Lost – music by Michael Giacchino

Lost soundtrackIn the liner notes to the CD of the Lost soundtrack, series co-creator J.J. Abrams mentions that the pilot episode was originally tracked with the works of some of the biggest names in film music, and that it took some salesmanship to convince ABC that the show would lose none of its impact when rescored by Abrams’ Alias co-conspirator, composer Michael Giacchino. The irony of that comment is that, for anyone who’s been watching Lost for any amount of time, it’s hard to imagine any of its scenes scored by someone other than Giacchino.

The disc kicks off with Abrams’ own abstract composition for the show’s trend-settingly short main titles (a number of series took the hint and abruptly curtailed their main titles, and some showrunners – such as the makers of the two Stargate series – discovered that ten second main titles just weren’t for them).

Again going back to the liner notes, Abrams acknowledges that the temp score originally laid over the pilot was more bombastic than what has evolved in Giacchino’s body of work; it’s not that Lost doesn’t ever require that kind of music, but it’s not handled with typical Hollywood orchestral fire-and-brimstone. That’s not to say that Giacchino doesn’t echo some great Hollywood styles. “Hollywood And Vines” sounds like something from John Barry’s late 70s/early 80s repertoire, and the now familiar stabbing swirl of Hermann-esque strings makes its debut in “Charlie Hangs Around”.

Speaking of familiarity, this CD does a great job of recreating the atmosphere for those already acquainted with the show; as a listening experience, though, it occasionally retreads the same ground with a small number of recurring motifs and themes – at least two tracks end on the show’s suspenseful signature slur of brass, for example. Many of the cues presented here are from the two-part pilot episode, with the remainder originating from almost every episode in the first season, and presented with only a couple of exceptions in strict story order. Some listeners may come to find that they can program their CD player to play the tracks in a different order for a more cohesive listening experience, but given that the slow discovery of the story and the mysteries of the island are at the heart of the show, the chronological track listing does make sense. (If you’re wondering about another sonic signature, the gunshot-like sound that takes you into most commercial breaks, that’s the very last thing on the CD.) Good stuff for folks who are fans of the show’s music (which will probably be 95% of the people buying the CD), but it might make a few listeners wonder whether they just heard the same thing twice.

Rating: 3 out of 4That’s an extremely minor quibble, though. This is a nice example of a fully orchestrated score for modern TV (and with all of the session players graciously name-checked in the booklet, no less – very classy!), and chances are it’s more fun to listen to than the LPs Desmond was stuck with in his Dharma dome. If you’re in the mood for dark and moody, then by all means, get Lost.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title by J.J. Abrams (0:16)
  2. The Eyeland (1:58)
  3. World’s Worst Beach Party (2:46)
  4. Credit Where Credit Is Due (2:24)
  5. Run Like, Um…Hell? (2:23)
  6. Hollywood And Vines (1:54)
  7. Just Die Already (1:53)
  8. Me And My Big Mouth (1:08)
  9. Crocodile Locke (1:52)
  10. Win One For The Reaper (2:39)
  11. Departing Sun (2:44)
  12. Charlie Hangs Around (3:19)
  13. Navel Gazing (3:26)
  14. Proper Motivation! (2:01)
  15. Run Away! Run Away! (0:32)
  16. We’re Friends (1:33)
  17. Getting Ethan (1:36)
  18. Thinking Clairely (1:06)
  19. Locke’d Out Again (3:32)
  20. Life And Death (3:41)
  21. Booneral (1:40)
  22. Shannonigans (2:27)
  23. Kate’s Motel (2:09)
  24. I’ve Got A Plane To Catch (2:39)
  25. Monsters Are Such Interesting People (1:31)
  26. Parting Words (5:31)
  27. Oceanic 815 (6:11)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: 2006
Total running time: 74:51

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe soundtrackI’ve been ambivalent about the new film version of C.S. Lewis’ classic tale on many levels; for one, despite enjoying some of the past attempts that have been, to put it charitably, steeped in cheese, I’m just not sure this is something that can be accurately committed to the big screen. (Oddly enough, I have the same feeling about Dune – I’ve enjoyed various attempts to put it on film, but I’ve also been more than ready to say “okay, enough” at the next attempt.) This big-budget, big-screen, CGI-filled, Disney-backed version looks like it may actually convey the story satisfyingly. And if the soundtrack, released before the movie’s opening, is any indication, we may actually luck out this time.

