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The Great Eight: Scores

This is a collection of eight of my all-time favorite scores (and two honorable mentions). I'm trying to avoid the whole compilation deal here and focus more on actual music written and scored for the films, TV shows, what have you, but a few of them stray from that format. I also have no delusions about these being the absolute best soundtracks out there, they're just those I happen to enjoy.
1 Bear McCreary
Battlestar Galactica Season 2

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm way past that whole being ashamed of watching this show phase. And not only is it the best show on TV, but this soundtrack is one of the most complex, diverse, all around enthralling albums I've ever heard. From the militaristic percussion ensembles to soothing string passages to Celtic anthems to post-metal to Dead Can Dance-channeling vocal lines, the melting pot of styles and influences on display here is, in my opinion, second to none. Standouts: Prelude to War, Something Dark Is Coming, Worthy of Survival.
2 Clint Mansell, Kronos Quartet, Mogwai
The Fountain

Sure, Mansell got attention for Requiem for a Dream (particularly the overplayed but still incredible Lux Aeterna), but I feel like he really came into his own with this release. Though it's an unabashedly repetitive score (there are only three or so actual, driving motifs), it makes this work to its benefit, taking time to sink in and develop in its beauty. The contrast and flourishes provided by the Kronos Quartet and post-rock heavyweights Mogwai are welcome complements to Mansell's ideas, as well, and everything dovetails nicely sounds supremely well-crafted. Standouts: The Last Man, Death Is the Road to Awe, Together We Will Live Forever.
3 Explosions in the Sky, etc.
Friday Night Lights

Though it seems strange to think of post-rock songs in the timeframe they're presented here (most of them ranging between 2 and 3 minutes in length), it works out surprisingly well. In fact, one could argue that these songs don't wear out their welcome as quickly as they might if they were actual, full-blown ten minute compositions. And the strings don't hurt it none. Anyways, this was essentially my introduction to Explosions in the Sky, and while it by no means represents their best work, it's very important to me. Standouts: An Ugly Fact of Life, Home, Lonely Train.
4 Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard

Kinda like BsG: Season 2 lite, this is another great example of musical diversity, ranging from African tribal-esque chants and percussion to the unsurprising yet welcome Roman fanfare orchestras. Hans Zimmer, by the way, is probably one of the most consistent modern day composers I've ever listened to. For whatever that's worth. Standouts: The Battle, To Zucchabar, Am I Not Merciful?
5Michael Andrews
Donnie Darko

A deceptively simple score for one of the most complex films I've ever seen, this score is an effective mix of major key piano near etudes, brooding, effect-heavy forays into vaguely industrial territory, and the now-famous Gary Jules cover of Mad World to boot. Standouts: Carpathian Ridge, Manipulated Living, Gretchen Ross. (P.S. How wack is it that they're actually seriously making S. Darko? Come on now, guys...)
6 John Murphy
28 Days Later

I credit this movie with introducing me to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Though East Hastings is conspicuously absent on this soundtrack, it's more than made up for by the rest of the songs here, which range from strangely serene choral arrangements to pulsating, intense ambient pieces. And John Murphy makes some pretty decent stabs at post-rock himself. Standouts: Taxi (Ave Maria), Frank's Death-Soldiers (Requiem in D Minor), In the House-In a Heartbeat.
7Peter Gabriel
Passion: Music for the Last Temptation of Christ

Yet another reason Peter Gabriel owns Phil Collins' ass, this beautiful, dense, ethereal score is yet another musical melting pot. Haunting boys' choirs, Middle Eastern instrumentation, and a few moments vaguely reminiscent of Gabriel's instrumental work with Genesis; what more do you need for a movie about Jesus getting it on with Mary Magdalene? Standouts: Of These, Hope, Sandstorm, With This Love (Choir).
8 Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd
Mysterious Skin

This is definitely a grower, and there isn't a lot of variety in terms of style or presentation. But that isn't the point of this score; these chiming, mellow, Hammock-like ambient pieces convey the melancholic, desperate, and alien (no pun intended) aspects of the film perfectly. I also recommend their two other collaborations, After the Night Falls and Before the Day Breaks. Standouts: Neil's Theme, Halloween, One True Love.
9 Charlie Clouser

Honorable Mention Numbah One: Realistically, this consistently industrial score probably by Nine Inch Nails alum Clouser is really hindered by some of the non-score tracks (I'm looking at *you*, Pitbull Daycare). The Halo 2 soundtrack had the same problem. It's not fair to hold this against the score, I know, but it really disrupts the flow when you're listening get this...the actual CD. So if it's on iTunes with most of the non-Clouser tracks removed, it might just make the Great Eight.
10 Richard Einhorn
Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc

Honorable Mention Deuce: This is a complicated case to say the least, as the score came like 50 years after the silent film. Also, calling it a score isn't really accurate either, since it's really more of an oratorio set to film. But enough jargon. What I've heard of this is fantastic, and the only reason it's not on the list itself is that I've only just discovered it this week, and I need to let it sink in for awhile.
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