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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: Todd China
• Date: Sunday, May 3, 2009, at 8:45 a.m.
• IP Address:

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

The Truth and the Light: Music from The X-Files: (Mark Snow) The Truth and the Light, an album of music from the first three seasons of The X-Files, is as enigmatic as the show itself. There is an interesting diversity of opinion on this release; hard-core soundtrack fans are lukewarm toward it, while regular X-Files fans love it, sometimes even more than the Fight the Future score album. It is hard to compare the two releases. Although Fight the Future has a thematic coherence and benefits from a large-scale orchestra, it is very derivative in some parts, which have all been well-documented. I believe The Truth and the Light, on the other hand, although flawed in its presentation, does a better job at delineating the essence of what X-Files is all about.

While it's true that this CD contains a lot of dialogue, I am actually pretty tolerant of most of it. (Keep in mind that I am a devoted X-Files fan.) This soundtrack is really just a compilation of mostly unrelated musical pieces scattered throughout 60-70 hours of television, so the album cannot really have any kind of coherence as a whole, but the producers tried anyway. Many tracks flow directly into each other, and the dialogue is often mixed in to lead into the next track. Sometimes the presence of dialogue enhances the X-Files listening experience, notably in "Adflatus," "Progigno de Axis," and "Fides Fragilis," but other times the dialogue is mixed in very pretentiously, with annoying and unnecessary fades, echoes, and repetitions. At other times, the sudden intrusion of dialogue at the end of a track disrupts the flow and sequencing of the CD.

The music itself represents an intriguing cross-section from the series. There are a few tracks which to me come across as very dark, atonal, and atmospheric. I have always enjoyed the music from the TV series, and the suspenseful, atmospheric cues which feature lots of dissonant string chords, low synth rumblings, lonely piano riffs, and moments of brassy ugliness no doubt enhance the 'creep-out' element of the show. The results in terms of listening enjoyment can be quite mixed, however.

There are, thankfully, a handful of amazing, highly enjoyable cues to be found which deserve mention. For starters, the main theme in its extended, fully developed version is simply great. No explanation necessary. Meanwhile, "Adflatus" contains a heart-breakingly beautiful harp theme, straight out of the emotional Bill 'Ahab' Scully monologue from "One Breath." I'm glad that this wonderful piece is represented on the CD. The stunning emotional power of this scene truly brought a tear to my eye, and the music definitely contributed to it. The melancholy harp figures are so full of longing and emotion that it verily plays on the listener's own heart-strings. It perfectly captures the deepness of Bill Scully's love for his daughter. Oddly enough, there is a pretty cello solo laid over this harp figure whose origin I don't recognize.

"Otium" comes directly out of the ending of "Conduit," and like "Adflatus," it is very emotional. Mark Snow makes great use of synths voices and flute for the music that accompanies this excellent scene of Mulder sitting in a church brooding over his sister while Scully listens to Mulder's regression hypnosis tape. The music here is very sad and lonely, and the wistful flute evokes Mulder's feelings of loss and sad frustration in his wandering search. The absolute highlight of the album is the regrettably short "Progigno de Axis," which accompanies the scene in the "Nisei/731" two-parter where Mulder jumps onto a moving train. It follows the tense, suspenseful, ethnic- sounding "Iter," which is also from "Nisei." I love this music so much; the repetitive motion of a train passing by, car by car, is given musical expression here in the relentlessly driving, menacing, low cello figures that effectively capture the sense of urgency as Mulder rushes headlong into danger. Add to this a stabbing piano figure in the lower registers, followed by the staccato eighth notes of the high strings, and the result is The X-Files at one of its musically finest moments.

"Mitis Lumen," from "Soft Light," is also a very enjoyable cue; it's rhythmic, light, and fast-paced, with good use of synths and woodblocks. "Carmen Armatorium Ex Arcanum" is a haunting, beautiful, romantic piece of music which features a sad piano motif along with an eerie synth backing. The percussive "Insequi" from the third season episode "Oubliette" is also exciting and suspenseful, while "Facetus Malum" from the comedy classic "Humbug" produces a hypnotic sensation with its playful, lazy pizzicato strings and flowing bassoon solo. These pieces round out the musical highlights on the CD.

Aside from the oft-leveled dialogue complaint, I think The Truth and the Light falls short not so much in what was included, but in what wasn't included. There are some wonderful musical cues to be found in the series that didn't make the soundtrack album. The breathtaking and lyrical oboe and piano opening of "One Breath," the opening piano-scored scene with Scully and Mulder in "Little Green Men," and the lonely, melancholic, angst-ridden ending music of "Ascension" would have made superior inclusions, to name a few. Even the dialogue is lacking in some respects. I would have welcomed the inclusion of the voices of Alex Krycek and Margaret Scully, but instead we are treated to the lines of relatively insignificant characters like Duane Barry, Albert the Navaho, and Dr. Pomerantz (the regression hypnosis guy from "The Blessingway"), characters who are so important, they don't show up in more than two or three episodes! There's something very wrong with this picture.

The problems don't end there, however. No note on which episodes the cues and dialogue came from is given, which is a gross oversight. In addition, the fact that all the track names are in Latin gives further reason to question the sanity of the producers. Finally, I might add that the opening and closing tracks were composed by Jeff Charbonneau, and I wonder what the point of that was. They make acceptable bookends for the CD but are pretty unnecessary. Despite its flaws, The Truth and the Light makes for an interesting and enjoyable listen on the whole, especially for an X-Files fan. Obviously, this CD could have better, but it has plenty of great redeeming moments, and when you consider that it is the only release of music from the first three seasons that we are likely to get,... in the end, it is recommendable and deserves a chance. Hopefully, in a future release of music from subsequent seasons, we will see music from classics such as "Paper Hearts," "Memento Mori," "Small Potatoes," "The Red and the Black," "Post-Modern Prometheus," "The Christmas Carol," "The End," and many more. ***

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