Sunday, October 20, 2013

Soundtrack Suggestion: Millennium Limited Edition OST - Mark Snow [2 of 2]

 Millennium TV Limited Edition (2CD)
by Mark Snow
Part Two of Two

This is the second part of the Soundtrack Suggestion and review of Millennium Limited Edition soundtrack. You can find the first one here.

As mentioned in the first one, the soundtrack is composed of 51 tracks, split to two Discs (Disc one has 51 tracks and Disc two has 50) and runs a total of 148 :47 minutes. And the second disk opens with an extended rendition of the Main Theme.  Main Title (Disc 02, Track 01) gives us the 3:33 minute long version which just sounds wrong to me.  The vocal track Main Title - Vocal Remix (Disc 02, Track 25) remains hilarious.

Like before, the tracks are based on key episodes.

Midnight of the Century
Delete (Disc 02, Track 02) has an almost positive feeling in its tune.  But this feeling fades quickly into an almost ethereal haunting song.    Branches/Angels (Disc 02, Track 03) in contrast sounds more grounded at the onset, but shifts to chimes and voices that resound an almost innocent motif.  By the 40-second mark the two give way to synths that give a feeling of yearning and sadness.  But then at the 2:30 mark, the music completely shifts to a more sinister haunting song suggesting a larger scheme at work.

Damascus (Disc 02, Track 04) opens with what sounds like strings and carries itself with a middle-eastern feel.  At the 1:50 mark, the song shifts gears to chimes and lots of metallic banging which swirls into a dizzying spiral of discordant harmonies.  At 3:00, the song is replaced by an almost imposing thematic motif you'd expect when the Hollywood bad guy is revealed, and then spirals back at 3:40 into a more religious sounding experience.   The Subject (Disc 02, Track 05)  shifts gears and uses the main theme's leitmotif as its introduction.  Hopeful and inspiring, the track tries to give a positive slant to the mood, but at 2:50 that hope might need a bit more help from outside sources.    Aerotech (Disc 02, Track 06) is a dark lumbering piece that just seems to lose hope.

Trail (Disc 02, Track 07) is a struggling piece that wants to rise up but seems weighed down by a looming threat.

Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me
Alarm (Disc 02, Track 08) opens with a vicious sequence of strings but suddenly catches you off guard at 44 seconds into an almost comical carnival-esque tune.  This would have sounded odd and pointless before, but ever since America McGee's Alice and Silent Hill made carnivals wonderful horror venues, the track works.
X-Fyles (Disc 02, Track 09) is a wacky parody of the X-Files theme.  The carnival leitmotif returns here for a few bars, then ends with another X-Files parody theme.  Overall, its a perfect piece if you were to ever spoof the X-files in your game.  Sympathy of the... (Disc 02, Track 10) is the climactic track for this batch, with an almost noir introduction that shifts to the carnival leitmotif.   Here, the whole piece comes together with a closing moment that blends the show's main theme with the carnival touch.

The Time Is Now
Hot Birds (Disc 02, Track 11) is a lukewarm piece that barely shifts in mood (unlike most of the tracks in the album).  As most pieces, this offers a tiny light of hope but offers it with some level of calm that the others did not have.   The Peter Principle (Disc 02, Track 12) tries to carry the same mood of the first, but in a more embodied way with piano keys carrying the harmony and strings whimpering the main themes of the batch. But I feel the track loses itself in the 1:08 minute mark when the mood shifts to a percussion-lead piece which embraces a sense of foreboding danger.  I feel the two could have been two separate loopable pieces.
Catherine (Disc 02, Track 13) tries to offer a sense of completion to the batch, with the main themes being carefully drawn out.

Silence is Golden (Disc 02, Track 14) begins with a solo piano echoing in the silence but is then overshadowed by looming danger.  The track continues with a dark foreboding threat, but kind of gets too campy in its execution.  Candy (Disc 02, Track 15) is a darker play on themes which I was enjoying until it hit the two-minute mark and decided to remind us all of what 90s tv music sounded like, which is really sad since the latter part of the soundtrack (3:20 minute mark) the song gets hauntingly cool in ways I which the whole track was instead.

