Jodorowsky’s Dune – music by Kurt Stenzel

Jodorowsky's DuneA unique documentary about a movie that almost, but didn’t, get made, the musical treatment for Jodorowsky’s Dune is a novel one: score the documentary with the music that the unmade movie should’ve gotten. Chronicling, as it does, an abortive attempt to bring Frank Herbert’s genre-redefining novel to the big screen in the 1970s, Jodorowsky’s Dune is graced with a fittingly ’70s-style score awash with analog synths (or very good approximations of them).

Think of early Tangerine Dream (composer Kurt Stenzel’s auditory reference point), or the all-synth, almost-abstract score of Enter The Dragon, or the music of Jon Pertwee-era Doctor Who: that sound in your head is the sound of the Arrakis that was never meant to be. It’s the sound of a Dune that would’ve starred the likes of Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and Mick Jagger, rather than Kyle MacLachlan and Sting. The music is authentically trippy – as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s vision for Herbert’s epic likely would’ve been – and anyone born in the ’70s or steeped in ’70s genre cinema will likely find the wobbly analog synth sounds are a comforting old friend.

On a few tracks, there is dialogue from the documentary itself, and depending on my mood I can come down on either the “no, just let me hear the music, please” or the “oh, that’s kinda neat and it helps set the tone” side of the fence. It’s only on a few tracks. Stenzel sequences the album as a four-sided double LP, staying true to the medium that would’ve been available to a soundtrack album from the unmade movie. Tracks blend together as ethereal suites and reach an end point whereupon, in some alternate universe where Jodorowsky beat David Lynch to the punch, someone presumably turns the record over.

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s mid-1970s attempt to change how sci-fi reached the big screen never happened, and Dune languished in Hollywood turnaround hell while a little movie about the last of the Jedi Knights became the film that changed the entire playbook in 1977. That movie, of course, redirected movie music back onto a 4 out of 4European-inspired orchestral course, almost exactly 180 degrees away from the music Stenzel imagines here (and 180 degrees away from Jodorowsky’s pie-in-the-sky dream of having post-Syd-Barrett-era Pink Floyd score his vision of Dune). But Kurt Stenzel’s realization of the course on which movie sci-fi soundtracks could have continued is an incredible, atmospheric listen.

Order this CD

  1. Coming of a God (5:27)
  2. Greatest Movie Never Made (1:01)
  3. Parallel World (1:41)
  4. Parallel World (outro) (1:03)
  5. Leap of Faith (0:43)
  6. Time and Space (2:04)
  7. Optical World (2:55)
  8. Nebula (1:25)
  9. Invitation (1:02)
  10. Point of View (2:36)
  11. Moebius (4:48)
  12. Arrakis (1:58)
  13. Millions of Stars (0:21)
  14. Into the Galaxy (1:26)
  15. O’Bannon Meets Jodo (1:18)
  16. Finding the Others (0:57)
  17. Spiritual Warriors (1:36)
  18. Conception of Paul (2:01)
  19. Ships With Souls (1:51)
  20. The Pirate Spaceship (5:23)
  21. Rescue From a Sandworm (2:36)
  22. Mad Emperor (0:23)
  23. Burning Giraffes (1:42)
  24. Baron Harkonnen (0:33)
  25. Giger’s Theme (1:06)
  26. Deepest Darkness of the Soul (1:15)
  27. Feyd Rautha (4:17)
  28. Total Extermination (2:16)
  29. I Am Dune (6:00)
  30. Hollywood (2:22)
  31. Fingerprints (4:16)
  32. Open the Mind (3:38)
  33. Try (2:30)

Released by: Cinewax
Release date: November 13, 2015
Total running time: 75:31

The Woman Astronaut – music by Penka Kouvena

The Woman AstronautFrom the mind of big-league orchestrator/arranger Penka Kouvena, whose work can be heard in the Gears Of War game series and the soundtracks of such movies as Ender’s Game, Angels And Demons, and Elysium, The Woman Astronaut is a very modern soundtrack without a movie. With no visuals to adhere to and no game whose moods must be matched, it’s pure musical expression, and rather autobiographical at that (her liner notes state that this is really her story: there are fewer female composers actively working in Hollywood than there have been female astronauts in orbit).

