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Comments about the soundtrack for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Brad Fiedel)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: Faisal Juma
• Date: Sunday, May 3, 2009, at 1:24 p.m.
• IP Address: donated.filmtracks.com

(The following donated review by Faisal Juma was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in May, 2009)


Terminator 2: Judgment Day: (Brad Fiedel) I've always thought that James Cameron displayed an amazing since of intuition when it comes to hiring the right composer for the right film. It could be argued that after the success of the first Terminator film, he could've enlisted the help of almost any of the top 5 composers in the industry. But he did not. What Cameron noticed was that Brad Fiedel's music did not just merely exist to underscore the action and drama displayed on screen. Fiedel's work melted and fused with the whole Terminator universe, that future struggle between the forces of steel/hydraulics/electronics and Mankind.

I cannot imagine for a second the main antagonist, the T1000, barreling down a street without Fiedel's electronic motif, a sound best described as that of an 18-wheeler racing out of control down a highway. This striking motif that shows up a number of times throughout the score is akin to what Williams did for the shark in Jaws. On a psychological level, the motif triggers an almost automatic response and in midst of even explosions and gun fire, you instantly recognize it and know what's coming next.

A good portion of the score for Terminator II combines traditional synthesizer pads (basically synthetic strings) with unconventional percussion. Everything from the sound of metal-stamping Press to the hiss of hydraulic brakes. Some of the tracks, like 'Sarah's Dream', use swirling pads of strings that meander and crescendo to violent dissonant explosions of a female choir, leading up to, in this track, the bright flash of a nuclear detonation. 'I'll Be Back' contains one of the best action cues I've heard in a long time, certainly in a synthetic score. Fiedel starts the cue with a series of low percussion hits and slowly builds up the tempo in anticipation for the main part of the cue, which is a repeating pattern of powerful sounding synthetic strings in the lower-register. Overlaid on top of everything is a nice variation of the main theme. The second last track 'T1000 Terminated' ends with a beautiful transition to the End Title, which is in my opinion the best version of the main Terminator theme in both scores.

Brad Fiedel manages to blend unmusical sounds of industrial equipment and modified percussion samples with style, rhythm, and harmony that at times to me is baffling. On one level it is jarring to any listener whose used to conventional orchestral passages, hence it is ridiculously easy to dismiss almost everything in this score except for the infamous Main/End Titles. Maturity might allow enjoyment beyond that first cursory reaction, but maturity might also get in the way and cause you to throw this CD against the wall and exclaim 'What is this sh*t!?' I hope not, because you might miss the best purely synthesized score ever composed for a film, and I've heard almost all, both orchestral and synthetic. *****






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