Into The Darkness: 4 Themes – music by Cliff Eidelman

If an unused cue from a TV or movie music score is the musical equivalent of a deleted scene, an entirely unused/rejected score (or, in this case, demos) are the musical equivalent to a completely different cut that never escapes the editing room. Such is the case with Into The Darkness: 4 Themes, a download-only EP by Cliff Eidelman, the composer who steered the Star Trek film franchise into dark, operatic territory with 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The four themes in question here are a four-track demo submitted by Eidelman to the producers of the then-yet-to-premiere Star Trek: Discovery, at their request.

What’s interesting about that request is that it didn’t come from Discovery creative consultant (and Star Trek VI director) Nick Meyer, but instead came from Discovery’s initial (and later dismissed) showrunner, Bryan Fuller. Reports have since emerged that Fuller had some very different ideas for launching a new Star Trek series for CBS, but had to rein some of his wilder ideas in. Eidelman’s track titles so specifically reference events in Discovery’s first two episodes that it’s clear that music was auditioned late in the process (as it usually is). “Battle Of Two Worlds” is a minor word swap away from Battle At The Binary Stars, the second hour of the series, and “Mutiny In Darkness” also references incidents in that second episode. So we can say with certainty that Eidelman’s music would have – if the composer had landed the assignment – accompanied a story very much like what actually played out on screen (with Jeff Russo’s accompaniment).

That being said, there’s something a bit less than pulse-pounding about the music presented here. It isn’t just that it’s a synth demo standing in for what was undoubtedly expected to be a full orchestra – I can cut it a break on that front knowing that it’s a demo – but it just doesn’t go anywhere. I’ve probably heard the actual Discovery theme as used on the show itself 20-25 times, and I can hum it. I’ve listened to Into The Darkness about as many times – and why not, when there’s no official Discovery soundtrack release as yet? – and I can scarcely remember Eidelman’s main recurring theme a couple of hours later. I do like his take on music involving the Klingons, as it gives a nod to the guttural, percussive brutality present in themes introduced for the Klingons down through the years by the likes of Goldsmith and Horner and Ron Jones, but that’s almost all I can remember of this EP later.

2 out of 4Scoring film and TV is a collaborative process. It’s entirely possible that even Jeff Russo didn’t hit it right out of the park on his first attempt at a theme, and that he received notes from the producers asking for either refinement or a from-the-ground-up rethink. It is, perhaps, unfair to judge Eidelman’s demos too harshly on the basis that they don’t represent a finished, polished product of that same collaborative evolution. I find the very idea of recruiting an experienced Trek composer fascinating in the extreme. But as a listening experience goes, Into The Darknes: 4 Themes shows perhaps too much restraint and not enough of the in-your-face brassiness that made so many of us fans of Star Trek’s music way back in the day.

Order this CD

  1. Into The Unknown (1:27)
  2. Battle Of Two Worlds (2:16)
  3. Mutiny In Darkness (2:13)
  4. Resolve (1:10)

Released by: Cliff Eidelman
Release date: October 20, 2017
Total running time: 7:06

Invasion – music by Jon Ehrlich & Jason Derlatka

InvasionPromoted heavily going into the fall 2005 television season, Invasion seemed like the perfect stablemate for ABC’s Lost. They both had running, peel-back-the-onion-layers mystery storylines, set in relatively affordable locations for production purposes. Invasion also had Shaun Cassidy on its side – the former pop star turned writer/producer had created cult hits before, including the creepy and much-loved American Gothic. Surely, sooner or later, Cassidy’s way with plot and characters would hit one out of the park, and maybe Invasion would be the ball that went sailing over the fence. Right?

Not so fast. Mere weeks before its premiere, Invasion’s premise – strange things going on in a Florida community ravaged by a gigantic hurricane – had its thunder stolen by the real-life Hurricane Katrina, which turned the vibrant city of New Orleans into something worse than any disaster movie had ever shown us. ABC yanked the show’s promotion immediately, stealing Invasion’s thunder; a series of frequent time slot changes seemed to indicate that the network was quietly hoping that Invasion and its potentially-insensitive hurricane plotline would vanish before it caused any controversy.

The series was rather gripping stuff, and it got a fascinating musical treatment from composers Jon Erlich and Jason Derlatka – a bit of a side gig for the duo that was also scoring every episode of another new series called House M.D. Erlich and Derlatka created a web of interlocking themes and compositions that fit the show’s characters like a glove, from the solo string lament of alien-possessed Dr. Mariel Underlay (Earth: Final Conflict’s Kari Matchett) to the menacing rumble of her husband, who was somehow behind the whole plan to give an alien presence a foothold on Earth, using the mayhem of the hurricane as a cover for their operation. The seamy underbelly of the south is always present, but so too is are blasts of orchestra – all the more surprising because the show wasn’t wall-to-wall orchestra – signifying the alien presence in motion. Two conjoined tracks in particular, “Hybrids And Labor” and “Hurricane Approaching”, are truly big-screen stuff.

