From the pounding opening notes of the opening track (“Main Title”), as metallic beats clank along, most listeners will find themselves in familiar territory. This 20-track journey into the history of cinema music (which is a bit like what this feels like) gets points for remaining in the cinematic collective unconscious (and collective conscious for many), but composer Brad Fiedel is quick to point out that it’s not your usual film score:

“…the music was created to be so subservient in a frame-by-frame fashion to the visuals, that I always wondered if anyone would get anything out of listening to it by itself. Also, the experimenting I did on this score playing in the grey area between what was ‘music’ and what was sound effects, certainly does not lend to easy listening.”

And though there are some “easy listening” tracks like the melodic “Desert Suite,” Fidel is pretty right on: many of the tracks feel sound effect-laden and a bit heavy. But despite Fiedel’s own doubts about the listenability of his score, these sound effect moments (frequently electronic or metallic in nature – listen to “Trust Me” for some of the clanking, sliding, rhythm that pushes the edges of sound effect) tend to add to the listener’s ability to appreciate the music rather than detract from it. Much like the Oscar-nominated score for last year’s The Hurt Locker, the mix of sound effects and music is a welcome change of pace for those avid listeners of score music.

This music has been unavailable for some time now – a few copies of the originally released CD are currently listed on Amazon for $60 and more. And though the peddlers of these original soundtrack discs are unlikely to laud Silva Screen Records’ decision to re-release the album in a new re-mastered edition with notes from composer Brad Fiedel, those who have been eager to get their hands on this inspirational collection of music will likely be clamoring to the store for it.

Fiedel trickled out after this score (Johnny Mnemonic and True Lies being his only two subsequent films of note) and hasn’t composed music for a film in this century, but this collection of music gives listeners a chance to appreciate an expert at the top of his game.

Zach’s Rating: A-
Perfect For: Enjoying a blast from the past… or the future, I guess…
Stay Away if: You’re not into mixing score and sound effects

To purchase the soundtrack for Terminator 2: Judgment Day, visit Amazon

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