Doctor Who: The Rapture – music by Jim Mortimore

Doctor Who: The RaptureIn 2002, Big Finish Productions released The Rapture, a Doctor Who audio play which had the distinction of being the first professionally-published work by one Joe Lidster (who went on to do more for Big Finish before being snatched up by the BBC itself), and of being one of the most controversial things the company had produced up to that point. Plucking the seventh Doctor and Ace out of tea time TV and dropping them into a storyline at an all-week rave complete with sex and drugs was too much for some fans’ tender sensibilities. And The Rapture had some awesome music – real club music, not some soundtrack-composer-for-hire’s second-hand impression of real EDM. Composer Jim Mortimore, in addition to having written Doctor Who novels and audio stories in the past, had also enjoyed a second career, playing live music at raves through much of the 1990s. To say that The Rapture‘s music is merely authentic is probably underselling it. It’s the real deal.

In 2012, via Bandcamp, Mortimore released three CDs’ worth of music from an audio story (whose narrative running time was only enough to take up two CDs). Drawing from his ’90s recordings as well as concocting an entire CD worth of new music, and bringing collaborators Jane Elphinstone and Simon Robinson on board, Mortimore presented Big Finish with a series of pieces that would be excerpted as needed for The Rapture, with some music heard only briefly in the background mix at the story’s titular nightclub and with other pieces – the specially composed ones – more prominently placed in the foreground. A few Rapture tracks had previously been presented on a Big Finish soundtrack CD in the past, but were savagely edited down to two and three minute running lengths: most of the tracks in their original form run close to eight minutes long, and are better for it, with the melodies developing a bit more naturally. Tracks such as “Over Me” show much deeper layers and arrangements than the edited-down versions hinted at.

The “A Side” covers all of the music composed expressly for The Rapture, while the “B Side” tracks are the full-length tracks Mortimore presented from his ’90s work for inclusion in the background of several scenes. (Again, the average length is about eight minutes; most of the excerpts of these pieces in the finished audio play could be measured in seconds or maybe as many as a couple of minutes.) The “E Side” consists of downtempo tracks, one of them quite lengthy; whether the “E” is for “epic”, “ecstasy”, or “etheral” is up for you to decide.

4 out of 4Many times over the years I’ve dragged out that Big Finish soundtrack and its woefully truncated soundtrack for The Rapture because it’s ridiculously good music by which to write. Color me “E” for “elated” that the full tracks – and more of them – are now available. And gloriously, “Doctored Who” gives us the full-length rave remix of Delia Derbyshire’s Doctor Who theme. Whether or not the story of The Rapture is worth the listening time is something that’s still hotly debated in Doctor Who fan circles, but its soundtrack is undoubtedly worth the listening time for audiences far beyond Doctor Who fandom.

Order

    “Side A”

  1. Over Me (7:02)
  2. On The Beach (6:01)
  3. Rebirth (7:46)
  4. Brook Of Eden (8:07)
  5. Freestyle (6:34)
  6. Sorted (6:31)
  7. Jude’s Law (9:09)
  8. Pink Pulloff (4:52)
  9. Music Of The Spheres (6:10)
  10. Gloves Off (3:40)
  11. Doctored Who (2:10)
  12. “Side B”

  13. Kanhra (8:18)
  14. Udu (8:08)
  15. Uracas (8:16)
  16. Xanthulu (7:17)
  17. Mahser Dagi (8:07)
  18. “Side E”

  19. Sven’s Wrath (3:39)
  20. Radio Beach (5:32)
  21. Ice Floes At Twilight (35:20)
  22. Phases Of The Moon (3:58)

Released by: Jim Mortimore via BandCamp
Release date: October 28, 2012
Total running time: 2:36:37

Welcome Home, Hayabusa

Welcome Home, HayabusaHayabusa was a Japanese space probe that landed on and sampled asteroid Itokawa in 2011. This would be a stunning space feat for any country’s space agency, but Japan happened to get there first, and the surge of national pride for this technological accomplishment has spawned no fewer than three movies, ranging from documentaries to – in the case of Okaeri Hayabusa (Welcome Home, Hayabusa) – a fictionalized family drama with the mission as backdrop and framing story.

