John Corigliano – Altered States: Original Soundtrack (Waxwork Records remaster)

5 out of 5

Label: Waxwork Records

Produced by: Arthur Piantadosi (recording mixer)

This is wholly, beautifully bizarre.

Altered States is kind of a goofy movie, but it’s also definitely weird, and unsettling in its weirdness, and visually distinct.  John Corigliano’s score has some interstitial ‘traditional’ moments, but it’s all in service to the greater goal of matching the uniquely silly and scary vibe of the film, crawling up from a low rumble into the most awesomely strange melange of horror stings and Looney Tunes themes for the ‘First Hallucination,’ which is a pattern echoed – but not repeated – in the ‘Second Halluncination.’  A ‘Love Theme’ softly interludes, and is quite beautiful, perfectly juxtaposing the chaos of these two tracks.  We now proceed into the ‘Transformation’ tracks, which buckle down on the insanity in favor of more haunting, mysterious themes, building as we go along into more intense variations and surges of strings and piano.

Mr. Corigliano has an extensive amount of classical work to his name, and his liner notes speak to that history a bit, but only in terms of a love of music; that is: there’s no “dressing up” of this score (or his notes) with a kind of ‘better than this movie’ sensibility.  Instead, that love of the richness of such compositions seemed to have brought a desire to enhance the experience of the film as much as possible, and the music does that wonderfully.  And weirdly.

Waxwork’s recording has all of the depth Corigliano’s hopes for in his notes, and some typically imaginative packaging – with glitter!