This is an album that is supposed to take the listener through the sonic worlds created for different films. These soundscapes are very diverse, but they have certain commonalities that I use to bring you from one to the other. Each one is unique on this album, but is able to be part of a greater whole. I have long been intrigued by film music because of its variety, and the idioms that can be mixed into the process; I have already made one mix about this interest, The Farthest Reaches. There are some stylistic similarities between that album and this one, as there are with The Philosopher. The point of any mix is to try to provide a new context for music, and finding similarities in styles and methods within film music can yield interesting results, as I feel my mix Flight demonstrates. This album is, believe it or not, a musical essay on the difficulty of finding true inner peace in such a troubled world. It is there, the album says with cues such as "Strength and Honor" and "Above Water," there... just beyond reach. It is therefore no secret why so many of these cues come from films that are either epics or have an operatic quality to them. This is a very textural mix, the overall sound being much of the attraction to the individual tracks. As a result, there is a certain sensuality that seems to come up that informs the whole project.
The Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Volksoper Choir Conducted by Marty Paich
2. CARTER BURWELL: The Rieving Party (2:09)
from "Rob Roy"
Orchestra Conducted by Sonny Kompanek
Miriam Stockley, Vocal
Tommy Hayes, Bodhran
3. HANS ZIMMER: Strength and Honor (2:07)
The Lyndhurst Orchestra Conducted by Gavin Greenaway
4. VANGELIS: Deliverance (3:21)
from "1492: Conquest of Paradise"
English Chamber Choir Conducted by Guy Protheroe
Bruno Manjarres & Pepe Martinez, Guitars
5. PETER GABRIEL: Of These, Hope (2:38)
from "The Last Temptation of Christ"
Peter Gabriel, Keyboards, Percussion, Bass, Flute Whistle
Lakshminarayana Shankar, Double Violin
David Rhodes, Guitar
Mustafa Abdel Aziz, Arghul Drone
Massamba Dlop, Talking Drum
Baaba Maal, Vocal
Fatala, Additional Percussion
6. BRIAN TYLER: The Impossible Wager (2:49)
from "Children of Dune"
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Adam Klemens
Brian Tyler, Exotic Instrumentation
7. JOHN BARRY: May's Funeral (2:25)
from "The Specialist"
Orchestra and Choir Conducted by John Barry
8. MICHAEL ANDREWS: Burn It Down (1î:40)
from "Donnie Darko"
Michael Andrews, Piano, Keyboards
Sam Shelton & Tori Haberman, Vocals
9. JAMES NEWTON HOWARD: Driftwood Hideaway (1:37)
from "Snow Falling on Cedars"
Orchestra Conducted by Artie Kane
Los Angeles Master Chorale Conducted by Paul Salumnovich
Bill Shozan Schultz, Shakuhachi
10. JOCELYN POOK: Naval Officer (4:44)
from "Eyes Wide Shut"
Orchestra Conducted by Harvey Brough
Sophie Harris, 'Cello
Jacqueline Norrie, Violin
Clare Finnimore, Viola
11. GRAEME REVELL: Reunited (3:01)
from "Dead Calm"
Nicholas Ferner-Waite, Soprano
Jolanta Nagajek, Contralto
12. TAN DUN: Above Water (1:36)
China Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus Conducted by Tan Dun
Liu Lie, Guqin (Ancient Lute)
13. HOWARD BLAKE: Into the Fog (1:17)
from "The Riddle of the Sands"
The National Philharmonic Orchestra of London Conducted by Howard Blake
The John McCarthy Singers Conducted by David Shaw
Christopher Taylor, Flute
14. BASIL POLEDOURIS: Gift of Fury (3:11)
from "Conan the Barbarian"
The Orchestra and Chorus of Santa Cecelia and the
Radio Symphony of Rome Conducted by Basil Poledouris
15. IVA DAVIES, CHRISTOPHER GORDON, RICHARD TOGNETTI: The Far Side of the World (4:48)
from "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World"
Orchestra Conducted by Christopher Gordon
Iva Davies, Electronics
Michael Fisher, Percussion
Richard Tognetti, Violin
16. ELENI KARAINDROU: Ulysses' Theme (1:09)
from "Ulysses' Gaze"
String Orchestra Conducted by Lefteris Chalkiadakis
Kim Kashkashian, Viola
17. JOHN FRIZZELL: Sydney's Theme (0:48)
Orchestra Conducted by Tim Jones
Eileen Frizzell, Mezzo-Soprano
18. DANNY ELFMAN: Prologue (2:44)
from "The Hulk"
Orchestra Conducted by Pete Anthony
19. TOTO: Final Dream (1:24)
The Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Volksoper Choir Conducted by Marty Paich
The album opens with melodically with "Paul Meets Chani" from Dune, a sweet theme that segues into the haunting motif representing destiny in the film. The Shostakovichian textures and muted choir add an air of mystery to the cue. I carefully introduced the rhythmic "The Rieving Party" from Rob Roy, a track I used on the original version of The Philosopher but not the revision, which features a percussive base with vocals and a surging orchestral phrase. The love/hate relationship I have with Hans Zimmer's score for Gladiator does not preclude my use of it when I think appropriate (which is why it makes an appearance on The Farthest Reaches. In this case, I chose the "Strength and Honor," a quietly rousing anthem played on synthesizers with orchestral accompaniment.
