The Invasion / 2007 Composed

The Invasion / 2007
Live Goes On / Dance of the Cells
# Title Duration
Live Goes On / Dance of the Cells 3:46
Escape With Ollie / Basement 3:30
All Aboard 2:15
Mid-Transformation 3:49
Subway / Blending In 4:04
Census Taker / Search on a Whim 2:32
Carol and Ben Plot 3:36
Waring Wendy / Taster's Choice 1:45
Hit and Sit / Dropping Off Ollie 2:04
Under the Microscope / Call for Help 1:50
Trick or Treat / Bad Boy 1:51
Family Bliss / It's a Pickle 2:33
Carol's Wild Ride 3:24
I Need You / I Already Slept 2:40
Falling Asleep / We Touched It 3:49
Wake Up! / A Better World? 3:31
Final Escape 1:58

John's Thoughts

Weird is Good

Because The Invasion ended up having an extremely long post schedule, it became a sort of on-going excursion from whatever I was doing throughout the year. I was looking forward to taking a left turn on this one by taking a less lyrical approach, and using a lot of synthetic sounds to drive the score. So it was a fun break from the large orchestral work I'd been doing. Back when the film had just finished shooting, Joel Silver had mentioned that he was looking for a Bernard Hermann-esque feel. But from that point, the film continued on a path of re-conception, and got even weirder. I thought a strict orchestral approach over a body-snatchers remake might feel too cheesy or cliché. It needed to be a little "off", or "out of the box." As time went on, the desire from the director too was to be even less lyrical and more atonal and textural. In the end, the score became an odd blend of traditional scoring ideas turned upside down to interplay within a synthetic tapestry. Sort of, Hermann meets God Knows What. I really felt like taking some chances with programming synth sounds by purposely creating some that were almost "non-musical" and, well, screwy.

Just like setting up an acoustic ensemble, I researched and created sounds that I could feature in the score - almost as if they were the disturbed section of the ensemble. The weirdest one was a strange-ass thing I manipulated from a waveform to recur. By playing the sound rapidly over many keys, it became, well, what it became – sort of a warped, rubbery effect (heard, for instance, in the front of the cue, "Hit and Sit.")

All the way up to scoring, the editing of the film was often avant-garde, with flash-forward cuts heralding things that were about to happen to Nicole Kidman's character, Carol. The "rubbery" sound I just mentioned was to be used every time those flash-forwards occurred. But just after the film was scored, most of these sequences were re-edited to be straightforward. So the cues had to be re-edited to work in a different way. But with this kind of music, many editorial variations still end up working, even if perhaps not the way you planned.

Some other synth "motifs" occur throughout the score, namely a sort of slithery sound for the virus (i.e. in "Mid-Transformation"), and a twangy "spacey" sound (i.e. in "Census Taker") to suggest otherworldliness. It's amazing just how time-consuming it can be to manipulate and weave so many layers to try and blur the lines between synthesizer and orchestra. Then sometimes a simple solo instrument itself can take on a bizarre feel depending on the context: like a lone contra-bassoon heard in "Census Taker." Moments like that in the recording sessions always make it more rewarding. So here and there I tried to subvert the actual orchestra sounds. In the opening of "Subway" the glissy strings were passed through a flange-like filter, making the acoustic effect it even stranger.

As far as orchestral "themes" go, there's basically one chordal motif representing Carol and her son, Oliver. Originally I had written a sympathetic piano melody representing their relationship that would gradually darken as the film progressed, but the director wanted even less lyricism. The idea was to imply a sort of tragedy to their relationship from the onset, yet it also had to simultaneously imply Carol's love for her son. Ollie is immune to the virus and could hold the key to stopping the snatchers. So Carol knows that by saving him from them, she may be selfishly sacrificing the world from being a better place. The result is a dark repeating ambivalent chord for the two of them that, in an odd way, takes on either a sympathetic or depressing tone depending on the context of the scene. In the end of "Final Escape" the chords are played one final time – continuing the ambivalence as to whether an escape is good or not. The other brief theme is heard at about 2:20 in the cue, "Wake Up/A Better World." A simple string and celesta melody, it represents an idealic world at peace, and is used in a couple areas in the film.

Dance of the Cells

Just a couple days before recording the score, an animated ending title sequence depicting viruses invading cells was added. Since there was no main theme to the film per say, I decided to try something a little off-the-wall. I began with a strange little melody on an electric piano and just started playing with it by adding both synthetic and orchestral rhythmic accompaniments. In the end, I wasn't sure what the heck I had created, but somehow it put a smile on my face – as if it were a little ditty for the cells. It's definitely not what you might expect over such a sequence, so that in itself, excited me.

(An Audio Glimpse into our Wacky World)

It's pretty well known in town that my conductor, Damon Intrabartolo, is, well, a character. His relationship with the orchestra is a perfect blend of efficiency and raw off-the-cuff banter that makes the process fun for all – well for those with a sense of humor. This time, our Pro-tools recordist, Larry Mah, decided to keep a running recording of the sessions. During the long hours of the music mix, Larry secretly worked on his devious project, ingeniously organizing sound quips from Damon conducting the orchestra and talking back to the booth. Larry then organized them into "subject matter" that often could be interpreted in many ways depending on how one's mind works. Larry ended up setting up a speaker next to his station as we mixed the music. He became so proficient at mastering Damon's sound quips, that almost anything that was discussed in the room was met by a quick response from "Damon." The fun never ceased with "virtual Damon" in the room. I think in a scary way, Larry actually "became" Damon. But he made his way back to sanity eventually – I hope. For better or worse, the uncensored clips will be put on this page by Dan Goldwasser. (Come back later!) Maybe you just had to be there. But, heck, it's a site for posterity.