Journey To Space by Cody Westheimer (soundtrack review).

‘Journey To Space’ is a 2015 documentary film narrated by Patrick Stewart. It presents the current situation of spaceflight at NASA and discusses humanity’s drive to reach Mars and explore further out in the solar system. Released as an IMAX experience, you’d expect the soundtrack to be big enough to fill the kind of cinemas that show IMAX films but, unfortunately, I found it a bit lacking.


The first problem I had was that the tunes are so short. There are 23 tracks and in total that provides 35 minutes of listening time, which should give you an idea of the average length here. 9 of the tracks are under a minute long! This meant that while there were some lovely motifs, it felt more like a sample or preview than a complete album.

I really did like some of the snippets. The jaunty beat and mellow electronic sounds of ‘A Home Above’, the gentle piano sounds of ‘A Spacegirl’s Dream’ that lead into an all-too-brief woodwind melody section but a few good moments don’t make a great album. These two tracks, probably my favourites on the album, were 45 and 44 seconds long respectively.

There were also some moments that I didn’t much care for, particularly the vocals, which seemed to mimic the orchestral parts unnecessarily. It sounded a bit like someone was singing along and, for me, it didn’t add anything. I also wasn’t wild about the unexpected guitar section that appears for 10 seconds in the middle of ‘Space Science’, it sounded quite out of place with the rest of this piece of music, admittedly another short piece at 53 seconds.

The other thing that bothered me somewhat was the fact that so much of it seemed eerily familiar. Cody Westheimer is the only credited composer on the digital version of the album I have and a bit of hunting to find the full album credits also lists another chap, Max Braverman. Yet nowhere can I find any mention of either Gustav Holst or Johan Strauss II, despite the fact that their well-known compositions ‘Mars’ from ‘The Planets’ suite and ‘The Blue Danube’ feature on this album. Yes, I have been through the full film credits list on the official website, which also makes no mention of the performing orchestra. It makes me wonder what other bits have been taken from elsewhere without credit. An oversight from the publishers/producers rather than Westheimer perhaps but, to me, it’s an important one.

As an album, this isn’t a particularly satisfying collection of music, although it may well be fine to accompany the mellow tones of Patrick Stewart and an array of dazzling images of the space programme. The pieces are in general too short and, after listening to the whole album a number of times, I think I’d still struggle to confidently identify any of the pieces on here, it just isn’t that memorable.

Vinca Russell

January 2016

(pub: Phineas Atwood, Planetworks, 2015. 23 tracks 35 minutes CD. Price: £20.36 (UK). ASIN: B00U8GAVFK)

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