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 Darkness: 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

Inception – music by Hans Zimmer

InceptionAccompanying one of 2010’s biggest mess-with-your-mind movies, Hans Zimmer’s darkly atmospheric soundtrack is enjoyable on its own too. Zimmer makes excellent use of his trademark rapid-fire cello section (see also: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, or almost any other action blockbuster Zimmer has scored in the past ten years) as well as some inspired guitar work by Johnny Marr, but for some of the movie’s dreamier sequences (and it really is all about dreaming), he also introduces an unsettlingly unresolved four-chord sequence, providing a thoughtful interlude for the movie’s more thoughtful moments.

That sequence, the backbone of the whole score, either gently hints that something is amiss with what some of the characters (and the audience) perceives as reality, or telegraphs its with gigantic, ominous, end-of-the-world blasts of low brass. On CD, the theme is soft-pedaled a bit until it blows you out of your seat in “The Dream Is Collapsing”.

Other thematic material gradually appears, from the boisterous five-minute balls-to-the-wall action cue “Mombasa” to more strangely unsettling melodies in “One Simple Idea” and “Dream Within A Dream” – again, using chord sequences that seem circular because there’s not an obvious beginning or end. “Radical Notion” slowly brings in a pulsating low string ostinato that grows until it washes everything else out pretty spectacularly. Even when a more positive variation on one of these primary themes appears late in the score (and the movie), it has a bittersweet sound – and it still doesn’t quite come to a definitive resolution.

In some ways, Zimmer’s music for Inception summons up memories of the late, great John Barry’s score for The Black Hole – musically, it’s beautiful, but much of the score inspires a growing sense of pure dread. Considering how highly regarded Barry’s soundtrack has been, this is nothing but a compliment. (Given Zimmer’s trademark sound of 4 out of 4repeating low string ostinatos, the Inception soundtrack should also be on the list of anyone who spent all of 2010 eagerly waiting for the Tron Legacy soundtrack.)

There’s a reason the music from Inception has earned Hans Zimmer an Oscar nomination (one of several for Inception overall, I might add). Even when I’ve liked Zimmer’s work in the past, it hasn’t had quite the depth and epic scale that Inception has. Like the storyline it accompanies, it sticks in your head.

Order this CD

  1. Half-Remembered Dream (1:13)
  2. We Built Our Own World (1:55)
  3. Dream Is Collapsing (2:24)
  4. Radical Notion (3:43)
  5. Old Souls (7:44)
  6. 528491 (2:23)
  7. Mombasa (4:52)
  8. One Simple Idea (2:28)
  9. Dream Within A Dream (5:04)
  10. Waiting For A Train (9:28)
  11. Paradox (3:22)
  12. Time (4:35)

Released by: Reprise
Release date: 2010
Total running time: 49:11

Independence Day: The Complete Score

Independence Day: The Complete ScoreThe soundtrack from Independence Day – or at least some of it – has already seen the light of day in a soundtrack release concurrent with the movie’s 1996 release, but by overwhelming demand, La-La Land Records has revisited this blockbuster’s music, with every note of the final score spread across two discs and the obligatory copious liner notes. The original big-screen version of Stargate may have given Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin and frequent musical collaborator David Arnold their first taste of the big time, but ID4 all but made them household names. Arnold has gone on to find success and steady work, most recently in the James Bond films (where he’s proven to be one of the few major behind-the-scenes figures to survive the transition from the Pierce Brosnan era to the Daniel Craig era), so there’s gotta be something to all the hype.

If ID4 was the audition for a stellar career, Arnold passed with flying colors. The music from ID4 is epic, with a capital EPIC: nothing is downplayed, and to be honest, very little is played with subtlety. But even the interviews with the filmmakers in the booklet confirm what I’ve always felt about ID4: it’s a big and largely un-intellectual popcorn movie which delights in blowing stuff up real big and dishing out crowd-pleasing one-liners, both visual and verbal. (C’mon, there is something humorously satisfying about Will Smith beating the crap out of a crashed alien pilot in hand-to-tentacle combat.) ID4 isn’t a movie that demanded subtlety from its musical score. Arnold knew exactly what kind of movie he was working on, and delivered music worthy of a blockbuster, loaded down with instantly identifiable leitmotives and themes.

