Last week, TrekMovie reported that Film Score Monthly and Screen Archives Entertainment was releasing an expanded version of the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan soundtrack by James Horner. Today we have a review, focusing on the new material, plus an interview with the producer of the new expanded soundtrack, providing some behind the scene details.
Thoughts on the expanded ST: II Wrath of Khan soundtrack
Like many fellow fans, I have been wishing for an expanded TWOK soundtrack for decades. The FSM version doesn’t disappoint. I will admit that I became emotional listening to some of the music in its pure form, devoid of the imagery and sound effects that obscure on the DVD. The best of the new material is:
"Kirk Takes Command/He Tasks Me": This is truly heroic music, and hearing it without the other sounds really shows what a master Horner is at establish character with his maritime music. This is about as close to a "Theme for James Kirk" as any of the original film soundtracks allow.
"Genesis Project": What is interesting listening to the soundtrack is how many sound elements I assumed were sound effects are actually musical notes or effects. This is especially true of Craig Huxley’s "Genesis Project" which is postmodern music that has some real texture to it.
"The Genesis Cave": This is wonderfully beautiful and sad at the same time
"Spock (Dies)": I dare you not to cry
"Amazing Grace": I dare you not cry again
Bonus Track: "Epilogue (original version without Genesis/Spock casket interlude)/End Title": This is a cool bonus track that allows fans to hear what the soundtrack would have been to end of TWOK had the filmmakers not added the "Spock’s casket on Genesis" sequence. This contains a very beautiful rendition of the Alexander Courage music that is not as clear in the version included in the film. In fact, one of the amazing things about the expanded soundtrack is it reveals that Alexander Courage’s music was utilized more than many originally thought. 7 of the 23 tracks include some version of the original TV theme.
Fans of TWOK and Star Trek soundtracks will not be disappointed by this expanded score. It includes every available track and is in the proper sequence. While the original soundtrack was 44:50, this new version is 76:58. The music sounds much better than the previous CD re-release of the music and is really a work of art. It is enjoyable music in its own right, and the newly expanded music is wonderful.
New Star Trek II Expanded Soundtrack
Beyond the music, there is a fantastic28-page program booklet with liner notes written by Jeff Bond, Lukas Kendall and Alexander Kaplan. The provides in-depth information on the making of the original and expanded Soundtrack and also includes some rare artwork.
Producer talks treknology of the TWOK Extended Edition
Lukas Kendall of Film Score Monthly is the Katra behind the Star Trek II expanded soundtrack. In an interview with TrekMovie, the producer explained some of the challenges bringing back (and expanding) the music of Star Trek II:
Fans may remember that the LP to Star Trek II had “Digital Recording” plastered on the front of the jacket. The score was recorded using the first multitrack digital recording machine, which was a 1-inch, 32-track tape format made by 3M. A little bit of an interesting anecdote: this format is now completely obsolete and to our knowledge only one machine survives capable of playing it, which fortunately is at Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale. (They keep a working machine because a lot of their 1980s sound recordings are archived on the format.) We had a project a few months earlier where Imagineering kindly transferred a tape for us, that being Twilight Zone: The Movie, so we knew how to reach them—they were terrific. Although we did not do a new mix from the 32-track there were some mixdowns and elements (like Spock’s voiceover) we needed that were stored on the format.
Star Trek II was also recorded on a 2” 24-track analogue backup and the three-track (left-center-right) film mixes were stored on ½” analogue tape (easy to play) and a ½” digital 3M tape (impossible to play even for Imagineering!). We were asked by Paramount not to remix the score because, among other things, the engineer, Dan Wallin, is one of the best ever to work in Hollywood—he recently recorded the 2009 Star Trek for Michael Giacchino, talk about longevity. So we used his three-track film mixes although in one spot (I won’t say where) there was a defect on the tape so we had to go back to the multitrack (thank you, Imagineering).
Original ‘Digital Recording’ Star Trek II LP
For fans with Vulcan-like listening abilities, there is an Easter egg of sorts on the CD. Kendall explains "There was an article in Starlog in 1982 in which James Horner playfully claimed he used a “perverted” version of what he called “the Star Trek love theme” from the TV series for the moment after Chekov and Terrell get the eels put in them (“now, why are you here…?”). I had strained to hear this forever in the finished film but could not tell what theme he might have been referencing. I had hoped that hearing the cue on CD I might finally be able to make the connection—but alas, it’s still unclear. Maybe “Vina’s Theme” from “The Cage”?" The first fan to find it gets bragging rights!
Kendall was able to secure the help of various artists to help with the CD. Craig Huxley (who played Peter Kirk (nephew to Captain Kirk in "Operation Annihilate!") and Tommy Starnes ("And the Children Shall Lead")) was the composer of the music played during Carol Marcus’ explanation of the Genesis Project. He was able to supply Kendall with first generation masters from his vault. Also, director Nicholas Meyer, who selected the then 28 year old James Horner as composer, also was available for questions and gave permission for use of photos from his archives. For trivia fans, Meyer’s sister Constance was in the violin section of the orchestra recording Star Trek II in 1982.