As a writer, I find it necessary to have some form of background music playing. I think many of my writer friends will agree that dance music, death metal or gangsta rap blaring from the speakers serves more as a distraction than a soothing counterbalance while concentrating—perhaps I’m wrong, but I know it wouldn’t work well for me personally. While working in the creative realm, I tend to play instrumentals in the background; less distraction, I’m not singing along and losing my concentration and it adds a certain ambience while helping me frame a storyline properly. I usually find my comfort zone in film scores. To those who know me best, it’s no secret that my favorite film scores were produced in the 1970s and early 80s (huh, that’s funny, that’s when the best films were made as well.) Along with John Carpenter and John Williams, my other favorite soundtrack composers are the European synth rock band, Tangerine Dream. While their entire body of non-soundtrack work is amazing, especially Zeit (1972), Phaedra (1974), Rubycon (1975) and Stratosfear (1976), their film scores are equally as impressive and as much as I’d love to list each and every soundtrack release, I’ll whole-heartedly recommend the following five. It will be worth seeking them out, trust me.
Tangerine Dream’s first soundtrack album to William Friedkin’s existential thriller, Sorcerer, the music is a mesmerizing mixture of classical music run through a synth-pop blender. Each track truly sucks you in and captivates you with its ominous presence.
The band’s second soundtrack album to Michael Mann’s Thief, this is yet another captivating piece of work. It moves you along, front to back, leaving the listener is a suspended state of ear candy euphoria.
Their fourth soundtrack to the little known low budget Science Fiction film, Wavelength, just might be my favorite. While the film might be poorly produced (look for the boom mic in the top corner of the shot, at least three times), it does have its moments and the film score certainly amplifies these occasions. A high point in the film for me is the scene when the three alien boys are being driven along Sunset Boulevard by their rescuers (Robert Carradine and Cherie Currie) while the hypnotic film score rolls on.
While I’m not a big fan of the film, the score is far more memorable for me. It keeps in line with the previously listed soundtracks, especially Thief.
One might not consider Risky Business’ soundtrack to be very memorable other than the addition of the (ugh—so overplayed) hit song, Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger. No one seems to recall that Prince, Phil Collins and Journey offered their contributions to this bore fest (just my opinion) of an 80s film as well. What enhances any salvageable portion of this film, however, is Tangerine Dream’s film score, once again proving that they truly crafted and set the benchmark for soundtracks for the remainder of the 80s, as they went on to contribute to Flashpoint, Three O’Clock High, Near Dark and Legend.