By weaving her music around the framework of the ambitions, struggles and triumphs of a fictional female astronaut, there’s a “space” sound that makes this fitting accompaniment to that journey. And it’s awesome, widescreen stuff – there are some big-name soloists and a full orchestra, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign backed by fans, Twitter followers, and even fellow composers, among them Lolita Ritmanis (Batman: The 4 out of 4Animated Series). Any movie would do well to have such a soundtrack, and something tells me we’ll be seeing Kounevic credited as a composer, not just an orchestrator, in the future. So here’s an idea: let’s find a project worthy of Penka Kouvena’s talents and her message. Is that Honor Harrington movie adaptation still a go? Because here’s a completed soundtrack practically waiting for the movie to happen.

Order this CD

  1. Earth (4:51)
  2. Starry Way (3:$8)
  3. The Forest (2:45)
  4. Land Of Burning Fields (2:10)
  5. Looking Up (2:36)
  6. Training (3:53)
  7. Broken (1:57)
  8. Taking Flight (5:12)
  9. Alarm And Rescue (2:18)
  10. In Space (4:06)
  11. Insomnia (3:43)
  12. Siren (3:20)
  13. Goodbyes In Zero Gravity (3:12)
  14. Solar Flare (4:17)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: July 10, 2015
Total running time: 48:08

Judge Dredd (newly expanded edition) – music by Alan Silvestri

Judge DreddIn my mind, Judge Dredd was one of a glut of ’90s genre films that abandoned optimism for the future in favor of a future as a dystopia filled with antiheroes (though to be sure, both subgenres had always existed). As a not-entirely-faithful Hollywoodization of the star character of Alan Moore’s 2000 A.D. comics from the U.K., Judge Dredd wasn’t exactly a perfect adaptation of its source material, but it was enjoyable in its own right.

The original release of the soundtrack alongside the movie’s 1995 release date was mostly devoted to songs used in the movie, with a scant few selections from Alan Silvestri’s score. Intrada’s remastered 2-CD set presents the full score to the movie, including unused alternate cuts and, after a couple of decades of fans begging for it, Jerry Goldsmith’s trailer music, which may be better remembered than Alan Silvestri’s score. In short, this expansion of the original release should make everyone happy.

While the movie uneasily mixed the comics’ gloomy violence with the bright-and-flashy millieu of still-trying-to-ape-Star-Wars Hollywood sci-fi of the late ’80s, Alan Silvestri’s music 4 out of 4is bright, brassy, and not apologizing one bit for being in your face. It’s heroic music for a character who can, in his original source material, barely be considered a hero. Hewing slightly closer to the tone of the source material is Jerry Goldsmith’s custom-scored trailer music, the original recording of which has never seen the light of day until this release.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Main Title Revised (4:59)
  2. Block War Revised (5:01)
  3. I’ve Heard It All Revised (2:24)
  4. Aspen Revised (3:28)
  5. It Ends (0:42)
  6. The Law (1:46)
  7. Pawn Shop (1:45)
  8. Parking Penalty (0:55)
  9. Dredd’s Arrest (1:33)
  10. Say It Ain’t So (2:24)
  11. Judgement Day (4:26)
  12. Hidden Photo (0:40)
  13. Shuttle Crash (1:38)
  14. Access Denied (1:06)
  15. Angel Family Values (6:02)
  16. We Created You (3:48)
  17. New Order Montage (1:14)
  18. Hershey’s Close Call (0:17)
  19. Janus! (0:57)
  20. Council Chaos Revised (7:31)
  21. Hershey’s Apartment (1:15)
  22. Twice You Owe Me (1:18)
  23. Griffin Gets It (1:00)
  24. Send In the Clones (1:18)
  25. New World Revised (7:50)
  26. Judge Dredd: Trailer – music by Jerry Goldsmith (0:51)
    Disc Two

