OF THE THIRD KIND
The Collector's Edition Soundtrack
by John Williams
Even though this was composed a few months after
Star Wars, Close Encounters is about as far away from its predecessor as
you can get. It is definitely not for everyone, but I really enjoy
it. When I first bought it, I was ready to take it back the next
day, but then I listened to the whole thing again and was hooked.
The famous five-note motif is only in the last few tracks, so the whole
CD isn’t just that theme repeated over and over again. This release
is stupendous. It has great packaging and liner notes, and every
track except for about two has some new material.
Track by track analysis:
1. Opening: Let There Be Light (:48)
An ingenious opening! It begins with
a dissonant string chord that gradually gets louder and louder. Then
a female choir comes in and the music builds up to a startling chord.
2. Navy Planes (2:07)
3. Lost Squadron (2:23)
Two standard exciting Williams action cues.
They sound like they could have come out of Indiana Jones, but more dissonant.
These tracks sound great.
4. Roy’s First Encounter (2:41)
5. Encounter at Crescendo Summit (1:21)
6. Chasing UFOs (1:18)
Basically these are all dissonant suspense
cues. There is a common motif in most of them, and fragments of themes
to be heard later occasionally pop up.
7. False Alarm (1:42)
This track starts with a hint of the “wonder
motif,” but this dissipates when the supposed UFOs are actually military
8. Barry’s Kidnapping (6:19)
This might be the scariest track John Williams
has ever written. Very avant-garde. Most people who only enjoy
classic Williams will probably want to skip this. It has ingenious
orchestrations, complete with a screaming female chorus. Don’t listen
to it alone in the dark.
9. The Coverup (2:26)
This piece introduces the conspiracy theme.
It is appropriately mysterious, but still exciting. The government
knows that something is amiss, and tries to find a way to scare people
out of the UFO area.
10. Stars and Trucks (:44)
Although very short, this is still a great
composition. After a statement of the wonder motif, the conspiracy
theme returns. This time it is a grand military march, very reminiscent
of Jerry Goldsmith.
11. Forming the Mountain (1:50)
12. TV Reveals (1:50)
These tracks develop the wonder motif.
13. Roy and Gillian on the Road (1:10)
An exciting action cue. The theme
has been heard before in the score and sounds a little like the conspiracy
theme. In the original version, this was part of the end credits.
14. The Mountain (3:31)
Roy and Gillian finally find what they
have been looking for and have been seeing visions about. The wonder
motif get extended into a real theme.
15. “Who Are You People?” (1:35)
A full statement of the conspiracy theme.
16. The Escape (2:18)
17. The Escape (Alternate) (2:40)
These reprise some of the previous themes and
motifs, including the suspense motif from tracks 4-6, but combined with
the extended wonder theme.
18. Trucking (2:01)
This develops the exciting action motif from
"Roy and Gillian on the Road."
19. Climbing the Mountain (2:32)
The motif from the previous track is developed
some more, but a lot of the track has dissonant suspense parts. It
also contains many surreal action moments.
20. Outstretch Hands (2:48)
Avant garde action sequence.
21. Lightshow (3:43)
Atonality at the beginning is overtaken by impressionistic,
wondrous music complete with choir.
22. Barnstorming (4:26)
Atonal suspense at the beginning becomes more
and more frantic until a choir comes in with more impressionistic music.
The extended "wonder" motif makes an appearance near the end.
23. The Mothership (4:34)
More dissonant suspense music like that of "Barry's
Kidnapping" underscores the arrival of the mothership. Definitely
not easy listening. Once again, the wonder motif appears at the end.
24. Wild Signals (4:12)
This is the famous "conversation track."
Here, the five-note motif makes its first appearance, and the fun cue proceeds
to play it in many different variations.
25. The Returnees (3:45)
This continues in the vein of tracks 20-23.
26. The Visitors/"Bye"/End Titles: The Special
Although there is some very creepy avant-garde
music in the first few minutes, the fear eventually dissolves as Williams
interpolates "When You Wish Upon A Star." This epic track tries to
show us that the aliens are peaceful, and that the fears earlier in the
movie were unfounded. The (unused) end titles feature a charming
arrangement of "When You Wish Upon A Star" along with a final statement
of the five-note motif.
As I said above, this may not suit all tastes,
but even if you don't purchase the complete album, at least find a compilation
with the final track. The remastered sound quality is excellent,
and the performance is exemplary. Nearly all of the score is finally
presented in its uncut form, and even at 77 minutes, it hardly ever becomes
dull. Overall, GET IT! (unless you hate remotely atonal music.
Even then, you'll probably still find something to like.)
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Close Encounters of the Third Kind is Copyright 1998 by Arista Records.
Its appearance on this site is for informational, nonprofit use and is
not meant as copyright infringement. Review Copyright 1999 by Andrew
Drannon. As always, these opinions are mine, not Tripod's, or anybody