The ever mysterious theremin then returns at the start of Stop, with a loud burst of emphatic orchestra then interrupting the eeriness followed swiftly by quietly optimistic strings-based renditions of both Sylvie and Loki’s motifs. Things then calm back down at the start of Be, with pensive woodwinds setting quite a gentle mood before synth, theremin and vocals start to build and the tone slowly shifts up into loudly dramatic territory as the TVA theme arrives for a particularly grandiose playthrough. This appearance doesn’t last for long however as things quieten in the cue’s back half, with the now rather worrisome-sounding theremin taking the musical forefront. Loki’s theme then plays on increasingly confident, rising synth notes in Back In The TVA, reaching a loud crescendo just before the track ends at two minutes long. To finish off the second volume (and the score), He Who Remains thenplays the TVA theme in its loudest, most malevolent rendition yet; one complete with imposing synth, dramatically in-your-face vocals and (naturally) the ever-present eerie theremin, closing the score overall on just as mysterious a musical note as it began.
Overall, Natalie Holt’s mesmerising score for Loki is nothing short of fantastic; it’s exquisitely crafted, and remains one of if not the most unique approach to a superhero score in the MCU so far. From the 80s-esque synth notes to the eerie weaving of the theremin throughout the album (see TVA for a good example of this), Holt’s intriguing musical style here truly is something to behold, and the themes – whether it’s the mysteriously ominous motif for the TVA, the loudly menacing instrumentation for main Loki himself or indeed any of the acutely memorable themes for the other variants, they’re all uniquely brilliant in their own right (though Classic Builds is the absolute star of the show for themes here), and I very much enjoyed hearing each and every one of them. See the standout cues for the best of Loki, but even just in terms of general style across both albums, Holt has utterly, expertly nailed it.
Standout Cues: 5. Loki Green Theme (Vol. 1), 13. Classic Builds (Vol. 2)
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