And who better to score a movie whose drama takes place around the launch and flight of one of Japan’s crowning space achievements? None other than the late, great Japanese synth pioneer Isao Tomita. Whether you realize it or not, Tomita’s connection with space exploration is lengthy – and almost purely coincidental. Tomita’s late ’70s synth reworking of Debussy’s “Arabesque No. 1” was appropriated by the Miami Planetarium to top and tail each installment of the planetarium’s long-running PBS series Star Hustler (later Star Gazer, after the realities of the search engine age caught up with the show and began directing young viewers toward a certain adult periodical with “hustler” in the title). Tomita’s music was synonymous with astronomer Jack Horkheimer’s exuberant weekly lessons on amateur astronomy from then on.

Tomita is an absolutely brilliant choice to score this film. Not only is his synthesizer work as crisp and inventive as ever, but he gives brilliant musical accompaniment to visualizations of data being transmitted to Earth from deep space, and uses appropriately icy synths to illustrate the bleak emptiness of space traversed by Hayabusa. There have been many musical odes to major space missions, and by fairly high 4 out of 4profile composers (Vangelis springs to mind), but Tomita’s translation of event to music makes this among the best. This soundtrack also steps outside the usual all-synth comfort zone with which Tomita is associated, allowing the composer to bring his classical training into play with real trumpet solos, woodwinds and strings augmenting his normally “icy” synthesizers with a warmer human touch.

The real tragedy is that Japan has launched Hayabusa 2 to dare even mightier things, and Tomita is no longer around to give that mission its own soundtrack.

Order this CD

  1. Challenge To The Universe (5:03)
  2. Engineer Crush (1:20)
  3. Dreaming Of The Flyby (1:21)
  4. Toward The Asteroid (3:30)
  5. Touchdown On Itokawa! (2:43)
  6. Recollection Of Naoko (1:34)
  7. The Fight Against Sickness (3:23)
  8. 1-Bit Communication / Connecting The Hope (3:19)
  9. Mother’s Joy / Surgery Success (1:49)
  10. Cross Operation? (1:52)
  11. Finally To Return (1:36)
  12. Tristan & Isolde / From Beyond The Galaxy (8:15)
  13. Hayabusa / Tristan & Isolde To The Future (5:47)

Released by: Shochiku Records
Release date: 2-29-2012
Total running time: 41:32

Ben Folds Five – The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind

Ben Folds Five - The Sound Of The Life Of The MindBack when Ben Folds embarked on his solo career, I distinctly remember listening to some of the songs and thinking that the difference in style wasn’t enough to justify dissolving the band; The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner was already a significant departure from the strictly-piano-and-drums-and-fuzz-bass sound that Ben Folds Five started out with, so where was the dividing line where this album was still Ben Folds Five, but the next album’s material was no longer suitable? (As it turned out, the dividing line was actually the distance from South Carolina to Australia – Folds moved down under to get married.)

With Folds now back in the United States, it was only a matter of time before the most obvious idea in the world, namely getting the band back together, occurred to Folds instead of just to the fans. And while Sony would probably have been more than happy for the group to get back into the studio, Folds opted to crowd-fund the recording sessions, with incentives such as downloads for those who helped foot the bill for the band’s reunion. The result is The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind, an album that’s better than I had dared hope. The opening track, “Erase Me”, is enough to make you think that Ben Folds Five was never away.

Once past the lead track, however, we finally get the promise of a post-Reinhold Messner Ben Folds Five, and it confirms my feeling, from the early 21st century, that there was no need to break up the band in the first place. Songs like “Sky High”and “Michael Praytor, Five Years Later” split the difference between Folds’ more orchestrated solo work and the Ben Folds Five sound, though the balance tips toward one extreme or the other elsewhere: “On Being Frank” is a lush ballad about a hanger-on in Frank Sinatra’s entourage suddenly being cut loose, and sounds much more like Folds’ solo work. The opposite end of the scale, and the most Ben Folds Five-like tune on the album, is also the catchiest: “Draw A Crowd” has a punchy melody, though the lyrics of the chorus (“if you can’t draw a crowd, draw dicks on the wall”) will sadly cheat it out of any kind of radio airplay, which it richly deserves – the tune is just an insanely catchy earworm.