Harry Gregson-Williams’ score, the main component of the soundtrack release, is gorgeous stuff. From its opening cue, The Blitz, 1940, it’s clear that much of the music will be in a traditional leitmotif mode, but Gregson-Williams still finds plenty of room for originality within that context. “The Blitz, 1940” cleverly uses rumbling, downward portamentos of brass to accompany the bombing of London, sounding almost like diving airplanes (who needs sound effects?). Things get decidedly more modern with “Evacuating London”, which almost sounds like it’s taking a few Enya-inspired pointers from Titanic in places.

Things settle down a bit until we actually step through the wardrobe, at which point the music conveys a great sense of the fantastic and the epic. There are numerous cues which – at least judging by their track titles – are lush, flowing travelogues, making for a very relaxing listen without quite fading into the blandness of background music. Having completely missed a few guesses in past “heard the music before I saw the movie” soundtrack reviews, I’m not even going to try to guess at how well the music fits the film, but it’s great stuff; out of the entire score, I will admit to having kept “The Blitz, 1940” and “The Battle” on repeat play quite a bit.

The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe deluxe soundtrackThere are four songs included on the tail end of the CD; Alanis Morissette fans will enjoy her track, “Wunderkind”, and I was stunned beyond belief to see Tim Finn turn in a new tune, “Winter Dream” (especially since I’m a fan of his work and hadn’t heard a peep about his participation). (I don’t know who worked the deal to get Tim on this soundtrack or how they did it, but hopefully he benefits from the exposure.) Imogen Heap contributes “Can’t Take It In”, while Lisbeth Scott, the vocalist who can be heard at several points in the score itself, gets a song to herself (“Where”). There’s also a nicely packaged two-disc “special edition” release; the contents of the soundtrack CD are identical, but the package also includes a DVD with interviews with composer Gregson-Williams, concept art galleries and trailers from the movie, and a few other promotional pieces.

rating: 4 out of 4All in all, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe gets a very nice orchestral score with some modern touches (though not overpoweringly modern). If you’re looking for a good film score with a balance between action scenes and more contemplative cues, and something that’s not John Williams (nothing against Mr. Williams, but 2005 at the theater has been jam-packed with his music – Revenge Of The Sith, War Of The Worlds, Munich, Memoirs Of A Geisha…), this will do nicely.

Order this CD

  1. The Blitz, 1940 (2:32)
  2. Evacuating London (3:38)
  3. The Wardrobe (2:54)
  4. Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus (4:10)
  5. A Narnia Lullaby (1:12)
  6. The White Witch (5:30)
  7. From Western Woods To Beaversham (3:34)
  8. Father Christmas (3:20)
  9. To Aslan’s Camp (3:12)
  10. Knighting Peter (3:48)
  11. The Stone Table (8:06)
  12. The Battle (7:08)
  13. Only The Beginning Of The Adventure (5:32)
  14. Can’t Take It In performed by Imogen Heap (4:42)
  15. Wunderkind performed by Alanis Morissette (5:19)
  16. Winter Light performed by Tim Finn (4:13)
  17. Where performed by Lisbeth Scott (1:54)

Released by: Walt Disney Records
Release date: 2005
Total running time: 70:44

Logan’s Run: The Series

Logan's Run: The Series soundtrackIt’s hard to follow Jerry Goldsmith. Take Star Trek: Voyager, for example – each week, Goldsmith’s sweeping theme would often be followed by something that, despite the valiant efforts of the composers who scored each episode (and due to the restraints imposed on them by the show’s producers), simply couldn’t be in the same league. When MGM decided to continue the story of Logan’s Run on the small screen in the late 1970s, the decision was made to “reboot” the story – to essentially retell the movie in a different context that would lead seamlessly into an ongoing series of adventures. The main roles were recast, and so too was the music; gone were the futuristic city setting and Jerry Goldsmith’s avant-garde electronics, replaced by something much more traditional and, perhaps, not a million miles away from Fantasy Island (a thought that I had before opening the liner notes booklet and seeing that composer Bruce Broughton, who scored other episodes represented on this CD, said the same thing). This CD from Film Score Monthly presents the highlights from the entire series, written by several different composers.

