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More of the same from Giacchino - great for the show's fans, probably a bit redundant for everyone else

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Album cover copyright (c) 2008 ABC Studios; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.

Believe it or not, reviewing soundtrack albums is not how I make a living.  I suspect that few people make a living from the pursuit.  In fact in my day job I work for an insurance company - which is thrilling, as you can imagine - and up on the top floor of the office there is a door which leads out onto the roof.  Next to this door is a sign which says "Caution - do not open door if windspeed exceeds 17mph."  I suppose this is fair enough - it's nice of the company to be so concerned with our safety - but the thing is, it's actually pretty hard to gauge the exterior windspeed when you're standing inside a climate-controlled office building, the door doesn't have a window in it, and there is no other equipment provided which may aid in the determination of the conditions outside.  Therefore I consider this sign to be the second greatest mystery of all time - how anyone thought it was a helpful sign is quite beyond me.  Naturally, you will want to know what is the greatest mystery of all time - and this is why I have somehow found myself drawn into watching every single episode of a tv show which I think is completely rubbish.  Just how is Lost so compelling when it's so awful?  I suspect that, like most of the mumbo-jumbo in the show, the answer will never be revealed.  In the mean time, I can't wait for the next season!

One aspect which is far from completely rubbish is Michael Giacchino's music.  For all his popular work in his relatively brief career so far, it is probably Lost that has attracted the most fans.  It is something which is not often heard these days - episodic television music which defines an entirely unique sound for the show, has recurring themes, even little motifs which crop up somewhere and then disappear for ages before being developed into something bigger later on - you can sense the thought that goes into this music, and it's very effective in the show.  The first two seasons both received soundtrack albums when their DVD box sets were released - but there was no sign of the third season album for quite some time, so Lost fans everywhere were able to breathe a sigh of relief when Varese Sarabande announced it early in 2008.  This time round, it's a two-disc set - the second disc featuring 75 minutes of music from the show's final three episodes, the first covering the preceding twenty.

That consistency of sound which works so well for the show does mean, though, that one has to wonder whether we really need two-and-a-half hours of music which is really not particularly different from the two hours which have already been released.  Had I never heard the albums from the first two seasons then clearly I wouldn't make the complaint - musically, this is right up to the same standard, and there are numerous very fine moments, particularly in the primal action music which pounds away to great effect - but aside from an even rawer sound thanks to an increased array of percussion, there's nothing particularly fresh here.  It's all very enjoyable, I don't want to suggest otherwise, and I guess to a devoted Lost fan it doesn't really matter - and indeed, it is all caused by the unique way the show is scored, with the score really being one long piece rather than the more usual television approach of taking each episode as it comes.

The first disc opens with a nice action cue, "In with a Kaboom!", and this continues in "Awed and Shocked".  Some of the darkest material is in "Eko of the Past", a great little piece.  Of course, it isn't all about action music here - the most memorable pieces of scoring are the more emotional pieces, and there are plenty of those in evidence too.  "Romancing the Cage" is a gorgeous, shimmering piece which hints at romance but steers clear of any outright declaration.  "Here Today, Gone to Maui" is a gut-wrencher, culminating in that fantastic strings-and-piano theme used so often in the show, and even while Giacchino doesn't actually ever do much with it apart from repeat it, it retains power.  More powerful still is the fantastic "Ocean's Apart", full of emotion, suggesting great hope... before taking it away.

So, the first CD comes highly recommended for Giacchino or Lost fanatics, especially those who don't already have the albums from the first two seasons, but perhaps of more interest is the second CD, with complete scores from the three final episodes of the season.  Unfortunately, this does not paint the music in a particularly favourable light - for all its quality in the show, this is actually miles away from the best feature-quality scoring (including Giacchino's own) - the best bits are good (and, naturally, very similar to lots of the pieces on the first album) but are surrounded by lots of filler.  With a show like Lost you can notice the one or two pieces of music in every episode which stand out, and just forget about the rest of the music while you're watching - on an album this isn't possible, and I'm surprised at just how dull a lot of it is.  It's not awful - but there are fairly extended periods where nothing much seems to happen.

The best cue is probably the six-minute "Flying High", a fine piece of action/suspense scoring, but in general I suspect disc two is for the real die-hards only.  There are plenty of those - and I'm sure this will be pretty-much their dream album.  For real Lost fans, I can't imagine it could get much better than this - for others it may be more of a struggle, but considering it's the same price as the other albums (both of which contain half as much music) then if you only get one Lost album, I'd make this one your first port of call.

Disc One

  1. In with a Kaboom! (1:56)
  2. Main Title (:16)
  3. Awed and Shocked (1:34)
  4. Fool Me Twice (3:18)
  5. Pagoda of Shame (2:02)
  6. The Island (2:57)
  7. Eko of the Past (2:45)
  8. Church of Eko's (:58)
  9. Leggo My Eko (3:12)
  10. Romancing the Cage (1:48)
  11. Under the Knife (4:18)
  12. Teaser Time (2:52)
  13. Here Today, Gone to Maui (4:53)
  14. Distraught Desmond (3:36)
  15. Achara, Glad to See Me? (2:25)
  16. Ocean's Apart (3:02)
  17. The Lone Hugo (3:34)
  18. Fetch Your Arm (2:24)
  19. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Nothin' (2:05)
  20. Shambala (2:04)
  21. Claire-a Culpa (5:21)
  22. A Touching Moment (2:34)
  23. Sweet Expose (4:36)
  24. Storming Monster (1:31)
  25. Heart of Thawyer (1:51)
  26. Juliette is Lost (1:28)
  27. Beach Blanket Bonding (1:54)
  28. Rushin' the Russian (1:06)
  29. Deadly Fertility (2:05)
  30. Dharmacide (3:56)

Disc Two

  1. Paddle Jumper (1:16)
  2. She's Dynamite (1:16)
  3. The Good, the Bad and the Ominous (1:07)
  4. Charlie's Fate (2:58)
  5. Paddle Jumper Reprise (2:12)
  6. Ta-Ta Charlie (1:28)
  7. Heirloom Holiday (1:21)
  8. Greatest Hits (6:03)
  9. Flying High (6:30)
  10. The Good Shepherd (:58)
  11. Manifesting Destiny (:40)
  12. The Looking Glass Ceiling (3:30)
  13. Ex Marks the Jack (2:10)
  14. Jintimidating Bernard (2:42)
  15. Benomination of the Temple (:39)
  16. An Other Dark Agenda (:36)
  17. Kate Makes a Splash (:32)
  18. Diving Desmond (:47)
  19. Weapon of Mass Distraction (:50)
  20. The Fallen Hero (:26)
  21. Sticking to their Guns (:58)
  22. Torture Me Not (2:44)
  23. Through the Locke-ing Glass (2:13)
  24. The /Only Pebble in the Jungle (1:31)
  25. Early Mourning Mystery (1:54)
  26. Patchy at Best (2:04)
  27. All Jack'ed Up (:12)
  28. Hold the Phone (3:49)
  29. Code of Conduct (1:42)
  30. Act Now, Regret Later (5:11)
  31. Just What the Doctor Ordered (1:24)
  32. Hurley's  Helping Hand (1:06)
  33. Looking Glass Half Full (4:16)
  34. Jack FM (:30)
  35. Naomi Phone Home (4:01)
  36. Flash Forward Flashback (4:16)
  37. End Title (:32)