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Cosmos Vol.3 (Alan Silvestri)

June 23, 2014

Cover_cosmosCOSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY (VOL. 3)

Alan Silvestri, 2014, Cosmos Studios Music
14 tracks, 43:22

Will “Cosmos” volume 3 deliver more of the same or present something radically different? Will it worth the additional purchase?
Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

The long-awaited sequel to Carl Sagan’s popular 80s series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”, “A Spacetime Odyssey” offers a view of the universe and focuses on mankind’s pursuit of knowledge. A second volume of the show’s music by Alan Silvestri has now been released. Whilst it continues in the same style as “Volume 1” and “Volume 2“, it has some new ideas to offer.

What does it sound like?

The album opens nicely with “All That Is Or Ever Was Or Ever Will Be”, which features Silvestri’s theme for Carl Sagan, as I understand it now. A gentle piano introduces the theme, with strings and horns coming in later. “Halley’s Efforts” is a quirky little orchestral cue; whilst “The Speed of Light” relies heavily (or solely) on synth arpeggios and drums. “Ibn Al-Haytham” offers mysterious synth sounds, though they are later broken up by drumloops. As the title might suggest, the cue contains Middle-Eastern influences, though nothing earth-shattering. “August 1684” opens with a classical-inspired section for strings; but this soon makes way for more electronica. The now familiar guitar-based arpeggios dominate “The Ultimate Green Power”, which also incorporates some of the series’ main themes.

“Physical State of the Stars” and “The Way We Live Now” are wonderful orchestral cues, full of Silvestri’s mannerisms.The aforementioned Middle-Eastern influences return in “The Rules of Science”, though this time in an orchestral setting. Silvestri then ‘travels’ to the Far East and applies Chinese sounds and sensibilities to “Mo Tze”. It’s fairly straightforward stuff. Typical “Western composer does Eastern”-type of music; but it offers a nice break from the score’s more traditional stuff.

Soft strings, noble horns and ambient synth pads dominate the heart-felt “He Broke Through the Walls of Heaven”. The album concludes with two more lovely orchestral cues: “Endless Searching” and “Halley’s Comet”. The latter is as grand and epic and this series’ music gets. Silvestri’s lyrical theme just keeps on building and climaxes with soaring strings, horns and bells. Even choir makes a brief appearance.

Is it any good?

It’s pleasant enough, but I’m running out of things to say about Silvestri’s music for “Cosmos”. And in a way… the album feels the same way. It’s all very nice, quite lovely, but there is little new material; certainly nothing groundbreaking. The various themes have so much potential, but they’re never allowed to really soar. “Halley’s Comet” is the closest it gets to a rip-roaring finale. You can’t really fault any of the music (though the synths, especially the arpeggiated guitar, are still cringe-worthy); but a few tracks aside there is little to get really excited about.

Rating [2.5/5]

Tracklisting

1. ‘All That Is or Ever Was or Ever Will Be’ (1:35)
2. Halley’s Efforts (2:57)
3. The Speed of Light (3:01)
4. Physical State of the Stars (3:18)
5. Ibn Al-Haytham (2:10)
6. The Way We Live Now (3:04)
7. The Lead Hearing (3:34)
8. August, 1684 (3:31)
9. The Rules of Science (3:05)
10. Mo Tze (2:29)
11. He Broke Through the Walls of Heaven (2:51)
12. The Ultimate Green Power (4:51)
13. Endless Searching (4:01)
14. Halley’s Comet (2:55)

Availability

Digitally on iTunes (no digital booklet).

Related Reviews

Cosmos (Vol. 1)
Cosmos (Vol. 2)
Cosmos (Vol. 4)

More Information

For a wonderful in-depth interview with Alan Silvestri and Seth MacFarlane about “Cosmos”, visit the Projector & Orchestra website.

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