Friday, August 1, 2014

Soundtrack of the Month: August 2014

As a number of people have noticed, I've become a bit of a soundtrack nut over the last year or so. Something I've wanted to do for a long time is find a way to share some of my favorite movie, television and game scores with other people who enjoy such things. Thus, after some consulting with friends, I have started a Soundtrack of the Month series on my blog.

To start off, I have here to show one of the very first non-Doctor Who soundtracks I have ever owned, Michael Giacchino's majestic score to Star Trek Into Darkness. From soaring themes to slow and emotional melodies, it's definitely worth a listen.

Giacchino is also known for having scored the film's predecessor, Star Trek, the first of the rebooted film series. The Into Darkness score has very much a science fiction, "Star Trek" feel to it, and yet at the same time there are a lot of cues that sound as if they could have come straight from Star Wars as well. That is never, ever a bad thing. Also, Giacchino has a habit of titling a lot of his tracks as fairly lame puns, so watch out for that.

Featured Tracks
This section would be the "Top 3 Tracks" section if I could only limit myself to three favorite tracks on any given soundtrack. Instead, it's three of my favorite tracks.

Track 4: London Calling – An intricate and emotional song to go along with an emotional scene. It concludes by grandly introducing the villain's theme. Overall, a beautiful track.

Track 6: The Kronos Wartet – I love when composers include grand, Latin-chanting choirs. Giacchino, however, did not do this. Instead, he included a grand, Klingon-chanting choir. Awesome. As an added bonus, the villain's theme returns near the end.

Track 14: Star Trek Main Theme – Despite the title, this track only briefly includes the main Star Trek theme, and instead serves as the main theme for Star Trek Into Darkness. It's a theme that's heard every now and again throughout the movie, but here it is together as one awesome theme piece. It is, to this day, one of my favorite movie themes.

Note: The bonus track, "The Growl" by Conway, is exclusive to the digital version of the album (in the US). I apologize for any ear damage it might cause.

Purchase Star Trek Into Darkness: Music from the Motion Picture on Amazon or iTunes.
Or listen to it for free on Spotify or YouTube.

Also Note: On July 28, 2014, Varese Sarabande released a 2-disc deluxe edition of this soundtrack limited to only 6,000 copies. I have not listened to the new edition and thus will not give my thoughts. However, you may want to grab it while you can!

1 comment:

  1. Giacchino's incredibly active scores to his pair of Star Trek films come as something of a mixed bag to me. My problem is my overwhelming loyalty to the pre-Abrams universe and the scores that came before. My problem is comparing the new ones to the old, when they really shouldn't be. The tone of the new movies are rapid-fire, like much of it's current competition, so the Giacchino scores reflect that. J.J. is also a fast-paced director who likes to make every shot quick, sometimes to a fault, so goes the music, like it has to keep up with him.
    This is not all bad. The most troubling thing for me is the current theme, which just screams to be slowed down. It's like having someone push you from behind, forcing you to move on to the next thing while you weren't done gazing at the current... whatever. The Jerry Goldsmith scores of the past were more level, but then again those films held a more traditional pace and allowed the viewer to breathe in the glories of the future, the majesty of space travel, the wonders of the unknown. The current films lack this element and assume you, the viewer, need to be kept strictly within the current plot and any side notes must be rushed through. This gives Giacchino little room to maneuver.
    However - and especially in Into Darkness - he does the best he can to give life to the various tracks, giving them each a separate voice. His strength in composing Trek scores is the versatility of each track, letting them be individual in tone and almost playful in nature.
    Therein may lie my problem. The score as a whole doesn't carry beyond the individual track. There is not a solid tone blending them together like most of the past scores.
    Now, I will say, comparing this to 90% of the other scores out there for big budget action films today, this is a relatively good one. Just about EVERYONE else is trying hard to live in the shadow of Hans Zimmer. I applaud Giacchino (I can't wait to finish this post just for the reason of not having to spell that guys name anymore) for striving to be different from his contemporaries.
    I've had this soundtrack for over a year and have only listened to it a handful of times (once at a Forth of July fireworks event, as the background music in my headphones while grand finales were bursting before me - to which it worked as a fine, though not very American, soundtrack) and I do enjoy it. The Kronos Wartet and most of the end tracks are my faves. I think it is far better than his 2009 Trek score. Perhaps the next one will be even more of an improvement, who knows?
    A little birdie suggested there may be a much, much better score review in the coming months. Can't wait to comment.