  1. Main Title (4:56)
  2. Block War (3:06)
  3. I’ve Heard It All (0:37)
  4. Dredd and Fargo (0:35)
  5. You’re a Legend (0:25)
  6. Aspen (2:29)
  7. Aspen – Alternate (2:29)
  8. I Judged Him (0:58)
  9. Hershey Objects (0:24)
  10. Bon Appetite (1:45)
  11. Brief Reunion (1:33)
  12. Council Chaos (5:47)
  13. Choose (5:18)
  14. Choose Alternate (4:44)
  15. Choose Revised (5:17)
  16. New World (2:27)
  17. New World Alternate (2:29)
  18. Judgement Day – Original 1995 Soundtrack Assembly (5:54)
  19. Block War – Original 1995 Soundtrack Assembly (4:42)
  20. Angel Family – Original 1995 Soundtrack Assembly (5:40)
  21. New World – Original 1995 Soundtrack Assembly (9:16)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: May 12, 2015
Disc one total running time: 68:09
Disc two total running time: 70:51

Journey To Space – music by Cody Westheimer

Journey To SpaceEven as NASA continues planning its much-advertised journey to Mars, the space agency faces a problem that it didn’t have to contend with in the 1960s: selling that vision to a public wondering why we should bother. The push to reach the moon can be credited, in no small part, to the call to action of a charismatic, fallen president. The scientific and technological benefits of Apollo were almost an afterthought; the real mission to the moon was one of projecting America’s technological power (and, by extension, putting the Soviet Union on notice that this technological might could be used against them if they lashed out).

These days, presidents mention that it’d be nice to go to Mars, but we also have so many other priorities, so the funding for the stuff that might get us to Mars in the next 20 years could be cut out from under NASA at any time. Ironically, NASA is now the space agency that has to make agitprop films to push its vision. Journey To Space is one of numerous space PR films in the past decade, using the audiovisual playbook of Hollywood sci-fi to pitch real space exploration to the American public. Cody Westheimer’s music from Journey certainly sounds like it belongs to a sci-fi epic; some tracks have that great nautical questing feel that typified some of James Horner’s best work. Westheimer’s collaborator, Max Braverman, turns in a 3 out of 4uniquely 80s-synthpop-styled cue, “Building A Spacesuit”, that’s a lot of fun.

It’s sad that the human adventure, once said by a purely fictional film’s marketing tagline, is just beginning, if only movies like Journey To Space can convince a skeptical and often uninformed public of the benefits. Just the soundtrack alone makes me feel like it’s time to suit up, strap in, and blast off.

Order this CD

  1. The Endless Horizon (1:43)
  2. To Mars and Beyond (0:47)
  3. Endeavor’s Final Journey (1:45)
  4. Inside the Shuttle (0:45)
  5. An Eye on the Cosmos (1:12)
  6. Docking with Mir (0:29)
  7. Space Science – music by Max Braverman (0:53)
  8. A Home Above – music by Max Braverman (0:44)
  9. ISS Construction (0:48)
  10. Grace of the Brave (1:41)
  11. Orion Training (1:05)
  12. Mars (1:08)
  13. Extended Weightlessness (2:23)
  14. A Spacegirl’s Dream (0:44)
  15. How to Build a Spacesuit – music by Max Braverman (1:36)
  16. Mars in My Backyard (1:39)
  17. Underwater Training (2:48)
  18. The Exploring Kind (4:00)
  19. Red Planet Arrival (2:24)
  20. Meet Me on Mars (1:18)
  21. The Unimagined (0:51)
  22. End Credits (1:41)
  23. Blue Danube (0:40)

Released by: Lakeshore Records
Release date: May 5, 2015
Total running time: 35:04

The Martian – music by Harry Gregson-Williams

The MartianFor the sake of clarification and brevity, it’s important to get one thing out of the way: The Martian is the best Mars movie anyone’s ever made, and its soundtrack is the best Mars music that’s even been made.

The movie’s score (and this is an important distinction, as there are both score and “songtrack” albums from The Martian out there) is a triumph of tone. Harry Gregson-Williams knows when to deploy his full orchestral resources and when to pare things back to a sparer sound fitting Mark Watney’s plight. But here’s where The Martian differs from, say, the overriding bleakness of the later TV miniseries Mars: Gregson-Williams brings percolating synths into play, practically providing a soundtrack for the synapses firing in Watney’s head as he vows to “science the shit out of this” and then proceeds to do precisely that. At times playful, at times dense and technical-sounding, these sequences are the sound of hope and resourcefulness in a movie that many are praising for – somewhat unusually for Hollywood – getting a great deal of the science right.

