Thursday, May 14, 2015

Urban Jungle Music

Every once in a while, I add a film score to my collection despite never having seen the movie for which it was composed. Most recently, I added Predator 2 to my library, a soundtrack which Varese Sarabande re-released not long ago in an expanded 2-disc version.

While I haven't actually seen Predator 2, I certainly had an idea what to expect of the music even before I listened to a few samples from the album. That's because the score was composed by the same man who wrote for the first Predator movie, Alan Silvestri. That soundtrack was some of his best work outside of Back to the Future, the perfect music to accompany the action and suspense of cat and mouse in the jungle.

Predator 2 may have been less of a movie by all accounts I've seen, but its music is much more, on virtually every count. It starts with an orchestra that sounds notably larger than Silvestri received for the original movie. He takes two of his powerful themes from the first score and incorporates them into the new -- without relying on them too much and overusing them.

His most interesting choice is not to change out the tribal sensibilities of the first score. Instead, he doubles down on it, with percussion that's even more loud, urgent, and chaotic. The city setting of the second film simply becomes an urban jungle. And while I'm not sure how well it works in context, it certainly makes for a kick-ass listening experience.

I definitely have my favorite tracks, though I don't really know the scenes that explain their names. "Welcome to the Jungle" opens the album and sets the stage like a re-mix of the first film's main title; a mournful hunting horn over sacrificial drums ushers in just a hint of the main melody. "Chat" accelerates the tempo while bringing in the string and brass sections more fully. "Subway Predator" is an inexorable four-minute assault by timpani, capped by one minute of dread as the orchestra withdraws as a whole and lets individual instrument sections occasionally disturb the silence.

The result is a soundtrack I enjoy just as much as that from the first movie, a clever sequel to the original work. I give the album an A-. Any fan of Alan Silvestri should definitely pick it up.

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