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Music For 2001: a space odyssey – music by Alex North

Music for 2001: a space odysseyThe subject of literally decades of debate among film scholars, soundtrack afficionados and others, Alex North’s rejected score for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: a space odyssey has already received one release, though in a form that was re-recorded from the ground up by Jerry Goldsmith in 1993. In the liner notes from that earlier release, it is revealed that the only surviving copy of North’s original 1968 session recordings was a cassette that had been missing virtually since the movie came out, recovered on the eve of Goldsmith’s sessions. This release from Intrada is that cassette: the original sessions, brought up as close as possible to digital specs, timed out to scenes from the movie, and released to the public for the first time.

There are subtle musical differences and major ones too. Slight differences in arrangement, orchestration and timing differentiate between the two recordings of this most famous selection of unused movie music, and there are some that are biggies (entire minutes of music and alternate arrangements that didn’t make it into the 1993 re-recording, as well as the revelation that the “Entr’acte”track from that release was mislabeled and had nothing to do with 2001 at all). It’s a fascinating study in contrasts, but in the end, it’s still great music. How the use of this score instead of Kubrick’s favored selection of existing orchestral and choral pieces might have impacted the movie’s timelessness, we’ll never know.

Thanks to the incredibly extensive liner notes, though, you have a unique opportunity to test-drive North’s score – each track includes precise, down-to-the-second timing notes allowing you to sync up your DVD of 2001 to the film in the appropriate places. The liner notes booklet also tells, in great detail, the story of the feud between North and Kubrick over Kubrick’s quiet (but public) dismissal of North’s music, and how that feud carried on the two men’s respective estates even after they themselves had died. The back cover of the booklet contains, at last, an olive branch extended in writing from Kubrick’s estate to North’s children, acknowledging that North’s music is an important part of the film’s legacy. It’s disappointing that the proposal for a DVD with an alternate audio track, also revealed in the booklet, never got off the ground, but the booklet’s notes let you do it yourself at home without having to buy yet another iteration of 2001 on DVD, so perhaps it’s just as well.

Rating: 4 out of 4Few soundtracks in the history of Hollywood have as much of a story behind them as this one does, but Alex North’s 2001 can now finally be heard and appreciated, with the film it was intended to accompany. That neither North nor Kubrick could ever bury the hatchet so this could happen in either of their lifetimes is the only disappointment to come out of it.

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  1. The Foraging (3:13)
  2. The Bluff (2:39)
  3. Night Terrors (1:49)
  4. Bones (1:43)
  5. Eat Meat And Kill (4:03)
  6. Space Station Docking (5:24)
  7. Space Talk (3:49)
  8. Trip To Moon (3:05)
  9. Moon Rocket Bus (5:20)
  10. The Foraging (alternate version) (3:16)
  11. Eat Meat And Kill (Take 7 wild) (1:06)
  12. Space Station (Take 4 partial) (2:13)
  13. Docking (Take 2) (1:15)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2007 (originally recorded in 1968)
Total running time: 38:55

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