The new album spreads the complete original score, note for note as heard in the movie, across the first CD and about a quarter of the second CD. The rest of the second CD includes unused alternate versions of many scenes, as well as stripped-down versions of cues that originally featured choir. These tracks are fully orchestral, but let you focus only on what the orchestra’s doing. It’s a neat trick, and an economical one since musicians’ union rules charge even more for a recording featuring a choir than an orchestral recording alone can charge. The original single-CD release from 1996 was no slouch and featured a generous amount of music from major scenes, at a time when many soundtrack CDs were starting to clock in at about 40-45 minutes due to the costs of paying every orchestral musician and every singer for every minute of their music being published. La-La Land took a real risk on reissuing the complete soundtrack: it was a far more expensive proposition (for the label), and it’s not exactly a new movie. (It’s not an obscure movie either, though, which is probably the saving grace of the new ID4 soundtrack.)

It almost goes without saying that the highlights on either disc are the major action setpieces. Few of the quieter moments are nearly as memorable: in going back to listen to “The President’s Speech”, the music wasn’t quite as inspirational as I seemed to remember. The alternate takes are interesting stuff, though: if you own the DVD of ID4, you know that a very different ending was originally planned before the producers decided to go for a more credibility-stretching (but, again, crowd-pleasing) conclusion, and the music for that rejected sequence can be found here. The other alternate takes range from minor differences in musical emphasis 4 out of 4and arrangement, to more major changes that are likely the symptoms of constant changes to the movie in the editing room.

It’s good foreground listening material, and well worth the purchase price. ID4‘s soundtrack isn’t subtle, but neither was the movie. Sometimes you just need good accompaniment for big explosions. That would be this soundtrack.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. 1969: We Came In Peace (2:01)
  2. S.E.T.I. – Radio Signal (1:53)
  3. Mysto Bridge /Satellite Collision / Destroyers Disengage / Russell Casse, Pilot (2:17)
  4. First Sighting /AWAC Attack (2:18)
  5. The Darkest Day (4:14)
  6. Moving Day / Countdown (2:12)
  7. Cancelled Leave (1:46)
  8. Commence Lift-off / Parabolic Indenwhat? (1:17)
  9. Evacuation (5:48)
  10. Firestorm (1:24)
  11. Aftermath (3:36)
  12. Base Attack (6:11)
  13. Marilyn Found (1:29)
  14. Area 51 / The Big Tamale / Formaldehyde Freak Show (4:12)
  15. El Toro Destroyed (1:31)
  16. Slimey Wakes Up (5:24)
  17. Target Remains / Rescue (5:56)
  18. The Death of Marilyn / Dad’s A Genius (3:34)
  19. Alien Ship Powers Up (1:46)
  20. International Code (1:32)
  21. Wedding (1:50)
  22. The President’s Speech (3:11)
    Disc Two

  1. Just In Case /Attacker Fires Up (3:10)
  2. The Launch Tunnel /Mutha Ship / Virus Uploaded (8:27)
  3. Hide! / Russell’s Packin’ (The Day We Fight Back) (4:44)
  4. He Did It (1:33)
  5. Jolly Roger (3:17)
  6. Victory (3:40)
  7. End Credits (9:07)
  8. 1969: We Came In Peace (Alternate Take) (2:11)
  9. Destroyers Disengage (No Choir) (0:34)
  10. Cancelled Leave (Alternate Take) (1:43)
  11. Commence Lift-off (Alternate Take) (0:55)
  12. Base Attack (Segment – Film Version) (2:27)
  13. Marilyn Found (No Choir) (1:28)
  14. Target Remains/Rescue (Alternate Take) (2:40)
  15. Dad’s A Genius (Alternate Take) (0:45)
  16. Attacker Fires Up (Original Version – No Choir) (2:01)
  17. Virus Uploaded (Alternate Take) (2:35)
  18. The Day We Fight Back (Original Version) (5:48)
  19. Jolly Roger (Alternate Take) (3:22)
  20. End Credits (Segment, No Choir) (2:47)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2010
Disc one total running time: 65:31
Disc two total running time: 63:34

InnerSpace – music by Jerry Goldsmith

Not exactly a major box office hit, 1987’s Innerspace was an odd mix of science fiction action and romantic comedy whose two halves never quite made for one satisfying whole. The ingredients all seemed to be there, including Joe Dante behind the camera, impressive FX work, and an all-star 1980s cast including Dennis Quaid, Martin Short and Meg Ryan, but somehow Innerspace didn’t catch on. It also featured a score by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith, which may well be the one thing about the movie that does have staying power. La-La Land Records issued a nicely remastered edition on CD at the end of 2009, along with their usual generous helping of detailed liner notes that proclaim the musical score (but not the movie) of Innerspace to be a virtual sequel to Goldsmith’s music from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Is this true? Well, yes and no. Goldsmith does an admirable job of conjuring up that same sense of wonder that he employed in Trek, though of course the arrangement is different, and the one thing that would’ve made a strong connection between the two films’ music – the blaster beam instrument – is a no-show for Innerspace. But seeing that Goldsmith was writing and arranging music for Innerspace and not another Star Trek flick, that’s completely understandable: the literature trying to convince us that Trek fans will eat this up is, perhaps, overstating the case.

