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THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN – Gil Mellé

September 21, 2020 Leave a comment Go to comments

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Universal Studios executives saw opportunity to capitalize on the public fascination surrounding the best-selling 1969 techno-thriller novel The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, and purchased the film rights for $250,000. Renowned academy award winning director Robert Wise was brought in to both produce and direct the film and given a generous budget of $6.5 million. He hired trusted collaborator Nelson Gidding to adapt the novel for the screen and brought in a fine cast, which included; Arthur Hill as Dr. Jeremy Stone, James Olson as Dr. Mark Hall, David Wayne as Dr. Charles Dutton, Kate Reid as Dr. Ruth Leavitt. Paula Kelly as nurse Karen Anson, and George Mitchell as Mr. Peter Jackson.

The story is set in the 1970s in the United States and involves the crash of a government satellite in the town of Piedmont New Mexico. A scientific retrieval team discovers that all members of the town have died, except a crying infant and a drunken man. An on the ground investigation reveals a horrific discovery, that the blood of the physician who opened the satellite casing had turned to powder. This leads to a working theory that the satellite had somehow brought back a virulent alien organism lethal to human life. They decide to quarantine the satellite and bring it to a top-secret underground government facility called Wildfire, a self-contained specialized laboratory complex, armed with a fail-safe self-destruct nuclear weapon. This would allow a team of specialists to examine and run experiments on the organism in hope of finding a vaccine and means to kill it. They also bring back the infant and drunk man so as to determine why they are immune to the organism.

Well, things go awry when the organism mutates into a new form, which consumes all synthetic rubber materials. This leads to the digestion of the lab’s safety barriers, which triggers a nuclear self-destruct, which must be aborted as the organism would thrive on the nuclear energy, expand into a super colony and destroy all corporeal life on earth. Dr. Hall barely succeeds in disengaging the self-destruct and saves the day for humanity. They soon discover that the organism has a very narrow habitable pH range, which means they can kill it by making its environment more acidic or alkaline. The manage to defeat the organism but in the closing scene where Dr. Hall testifies before congress, he cryptically warns that they may not be so lucky in the future. The film was a commercial success, earning $12.4 million, or nearly twice its production cost of $6.5 million. Critical reception was mixed, but it nevertheless secured two Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Film Editing.

Gil Mellé was a successful jazz composer who also scored numerous television shows, earning distinction for his innovative use of electronica. Robert Wise was clear from day one that he did not want a traditional acoustic orchestra to provide the score for his film. This was a techno-thriller about a lethal alien organism and he wanted a modernistic cutting-edge soundscape, and so he hired Mellé who was very happy to accept the assignment. He relates;

“Robert Wise’s input was the toughest I’ve ever gotten in my life. I don’t think any composer in the history of the world has ever been asked to write music that had no themes, no chords, no harmonic structure, and with totally new sonorities! But I was just loaded with self-confidence and said I can do it!”

Mellé understood that the film was a suspense drama where technology bio-science and an alien organism intersect with potentially devastating consequences. His music would need to speak to the mystery, danger and implications posed by this truly horrific discovery. Fifteen years earlier, Bebe and Louis Barron created the first non-acoustic, electronic film score with their seminal work on Forbidden Planet. Drawing upon that tradition, and mindful of Wise’s direction, Mellé decided that audacious innovation was needed – thinking out of the box. To that end he conceived, and pioneered the creation of the first percussive synthesizer, which he named a Percussotron. He began making a number of recordings that captured dozens of organic sounds, such as the wind, bowling alleys, chain saws, and railways. His preparations also included taping electronic instrumental sounds in the NASA Jet Propulsion laboratory. Lastly, he also transformed traditional acoustic instrumental sounds into electronic forms to ensure fidelity to Wise’s vision.

