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Let's get to it, shall we? Does this top John Carter (my favorite Giacchino score)? Not by a long shot. That score remains in another league of sci-fi scores, rubbing elbows with some of the greats. Does this top Star Trek (2009)? Yes, because it takes the best of that ultimately good but not knock your socks off score and evolves them into something more mature and musically a little more interesting. On top of that the quality increase over 2009 is aided by a much more full bodied mix courtesy of Joel Iwataki. For the first time in a long time, Michael's army of percussion instruments actually sound alive.

Two evil villains work in tandem against the Into Darkness soundtrack, keeping it from reaching the realm of greater sci-fi scores. One is its ridiculously short presentation, the other the break-neck pace of the film, together forming a nightmare dynamic duo that destroys any hope of musical cohesion. And by that I mean hold on to your hats and nuts, this is the Michael Giacchino Star Trek Variety 3/4 Hour. There is no beginning, middle, or end. And that's my biggest disappointment with the music. There is no clear musical narrative. That may be a problem with the short presentation, but the fast action pace of the film also means even with a longer presentation we are unlikely to see a proper beginning-middle-end musical narrative. So if you're looking for a slow-build up and setting the musical scene (which even the original film had), you will be sorely disappointed.

Instead what you do get is a mature, darker, and more challenging score with lovely ideas splattered across tracks that [in their disjointedness] span a rather curious array of sounds and styles. Furthermore, you can tell Michael Giacchino heard a great deal of complaining about the lack of "Star Trek" sound in the previous score. Consequently, Into Darkness sounds distinctly more Star Trek than 2009, but in the heat of the action it still largely retains the "excited action squirrel" sound (it's the best visual way of describing it to me) Michael has developed for himself by assigning his choppingly tremolo strings to the higher instruments as usual. The excited action squirrel sound is getting slightly tiresome as it robs some of the action of much needed gravitas.

Additionally, a couple of major new themes are included. Harrison's Theme is strong, memorable, although a little flat. Giacchino is still a weak composer when it comes to tension and release. Even in the concert version of the theme (not included on album), he struggles to build and release musical tension. So it works to the detriment of the theme. But the theme's overall presentation with interesting synthetic textures and instruments combats some of the flatness, if not all. The London Calling Theme is lovely and conveys a nice combination of sadness, pain, and anger. Wish we'd hear more of it weaved through the album.

The old (and some new) themes get taken into some fresh, exciting, and better territories. "Sub Prime Directive" is a perfect example of how noble and powerful Giacchino's Star Trek theme can sound. "Kronos Wartet" has an interesting start, but it ultimately descends into lifeless atmosphere before turning into a asthmatic version of Harrison's action motif. "San Fran Hustle" is a fantastic track taking a plethora of themes and motifs into some really exciting and fun territory. From the Star Trek theme to Spock's Theme (wow!) to the most propulsive take on Harrison's Theme to the "Matter I Barely Know Her" string motif to the Amok Time fight music. "The San Fran Hustle" is arguably the best action track Giacchino has written so far. It doesn't have too much "excited action squirrel" and it has some proper tension and release. Another neat little track is "Kirk Enterprises". This is the most quintessentially Star Trek track on this album. Listen closely around 2:09 to be transported in time to Jerry Goldsmith's Motion Picture.

All in all, it's a very good score. It's more mature, more challenging, and more Star Trek. While it isn't as good as Giacchino's best, to be fair he is back from a long hiatus, the album is abysmally short, and he is writing to a very fast film. Hearing Into Darkness and his maturation I'm excited to hear what he has coming up in this "post-hiatus" chapter of his career.

Blume's Temporary Score (until seeing the movie/Deluxe Album): 83%

Other Soundtracks Mentioned:

ST09 Score: 70%

John Carter Score: 93%

And finally, my Blume-Experience-Scientific track by track ratings:

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Let's get to it, shall we? Does this top John Carter (my favorite Giacchino score)? Not by a long shot. That score remains in another league of sci-fi scores, rubbing elbows with some of the greats. D

I don't have one for John Carter, but I might do a quick one next time I give it a serious listen.