The lead single, instead, is “Do It Anyway”, a half-sung, half-spoken ode to reckless youthful abandon and poor decision-making. (Hell, I feel like I’m 25 years old again just listening to it.) The last three songs on the album are less frantic and more contemplative, as is often the case as Folds closes out an album (with or without the rest of his band).

The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind is a rare reunion album. It’s been over 15 years since I was introduced to Ben Folds Five, back when a friend dropped by my place to cheer me up while I was 4 out of 4recovering from a fairly rough surgery experience and played Whatever And Ever, Amen for me, and rather than sounding like a pale echo of its original sound, Ben Folds Five’s latest has the same irresistible appeal as the group did the first time I heard them, even though the group’s sound has evolved. Fans will probably latch onto it instantly, and after all this time off the map, Ben Folds Five might just find a few new fans too.

Order this CD

  1. Erase Me (5:15)
  2. Michael Praytor, Five Years Later (4:32)
  3. Sky High (4:42)
  4. The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind (4:13)
  5. On Being Frank (4:34)
  6. Draw A Crowd (4:14)
  7. Do It Anyway (4:23)
  8. Hold That Thought (4:14)
  9. Away When You Were Here (3:31)
  10. Thank You For Breaking My Heart (4:50)

Released by: Sony
Release date: September 18, 2012
Total running time: 44:28

Captain Power And The Soldiers Of The Future

Captain Power And The Soldiers Of The FutureRemembered these days primarily as a controversy magnet representing an ugly peak in the debate over children’s TV and toy tie-ins, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future was also an attempt on the part of its creators to craft a mature sci-fi saga for kids. Sadly, this goal was often elbowed out of the way by Mattel demanding lengthier sequences to trigger features of their quasi-interactive Captain Power toys, and despite actually achieving a lot of what they set out to do, the writers were justifiably disgruntled at the thought of serving two masters. (The story editor, J. Michael Straczynski, ditched Captain Power to take a similar position on the writing staff of an relaunch of the decidedly more adult Twilight Zone.). Captain Power’s meditations on duty, honor, freedom, rights, and war are seldom remembered as often as the series’ status as a half-hour toy commercial.

Also seldom remembered is that this show had a great soundtrack. Assembled by Gary Guttman from his master tapes, the Captain Power soundtrack CD is a testament to the series’ surprising grab for orchestral grandeur befitting its mature storytelling style. Once past the predictably bombastic series theme, the Captain Power soundtrack is ful of startlingly effective dramatic music, wearing its John Williams/Star Wars influence on its sleeve unashamedly. The contrast to the usual kids’ show fare is huge: some shows from this era seemed to repeat a small handful of synth-and-drum-machine loops and call it a day. That Guttman and the producers of Captain Power were willing to go further is impressive, and so is this soundtrack as a result.

The “Love Theme” is more sweeping and romantic than you’d expect from a half-hour live-action kids’ series about a dystopian, cyborg-ruled future, straddling the line between John Williams and James Horner at his best, while action pieces like “Big Battle”, “Soaron”, “Pursued” and “Air Battle”, while obviously performed by a smaller ensemble than the average Star Wars soundtrack, still pack a powerful punch thanks to skillful orchestration. Some of the quieter cues are the bigget revelations here (my personal favorite is the short, sweet, and mysterious “Eerie Mood 3”).

A great many of the album’s tracks are under a minute, which brings us to perhaps the most amazing thing about the Captain Power soundtrack: Guttman composed and recorded all of the music without any footage in hand, essentially creating a library of shorter cues that could be strung together by the series’ music editor as needed. The number of tracks exceeding two minutes in length can be counted on one hand. But it’s a testament to the composer’s work (and, admittedly, the music editor’s work) that the material was composed with the actual footage sight unseen, and yet seems to fit it perfectly.

3 out of 4And all this for an underbudgeted half-hour show about a war against cyborg oppression (and, yes, about a line of toys too). This soundtrack is an impeccable reminder of an era when orchestral scoring for TV, esven kids’ TV, wasn’t the rarity that it is now.