Taking up much more of the proceedings are a wistful Americana-flavored theme for Quaid’s washed-up (and washed-out) astronaut, and a comically threatening, twangy motif for the bizarre enemy agent played (complete with evil foreign accent) by Robert Picardo. Action cues begin commanding some of the action about 1/3 of the way though, and while they’re perfectly decent action music, they’re nothing groundbreaking by Goldsmith’s standards (but that still means it’s better than most movie action music).

3 out of 4Innerspace is a more than competent movie score – Jerry Goldsmith never quite seemed to reach the stage where he was phoning it in, which is why fans go nuts when a score like Innerspace is released. If there’s a disservice here, it may well be the marketing hoopla comparing it to some of the composer’s even better works.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (2:16)
  2. Take Him Home / Broken Toe (1:48)
  3. Tell Me About It (2:17)
  4. State of the Art / The Charge (6:55)
  5. Gas Attack (4:53)
  6. The Injection (2:12)
  7. The Hand / Fat Cells (1:01)
  8. Woman In Red (2:36)
  9. What Is It? (1:08)
  10. Optic Nerves (3:59)
  11. Take It Easy / It’s True (2:18)
  12. No Messenger (2:42)
  13. No Pain (1:57)
  14. User Friendly (1:39)
  15. A Close Look (1:34)
  16. The Cowboy (0:59)
  17. Hold It (3:41)
  18. For the Money / A New Man (3:40)
  19. How Do I Look? / Save It (1:45)
  20. Transformed (3:01)
  21. Retransformed (2:52)
  22. Where Am I? (2:12)
  23. The Womb (4:38)
  24. Fair Exchange (2:05)
  25. Stop The Car (5:59)
  26. Out Of The Pod (3:55)
  27. Disengage (3:00)
  28. No Red Lights (1:18)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2009
Total running time: 78:20

Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade – music by John Williams

Indiana Jones And The Last CrusadeIn Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, John Williams composes the music for the last film in this famous series (or at least, we thought back then). In my review of Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, I said that the album had an overall majestic feel. In this album, Williams decides to go for a more orchestral feel, with heavy usage of stringed instruments. It almost feels ambient in certain places, with very quiet sustained notes and light dynamics in the piece, like in “The Penitent Man Will Pass”.

The album starts with “Indy’s Very First Adventure”, a calm track that soon breaks into strings and flutes and then later on picks up in excitement and dynamics. “X Marks The Spot” builds up the usage of horns, but soon falls into the aforementioned ambience.

In “Scherzo For Motorcycle And Orchestra”, John Williams shows off his classical chops. “Scherzo” is an Italian word for “joke”, and usually used as a term for a single movement in a larger symphony. Williams lives up to the title by giving the song a playful feel, with a return of the Indiana Jones theme throughout the song. Unfortunately, there seems to be no motorcycle included in the piece.

“Ah, Rats!!!” returns to Williams’ use of dissonance, using it to punctuate deep dark tones and create a sense of anxiety (most likely to Indiana Jones’ loathing of the aforementioned rodents). “The Keeper Of The Grail” starts with sustained notes and again, a sense of ambience, but soon breaks into a slow emotional piece. On the other hand, “Keeping Up With The Joneses” is an up-tempo track, brassy and dramatic.

3 out of 4Williams again upholds a fine standard for film music, and give The Last Crusade a worthy send-off. It will be interesting to hear what he has up his sleeve for Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, but one can almost be assured that it will fall neatly with the rest of the music from this series.

Order this CD

  1. Indy’s Very First Adventure (8:13)
  2. X Marks The Spot (3:11)
  3. Scherzo For Motorcycle And Orchestra (3:52)
  4. Ah, Rats!!! (3:40)
  5. Escape From Venice (4:23)
  6. No Ticket (2:44)
  7. The Keeper Of The Grail (3:23)
  8. Keeping Up With The Joneses (3:36)
  9. Brother Of The Cruciform Sword (1:55)
  10. Belly Of The Steel Beast (5:28)
  11. The Canyon Of The Crescent Moon (4:16)
  12. The Penitent Man Will Pass (3:22)
  13. End Credits (Raiders March) (10:37)

Released by: Warner Bros.
Release date: 1989
Total running time: 58:40