Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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"It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot."

In collating the discs for a prospective follow-up to my Space Opera compilation (which is awaiting one arrival before I can start working on it), I came across quite a lot of film scores of a different subgenre... that of malevolent aliens coming to Earth. I immediately thought of the old video game from the 80s, and so was born one of the most specific of all my compilations...

24 Tracks - 81:27

  1. LEITH STEVENS: Prelude (War of the Worlds) 1:06
    Cincinnati Pops Orchestra Conducted by Erich Kunzel

  2. JAMES NEWTON HOWARD: In the Cornfield (Signs) 5:26
    Orchestra Conducted by Pete Anthony

  3. HENRY MANCINI: Desert Rendezvous (It Came from Outer Space) 3:09
    City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Paul Bateman

  4. NICHOLAS PIKE: Critter Convention (Critters 2: The Main Course) 2:07
    Orchestra Conducted by Nicholas Pike

  5. KEN FREEMAN: The City of Gold (The Tripods) 2:34
    Ken Freeman, Synthesizers

  6. DANNY ELFMAN: Martian Madame (Mars Attacks!) 3:00
    Orchestra and Choir Conducted by Artie Kane

  7. DAVID ARNOLD: The Darkest Day (Independence Day) 4:07
    Orchestra and Choir Conducted by Nicholas Dodd

  8. HENRY MANCINI: Carlson’s Story (Lifeforce) 4:07
    London Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Henry Mancini

  9. DANNY ELFMAN: D’s Memories and Chase (Men in Black) 3:45
    Orchestra Conducted by Artie Kane

  10. ALAN SILVESTRI: Battle Plans (Predator) 4:38
    Orchestra Conducted by Alan Silvestri

  11. CHRISTOPHER YOUNG: Protostar (Species) 2:43
    Orchestra and Choir Conducted by Pete Anthony

  12. ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL: The Spirit Within (Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within) 2:01
    London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices Conducted by Dirk Brossé

  13. JOHN WILLIAMS: The Intersection Scene (War of the Worlds) 3:59
    Orchestra Conducted by John Williams

  14. DIMITRI TIOMKIN: Melting Sequence (The Thing from Another World) 1:32
    National Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Charles Gerhardt

  15. DANNY ELFMAN: Destructo X (Mars Attacks!) 1:13
    Orchestra Conducted by Artie Kane

  16. DAVID ARNOLD: Close Encounter (Independence Day) 3:31
    Orchestra and Choir Conducted by Nicholas Dodd

  17. DENNIS McCARTHY: Closing Credits (V: The Final Battle) 1:41
    Dennis McCarthy, Synthesizers

  18. JAMES NEWTON HOWARD: Main Titles (Signs) 1:38
    Orchestra Conducted by Pete Anthony

  19. DAVID NEWMAN: Critters Hunt for Lunch (Critters) 3:39
    Orchestra Conducted by David Newman

  20. DANNY ELFMAN: The Light (Men in Black II) 5:40
    Orchestra Conducted by Pete Anthony

  21. CHRISTOPHER YOUNG: Star Bright (Species) 4:54
    Orchestra and Choir Conducted by Pete Anthony

  22. JOHN WILLIAMS: The Ferry Scene (War of the Worlds) 5:39
    Orchestra and Choir Conducted by John Williams

  23. ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL: Adagio and Transfiguration (Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within) 5:19
    London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices Conducted by Dirk Brossé

  24. CHRISTOPHER YOUNG: End Title (Invaders from Mars) 3:45
    City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Nicholas Raine

When I say "specific," I mean that all of the cues on this album until the very end are somehow directly related the aliens themselves and their presence (or direct implication thereof)

There was absolutely no question as to what I would open this disc with; Leith Stevens' crashing, portentous prelude from George Pal's colorful 1953 production of War of the Worlds. This immediately puts any questions as to the genre at rest, of which H.G. Wells' novel is, of course, a major cornerstone. I had several recordings available to me; I ended up settling on the dire Erich Kunzel performance as I felt that it had the most immediacy. I immediately move us to the quietest part of this album, "In the Cornfield," a mysterious cue from James Newton Howard's masterful score for the not-so-masterful M. Night Shamalyan film Signs (I should clarify: I thought the film was absolutely brilliant until the very end, which I thought was so horrifically bad that it completely soured the previous two hours for me).

