Incidental is as incidental does

Talk to anyone who's a fan of the original Blade Runner and they'll tell you that that the atmosphere created by the combined visuals and soundtrack is a big part of the reason.

It just felt special.

The impact of Vangelis' score was on a par with the choice to use classical instead of quasi-futuristic music for 2001 and John Williams' scores for the likes of Jaws and Close Encounters.

I’ve listened to the original parts of the Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack a few times now and it just doesn’t capture the imagine in the same way. When I said the opening track needed to be longer I didn’t realise it was going to set a precedent.

And then I realised, the reason the soundtrack to the original Blade Runner is so iconic is that Vangelis wrote it as a series of actual songs each of which could stand alone as a self contained piece of music. His compositions also dripped with feeling and emotion - a true master at work.

The new soundtrack, however, suffers from the same fate as many others: it is written purely as the incidental music it is intended to be. It doesn’t evoke the same emotions or prompt the same reaction because it is too busy trying to be a soundscape rather than tell a story.

I wrote that the opening track captured the essence of Vangelis’ original but, on repeated listenings to the whole thing, that’s also where it stopped.

Now, I love soundscapes and extended ambient drone music with environmental overlays etc. - general weird shit - but they work because they are longer pieces allowing the listener to lose themselves in the subtleties and nuance of gradual shifts.

The new soundtrack tries to achieve the same effect with pieces lasting only a few minutes. Just as you might begin to immerse yourself you are forcibly ripped from the moment and on to the next track. Even the longer pieces (and there are two of around 10 minutes) suffer because they are artificially broken into jarring, disparate sections.

Vangelis’ work was never meant to fade into the background and just become a part of the scenery. Instead, it was a core component in the emotional projection of each scene.

Something far from incidental and that’s what made it so great.