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Gil Melle - The Andromeda Strain(OST) [Intrada - 2010]

Gil Melle was an American artist, sculptor, jazz musician and film/TV composer.  From his jazz beginnings, he flourished into a composer.  Most noted is that he was one of the first film composers to not only utilize electronics in his recordings, but develop and build his own electronic instruments.  To these he added traditional instruments such as bass, woodwinds and percussions, giving his compositions a far away yet human feel to them.

Knowing that bit of history it’s easy to see why he was chosen to score the 1971 film The Andromeda Strain.  The film, based on the science fiction novel by Michael Crichton, is the story of a military probe that returns to Earth bringing with it an instantly deadly microscopic virus.   After the virus almost wipes out a small desert town, the virus dubbed “The Andromeda Strain” is taken to an underground research facility.  It is here that a team of scientists work against time to destroy the lethal organism.

The most fascinating part about Melle’s work is that each song is used precisely to address the movement of the story.  Beginning with “Wildfire” we encounter a jittery, claustrophobic atmosphere, dissonant sounds introduce us to the story.  This fades into “Hex”, short for hexagon the shape of the Andromeda crystal; flutes are manipulated electronically to inspire an inquisitive and ethereal aura. “Desert Trip” finds a slowly increasing rhythm suggestive of the virus multiplying.  “Strobe Crystal Green” almost feels like the birth of noise.  Earsplitting, shrill electronic sounds dissipate into a confusion of pulsing beats.  The bass picks up the tempo with an agitated feel at a rapid pace until all sound comes to a dead stop. 

Listening to The Andromeda Strain brings to mind other great soundtracks that were different for their time.  Hearing Pink Floyd’s work on More or Jack Nitzsche on the Performance soundtrack we are as equally struck by the beginnings of electronic usage in film scoring and their effectiveness.

While Gil Melle was not the father of musique concrete (or electronica for that matter) he undeniably has a place as a founder of electronic music.  Even though The Andromeda Strain was released 40 years ago, it is still an engaging, modern work.  Within it we hear electronica, ambient, glitch and IDM to a degree.  Thankfully Intrada has re-released this wonderful piece for us to enjoy all over again.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Viktorya Kaufholz
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