Fox Music (MSCD 04)
Release Date: 2002
|1.||Pilot Episode: Main Title (Long)||3:37|
|2.||Pilot Episode: Bumper #1/M2||1:56|
|3.||Pilot Episode: M10||3:29|
|4.||Pilot Episode: M13||4:58|
|9.||Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense: M15||2:52|
|10.||Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense: M11||5:35|
|11.||Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense: M22||1:41|
|12.||Midnight of the Century: Bumper #1/1M2||1:37|
|13.||Midnight of the Century: Bumper 1M4/3M1||4:51|
|14.||Midnight of the Century: Bumper 4M2||4:27|
|15.||The Time Is Now: 1M1||1:32|
|16.||The Time Is Now: 2M2||3:06|
|17.||The Time Is Now: 4M1||2:30|
|21.||Goodbye to All That: 4M2a||3:31|
|22.||Goodbye to All That: End Titles||0:32|
|Total Album Time:||76:45|
|by Jonathan Jarry
February 17, 2006
I admit to not being a big fan of Mark Snow's music, but two things he does exceptionally well, main titles and establishing a show's signature, are showcased in the iTunes exclusive release The Best of Millennium. Chris Carter's Millennium was a show that hinted at a lot of promise but whose run was remarkably uneven given the sometimes poor writing and constant shift in approach. It followed Frank Black (played with a great amount of dark presence by Lance Henriksen), a husband and father who "retires" to Seattle after serving as an FBI profiler and nearly losing his sanity. He is recruited by the Millennium Group, at times an enterprise of ex-FBI agents lending their knowledge to corporations and the police, at times a cheesy millenarian sect trying to secretly protect the world against the coming of darkness and whatnot. Given the abrupt changes in the show's mythology, it is worth noting that Mark Snow's signature sound was unchanging and a strong complement to the visuals.
The "Main Title" cue, not appearing in its original television form on the release but given instead an extended cut, has to rank as one of the best television themes in recent years. It combines a pastoral feeling of elation with an insistent percussive ostinato of dread and oncoming darkness. All the elements of this masterful composition become part of the musical tapestry of the show: the almost Irish quality of the melodic fiddle, the synthetic accompaniment, and those loud, fearful drums punctuating every other measure with a feeling of inescapable finality. Selections from the pilot episode further elaborate on the signature sound Snow devised for the show. While being quite distinct from The X-Files' sometimes annoying synthesized oboes and clarinets, it still is a close cousin given its prevalent use of synth pads and patches, most notably the synthesized strings which give the score a thick, layered, and slightly otherworldly feeling. The result is a strangely soothing sound for a series about serial killers and religious sects, where a lonesome fiddle and blocky strings convey a desire to rest and be at peace.
Each episode on the album sees the show's musical signature augmented by an additional distinction. "Maranatha", about the aftermath of Chernobyl and a Russian Antichrist, is the most grandiose in scope, utilizing different choral elements, such as a deep male choir and a lighter, almost infantile soprano ensemble which would become closely associated with the show alongside the fiddle and drums. "José Chung's Doomsday Defense", arguably one of the best Millennium episodes, is a complete departure in style which sees Snow using a catchy jazz theme to accompany the crazy writer's pseudo-philosophical wanderings amid a side-splittingly funny attack on the Church of Scientology. "Midnight of the Century", the season two Christmas episode, relies on a glass harmonica and thick harmonies for the synthesized strings to reunite Frank and his dad. "Omertà" comes out as one of the most striking episodic scores, where Snow composes operatic voice work for the story of a dead hitman played by Jon Polito and a couple of strange wood nymphs. Pizzicato strings mingle with synthetic string harmonies and actual male and female voices singing short bursts of wordless melodies in a classical opera fashion.
The Best of Millennium will not please everyone. The music is mostly synthetic, not by lack of resources, I assume, but rather as a conscious attempt to create a distinct sound for the show. As such, it might be easily dismissed as amateurish MIDI work. Snow's mastery of this sound, however, and his keen talent for impactful melodies place this above mere dabbling. His music for the show directly stems from the character of Frank Black: it is weary, calm, and seeks rest. It is more dense and complex than new age music but their spirits are similar. Fans of the show will rejoice and Mark Snow collectors should be delighted by this one hour and sixteen minutes of packed synth strings, folksy fiddle laments, and ominous bass drums.
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