Goldsmith…Horner…Williams. Though he is too modest to agree, Andrew Lockington’s score for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island has all the luster one would expect from the greats when they were in their prime. Building off of the thematic sense of adventure heard in the first film, Andrew takes the music in this series to another level entirely for the follow-up, even by going as far as exploring the jungles in Papua New Guinea to research the score. This rather extraordinary phase of the project is best summarized with an excerpt from the press release:
“Lockington’s incredible journey included living far up the treacherous Sepik River, home to many of the world’s last remaining un-contacted indigenous tribes. Armed with a backpack full of recording equipment and an HD camcorder, he spent time with two tribes – documenting not only their ceremonies and their music, but also getting unprecedented insight into their unique way of life.”
Clearly, Andrew’s not in this business just for a paycheck. What makes this story even better is that there is a happy ending. The score is marvelous!
In an experience I will liken to my first listen of Stargate by David Arnold, Journey 2 offers up a sweeping engagement with four themes pacing the way. The ‘Journey’ theme itself is reprised from the first movie, which sounds just as good as I remembered, but the real backbone of the score is the interplay between the Family and Mysterious Island themes. If adventuring to a mysterious island could be bottled up in the form of music, these themes would emerge when uncorked.
Another quotient of beauty in the mix is the tactful use of choir and solo voice. Unlike so many soundtracks where we hear the yearning female voice echoing endlessly in the background, Andrew opted for a more engaging approach as the soloist here brings to life the mysteries of the island in an enticing manner. Equally in synch, the choir is embedded into the framework in a way that services the score without disrupting it (today’s choral works are often too overstated). That said, when the chorus needs to make a bolder statement, the voices hit their mark in a grand, uplifting way. Suffice it to say that all the choral elements have been pulled together into a cohesive mix and the end result is completely spot on.
So the percussion instruments is another piece to obviously make mention of. Andrew went halfway around the world, how can I not? Given that so much time and research went into this aspect of the score, it could have been very easy to unleash a bombardment of drumming and no one would have second-guessed it. Well, it’s awesome to hear that the tribal elements were implemented with great care and does not supercede the impact of the orchestra. In fact, much like the choral arrangements, the percussion instruments are scripted to be only one part of a larger musical picture. It’s so meticulously plotted, in fact, that we don’t get any full signs of the island/tribal influences until track 8, at which point it kicks off a series of cues that are full of action and excitement, all paced by variations of the main themes and the unique rhythm of the drums. These are the types of tracks that will rekindle the sense of wonder many of us had when filing into multiplexes in the 80’s. Indeed, I’d say that tracks 8 thru 10 are what I would deem the best of the best, highlights from a superlative score.
After a calendar year in which many of the greats skirted with rekindling their past successes, such as the tandem of John Williams releases and the Captain America score by Alan Silvestri, along comes Andrew’s efforts, that in my opinion, easily tops those experiences. I have a feeling that this score will be remembered as one of the year’s best, and that’s conservative. To me, this is one of the best types of action/adventure scores that anyone can hope to listen to.