Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332

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If there's one thing I know better than anybody, it's my own work.

THIS COMPILATION HAS BEEN REVISED
The entry for the current version can be found here.


It was inevitable that I would compile an X-Men disc, although even I was surprised at how quickly it took shape. Yes, I only just saw the third movie on Thursday, but I'd been listening to the score since I first gotten ahold of it and was rather familiar with it once I saw the film.

I have always had extremely mixed feelings about the first film's score. It is a complete mess and the main theme sounds always sounds like it is building into a more confident statement than it ever actually does. However, there are some elements to it that I enjoy very much; I love Michael Kamen's slashing, relentless theme for Magneto (which is... um... reflected in the mix), and the gorgeous melody heard in "Jean and Logan" (track 10) and "Logan and Rogue" (track 17) is one of the most beautiful pieces that Kamen had ever written. Affection for the film (only strengthened with the added gravitas the sequels give it) has soften my harsher assesments of the score, though in preparing this album I concentrated on the more symphonic elements to make it fit more easily with the other two scores.

I have to admit that I like the score for X2 for all the wrong reasons. It is a score by a film score fan, not a film score composer, but John Ottman and I have the same taste in film scores. As a result the music is flavored heavily by 70s and 80s Goldsmith, Williams and early Horner. It isn't afraid to get dirty and dissonant, either. And I have to say that Ottman's scores for Bryan Singer have a specific quality to them; Ottman also serves as supervising film editor for Singer, and so is intimate with every nuance of the film by the time he scores it, and the music has a relationship to the images that is absolutely marvelous. Perhaps my favorite example of this is "It's Time" (track 15). An aspect of the score I found interesting (and I noted in my initial reflection on the film), is that it subtly acknowledges Kamen's work. The easiest example is the violin heard in Mystique's theme in "Sneaky Mystique" (track 12) which echoes the electronic drone that signified her in X-Men.

I felt this quality much more strongly in John Powell's score for X-Men: The Last Stand, and when I read the liner notes for the CD I saw that this was entirely intentional. Brett Ratner notes that "I was less concerned about putting my 'mark' on The Last Stand than creating a film that was a seamless part of an important trilogy." To that end, "Powell's music expanded upon the original two X-Men scores and brings emphasis not only to the plot of 'the Cure' and 'Dark Phoenix,' but completes the main characters' arcs as well." In some ways, Powell is actually reconciling the different approaches by the two other scores, or drawing the most effective elements. His theme for Magneto is strongly reminiscent of Kamen's in structure, but Ottman's in orchestration. Powell's pop background works well here in fashioning his thematic material, which gives a nice melodic 'hook' to the more apocalyptic aspects of the story.








