There are apparently two rules for the music in a motion-picture trailer: make it sound as rousing as possible, and if you can make it sound like Carl Orff’s O Fortuna, so much the better.
Music for trailers, it appears, is a whole ‘nother industry from music for film soundtracks, mostly because the score will likely not be completed until after post-production, and by then two, maybe three, trailers will be circulating. There exists a market for this stuff besides Hollywood, and after being swept off my feet by one particular track, composed by Thomas Bergersen for his Two Steps From Hell production-music house, I decided I’d try out a full album of the stuff. In retrospect, I probably should have thought this through a little longer. Eighty minutes of trailer music, perforce, is going to sound like eighty minutes of trailers, less the stentorian voice that says “In a world where…”
Still, Illusions is fascinating because of those limitations: in a couple of minutes, the composer has to create something that will make you want to see whatever film is being promoted. And Bergersen knows his craft: he picks the musical textures, the vocal bits, the heavily echoed percussion, from a crammed-to-the-top bag of tricks, and if once in a while you hear something you think you’ve heard before, well, that, too, is part of the craft. (“Age of Gods” is the obligatory O Fortuna variation.) I’m not sure you want to drive to Dallas with these nineteen tracks as accompaniment: you’ll likely have aggravated your hypertension long before you reach the Red River. But as proof of concept — Two Steps from Hell offers a 37-track version to producers, to show you they mean business — it’s remarkably successful.