Contact – music by Alan Silvestri

Contact soundtrackOne of the most atypically-scored science fiction films of the 1990s, Contact is also yet another chapter in the long-running collaboration between director Robert Zemeckis and composer Alan Silvestri (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Forrest Gump). While not as epic an ongoing partnership as, say, Spielberg and John Williams, the Zemeckis/Silvestri pairing has resulting in some fine marriages between imagery and music, and Contact may well be the best of those collaborations.

Before I get much further with my rantings about how atypical a science fiction movie score this is, it’s also worth pointing out that Contact is hardly a typical science fiction movie. It does have imagination-sparking ideas and some fine action and special effects set pieces, but it’s also a character study at its heart. So given those moments of intense action, and the even greater scenes of awe and wonder, Contact gets a surprisingly subdued musical treatment; a good chunk of the almost eight-minute-long end credits is solo piano, as are some of the other cues selected for the soundtrack album.

I did like Silvestri’s equally low-key moments of menace and revelation, however: “The Primer”, which plays during one of the movie’s most pivotal moments, is one of those cues that just opens up like a flower at a certain point, introducing a slithering, arpeggiating synth motif that shows up a few other times in conjunction with the aliens’ message and technology. That sound weaves its way in and out of what is otherwise a much more acoustic, orchestral score, and while it makes for a noticeable contrast, it’s subtle enough to never quite become jarring.

When the opportunity arrives to do big action scenes, Silvestri doesn’t hold back – “Ellie’s Bogey”, “Good To Go” and “Test Run Bomber” are great examples of those moments, even if they’re not necessarily the heart of the movie or its music.

Overall, it’s probably not quite what you’d expect, but the same could be said of the movie itself. (And for all 4 out of 4those who have written me over the years to tell me that Contact the movie bears almost no resemblence to “Contact” the novel, I get the message, thanks.) If not one of the best – that’s really subjective – it’s certainly one of the most interesting SF film scores of the late 1990s, and I recommend it at least for that.

Order this CD

  1. An Awful Waste Of Space (1:43)
  2. Ellie’s Bogey (3:25)
  3. The Primer (6:21)
  4. Really Confused (1:18)
  5. Test Run Bomber (4:27)
  6. Heart Attack (1:31)
  7. Media Event (1:25)
  8. Button Me Up (1:19)
  9. Good To Go (5:11)
  10. No Words (1:42)
  11. Small Moves (5:35)
  12. I Believe Her (2:32)
  13. Contact – End Credits (7:59)

Released by: Warner Bros.
Release date: 1997
Total running time: 44:31