Watchmen Original Musical Score
Composed By: Tyler Bates
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Based on the comic book series by Alan Moore and David Gibbons, Watchmen is a mystery adventure film set in an alternate universe and timeline. In this alternate universe, superheroes have had a profound effect on society, changing the course of history by becoming involved in the Vietnam War and bringing a victory to the United States, among many other things. By 1985, the Cold War between Russia and the United States has escalated and the Doomsday Clock is approaching midnight. However, the Watchmen, a former vigilante superhero team, are dealing with a bigger issue – one of their former members has been murdered. An investigation into his death reveals a sinister plot to murder and discredit all superheroes. Can the Watchmen reunite and act in time to save the world’s superheroes or will they fall victim to the murderous conspiracy that threatens them all?
The musical score of Watchmen was created by Tyler Bates, an American composer whose love for music dates back to his early childhood. In his early years, Bates was content to play instruments along with his favorite bands, turning from saxophone to electric guitar as his musical tastes expanded. Later, he began to experiment with music, mutating sound, changing tempos and exploring other options available to him that would create a new sound from pre-existing sound. In 1993, taking a tremendous chance, Tyler Bates agreed to create a movie score despite the fact that he had no experience in making music for films. Happily, he was successful and Bates was asked to score more films while he simultaneously worked with his band known as Pet. Bates has amassed a very impressive résumé with numerous successful recordings with Pet, and after he left the band, a rather long list of musical score compositions including Dawn of the Dead, The Devil’s Rejects, Slither, 300, See No Evil, and Doomsday.
The movie presents a cast of characters with multiple layers. These are not your everyday superheroes and therefore the film is deserving of a musical score that will represent the action present in the superhero genre, while at the same time reveal to us the differences between these superheroes and the heroes we are used to. Bates begins things on an upbeat scale in Rescue Mission, with a sound that is action-oriented as expressed in the tempo and crescendo of the music and grandiose in scale thanks to the added vocals. This is followed immediately by a soft, soothing sound achieved via strings in Don’t Get Too Misty Eyed. Then things get dark and ominous through the use of lower registry and ambient loops in Tonight the Comedian Died. Silk Spectre brings back the courageous and upbeat sound expressed via horns, synths and percussion.
Bates perfectly expresses the characters’ multilayered facets by using multiple genres on this soundtrack. You Quit! features a funky electric guitar sound mixed with synths while Edward Blake - The Comedian has a more jazz-like feel. The Last Laugh is more orchestral in composition, expressing a profound sadness while Prison Fight features fast tempos, electric guitars and synthesizers. Vocals are used to intensify the feel of the music in such track as What About Jane Slater and Rescue Mission. The use of exotic instruments also heightens the sound as witnessed by the use of a hammered dulcimer in I’ll Tell You About Rorschach . Being a fan of classical music, I especially enjoyed the excerpt from Mozart’s Requiem featured on track 20 of the Watchmen Original Motion Picture Score. My only regret was that the excerpt was a tad too short. I was hoping to hear more.
Fans of the music in the Watchmen film will enjoy the Watchmen Original Motion Picture Score, especially when they learn that it features a full 40 minutes of new music from the film. With all the music featured in the movie itself (see Watchmen: Music from the Motion Picture), it is easily conceivable that not all of the music composed for Watchmen would make it into the movie, so it’s an added plus to be given the opportunity to listen to tracks that may not have made it into the film or perhaps were shortened in the film version. All-in-all, the Watchmen Original Motion Picture Score was rather enjoyable and a perfect compliment to the Watchmen: Music from the Motion Picture CD.