There are indeed no themes in the conventional sense, but there are a number of recurring motifs, including; The Wildfire Motif, which serves as the score’s main motif. It has three cycles; it’s A Cycle (0:00 – 1:12) is rhythmically mechanistic and kinetically empowered by ten electronically processed pianos with bongo-like percussive accents. Rapid-fire contrapuntal electronic rhythms join in non-harmonic patterns, some shifting from right to left in a discordant restless sea, which never resolves. The B Cycle (1:13 – 1:40) however is dissonant, wave-like and disorienting as though sound was slowed and distorted. The C Cycle (1:41 – 2:47) emotes like an electronic rendering of a cricket sounds, attended by formless meandering piano and kinetic pulsing effects. It intensifies, gaining force, yet never climaxes, instead dissipating into nothingness. The motif is brilliantly conceived and very malleable, and given that there is a multiplicity of cycles, there is opportunity to emote a significant spectrum of emotions. The Hex Motif is brilliantly conceived for this lethal, not of this Earth life form. It offers a strange alien sounding construct derived by the transformation of buzz saws into electronica. Six other-worldly flutes resonate and join with a mid-register pulsing rhythm and pizzicato bass adorned with an electronic rendering of a harpsichord with shimmering metallic effects that dance over it. The juxtaposition is fascinating – Andromeda’s crystalline structure reveals purity of form, and is the epitome of order, while its musical signature is amorphous, intangible and incomprehensible, thus I believe this motif emotes from the vantage point of the human team.

The Andromeda Motif serves as the identity of the alien organism. It opens with an eerie high-pitched electronic wailing from which emerges a steady two-note electronic cadence, an eerie, alien life pulse, which mimics a human heartbeat. It speaks of life, but alien life. Reflecting its non-terrestrial alien nature, the motif is joined by very energetic high register patterns, with modulating frequencies and amplitudes, buttressed with Percussotronic accents; some speaker specific, while some shift from right to left speakers. There is no order, or harmonic structure, instead we behold a percolating ever shifting organized chaos. Plucked bass and other acoustic sounds have been transmuted into electronic forms, all of which contribute to the menace and mystery of this alien organism. It closes by returning to its binary electronic ‘life pulse, replete with dark piano sounds. The Desert Trip Motif, which has a trifold expression. It is dominated by the bass percussion of the Percussotron, countered with bubbling electronica and a high register two-note terminus. The motif is malleable, with significant intensification evoked with increases in frequency, and complexity of adding another contrapuntal pattern.

The Piedmont Elegy Motif offers a sad, but also bleak soundscape, which supports Drs. Stone and Hall’s horrific discovery of dozens of corpses. A repeating, low-register triad rhythm forms the foundation of the motif, which is interspersed with a multiplicity of misterioso accents in all registers, drones and counter rhythms. An intensification sows a growing unease, yet it never culminates, instead dissipating into nothingness. The Op Motif offers a twinkling high register construct with ever shifting amplitude patterns. The music wanders never resolves, and has a mesmerizing effect. In its album presentation it ends with the Percussotron joining, a loss of cohesion, and descent into dissonance. The Xenogenesis Motif was brilliantly conceived by Mellé as a musical expression of epilepsy. Electronica renderings of contrabass, percussion and electric piano simulate the neural cascade of an epileptic storm. We hear a deep rumbling sustain by contrabass over which a cyclic mid-register pattern plays and dissolves into a swirling, structureless, and increasingly cacophonous torrent – a neural storm. Yet like all storms, is slowly subsides and dissipates on a diminuendo. The Strobe Crystal Green Motif offers one of the scores most ingenious and kinetic creations. Empowered by the Percussotron, the motif unfolds with innumerable rhythmic textures, ever shifting, ever multiplying, thus musically simulating the exponential growth and myriad of mutations spawned when the life form is bombarded by x-rays. Lastly, the album structure offers a mixed presentation with some cues being motific, while others are specific cues associated with discreet film scenes. The review’s narrative flow will follow the film narrative scenes, not the album presentation.

“Main Title” offers a brilliantly conceived and executed score highlight where Mellé perfectly captures the film’s narrative core, creating an eerie, other-worldly ambiance as he sows mystery and danger. After the display of the Universal Studio onscreen script reads “The documents presented here are soon to made public. They do not in any way jeopardize the national security.” As the opening credits roll, background typed script reveals a warning that the enclosed document contains information affecting the defense of the United States…” We see electronic bio-warfare maps, which display green and red sectors drifting menacingly across the screen. At 1:16 the motif’s kinetic drive suddenly dissipates in a descent of expiation as an eerie dissonance envelops us while CLASSIFIED warnings display on the screen. At 1:41 the eerie, unsettling, not of this world Andromeda Motif enters with its electronic life pulse, ever shifting in its articulation, existing unseen, and beyond our comprehension. A SUMMARY COURT MARTIAL displays on the screen as an electronic crescendo surges. Yet it never culminates, instead dissipating on a diminuendo of uncertainty as the credits finish. “Project Scoop Recovery” reveals observation of the town of Piedmont New Mexico by an air force satellite recovery team. A night vision telescope reveals buzzards circling the town, and they decide to do a reconnoiter. Energetic rhythms of the A Cycle of the Wildfire Motif support a scene change to Vandenberg Air Force Base, where the script that displays “Scoop Mission Control.” The team discover many dead bodies, but the mission commanders orders them to proceed and retrieve the satellite. In the command center, they hear over the radio the men scream, followed by silence. A flyover is ordered to investigate.