My first listen of this score was a positive surprise, the music infused with striking character and emotional pull I found a bit lacking in the first score. The resounding recording by Mr. Iwataki al

My first listen of this score was a positive surprise, the music infused with striking character and emotional pull I found a bit lacking in the first score. The resounding recording by Mr. Iwataki also might have had something to do with it. The album is full of great moments but as you say Blume I am not sure if the dramatic arc is entirely satisfying, the racuous action music taking bulk of the album's running time. Still a fine score that is to my ears an improvement on the first one.

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I've listened to it several times now. The album for me is much better representation of the score to that of the previous score on its corresponding 44-minute album. That's not so much because these are the only highlights (there is some good material left out), but rather thanks to a strong representation of three major themes: Kirk's, Harrison's, and Spock's. Especially that last one is developed a great deal. Klingon theme appears only in The Kronos Wartet and there are a more variations on it in the films itself. It's a definite improvement over the ST2009 and feels like it belongs to the series, but not something I'd call a score of the year or Giacchino's hall of fame entry. It doesn't have that emotional pull that other Trek scores seem to have, nor is it really intelligent as it should have been (that applies to the film as well). Giacchino knows what he's doing and pays homages where necessary, he's one of the few composers in Hollywood who can get away with writing this type of music. But that's not greatness yet (John Carter was a step in the right direction, however).

Oh and I still get the Inception vibe from John Harrison's theme. ;)

Karol

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I find myself not being as engaged by the OST as I expected to be.

I loved the original Colosseum, and then all the WQXR cues were all terrific as well. Then the OST hit and..... it's not bad, but maybe I was expecting MORE, I guess.

Part of the problem could very well be that I haven't seen the film - I have a hard time really connecting to any score I have't seen the film for. Hopefully I can rectify that this weekend.

I also didn't place ST09 among his best output of that year (I listened to the Up and Lost Season 4 OSTs MUCH more often that year).... it wasn't until the DVDrips/complete scores/ Deluxe Edition hit that I REALLY grew to appreciate the ST09 score and include it among his best efforts.

And maybe I'm just blocking out my memory of what the Inception score sounds like, but I still don't see any connection between Harrison's Theme and it

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Eh. The sample tracks I heard sounded like he just turned the Gia theme a little sadder and more epic with some RCP style chords. The rest sounded like percussion banging and screaming strings. Get old after a couple of tracks.

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It's completely understandable. I think this score is definitely a "grower" not a "shower" if you catch my drift. ;) Grow on you I mean. ;)

As with the previous ST09 album this one feel a bit short and leaves you wanting for more. Still my first impression was significantly warmer than for the first score. Oh and I wouldn't even know what part of Harrison's theme sounds like Inception as I do not have any other recollection of that score than the blasting of the fog horn.

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Now that I've heard the soundtrack album, I really enjoyed it and in fact relistened to it right away - don't remember the last time I did that with a score! I especially love the Harrison theme and in "San Fran Hustle" it was excitingly well done. But I think here Giacchiano has more in common with late 1980's Silvestri (the Abyss) than John Williams style wise. It's an exciting ride but lacks the ingenuity, emotional depths, and overall excellence I would expect of Jerry Goldsmith or John Williams. I love Silverstri too, but find him to be a step below the greats....he's just really good and reliably exciting, but not the deepest.

My very picky comments about the Giacchino score is that like the film, it is mostly devoid of a sense of wonder that Goldsmith and of course Williams have in their DNA. The focus of the film and score is on action rather than wonder. The JJ Abram Star Trek films somehow makes space feel small rather than vast and mysterious. I used to love the way Kirk would say "set course for...somewhere...outthere" as the Enterprise warps off into a universe of infinite possibilities...

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