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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Blogging the Complete Two Towers: Disc 1

by Ken Newquist / January 22, 2007

Cover: The Complete Two TowersThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - The Complete Recordings by Howard Shore and released by Reprise Records is a huge collection containing 3+ hours of music from the movie spread over three CDs and augmented by a video DVD documenting the soundtrack's production. It's so huge that a single review won't do it justice, so instead, I'm blogging it. View the "Blogging the Complete Two Towers" category for the complete list of posts in this series.

My first impression as the music starts playing -- and I'm immediately confronted with notes I haven't heard since watching The Two Towers-- is that the difference between this and the regular soundtrack is like the difference between reading the books and watching the movies.

The movies give you a beautiful experience … but the books give you depth. And that's what the complete series CDs give you as well -- every note played on screen, evoking every musical sense that you felt. No short cuts, no abridgments, just Howard Shore's beautiful music.

Listening to the full album one gets a sense of just how grand and complex it is. There are many themes -- that of the Hobbits, Rohan, Good Triumphant, Orcs and the Ring-wraiths -- that are only touched on in the single discs. Each might get a solitary play there, with this album you can hear their myriad permutations as they track against the on screen action. It's makes for a wholly different listening experience.

Thoughts on Disc One

  • Tracks: 16
  • Running Time: 1:03:04
  • Creator: Howard Shore
  • Label: Reprise Records / Warner Brother Reconds

"Glamdring" leads off Disc One, incorporating the familiar music from the track known as "Foundations of Stone" on the original soundtrack.

"Elven Rope" and "Lost in Emyn Muil" tell us were not in abridged land as neither track, nor the music they include, appeared on the earlier soundtrack. "Elven Rope" follows the travels of Frodo and Sam as they begin their grueling hike.

"Lost in Emyn Muil" starts with the familiar theme of the Shire, which slowly transforms into a more somber, dramatic piece before ending in a rush of troubling, chaotic music.

"The Banishment of Eomer" is a perfect example of a gem lost to us in the regular soundtrack … excellent dramatic track with battling influences of the dark (in the form of Sauramon and the orcs theme) with that of the light (the triumphant Rohan tracks).

"Night Camp" grabs your attention for its steadily rising tension giving rise to the orcish theme as battle breaks out amongst the orcs and the hobbits attempt their escape.

"Fangorn" ponderous, subdued track as befits the mood of the ancient Fangorn Forest.

"The Dead Marshes" is as moody and creepy as its name implies, mixing in aspects of the hobbits theme with the dread integral to its onscreen setting. Most of the track's sound is low and throbbing, but short bursts of fast-paced tension occasionally bubble up through the murk and distant ghostly choral voices drift in and out.

"Wraiths on Wings" shatters the eeriness of "The Dead Marshes" as the chorus returns to menace the listener as the ring-wraith hunts for the hobbits from its winged stead.

"Gandalf the White" turns despair to hope as Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas track the fleeing hobbits into the Fangorn … and encounter a friend they thought dead. The track begins on an ominous note then turns brighter and lighter (though never gleeful) as it progresses.

"The Dreams of Trees": Slowly rising and falling musical tones fills this track, making it a relaxing break after the tension of the last few tracks.

"The Heir of Numenor": The longest track on Disc 1 at 6:50, "The Heir…" starts as soft-spoken but regal track that evokes old glories and Aragorn's soft-spoken grace. It then evokes the Aragorn/Forces of Good battle themes

Tomorrow: Role-Playing Possibilities with Disc One.