81:26

1. X2 1:10
(X-Men United - John Ottman)

2.
X1 0:32
(X-Men - Michael Kamen)

3.
X3 0:43
(X-Men: The Last Stand - John Powell)

4.
Death Camp 2:54
(X1 - Michael Kamen)

5.
The Funeral 2:34
(X3 - John Powell)

6.
Cerebro 1:21
(X2 - John Ottman)

7.
Helicopter Hijack 0:49
(X1 - Michael Kamen)

8.
Magneto's Old Tricks 1:20
(X2 - John Ottman)

9.
Skating on the Pond 1:10
(X3 - John Powell)

10.
Jean and Logan 1:10
(X1 - Michael Kamen)

11.
Sneaky Mystique 2:13
(X2 - John Ottman)

12.
The Mutation of Senator Kelly 4:09
(X1 - Michael Kamen)

13.
The Church of Magneto 2:06
(X3 - John Powell)

14.
It's Time 1:54
(X2 - John Ottman)

15.
Whirlpool of Love 1:59
(X3 - John Powell)

16.
Liberty Island 3:20
(X1 - Michael Kamen)

17.
The Camp 2:36
(X2 - John Ottman)

18.
Jean Awakens 1:44
(X3 - John Powell)

19.
Playing With Fire 1:30
(X2 - John Ottman)

20.
Magneto Stand-Off 1:30
(X1 - Michael Kamen)

21.
St. Lupus Day 2:24
(X3 - John Powell)

22.
A Voice From the Past 1:34
(X2 - John Ottman)

23.
Logan and Rogue 2:00
(X1 - Michael Kamen)

24.
Pheonix and Xavier 4:48
(X3 - John Powell)

25.
Meeting Nightcrawler 1:32
(X2 - John Ottman)

26.
Angel's Cure 1:40
(X3 - John Powell)

27.
Escape From Alkali Dam 7:00
(X2 - John Ottman)

28.
The Last Stand 13:10
(X3 - John Powell)

29.
Checkmate 0:34
(X1 - Michael Kamen)

30.
Finale 2:02
(X3 - John Powell)

31.
The Lake 7:41
(X2 - John Ottman)




X1 - X-MEN (2000)
Composed and Conducted by
MICHAEL KAMEN
Performed by the LOS ANGELES ALL STARS ORCHESTRA
STEVE ERDODY, 'cello
Orchestrated by ROBERT ELHAI and BRAD WARNAAR
Sampling and Programming by JAMES BRETT and MICHAEL PRICE Electronic Percussion by KLAUS BADELT
Produced by MICHAEL KAMEN, STEPHEN McLAUGHLIN and CHRISTOPHER BROOKS
Engineered by STEPHEN McLAUGHLIN and JOEL IWITAKI

X2 -
X-MEN UNITED (2003)
Composed by
JOHN OTTMAN
Orchestrated by DAMON INTRABARTOLO, JOHN OTTMAN, FRANK MACCHIA, RICK GIOVINAZZO, CHRISTOPHER TIN and PIERRE ANDRÉ
Choral Arrangements by DEBORAH LURIE
Orchestra and Choir Conducted by DAMON INTRABARTOLO
Produced and Engineered by CASEY STONE

X3 -
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
Composed and Produced by
JOHN POWELL
Arranged and Programmed by JOHN POWELL, JOHN ASHTON THOMAS and JAMES McKEE SMITH
Orchestrated by BRAD DECHTER, BRUCE FOWLER, RANDY KERBER, JOHN ASHTON THOMAS, SUZETTE MORIARTY, RICK GIOVANNAZZO,
KEVIN KLIESCH, CONRAD POPE, WALT FOWLER and KEN KLUGER
Performed by the HOLLYWOOD STUDIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Conducted by ARTIE KANE
Choir Conducted by EDIE LEHMANN BODDICKER
Engineered by SHAWN MURPHY and DAN LERNER

All Tracks Recorded at NEWMAN STUDIOS, Twentieth Century Fox



Program Notes
May contain minor X3 spoilers.



I was pretty keen on preparing this album once I heard Powell's score, but I knew that I would be doing a lot of work on it. What I found interesting is that Kamen's score comes across in the film as being a lot more vapid than it is when heard on its own, although not on that shapeless soundtrack album. The language it is written in isn't so different from that of the next two films; and as I mentioned before, both of the sequel scores allude to it slightly at times. Making an album like this is about finding commonalities; Powell's The Last Stand effectively bridges any gaps between Kamen's and Ottman's work, so while these composers have radically different voices, selections from the scores fit very easily next to one another. Therefore, I concentrated more on "moments" than "sequences" (the main exception being the finale from The Last Stand, which is mostly one piece of music anyway) and put them together into new "sequences" in order to be both entertaining and representative of how the different composers approached similar material.

This is an album I put together strictly on the matter of my personal taste. I don't think that Kamen's main theme is very strong, so I didn't use it much. On the other hand, because I love his Magneto theme, it shows up a lot. My favorites are included, such as the dramatic "It's Time" from X2 (track 14). There are certainly more pieces from each film I would have liked to have included, but I think that this is an effective recontextualization of music the three scores. There is quite a broad spectrum of emotions evoked over the course of the three films, so I found it very easy to keep the music from getting stuck in a rut, which was the biggest challenge of my Rambo disc.

I decided for the first three tracks of the mix proper to present each of the composer's takes on an X-Men theme, starting with Ottman's. This particular piece is an edit of two different takes of the main title, one that appeared in the film, the other appearing on the album, albeit on two separate tracks ("Suite from X2" and "We're Here To Stay"). I lengthened the opening by combining the quieter version of the piece that is heard in the film with the one that quotes the X fanfare from the album, then proceeded with the takes heard on the album for the lead up and full statement of the theme. Similarly, I needed to put a piece representing Kamen's theme; the second track is this theme it at its most powerful, taken from the very end of the end titles (the main titles used the material associated with Cerebro). This track was not present on the original album. As with X2, a rousing statement of its title theme was composed to open the third X-Men (although a different piece was used in the film), which is straightforwardly presented here. One can't hear the ostinato without thinking of John Williams' Superman theme, although Powell's goes off in a quite different direction, as illustrated best in the John Barry-esque "The Funeral" (track 5).

