The Lone Gunmen / Harsh Realm – music by Mark Snow

The Lone Gunmen / Harsh RealmLook up “SF television scoring of the past 20 years” and you might as well look up Mark Snow, who first brought himself to genre audiences’ attention as the sole musical maestro of every episode of The X-Files. What’s more, during much of the ’90s, he was concurrently working on several other Fox genre shows, also created by The X-Files’ Chris Carter, and more often than not those shows were X-Files spin-offs. This doesn’t even count other genre fare (i.e. UPN’s Nowhere Man). These days, Snow is ensconsed in his own musical fortress of solitude, scoring teen-Superman kinda-sorta-prequel Smallville, but he’s also handed the keys to that fortress to La-La Land Records, who has a number of Snow titles available now or coming soon.

The label has already issued a 2-CD set of Snow’s music from the first X-Files spinoff, the moderately-successful mid-’90s show Millennium, but this CD focuses on the less prominent X-Files offspring, the short-live Lone Gunmen, and another brief Chris Carter creation, the stylized “dystopian future” of Harsh Realm (which wasn’t connected to the X-Files). As different as these two shows sounded, they’re a good fit for sharing a soundtrack CD, as both are fairly atypical of Snow’s usual pad-heavy, atmospheric sound from The X-Files.

The music from The Lone Gunmen takes its cues from its characters, the less-than-deadly-serious trio of conspiracy theorists who aided and abetted FBI Agent Fox Mulder in several X-Files episodes. Now on their own, the Lone Gunmen tried to peel back the layers of other conspiracies with their unique talents, while having to deal with the fact that while they’re perfectly competent “back room guys,” they’re ill-equipped to be action heroes on their own. The show’s theme spoofs the echoing bass guitar of the James Bond franchise after kicking off with a tribute to Hendrix’ electric guitar rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, while the score cues themselves rely heavily on pizzicato string samples, further use of the bass guitar, and piano.

Harsh Realm veers closer to X-Files territory with its more introspective piano/synth material, but it doesn’t exactly lull anyone to sleep. One track in particular, “The Challenge”, is a marvel of pounding industrial percussion samples that could’ve been recorded yesterday.

4 out of 4Standouts from the album include the Lone Gunmen cuts “G.I. Jimmy,” “Elmers” (almost Carl Stalling-esque in places) and “Tailing” (with its surprising minor-key reprise of “The Star-Spangled Banner”), while the Harsh Realm highlights include the unease-inducing “Jump Back”, and “The Challenge”, which almost sounds like a ’90s prototype for the Torchwood theme.

Order this CD

    The Lone Gunmen

  1. The Lone Gunmen Main Title (0:45)
  2. Empty (0:23)
  3. Motiv-8 (1:37)
  4. Just What We Needed (2:42)
  5. Lost Causes (1:05)
  6. Rectal Palpation (1:44)
  7. G.I
  8. Jimmy (2:14)
  9. The Vaults (2:30)
  10. Lost Puppy / Confession (3:30)
  11. Elmer’s (2:28)
  12. Sawsall (5:13)
  13. El Palacio (1:56)
  14. El Lobo (1:37)
  15. Sling Blade (2:23)
  16. Wool / Poly Blend (1:40)
  17. Tailing (3:44)
  18. Memories Of Youth (1:12)
  19. The Lone Gunmen Theme – Alternate (0:49)

    Harsh Realm

  20. Harsh Realm Main Title (0:46)
  21. Overlooking Tradition (1:28)
  22. The Wound (2:35)
  23. Love Letter (2:26)
  24. Virtual Vista (1:00)
  25. Chain Gang (1:45)
  26. Jump Back (5:33)
  27. Harsh Realm Main Title – Long (3:22)
  28. The Challenge (1:57)
  29. Thirsty (2:40)
  30. Trickster (3:47)
  31. Two On A Switch (2:33)
  32. Roadblock (3:50)
  33. The Conspirators (1:22)
  34. Harsh Realm Main Title – Full (3:45)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2010
Total running time: 77:27