Santos Elves (Disc 02, Track 16) opens with a dreamy Christmasy feel of lightness and joy.  The song goes all the nine yards with a woman vocalizing at some point that you'd imagine snow-capped mountains and dancing angels.  Unwrapped Gift (Disc 02, Track 17) opens with a sense of normalcy and carries it all throughout the track.  It ends with a series of chimes which you almost fear will go badly... but doesn't.
Love Jordan / Hobbit House (Disc 02, Track 18) has the vocalization return and take center stage.  This time even a male voice joins the vocalization.  While still hopeful like the first two, the constant vocalization pushes this track to the WTF level.
The Way It Was (Disc 02, Track 19) sounds like something you'd hear from those guys selling those magic flute thingies - a kareoke version of some song - til the vocalizations return.  And suddenly its like some second coming gone bad.

Goodbye To All That
Shrapnel (Disc 02, Track 20) is a return to the darkness and foreboding atmosphere of the show.  The piece maintains a pulse-steady beat until it shifts to an almost silent piece with nothing but the synthesized piano leading the new theme into focus.
Channel 14 (Disc 02, Track 21) maintains the dark and abysmal mood that was started by Shrapnel.  The track is definitely heavier, with at point having a repeating high pitched whine reminiscent of the infamous Psycho screeching.
Locked Out (Disc 02, Track 22) is like a farewell piece to the first two.  Sad. Dark.  Succumbing.
Drilling (Disc 02, Track 23) opens with a sense of tragic panic, but then quickly slides into a state of defeat.  The music laments.  It makes you feel that you've failed.  It makes you feel that you've... 3:00 mark and suddenly the piano kicks in and there's hope.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel. This track is wicked.
End Title (Disc 02, Track 24) once again returns to the show's main theme as a book end close to the soundtrack.  It feels like a cheat though, to realize this appears far too many times in the album.

Overall, the soundtrack is a very difficult one to use in games, but for games where heaviness is vital to the mood this one works nicely.  I found it amusing how the second disc had so many WTF tracks in it.  But then again, this was a service to the fans, so I understand why they'd make sure to throw in the funny moments in there.

Definitely not a soundtrack for beginning game masters who want to try using music to support their games.

Millennium OST track suggestions:
WTF moment: Main Title (Disc 02, Track 01), Main Title - Vocal Remix (Disc 02, Track 25), Alarm (Disc 02, Track 08), X-Fyles (Disc 02, Track 09), Sympathy of the... (Disc 02, Track 10), Love Jordan / Hobbit House (Disc 02, Track 18), The Way It Was (Disc 02, Track 19)
Introspective/calm moment: Hot Birds (Disc 02, Track 11), Catherine (Disc 02, Track 13), Santos Elves (Disc 02, Track 16), Unwrapped Gift (Disc 02, Track 17)
Tense/mystery moment: Damascus (Disc 02, Track 04), The Peter Principle (Disc 02, Track 12), Silence is Golden (Disc 02, Track 14), Candy (Disc 02, Track 15), Shrapnel (Disc 02, Track 20), Channel 14 (Disc 02, Track 21)
Combat music: None
Hopeful moment: Delete (Disc 02, Track 02), The Subject (Disc 02, Track 05)
Drama/sad moment: Branches/Angels (Disc 02, Track 03), Aerotech (Disc 02, Track 06), Trail (Disc 02, Track 07), Locked Out (Disc 02, Track 22), Drilling (Disc 02, Track 23), End Title (Disc 02, Track 24)  

Best Used In: Dark, depressing, heavy games like Tremulus or Kult.  Can still be used in games were horror is an added feature such as Night's Black Agents and Monster Hearts, but the music seems more suited in games where the players don't seem to have much hope.  

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