The end of March marked a year at Apple, and a year living in California. Things are coming into focus, and I’m beginning to settle. As that happens, I revisit old goals, and uncover things I wanted to do before the big change.
I’ve written about music in the past year, especially film music. I’ve reviewed albums, and made a few playlists. When I tweaked the style of this site towards conversations with friends, it was to write more casual pieces. For example, quick blurbs about interesting reads, or the latest music I’m listening to.
Below are three albums currently in heavy rotation.
Now that I have a day job with no evening hobby, I have time to watch television again. I love The Expanse. It’s the best sci-fi I’ve seen in years, and the soundtrack is really good too.
Most opening themes wear on me after the third or fourth listen, because you always hear it when watching the show. This theme is different. It instantly throws me into the zone. I often start the album just to hear the opening sequence.
Clinton Shorter’s score is standard fare for deep space. You’ll hear the Taiko drums from Bear McCreary’s Battlestar Galatica, and tones from Gregson-William’s excellent score for The Martian. Themes often linger, similar to the way melodies from Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar will linger over quiet space sequences.
It’s familiar, but doesn’t break new ground for the genre. Instead of innovation, it’s simply a solid execution that adds to the show, and provides a deft amount of atmosphere to the vacuum of space.
Ezra Edelman’s Oscar-winning documentary is a must watch for any child of the 80s. It’s raw, and leaves a lot for the viewer to think about after the credits roll.
Gary Lionelli’s score strikes a sad, somber tone throughout. Notes of slow, urban jazz are punctuated by felt piano, glockenspiel, and vibraphone. It feels fresh and modern, similar in character to Jeff Beal’s score for House of Cards, and Dominic Lewis’ score for the second season of The Man in the High Castle.
Unlike Shorter in The Expanse, Lionelli writes an aggressive score that establishes the tone of a scene, instead of merely supporting it. I saw the music as the narrator, guiding you between interviews, and news reels.
One of my favorite tracks is Buffalo Baryshnikov. This cue plays underneath slow motion footage of Simpson rushing for the Buffalo Bills the year he broke the single season rushing record. A graceful piece to establish the elegant pace of Simpson’s rushing style1.
It’s a good album for times when you need to ponder, or reflect—especially if you’re sad.
The final album is another in-your-face, epic motivational number, for which Two Steps from Hell is known. All of the familiar characters are here, with sonorous vocals over top boisterous brass, and strings.
Standouts include two vocal-heavy tracks: the titular Vanquish, and Dangerous. The former feels like it could be the title song for a Bond movie. My boys frequently ask me to repeat it whenever they hear it in the car. If you’re looking more for the signature Two Steps sound, I’d recommend these tracks: Siege (9), Turin (13), and Inferni (17).
Finally, High C’s (14), is a standout for what it isn’t. Most of albums from Two Steps from Hell are heavily produced, with effects common for modern cinema trailers. High C’s eschews this for traditional orchestration. It makes me nostalgic for my band and orchestra days from high school, and college.
It’s a setup for the next scene where Edelman first introduces Nicole Brown at the end of the Part I. ↩