While I was pretty satisfied with The Last Stand's album, I would never have dreamed of putting together this mix had I not had more of both X-Men and X2 than what appeared on the original albums, neither of which I liked very much. Many of my favorite cues from the first film, including "Helicopter Hijack" (track 7), the aforementioned "Jean and Logan" and the reprisal of the piece introduced in "Death Camp" (track 4) heard in "Liberty Island" (track 16) which is a short suite of music from the climax of the first film, weren't on the album. X2 is full of bits like this, from the gorgeous "The Camp" (track 17) to the liturgical sound of "Meeting Nightcrawler" (track 25) and the Star Trek II-influenced lead up to the end title that is "The Lake" (track 31; discussed further below).

"The Mutation of Senator Kelly" (track 12) is a restructure of the track "Magneto's Lair" on the original album. The transformation of Kelly and the scene Magneto going to check on him were switched on that track; they've been placed back in their original order, and the statement of Magneto's theme is heard twice, once the film version (no electronics), then the album version (with electronics). "A Voice From the Past" is from the conclusion of "Mansion Attack" as Stryker recognizes Wolverine, and the subsequent escape. "Escape From Alkali Dam" is made up of the "Reconfiguration" cue (heard on the original album grafted to the breakout scene [track 8] as part of "Magneto's Old Tricks"), "Getting Out Alive," "Rogue Earns Her Wings" and "Goodbye."

While I love the flowing style with which the album for The Last Stand was produced, it made excerpting the music problematic (the type of challenge I relish). As a result, there are a lot of moments where I bridged tracks together; "Jean Awakens" is the second part of "Jean and Logan" and the first part of "Dark Pheonix Awakes," "Pheonix and Xavier" is a single cue that is on the album split into three tracks, "Entering the House," "Dark Pheonix's Tragedy" and "Farewell To X." "The Last Stand" consists of material from the last five tracks on the album ("Attack on Alcatraz," "Massacre," "The Battle of the Cure," "Pheonix Rises" and "The Last Stand") albeit with some nips and tucks here and there (the opening of "Attack on Alcatraz" is a different take than the one used in the film; I'm not sure why it was changed because I find the version on the album much more effective). Interestingly, while I kept the succession of Pheonix related tracks, feeling that they were developed very nicely over the course of the score, I introduced Angel's theme hesitantly at first, then let it opening out into its full glory in "Angel's Cure" (track 26) be one of the thematic climaxes of this album.

The finale of this album gave me the most amount of trouble. I really wanted to finish the disc off with the end credits of X2, but I considered the transition from "The Last Stand" to "The Lake" to be very natural. "Checkmate" is the dramatic lead-up to the end credits of X-Men, but instead of going into that piece, I cut to the finale of "The Last Stand." While this worked okay, I thought that it was annoying that the album finished then started up again. The last two tracks, satisfying in their own right, were anticlimactic after "The Lake." I then tried cutting the finale from The Last Stand into "The Lake" right where the end titles of X2 would start, then go into "Checkmate" and into the X2 credits. This didn't work because there was a really jarring chord change. After that I decided to go with my original idea of closing off the album with the finale from X2. "The Last Stand" now leads into "Checkmate," which brings us much more comfortably into the coda from The Last Stand, which trails off by design. I found that bringing in "The Lake" right here worked beautifully, and plays out the entire X2 epilogue and end credits; I had to reconstruct that as the copy of the expanded score I have leads into the same take of the main title theme that "We're Here To Stay" on the original album did; I put "The Lake" together with "Suite from X2" and replicated the transitions that appear in the movie (minus, of course, the few cues that were cut into the film mix to make it longer). This brings the album to a rousing conclusion, and closing with the same theme we began with also satisfies my interest in creating a symmetry in my own mixes.
Tags: film music, john ottman, john powell, michael kamen, my mixes
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