It sort of came out of nowhere. After The X-Files ended in 2002, the show seemed to have run its course. Declining viewer ratings and a somewhat meddled story arc were the results. The actors were fed up with their roles. The second theatrical adventure of Mulder and Scully, The X-Files: I Want To Believe, failed at the box office in 2008. The show was kind of dead and buried. Because of that it was an even bigger surprise, that the network Fox announced new episodes in 2014.
Something must have happened at Fox headquaters. Suddenly The X-Files were back in the spotlight. On top of announcing new episodes, the whole show got its release in high definition on Blu-ray by the end of 2015. They even included a 16:9 frame ratio for the first four seasons, which had been only seen in the old 4:3 format by then. And the show was about to go online on Netflix. It seems that this made Fox think about new episodes, to promote a 23 years old show. And watching the new episodes one could guess that it wasn’t much more than that. The new episodes seemed rushed and lacked some kind of focus. Maybe it really is beating a dead horse by now. But the new episodes were succesfull nevertheless. So successfull, that Fox announced even more new episodes for a 2018 season.
Among many familiar faces, that returned to The X-Files, in front of and behind the camera, there was of course Mark Snow. His specific sound defined the world of The X-Files back then and it was something nobody ever heard before on a tv show. So it was no surprise the he also would come back to lend his musical talents once again to Chris Carter’s universe.
„Getting back to The X-Files for this limited episode series was really thrilling for me because I was able to bring back some of the textures, sounds, harmonies, and things that hopefully the X-Files fans really loved and were looking forward to hearing. Plus there are new sounds and perhaps a new kind of minimalism that I don’t think was particulary present in the original episodes or the movies.“ said Mark Snow.
This minimalism is indeed a key element to Mark’s new music. The overall sound of his new music is not as broad as in the other nine seasons. On top of that his music was mixed very low in the new episodes, what made it sometimes difficult to hear it in the first place. But his new music is X-Files through and through and the listener can experience it on the two disc set, that was released by La-La Land Records.
Disc one starts off with „Prologue“, the very first scene of the first episode „My Struggle“. Snow’s music transports the viewer immediately back to the world of The X-Files, as we hear a voice over from David Duchovny, telling the audience what happened so far. „The X-Files Main Theme“ is the original cue from the old shows. Mark worked on a re-recording of the famous main theme for the new episodes, but he couldn’t get the sound right. It just didn’t work for him, so he decided to stick with the original recording.
Disc one has seventeen cues from the first episode „My Struggle“, which is quite a lot. In fact it could be that the complete score from that episode made it to disc one. Some fans thought this was an odd choice, since they don’t think of „My Struggle“ having the best musical cues from the new episodes. The percussive rhythm of the track „Ride to Roswell“ would become a key element in Mark’s music for this episode and its continuation with episode six. „Call to Mulder“ starts off with spheric strings, before it continues with the rhythmic pulse from „Ride to Roswell“. When Mulder and Scully meet, the music sweetens with digital horn and cello, reflecting the relationship between these two characters. Snow’s mysterious soundscapes are back in „Sveta“, as the young woman tells the agents that she was abducted by aliens several times. The track also features a soft piano motif for Sveta. More spheric soundscapes can be heard in „Alien Replica Vehicle/Element 115“, as Mulder is brought to a remote warehouse containing a triangular „ARV“, a vehicle designed using alien technology. In an emotional scene Sveta confesses to Mulder that it wasn’t aliens, but human men, who took her babies. The track „Sveta’s Story“ plays under her telling of the story reflecting her emotions and Mulder’s reaction to it.
Mulder revisits his old office at the FBI headquaters, meeting with Skinner. „Mulder’s Office“ plays underneath that scene, as Mulder tells Skinner, that he had been lied to all the time. More good old X-Files conspiracy music can be heard in „Conspiracy Montage“. Mulder is now convinced that it wasn’t aliens but the government, which used alien technology to manipulate humanity. The somber music in „Parking Garage“ can be heard, as Scully and Mulder meet in the hospital’s parking garage. Scully tells Mulder, that she has tested Sveta for alien DNA and the test was positive. „Smoking Man“ closes the first episode, as we see the Cigarette Smoking Man, although being killed at the end of season nine, telling someone in the room, that the FBI has reopened the X-Files.
In the episode „Founder’s Mutation“ a geneticist kills himself by stabbing a letter opener into his ear canal after being tortured by screeching sounds, that only he could hear. Mulder and Scully discover a research facility where genetical experiments on children are being conducted.
Mysterious spheric sounds enter the scene in „Hand Message“, when a message, written on the palm of the geneticist’s palm, is found. As Mulder and Scully drive to his apartment, Snow’s music ventures into suspense territory, concluding in a mixture of synth and voicing, as Mulder begins to hear the same screeching sound the geneticist heard. „Pull the Thread/Semi-Alien Boy“ runs over ten minutes. The first part of the track underlines the scene with Mulder pointing at the DOD for essentially continuing the work of the Syndicate to breed alien-human hybrids with a dark ambient atmosphere. The track turns into warm synth strings in the second half, as Scully dreams of being mother to her son William. A soft choir accompanies the music, whilst Scully watches William grow into a school-aged boy. After a dissonant cluster, when William turns into an alien-like creature, Scully wakes up and the track ends with a tender cello melody.
