Friday, August 25, 2023

Basil Poledouris – Starship Troopers [Vinyl Debut]

When Starship Troopers was released in the late fall of 1997, it quickly became one of the most critically polarizing films of the 1990s. The futuristic sci-fi action film (set in the 2200s but based on a 1959 book) was a super-stylized, CGI-heavy “us vs. aliens” visual spectacle that ended up generating most of its headlines for the “is it social commentary or satire” discourse that plagued its initial roll-out and reception. While it didn’t fare all that well at the ’97-’98 box office, it ended up becoming a bit of a cult classic that spawned a surprising amount of sequels and spin-offs. 

One of the inarguable things Starship Troopers did get absolutely right was the music, as one can experience for themselves with the thrilling Basil Poledouris film score finally making its vinyl debut from Varése Sarabande and Craft Recordings. Prior to Starship Troopers, Poledouris was most well-known for his composition work on films like Conan the Barbarian, Red Dawn, The Hunt for Red October, Free Willy, and his Emmy-winning work on Lonesome Dove. For Starship Troopers, he once again worked with director Paul Verhoeven – a familiar creative partnership as the duo had previously worked together on Flesh & Blood and RoboCop (for which Poledouris won his first of three BMI Film Music Awards). 

Much as he did with RoboCop (where he blended orchestral instrumentation with digital synths to evoke the cybernetic nature of Murphy/RoboCop), Poledouris found guiding inspiration within the film’s framework – most notably anchoring the villainous Arachnids around heavy drums and percussion, while also elevating the overall grand spectacle of the project with a hugely ambitious symphonic score recorded by the 97-member Hollywood Studio Symphony. Almost 30 separate musical cues appear on the soundtrack, including the unforgettable bombast of “Klendathu Drop,” the emotionally-charged back-to-back pairing of “Dizzy’s Death” and “Dizzy’s Funeral,” and the rousing 10-minutes-plus “End Titles.” Also appearing on this release is the song “Into It” by Poledouris’ daughter, Zoe Poledouris, who performed the song (along with a cover of David Bowie’s “I Have Not Been to Oxford Town”) in the film’s prom scene. 

This new deluxe edition of Poledouris’ Starship Troopers score from Varese Sarabande has some really great bonuses that make it more than worth your purchase. Right off the bat, its notable to mention that this is the first time it has been pressed to vinyl (in both classic black and a limited edition “Blood & Bug Juice” red/orange marble). The gorgeous gatefold packaging features some really stellar original art from Malachi Ward and I love the distressed accents throughout making it feel like a pulpy, old sci-fi paperback. (Ward’s fantastic artwork is also presented in a standalone fold-out poster that’s included). The interior also features a couple new liner note essays from director Paul Verhoeven and Zoe Poledouris. I was really impressed not only with the sonic quality of the pressing and the striking physicality of the packaging, but also in the thoughtfulness put into all the details of the new original art, liner notes, and poster. Don't miss this stunning release!

Starship Troopers can be ordered directly from Varése Sarabande here: