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Fringe: Season 5 by Chris Tilton (Review)

posted Jun 29, 2013, 4:25 PM by Koray Savas   [ updated Jul 15, 2013, 4:45 PM ]

Fringe is a show that did not start off strong, musically and narratively. Much like the stories and characters, the music was not a cohesive whole to begin with. That's not to say that the score lacked great writing, which it didn't, it was simply the inconsistent structure and style that naturally came with having three composers. Michael Giacchino spearheaded the musical tone and tossed in a couple themes with it, but left the episodic scoring duties to collaborators Chad Seiter and Chris Tilton. The former of which did not ultimately return for the second season. Tilton took the helm and guided these characters through their fringe-cidents and alternate lives for the rest of the series and sends us off with Season 5.

Season 5 features a much more refined and heavy tone than anything that came before it. The narrative and these characters are reaching their climax and the world of Fringe has become much less bright in the process. The action material on album is sparse and low-key. The music propels the narrative in a much darker way than it has previously, with a greater focus on rhythmic propulsion over grander melodic phrases. Hear "Orifical Intelligence" or "Dust In The Windmark." Due to its darker nature, Season 5 is a much tougher album to get through. The music can meander at times and fail to engage; cues like "The Human Kind" and "The Burning Book" serve the atmospheric quality that Fringe has always embodied, but that has consistently been my least favorite aspect of the show's musical palette. From those aforementioned cues through "Of Cows And Men," the album drags in terms of a listening experience. Aside from the burst of energy of "Terror Incognito" this portion can more or less be bypassed. Things pick up for the send off and Tilton really nails it. "Biological War Farewell" and "The Resetting Son" are the album highlights, with the former being an excellently structured piece that runs close to 9 minutes. Tilton builds up the tension with ease, moving from a very quiet and unsettling soundscape that rises and rises until it bursts into a tamed flurry of rhythm and melody. It's one of the series' best tracks, action or otherwise, and when the theme kicks in roughly 6 minutes in, hairs immediately stand on end. With the latter, Tilton seems to so effortlessly punctuate the profound sadness and beauty inherent in the music. It is simple yet extremely effective, and, in a good way, reminds me of some moments from Giacchino's LOST. A truly gorgeous piece of music. "Finale End Credits" functions as the denouement and keeps the emotions the music evoked beforehand in check without disrupting the mood.

All in all, Fringe is a show with a very special type of sound. Chris Tilton managed to turn the series into his own through his themes and music, and Season 5 is no different. While lackluster at times, the music always functions with the narrative in mind; and with the final season, Tilton does a remarkable job of keeping that established sound from Season 1 while morphing it into something dark and brooding yet hopeful and beautiful.