"2001: A Space Odyssey - The Unused Score"
Dylanna Music Digital Download
Available through Amoeba.com
13 Tracks/Disc Time: 39:02 Grade: A
The film is legendary, the director is legendary and the music for the film is the stuff made of legends. 2001 is a film that is and was an instant classic when it was finally unvailed to the public in the winter of 1968. The film was a beautifully and meticulosly shot with great striking visuals that Director Stanley Kubrick was famous for. Along with the stellar classical pieces that Kubrick particularly chose to bring his visual marvel to life. The film which stars Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood is an exercise in music married visuals, as well as character study of mankind and its evolution after man has finally been able to travel to the moon and through the discovery of a mysterious Monolith found buried underneath the moon's surface after the discovery of another monolith on Earth. With the help of the HAL 9000 computer, Dr. Dave Bowman (Dullea) race to those monoliths and find out what is the next step in man's evolution, whatever it may or could be. The film spawned a very underrated sequel which is very faithful to Kubrick's film in 2010: The Year We Make Contact, which was directed by Peter Hyams and starred Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren and Bob Balaban, which featured a joint US/Russian space mission sent to Jupiter to discover what went wrong with the U.S.S. Discovery and discover the appearance of a huge black monolith in Jupiter's orbit along with the fate of H.A.L. 9000, the Discovery's sentient computer and Dr. Bowman. 2001 is still a film is still simply stunning and a film that should be rediscovered and with the film now celebrating its 45th anniversary, there's even more reason to along with its sequel which is an entertaining curiosity.
Stanley Kubrick has never really been a director that preferred a complete original written score with the exception of Spartacus, not with standing, he has always been a guy who's fallen in love with the temp track along with the use and at times, over use of pre-recorded material. 2001 was just simply a serious case where Kubrick had a specific musical notion of what he wanted and had somewhat of a serious time putting it together. Against his wishes, MGM really felt that the film needed an original musical score and Kubrick's composer for Spartacus, the late Alex North, was the right man suited for the job. North who during the decade did write the epic scores for Spartacus, Cleopatra and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, had written a score that did and possibly may have worked with Kubrick's film if it was given chance to work with the film. North spent the latter half of December 1967 writing what would be the first half of Kubrick's masterpiece and finally recording it on January 1, 1968. Kubrick did like what North had written for the most part, but trouble brewed when North sat around for period of time waiting for another meeting with Kubrick to finish the scoring of 2001, which never came and to cap the final nail in the coffin, Kubrick completely jettesoned North's score without knowledge after attending the film's studio premiere months later. Heartbroken, North did keep a copy of what would be film music most mysterious and mythical unheard rejected scores to what would ultimately be a memorable film. A score that had only been heard through the grapevine throughout the next three decades until after North's untimely passing that a re-recording of the ambitious score took place by Varese Sarabande Records conducted by North's closest friend, the late Jerry Goldsmith, to bring the score back to life and finally, the world would've been able to hear the lost score to 2001.
Then in 2006 about thirteen years later, the long lost tapes of the original tapes were finally unearthed through a through search in cooperation with the Kubrick estate. Intrada Records released this album in January 2007, which was a limited edition CD produced by the reknowned Nick Redman, featuring all of the music North wrote up until the second half of the film. The discovery of the original tapes is one that is just as a big event as hearing them being re-recorded thirteen years after the fact. Happily, the release did sell out and now is a sought after collector's item fetching high prices on Ebay at the moment. However, late last year North's family through their newly formed label, Dylanna Music which also helped with the Intrada release reissued the long out of print CD in a digital download through Amoeba Records and with a limited edition Vinyl soon to come. North's music for 2001 was very intellegent, mysterious, fearsome, savage and wonderous everything that one could've possibly imagined for a film such as this one. North took some major chances and really didn't hold back one iota which is one of the reasons why the score has been one of such awe and wonder of what could've been. From the onset with the "The Foragaing" which North creates somewhat of a harsh, bleak landscape underscoring the films' "Dawn of Man" sequence continuing with "The Bluff", which plays off as angry and unrelenting music as two ape tribes confront each other with a downbeat ending. "Night Terrors", "Bones" and "Eat Meat And Kill", North introduces a musical fear of darkness for the tribe as well the Earth's first actual death in the latter track, in a savage barbaric tone. The film shifts in tone with "Space Station Docking", which is a sequence scored for the famous space walk which North scored with a beautiful waltz figure that would've worked within the film if left in tact but the long lingering shadow of Strauss' beautiful, Blue Danube just simply couldn't be topped. "Space Talk" provides some of the score's warmest material as Bowman and his daughter have a picturephone conversation in the film. "Trip To The Moon" and "Moon Rocket Bus" features some of the scores' mysterious and stirring material with Moon Rocket featuring a beautiful vocalise underscoring North's errie and unknown musical tone for the sequence of Bowman's arrival on the moon and the discovery of the monolith. The digital release also features the same identical tracks as the limited edition CD with the three alternate tracks of "Eat, Meat And Kill", "Space Station" and "Docking".
