We use cookies on our website to provide you with the best experience. Most of these are essential and already present.
We do require your explicit consent to save your cart and browsing history between visits. Read about cookies we use here.
Your cart and preferences will not be saved if you leave the site.

Michael Mantler, Don Preston

Alien (LP)

Label: XtraWATT, ECM Records

Format: LP

Genre: Experimental

In stock


Original 1985 LP edition. This one is a bit of an outlier. More a showcase for keyboardist Don Preston’s (The Mothers Of Invention) array of 1980s synthesizers and drum machines than a jazz album. As the story goes composer Michael Mantler wrote this music for a conventional orchestra with the solo trumpet part, but then decided to transpose orchestral partitions to Preston’s gadgetry. It is not known if this move was informed by the budgetary constraint or perhaps creative or even financial incentive. So the score was modified, Preston engaged, and I think he does a great job of accentuating the dramatic pull of Mantler’s score. Of course, there is also the title of the album and its cover. Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ came out a few years prior to this release and it’s tempting to see the artwork’s peculiar typographic treatment as an homage to its opening credits.

Also, the music has a certain cinematic sweep - tense chromaticism, portentous chord progressions and soaring solo trumpet framed by the atmospheric ambient interludes. In the final section of “Part I” there are even some Goblin-style synth arpeggios. Jerry Goldsmith’s score for the first Alien was fully orchestral as far as I recollect but imagine it with synth textures and we might end up in the acoustic space congenial with this ECM title. I couldn’t find if Mantler ever expressed himself on the topic, but I like to think that ‘Alien’ is a tribute of sorts. I surely wouldn’t mind rewatching the flick with this one as its alternative soundtrack. (Snows Ov Gethen)

Cat. number: WATT/15, 827639-1
Year: 1985
Recorded and mixed at Grog Kill Studio, Willow, New York, March through July, 1985 Korg Synthesizers courtesy Unicord ©℗ 1985 Watt Works, Inc./ECM Records GmbH Publisher: Watt Works, Inc. (BMI) Manufactured and marketed by ECM Records Printed in W-Germany