“Flyover” is unscored. We see a pilot flying over the town taking photos, which reveal to his horror, dozens of dead bodies strewn across the ground. After reviewing the photos, Major Manchek uses the red emergency phone to declare to superiors – “A Wildfire Alert”. An electronic typewriter types out the names of the scientific team ordered to assemble for the mission. “Team Recruitment” is unscored. Dr. Jeremy Stone is escorted from his house by armed military escort after they inform him, “There is a fire, sir”. One by one, the rest of the team Dr. Mark Hall, Dr. Charles Dutton, and Dr. Ruth Leavitt are ordered to report and escorted by military escort. “Senate Space Sciences Committee” reveals the committee meeting supported by the rapid-fire contrapuntal electronica of the C Cycle of the Wildfire Motif. The multi-scenic sequence informs us of Dr. Stone’s creation, a specialized complex designed to quarantine, identify and problem-solve alien organisms that pose a threat to humanity. “Peidmont Flyover” is unscored. Drs. Stone and Hall flyover the town in isolation suits and see dozens of dead bodies being eaten by buzzards, which Stone fears will spread the disease. They drop gas cannisters to kill only the birds, and then disembark to explore.

In “Piedmont” the two explore and find that all mammals have died; people, dogs and cats. The dark rhythms of the Piedmont Elegy Motif support their exploration, their trail of death. The discovery of a woman who hanged herself suggests exposure does not kill immediately. Further review reveals that none of the people injured bled, despite some having cuts and gashes. They discover the open capsule in the doctor’s office, and then Dr. Hall tests a supposition by slicing open the doctor’s wrist. To their horror, powder not blood pours out, which brings them to the terrible conclusion that the capsule bore an alien organism lethal to corporeal based life. They bag the capsule and prepare to depart, but stop when they hear a crying infant. They retrieve the infant and then discover an old emaciated man is also alive. They evacuate both survivors and the capsule. “712” Dr. Stone calls Major Manchek and demands a 712 – the destruction of the infected site by a nuclear device to prevent the organism from spreading. The tense, contrapuntal rhythms of the Wildfire Motif support the alarm. In the end, the President choses to delay action for 48 hours. “The Trip to Wildfire” reveals Drs. Dutton and Leavitt travelling a bumpy desert road to the Wildfire facility. The driving sequence and banter is supported by the Desert Trip Motif, which has a trifold expression. It is dominated by the bass percussion of the Percussotron, countered with bubbling electronica and a high register two-note terminus. They arrive at a lone building with a sign “Department of Agriculture”.

In “Wildfire” they enter, the building, are cleared and then descend via a secret elevator to Level 1 of Wildfire. In a scene shift, Drs. Stone and Hall enter a room and activate an ultraviolet discharge, which sterilizes their isolation suits. Later, Drs. Dutton and Leavitt join Drs. Stone and Hall in Level 1, where they proceed to a meeting where they are briefed on Wildfire’s tiered structure. The self-destruct safeguard has been assigned to Dr. Hall given that he is a single man, which the “Odd Man Hypotheses” confirms to be the most likely to carry out the abort order. “Body Preparations” reveals Level 2 where the team goes through a series of tests and procedures designed cleanse their bodies, and prepare them for descent to Level 3. Dr. Hall attention is diverted by a screen with shifting color patterns, which Mellé supports with the opening sequence of the mesmerizing twinkling of the Op Motif. The diversion allows a robotic arm to inject him with a vaccine booster. On Level 3 their bodies are further sterilized by burning off body hair (except the head) and the upper epithelial layer of the skin. They are told to rest for six hours and then descend to Level 4. Dr. Stone uses the time to review video examining the capsule lid, which Mellé supports with material from the other-worldly Andromeda Motif. As he reflects, a montage of screen shots slowly populates the screen recalling the horror of Piedmont, and his wife whom he misses. The pulsing Wildfire Motif creates a sense of anxiety, reflected in Dr. Stone’s eyes. The motif is sustained in a scene change where we see Dr. Leavitt thoughts also being reflected as screen shots as well as past conversations with colleagues. The motif becomes ominous as we then shift to Dr. Dutton, where we see a chalk drawn cartoon displaying a scientist looking through a microscope into a petri dish, with the caption “Take me to your leader”.

