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Soundtrack review: Trancers (Phil Davies & Mark Ryder – 1984,2016)

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Soundtrack review: Trancers (Phil Davies & Mark Ryder – 1984,2016)

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“Trancers” is a 1984 science fiction film. It was directed by Charles Band and stars Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt. It is the first film in the Trancers series.  This film portrays a method of time travel: People can travel back in time by injecting themselves with a drug that allows them to take over the body of an ancestor. When Jack Deth arrives in 1985, he is in the body of his ancestor, a journalist; Whistler assumes control of his ancestor, a police detective; and Deth’s supervisor, McNulty, borrows the form of his own forebear, a young girl. The score was written by Phil Davies and Mark Ryder and a deluxe version of the scores for the first three movies was released by Intrada in 2016.

I was excited to hear about this release because the premise and the year tell me I’m in for synth magic. There is no sound more precious to me than 80s dark synth and the way “Trancers” start make me relate to the characters: this is my time traveling method; I don’t need injection or drugs, I need a good retro synth score and I am there walking or dirty and wet streets guarded by neon signs. “Trancers” offers a buffet of synth assortments as the next cue “Diner Singe” is more alert and disco like. I am more drawn to the quieter parts which give me goose bumps as I close my eyes and let the music take me over. I almost lose it when I hear “City of Lost Angels” because it goes deeper and that sweet melody echoes back to my childhood.

For an 80s synth fan like me, it doesn’t get any better than “Trancers”. The Terminator like danger moments blend together with the dark and dreamy parts while the musical stride in cues like “Santa Claus Killer” are like perfect posters for that wonderful and strange decade. I feel like riding a motorcycle through those dirty streets when I listen to this score.

There are nice little variations in the sound, like I said. We get an Asian influenced tune in the brilliantly titles “Ethereal union of two lost souls”. I love this title. And I love the little surprises the composer throw into this score. Sure the music is mostly dark but it’s a comfortable darkness and one I am very familiar with. I marvel at a cue like “Divide and conquer” because it shows me the heart of 80s synth music. This music box like tune, this fragile and innocent beginning hits a special place inside me.

For me the score for the first “Trancers” movie is perfect. The right mix of action, dreams and melancholy to immerse me in my precious nostalgia. I get flashbacks of “Terminator” and “The never-ending story” from this one. This is my favorite sound and when a composition of it is done this well, I am a delighted music fan.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 35 / 35

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:

TRANCERS: Main Title

Diner Singe

City Of Lost Angels

Ancestry

Santa Claus Killer

Tropical Tube Tan

Ethereal Union Of Two Lost Souls

The Paper Mill

Trancer Trooper

Divide And Conquer

Deal With Whistler

The Fortune Teller

End Title

 

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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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