2001 one was one of the best digital releases of 2012 and for good reason. It was just simply the best release in its format because of how good the music really is and would've been had Kubrick let North score the rest of the film. You can't blame Kubrick for his choices because they just simply were too good to top and even if North had, it was still a no win situation. North was just simply a victim of circumstance as MGM executives wanted him, but Kubrick didn't and in the end, it left North heartbroken and rightfully so. Now with digital media and reissues going on, North's music is given another chance to really shine again and to be rediscovered for those ardent fans of the film and for those just discovering the movie for the first time, are given the opportunity to discover an added bonus to the classical works of Strauss, Khatuchyan and Ligeti. This is an excellent release and one of many more from North's family, who definitely recognize the importance of this score and the legacy of this fine composer. A great release.
After receiving a email to review this wonderful album, which I do personally own on CD by Abby North along with her husband, Dylan (Alex's son), who are relatives of the late composer as well as wife, Annemarie, who had passed away in 2005 (and had personally championed the re-recording in 1993 with producer Robert Townson), I was both happy and stunned that would be granted an interview by them in regards to this release as well as the importance of it. This interview was conducted late last year and it is a previledge to include this as part of this review.
2001 was a very important score in Alex North's career. (From personal or family experience) how did he feel when it wasn't used for the film?
Abby North: According to my husband, Dylan, and from all that I've read, Alex felt that he and his work had been undervalued, and somewhat disrespected. He believed his music was the best accompaniment to Stanley Kubrick's images.
Dylan North; My father only found out about his score being replaced when he showed up for the screening for 2001. Needless to say he was incredibly disappointed.
What compelled a new digital release of this soundtrack?
Abby North: Occasionally I visit online film music threads about Alex North, and in doing so I noticed a few music fans had inquired about a downloadable version of Alex's Music For 2001. So, we had a belief that at least some music consumers out there were interested in a digital download. Additionally, Dylan and I started our boutique record label, Dylanna Music, a couple years ago, and had been planning to release 2001 at some point. Our intention is to ultimately make the download available for free to students and educators. Additionally, we will hopefully have .pdfs of the printed score available for study.
Do you think this score would've defined Alex's career even further had it been left in Kubrick's film as he had recorded it?
Abby North: I believe 2001: A Space Odyssey is such a tremendous film and its images so embedded in our cultural zeitgeist, that Alex North would be a name known by more film and music fans had his music been included in the film. From the standpoint of musical accomplishments, I believe Alex's other scores firmly establish him as one of our most important 20th Century composers. And although pop music may not be considered "important," I believe "Unchained Melody" is one of the most important copyrights of our time.
Dylan North: I feel like his career had already been defined by his previous accomplishments and that while 2001 would have been a great addition, it would not have defined him further. That was already accomplished long ago with all his many musical contributions.
When Intrada Records released the score in 2007, what was the feeling like for the family when it was finally done?
Abby North: The Intrada release came at a very interesting time for us. We had recently lost Dylan's mother, Anne. Our daughter, Makena had recently been born. We were just getting involved in the "Alex North Estate," and frankly, didn't know much. When Nick Redman called to discuss the project, Dylan and I were thrilled. This release was our first "deal," and it had been an important project to Anne. That Nick was able to secure Jan Harlan's (the rep for the Kubrick Estate) sanctioning statement for our liner notes was tremendous, and would have made both Alex and Anne finally feel somewhat appreciated. Intrada gave us an extremely fair and mutually beneficial deal, and we appreciated that very much.
How would you describe Alex's career in your own words?
Abby North: Tough question. Alex had a gift for creating memorable, accessible melodies housed in carefully crafted, complicated, "muse-o" harmonies. His jazz compositions are sexy, his "pop" compositions are melodic and catchy, and his "serious" works are powerful and relevant. Alex "felt" the emotions of his characters, and his music embodied those emotions.
How do you feel about Alex's work being released more so now than ever before?
Abby North: I could not be happier! And I'm so pleased to be a part of some of those releases. With each release, I become more and more in love with Alex's music. Some of his less well-known cues and scores are some of my favorites, and I look forward to re-record as many as possible.
I'm really indebted to Abby and Dylan North for taking their time to answer these tough questions and I'm very grateful to them for this interview. Thanks guys, you're wonderful. God bless you!
Also visit the http://www.alexnorth2001.com/HOME.html website which features a wonderful slew of facts, details, album producer notes by Nick Redman and a wonderful article by Jon Burlingame entitled "A Long Masterpiece Discovered: Alex North's Score for 2001: A Space Oydssey", which is a terrific read.