“Day 3” is unscored. It reveals Dr. Hall being awakened by the computer in Level 4. He joins the team in the cafeteria where Dr. Sutton briefs them on his plan; Stage 1, detection of the organism. Stage 2, characterization, what is its structure and how does it work. Stage 3, control. How to contain and exterminate. They then descend to Level 5, where they are oriented to its rooms. In “Detection” the team enters the control room and they begin Stage 1; they bring a caged rat into proximity to the open capsule. It dies within seconds. They repeat the experiment with a Rhesus monkey, which within seconds writhes in an agonistic death. The organism is alive and lethal. Dr. Stone orders Dr. Dutton to perform vector studies followed by autopsies, and for Dr. Leavitt to begin scanning the capsule. “The Patients” is unscored. It reveals Dr. Hall meeting nurse Karen Hall, who assists him examine their two patients, housed in a quarantine room using isolation suits. She draws a number of blood tests, while he performs a physical examination. “Examining the Capsule 1” reveals Dr. Leavitt maneuvering a high-power resolution microscope over the exterior ring of the capsule in search of the organism. There is a palpable tension as the Wildfire Motif pulses and she argues with Dr. Stone, who insists on following a methodical procedure.

“Examining The Dead Animals” is not scored. Technician Toby assists Dr. Dutton perform a vector analysis – to confirm airborne transmission. They connect a conduit from the dead rat’s box to a live rat’s box and observe. It dies quickly, which confirms airborne transmission. They next place a 100-angstrom filter to determine its size and the rat survives. It then survives a 1-micron filter, but dies with a 2-micron filter, which indicates the organism is cellular, not viral. “Examining the Capsule 2” Dr. Leavitt begins a manual search of the inner portion of the capsule, which Mellé sow’s anticipatory tension with the pulsing cadence of the Wildfire Motif. “Examining The Patients” is unscored and reveals Dr. Hall examining Jackson who is anemic. Dr. Dutton interrupts on the video monitor and asks that they observe an isotope test to determine how the organism enters the body and spreads. The eerie pulses of the Wildfire Motif sow unease during the experiment, which confirms the organism is inhaled, deposits in the lungs, crosses into the blood stream, and then spreads rapidly throughout the body. “Discovery” reveals Dr. Stone’s discovery of an indentation in the mesh that lines the specimen collection chamber. The Wildfire Motif’s eerie pulses sow a rising tension as they move in and begin a series of increasing magnifications. They identify a green substance deposited on the grain as well as splatters on the mesh. At 440 X we see the green organism move, which Mellé supports by his alien sounding Andromeda Motif, which screeches every time the organism moves. Dr. Stone removes the grain and places it in a petri dish so they can increase magnification with an electron microscope. They become alarmed when they conclude that it what they are seeing is not movement, but instead growth

“The First Clue” is not scored. It reveals Jackson’s lab work revealing acute and chronic blood loss as well as a blood acidosis. He interviews Jackson and discovers that he is a sterno drinker with a bleeding ulcer. “The Crash” reveals a pilot flying over Piedmont and we see his rubber mask dissolving and he passing out from lack of oxygen, which results in his plane crashing. Mellé supports the scene with a high register trilling dissonant pattern from the Andromeda Motif, which evokes the horror of the pilot’s demise. We shift to the Wildfire facility, which has been incommunicado for a day. We are informed that a shard of paper had jammed the alert bell for incoming transmissions. “Crash Investigation” is unscored. A team is sent to investigate the crash. A tape recording of the pilot’s last words indicate that his mask and hose were dissolving. “Andromeda Revealed 1” is unscored. The mass spectroscopy reveals a composition of the four basic elements; Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen. Computerized analysis is stunning – no amino acids, no proteins, no enzymes, and no nucleic acid. They proceed with more tests to determine what makes it grow. “Terrible Discovery” is unscored. The investigators determine that an organism consumed the synthetic rubber called polychron.

