51 Shades of Geek

Soylent Green / Demon Seed

Soylent Green / Demon Seed soundtrackThis disc brings together the sparse scores for two futuristic ’70s techno-dystopia flicks for their first official release, complete with the usual wealth of knowledge that’s packed into the CD booklet on any of Film Score Monthly’s releases.

In the past, Soylent Green has been mentioned on this site as “a great place to see a pristine Computer Space machine,” but it turns out that, away from the dialogue of this Charlton Heston hand-wringer, the music is another oustanding feature of Soylent Green that stands up over time. Fred Myrow’s music for the movie’s introductory montage is an absolute revelation, blending rhapsodic strings, experimental electric guitars, and an honest-to-God hip-hop shuffle, years before anyone was calling it that. It starts out quiet and rather relaxing, and then builds to a busy, bustling peak about 2/3 of the way in, a musical illustration of the movie’s overpopulation problem. It’s just a great little piece of underscore – I think I listened to that track five times in a row when I first listened to this CD, because it’s just so stunning.

The various themes the run throughout the rest of the score are established in those opening titles as well, though in slightly different forms. It all adds up to a very cohesive score, and quite an impressive musical feat overall. I like the movie itself as a guilty pleasure, but I have no qualms about saying that the music is better than the movie, and I’m glad it can be heard here.

In a completely different vein musically is the 1977 techno-horror thriller Demon Seed, whose score was composed by original Star Trek veteran Jerry Fielding. If you’re expecting it to sound even vaguely like a classic Trek score, think again – Fielding goes largely electronic here, befitting the movie’s theme of a rapacious supercomputer that decides it needs to reproduce (with Julie Christie, no less). Rather like Soylent Green, Demon Seed hasn’t really aged very gracefully, though its sometimes abstract music was ahead of its time. Fans of early ’70s analog synth music should give this one a shot. Heard without dialogue or effects, it’s some very interesting music.

Rating: 4 out of 4Though one might not normally think of these two films at the same time, this album is one of the best (and naturally, one of the more obscure) gems in Film Score Monthly’s library, and I highly recommend it.

    Order this CD in the StoreSoylent Green

  1. Prologue / Opening City Music (4:20)
  2. Can I Do Something For You? (1:47)
  3. Out For A Walk / Nothing Like This / Assassin Approaches / Necessary To God / New Tenant (5:29)
  4. Stalking The Pad (1:41)
  5. Tab’s Pad / Furniture Party (3:43)
  6. Shirl And Thorn (2:08)
  7. Home Lobby Source (2:58)
  8. Sol’s Music (6:29)
  9. Symphony Music (Tchiakovsky / Beethoven / Grieg) (6:17)
  10. Infernal Machine / Thorn In Danger / Are You With Us? / Alternate City Opening / End Credits (5:13)

    Demon Seed

  11. Birth Scene / Speaking Room / Elk Herd (3:17)
  12. Proteus Requests / Light On / Your Phone Is Out (8:25)
  13. Visiting Hours / Probed And Put To Bed (3:24)
  14. The Gaz Chamber / Rape Of The Earth / How? / Hypnosis / Chimes (8:23)
  15. Pre-Trip / Big Wind / Sperm / Spirograph / Tetra Waltz (7:18)
  16. Last Voyage (2:35)
  17. Closing Crawl (2:03)
  18. End Credits (3:59)

Released by: Film Score Monthly
Release date: 2003
Total running time: 79:49

Star Trek: Newly Recorded Music, Volume 2

Star Trek soundtrackIt took me years to find this second volume, and though after a while a lot of Classic Trek music starts to sound the same, the music from Mirror, Mirror was an eye-opener for me – I had never realized how frequently the “Black Ship Theme” (for the evil Enterprise) was used from then on in the series, nor where it had originated. Now I know. The cues from Mirror, Mirror and The Empath alone make this a worthwhile purchase for any Trek musicologists out there, and again the 3 out of 4sound quality – since it’s a digital re-recording – is exceptional.

