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Vangelis - Blade Runner OST (1982)

Album Cover of Blade Runner Original Soundtrack Album by Vangelis

The source material shouldn’t need a great deal of introduction. When the film Blade Runner when first released in 1982, it was notable for the fraught production, Ridley Scott seemingly at odds with time, money and the rest of it and Harrison Ford playing against type - his character Deckard is a gritty flawed cop rather than the clean, chiselled rogues Han Solo and Indiana Jones that were making his name. But over time, the film gained cult status thanks in no small part to the open debate (even pre-social media) of whether Deckard was a machine like those he was trying to kill, and the differing cuts of the film that started to appear. By the time Scott went back to the film in 2007 and produced The Final Cut that fixed some glaring mistakes and allowed modern CGI to improve on shots that 1982 models couldn’t quite make, there were five official versions and rumours of others that have not seen the light of day.

But there’s one soundtrack right? Wrong. As it currently stands, there have been six distinct versions of Vangelis’ original work for fans to find: an orchestrated initial release from the studio that was quickly disowned by Vangelis and Scott, the eleven track full synth and dialog version we know today, the 25th anniversary edition featuring 2 extra discs of unheard cues, dialog and new music especially composed for the release, several bootleg versions codenamed Esper, and at least one completed re-recording of the original using a full orchestra. Phew. So what’s the deal with this soundtrack then? Does it really stand up to comparison with the greats?

Well, yes. Obvs. Standing on the shoulders of Wendy Carlos and early synth  multi-track pioneers rocking back and forth huge reels of two inch tape, Vangelis’ innovative and timeless work is a benchmark soundtrack for the 80s synthesizer generation just as Bernard Hermann’s scores for Hitchcock were for the 60s. Matching the mostly introspective mood and rain-soaked claustrophobia of the film, the twelve pieces on the original album are more ambient dreamscapes than specific themes, rooted to the film in large part only by the smartly clipped and mixed dialog from the film itself. With the exception of the noticeably out of time One More Kiss, Dear, everything is suitably futuristic while exploring different schemes and scenarios - love, multi-culturalism, wonder, violence, and of course regret and death narrated by Rutger Hauer’s famously improvised scene before his character dies at the top of the final track Tears In Rain.

In the liner notes, Scott notes that one of the great experiences of his career was watching Vengelis improvise and refine rough demo cues as he watched film footage for the first time. While we can never do that of course, we can enjoy one of the great soundtrack experiences in the comfort of our own home.

Posted on November 5, 2020   #Music  

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