The mysterious spheric sounds return in „Capsules“, as the „founder“ Dr. Goldman shows the agents a number of children suffering from various deformities, which he hopes to cure. „Aquaiescent“ underlines the scene in which Mulder talks to Goldman’s wife. She tells him that she witnessed her two-year old daughter breathing underwater as a result of her husband’s experiments. Mark’s music accompanies that with echoing, bubbling sounds. She tells Mulder furthermore that she was injured in a car crash fleeing from her husband. Her then baby boy surived the crash too and the screeching sound she heard made her cut her baby out of her belly. The baby boy is now a young man, who can generate this screeching sound everytime he feels threatened. The agents track him down in a remote farm house, with the track „The Farm House/Catching Kyle“ heard underneath. Kyle is looking for his sister Molly, which is of course in Goldman’s lab. The track „The Real Molly“ starts off softly and heartfelt, as the silblings meet. It transforms into a brutal, percussive texture, as Molly and Kyle escape from the lab, killing Dr. Goldman. Like Scully before, Mulder has a vision of his son William. He imagines him grown to schoolboy-age and doing things together as father and son, like bulding a small rocket and launching it. The track „Mulder’s Memories“ from that scene is one of the most beautiful tracks on the album. Snow’s soft strings and a spheric choir evoke a sense of sorrow, but also hope. The scene ends with Mulder looking at a photo of William, while a haunting choir melody brings this episode to a closure.
The fourth episode „Home Again“ opens the second disc. Mulder investigates a murder whose suspect might be a golem-like creature, brought to life by clay. At the same time Scully faces the death of her mother and tries to understand her last words. „City Shower Services“ slams in as a group of homeless people are being relocated to an abandoned hospital, excecuted by the Philadelphia Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The HUD agent in charge later gets brutally attacked and killed by a hulking figure known as the Bandaid Nose Man. As the agents investigate the scene Scully gets the news that her mother had a heart attack and is in a critical condition. The soft and gentle track „Extubation“ plays in the scene in the hospital as the nurse removes breathing tube and Scully’s mother dies peacfully. Her last words are „My son is named William too.“ Devastated by the death of her mother, Scully talks to Mulder about their son William and about giving him away to protect him from the evil forces threatening him. The track „Remorse“ accompanies that with soft string sounds. This music is repeated in the track „More Remorse“ which plays in the scene as Scully prepares to scatter the ashes of her mother. She is thinking about William again and the music gives the episode an emotional and comforting closure.
„Babylon“ is the fifth and perhaps most controversial episode of this limited run. After terrorists blew up a gallery, the surviving terrorist lies in a coma. Two young FBI agents, Miller and Einstein, contact Mulder and Scully. They want to communicate with the man to find the cell which planned the attack. „Prayer“ stars off with the episode, showing two young man praying to Allah, before attemting the attack on the gallery. Snow’s soft, harmonic ambient sounds end as they walk into the gallery. „Einstein/Miller“ presents the theme for these two characters, a playful bass and keyboard motif, which can also be heard in the next track „Mugwump“. Mulder wants to use a hallucinogen to get in contact with the man in coma, which doesn’t play well with Einstein. After his trip Mulder tries to remember some of the arabic words he heard. The translation leads a group of agents to a motel, where the cell is arrested. The track „Motel“ is heard throughout the scene with tense, percussive patterns. With the etherical „Walk with me“, Mulder and Scully re-examine the events of the case.
The final episode is „My Struggle II“. People all over the world begin to fall ill and Scully works with Agent Einstein to find a cure, while Mulder has gone missing. The track „Recap“ opens the episode with the pulsating rhythms already heard in the first episode. With „Scully’s Story“ the agent tells the viewer her backstory on the X-Files, mirroring Mulder’s narration from the first episode. The track „Vaccine Alienation/One Class Infection“ underlines the scene in the hospital, as more and more infected people are brought in, with suspensful ambient sounds and pulsating rhythms. The Spartan Virus, a virus designed to strip humans off their immune system, seems to be the cause. Scully meets with Agent Reyes and the track „Smoking God“ accompanies her conversation with menacing sound patterns as Reyes reveals to Scully, that the Cigarette Smoking Man is still alive. The pulsating rhythms return in „William Is Out There“, as the vaccine is achieved. Scully rushes to Einstein and Mulder, who are stuck in a traffic jam on 14th Street Bridge. „Music plays such an important part here, as we head into the endgame“, said Chris Carter in his audio commentary on the Blu-ray release. The music turns into a dramatic action piece, as Scully makes her way to Mulder and Einstein. But she finds Mulder to be too ill for the vaccine to cure him. He can only survive with a cell transplant and the only person who can give that to Mulder is their son William. But no one knows where he is. Suddenly a bright light appears from the sky and a triangular-shaped UFO hovers over the agents. With this cliffhanger the episode and the event series end.
