Sunday, 23 August 2015

Blade Runner by Vangelis

For years, those of us who loved the music Blade Runner were baffled by the refusal of its composer Vangelis (Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou) to allow his music to be issued as an LP (as was then the dominant music format). But commerce deplores a vacuum, so a Blade Runner soundtrack album did appear, but it wasn't the original version of music on the film, and Vangelis himself didn't play on.

Fast forward to the age of CD and finally there was a release of the Vangelis score. But those of us who love vinyl still had a void in our hearts, because we wanted an LP version of the music. That dream came true in spades when Audio Fidelity released a beautiful audiophile record of the soundtrack. 

It was on 180 gram high quality vinyl, and red to boot, housed in a handsome gatefold sleeve. It was also — more importantly — remastered by a respected audio engineer, Kevin Gray. I bought a copy with the usual doubt and suspicion. Not because of Kevin Gray's credentials, which are exemplary, but because in my experience most modern audiophile pressings, especially American ones, are usually pressed on noisy recycled vinyl (whatever they claim) or, much more commonly, come with scratches added at the factory to destroy your listening pleasure.
But I'm delighted to report my copy of Blade Runner was fine. It sounds great and this is almost a perfect version of Vangelis's music, at last. It is almost entirely a synthesiser score — except for the wonderful presence of Dick Morrissey playing the ravishing sax solo on the love theme. (Oddly enough, Morrissey lived in the small town in Kent where I grew up. I kind of wish I'd known that, so I could have stalked him)

So the sound quality will never be that of a recording of acoustic (or indeed electric) instruments recorded in a a real environment, with air around them. Indeed, in terms of sound quality (though certainly not musically), the best track on Blade Runner may be 'One More Kiss, Dear' sung by Don Percival. But that's the inherent limitation of any electronic score and I'm not grousing about it. This is very nearly the ideal Blade Runner soundtrack.

So what is stopping it short of perfection? The inclusion of three segments of dialogue. Why do people insist on doing this? If I want dialogue or sound effects I will watch the movie on any of the myriad formats available. When I play the soundtrack album, all I want is the music.
I know other people feel differently, but I believe the inclusion of dialogue and effects on this otherwise magnificent record was a ludicrous blunder and represent a tragically missed opportunity.

(Image credits: All from Discogs, who did me proud, except the pack shot which is from Audio Fidelity, who made the record.)

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