  1. Captain Power Opening (1:32)
  2. Get Ready (1:45)
  3. Love Theme (1:53)
  4. Order this CDBig Battle (2:12)
  5. Sad Heroic Vamp (0:32)
  6. Pursued (1:37)
  7. Jumpship 1 (0:19)
  8. Air Battle (1:41)
  9. Sad Heroic (1:45)
  10. Bursting Through (1:17)
  11. Abandoned Streets (1:14)
  12. Stinger (0:22)
  13. Quiet Buildup (2:25)
  14. Soaron (0:30)
  15. Pursued Vamp (0:41)
  16. Eerie Mood 2 (0:25)
  17. Action Filler 1 (0:14)
  18. Captain Power Beware (0:21)
  19. Land Battle (1:23)
  20. Volcania (0:17)
  21. Sneaking Around (1:24)
  22. Eden 2 (0:47)
  23. Captain Power Vamp (0:32)
  24. Beware Of Dread (0:23)
  25. Power On – Alternate (0:19)
  26. Light Moment (0:31)
  27. Eerie Mood 3 (0:26)
  28. Captain Power To The Rescue (0:53)
  29. Action Filler 2 (0:34)
  30. Quiet Buildup Alternate (0:35)
  31. Action Filler 3 (0:13)
  32. Triumphant Battle (2:02)
  33. End Of Act (0:16)
  34. Captain Power End Title (1:04)
  35. Castle Volcania 2 (0:44)
  36. Seconds Ticking (1:11)
  37. Serious – Somber (2:16)
  38. Flame Street (0:58)
  39. Dark Mist (1:53)
  40. Captain Power Opening: 2012 Version (1:26)

Released by: Goddard Film Group
Release date: September 25, 2012
Total running time: 40:52

Producers – Made In Basing Street

Made In Basing StreetThey may not be the Traveling Wilburys, but this group – consisting of veteran producers and session musicians developing a few jams into full-blown songs – may have turned out the best album of 2012 while no one was watching.

With Lol Creme (10cc) and Trevor Horn (Yes, Art of Noise, The Buggles) as full-time members, it’s a given that this group’s original numbers come from guys who know how to write a song or two. What’s surprising is just how cohesive the whole thing is – Made In Basing Street bolts from one strong, memorable number to another without pausing for breath, or, as the old saying goes, “all killer, no filler.” None of the songs sound like they were album tracks farted out to fill space.

And it’s hard to even pick a favorite. “You And I” recalls the early ’80s, when synths were a novel (and perhaps occasionally overused) new addition to the instrumental palette, while such songs as “Waiting For The Right Time”, “Watching You Out There” and “Every Single Night In Jamaica” recall all that was good about ’70s rock anthems. Stripped-down numbers like “Stay Elaine” and “Barking Up The Right Tree” are no less memorable. Needless to say, each song is impeccably arranged and crafted, since the group’s members have built their entire careers on pairing the right song with the right production.

4 out of 4With all of the members’ careers still chugging along nicely, I’m under no illusion that we’ll be getting a follow-up to Made In Basing Street anytime soon, and in any case, these classic rock Justice Leagues are often formed and dissolved at the whim of their members. But I sincerely hope there will be a follow-up at some point, simply because the debut album was so good. Half a year later, I’m still playing this one a lot.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Freeway (5:14)
  2. Waiting For The Right Time (4:15)
  3. Your Life (6:26)
  4. Man On The Moon (4:02)
  5. Every Single Night In Jamaica (5:16)
  6. Stay Elaine (3:44)
  7. Barking Up The Right Tree (3:21)
  8. Garden of Flowers (4:14)
  9. Watching You Out There (5:35)
  10. You & I (5:47)
    Disc Two (Deluxe Edition only)

  1. Your Life (extended) (7:40)
  2. Garden Of Flowers (alternative) (5:53)
  3. Seven (3:50)
  4. There’s Only So Much You Can Do (3:29)
  5. Freeway (extended) (12:06)

Released by: The LAST Label
Release date: June 25, 2012
Total running time: 48:32 (single disc) / 33:13 (deluxe edition bonus disc)

Read More

Battlestar Galactica: Volume 3 – music by Stu Phillips

Battlestar Galactica: Volume 3The third volume of music from the 1970s iteration of Battlestar Galactica proves that, even well into its run, despite budget overruns, the series’ music was still a big priority, even if it occasionally took on forms that were stripped-down compared to the full-blooded orchestral score of the pilot miniseries.