Laurence Rosenthal was tapped for the extended-length pilot, several early episodes, and the theme music that would open every subsequent episode. The difference between all of the music on this CD and the score to the movie that inspired the series is stark – where the movie score achieves a little bit of timelessness through unusual instrumentation and unconventional musical thinking, the TV scores are clearly rooted in the pre-Star Wars 1970s. To a greater or lesser extent, depending on who composed it, virtually every track references Rosenthal’s main theme, but instead of being used as an adaptable leitmotif, the theme is quoted almost in its entirety every time it appears.

The theme itself is a snapshot out of time, with a Yamaha organ providing an electronic “siren” effect that, to put it lightly, hasn’t exactly aged gracefully. (It almost sounds like someone had a hot game of Asteroids going during the recording session.) And that’s about as electronic as this iteration of Logan’s Run gets.

The episode score suites do occasionally bear a certain similarity to some of the movie’s action cues, however, particularly those by Rosenthal himself. Bruce Broughton contributes a couple of decent tracks from two of his episodes, two more tracks are from Jerrold Immel’s score, and another track features score music by Jeff Alexander. The rest of the music is by Rosenthal, including a brief selection of “commercial break bumpers” that heralded a commercial interruption.

Now, I’m not judging this music solely on its similarity or lack thereof to a movie score by Jerry Goldsmith; the TV series was aimed squarely at family viewing time, and as such it’s pitched as a whole different animal. But it’s hard not to have the comparison in the back of one’s mind – how much more different could two projects bearing the same name and underlying premise be? The music itself is pleasant enough, though occasionally the age of the source material shows where audio fidelity is concerned. But in the end, there’s a phrase in a paragraph in the booklet describing one of the tracks, explaining that the track is comprised of brief excerpts of a score that wouldn’t have stood up to extended CD listening. To a certain degree, that applies to this CD as a whole. It’s neat to have another vintage SF series musically unearthed and lavished with packaging that’s as informative as it is attractive (Film Score Monthly is the best in the business at that), but as a listening experience, it’s an exercise in how well some music dates…and how well some doesn’t.

rating: 4 out of 4I can really only recommend this one to fans of the show – a show which, I’ll admit, I barely remember myself. Though the liner notes booklet, whose extensive episode guide reveals that such luminaries as D.C. Fontana, David Gerrold, Shimon Wincelberg and even Harlan Ellison worked on the series, makes me hope that a DVD release is in the planning stages somewhere; maybe then I’ll have a better appreciation of this version of Logan’s Run, and its music.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (1:11)
  2. Pilot Suite, Part 1 (8:43)
  3. Pilot Suite, Part 2 (6:18)
  4. Pilot Suite, Part 3 (7:47)
  5. Bumpers (0:10)
  6. The Collectors (4:10)
  7. Capture (music by Jeff Alexander) (5:56)
  8. The Innocent (music by Jerrold Immel) (6:29)
  9. Man Out Of Time (9:06)
  10. Half Life (music by Jerrold Immel) (8:46)
  11. Fear Factor (music by Bruce Broughton) (11:39)
  12. Futurepast (6:40)
  13. Night Visitors (music by Bruce Broughton) (1:55)
  14. End Title (0:38)

Released by: Film Score Monthly
Release date: 2004
Total running time: 79:55

Laserblast – music by Richard Band & Joel Goldsmith

Laserblast soundtrackRegarded with fondness perhaps only by one core group of fans, the low-budget 1978 sci-fi-horror flick Laserblast offered the first “real gig” for two names who have become frequent flyers in the music credits of many a TV series and movie today: Richard Band and Joel (Stargate SG-1) Goldsmith. Both young, brimming with ideas, and enthusiastic about their first swipe at the big screen, Goldsmith and Band poured themselves into their work. The bad news is that the movie they were scoring is now generally remembered only as the cinematic victim of the final episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Comedy Central.

