Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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"This is Rumor Control. Here are the facts!"

I have had an Alien compilation in my possession in one form or another since the early 90s and on various formats, including tape cassette and minidisc before I graduated to CDs, but it really wasn't until the release of Alien on DVD in 1999 with the isolated score tracks that I was able to put together something that truly satisfied me (the subsequent "Quadrillogy" version, while superior in image and sound quality, drops this feature). Nevertheless, the truth is that save for one notable exception, my Alien mixes have tended to be pretty similar to one another through the years, which meant that I made a suite out of each score and they play successively. I once tried mixing up the tracks, but the scores are so wildly different in tone that while they didn't really blend together very well.

A few days ago, spurred by my acquisition of Adobe Audition, I began a new revision on my Alien Quartet compilation. I had intended to redo this disc since the Intrada release of the complete score with alternates of Jerry Goldsmith's masterful Alien. The new presentation of the score is much superior in sound quality to either the Silva Screen CD or the isolated score track on the 1999 DVD (which was also hampered by low bit rate Dolby Digital encoding, 192 kb/s on one track, 128 kb/s on the other), both of which featured the music buried under a layer of hiss. I did not expect to completely re-think how I approached the presentation of the music from that film.

It would be one thing if it stopped there, but it didn't. The versatility of the new program allowed me not only to do things I couldn't before, but also that which I could already do but much more easily. As a result, I started giving a good, hard listen to the component scores with an ear towards taking the suite concept a step further. I made some hard decisions, dropping a single favorite cue from each Aliens ("Ripley's Rescue") and Alien³ ("Visit To the Wreckage") because they were similar enough to other cues that I was including ("Futile Escape" and "The Beast Within," respectively) in favor of other material that explores different aspects of those scores. The new disc takes the "Symphonic Suite" concept much more to as its core, and so each one has its own shape and flavor, roughly following the contours of the related film but not strictly chronological.

I hadn't really intended for this disc to be as big of a project as it ended up being; not necessarily rote, but pretty routine. However, the reason why it became so involved was because not only was I discovering what I could do with Adobe Audition, but I was also rediscovering these scores as I was working on figuring out how best to represent them in context, thus giving me a new appreciation of very familiar music, which is a great gift. If there has been three versions of the Alien score so far, Goldsmith's intended score, his LP assembly and what appears in the film, my suite is yet a fourth iteration with its own structure and concept, which then extended to how I presented Aliens and Alien³, both of which have some big differences from my previous configurations, and improvements to the sound quality and stereo image on the additional tracks from Alien Resurrection so that they match those from the RCA Victor CD. I am very pleased with how much fun I've had working on this disc, and I Audition allows me more control over the sonic properties and dynamic range than I had previously, making it much easier to keep uniform levels throughout.

One caveat, however, is that Audition doesn't do overburning, so I still have to create the disc image itself in Nero, which is an aspect of the process that hasn't changed. The final running time of the disc (provided I don't make any additional changes, which at this stage is doubtful) is an even 83 minutes, making this the longest mix I've made yet. The disc is, for the most part, finished. I just have to give it a few more spins to make sure that there isn't anything left for me to do on it and I'll be ready to finalize the track listing. I have already posted the cover art and have a listing in the Film Series Compilations section on my mix list.

In sadder news, we have lost conductor Erich Kunzel to cancer this Tuesday. While this was not sudden, it was nevertheless something of a blow as he had been a champion of film music for most of the years that he was the principle conductor of the Cincinnati Pops orchestra. He conducted several albums for Telarc that introduced me to scores I was unfamiliar with at the time such as Henry Mancini's Lifeforce and Craig Safan's The Last Starfighter, but have since become favorites. I must direct people to ehowton's emotional tribute to the Kunzel which he cross-posted to filmscore.

1935 — 2009
Tags: alien, audio, craig safan, elliot goldenthal, film music, henry mancini, james horner, jerry goldsmith, john frizzell, memorial, mix workshop
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