CD: Blade Runner (1982) – 30th Anniversary Celebration

October 11, 2012 | By

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Rating: Excellent

Label: Buysoundtrax Records/ Released: September 19, 2012

Tracks & Album Length: 17 tracks / (71:50)


Special Notes:  Colour booklet with liner notes by arranger / performer Edgar Rothermich.


Composer: Vangelis




Just in time for the film’s 30th anniversary is a new re-recording of Vangelis’ iconoclastic score – perhaps the most ideal evocation of a futuristic world without sounding contrived and dated. The reason the score continues to hold its own lies in the emotional content of Vangelis’ themes, as well as the abstract qualities of the instrumentation, whether it was carefully plotted out by the composer, or mandated by its picky director. (Ridley Scott similarly pushed Jerry Goldsmith to strip down the romantic content within Alien – especially the main title music – to near abstraction, and although the composer may not have been happy, the final version was the ideal choice.)

Why bother re-recording an oft-released score? Because Blade Runner’s clunky release history’s rooted in a riff between composer and director, with the former refusing the release of the original recordings because of the way it was editorially treated editorially by Scott. The Ladd Company quickly released a re-recorded album by the New American Orchestra whose approach was more orchestrally saturated (in spite of remaining largely electronic), and emphasized the lengthy score’s main thematic cues.

Countless bootlegs and fan edits of the original score tracks filled the void for fans, with bootlegs being bootlegged by other ersatz labels until 2007, when Universal Music released the score in a multi-disc set, albeit with dialogue and sound effects affecting some cues. Some material present on the bootlegs were missing, so fans went back to their fan edits because no one’s given the score a proper ‘version integrale’ release.

BSX Records’ re-recorded version benefits from technical leaps in electronic instruments and software to faithfully emulate Vangelis’ vintage ‘futuristic’ sounds, as well as the obsessiveness of Edgar Rothermich’s arrangements which carefully match as much detail and nuances from Vangelis’ original performance. Running 71 mins., the BSX edition features all the main cues with Vangelis’ stripped-down sound, subtle stereo pans, and delicate theme renditions (“Memories of Green” is really well done, as is the contemplative “Blade Runner Blues”).The vocalist for the eerie, shrill “On the Trail of Nexus 6 (Tales of the Future)” is spot-on, and the album includes material previously unique to the bootlegs – namely Gail Laughton’s lovely “Bicycle Raiders (Pompeii 76 A.D.).”

This is a very good production that fills in the gap until the original score recording is finally restored (preferably without noxious sound effects and dialogue). The cues are lengthy, the tempo of each cue is close to the original, and Rothermich’s performance is respectful of Vangelis’ style. It’s also a cleanly engineered album, with rich tones coming pretty close to the original fat analogue sound of Vangelis’ eighties recordings.



© 2012 Mark R. Hasan


External References:

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