Back in 2018, Makeup and Vanity Set released an EP entitled PRIS, a collection of five songs that felt like it was inspired by Blade Runner, complete with a nod to Daryl Hannah’s character from the film. Over the next few years he released RUN and MOTHER, subsequent EP’s inspired by the additional Blade Runner replicants Zhora and Leon. On April 17th, MAVS completed the set with the release of ROY, an EP inspired by Rutger Hauer’s portrayal of Roy Batty, the primary antagonist from the film.
Without getting into a full review of the intricacies of the Blade Runner film (and all it’s various edits), the character of Roy Batty is portrayed as the “bad guy” but contains a multitude of complex emotions. He’s a replicant with a four year lifespan genetically engineered explicitly for off-world combat missions. His primary motivation is to live beyond the planned termination, as he fears his memories and experiences will be “lost in time, like tears in rain.” Like all good science fiction, partaking in this story asks the viewer to consider questions reflective of our own society. Questions around genetic engineering, the scarcity of life and the possibilities of redemption to name a few.
It’s quite possible to enjoy the soundscapes of the ROY EP without having knowledge of Blade Runner but understanding the context to the character, and the fact that he’s not a one-dimensional baddie, gives it additional life. The songs evoke direct references to the film through their titles but are subtle and textured, as a respectful homage to the multiple dimensions of the character. “A Gilded Cage” contains wind chimes and rain sounds creating a landscape of quiet, tortured, contemplation. “Tannhäuser Gate” is a direct citation of Batty’s final monologue, itself a reference to 1845 Richard Wright opera in which the character Tannhauser feels he has “fallen from grace with men and with God”, all wrapped up in a composition that feels searching and tortured.
It’s clear that Makeup and Vanity Set has the utmost respect for the nuance of Blade Runner. ROY and the accompanying EP’s are not caricatures of their personas, they are in-depth character studies. The instrumentation used to explore these may overlap with your standard dark-world, synth-wave artist but MAVS takes a much different tact; slow approaches and subtleties that ask the listener to dive deeper and pose questions about each of the antagonists. Just like good sci-fi should do.
Find the four EP’s embedded below as one playlist for the full listening experience.