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The X-Files
Album Cover Art
1996 Warner
2011 La-La Land (Volume 1)
Album 2 Cover Art
2013 La-La Land (Volume 2)
Album 3 Cover Art
2016 La-La Land (Vol. 1 Re-Issue)
Album 4 Cover Art
2016 La-La Land (Volume 3)
Album 5 Cover Art
2017 La-La Land (Event Series)
Album 6 Cover Art
2019 La-La Land (Season 11)
Album 7 Cover Art
2020 La-La Land (Volume 4)
Album 8 Cover Art
Composed and Co-Produced by:
Mark Snow

Additional Music and Co-Produced by:
Jeff Charbonneau

Co-Produced by:
Chris Carter
Labels Icon
Warner Brothers Records
(October 8th, 1996)

La-La Land Records
(Volume 1)
(May 10th, 2011)

La-La Land Records
(Volume 2)
(September 10th, 2013)

La-La Land Records
(Volume 1 Re-Issue)
(February 9th, 2016)

La-La Land Records
(Volume 3)
(October 25th, 2016)

La-La Land Records
(Event Series)
(April 25th, 2017)

La-La Land Records
(Season 11)
(June 25th, 2019)

La-La Land Records
(Volume 4)
(November 27th, 2020)
Availability Icon
The 1996 Warner album was a regular U.S. release, readily available for a long time. The 2011 La-La Land set (Volume 1) was limited to 3,000 copies and was offered for $50 at soundtrack specialty outlets before selling out, after which its value increased by three times. The 2013 La-La Land set (Volume 2) is also limited to 3,000 copies and sold initially for $50 at the same soundtrack specialty outlets.

The same contents of the 2011 Volume 1 set were re-issued in 2016 by La-La Land, with 2,000 copies selling for $40 in condensed packaging. The 2016 La-La Land set (Volume 3) is limited to 3,000 copies and sold initially for $50 at the same soundtrack specialty outlets. The 2017 La-La Land Season Ten album ("The Event Series") is limited to 3,000 copies and sold initially for $25 at those soundtrack specialty outlets.

Later pressings of the Volume 3 set were issued in condensed packaging. The 2019 Season Eleven album is limited to 3,000 copies and debuted for $25. The 2020 La-La Land set (Volume 4) is limited to 2,000 copies and sold initially for $50 at the soundtrack specialty outlets.
Nominated for six Emmy Awards (1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002).
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... on the comprehensive 4-CD sets from 2011 to 2020 spanning all of the seasons of Mark Snow's impressive contributions to the concept if you desire most of the noteworthy and prominent cues heard within the context of the show.

Avoid it... on those pricey sets and instead seek the 1996 single-CD release if you have no interest in the more dynamic, humorous, and strikingly beautiful music from the show's later seasons and instead want the darker, atonal, and atmospheric music from the first three seasons.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 11/8/98, REVISED 4/11/21
The X-Files: (Mark Snow) An enigma on television due to its incredibly smart and imaginative science-fiction writing, Chris Carter's cult classic series "The X-Files" flirted with the mainstream while entertaining alien and conspiracy enthusiasts through most of the 1990's. Its complicated narrative arc spanned decades and dealt with the FBI's complicit relationship with an invading alien species, a plan foiled in part by a small group of agents determined to learn the truth of the matter. Although soiled by a pair of unfortunate feature films, the concept's legacy on television is almost unvarnished, only the departure of one of its two stars in two of its seasons diminishing its lasting appeal. The series was resurrected to acclaim in the late 2010's for shorter seasons extending the same narrative and cast. Carter's regular composing collaborator for his several series on television has been Mark Snow, a veteran of small screen music on tight budgets. After the first nine seasons and countless hundreds of hours of music written for "The X-Files," Snow's library of material for the concept was eventually quite immense. As the composer for almost all of the original music heard in the series, his contribution improved as the series reached its pinnacle of quality in the late 1990's. He won the ASCAP Award for "Top TV Series" for the four seasons spanning 1996 through 1999 and was nominated for an Emmy for his music in episodes from five of the last six seasons (including the final episode itself). Fans of the series continue to debate about which distinct half of Snow's music for "The X-Files" is better matched for the series. His initial four or five seasons of music established the edgy, often dissonant low range tones that defined the "sound" of the series. In later years, and most notably starting in season seven, Snow began to branch out into music that was not only more easily tonal but also increasingly extroverted and humorous. From the powerfully percussive and somewhat lighthearted rhythms in the episodes "First Person Shooter" and "Fight Club" to the heartbreaking female vocals mixed prominently in the "Within" and "Without" episodes opening the eighth season, Snow began providing music for the series that stood distinctly in the forefront of the episodes' sound mix. Casual viewers of "The X-Files" were drawn to the more emotionally accessible style that Snow applied to the show with grace in later years, though the hardcore fans still maintain a loyalty to the bleak atmospheres of the show's earlier musical identity.