“Xenogenesis 1” reveals Dr. Leavitt reviewing results of Andromeda’s growth, or lack of growth when exposed to hundreds of different media. The screen all display in green characters, yet when a screen for Alkaline displays, red letters stating “No Growth” flash. Dr. Leavitt’s face becomes vacant. The remaining dishes pass one by one as she sits motionless with a fixed stare. Mellé introduces his Xenogenesis Motif, which he conceived as a musical expression of epilepsy. Electronica renderings of contrabass, percussion and electric piano simulate the neural cascade of an epileptic storm. We hear a deep rumbling sustain by contrabass over which a cyclic mid-register pattern plays and dissolves into a swirling, structureless, and increasingly cacophonous torrent – a neural storm. Yet like all storms, is slowly subsides and dissipates on a diminuendo. “A Clue” is unscored. After talking to Jackson, Dr. Hall determines that one of the residents who lived longer than the others had uncontrolled diabetes, which tends to make the blood acidic. He departs quickly to share his supposition. “Xenogenesis 2” reveals Dr. Leavitt sitting with a vacant stare, but waking to the screen displaying “Final Scan – End Program”. She realizes that she must have dozed off and missed reviewing the results of many dishes. The trailing part of the Xenogenesis Motif sow discomfort as she decides to repeat the review. “New Problems” is unscored. The team is tired and Dr. Hall is upset that Dr. Leavitt did not finish the scans. They contact Central Command to designate a name for the organism, which is designated “Andromeda Strain”. They then discover that the 712 has not been ordered, to Which Dr. Stone demands the President immediately drop the bomb. The revelation of the dissolving rubber on the crashed plane is glossed over in the heat of the moment.

In “Andromeda Revealed 2” they place a specimen under an electron microscope, which reveals a single hexagon. What is remarkable is that it begins to replicate in a vacuum bombarded by x-rays, which informs the team that it consumes all and excretes none, which allows it to thrive in both outer space and terrestrial environments. Dr. Stone immediately calls command and tells them to cancel the 712 nuclear bombing as Andromeda would thrive on nuclear energy, expand into a super colony, and destroy all corporeal life on earth. Mellé introduces his Hex Motif, which is perfectly conceived for this lethal, not of this Earth life form. The juxtaposition is fascinating – the crystalline structure reveals purity of form, and is the epitome of order, while its musical signature is amorphous, intangible and incomprehensible, thus speaking from the vantage point of the human team. They run a computerized simulation of its growth potential, which is supported by the Strobe Crystal Green Motif, one of the scores most ingenious and kinetic creations. As the crystal is bombarded with x-rays it begins exponential replication on the monitor. Empowered by the Percussotron, the motif unfolds with innumerable rhythmic textures, ever shifting, ever multiplying, thus musically simulating the exponential growth and myriad of mutations spawned when the life form is bombarded by the x-rays of the electron microscope. The computer processor is overwhelmed, and crashes with a 601 error – system overload.

“Bio-map Revelation” is unscored. Dr. Stone calls up some electronic bio-maps to calculate Andromeda’s potential spread. They discover to their horror that the maps are Bio-warfare maps, which informs them that Wildfire was created to test and refine bio-weapons. Drs. Leavitt and Dutton are outraged, while Dr. Stone is defensive, asserts ignorance of the Scoop project, and exhorts them to focus on the task at hand – finding a way to eradicate Andromeda. In “Alarm” the confinement breach alarm sounds and the team rushes to the Autopsy Lab. Ruth stops transfixed by a flashing red alarm light and goes into an epileptic fit, which causes a panic as people believe she is infected. Dr. Hall stays calm, and has nurse Karen administer an anti-convulsive shot she brought with her. In the Autopsy Lab Dr. Dutton is frightened. They pump 100% oxygen into the lab as Andromeda does not thrive well in oxygen rich environments. After Dr. Hall sees Dr. Dutton hyperventilating, he has an epiphany – rapid breathing alters blood pH, makes it more alkaline. They bring up the test studies, which real Andromeda can only survive in a very narrow pH range of 7.390 – 7.425. He orders Dr. Dutton to breath rapidly to shift his blood pH alkaline. “A Grim Discovery” reveals the discovery of a rat, which Dr. Dutton had exposed to Andromeda alive. Dr. Stone declares that Andromeda has mutated into a non-lethal form. But the celebration is shirt-lived as the computer alerts them of cascading degenerative changes in the polychrome gaskets which line the facility. Mellé sow’s anxiety with the sharp pulsing rhythms of the Wildfire Motif.