Trying to split the different between 70s funk/rock sensibilities and a more traditional underscore, the music from Laserblast might come across as a bit schizophrenic upon the first listen. But in the end, it could be that, aside from one of MST3K’s finest (two) hours, this movie’s greatest contribution was its music. Heard independently of the film itself, Laserblast’s score shows a lot of inventiveness on the part of its composers. Despite working with limited, pre-MIDI synthesizers (and trying to use them to approximate a larger ensemble), Band and Goldsmith, at least, aren’t going through the motions. (With the benefit of hindsight, one can imagine a scene where the two might look at each other with a “what the hell?” shrug and phone the rest of the music in, but that doesn’t seem to have happened.)

Even the source music and rock cues are intersting enough to merit a repeat listen. Be ready for a trip back to the 70s, though – these pieces ooze 70s.

This is the first CD I’ve bought from BuySoundtrax.com, yet another small boutique label catering to movie music fans, and I have to compliment them on this release; the booklet is well-researched and informative, the music itself is sharp and clear, and when it came to the limited autographed edition (100 of the 1,000 copies released were signed), a separate copy of the booklet was rating: 3 out of 4signed. If you frame your autographs, this means that you didn’t just lose your CD booklet to a frame on the wall. Overall, a nice package, and if you can overlook the movie’s dubious pedigree (and try not to hear the voice of Tom Servo singing “There’s a place in France…” over that one track), there’s some decent music in there too.

Order this CD

  1. Laserblast Main Title (1:55)
  2. Mom’s Leaving (0:21)
  3. Billy’s Radio #1 (2:06)
  4. Grandpa and Kathy (0:47)
  5. Billy’s Radio #2 (3:14)
  6. Deputy Chase (1:16)
  7. Chuck’s Radio #1 (2:21)
  8. Alien Blaster / Billy Finds Gun / First Laserblasting (1:46)
  9. Billy and Kathy (1:14)
  10. Aliens In Ship / Alien Boss On Screen (0:47)
  11. Tony Discovers Black Spot (1:02)
  12. Party Music (4:25)
  13. Love Theme After Fight (0:46)
  14. Billy In Mirror / Chuck Goes To Car (1:04)
  15. Chuck’s Car Gets Blasted (1:06)
  16. Tony Arrives At Police Station (0:34)
  17. Operation Montage / Dr. Mellon Examines Billy (1:07)
  18. Lab Montage (1:11)
  19. Billy At Gas Station (1:39)
  20. Billy and Kathy Make Love (0:45)
  21. More Laserblasting (0:59)
  22. Chuck’s Radio #2 (3:59)
  23. Billy Battles Plane (2:54)
  24. Billy Blows Town Up (5:22)
  25. Laserblast End Title (2:29)

Released by: BSX Records
Release date: 2005
Total running time: 46:14

Lexx: The Series – music by Marty Simon

Lexx soundtrackPicking up deftly where the first “season” left off (in more ways than one), Marty Simon’s selection of music from the second and third years of the series gives both something new, and more of the same.

On the “more of the same” front, there’s the fact that the various iterations of the theme music leaned entirely on elements from that first season. It’s interesting to hear two or three pieces of the first season’s music stuck into a blender, set on pureè, and compressed into a minute or so, but the elements are still distinctive and recognizable.

While there are comedy cues here (and, every soundtrack fan’s favorite thing in the world, dialogue from the show), this CD’s focus is on the more dramatic and introspective moments of the second and third seasons. This means some very distinctive and enjoyable material (“Prince To Lexx” and the eerie Lyekka theme, to name just two) as well as some music that, without its visual accompaniment, doesn’t make the most satisfying stand-alone listening experience. On the humorous side, we get “Wild Wild Lexx” and “All He Wants Is Sex”, though I was a bit less enamoured of Xev’s song from Lafftrak. Very, very conspicuous by its absence is anything from the musical episode Brigadoom, an omission that left me slack-jawed in surprise. One wonders if a whole CD devoted to that episode was perhaps planned and scrapped.

Also heard here are all of the opening title medleys from the second and third season (I say “all” because the title music changed in the second season after the change of lead actress).

