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Comments about the soundtrack for The Thirteenth Floor (Harald Kloser)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: Timothy Turner   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Monday, August 27, 2007, at 7:51 p.m.
• IP Address:

(The following donated review by Timothy Turner was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in August, 2007)

The Thirteenth Floor: (Harald Kloser) The 13th Floor, a new sci-fi film this year, is about a scientist that finds an awesome discovery (but is unable to tell his best friend because someone is after him). So the scientist writes a note, and hides it in a computer generated world of 1937, and is murdered the same night. His friend finds this letter in the computer world and also faces the unexpected. Austrian composer Harald Kloser, who I had never heard of, tells the suspenseful story with co-composer Thomas Wanker, the German Philharmonic Orchestra, and The Vienna Choir Boys. Lets take an in-depth look at that score:

1. Downtown L.A. 1937: Starts off with a few seconds of piano and strings, then a spooky boys choir fades in with the orchestra and rises to a magical climax and introduces the main theme. Then it goes into some fast paced strings and a trumpet jazz theme that reflects driving on the streets of Downtown L.A. of 1937, and then back to the choir and orchestra performing the main theme once again, but this time more dramatically. It ends with soft strings, piano and a choir as the music fades out. 2. Jane's Theme: This is a slow moving Jazz piece with a trumpet accompanied by soft strings and a piano. It's actually quite relaxing, peaceful and sometimes sad, sounding very much out of place after listening to the previous track.

3. Downloading: Begins with some mysterious atmospheric music with a choir fading in and out. It sounds very similar to the Main Titles of Outbreak by James Newton Howard, but without the beat; in fact the remainder of the track, which turns in to a loud (yet not over bearing) suspenseful action cue, sounds like James Newton Howard again. 4. Desert and 5. Locker Chase: A very dark track with strings and piano, and the choir "ahhhh"ing a spooky 3 note motif. This track sounds like something Danny Elfman would do. Then, after a few seconds of atmospheric music, back to the slow moving strings and choir. Track 5 is a continuation of track 4, since they flow into each other without a break between tracks. This carries track 4 in the beginning then turns into a suspenseful action piece, with lots of synths mixed with the orchestra.

6. Bookstore: Starts off kind of dark and then a sentimental theme, performed by strings and piano and a oboe, Its very nice. It might actually be a love theme. 7-9. The Wilshire Grand Swing Suite: Just imagine you're in 1937 L.A., and you walk into a saloon where people are drinking, gambling, and dancing very fast paced with a partner in the middle of the room to live Jazz performers... 10.The 13th Floor: Ah, now back to the score. This track begins very dark and atmospheric, and then leads into a synthesized rhythm and drum beats. It almost sounds like some heavy metal music is about to start, while at the same time the orchestra delivers some good old fashion horror music. It gets really quiet as the choir boys return "uuuu"ing in the distance, and there is a solo performance by one of the boys; he is chanting something, but it's not in English, so I can't tell you what it is. Along with the slow moving cellos behind him, it gives a dark religious feeling.

11. Fuller Goes To Sleep: In almost ever track so far, I've said that they start off dark... well they do, and this track is no exception. It goes into the some moody atmospheric music, and then into this synthesized beat that sounds very ethnically Asian ethnic, with agong like you hear and see in Buddhist temples. More atmospheric music with strange sound effects lead to some brief horror music. 12. Techno Download: Starts dark again, with strings playing the 3 note motif, and then slowly a techno beat fades in... becoming a techno song. The orchestra never leaves (it is there, playing a slow moody piece that sounds like Mark Snow's music from The X-Files) behind the fast paced techno beats and sounds. The effect is quite cool, however.
13. Flatliner and 14. End of the World: Once again, a dark atmospheric start --then fast paced strings, and some soft score suspense music. It abruptly ends with the "uuuu"ing echo of the choir and some rumbling noises fading out. Track 14 is slow and quiet, with strings and an oboe repeating the 3-note motif. After going into some wordless vocals by one of the choir boys, the full choir comes in, with many more strings and a brass theme... all together making it sound very dramatic and emotional. Together with the choir it gives the image of the "End of the World." 15. Showdown and 16. Hall is Dead: This track wastes no time with slow and dark starts, but is a another suspenseful action cue from start to finish. Track 16 starts with soft strings, and wordless vocals from one of the choir boys. Then soon he repeats that chant again from track 10 with slight variation. A sad cello and string theme leads back to wordless vocals which end the track. 17. Where Are We?: Begins with some strings, harps, and a piano, and then in the distance the choir boys "oooooh"ing with a string theme. It builds with the rest of the choir and orchestra for a very touching finale.

Overall, this score is very enjoyable. It's not thematically rich or original, but it has its moments that do really shine. The Vienna Choir Boys really bring the score to life in most cases. Although most of the music is dark, and atmospheric at times, it's never boring or uninteresting. The suspenseful tracks are exciting, but never overbearing. In the insert notes, Roland Emmerich (producer) mentions that he had to choose between five different composers who could score this film. Although he choose Kloser, I'll bet the other composers were James Newton Howard, Danny Elfman, David Arnold, and maybe Christopher Young. Why? Because I can hear it in the music --especially James Newton Howard's scores for Outbreak and Flatliners, but with much less percussion. Its not a bad score at all, and is worth the $16 purchase, but its not the greatest score either, and could have been better. But take note that I'm saying these things without hearing it in the film yet. ***

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