The one series that I remember seeing some episodes of in my pre-teen years was that of ‘The Outer Limits’, so I was jumping for joy when I realised La-La-Land were releasing a soundtrack boxset. Actually, I should say, THE boxset as Dominic Frontiere didn’t contribute to season two. According to the booklet, he composed music for only 13 episodes simply because they were so often behind schedule and he was working with an orchestra. From these 13 episodes, music was clipped for the others.
Likewise, when I was very young, although I paid attention to the TV music I enjoyed, it was only in retrospective that I joined the dots between them as to who was the composers. With Dominic Frontiere, it was ‘The Outer Limits’, ‘The Invaders’ and ‘Search’ (which is oddly not mentioned in the booklet). All three dissimilar from each other that you would hardly associate them with the same composer as you would with, say, Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin or John Williams. Ergo, Frontiere really did recreate himself with each series.
With ‘The Outer Limits’, people are often prone to remember the opening and end credits, which is repeated in various versions on all 3 CDs than the episode music itself. Listening to it apart from the series, Frontiere often plays up the mood than making the music particularly, shall we say, spacey. When you compare to John Williams’ SF themes from the same period, it would be wise to consider that Frontiere led the way for proper orchestration than sounding too, shall we say, not spacey.
The contrast is apparent on the first CD with ‘The Architects Of Fear’ where there is a strong reliance on strings and especially a harp. With ‘Controller Experiment’, there is even more harp play, often as a solo, which clearly shows how Frontiere decided to exploit its use more into a laidback jazz composition. ‘Tourist Attraction’ starts off much lighter before taking on a deeper tone as it progresses and even a Mexican feel. Of the first CD, it also has the most tracks although these are invariably smaller cues compared to the first two episodes.
The second CD gets really into a ‘Nightmare’ with its opening tracks, before a warning ‘Don’t Open Til Doomsday’ and ‘The Man Who Was Never Born’. The ‘Doomsday’ score is especially interesting as it alternates with several jazz numbers, created by Robert Van Epps. ‘The Man Who Was Never Born’ goes back to being much more moody and dramatic. Listening to them in isolation, the melodies wouldn’t have been out of place as film scores and its surprising really that Frontiere didn’t do more film scores than he did in his career.
The third CD starts off with an oriental twang but not surprising when you consider this is from ‘100 Days Of The Dragon’. From there, to the more eerie ‘The Mice’ and more harp play and drums and downright spooky. ‘The Human Factor’ returns to a more dramatic tense before raising the impending doom again. The fabulous ‘ZZZZZ’ starts off with the strings version of a bee buzzing around which still makes it a classic today, neatly dosed in melodrama.
As you can tell from my reaction above, this is a great boxset to own. Over the years, Dominic Frontiere has had albums and CDs out there but rarely credited with how good a composer of mood music he is. This album should remind you of this. Don’t adjust your volume, you’re in for a treat in ‘The Outer Limits’!
(pub: La-La Land Records LLLCD 1070. 3 CDs 180 minutes 70 tracks boxset with 16 page booklet. Price: $19.98 (US). Limited edition: 3000 units.
check out website: www.lalalandrecords.com/OuterLimits.html