TV

Soundtrack review: The expanse (Clinton Shorter – 2016)

“The Expanse” is an American space opera / mystery science fiction drama television series on Syfy, based on the series of novels by James S. A. Corey. Set in a future where humanity has colonized the Solar System, it follows United Nations executive Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), police detective Miller (Thomas Jane), and ship’s officer Jim Holden (Steven Strait) and his crew as they unravel a conspiracy that threatens peace across the System and the survival of humanity. The score was written by Clinton Shorter.

As soon as the main theme starts I remember why I liked his “Pompeii” score so much; the epic trailer music like sound, the female vocalization, they work just as well for a Sci-fi story as they did for the historical one. It’s just a short intro, probably the main titles of the TV series but I like it. The strange feeling of enjoying this score even if it’s not really a Sci-fi themed composition continues as the music goes on. I guess future is just the setting for the story and the themes presented are universal.

I enjoy the score because it’s simple and bold. The music is loud and spectacular and it doesn’t waste time with unnecessary embellishments or twists. There are no filler cues and in each piece I can find a section that motivates me or raises my pulse. Tension is clear and palpable and action is explosive. Emotion is also well crafted in a cue like “Remember the Cant”.

I am not familiar with the show and this doesn’t help my listening experience, mostly because the music surely plays over scenes from the series rather than having themes created for specific characters, themes that could give me an idea about them. So I focus on the moments that work for me best, like the ambient parts or the action pieces. Beautiful atmospheric cues like “Respite” and “Truth” will always find a place to connect with inside me.

The quiet middle section of the score is my favorite part. The music settles into a reflective and almost dreamy place I like to explore. Sure I love how Clinton Shorter writes action but I am happy to discover this side of him as well. “The expanse” is a rich and layered score which I imagine works great in context. I’ve seen enough TV shows to know what kind of music they need. This one doesn’t focus on specific moments or characters but instead creates a believable and alluring atmosphere.

Cue rating: 83 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 13 / 46

Album excellence: 28%

Highlights:

The Expanse

Signal

Gone

Remember The Cant

Respite

A Lifetime of Losing

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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