Halt and Catch Fire--Original Television Soundtrack
Released by: Lakeshore Records
Released on: September 18th, 2016
Purchase from Amazon
Lakeshore Records has been somewhat on a roll as of late, not only releasing the score to the heavily hyped Stranger Things, but also this, comparatively low profile companion piece, with inhabits a somewhat similar home in the 1980s cultural zeitgeist.
Granted, Stranger Things has enjoyed some massive success with its inaugural Netflix season, but Paul Haslinger's brooding, emotionally distant music to the AMC series Halt and Catch Fire deserves no less of a welcoming response. Haslinger might be best known for his time spent with the pioneering German electronic music group Tangerine Dream, contributing to the band's soundtracks to such films as Miracle Mile, Near Dark and Shy People. Those who followed Haslinger's work then will probably find much to celebrate here with his compositions for Halt and Catch Fire.
The show takes place in the 1980s, a decade with which Haslinger surely feels at home, and this ease comes across superbly in the man's musical cues, which welcome listeners like old friends. The Austrian's approach fits like a glove to the show's world of Silicon Valley and the personal computer revolution of companies like Apple and IBM, offering a rhythmic, synthesized coldness ("A Wolf in Unix") not entirely unlike the early video game scores of the time. This isn't to say that there isn't plenty of room for melodies here within Halt and Catch Fire, of course, as much of the score is actually built upon delayed, echoing synth notes which almost replicate computer code in their pacing and execution.
It would've been easy for Haslinger to either deliver atonal soundscapes or the usual orchestral melodies, but instead Halt and Catch Fire bursts with life and energy; at once both mechanical and very, very human. There are pensive, quiet moments as well as cues ("Western Arrivals") which exude a frantic, palpable sense of tension, all of which come together to flow quite smoothly as a cohesive score. Indeed, fans of memorable synthesizer scores are encouraged to give this one a spin, as Paul Haslinger has delivered the goods on what it surely one of the surprise soundtrack gems of the year.