„The X-Files End Credits (New Orbit)“ is a new version of the X-Files theme created by Snow for the end credits of every episode. It is followed by the almost traditional by now „I Made This/20th Century Fox Fanfare“. But wait, that’s not the end of the album. As you might have noticed there is one episode missing in the running order. The third episode „Mulder and Scully meet the Were-Monster“, written and directed by Darin Morgan, has the smallest amount of music from all episodes of the event series. There are only 18 minutes of music in this episode and it’s split into 22 small cues, sometimes not even running for one minute. That’s why the album producers decided to make a musical suite out of some of the cues. But why this suite was put at the very end of disc two, after the end credits and even marked as „Bonus Track“, is something worth an X-File. The quirky music is pretty short, running not even three minutes, although the running time on the back cover says 4:32 minutes. It ends with a heartfelt closure as Mulder says goodbye to the were-lizard. In the episode four notes from the main theme can be heard here, but there are not on Snow’s original track, suggesting that they were edited onto the music afterwards.
While the episodes were surely not top notch X-Files stuff, the music department is in safe hands. Mark Snow not only evokes the atmosphere of The X-Files of the past, but adds new sounds and color to the palette. And I’m really looking forward to more of his music coming with the new episodes in 2018. Hopefully the music won’t be mixed down again as it was on this Event Series.
The album package features stills from the episodes, as well as another track-by-track analysis by Randall D. Larson. The set is limited to 3.000 copies.
Here is the official press release:
La-La Land Records, 20th Century Fox and 20th Century Fox TV Records present the world premiere release of acclaimed composer Mark Snow’s (THE X-FILES, MILLENNIUM, BLUE BLOODS) original score to the 2016 FOX special limited series presentation of THE X-FILES – THE EVENT SERIES, starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, and created by Chris Carter. The X-FILES made an exciting return to television last year, with an event series that marked its first all-new TV episodes in more than a decade. Returning with the show he helped immortalize, composer Mark Snow once again thrills with new music that would ensure the original X-FILES magic was still intact. By turns chilling, dramatic, propulsive and emotional, Snow’s score leads the show’s plot, characters and atmosphere in its unwavering search for the Truth. Produced by Mike Joffe and Mark Snow, and mastered by James Nelson, this special 2-CD presentation, limited to 3000 units, assembles the musical highlights from this six-episode television event! Exclusive, in-depth liners by writer Randall D. Larson take you behind the episodes and their scores — and series creator Chris Carter also contributes a special message. Mark Banning’s sleek art design rounds out this supernaturally sharp release!
- Prologue (2:59)
- THE X-FILES Main Title (Season 9) (0:36)
- Ride to Roswell (2:09)
- Call to Mulder (1:49)
- Sveta (4:31)
- Sveta Exam (1:47)
- Alien Replica Vehicle/Element 115 (3:09)
- Lab Labors (2:16)
- Sveta’s Story (3:17)
- Mulder’s Office (1:58)
- Deep Throat (2:35)
- Home Fire (1:55)
- Conspiracy Montage (5:14)
- Sveta Confesses (1:48)
- Parking Garage (2:26)
- Sveta Gets Zapped (1:18)
- Smoking Man (0:44)
- Insecure Insecurity (2:30)
- Hand Message (3:33)
- Pull the Thread/Semi-Alien Boy (10:04)
- Capsules (5:01)
- Aquaiescent (1:46)
- A Mother Never Forgets (2:23)
- The Farm House/Catching Kyle (3:32)
- The Real Molly (2:46)
- Mulder’s Memories (2:47)
Disc One Total Time: 75:55
- City Shower Services (1:15)
- No Prints/The Call (2:17)
- Extubation (0:37)
- Remorse (1:41)
- Sub-Urban (3:05)
- Tulku (3:33)
- More Remorse (2:20)
- Prayer (1:13)
- Einstein/Miller (2:01)
- Mugwump (5:02)
- Evacuation (3:25)
- Ummu (2:48)
- Motel (1:35)
- Walk With Me (1:24)
MY STRUGGLE II
- Recap (1:31)
- Scully’s Story (2:27)
- Fed Ford/Alien American DNA (4:35)
- Vaccine Alienation/One-Class Infection (7:55)
- Smokin’ God (6:58)
- The Spartan Virus (7:48)
- Crispr Cas9 (6:33)
- William Is Out There (4:32)
- THE X-FILES End Credits (New Orbit) (0:35)
- I Made This/20th Century Fox Fanfare*(0:08)
MULDER AND SCULLY
MEET THE WERE-MONSTER
- Bonus Track: Suite (4:32)
* – Music Composed by Alfred Newman
Disc Two Total Time: 79.14
Total Set Running Time: 154.69
Original Series Score and Fox Fanfare
Published by T C F
Music Publishing, Inc. (ASCAP)