Case Analysis

"Lost sonic treasures from the Paranormal Exegesis"

CD review for "The X-Files: Volume 1" box set
By Alexander Grodzinski
Page Editor: XScribe

"The Wait is over." This tagline from Chris Carter's show, Millennium, fits the now-released X-Files box set very well. Nine years after the end of the show and eighteen years since its first appearance on the TV screen the fans finally get their hands on a massive compilation with music from the show. And it was no easy task.

Mark Snow mentioned this set for the first time in early 2008 in an interview, in which he also mentioned the releases of his scores for Millennium, Harsh Realm, and The Lone Gunmen, which all came out prior to The X-Files box set. The label was La-La-Land Records and Michael V. Gerhardt from La-La-Land nearly had a heart attack, when he found out, that Snow had mentioned this to be in the works. Normally the small, independent soundtrack labels don't mention what's going on behind their walls publicly, just because it would cause a high level of anxiety within the fan community. And that is exactly what happened after Mark Snow talked about the releases.

Questions came in from all over the world. "When will the set be available?" "What will be on the set?" "How much will it cost?" So La-La-Land Records had no choice but to admit that they are indeed working on that, but they can't tell anything about it yet. By this time, the label was just starting to research all the master tapes with the music from the show. But the questions didn't stop and so La-La-Land had to give the fans something to go with. They named a first release date for early 2009. As we all know, the date wasn't set at all and the label had to apologize for the delay. Until its ultimate release in May 2011, the set was scheduled for some more dates, like late 2009 and summer 2010 for the ComicCon. Due to all the delays, the anxiety within the community rose and MV Gerhard said that this is exactly the reason why they never make anything public before it's ultimately done. The set then seemed to be ready for a 2010 release, but more issues got into its way. This time it had to do with the artwork and photos that had to be licensed.

But all this trouble was worth it; on May 10, 2011 the 4-CD set finally saw the light of day. It was limited to 3000 copies and the first 400 or so were again signed by Mark Snow. These copies of course sold out within a day. On top of all that the set is called "The X-Files Volume One."

Yes, that's right. La-La-Land is already working on a second set, which is scheduled to be released in 2012. Of course the fans were happy, but as always it's never right for everyone. There were complaints about important episodes missing from the set and Gerhard answered like this:

"Most of those episodes listed above were on this 4 disc set at one point, but like a puzzle, we had to try and move the pieces all around until it fit perfectly for this volume.

"Here is an example: Redux II made the last to final cut, but it did not make sense to have Redux II on this volume and Redux I on Volume 2, so both went to be used on Volume 2.

"This volume is certainly heavier on themes and melody.... the pretty stuff. Volume 2 will feature more of the action and suspense music... Gothic chanting and spine-tingling tunes."

And he also said this: "My first pass on this set about 18 months turned out to be 16 discs! Second pass was 10." So, who knows? Maybe we'll see three or even four volumes released over the next years.

But let's stay in the present. The set features music from the following episodes:

Pilot731The EndMillennium
SqueezePiper MaruTriangleAll Things
Fallen AngelJose Chung's From Outer SpaceDreamlandHollywood A.D.
RolandThe Field Where I DiedDreamland IIWithin
The Erlenmeyer FlaskMusings of A Cigarette Smoking ManHow The Ghosts Stole ChristmasWithout
Little Green MenPaper HeartsTwo FathersThis Is Not Happening
The HostKADDISHONE SONJump The Shark
One BreathThe Post-Modern
Prometheus
The Goldberg VariationRelease
AnasaziChristmas CarolThe Sixth ExtinctionThe Truth Part 1
NiseiEmilyThe Sixth Extinction II: Amor FatiThe Truth Part 2

In the early years, Mark Snow's musical approach to the show was a little different from what he did in later seasons. The first three seasons had more ambient textures and less melodies, which you can hear on the first two discs. Snow had this to say about the music:

"...as the show evolved from the pilot to the very last episode...I felt that I was constantly evolving with it. I tried to keep it real, fresh, and interesting. The mythology sort of had a set kind of sound and pallet. It was like doing a serial, episodic show where the sound had to be consistent throughout the storyline. It was the stand-alones that were a little more fun because it was really coming up with something new with each one of those individual episodes." (From LAX-Files by Erica Fraga)

The first disc starts of course with "The X-Files Theme" in its 45-second version, which was heard in Seasons 1 through 5. The main theme is followed by the track "Scully to DC/Scully meets Mulder" from the "Pilot," whose sounds recall the 80's, which had just ended three years prior. "The Close Encounter" features music, which had already been released on the two albums "The Truth and the Light" and "The Snow Files," featured here for the first time as a single track, as is Track 5. The dark ambient sounds evolve in "Squeeze," accompanying Tooms during his killings. With "Roland" we meet another acquaintance; the piano-based theme was also already heard on the previous releases. It even appears in the Millenniu episode, "Blood Relatives," making it sort of the "Loner Theme," since Roland and James are two lonely characters lacking a family or real friends.