That’s the difference, both musically and thematically, between The Martian and Mars.

The dramatic stakes are upper orchestrally where appropriate, whether it’s the Ares IV’s initial desperate blastoff to the safety of Mars orbit, or the crew’s even more desperate attempts to recover their crewmate against staggering odds. Where the synth sequences are lighter and energetic, these scenes are heavy on percussion and rumbling bass lines, because Serious Stuff is happening.

It’s easy to forget that there was a great score for this movie when it seems like the studio was so eager to fashion a tie-in album of existing ’70s songs from the movie’s plot device of Commander Lewis’ behind-the-times playlist, but the music for the travelogue of Watney abandoning the safety of his habitat and 4 out of 4setting out on a perilous trek to an already-landed ascent vehicle alone is worth the price of admission here. In terms of both music and movie, it’s scenes like that which keep The Martian as my favorite movie of a year that brought back the Star Wars franchise amid considerable hype. Heat up some potatoes and give this a listen.

Order this CD

  1. Mars (2:25)
  2. Emergency Launch (3:09)
  3. Making Water (2:38)
  4. Spotting Movement (1:49)
  5. Science the S*** Out of This (2:16)
  6. Messages from Hermes (3:31)
  7. Sprouting Potatoes (1:39)
  8. Watney’s Alive! (2:46)
  9. Pathfinder (2:33)
  10. Hexadecimals (2:33)
  11. Crossing Mars (3:36)
  12. Reap & Sow (2:21)
  13. Crops Are Dead (3:26)
  14. Work the Problem (1:58)
  15. See You In a Few (5:11)
  16. Build a Bomb (5:06)
  17. I Got Him! (4:45)

Released by: Columbia Records
Release date: September 30, 2015
Total running time: 51:42

Planet Of The Apes: The TV Series (expanded)

Released as a very limited edition (2000 copies) by La-La Land Records, this two-disc collection includes and expands upon the material already presented by Intrada Records on a single-CD release early in the 2000s. Intrada’s release included Lalo Schifrin’s appropriately chaotic theme music and his music for the pilot episode, as well as a further episode score by Earle Hagen.

This 2-CD release adds more music by Schifrin and the show’s other composers, offering a classy time capsule of an era when synthesizers had yet to become routine instruments in film scoring. It’s interesting to hear Schifrin and other composers try to alternate between “normal” 1970s orchestral scoring and something more akin to the tone set by Jerry Goldsmith’s music from the first Apes movie.

3 out of 4If you’ve already invested in the Intrada set, whether or not you liked it will determine your interest here: if you did like it, here’s a whole second disc of what you liked. If it didn’t really grab your attention the first time around, it’s probably safe to let this one slide. Despite the smaller-than-usual print run, it’s still available at the time of this writing.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Main Title (1:16)
    Music from Escape From Tomorrow
  2. Exotic Forest (1:02)
  3. Spaceship (1:41)
  4. Apes Urgency (1:31)
  5. Concealment (1:17)
  6. Apes Chase (1:02)
  7. The Warp (1:01)
  8. Urko/Galen (4:12)
  9. The Master (0:15)
  10. Prison Guard (1:58)
  11. Prison Cell/Zaius (1:27)
  12. Jail Break (2:32)
  13. Your World (1:54)
    Music from The Gladiators
  14. Wooded Area (0:45)
  15. Jason (0:27)
  16. Brutal Fight (1:03)
  17. The Disc (1:11)
  18. Barlow (1:17)
  19. Ready (0:36)
  20. Trouble With Apes (1:43)
  21. Planet of the Apes Mountains (0:44)
  22. The Arena (1:43)
  23. Wrestling in the Arena (1:03)
  24. There Will Be a Death (0:26)
  25. Alan in Jail (0:28)
  26. Dalton (1:05)
  27. Human vs. Apes (1:26)
  28. A Beginning (2:28)
    Music from The Good Seeds
  29. Riding for Urko (1:46)
  30. Travel Without Stars (3:17)
  31. Pitchfork Attack (0:30)
  32. Local Patrol (1:37)
  33. Plowing (0:25)
  34. Central City (0:16)
  35. Polar (0:36)
  36. Zanties (0:28)
  37. Virdon (1:08)
  38. I’ve Seen Him Before (0:21)
  39. Apes Neutral Suspense (0:34)
  40. We Ride (0:30)
  41. Discovered (0:40)
  42. Toll the Bell (0:12)
  43. The Riding Enemy (0:22)
  44. Hunting Bonded Humans (1:02)
  45. Twin Bulls (1:25)
  46. Apes Tension (1:33)
  47. Wind Mill (0:25)
  48. The Next String (0:54)
  49. End Credits (0:30)
  50. Riding for Urko (extension) (1:54)
    Disc Two

