Clearly, this album has been produced to showcase the talents of the composer
of the music for the fabulously successful TV series, The X-Files.
Indeed, the most substantial track on the album is a 31+ minute suite of
Snow's music from that series produced, arranged and performed(?) by John
Beal. I insert the question mark after 'performed', because I am not sure
just what function Mr Beal performs in the performance process? Surely he
can't keep running around all the ensemble from instrument to instrument?
(John, I'm pulling your leg!)
In this site's review pages I think I have expressed my aversion for the
dragging chains and escaping steam effects of much of the genre of synth
music so I approached the X-Files track with some trepidation. Yet, actually
I was quite agreeably surprised. I qualify the statement with the word 'quite'
because, for me, 31 minutes was rather too much and I think the suite would
have been more effective for some snipping away of less interesting, more
clichéd material. Having said that, the combination of Snow and Beal
has produced music that has plenty of imagination, ingenuity, and variety
of texture, timbre and tempi. I liked the way, for instance that Beal builds
up an atmosphere of mystery and apprehension and the way he suggests an alien
abduction as the music gathers to whoosh skywards before he introduces Snow's
famous "whistling" main X-Files theme, which he then proceeds to develop
at some length. Elsewhere one can appreciate the debt Snow must owe to John
Williams's score for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The opening Main theme - La Femme Nikita again employs synth music
imaginatively in a tense Gallic-flavoured essay with interesting urban effects
like police sirens to the heighten atmosphere.
Four tracks follow under the collective title 'Darkness and Desire.' 'The
Dark Waltz' from Seduced and Betrayed dances uncomfortably close to
Jerry Goldsmith's sensuous lines for Basic Instinct. I enjoyed the
sultry ballad that is the love theme from Conundrum with the smoky
voice of Cassandra Crossland. An imaginative dark use of the harp lifts the
music for A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story. Jagged outbursts
effectively penetrate the textures of the score for Caroline at
A further four tracks are gathered under the umbrella appellation of 'Love
and Hope.' Snow's high-strings orientated music for 20,000 Leagues Under
the Sea score echoes John Barry's style. I liked the more tenderly romantic
folksy material for The Substitute Wife. Oldest Living Confederate Wife
is even more folksy and reminded me very much of David Mansfield's score
for Heaven's Gate reviewed above. (Some of these films have
the most extraordinary titles - many of these TV films never cross the Atlantic
to us here in the UK; or maybe they change their titles half way over?)
Smoke Jumpers, a 1996 TV movie about a crew of parachute fire-fighters,
has a rather routine heroics score.
The collection closes with three diverse tracks. Dark
Justice is gothic and zombie-like; Max Headroom is headache-provoking
heavy rock and Pee-Wee is sheer comic madness in the Danny Elfman tadition
- a quirky piece of music using speeded-up vocal samples.
and Paul Tonks adds
Snow is now instantly bagged and tagged with The X-Files, and naturally that
is this disc's selling point - a half hour suite from the show. It is this
that makes and breaks the album. It'll be exactly what fans of the show were
expecting. It's also a great departure from the other material on the album.
Unfortunately, it's almost too much of a departure in that the downbeat downturn
it takes detracts from the chirpier surroundings. Right after you get bonus
tracks which include Pee Wee's Playhouse and Max Headroom. They're light-hearted
enough to almost rightside the disc after the 30 minutes of gloom. Since
it was all preceded by so much warm, it's possibly just a wee case of ill-advised
The preceding high spots include A Woman Scorned, Conundrum, Caroline At
Midnight, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and The Substitute Wife. The surprise
instrument voices, and mellow timbres indicate there's so much more the Muldur
& Scully fans need to appreciate. So all in all it's an album with the
potential to impress most of its listeners for one reason or the other. Just
remember that most CD units have the capacity to re-order tracks !