"The Host" and "The Erlenmeyer Flask" feature more of the dark ambient music from Snow's early years, whilst "Little Green Men" and "One Breath" have a more dream-like quality to them. The music from "One Breath" also partly appears on the previous releases, especially the music when Scully lies in a coma and in her unconscious state she's sitting in a small boat on a lake, drifting away from the shore. The music is some of the finest from the early seasons, since it shows Snow's ability to create an unreal atmosphere. Haunting and beautiful, the music has a sense of eternity. With "Anasazi" we step into a more mournful atmosphere, before the first disc ends with the short end credits version of The X-Files theme.

Disc two opens with The X-Files theme too, but this time in its shortened 30-second version used during seasons 5 to 9, interchanging with the 45-second version, depending upon the length of the episode. "Nisei" continues in the dark ambient style of "Squeeze" and "731" offers the first appearance of the scratching steel sound, which would become a "theme" for the alien bounty hunter and the black oil. "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" has a more light-hearted approach to it, closing with the music from the final scene of the episode. This wonderful piece of music, which is heard throughout Chung's monologue at the end, was also the closing section of The X-Files Suite from "The Snow Files." The only difference is, here we get the version heard in the episode, while the Suite had a modified version, adding a chorus to the music.

In the music for "The Field Where I Died," we hear more choir work for the first time on this set. This continues through "Paper Hearts" and "Kaddish," marking the change that Snow had done to his music with the now fourth season of the show. The music slowly begins to be more melody-driven and to ease the darker moments with melodies. In "Spirit Wedding" we hear a certain sound, like an altered flute, which Snow uses more than once throughout the whole show. It's also heard in some episodes featuring Native Americans or ancient curses. The disc closes again with The X-Files theme, this time in an extended remix version of the End Credits.

Disc Three opens with a slightly remixed version of the shortened X-Files theme. The following tracks from "Post Modern Prometheus" and "Christmas Carol" already had been available on a promo CD, but since this was no official release they appear here for the first time on a licensed album. The music for "Post Modern Prometheus" is like no other music from Snow during the nine years of The X-Files. The "monster" gets a circus-like theme, recalling the works of composer Danny Elfman for Tim Burton's movies. "Post Modern Posse" offers the complete music from the episode's showdown, where the creature talks about his loneliness and his wish for having a loving family. Of interest, Snow uses a part of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" in his score, the same piece which can also be heard at the beginning and the end of the Millennium episode, "Lamentation," when Frank Black is doing a little hiking with his colleague and friend, Bletcher, in the snowy mountains first, then at the end again with his daughter, Jordan. "Christmas Carol" shows more of the Mark Snow we already know from the Millennium Christmas episode, "Midnight of the Century." Lush melodies with a soft choir create a spiritual atmosphere. It's a little bit hard to understand why they put those two tracks from "Christmas Carol" and "Emily" on the set, since the first and shorter track is featured essentially complete again in the second and longer track. Well, I guess they had their reasons.

"Closure" marks the final scene of the last episode from season 5, "The End." The track ends with a short variation on The X-Files theme, as Mulder realizes that the X-Files have been burned for good. "Quest for Swath" is the only track from the episode "Triangle" on the set. The action cue follows the Lone Gunmen as they seek Scully to tell her that Mulder has disappeared in the South Atlantic. The "Dreamland" double-header has more quirky music, focusing more on the fun aspect of the body switch between Mulder and Fletcher. "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" opens with a chilling organ sound. Overall there are six tracks from that episode's score, causing some fans to wonder why, since the score is good but it's not THAT good. Only "One Breath" got this amount of tracks on the set, too. The disc closes after "Two Fathers" and "One Son," this time with an extended remix of the end credits, which is believed to have been arranged for the UK single of the main theme, but was left out.

The X-Files theme for the seventh time, is what we get at the start of disc four--here as the slightly altered version appearing with the beginning of season 7. The two-parter, "The Sixth Extinction," also gets two different tracks in terms of style. The first track has a more dark and somber tone to it, including a short snippet from the first movie's score, whilst the second track has a feel of redemption with its haunting choir. After that we get back to Frank Black. As Mulder and Scully turn to Frank Black with a case involving the Millennium Group, Mark Snow gets out his violin again, heard as the major musical voice in Millennium's score, here even performing the beginning of the Millennium theme. The second track from the episode, "Millennium," features the traditional "Aud Lang Syne," as Mulder and Scully watch the new century begin on TV, ultimately kissing each other at the stroke of midnight. "Hollywood A.D." is a mixture of some of Mark Snow's musical techniques for the show. Here we get the ambient textures, the percussion-driven action, haunting melodies, and the quirky sounds of the show's more ironic episodes.