Ominous Spanish guitars over thick electronic textures mark the entrance of "Deliverance" from 1492: Conquest of Paradise, a masterpiece by Vangelis, which has a choral bridge. "Of These, Hope" from Peter Gabriel's The Last Temptation of Christ is actually the reprise of that theme on the Passion album. A yearning high-pitched electronic motif is repeated as a neo-World rhythmic section is added. This leads us directly into a cue that perfectly encapsulates the power of Brian Tyler's music for the Children of Dune mini-series; an exotic percussive sound is heard under and orchestral buildup; this buildup is repeated, but with additional electronic soundscapes added until the orchestra retreats, only to return with a vengeance for the track's climax, which is followed by a burst of percussion.
A dark piano motif introduces the next track, which then opens out to an expansive choral melody; this is "May's Funeral" from The Specialist (the cue has the cumbersome title of "Ray Meets May at Her Funeral" on the score album), one of John Barry's best scores of the '90s, a throwback to the more intense Bond pictures. "Burn It Down" from Michael Andrews' strange and compelling Donnie Darko follows, with two vocalists intoning over drones and a piano motif. An air of innocent calm then enters with "Driftwood Hideaway" from James Newton Howard's magnum opus Snow Falling On Cedars. Beauty and tension mix in "Naval Officer" from Jocelyn Pook's enigmatic score for Eyes Wide Shut, featuring a string trio over a string orchestra. The tone is decidedly dark at the beginning of "Reunited" from Graeme Revell's first (and to date, most respected) score Dead Calm. Building electronic drones converge to form a short melody as the sounds of human breath mix with percussion to form a barbaric rhythm.
A gentle lute base leads to a male choir in "Above Water," from Tan Dun's masterful Hero, a portrait of perfect serenity. "Into the Fog" from Howard Blake's The Riddle of the Sands consists of mysterioso string textures and a choral bed. This is followed by the almost liturgical choral and orchestral sound of "Gift of Fury" from Basil Poledouris' operatic Conan the Barbarian. This track was actually a late addition to the mix; while I was testing out different pieces, I thought that "Above Water" kind of reminded me of "Gift of Fury" a bit... so I figured why not try to see if "Gift of Fury" fit? I think it does rather nicely.
In a break from the more traditional sounds that had been heard in the tracks just previous, I introduced the percussive "The Far Side of the World" from the Davies/Tognetti/Gordon collaboration Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World; eschewing a more traditional nautical approach, the result sounds closer to a modern technothriller score (epitomized by Poledouris' The Hunt for Red October) than it does an old sea movie, which lends the film an air of authenticity; Iva Davies contributed spacey electronics to represent the vastness of the ocean, Richard Tognetti brings intense violin sawing and Christopher Gordon laid down the orchestral spine of piece. Another track included on the original version of The Philosopher is then heard; "Ulysses' Theme" from Ulysses' Gaze by Eleni Karaindrou, a placid piece for string orchestra and solo viola. "Sydney's Theme" from John Frizzell's music from the television series VR.5 is a solo female vocalist with a string backing.
I then decided to climax the album with the mounting tension of Danny Elfman's "Prologue" from Hulk, which features a vocal bridge, and another buildup. The final track is another from Dune, ending us where we started with "Final Dream," a powerful crescendo of the destiny theme. Back in the days of mix tape cassettes (remember them?), this track often ended my mixes because it was short enough to fit after you've mostly filled a side, and it doesn't quite resolve, leaving the feeling that there is something still there, just around the corner.
I had a lot of fun working on this one, and I have also been enjoying it for the past few days. It doesn't run as long as most of my mixes have in the past; in a break from my standard practice, there is no "Side 1" or "Side 2" in concept here, only one continuous flow. I designed the album to lend itself well to the DTS surround matrixing process Neo:6 which derives a 6.1 soundfield from a stereo source, and I have to say that I have been quite pleased with the results. The enveloping soundfield perfectly matches the tone of the album without disturbing the preciseness of its texture. I think this one works.