It’ll all be a treat for devoted Lexx fans, though the stand-alone listening experience varies from track to track 3 out of 4(depending on how much you like songs with vocals in your soundtracks, or show dialogue dropped into the music, though it’s worth noting that the original Tales From A Parallel Universe soundtrack was also guilty of the latter). For those wanting to sample the music of Lexx without the dedicated fan’s knowledge of the show, however, I’d recommend that earlier release over this one.

Order this CD

  1. Opening Theme – Season 3 (1:02)
  2. 790 Quote (0:18)
  3. Prince To Lexx (2:20)
  4. All He Wants Is Sex (2:38)
  5. Angel Song (1:38)
  6. A Walk In The Desert (4:15)
  7. Seduction (0:58)
  8. Wild, Wild Lexx (3:42)
  9. Galley (2:41)
  10. Opening Theme – Season 2, Version 1 (1:03)
  11. Holograms (2:54)
  12. The Search (3:10)
  13. Xev’s Dream (4:13)
  14. Garden (6:33)
  15. Lexx Hungry (0:17)
  16. Into The Garden (1:36)
  17. Lyekka / Potato Hoe (4:58)
  18. Gondola Ride (4:47)
  19. Mantrid Medley (3:49)
  20. Prince Theme (2:01)
  21. Medieval Dance (1:38)
  22. Girl Awakes / Norb Launch (1:48)
  23. The Xev Show (0:32)
  24. Demented Chase (2:29)
  25. Yo-A-O / I’m Leaving (1:06)
  26. Zev Dies (2:23)
  27. Final Scene (1:42)
  28. Opening Theme – Season 2, Version 2 (1:27)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 77:58

Logan’s Run – music by Jerry Goldsmith

Logan's Run soundtrackJerry Goldsmith’s music for Logan’s Run may prove to be just about the only element of the movie that had stood the test of time while still winning almost unanimous praise. Granted, I’m quite the fan of the movie itself, but it’s hard to deny that Goldsmith may have done a better job of painting the film’s emotional curve than the director did.

There are essentially two components to the score: a three-note theme for the futuristic city dome, and a more expansive melody for Logan’s burgeoning romance with Jessica. While the love theme may be more pleasant on a pure listening level, I find that it’s that city theme which I focus on, on an intellectual and structural level. Goldsmith puts those three notes through so many different permutations that it’s fascinating – in rapid-fire succession, the three notes form the electronic sound that opens the movie, as well as the orchestral figure that eventually overshadows it. But it’s also at the heart of the Carousel music, the nursery music, everything. Both structurally and musically, it’s pure genius.

Once the movie reaches its halfway point, the electronics disappear as Logan and Jessica leave the city behind and venture into the outside world. The city theme still follows them, though, now accompanying pursuing Sandman (and Logan’s former friend) Francis in the form of a low menacing orchestral reading of the same theme. But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit – the characters’ first glimpse of the outside world is treated with one of the most beautiful pieces of music Jerry Goldsmith ever wrote. It’s that good.

The complete score is heard here, in chronological order, including cues that were shortened or left out altogether due to trims that had to be made to reduce the movie’s nudity to a level where it would get a PG rating and not an R. Also included is a pop instrumental version of the love theme, though I was around when this movie first came out, and I certainly don’t recall hearing that hitting the radio airwaves at the time.

That’s the CD – but the CD is only half the package. This is the first disc I’ve bought from Film Score Monthly Magazine’s ever-growing selection of limited-edition soundtrack CDs, and as impressed as I’ve always been with the magazine itself, the CDs may well be even better. The detailed liner notes that accompany the CD do a fantastic job of putting the film and its music in context, and then goes through the score track-by-track, cue-by-cue, offering detailed analysis of each piece of music and its place in the complete score. Thematic elements and development, rhythm and structure are all analyzed in depth, but not to a degree that the layman can’t follow along. I was almost hesitant to offer any analysis of the score in this review at all, for fear that I’d wind up parroting the liner notes, but if anything, those notes helped draw my attention to the nuances in Goldsmith’s work all the more. If this is indicative of Film Score Monthly’s other CD offerings (and, judging by the fact that releases of other soundtracks such as The Omega Man and The Towering Inferno have already sold out, I’d guess that it is), I’ll be visiting their store more often and I heartily encourage you to do 4 out of 4the same.