  1. Main Title (1:16)
    Music from The Trap
  2. Opening (1:04)
  3. Reflections (2:30)
  4. Through the Forest (1:15)
  5. The Bag (0:31)
  6. Stalk in the City (3:02)
  7. Hunted (0:55)
  8. Searching (1:00)
  9. Go to Work (0:17)
  10. The Poster (1:46)
  11. Urko Makes His Move (1:07)
  12. The Execution (2:30)
  13. One for the Road (0:49)
    Music from The Legacy
  14. Country Style (0:35)
  15. Ruined City (1:13)
  16. Apes (0:40)
  17. The Machine (0:49)
  18. The Soldiers (2:29)
  19. Ape Signals (0:50)
  20. The Kid (0:34)
  21. Virdon and the Kid (0:25)
  22. Urko (0:44)
  23. The Family (0:40)
  24. The Kid’s Toy (0:20)
  25. Kids and Apes (1:15)
  26. Farm Girl (1:12)
  27. The Reward (0:29)
  28. Apes and Kids (0:44)
  29. Knowledge Hunts (3:12)
  30. Farewell (0:35)
    Music from Tomorrow’s Tide
  31. Runners (0:41)
  32. The Raft (1:43)
  33. Fisherman’s Love (1:09)
  34. The Village (0:48)
  35. Quotas Quotas (0:18)
  36. Fire and Fish (1:02)
  37. Garcon (0:14)
  38. More Fine Divers (0:33)
  39. Peter Dives (0:31)
  40. The Sharks (0:28)
  41. Sharks (2:36)
  42. Find Him (0:31)
  43. Gato Leaves (0:50)
  44. Bandor (0:31)
  45. Bandor the M.C. (1:30)
  46. Escape (1:49)
  47. Run Off (0:18)
    Music from The Surgeon
  48. Medicine Off Center (2:43)
  49. More Sutures (1:32)
    Music from The Deception
  50. Farna Theme (0:58)
  51. Farna Theme #1 (0:44)
  52. Farna (0:36)
  53. Farna Reminisces (1:11)
  54. Leave Me Alone (0:31)
  55. Be Gentle With Her (0:29)
  56. Deception (1:40)
  57. Goodbye (0:33)
    Music from The Interrogation
  58. Again (1:33)
  59. Mish Mosh (0:23)
  60. Drums and Bells (2:04)
  61. Wind Machine (1:04)
  62. End Credits (0:30)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: January 13, 2015
Disc one total running time: 58:51
Disc two total running time: 1:08:15

Doctor Who: Series 8 – music by Murray Gold

Though Matt Smith’s first season seemed to take a momentary sidestep into sounds inspired by Doctor Who’s radiophonic, synth-heavy past, the musical paradigm for the new Doctor Who series’ first decade has always been John Williams: big, unapologetically brassy action music, widescreen action cues, and heavy choral doom when the occasion demands.

Peter Capaldi’s first season, however, seems to mark a major turn left (sorry, had to) for new Doctor Who’s musical style: the paradigm has shifted from Williams to a Hans Zimmer-inspired sound, more reliant on synths and urgent low cello ostinatos. There are still brassy action scenes, but they’re brassy in a different way than before. Several cues seem to echo Doctor Who’s 1980s sound, including the new theme tune arrangement (included here in a full-length version).