This volume deals exclusively with one-off, self-contained episodes (with one great big surprise as the final selection). The Long Patrol, one of the earliest single-part stories in the series, starts out with what modern ears would probably hear as novelty synthesizer effects, but the bulk of this episode’s score is still orchestral, though leaning on a smaller ensemble than the pilot (heard in full in the first volume of the series) and the early two-part extravaganzas (covered in the second volume). The most distinctive feature of The Long Patrol is a recurring, insistent cello riff, heightening the jeopardy of the storyline.

The Lost Warrior was an episode that riffed on just about every western/cowboy movie trope in the space of a single hour; the soundtrack takes that to heart too, giving us a Battlestar Galactica episode scored with prominent guitar work. Even though it reuses some of the action music established as far back as the pilot, those themes are now played on guitar, and aside from the occasional orchestral flourishes (and some interesting experiments in blending woodwinds with similarly-timbred synths), it would almost fit an episode of Gunsmoke.

The Magnificent Warriors, loaded with low brass and busy, clockwork-like percussion, almost anticipates Michael Giacchino’s Lost soundtracks, and features the longest track of the entire two-disc set, “The Boray Camp / Into The Cave,” weighing in at over four minutes. The Young Lords is the most reminiscent of the music on the previous Galactica releases, again reusing themes from the pilot, but in a similar (if scaled back) orchestral vein. The first disc is rounded out with source music selections from The Lost Warrior (an amusingly corny synth version of Scott Joplin’s “The Easy Winners” that jars completely against the episode’s more authentic western guitars) and The Magnificent Warriors.

The second disc opens with Murder On The Rising Star, essentially a single-episode homage to The Fugitive with Starbuck as the wrongly-accused subject of a Kafka-esque manhunt. This might just be the most interesting score of the entire set, with a more subdued musical style than most Galactica episodes. It also has, in terms of sheer running time, more music than most episodes, so its themes get a chance to develop nicely. A single track from the hostage-drama episode Take The Celestra!, a march-like take on the Galactica theme, offers an interesting contrast to a similar treatment of Phillips’ theme music that appeared in the pilot miniseries of the revived Galactica in 2003.

The Hand Of God, the classic series’ first series finale, had a real sense of “building up to something” (clearly, the makers of Galactica weren’t expecting to be told to scale the series back to something that could be shot inexpensively at unaltered modern-day locations), and the music comes very close to upping its game almost to the level of the pilot. Like Murder On The Rising Star, The Hand Of God has a lot of music, giving themes time to develop. Many themes are reused from the pilot, but turn up in interesting variations. Phillips clearly doesn’t have the same size orchestra that he had for the pilot, but his arrangements make the best use of the players on hand; the most memorable cue is the mysterious ending scene in which a stray television signal from Earth plays out to an empty observation room, completely unknown to our heroes: a replay of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Naturally, despite the build-up to that fascinating conclusion, the show’s second season was lumbered with major creative interference from ABC, threatening not to renew unless its wishes to curb Galactica’s enormous budget were met. The result, retitled Galactica 1980, tends to be ignored by most of fandom, with the possible exception of its final episode, the Glen A. Larson-written farewell The Return Of Starbuck, which throws the ABC-mandated recasting of the show out the door by bringing Dirk Benedict back as Starbuck (and yet explaining it within the context of the show’s largely new cast). The score from that episode is heard here for the first time, a real surprise that almost sounds more like Phillips’ work for Glen Larson’s other TV sci-fi epic of the time, Buck Rogers In The 25th Century. In retrospect, with its unusual use of female vocals, The Return Of Starbuck – by putting Starbuck in an Adam-and-Eve scenario with much hardship ahead of him – can also be seen as a precursor to the finale of the 21st century Galactica. Who knew?

