Favourite Soundtracks


John CoriglianoAltered States (1980)

Altered States

Turbulent, surreal score mixing textural orchestra and electronic processing in fantastically emotive ways. The melodic themes are also cleverly treated in their development. – One of the best film scores ever composed.

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Robert London & Andrew Grieve – Wolfen (1981)

Wolfen Poster

It’s not so much the score that attracted me here (two were written, the first jettisoned); but the extraordinary sound design work achieved by Robert Grieve, Andrew London and their team. They set up or otherwise exploit associations between sound and image, and then disturb these later to disorientate the audience. While you watch, you may not be aware this is happening, but its effect is deeply unsettling.

So intriguing were the new ways sound is used in this film, that I analysed them methodically through an article called Pavlovian Wolves: The Sound World of Wolfen (2021). – Best ‘sipped’ for aesthetic profit.

John WilliamsThe Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The Empire Strikes Back

Assured and exciting (check out the cue ‘The Asteroid Field’). The best of the Star Wars films.

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James Horner – Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan

James Horner imbues this film with lavish, nautical references. Inspired by Prokofiev. Check out the long cue ‘Battle in the Mutura Nebula’.

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Giorgio MoroderCat People (1982)

Cat People

Growling synthesizers (check out ‘Leopard Tree Dream’) and good music for jogging in ‘Paul’s Theme’. Fresh, organic, analogue sound.

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VangelisBladerunner (1982)

Blade Runner

Simple melodies for the complex sound of future loneliness.

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Edward Williams – The Discovery of Animal Behaviour (1982)

The Discovery of Animal Behaviour

Little known. Exciting, colourful, dramatic modal music for this classic documentary series.

Score unavailable, so here’s a suite from Edward Williams’s ‘Life on Earth’:

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Stewart CopelandRumble Fish (1983)

Rumble Fish

Possibly the best rock score ever written. Inventive use of looped, sampled rhythmic sounds, for metaphorical story-telling. Extraordinary textures (e.g. high-pitched metals for fast-changing cloud formations).

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Jean Prodromides – Danton (1983)


Imaginative and highly original use of Ligeti-style textural choirs. Prodromides focuses on sound masses rather than melody.

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Ryusihi SakamotoMerry Christmas Mr Lawrence (1983)

Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence

Early synthesizer score with beautiful Japanese modalities, Captivating.

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