A suite of themes and variations of the musical signature of the new Doctor proves to be more introspective than the popular, in-your-face bombast of “I Am The Doctor” (a running theme throughout Matt Smith’s tenure). Inexplicably missing is Foxes’ unexpectedly catchy big band cover of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” – a musical highlight of the season that could have served as a single to 3 out of 4raise this collection’s visibility. (Only an instrumental version is available…and even then, only as a bonus track on the download version, not on CD.)

The first two CDs cover the entirety of Capaldi’s freshman year in the TARDIS, while the third presents virtually the complete score of his first Christmas special, Last Christmas.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Doctor Who Theme (01:17)
  2. A Good Man (Tweleve’s Theme) (07:34)
  3. Something It Ate (02:40)
  4. Concussed (03:28)
  5. It’s Still Him (02:00)
  6. Pudding Brains (05:27)
  7. Breath (04:45)
  8. Hello Hello (03:17)
  9. Drink First (02:02)
  10. Aristotle We Have Been Hit (01:00)
  11. We’re Still Going To Kill You (03:56)
  12. Tell Me, Am I A Good Man? (04:04)
  13. Blue Rescue One (01:38)
  14. What Difference A Good Dalek (03:32)
  15. The Truth About The Daleks (02:08)
  16. You Are A Good Dalek (01:49)
  17. Old Fashioned Hero (02:16)
  18. This Is My Spoon (02:07)
  19. Robert, Earl of Loxley (02:00)
  20. The Legend of Robin Hood (02:18)
  21. Robin of Sherwood (03:15)
  22. The Golden Arrow (01:37)
  23. Listen (02:25)
  24. Rupert Pink (03:57)
  25. Fear (02:47)
    Disc Two

  1. The Architect (01:28)
  2. Rob The Bank (00:59)
  3. Account Closed (02:09)
  4. Open Up (02:07)
  5. The Caretaker (05:16)
  6. Missy’s Theme (01:34)
  7. Hello Earth, We Have A Terrible Decision To Make (00:54)
  8. Are You Going To Shoot Me? (01:57)
  9. When I Say Run (01:46)
  10. They’ve Been Here The Whole Time (02:48)
  11. That Is The Moon (02:02)
  12. NASA Is That Way (01:00)
  13. Start The Clock (01:33)
  14. There’s That Smile (02:24)
  15. The Sarcophagus Opens (03:59)
  16. The Artefact (02:05)
  17. Study Our Own Demise (02:13)
  18. Not Knowing (03:01)
  19. Siege Mode (01:27)
  20. In The Woods (02:22)
  21. We Weren’t Asleep That Long (01:03)
  22. The Song of Danny and Clara (02:41)
  23. Forgetting (01:46)
  24. Throw Away The Key (04:15)
  25. Browsing (02:23)
  26. Missy Theme Extended (02:06)
  27. Heaven (01:30)
  28. They Walk Among Us (02:21)
  29. There is No Clara Oswald (01:00)
  30. Missy And Her Boys (01:18)
  31. Freefall (01:41)
  32. Need To Know (05:00)
  33. Missy’s Gift (02:04)
  34. (The Majestic Tale of) An Idiot With Box (02:22)
    Disc Three: Last Christmas

  1. Perfectly Ordinary Roof People (04:21)
  2. Unsealing The Infirmary (02:47)
  3. Ghosts (01:53)
  4. What Seems To Be The Problem (01:08)
  5. We Don’t Know What’s Real (02:34)
  6. Thinking About It (01:16)
  7. Clara’s Dream Christmas (03:57)
  8. The Doctor’s Dream Christmas (05:33)
  9. Dreams Within Dreams (04:51)
  10. Believe In Santa (01:31)
  11. Sleigh Ride (02:48)
  12. Reunion (03:12)
  13. Every Christmas Is Last Christmas (03:49)

Released by: Silva Screen Records
Release date: May 26, 2015
Disc one total running time: 1:12:54
Disc two total running time: 1:14:01
Disc three total running time: 39:27