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Halt and Catch Fire [Original Television Series Soundtrack] [Slipcase] *
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  • Audio Mixers: Hugo Nicholson; Paul Haslinger.
  • Veteran soundtrack composer and former Tangerine Dream member Paul Haslinger wrote the incidental music for Halt and Catch Fire, an acclaimed drama series about the boom of personal computers during the '80s, and the subsequent ascent of the World Wide Web during the '90s. While many of Haslinger's soundtracks contain the type of dramatic pomposity necessary for big-budget Hollywood epics, his music for Halt and Catch Fire is much closer to sounding like a good Tangerine Dream album. In fact, it's actually much better than most of the albums he recorded with that band, which he was part of during the second half of the '80s. There are no cheesy guitar solos or smooth jazz saxophone here, just simmering Berlin-school electronics and spacy yet suspenseful ambiance. A few moments, such as "First Day on the Job," feature pulsating trance beats similar to aspects of his '90s solo works, but without the industrial heaviness or ethnic music influences. Most of the tracks are around a minute or less, seeming like quick cuts into the action or brief immersions into a specific mood, but "It Speaks" gets four minutes to percolate and expand. "Reverse Engineering" starts out with calm, rippling arpeggios for the first minute, then ends up blooming into a brief, quasi-psychedelic part which fades out way too quickly. "Western Arrivals" is the closest the album gets to sounding like 2010s-era synthwave, brewing up to a swaying tempo and big yet tidy beats. "The Way In" has a revved-up disco pulse, and it's almost comical that it ends after half-a-minute. Other tracks, like "Joe's Truth," have more of an icy drift to them, and seem suspended in the night sky. Halt and Catch Fire is a refreshingly back-to-basics release from Haslinger which contains enough variation to keep things consistently interesting, and thankfully avoids getting too dramatic. ~ Paul Simpson
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