***** Danny Elfman’s Tales From The Crypt
**** Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek
*** Mark Snow’s The X-Files
** Dennis McCarthy’s Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
* High School Band’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra”
Television has been bringing us more and more original science fiction series of late, with varying degrees of originality and innovation. Along with those attempts at futuristic plotting and special effecting, come challenges for Hollywood musical directors to create sonic backdrops that at least occasionally hint of the “alien” nature of the events depicted in the drama. Both “Farscape” and “Batman Beyond” have sculpted memorable musical moments that have recently made their way from the TV speaker to CD.
Subvision & Guy Gross
Farscape: Music from the Original Soundtrack
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Fans of the Sci-Fi Channel’s innovative and challenging original science fiction series “Farscape,” produced by The Jim Henson Company, can now get the soundtrack music from the show’s first two seasons on the CD Farscape: Music From The Original Soundtrack.
The CD features 23 tracks, including both the long and short versions of the infectious and exotic “Theme From Farscape” (the short version is what is used to open the TV show).
If you haven’t given the show a chance yet, you should; the scripts in this ongoing “epic” pull few punches, and follow a group of lead characters who have as many flaws as saving graces. It’s a refreshingly real bit of characterization in a TV genre that tends to absolutely glorify the good guys and vilify the bad. Despite the technicolor nature of some of “Farscape”’s aliens, these characters know plenty about shades of grey.
Some of the soundtrack music, composed by SubVision and Guy Gross, is your basic background orchestral fare– the kind of thing you’d hear playing behind scenes in a variety of feature films. The string-laden “Goodbye,” from the episode “PK Tech Girl” is so genteel, it could (except for the synthesized bits) have been lifted from a family TV show like “The Waltons,” and “Namtar’s Magic” from the episode “DNA Mad Scientist,” is a soothing composition of strings and choral “ahhs” that even includes a harp, before some heavy timpani and bass creep in to add a dark tone. You’d expect more “out-there-ness” from a show that has such an evocative theme song and bizarre cast of characters and situations (muppet aliens mix with irridescent blue and chalk-white women and living spaceships – and they pull it off without it coming across as a kid’s live-action cartoon).
Other segments include more exotic themes, like the gruff and ethereal vocalese grunts and wails that accompany the title track, or the combination of aboriginal percussion with synthesized eerieness in “Time Trouble” from the episode “Back and Back and Back to the Future” or the pounding Indian rhythms of “Tannot Grooves” from the episode “Thank God It’s Friday.”
While there are no episode themes here that are quite as evocative and catchy as the show’s theme song, fans of the series will no doubt want this soundtrack to play as background just to remind them of “Farscape.” And non-fans who are looking for some often adventurous instrumental fair will enjoy Farscape for its mix of the exotic, eerie and orchestrally dramatic.
For more information, check the “Farscape” web site at www.farscape.com or order the disc directly from the GNP/Crescendo label at www.gnpcrescendo.com. GNP offers a vast array of science fiction movie and series tie-in soundtracks, including the soundtracks from the various “Star Trek” series.
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
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While on the subject of soundtracks of the fantastic, Rhino Records has released a second disc of music from the animated series “Batman Beyond.”
The new collection, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is the soundtrack for a direct-to-video animated movie, and, perhaps since it scores an entire movie, comes across as a little more orchestral and less cutting edge industrial than the previous Batman Beyond CD. The latter was a collection of themes taken from a variety of “Batman Beyond” television episodes. The latest installment from the “Batman Beyond” musical team still includes plenty of big crunchy fuzz-guitar riffs, though this time around Kristopher Carter heads it all up as lead writer and conductor. (The original Batman Beyond series disc was populated with the music from a handful of different writer/producers working for the animated series.)
The opening title track on Return of the Joker is a pounding rock anthem with wailing guitar leads and big orchestral breaks and sets the stage for the mix of cinematic orchestral drama and reckless guitar to follow. “Joker Crashes Bruce’s Party,” “Batman Defeats the Jokerz” and “Nightclub Fight/Terry Rescues Bruce” all have plenty of fast-churning buzzsaw guitars and pounding drums that will appeal to the modern music set, while “Terry Relieved of Duty” and “A Trap For Time” focus on cinematic orchestral accompaniment for a lighter, grander touch.
There’s also a remix vocal track featuring Mephisto Odyssey and Static-X in “Crash,” a heavy industrial anthem with a funky bass background that appeared in a different form on Mephisto Odyssey’s last CD. This is a great CD to crank up loud to lose yourself in the bombast.
For more information on “Batman Beyond,” check the web site at www.batmanbeyond.com.
John Everson’s “Pop Stops” music column has appeared weekly in the Chicago-area Star Newspapers for more than a decade. His “dark music” columns have appeared in Wetbones and Midnight Hour magazines and he’s published fiction in ‘zines like Bloodsongs, E-Scape, Grue, Plot, Terminal Fright, Sirius Visions and Dead of Night. His first hardcover collection of erotic horror fiction, Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions was released last fall from Delirium Books.