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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mark Snow -- The X-Files: Original Motion Picture Score

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Mark's Snow's soundtrack for the 1998 film, The X:Files Fight the Future, was released more than two weeks before the movie. Befitting the nerddom I have revealed this week, I picked up the album the week of its release, eagerly poring over its music, which, for the next 17 days, would be completely free of associated imagery. Using the track-titles and music, I pieced together what the film could be in my imagination. The weekend of the film's release, my family was vacationing in the "Cajun Paradise" of Grand Isle, Louisiana. I picked up a Nintendo Power on the way there, excitedly read the cover story for Banjo Kazooie, listened to my X-Files CD. To be 16 is a wonderful thing. We got back home Sunday, and I caught a ride to the movie theater (RIP Siegen Village). While I admittedly enjoyed the film, and still do, nothing could have matched the one I created in my head to Mark Snow's music.
Mark Snow had the dual enviable/non-enviable task of translating his music for X-Files the television show to X-Files the movie. Enviably, Snow now had a much larger variety of available tools in his composing arsenal. Unenviably, Snow had to create a huge-sounding orchestral score that could soundtrack a film, while staying true to the tone and sounds of the dozens of hours of music he composed for the soundtrack for the television series. Thankfully, Snow was up to the task.
Snow's The X-Files: Original Motion Picture Scoreis a good one by film soundtrack standards, suspenseful and thrilling, yet ruminative when necessary. It matches executive producer Christ Carter's wishes for atonalism without sacrificing listenability. It is also an excellent translation of Snow's previous work for the show. For example, the The X-Files' main whistle-theme receives a major upgrade at the beginning of the film, but loses none of its enjoyability. Spellcheck says "enjoyability" and "listenability" and even "atonalism" are not words, but I'm gonna go with them.

What's really cool here is how Snow took the percussion, emblematic of his work on the show, but often synthesized, and fully realized it for the film. It's a timpani symphony! The synthesizer translates to strings and horns well, and Snow manages to get some of his distinctive minor key piano work in, as well. Also, as a fan, looking for echoes of themes from the show is quite a treat.
Finally, the way Snow flirts with the melody of the show's original whistle-theme after its dominant announcement in the opening track is particularly satisfying. He often will play a couple of notes from it, then take off in unexpected directions--that way, the few times he allows the orchestra to fully rip into it are more cathartic. While most of the score unfolds chronologically with the film, the producers wisely placed the film-closing, exposition-backing "Facts" as the penultimate track here, allowing the climactic "Crater Hug" to close out the album. As a final statement of Snow's X-Files theme in the film, it is a particularly powerful celebration of the deepened bond between the franchise's leading duo.

Why didn't Scully just look up?! The UFO was right there!!!

1998 Elektra
1. Threnody in X 3:13
2. B.C. Blood 2:26
3. Goop 4:17
4. Soda Pop 4:45
5. Already Dead 1:42
6. Cave Base 1:31
7. Remnants 2:10
8. Fossil Swings 0:58
9. Plague 3:22
10. Goodbye Bronschweig 2:40
11. A Call to Arms 0:57
12. Crossroads 2:17
13. Corn Hives 3:04
14. Corn Copters 2:35
15. Out of Luck 1:00
16. Stung Kissing/Cargo Hold 4:11
17. Come and Gone 5:27
18. Trust No One 2:51
19. Ice Base 1:33
20. Mind Games 3:52
21. Nightmare 2:44
22. Pod Monster Suite 5:21
23. Facts 2:35
24. Crater Hug 2:05

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