"Scully's Serenade" could easily be the most wished-for track by the fans. Nicci Sill performs the haunting vocals as Scully grieves the loss of Mulder at the beginning of season 8. It's also Scully's theme for the quest for Mulder. Mark Snow explained that the lyrics shouldn't have been recognizable in the first place, forming the words, "We are near." "Starspeak" is essentially an instrumental version of "Scully's Serenade." The theme evolves in "Hidden Truths/Big Happening" as Scully discovers Mulder's dead body in the woods. She returns to Jeremiah, because he is the only one who can help Mulder, but an alien ship takes Jeremiah with it before Scully can get to him. "Jump the Shark" is the second part of The Lone Gunmen episode "All about Yves." The track, "Triangle," opens with the guitar riff from The Lone Gunmen theme that Snow composed for the short-lived spin-off-show. The "Lone Gunmen Requiem" is the music for the final two scenes of the episode, wherein the Gunmen are hunting down the man carrying a deadly virus within his body, ultimately sacrificing themselves to ensure the survival of others. Three coffins at the Arlington Cemetery mark the end of the Lone Gunmen. Whilst Mark Snow plays their theme on a mournful solo trumpet, the shot of the three coffins fades to black.

"Release" marks another ending within the X-Files. When Agent Doggett finally finds out who killed his son years ago, he and his ex-wife spread their son's ashes out to the sea. The theme Mark Snow composed for that scene offers a sad but hopeful closure for the character of Agent Doggett. With the show's conclusion after nine years, in "The Truth," Mark Snow pulls out all the stops. The final tracks maybe feature the most suspenseful music Snow has written for the show, starting with "Mount Weather," where Mulder discovers the date for the alien invasion. The over seven-minute long action piece, "Scary Story/For Whom the Smoke Blows" takes Mulder and Scully to their final meeting with the Cigarette Smoking Man, before his new home, in the cliffs in New Mexico, gets blown to pieces by two black helicopters. "The Truth Is Inside" shows Mulder and Scully in the final scene of the show in a hotel room. The melancholic theme plays as they talk about the truth still not being revealed entirely after all the loss and grief they've been through. It concludes with a softly-whistled version of The X-Files theme. Snow's incorporation of The X-Files theme is changed from a minor key, as it is known to everyone, to a major key, and this brings about it's emotional resolution, as well as a hint of hope. It is followed by the three-and-a-half-minute version of The X-Files theme, which was released as a single in 1996 and the voiceover "I made this" from the end of every episode, when the Ten Thirteen Logo comes up.

This truly is a massive set of music from the show and I'm glad it's not the last one. We could argue about if it was really necessary to start and end every disc with The X-Files theme, instead of putting more original music from the episodes on it, but at the end of the day I guess it's not worth the hassle. The audio quality is good if you consider that some of the master tapes are up to eighteen years old. Some people reported that they encountered a problem with disc three: the last two tracks wouldn't play properly. If you have this problem too, just write to La-La-Land Records and they will send you a replacement disc three at no additional charge.

The set comes in black cardboard, which has "The X-Files - Music by Mark Snow" printed in silver on the front and side. Inside is a 4-CD box holding just the CDs; the booklet has its place within the cardboard. The artwork features many images from the first editions of the DVD box sets, including the different colors for the various seasons. The booklet contains in-depth liner notes by Randall D. Larson, who also did a track-by-track analysis of all four discs.

"The Wait is Over," at least for this set. Now the wait begins for the second volume. But while you're waiting...get the first volume as long as it is out there.

Complete tracklist:

Disc One:
1. THE X-FILES Main Title (Season 1) 0:48

1X79 - PILOT
2. Scully To DC/Scully Meets Mulder 1:21
3. The Close Encounter 2:16
4. Scully & FBI Goon 0:35
5. FBI Secret Vaults 1:14

1X02 - SQUEEZE
6. Hidden Away 1:38
7. Slimed 0:41
8. Cuffed And Tubbed 2:16

1X09 - FALLEN ANGEL
9. On The Waterfront/Suspended Max 6:11

1X22 - ROLAND
10. Sweeper 1:47
11. Out The Window 1:29
12. Ramblin' Roland 2:05

1X23 - THE ERLENMEYER FLASK
13. Green Goo Chase 2:12
14. The Wells Brain 5:17

2X01 - LITTLE GREEN MEN
15. Dead Man's Thoughts 2:00
16. Fish Food 3:15

2X02 - THE HOST
17. Two Miles Off Jersey 2:45
18. Honey Wagon 2:03
19. Guillotined 3:54