Now, compiling an album of this subgenre without including a theremin somewhere is unthinkable. I chose the creeping "Desert Rendezvous," a Henry Mancini cue from It Came from Outer Space. This is the Mancini who composed Lifeforce (track 8); his popular career often eclipsing his beginnings as a B movie composer (this score among many others were composed in collaboration with others, as was customary at Universal in the 50s). This segues into the frantic "Critter Convention," an action cue from Nicholas Pike's enjoyable Critters 2: The Main Course score (a film I have never seen). We go from nasty little buggers to conquerers of the world with Ken Freeman's pomp-and-circumstance arrangement of his title theme for The Tripods heard in "The City of Gold," heard in a key sequence in the second series as the protagonists manage to penetrate into the stronghold of the mysterious tripods. Of all the shows that never completed their expected runs, The Tripods in some ways hits kind of hardest, as the fleshing-out (and maturation) of John Christopher's books yielded an involving first season (The White Mountains) and a dazzling second (The City of Gold and Lead). It is a shame that The Pool of Fire never got made; this program will forever be two-thirds complete... and that's only if they ever release the second season on DVD (no edition available for Region 1). Freeman's collection of Tripods music, while generous, unfortunately didn't have one of my favorite themes from the series, the sly guitar theme for the resourceful Fritz, damn it.

Things get a little slinkier with "Martian Madame" from the satirical Tim Burton film Mars Attacks! - the reuniting of Burton with Danny Elfman after their conflict during the production of The Nightmare Before Christmas (Howard Shore would end up scoring what I believe to be Burton's best - and certainly most personal - film, Ed Wood). This nifty little piece serves as a little respite before two operatic tracks. The first is the thunderous "The Darkest Day," which, being from Independence Day, was in the running for inclusion on my David Arnold compilation Myth, Faith, Belief. It was eliminated very late in the process, and it was serendipitous that the file was still on the computer when I began working out the program for this disc. Henry Mancini returns with the evil strains of "Carlson's Story," one of my favorite cues from his masterpiece of a score for Lifeforce. While I've always enjoyed this cue, I've found it very difficult to incorporate into anything previously, but it fit perfectly here The relatively subdued opening eventually opens out into some jagged parts that really shows off talents of the London Symphony Orchestra's lauded brass section.

In respite from the last two tracks, we hear the intimate sounds of "D's Memories" from Danny Elfman's 'return to form' score from Men in Black (one wonders when he's going to start thinking about returning from form already). The quiet moment is shattered by the "Chase" portion of the cue, featuring the electronics and trademark Elfmanisms. The crescendo leads into the tense "Battle Plans" sequence from Predator. For the lead-up to the final fight, Alan Silvestri composed a reserved, white-knuckle version of his main Predator theme. This leads to the introspective "Protostar" from Species, a film notable primarily for the talented performances of both of Natasha Henstridge's breasts and Christopher Young's intelligent score. Ligeti-esque textures lead up to monolithic brass statements in the opening from Elliot Goldenthal's Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, an interesting failure that nevertheless yielded one of the composer's strongest (and most accessible) scores.

Rumbling from the lowest registers of the orchestra open a harrowing piece from John Williams ferocious score for Steven Spielberg's remake of War of the Worlds, "The Intersection Scene." This was another case where this score is represented on another of my discs, in this case Watch the Skies, but luckily for this album it was not one of the cues that made the final edit. The labyrinthine textures of "The Melting Sequence" from Dimitri Tiomkin's iconic score for Howard Hawks' The Thing from Another World leads to a crescendo that leads us to that "Fun-Fa" sound of Elfman's main Mars Attacks! theme in "Destructo X." The obligatory alien autopsy is given nervous strings and surging brass in "Close Encounter" from David Arnold's Independence Day score. The foreboding titles of V: The Final Battle by Dennis McCarthy was a late but, I felt, essential inclusion... on the other hand, the balls-to-the-wall main title from Signs was always on the menu for this particular meal.

Those nasty little Critter bastards return, this time in a cue from the David Newman score for the first movie, which features an interesting 'skittering' sound for the malicious creatures. This leads directly into "The Light," the finale from Men in Black II, for which Elfman provided an extension of his score for the first film. This cue showcases several of the primary themes from the films, culminating in an authoritative reading of the main title theme. The end title from Chris Young's Species then presents the reserved main theme of that film, a haunting work featuring an ethereal choir.

For the closing sequence of the album, I let things get really, really dirty again with "The Ferry Scene," one of the most visually arresting sequences from War of the Worlds. John Williams' score is angry, violent and relentless, with percussion, brass and basses often thundering in counterpoint, the most present sense of conflict and desperation heard on this album. I followed with the beautiful - and very cathartic - "Adagio and Transfiguration" from Elliot Goldenthal's Final Fantasy. This is a further advancement of the "Adagio" from his breakthrough Alien³ score (heard in some depth in my Alien Quartet compilation), but taken to a further, more moving extreme. The uninterrupted Americana sound of Christopher Young's end title from the 1986 remake of Invaders from Mars signals that the alien threat has finally been vanquished.

Tags: alan silvestri, christopher young, danny elfman, david arnold, elliot goldenthal, film music, henry mancini, james newton howard, john williams, my mixes
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