© Copyrighted material: You must own the Empire Strikes Back original motion picture soundtrack Special Edition if you mean to keep for yourselves a copy of the entire project presented here. If you own any other releases of this score, then you may select and keep for yourselves the material in common from the actual set.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK score
- Composer / Conductor: John Williams
- Performer: the London Symphony Orchestra
- Project: multiple sources remixing, restoration and remastering.
- Sources: RSO/PolyGram (LP & CD), Arista Anthology, RCA Special Edition.
- Set: 2CD (complete score) + 1 CD (original album reconstructed and completed) + art covers, 50 pages booklet with liner notes, inside arts.
- Format: Lossless Flac audio
(See post 2 for details)
The first aim of the unofficial Audiophile Edition is to bring back the orchestral depht and the sense of detail the original soundtrack used to show in the past, what was terribly missing since the first CD issue of the Empire score in 1985.
A careful comparison and selection of the tracks from each recording after equalization tests have led to give preference to the unappreciated but potentially rich RSO/PolyGram first CD release, John Neal's remixes for the original album remaining still today the most lavish and powerful rendition of the London Symphony Orchestra's performance. The well preserved and superior dynamic range hidden in this release awaited only a few to come back to life...
Still, the digital transfers from the Anthology were to be largely sourced. These somehow crude sounding downmixed versions of the sessions tapes as prepared by Eric Tomlinson offer the basic material for remixing and arrangements with the RSO tracks, as for being restored with their counterparts from the Special Edition. For completion, almost all the tracks sourced from the latter fortunately provide the Tomlinson mixes too rather than new remixes. They likely belong to the same series of transfers Bill Wolford made in 1993 for the box set, and it is assumed most of these were featured on the never issued 5th disc. In the end, only 1 or 2 minutes from the 1997 remixes have found a place here, either to restore missing parts or exceptionally by choice.
By chance and for final improvement, high quality transfers from the LP's have been made especially available. Not to be used in their pure form excepted occasionally because of cracklings and the too deep vinyl sound, they found to be used through a special overdubbing as layers, allowing to imprint the incredible dynamic range of the RSO LP's to the sessions mixes, to borrow the many missing instruments developed in the first, such as percussions or flutes for instances to complete the latter, as to increase their potential for equalization.
- Observations and operating ways
The overall restoration of the Empire recordings involved first to manage the background noise hearable along the score. The noticeable edited segments of each track were then to be reequalized and rebalanced in order to give their matching sound to the reconstructed cues. This means no special digital processings of any kind were to be used.
The digital transfers featured by the Anthology or the SE are more or less distorted with over-modulation and some have been spotted for having huge clippings located on one channel (often the right), wrongly and abusively compensated with loud volume. "Darth Vader's Trap" is one of the best exemple of that. Such cues won a lot to have the balance restored, so to say as if no clipping occured, leaving a ghost where some frequencies are missing while allowing to retrieve the least corrupted channel that was unfairly lower before. Worth is to mention sensitivity prevailed over power for these tracks that have already lost a lot of their sharpness in the process. Many tracks from the original album equally deserved special cares and for most important restoration,"The Rebel Fleet / End Title" revisits all the wrong cuts, balance and EQ's on more than a dozen of sessions takes to restitute the whole cue in an integrity unmatched before.
The SE has been used to restore the Anthology (dropouts and buzzes) and vice versa (for clean endings of the tracks notably) depending on the selection, also some of the RSO tracks from the original album being incomplete, both the SE and Anthology were welcome to supply the missing parts. Another particularity has been watched on the 1993 Anthology release to synchronize the sources with success: the audio waveform of almost every tracks was inverted compared to the two other releases, and also, two tracks had their stereo channels swapped.
Next to that, the LP's use has generated the most creative part of the remixing, demanding to find a perfect synchronization with the sessions mixes: the LP's play faster, and at different proportions for each track, or even between the different segments of a track. Only "Hyperspace" running about 4 minutes has been layered in one piece, when "The Magic Tree" for instance has been reedited in five or six parts of slightly different speeds, exceptionally featuring one alternate time placed instrument in its beginning. Pitch and speed restorations on rare SE parts, on a few RSO (CD) and on all the LP's tracks, used the Anthology as main reference... The rich complementarity of the various releases has been entirely explored.
To achieve the project, the whole remastering of the score has been approached with the constant care and thought to give back the touch, the breath and the dynamic of the London Symphony Orchestra's performance, such as we use to remind and still expect from such recordings.
Not to be The perfect restitution of the Empire Strikes Back score, I believe the virtual Audiophile Edition may remain the most authentic rendition of it until hopefully LucasFilm or the 20th Century Fox regard the audience's demand for quality.
"A picture is stronger than a thousand words. A sound is stronger than a thousand pictures."...
(... I wanted to share a maximum of samples, then many tracks have been cut in order to avoid any imperial entanglements! I haven' t managed the different volumes between the sources, then beware).
RSO/PolyGram CD sourced tracks comparisons:
The Battle In The Snow AE vs. RSO
The Rebel Fleet/End Title AE (cd2&cd3 versions) vs. RSO & Antho
The Duel AE vs. RSO
The Imperial March AE vs. Antho & SE
link: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=51MRQ5MX (please, copy & paste rather than direct clicking...)
Comment: to notice mostly next to the EQ's, the new balance corrections on "The Rebel Fleet/End Title" ( in twelve parts, see here), the matching sound between "The Duel" segments, and for those who don't know my previous work you'll enjoy the restored cut on "Battle In The Snow" (at 24sec on the sample).
SE sourced tracks comparisons (Tomlinson mixes only):
Aboard The Executor AE vs. SE
Drawing The Battle Lines AE vs. SE & Antho (half Anthology sourced)
Imperial Starfleet Deployed (not final) AE vs. SE
Betrayal (not final) AE vs. SE
Deal with the Dark Lord (not final) AE vs. SE
Comment: when "Aboard The Executor" is the best track (and new) findable on the SE, "Betrayal" and "Deal with the Dark Lord" are a real nightmare to work on, and the worsts on my set. They surely lack a bit of clarity but the highs are too distorted (and the bass resonance too strong) to allow more... However I may try again. There's no reason for I post only the best tracks, so here they are, with a light balance correction that makes the space a little more comprehensible though. Hope you'll like the new version of "Drawing the Battle Lines", here in full track.
Anthology sourced tracks confrontation:
Crash Landing AE vs. Antho
Attack Position AE vs. SE & Antho
The Rebels Escape AE vs. RSO(LP), Antho & SE (the latter for the fun)
Comment: You'll find here notably all the evolution of the restoration for the track "The Rebels Escape". Actually it seems that even the RSO LP is beaten by the AE... from an overall point of view.
More Samples: CD3, 15 MINUTES OVERVIEW
Here are excerpts from 18 of the 20 tracks from the restored and reconstructed original RSO album (CD3).
This will give you more than an idea of what I use to call "sound" and how well the whole fits together...
link: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=U5XQMWUU (please copy & paste the url rather than direct click)
... Hope you'll enjoy !
Note: there's a artcover "work in progress" topic for the current project here.
ESB AUDIOPHILE EDITION
The EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Score: "All-Sourced" Restoration & Sonic Achievement.