2X08 - ONE BREATH
20. The Return 1:59
21. Uniforms 3:18
22. Players 3:33
23. Trust Your Pistol 0:58
24. Reanimation 1:32
25. Guardian Angel 1:13

2X25 - ANASAZI
26. The Mourn 3:20
27. Mercy Wound 4:08
28. Anasazi 8:35
29. THE X-FILES End Credit (Extended #1) 0:35
Disc One Total Time: 72:58

Disc Two:
1. THE X-FILES Main Title (Short) 0:37

3X09 - NISEI
2. Choo Choo Sushi 4:09
3. Rail Song 6:42

3X10 - 731
4. Graves 2:55
5. Derailed 11:53

3X15 - PIPER MARU
6. Back In The Hood 4:51

3X20 - JOSE CHUNG'S FROM OUTER SPACE
7. Harold & Chrissy 2:27
8. Closure 4:45

4X05 - THE FIELD WHERE I DIED
9. Dim Memories 1:05
10. Jonestown Cocktail 6:23

4X07 - MUSINGS OF A CIGARETTE SMOKING MAN
11. Extra-Ordinary Men 2:09
12. A Place In History 6:04
13. Respect 1:37

4X8 - PAPER HEARTS
14. El Camino 6:39
15. Watergate Heart 2:28

4X12 - KADDISH
16. Hanging Boy 2:47
17. Spirit Wedding 9:15
18. THE X-FILES End Credit (Extended Remix) 2:11
Disc Two Total Time: 79:00

Disc Three:
1. THE X-FILES Main Title (Remix - Short) 0:37

5X06 - THE POST-MODERN PROMETHEUS
2. JJ's Diner 1:50
3. Post-Modern Posse 9:20

5X05 - CHRISTMAS CAROL
4. Mother Genes 3:53

5X07 - EMILY
5. Little Box Of Sand 7:37

5X20 - THE END
6. Closure 8:08

6X03 - TRIANGLE
7. Quest For Swath 8:50

6X04 - DREAMLAND
8. Roadblock 1:05
9. Home Sweet Home 2:14
10. The Imposter 6:31

6X05 - DREAMLAND II
11. A Brief History Of Fox 1:27
12. Number 42 1:56

6X06 - HOW THE GHOSTS STOLE CHRISTMAS
13. House Organ/Irrational Fear 4:40
14. Bricks 0:39
15. Piano On The Tack 1:28
16. Fair Warning 3:03
17. Star Crossed Bullets 3:05
18. A Gift 1:45

6X11 - TWO FATHERS
19. The Patriarch 2:23
20. A Mother's Abduction 3:02

6X12 - ONE SON
21. Train Tune 4:47
22. THE X-FILES End Credit (Extended #2) 1:31
Disc Three Total Time: 79:51

Disc Four:
1. THE X-FILES Main Title (7th Season) 0:48

7X06 - THE GOLDBERG VARIATION
2. Five Cards 3:09

7X01 - THE SIXTH EXTINCTION
3. Sea Of Blood 5:57

7X02 - THE SIXTH EXTINCTION II: AMOR FATI
4. The Martyr 1:28

7X04 - MILLENNIUM
5. The Smell Of Zombies 4:58
6. The End Of The Crusade 2:15

7X17 - ALL THINGS
7. Waterson 3:13

7X18 - HOLLYWOOD A.D.
8. Sniper Zombies 3:41
9. Dancing Bones 2:18
10. Hollywood 1:04
11. The Kiss 1:04

8X01 - WITHIN
12. Scully's Serenade 1:37

8X02 - WITHOUT
13. Hide & Seek 2:03

8X14 - THIS IS NOT HAPPENING
14. Starspeak 2:57
15. Hidden Truths/Big Happening 3:21

9X15 - JUMP THE SHARK
16. Triangle 0:41
17. Weird Organs 2:01
18. Lone Gunmen Requiem 8:13

9X17 - RELEASE
19. The Tip 2:33
20. A Synopsis & Release 5:38

9X19 - THE TRUTH PART 1
21. Mount Weather 6:32

9X20 - THE TRUTH PART 2
22. Scary Story/For Whom The Smoke Blows 7:26
23. The Truth Is Inside 3:01
24. THE X-FILES Main Title (remix) 3:25
25. I Made This/20th Century Fox Fanfare* 0:09
* - Music By Alfred Newman
Disc Four Total Time: 79:38
Total Set Running Time: 311:27

THE X-FILES VOLUME ONE – 4 CD SET
Music by Mark Snow
LLLCD 1170
Limited Edition of 3000 units
Retail price: $49.98
Produced by Mark Snow, James Nelson and MV Gerhard
Mastered by James Nelson, Digital Outland
Liner Notes by Randall D. Larson
Art Direction by Mark Banning

Available at La-La Land Records