|4.||The Drums of Gaugamela||5:20|
|5.||One Morning at Pella||2:11|
|8.||Gardens of Delight||5:24|
|13.||Accross the Mountains||4:12|
|16.||Dream of Babylon||2:41|
| ||56:22| Submit your review
I think it's the comparative rarity of Vangelis' forays into film scoring that makes each effort more of an event than for most 'regular' film composers. Indeed, if someone said that Alexander was by someone of Media Ventures origin, few would be especially bothered. Admittedly, it does have a good theme - it's a very simple one, but when it comes in, all bold and anthemic during Titans, it's undeniably stirring. Then again, it's catchy to the point of irritation, but then you're likely to find yourself playing it over and over more times than is healthy. That the three minutes of Introduction and Young Alexander are little beyond unexciting synthetic noodling does mean that you're really ready for Titans when it arrives. The pounding, throbbing percussion, chorus and synths blend together very much in the way they did for Vangelis' popular score for Ridley Scott's 1492: Conquest of Paradise, although that anthem had somewhat more edge to it. Titans seems more suited to an Olympic medalist tribute than a bloody epic.
If Titans does seem tame then at least The Drums of Gaugamela turns up the heat. Again, it's not complex or subtle stuff and the ominous four note motif the composer introduces teeters on the melodramatic. James Horner trotting out his own four note threat motif in Troy is nothing new, but he knows how to invoke menace without parody. After the excitement of all the drumming, Vangelis' score settles back into a more restful mode, with strumming lutes/guitars/whatever - random plucked things - over synth pads and forays into ethnic territory. It's either pleasantly relaxing or dull, depending on your tolerance for such writing. Roxanne's Dance introduces some somewhat cliché desert type twanging (more faux authentic instrumental than Maurice Jarre, however), although the seemingly omnipresent harp twittering - which reappears later in Gardens of Delight - rather put me in mind of Barry Gray's music for the Angels in Captain Scarlet. Odd. The romance, of sorts, is the least interesting aspect and Roxane's Veil is a veritable 80's cheese fest of synths and Vanessa Mae's electronic violin.
To provide a nice bookend balance to the album, Across the Mountains reverts back to the anthemic style of Titans, although with a bit more grit, plus the odd cadence that wouldn't be out of place in a Zimmer epic. Indeed, Zimmer's own recent scores make an interesting comparison with Vangelis' as both have similar approaches that mix varying amounts of orchestra with synthetic underpinning and some ethnic colour. Zimmer now has a number of this kind of score under his belt and they are starting to blur into one - Vangelis has novelty on his side - but when properly inspired, Zimmer's dramatic sense seems just that bit more convincing and, love it or hate it, Gladiator had a good number of great themes and a good feeling of dramatic and musical architecture. Alexander, on the other hand, has very simplistic anthems and a just about engaging, but meandering midsection. Still, for all that, it is memorable enough to be worth hearing, but like the film itself, some way below what was hoped for.
Vangelis has created a musical setting that captures both the epic scale and the human drama of this spectacular film, which is both written and directed by multiple Oscar winner Oliver Stone (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK)
Put the saga of history's greatest overachiever -- Macedonian emperor Alexander the Great had conquered 90% of the pre-Christian world before his death at 32 -- in the hands of Hollywood's favorite over-reacher, Oliver Stone, and the result is three-hours of epic blood 'n' bathos.
The soundtrack by Greek synth-score pioneer Vangelis Papathanassiou may be bookended by heroic orchestral/choral pomp of suitable scale and melodic dignity, but they buttress a far more compelling cocktail of primitive martial rhythms ('Drums of Gaugamela') and ancient ethnic-folk conceits ('Roxanne's Dance').
Though his film scores have become increasingly rare since the twin breakthroughs of his Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire and the sci-fi masterpiece Bladerunner, his work here argues that Vangelis' restless curiosity and musical range have only blossomed in the ensuing decades. With the exception of the final, club-targeted bonus cut, gone are his once overt electronics, replaced by a more organic, post-modern sense of fusion that evinces itself seductively on cues like 'One Morning at Pella' and 'Eastern Path.' Elsewhere, cuts like 'Across the Mountains' and 'Tender Memories' are powered by Vangelis' trademark graceful lyricism, a trait that helps set this score apart from sword 'n' sandal contemporaries like Gladiator and Troy.
--Jerry McCulley Amazon.com
More info at: Warner Bros.
This soundtrack trailer contains music of:Clash of Arms, X-Ray Dog
A Hero's Only Choice, Brand X Music
Code of Honor, Brand X Music
The Orcs, Brand X Music
Pericles, Brand X Music
Spirit of the Desert, Brand X Music
Other releases of Alexander (2004):