In short, the music from Logan’s Run is a treat, and the added bonus material is a nice, deep dish of tasty, tasty gravy that heightened my enjoyment of the music quite a bit. Highly recommended!

Order this CD

  1. The Dome / The City / Nursery (3:05)
  2. Flameout (3:23)
  3. Fatal Games (2:26)
  4. On The Circuit (3:49)
  5. The Assignment / Lost Years (5:59)
  6. She’ll Do It / Let Me Help (2:41)
  7. Crazy Ideas (2:38)
  8. A Little Muscle (2:22)
  9. Terminated In Cathedral (1:28)
  10. Intensive Care (3:00)
  11. Love Shop (3:43)
  12. They’re Watching / Doc Is Dead (2:45)
  13. The Key / Box (4:22)
  14. Ice Sculpture (3:35)
  15. The Sun (2:15)
  16. The Monument (8:12)
  17. The Truth (2:03)
  18. You’re Renewed (2:58)
  19. The Journey Back / The Beach (1:36)
  20. Return To The City / Apprehensions (2:30)
  21. The Interrogation (3:58)
  22. End Of The City (2:23)
  23. Love Theme from Logan’s Run (2:27)

Released by: Film Score Monthly
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 74:18

Tales From A Parallel Universe

Tales From A Parallel UniverseIn a weird way, Lexx shares a kind of musical heritage with Classic Star Trek – a “library” approach to its original musical score which involved certain pieces cropping up again and again in certain situations. And much like the original Star Trek, I’d begrudge that re-use more if it weren’t for the fact that the original pieces in question are so strong.

Tales From A Parallel Universe (the title of the US release; elsewhere, as with the series that spawned it, the CD is simply titled Lexx) consists of the four made-for-TV movies that comprised Lexx’s first “season”, and the universe-building pilot movie, I Worship His Shadow, is the source of the best music that the series ever had to offer. Bucking a lot of cinematic scoring sensibilities, composer Marty Simon throws everything into the stew for I Worship His Shadow: hard rock guitar licks, dance club synths, operatic vocals, silky saxophone and brooding orchestral menace. Sure, it’s probably all sampled or synthesized, but it’s done so well that pieces like “Prisoner Transport” and “Welcome To The Dark Zone” withstand repeated listening (not to mention repeated play throughout the series; the latter track is used as the end credit music for every episode from season two onward; in fact, the basic melodies of every theme song Lexx ever had can be found on this disc if you listen carefully). The synth-orchestral-choral mix and echoing guitar riffs give the series’ sound an epic but yet playful kick.

Keeping in mind that this music is from a series of movies, there’s no one consistent theme running through everything, but there is a consistent style – and in some ways, that lack of a traditional TV soundtrack structure is used to tremendous effect here music is juxtaposed with the occasional soundbyte from the 4 out of 4movies (but nothing excessive, certainly nothing on the level of the between-every-song banter from the Apollo 13 soundtrack, for example).

It’s sad that this one has gone out of print and has become a creature of the used music market. It really is very good.

Order this CD

  1. Cluster Anthem (0:37)
  2. Prisoner Transport (2:06)
  3. Snake Chase (3:35)
  4. Welcome To The Dark Zone (0:56)
  5. Battle Of The Universe (1:07)
  6. Planet Cruise (2:46)
  7. Poet Man (3:52)
  8. Cryochamber (4:01)
  9. Love Muscle (1:50)
  10. Gigashadow March (2:57)
  11. Yo-A-O (Fight Song of the Brunnen-G) (0:50)
  12. The Lexx Escape (2:31)
  13. Zev’s Shower (3:15)
  14. Cleric Theme (2:31)
  15. Kai Collapse (5:16)
  16. Shadows And Prophets (8:57)
  17. Feppo’s Party (3:18)
  18. Milk Fed Boys (0:54)
  19. Brunnis (2:21)
  20. Fantasy Dance (2:17)
  21. Moth Ride (2:26)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: 1997
Total running time: 58:20