Stu Phillips, whether he was conducting a full orchestra or having to make do with a smaller ensemble or just a synthesizer, provided much of Galactica’s epic heart and soul, even at points in the show’s brief life where it was struggling to not overspend anymore. Hopefully more of his music is forthcoming (two-parters The 4 out of 4Living Legend and War Of The Gods, both already published with lower audio fidelity on the impossibly rare late ’90s Battlestar Galactica Anthology 4-CD set by the defunct Supertracks label, are conspicuous by their absence thus far). Each of the soundtrack releases from the classic series have proven to be surprisingly good music.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Exploration / Main Title (1:45)
  2. Episode Titles (0:45)

    The Long Patrol

  3. Double Parked (2:03)
  4. Stolen Viper (1:22)
  5. Viper Stolen (1:51)
  6. Starbuck In Prison (0:44)
  7. Cassiopeia And Athena (1:05)
  8. Deserted Town (0:52)
  9. The Limping Man (1:21)
  10. Grandpa Adama (1:39)
  11. The Map (1:00)

    The Lost Warrior

  12. Apollo “A” OK (0:55)
  13. The Boxey Con (1:05)
  14. Same Old Story (1:28)
  15. The Hunt (1:23)
  16. Time Running Out (2:16)
  17. Bootes To Boot Hill (1:42)
  18. Doubt (0:45)
  19. Shoot Out (2:31)
  20. No More Killing (1:16)

    The Magnificent Warriors

  21. The Courting (1:35)
  22. Here Come The Borays (2:13)
  23. Trapped Again (0:59)
  24. Time To Eat / Belloby Kidnapped (2:32)
  25. The Boray Camp / Into The Cave (4:38)
  26. Starbuck’s Plan (1:11)

    The Young Lords

  27. Into The Swamp (2:43)
  28. Attack By The Children (0:56)
  29. Fanfare And Theme (0:49)
  30. Launch The Raft (1:59)
  31. The Attack Rhyme (2:01)
  32. Starbuck And Miri / Well Done (2:13)
  33. Warriors (0:45)
  34. End Titles (0:30)

    Source Music

  35. Source: Saloon (3:15)
  36. Source: A Smoking Band (0:42)
  37. Source: Three Sided Pyramid (1:25)
  38. Source: Starbuck’s Luck (2:01)
  39. Source: Hospitality Muzak (2:10)
    Disc Two

  1. Exploration / Main Title (1:49)
  2. Episode Titles (0:46)

    Murder On The Rising Star

  3. No Fighting (1:17)
  4. Sudden Draw / The Victim / Cassiopeia Waits / Grim Starbuck (1:19)
  5. Laser Test / A Match (1:55)
  6. Starbuck Gets Help / Not Guilty (2:58)
  7. Escape (0:45)
  8. Starbuck’s Mistake / Change of Heart (0:49)
  9. Questioning Baltar (0:59)
  10. Night Of The Cylons / Cella Reacts (1:46)
  11. Apollo’s Plan / Stowaway (1:56)
  12. Baltar – The Skeptic (0:51)
  13. Cassiopeia – The Witness / The Villain (1:18)
  14. Karibdis Overcome (1:36)
  15. Friends (0:34)

    Take the Celestra!

  16. Ceremonial Fanfares (1:42)

    The Hand of God

  17. The Dome (1:05)
  18. Strange Signal (1:37)
  19. Boomer Embarassed (0:28)
  20. From The Past (0:44)
  21. Cylon Base Ship Rising (1:29)
  22. Tired of Running (1:43)
  23. A Great Plan / An Agreement (1:29)
  24. Some Deal / A Share of Loneliness / More Casi And Starbuck (2:40)
  25. Good Luck (1:04)
  26. They’re Gone (1:02)
  27. Strays (0:39)
  28. Man Your Vipers (1:11)
  29. In The Lair Of The Cylons (2:45)
  30. Here They Come (1:28)
  31. There She Is (1:13)
  32. We Did It! (0:53)
  33. Waggle (1:21)
  34. The Dome II / The Eagle Has Landed (1:29)