“Self-Destruct” is unscored. It reveals the failure of all gaskets on Level 5, which constitutes a loss of containment. The computer arms the self-destruct, which Dr. Hall must stop at all costs. The doors seal preventing access to access ports where he can deactivate the self-destruct, so Dr. Hall enters the central core in hope of reaching an access port on another level. In “Central Core” Dr. Hall must evade lethal gas and lasers, which were installed to kill escaping lab animals. Hall starts his climb as gas is released and with Stone’s aid evades multiple laser blasts. Mellé sow’s anxiety and propels Hall’s climb with the sharp pulsing rhythms of the Wildfire Motif. He reaches Level 4, but it too is locked down, so he resumes his climb to Level 3. Hall is struck by a laser on the cheek and becomes disoriented. Mellé speaks to this using the slow, wave-like distortion of the B Cycle of the Wildfire Motif, which perfectly captures Hall’s disorientation. He slowly snaps out of it, makes a dash to the Level 3 door, again propelled by the kinetic rhythms of a re-energized the Wildfire Motif. In “Level 3” the B Cycle wave of disorientation returns as Hall struggle to open the inner door. The wave like distortion of the Wildfire Motif (1:12 – 1:32) returns as the 60 second countdown commences. Hall struggles, reaches the access station and disables the self-destruct at 9 seconds.

“Aftermath” reveals the team visiting Hall in the infirmary. The video monitor reveals that the airborne Andromeda super colony had drifted out over the Pacific Ocean where clouds are being seeded with silver iodide to precipitate rain, which will carry it to its death in the alkaline ocean waters. A last eerie reprise of the Andromeda Motif supports the scene. “Finale” reveals Stone testifying before a Senate committee where he assures them that the Andromeda colony cloud has been extinguished. Images of Piedmont and the Wildfire Facility are displayed and strains of the Piedmont Elegy Motif support his testimony. We close with the Senator posing a question regarding what we would do should another biological crisis occur. Stone answers cryptically, “What would we do…” We conclude with an electron microscopic display of Andromeda hexagon rapidly multiplying supported by a crescendo of the C Cycle of the Wildfire Motif. A dissonant crash and display of a 601-computer overload error code concludes the film.

I would like to thank Douglass Fake, Roger Feigelson and Intrada for this reissue of Gil Mellé’s innovative score to The Andromeda Strain. The audio quality is excellent and the album provides a fascinating listening experience. Robert Wise was clear from day one that he did not want a traditional acoustic orchestra to provide the score for his film. This was a techno-thriller about a lethal alien organism and he wanted a modernistic cutting-edge soundscape. Well, Mellé rose to the challenge with inspired innovation, experimentation and by creating the world’s first electronic percussion device, which he aptly named the Percussonator. I listened to the score a number of times to discover and analyze the motif’s Mellé created. Following in the footsteps of electronica pioneers Bebe and Louis Barron, Mellé manipulated frequency, amplitude and intensity of the various waveforms to create complex, dynamic and ever shifting electronica patterns.

The Wildfire Motif offered three patterns, which were used to create anxiety, sow tension and propel the film’s narrative flow. Mellé perfectly captured the alien and hellish nature of the Andromeda organism and his Strobe Crystal Green Motif, offers one of film score art’s most ingenious and kinetic creations. As the Andromeda crystal is bombarded with x-rays under an electron microscope, it begins exponential replication on the monitor – feeding on the bombarding energy. Empowered by the Percussotron, the motif unfolds with innumerable rhythmic textures, ever shifting, ever multiplying, thus musically simulating the exponential growth and myriad of mutations spawned before our eyes. This is a wonderfully innovative electronica score with innumerable patterns, often in dynamic interplay. The album listen, while fascinating, does not fully reveal the brilliance of Mellé’s creation. Only in the film does one fully appreciate the astounding synergy of his handiwork. I believe that Wise, as good a director as he was, achieved his vision because of the masterful application of Mellé’s handiwork. Composers who walk the road less traveled do not always achieve the recognition and fame afforded orchestral traditionalists. As such, I am thankful for this reissue by Intrada and I highly recommend purchase by all lovers of the art form.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to the Main Title, which features the Wildfire Motif: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds36hkhqF1Y

Buy the Andromeda Strain soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Wildfire (2:45)
  • Hex (4:00)
  • Andromeda (2:24)
  • Desert Trip (4:14)
  • The Piedmont Elegy (2:23)
  • Op (2:45)
  • Xenogenesis (2:40)
  • Strobe Crystal Green (4:58)

Running Time: 26 minutes 09 seconds

Intrada ISC-121 (1971/2020)

Music composed and arranged by Gil Mellé. Featured instrumental soloists Dave Parlato, Gretel Shanley, Brian Moffatt and Peter Robinson. Recorded and mixed by Alan Sohl, Gordon Clark and Terry Brown. Score produced by Gil Mellé. Album produced by Douglass Fake.

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