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First Man Soundtrack Review
by Richard Jack Smith

By no means a perfect score for space travel, First Man succeeds in a minor way. Once all the scaffolding has been peeled away, we get to hear some surprisingly melodic and rhythmically gratifying themes.

In 2016, composer Justin Hurwitz hit the big time on La La Land. His efforts would result in the Academy Award for Best Original Score. Since then, he has gone quiet. In fact, the Internet Movie Database lists no film scoring credits for 2017. I couldn’t imagine a similar vacancy on Hans Zimmer’s page. So we arrive at First Man, and it’s not bad. Pleasantly, there was an atmosphere and pacing behind “The Armstrongs” which recalls similar romantic work by Abel Korzeniowski.

Ultimately, what detracts from the experience are the sparse, immovable pieces such as “X-15,” “Baby Mark,” “Elliot” and “Naha Rescue 1.” These lean heavily on the Cliff Martinez vibe, perishable chords against a hazy backdrop. Also, there’s a whiff of Vangelis during “Moon” which felt like a blatant copy and paste.

In a bid to recapture momentum, “Apollo 11 Launch” and “The Landing” channel swirling emotion. Perhaps it was a little careless as repetition soon clouds the intention.

If the album presentation concentrated on developing the highlights -- i.e. the Western sounding “Multi-Axis Trainer” -- it’s possible a four star rating would be granted. Ignoring some of the shorter, mundane cues, there’s at least 30 minutes of good listening here. Therefore, I award First Man an honorable three stars.

A brief poem to close:

Solving the First Man riddle

A proposition in the middle.

Some Cliff Martinez grain

Mostly Abel Korzeniowski in the main.


Good overshadows the inane

To hate this, you must be insane.

First Man left me happy

Where others proved sappy.

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