Curiously missing is the ten-second burst of discord that stood in for opening titles (a case of ABC pushing too hard to mold Invasion into the perfect partner for Lost, which had a similar opening title treatment). Many of the tracks are exceedingly short by the standard of commercially-released soundtrack albums, but they also fade into the next track gracefully – unless you’re watching the numbers on your CD player, you’d probably think you’re listening to longer, continuous compositions.

Invasion amassed a cult following noisy enough to request/demand a 4 out of 4soundtrack release, but not a very big one: Swedish soundtrack boutique label Moviescore Media released only 1,000 copies of Invasion worldwide, one of the only pieces of merchandise that Invasion ever spawned (and it wasn’t released until long after the series’ cancellation). The soundtrack covers most of the key moments of Invasion’s solitary season on television, and it holds up well even without the sweaty tropical visuals of the show.

Order this CD

  1. The Lights (2:02)
  2. Russ & Larkin (1:31)
  3. Mariel Swims / They’ve Lost Their Mother (2:33)
  4. Sirk’s Abduction (1:37)
  5. Szura (1:20)
  6. The Rose (2:28)
  7. Angel Mariel / Island Of Hybrid Castaways (2:55)
  8. The Locket (1:14)
  9. M.R.I. (2:10)
  10. Hybrids In Labor (0:35)
  11. Hurricane Approaching (0:38)
  12. Couldn’t Save Them (0:40)
  13. Pria’s Story (0:48)
  14. Finding Mariel (1:57)
  15. Emily’s Theme (1:17)
  16. There’s A Boat Coming (3:11)
  17. Kira & Sirk (1:38)
  18. Hybrid Experiments (1:19)
  19. Larkin Crashes (0:47)
  20. Species Transformation (2:49)
  21. The Battle (1:43)
  22. Help Arrives (1:38)
  23. Blogspeak (1:49)
  24. Baby Steps (1:32)
  25. Leon (2:20)
  26. Last Moments (1:18)
  27. Stalker (1:06)
  28. Scrub It (1:45)
  29. Larkin’s Shower (1:29)
  30. Evolution (3:25)
  31. Human Genocide (0:57)
  32. When They First Met (2:06)
  33. Do You Care Now? (2:17)
  34. Mob Rule / Moving Toward The Light (1:37)
  35. Full Circle (2:58)

Released by: MovieScore Media
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 61:29

The Illustrated Man – music by Jerry Goldsmith

The Illustrated ManIn 1969, the thought of dramatizing the short stories of renowned speculative fiction master Ray Bradbury was still relatively new, and the thought of trying to cohesively film a short story collection was probably daunting in itself. Put the two together, and you have a recipe for a movie that probably won’t meet anyone’s expectations. Despite the talent and star power brought to bear on it, The Illustrated Man is considered a valiant attempt, but still a flop at the box office.

Among that talent was Jerry Goldsmith, who had just shaken up movie audiences the previous year with his paradigm-shifting soundtrack from Planet Of The Apes. Setting a pattern that would continue for much of the rest of his life and career, Goldsmith was now being sought out as a composer who “got” science fiction – and, more importantly, could lend it sonic support that would help the audience “get” it too. His score for The Illustrated Man, essentially four separate but linked scores for the price of one, continued Goldsmith’s streak as a cerebral, forward-thinking composer.

The framing story (involving the Illustrated Man of the title) gets a deceptively pastoral sound, introducing the movie’s only real theme. As the framing story’s characters reveal their true nature, the music grows more uneasy, reaching a disquieting climax as the first story within the story opens. For the sequence based on Bradbury’s “The Veldt”, Goldsmith leans almost entirely on synthesizers for the setting of a futuristic house, anticipating his work on Logan’s Run (which was still seven years away). As this story closes, Goldsmith generates some real shock value by pairing the full orchestra with the synths for the climax.

After a brief segue back to the movie’s framing device, the music for the dramatization of “The Long Rain” presents a more traditional orchestral setting, but a languid, hopeless and droning one, ideal music for saturation.

“The Last Night Of The World” continues the cheerless feel, in a somewhat simpler, plained vein, at least until Bradbury’s cruel twist ending catches up with the story’s characters. This leads into a flashback and a return to the framing story, which itself has a sting in the tail before the movie (and soundtrack) are over.

4 out of 4Goldsmith was an ideal composer to pair with the works of the late Ray Bradbury. More intellectual and adventurous than worried about what constituted “proper” music in a classical vein, Goldsmith – with his music – was willing to step outside the same bounds that Bradbury’s words did. It’s a pity that the result on film wasn’t as good as the musical collision of their respective worlds.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (3:28)
  2. The House (2:50)
  3. The Illustrations (2:25)
  4. Felicia (1:40)
  5. The Rose (1:55)
  6. The Lion (0:51)

    “The Veldt”

  7. 21st Century House (1:56)
  8. Angry Child (1:49)
  9. Quiet Evening (2:50)
  10. Skin Illustrations (1:22)
  11. The Rocket (1:19)

    “The Long Rain”

  12. The Rain (1:34)
  13. The Sun Dome (1:24)

    “The Last Night of the World”

  14. Almost a Wife (6:05)
  15. The Morning After (2:00)
  16. The House Is Gone (3:46)
  17. Frightened Willie (4:29)

Released by: Film Score Monthly
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 42:02