  1. Star Trek main title & closing theme (1:19)

    Suite from By Any Other Name

  2. Neutralizer, Kelvan theme, More Neutralizer, Broken (3:42)
  3. Rojan’s Revenge, Rojan’s Blocks, Pretty Words, Victory (5:32)

    Suite from The Trouble With Tribbles

  4. A Matter of Pride, No Tribble At All, Big Fight (4:19)

    Suite from Mirror, Mirror

  5. Mirror Mirror, Black Ship Theme, Agonizer, Meet Marlena (4:38)
  6. Order this CD Black Ship Tension, Goodbye Marlena, Short Curtain (3:51)

    Suite from The Empath

  7. Enter Gem, Kirk Healed (2:07)
  8. Vian Lab, The Subjects, Cave Exit, Star Trek Chase (3:37)
  9. Help Him, Spock Stuck, McCoy Tortured (5:17)
  10. Time Grows Short (5:06)
  11. Vian’s Farewell, Empath Finale (2:20)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: 1986
Total running time: 41:57

The Best Of Star Trek, Volume One

The Best Of Star Trek Volume 1Released simultaneously with the Star Trek: First Contact soundtrack, this disc is a sort of stellar sampler, with music from at least one episode of each of the Star Trek series. Representing the original series, and again beautifully remastered as was the case with GNP Crescendo’s second and third albums of original Trek music, are the Alexander Courage signature theme and several minutes of whimsical music from 1967’s all-time-favorite The Trouble With Tribbles. The sound quality is so clear that it’s hard to believe these sessions were recorded three decades ago. Star Trek: The Next Generation gets a double dose of episodic scores after its own rendition of the combined themes of Courage and Jerry Goldsmith. First up is a synthesizer-heavy and action-packed selection of music from 1988’s Heart Of Glory, in which future Best Of Both Worlds composer Ron Jones flexes his melodic muscle in a way that future Trek music makers would not get to enjoy for a long time. Then, the very popular flute-solo theme from 1992’s Inner Light episode is given a lavish, never-before-heard treatment with an orchestral backing, a kind of solo concerto waltz with the flute in the audio foreground. Jay Chattaway’s other music from that episode is not reflected in this piece, but the sheer beauty of it is more than satisfying. Dennis McCarthy then strikes up a more percussive revival of the Deep Space Nine theme, even more rhythmic than the current version on which it is based, and then continues with cues from the sentimental and well-loved episode The Visitor. Then, the terrible edit version of Goldsmith’s Voyager theme – the same version which appeared on the Voyager CD single – introduces the Voyager portion of the album. McCarthy more than makes up for the horribly edited theme with his boisterous, heraldic music from the Viking-influenced story Heroes And Demons. This is an album from which Trek fans should find at least one piece of music to love, either in the more recent material’s 3 out of 4subtle textures or the action cues from the original Trek and early Next Generation. There is not a refrigerator magnet with this disc, sorry. I’d buy most any album of Star Trek scores, but the chance to hear yet again the remastered music of the original series and some belligerent Ron Jones action cues is enough for me to recommend this one.

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  1. Star Trek original series main title by Alexander Courage (1:03)
    Suite from Star Trek – The Trouble With Tribbles by Jerry Fielding:
  2. Bartender Bit / They Quibble Over Quibble / Kirk Out / Barrel of Trouble /
    Tribble Hooks Kirk / Poor Jonesey / A Matter of Pride
    (5:19)
  3. The Muzak Maker / The Scherzo Maker (1:37)
  4. A Matter of Pride / No Tribble At All / Big Fight (4:05)
  5. Star Trek: The Next Generation main title (1:49)
    Suite from Star Trek: The Next Generation – Heart of Glory by Ron Jones:
  6. Moment of Decision / Battle Signs / Geordi Vision / Lookin for Life Signs /
    Imminent Destruction
    (8:29)
  7. A Klingon’s Feelings / Let’s Make a Phaser / Heart of Glory (6:30)
  8. Orchestral suite from Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Inner Light by Jay Chattaway (6:36)
  9. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine main title – 4th season version (1:55)
    Suite from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Visitor by Dennis McCarthy:
  10. Rainy Night (1:08)
  11. Steve O’s Cue / Freaked Out (3:07)
  12. Dad Admonishes (3:12)
  13. One Last Visit (2:58)
  14. Second Chance (1:14)
  15. Star Trek: Voyager main title (extended edit)
  16. by Jerry Goldsmith (2:22)
    Suite from Star Trek: Voyager – Heroes & Demons by Dennis McCarthy:

  17. Last Hope (2:32)
  18. Dr. Schweitzer (1:20)
  19. Armagonnen (1:48)
  20. Where’s Freya / To The Rescue (6:45)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 63:51