    The Return of Starbuck

  35. Main Title – Galactica: 1980 (1:19)
  36. I Had a Dream (1:13)
  37. Starbuck And Boomer (1:19)
  38. Starbuck Lives (0:46)
  39. Trek / Perhaps To Sleep (2:53)
  40. Shelter / I’m Sorry (1:12)
  41. In Search Of Woman (1:37)
  42. Taking Care Of Angela / Starbuck’s Planet (1:40)
  43. Spiritual Son (1:02)
  44. Ship Building (2:06)
  45. Three Humans (1:46)
  46. Cy Leaves (1:11)
  47. Goodbye Angela (0:52)
  48. Friend Cy (0:50)
  49. Sermon on the Mount / Zee, Son of Angela (1:26)
  50. End Titles (0:36)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2012
Disc one total running time: 62:47
Disc two total running time: 68:02

Moon 44 – music by Joel Goldsmith

Moon 44Moon 44, a late ’80s movie starring Michael Pare and Malcolm McDowell (among others), flew under many science fiction fans’ radar (I have to be honest, I only remember it in terms of some “coming attractions” preview articles in Starlog Magazine), and quickly became one of those movies that people had only ever seen on videotape. The soundtrack was released in 1990 alongside the movie by Silva Screen Records, and after years out of print has recently been re-released by Buysoundtrax (BSX) Records.

Moon 44 was not the first movie scored by rising music star Joel Goldsmith (that was the execrable 1977 B-movie – and MST3K fodder – Laserblast), but it was the first time he got to entrust his compositions to a full orchestra rather than leaning on synthesizers. In essence, this was the first time that the junior Goldsmith presented us with the sound that his fans would come to know and love in such future projects as Star Trek: First Contact, Stargate SG-1, Witchblade, Stargate Atlantis, and so on.

And it does sound oddly familiar – in a few places, the soundtrack from Moon 44 resembles Jerry Goldsmith’s music from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. You can hear the style and even a few melodic licks that Joel Goldsmith would lean on frequently for his work in the Stargate TV franchise in abundance here. It’s all played proficiently by the Graunke Symphony Orchestra, with Christopher Stone conducting (Stone composed the score for nearly every Phantasm sequel, as well as, more obscurely, early laserdisc arcade games such as Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace). If there’s a weak track, it’s the source cue “Shut Out” – a vocal track that sounds a bit more 1985 than 1990.

Ironically, though Goldsmith didn’t wind up working for Moon 44 director Roland Emmerich again, both moved on to bigger and better things: Emmerich and Dean Devlin (who had a small part as an actor in Moon 44) went on to co-write Independence Day and Stargate, among others; Goldsmith scored most of the television spinoff universe spawned by Stargate.

It seems a little unlikely that we’ll be hearing more music from the Stargate universe – Joel Goldsmith’s untimely death in May 2012 cut short many long-touted projects, including a possible release of his music from Stargate Universe – but in lieu of those much-talked about collections which have now entered the realm of vaporware, 4 out of 4Moon 44 is comfortingly familiar. (Goldsmith signed off on this soundtrack’s re-release before his death, and the already-announced release date had the misfortune to follow closely on the heels of his passing.)

As a sampler of the style he would employ in many future projects, Moon 44 is a fitting memorial for Joel Goldsmith – and, on its own, it’s a good listen, too.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title / Felix The Cop (3:04)
  2. First Training Flight (5:14)
  3. So Long Felix (4:06)
  4. Navigator’s Hang Up (1:25)
  5. Armed And Dangerous No. 1 (3:29)
  6. Drones, Drones, Drones (But Not A Drop To Drink)
  7. (2:52)

  8. Sykes Gets Caught (2:10)
  9. Armed And Dangerous No. 2 (4:27)
  10. So You Like It Fast (Hard And Rough)
  11. (1:47)

  12. Jake To The Rescue / Joel’s Outlandish Adventure (2:24)
  13. Lee Bombs Out (3:00)
  14. Welcome To Moon 44 (0:49)
  15. Taxi Driver (“You Talkin’ To Me?”) (2:49)
  16. The Cookie Crumbles / Bumpy Taxi Ride / The End Of Moon 44 (6:04)
  17. Aftermath (1:13)
  18. Heading For Earth (0:59)
  19. Terry On The Moon / Finale (1:12)
  20. Shut Out (vocals: Heather Forsyth) (1:33)

Released by: Silva Screen (original edition) / BSX Records (2012 reissue)
Release date: 1990 (original Silva Screen edition) / 2012 (BSX Records)
Total running time: 49:21