Fans may have wanted separate seasonal discs for Supernatural’s great music, but as it stands this compilation is a good representation of the musical skills behind the show’s engaging combination of mystique, horror, and the strong sibling relationship pivotal to battling weird forces from the unknown.
There’s no stark contrast between the music of series regulars Christopher Lennertz (The Saint Sinner, The Horde) and veteran composer Jay Gruska (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) – certainly on this CD, their respective contributions are seamless – but one does sense Lennertz’ greater emphasis on orchestral writing, whereas Gruska’s cues are more fusion-based, incorporating pulsing electric bass drones and retro electronica. Lennertz, though, offers a great combination of bluegrass guitar and funky riffs in the dusty “Dean’s Dirty Organ,” with electric bass licks and fuzzy keyboard notes that scatter across the stereo image.
A wide range of electric and subtle metallic sounds unify the CD’s selection of thematic suites. Gruska’s “Demon Agitato., Mr. Ostinato” is a great example, with harsh, skittering motifs built up with thickening brass emulation, and chord textures that intersect with smoothly orchestrated precision. (Gruska’s use of bass and reverb is also quite memorable.)
Lennertz’ “Isn’t it Romantic?” is a lovely piece with delicate piano, saddened violin, and a steady bass line of sustained strings that slowly evolves from a sparse, hesitant thematic fragment into a full statement, with synth woodwinds and richer string accompaniment. Gruska’s “Americana” uses oboe for a gentle intro, and quiets the mood further with a contemplative piano solo before returning to a fuller rendition of the intro, using oboe and clarinet.
Classicism dominates the string-heavy “Old ‘Monster Movie’,” with thick chords, quirky comedic passages. Here one immediately notices Lennertz’ knack for writing bars that glide from one instrument to another, vivifying a cue as well as creating a sense of anticipation as things build towards a confrontation between skittering motifs and surging brass emulations.
There’s also a smooth blend of acoustic guitar, flutes, and eerie chords in Gruska’s slightly mordant “Ruby, So Cute, So Creepy.” The album closes with a choral finale in Lennertz’ “Lilith Unfair,” and an edited suite of the series’ rock-styled end credit music, where Gruska shifts from hard guitar licks to a little contemplative Eric Clapton-styled guitar solo, and a bluesy finale with buzzing harmonica evoking a bit of vintage Quincy Jones.
Water Tower Records’ CD is first-rate, assembling cues into tight suites that emphasize the show’s rich musical catalogue.
Note: an interview with series co-composer Christopher Lennertz is also available.
© 2010 Mark R. Hasan