Interestingly, the only full album of music from "The X-Files" that was released during its initial nine-year run was called "The Truth and the Light," a 1996 compilation of random cues heard in episodes from the show's first three seasons. As such, avid fans of the series seeking Snow's darker, ambient, and atonal music had for many years a very representative compilation of those creepy sounds. But, in the larger scheme of the "The X-Files" production, the releases of the feature film scores by Snow for The X-Files: Fight the Future and The X-Files: I Want to Believe did not compensate for the mass of superior unreleased music from the later years of the series' run on television. In 2011, La-La Land Records offered a long awaited 3,000-copy, 4-CD compilation of over 300 minutes of material from the show. (After selling out, it was re-issued by the label in 2016 for another 2,000 copies.) Between 2013 and 2020, another three very similar volumes (also 4-CDs and 2,000 to 3,000 copies each) followed from La-La Land as promised, filling in some of the gaps in the first product based on feedback from fans. La-La Land also offered 2-CD sets of music from the tenth season, originally known as the "Event Series," and eleventh season as well. For the purposes of this review, all of the album releases for the music of the television incarnation of the show will be discussed in succession below. The 1996 single-CD compilation from Warner Brothers is a somewhat odd collection of music from the first three seasons; hardcore fans were immediately able to find significant cues missing from within even this subset of the show's soundtrack. Snow's choices for inclusion on the album cover many of the motifs that would reoccur in several episodes, however, including the hopeful, but restrained piano solo in "Lamenta" that was the earliest incarnation of a caring relationship between agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. The title theme, of course, is the most recognizable piece, and its extended performance here offers secondary sections of the theme's famous electronically manipulated whistling that are far more enjoyable than its primary statements. The more listenable portions of the Snow's music for the show often accompany individual moments of reflection by Mulder or Scully, and in these solo performances of woodwinds, strings, or piano, Snow excels. The majority of the music on the compilation, however, is representative of the synthetic atmospheres famous in their gritty, unnerving contributions to "The X-Files." When compared to the vast variety in tonal sounds later in the show, most of these early cues are largely unlistenable apart from the shows, except, of course, for the most ardent fans of the concept.

Unless you considered yourself to be among the most avid enthusiasts of "The X-Files," the 1996 compilation probably left you wanting far more. The album's production is somewhat controversial as well. Five minutes of music by sound editor Jeff Charbonneau open and close the album, leaving only 43 minutes by Snow. The product is littered with dialogue from the show, which is, in concept, a good move, especially considering the relationship that Snow's music has with that dialogue. The voices are layered with an eerie, wet mix, set back slightly from the music. In some cases, these vocal mixes are brilliant, including the "Adflatus" and "Progigno de Axis" tracks, but at other times, they hinder the flow of one track to another. At times, a shout or cry for help is used as a transition from one musical cue to another, a nice touch given the unpredictability of the show. But the inconsistent incorporation of dialogue hinders the album's continuity. The use of Latin track titles, along with no information about which episode each cue originally comes from, causes significant dissatisfaction with the album. While it remained a very basically adequate souvenir of sorts from the first three seasons of "The X-Files," Snow's music from the later years of the show was always far more deserving of release on CD, rendering this product frustrating. Interestingly, the Warner album remained relevant even after the 4-CD set from La-La Land, though, because the massive collection released in 2011 concentrated far more heavily on Snow's more palatable music. The presentation on that large set is streamlined, too, leaving behind the eccentric qualities of the previous album (including the dialogue) and instead opting for a conservatively comprehensive presentation of Snow's arguably best music from the entire duration of the show. Those seeking an emphasis on the tense, edgy side of Snow's overall soundtrack will still need to reference the 1996 album. While some of that material is provided on the 2011 set, the product instead focuses on Snow's rhythmic action material, quirky humorous sideshows, and gorgeous moments of lament. The spread of material is mostly even across the life of the show, emphasizing the most important episodes to a greater degree and usually providing anywhere from two to four cues from them. On each of the four CDs, a varying recording of the main theme opens and closes the presentation, conveying the many different long and short main title versions as well as the remixed suites that had been touched upon on previous albums. The set closes out with the "I Made This" and "20th Century Fox Fanfare" snippets that always concluded the end credits.

What follows in this review is an abridged track analysis of the 2011 "Volume 1" set, and some of the references may not make much sense to those who did not watch "The X-Files" with regularity. Some general observations for casual listeners will be saved for the end of the review. The music from the pilot that opens the first CD is very sparse, slightly contemporary at its outset; it's interesting to hear not because of its immediate prowess, but rather its display of how far the music evolved through the years. Snow often conjured his most interesting instrumental techniques for the villains of the individual episodes, and the score for the episode "Squeeze" would be sadly generic if not for the random plucking effect for its antagonist. More palatable in an ambience sense is the light rhythmic movement for "Fallen Angel." Likewise a first season highlight is the pretty piano theme for the titular character in "Roland," an idea well adapted into dying variations in the rest of the score. Snow's standard, percussively slapping chase formulas are explored in "The Erlenmeyer Flask," yielding here to creepy, tonal ambience for Scully's discovery of the aliens' existence. Season Two's portion of the set opens with a rambling piano line that sadly expresses Mulder's despondency in "Little Green Men," an idea that would inform much of the later sad material stated by Snow throughout the series. In "The Host," Snow opens with a synthetically sharp suspense cue with a slight Russian choral hint that leads to harsh stingers for the toxic villain. The highlight of Season Two is likely "One Breath," an episode well represented on this CD. After the first two tracks toil with troubled but inoffensive ambient chords, Snow returns to the rambling piano loops for Mulder's concern about Scully and his job. The final two tracks in this suite softly reprise the earlier ambient chords, but this time with a sense of resolution; the synthetic choir and tonal nature make these cues quite easy on the ears. Slightly less impressive is the music from "Anasazi," soft plucking with ambient synths in "The Mourn" stating the title theme softly but the two following cues building from equivalent suspense to percussive action. As the series progressed, Snow would reference the title theme more frequently within the various emotional states of the underscore, the fragmented hints finally producing full quotations in the last few seasons' romantic music. The second CD in the 2011 set moves on to Season Three, the piano material from "One Breath" in Season Two returning in the first track from "Nisei." An ethnic woodwind phrase for the Japanese scientists in this episode is joined by a tapped percussive rhythm for the train on which their work is conducted.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.32 Stars
***** 244 5 Stars
**** 297 4 Stars
*** 272 3 Stars
** 199 2 Stars
* 111 1 Stars
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1996 Warner Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 48:36
• 1. Introitus: Praeceps Transito Spatium (1:51) (Introduction: On the Edge of Travel through Space)
• 2. Materia Primoris: The X-Files Theme (3:22) (Main Title)
• 3. Raptus (3:16) (Abduction)
• 4. Adflatus (3:36) (Inspired Breath)
• 5. Deverbero (1:28) (A Sound Thrashing)
• 6. Cantus Excio (4:42) (Chant of Exorcism)
• 7. Mercutura (3:23) (The Merchandise)
• 8. Lamenta (1:48) (Song of Sorrow)
• 9. Insequi (1:37) (Hot Pursuit)
• 10. Otium (1:43) (Peace)
• 11. Dubitatio (2:49) (In Doubt)
• 12. Iter (1:20) (Journey)
• 13. Progigno de Axis (1:35) (The Offspring of Axis)
• 14. Carmen Amatorium Ex Arcanum (2:39) (Love Song of Mystery)
• 15. Facetus Malum (2:42) (Comic Misfortune)
• 16. Memoria (2:02) (Remembrance)
• 17. Mitis Lumen (2:41) (Soft Light)
• 18. Fides Fragilis (1:35) (Fragile Faith)
• 19. Exoptare Ex Veritas (1:30) (Desire for Truth)
• 20. Kyrie (2:57) (Mass)
(English translation included after each track)
2011 La-La Land Volume 1/2016 Re-Issue Albums Tracks   ▼Total Time: 311:27
2013 La-La Land Volume 2 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 298:27
2016 La-La Land Volume 3 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 310:28
2017 La-La Land Event Series Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 154:69
2019 La-La Land Season 11 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 155:40
2020 La-La Land Volume 4 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 314:30

Notes Icon
The insert of the 1996 Warner album includes notes by the show's creator, Chris Carter, with extensive credits (including vocal appearances in the dialogue). All of the La-La Land sets include extremely detailed analysis about the show, the composer, and each of the tracks and episodes represented on the sets. With later pressings of Volume 3 and all pressings of Volume 4, the label switched to 4-CD jewel cases instead of a slipcase box to contain the CDs.
Copyright © 1998-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from The X-Files are Copyright © 1996, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, Warner Brothers Records, La-La Land Records (Volume 1), La-La Land Records (Volume 2), La-La Land Records (Volume 1 Re-Issue), La-La Land Records (Volume 3), La-La Land Records (Event Series), La-La Land Records (Season 11), La-La Land Records (Volume 4) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 11/8/98 and last updated 4/11/21.
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