• Film: 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Soundtrack composer: Various
  • Original year of release: 1968 / 1996 (remastered)
  • Number of tracks: 13
  • Soundtrack duration: 78 mins 50 secs
  • Tracks with vocals/distracting aspects: 2 Tracks (20 mins 32 secs) (Tracks 12 & 13)
  • Film score duration (with distracting tracks removed): 58 mins 18 secs
  • Suggested suitable book genres: If you’re gonna try reading a book to this, I’d suggest your only chance of success is with Bizarro or one of the odder Beat Generation books.
DLS Summary:
This might be regarded a classic soundtrack, however, it’s also a bit of a strange and disjointed one. For just putting on in the house whilst you go about your day, or for background music whilst you’re cracking on with some work, it’s probably just a bit too off-putting and odd with its eerie choir tracks and the like.

For reading to, well, there’s really no hope. It jumps from odd to off-the-wall and then onto incredibly well-known orchestral pieces that will probably just pull you out of your book. However, for a weird Bizarro read, or a mind-warping Beat Generation offering.

The extended 1996 version of the soundtrack, with its four bonus tracks, contains even more stuff you’ll probably not be that interested in listening to again after a first play. 

Essentially, I found the soundtrack an interesting audio experience, but not one I’d probably be returning to anytime soon.

DLS Review:
The soundtrack starts off with a slowly building soundscape that acts as an overture before the instantly recognisable main title music comes in. This initial atmospheric intro is basically a slowly evolving wall of strings and the like, which ever-so-gradually moves towards something more urgent, with a feeling of apprehension and mounting tension embedded within these hanging notes.

Then of course we have the ‘Main Title’ piece (‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’). This is the one you instantly think of when someone says ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ to you. The dramatic orchestra piece with the trumpets and the bigass bass drums pounding away before crashing cymbals bring the fantastic piece of music to the biggest crescendo in orchestra history!

Track three on the other hand consists of strangely unnerving mounting waves of choir voices coming together into a cacophony of vocal noise. Lurking behind this and emerging in peaks and whispers is an orchestra, projecting sharp points of strings out of this vocal cacophony. As something to have on in the house, this isn’t a spectacular musical piece. For reading to it effectively creates a wall of noise but very little else.

Track Four is that instantly recognisable classical piece ‘The Blue Danube’. If you’re not sure what it is, just google it and you’ll recognise the track instantly. Trust me. You’ll probably know every second of the entire 5 mins 42 seconds. It’s been on so many films and shows over the years it’s now just ingrained into all of our brains.

Track Five is a return to those vocal choirs mixing all their haunting voices together into a strange and eerie blend that edges again towards that cacophony of noise we were subjected to earlier. Again, we also have peaks of orchestral notes poking their heads through this vocal quagmire. It’s a short track with little more than a wall of vocal note stretches to offer.

Track Six is the ‘Gayane Ballet Suite’. Not an instantly recognisable or well-known piece like some of the previous tracks. However, this one is probably the only track on the entire CD that’s perfect for reading to, if that’s your intention. At just over five-minutes in length it’s got good legs to it, it’s just a shame more of the soundtrack wasn’t as suited for reading as this one is.

Track Seven takes us back to those vocal choirs again and their meandering waves of eerie noise, gradually building in intensity and urgency. This, however, gradually evolves to become a more rounded musical score, with wonderful mounting orchestral bursts coming to a series of crescendos. The track continues through a journey of rising and falling episodes, constructed through horns and strings. This then peters out, to be replaced by inquisitive and almost infantile high-noted strings playing around amongst waves of deep bass, before more invasive and dominating orchestral waves wash over the entire music.

This latter section kind of reminds me of the title sequence to ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ (1978). From here the track pretty much dissolves away into strange suggestions of sound and noise, almost whispered in their quietness, which takes us to the eventual petered out end to the track. At over fifteen-minutes in length the track is the longest track on the soundtrack and one of the most varied too.

Track Eight is the ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ track once again. Yep, it’s played twice in the movie, so appears on the soundtrack twice too!

Track Nine is an extended version of ‘The Blue Danube’, giving us the full 8 mins 17 secs of the classical piece.

After that we’re now into the “Supplemental Material” which appeared on the 1996 remastered release.

Track Ten, believe it or not, is ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ once again, only this time performed by The Sudwesfunk Orchestra. It basically sounds the same, so don’t get too excited!

Track Eleven is the full-length version (5 mins 59 secs) of ‘Lux Aeterna’ which appeared earlier as Track Five in a more digestible 2 mins 52 secs version. An extra three minutes of haunting, eerie choir vocals to endure in this bonus material. Oh, the joy!

Track Twelve is an extended and unaltered version of ‘Adventures’ which was the final segment of the lengthy Track Seven. This extended version of the latter section of the earlier track is even more odd. It offers up a veritable tsunami of weird and wacky vocals, all making strange noises in a sort of “performance art” fashion. After this we’re treated to odd whisperings, pretend sneezes, and comical operatic snippets of singing. It’s all a bit silly if you ask me and definitely not one I’ll be eagerly returning to.

The final track – Track Thirteen – is a dialog montage from the film. It’s literally just that. A collection of all the sparse pieces of dialog from the film. Again, not something I’ll be hurrying to put back onto the CD player.

As a soundtrack for reading to:

The soundtrack as a whole:

© DLS Reviews

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