The motley iterations of the music from Ridley Scott’s science-fiction masterpiece by Greek composer Vangelis are as many as the versions of the film itself. Besides the approved release by Vangelis himself in 1994, there have been quite comprehensive bootleg versions, a 3-disc release timed to coincide with the release of the 5 versions of the film on the competing (at the time) high definition formats (Blu-ray and HD-DVD), and of course the original disputed LP. Now we have a 30th anniversary celebration release which is perhaps the most audacious of all the versions – certainly the most difficult to produce.
Release Company: Buysoundtrax
Catalog ID: BSXCD-8917
Film Year: 1982
Running Time: 72:29
Number of Discs: 1
Edition: 30th Anniversary Celebration – Limited to 1500 units
Release Date: 9/19/2012
Review Date: 10/13/2012
4.5 / 5
Ridley Scott’s seminal Blade Runner takes its story underpinnings from seminal science fiction writer Philip K Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The basic premise for both the book and the film is the hunt by a Detective Deckard for rogue replicants; androids who are dangerous and nearly indistinguishable from humans, and illegal on earth. The revelation of the book and film, however, is not in the highbrow plotting but rather the striking subtext that explores the nature of humanity, the careless disregard it has for all life, and the wretchedness that it is capable of.
The look and feel of the film is brooding; noir elements combined with the dingy sprawl of a bustling Los Angeles under the glow of giant and bright advertisements adorning the sides of skyscrapers create an almost timeless atmosphere. It’s a cinematographic wonderland and Vangelis’ score complements every element of what’s onscreen. Vangelis has always been a relatively unique voice among film composers, scores dominated by electronics and nuanced by an improvisational style and approach, and with his lingering and mesmeric Blade Runner, he distinguished himself even further.
A difference of opinion (between director Scott and the composer over the use of the score within the film) withheld Vangelis’ work from release during the film’s theatrical run. The New American Orchestra was brought in to rerecord the score as the ‘official release’, but it retained neither the atmosphere nor soul of the music as heard in the film. Now, 30 years later, the music that accompanied the film has been faithfully recreated by German film composer/producer Edgar Rothermich. As BSX producer Ford A. Thaxton states in the liner notes, the score for Blade Runner isn’t like a traditional orchestral score where the music can be rerecorded using the same instruments and following the same sheet music. Vangelis isn’t a traditional composer and Blade Runner not a traditional score. The electronic palette of the score is rich with layered elements, sounds unique to the electronic rig Vangelis used when recording the score in almost freehand, and the bends in pitch and other tweaks of the synthesizer and emulator. Recreating this score required the entire soundscape to be fully deconstructed; dissected through repeated listens to isolate each instrument, when a sound enters and exits, where the crossover of notes or instruments takes place, and how the sound is mixed and conveyed. A mountainous task yet the results are a tremendous accomplishment.
Blade Runner: 30th Anniversary Celebration boasts an impressive adherence to the music we hear when watching the film. It is, like the antagonists central to the story, a replication nearly indistinguishable from the original. Standout tracks include the “Main Titles”, with the sputtering boom of drums echoing against an isolating synth sound, drowning off occasionally as a siren might. It is a gifted piece of music and perhaps the finest example of how faithful and precise Rothermich’s recreation has been. ‘Memories of Green’ is led by a distorted piano piece with the heave and fall of siren sounds, echoing winds and a haunting tone littered from time to time with faint beeps and other artificial noises. ‘Tears in Rain’ is a wonderful track, alight with hope and possibility yet anchored by sadness just around the corner. In the film it plays as Rutger Hauer delivers the memorable soliloquy lamenting his end and here, absent the notable dialogue, reminds of that important moment in the film.
The song “One More Kiss Dear”, originally performed by Don Percival is also recreated for this release, performed by Tom Schmidt (and arranged and produced by Dominik Hauser). Recreating perfectly the human voice is an impossible task and so quite naturally this version is noticeably different. It’s a solid version however. Two tracks where the recreation doesn’t quite get it right are two where a single instrument – the saxophone in one and the human voice in the other – are singularly the gravitational center of the piece. The first track is the extraordinary “Love Theme” – where a plaintive saxophone cries out gently, swinging between sultry and peaceful. It has always been a mesmerizing piece of music. The electronic underbelly has been recreated very well, though Dick Morrisey’s saxophone solo has been so indelibly ingrained in the minds of fans that Paul Frederick’s solo here just can’t quite capture the same lure and lust of the original. The second track where the difference is most noticeable is “On The Trail of Nexus 6”. Titled “Tales of the Future” on the 1994 release, the track is dark and pierced by the haunting chants of Algerian singer Fella Dudane. The original is a fiercer, more guttural performance by Vangelis’ former Aphrodite’s Child band mate, Demis Rousson. It is impossible to match the roaring power of Rousson’s original but Dudane’s rendition is still potent.
1. Ladd Company Logo (0:25) Composed by John Williams, French horn: Stephanie O'Keefe
2. Main Titles (Film Version) /Prologue (4:00)
3. Los Angeles, November 2019 (1:49)
4. Deckard Meets Rachael (1:32)
5. Bicycle Riders (2:13) (Pompeii 76 A.D.) Composed by Gail Laughton
6. Memories of Green (5:40)
7. Blade Runner Blues (10:20)
8. Deckard's Dream (1:16)
9. On the Trail of Nexus 6 (5:35) (Tales Of The Future) Vocal By Fella Oudane
10. One More Kiss Dear (4:01) Composed by Vangelis and Peter Skellern, Produced and arranged by Dominik Hauser, Vocal by Tom Schmid
11. Love Theme (5:07) saxophone: Paul Frederick
12. The Prodigal Son Brings Death (3:37)
13. Dangerous Days (1:05)
14. Wounded Animals (11:00)
15. Tears in Rain (2:44)
16. End Titles (7:25)
17. Main Titles (Album Version) (4:02)
Edgar Rothermich produces, performs and provides all the transcription of the music, programming and recording (using Logic Pro). Ford A. Thaxton and Mark Banning serve as executive album producers with digital editing and mastering provided by James Nelson at Digital Outland.
The sound quality on BSX’s 30th Anniversary recreation and release of Vangelis’ hypnotic score, performed by Edgar Rothermich, is top-notch. A delightful clarity in the recording provides the haunting soundscape of the electronic sounds room to breathe. The solo saxophone (and French horn on the Ladd logo track) are rendered with clearness and the spectral aura of tracks like “Blade Runner Blues” and “The Prodigal Son Brings Death” are a delight to the ears.
Vangelis’ score for Blade Runner remains an indomitable achievement, sounding as fresh, accomplished and unique even after three decades. I have been a fan of this score since I first saw the masterpiece film. I picked up the 1994 Vangelis approved release in 1995 upon a visit to Warner Bros. studios and, omissions and dialogue aside, was always pleased to have it in my collection. This 30th Anniversary Celebration edition, limited to just 1500 units, is a glorious achievement for fans of the score and of the film. Faithfully recreating the score as heard in the film – with a few variations here and there necessitated by the complexity of the original – this edition comes Highly Recommended!
Overall (Not an average)