I think there are a number of different ways to approach this album. One, you can decide that the original score by Philip Glass is a masterpiece and that it's quality can't be matched. I mean, it is indeed an audacious step to try to walk in Glass' shoes. It's like me, a mere music reviewer who has also written one book, trying to rewrite 'The Karamazov Brothers'. For the album, the expectations would have been high, way higher than for their previous releases.
Two, you can see We Stood Like Kings as the talented individuals they are, having watched the movie and becoming inspired by it. They grabbed their instruments and started composing until an 82 minutes lasting soundtrack appeared. Three, perhaps you have never seen the Koyaanisqatsi movie and never heard the soundtrack. In both cases, this is just an excellent album to add your collection.
Four, you can see this as the follow up to their 2015 album 'USSR 1926'. I think that is the way I prefer to approach this album. Some passages in 'USSR 1926' still quite often appear in my head and quite regularly in my media player so I remember that album very well. 'USA 1982' seamlessly seems to follow its predecessor's example. The music can still be described as Chopin meets Pink Floyd meets Explosions In The Sky, as the band so perfectly describes it.
But. I like 'USA 1982' more than 'USSR 1926'. If I had any problem with the previous album, it might have been the fact that it was often too dramatic, too brushed and too classical. We Stood Like Kings seem to love a well produced album and they're very professional about the whole thing, but in 'USA 1982' I clearly feel the joy of playing this music. There is something euphoric about some of the passages in here.
Others seems more subdued, more minimal than previously, which obviously comes natural if you know the movie. The piano is still a constant but even there I notice a sense of enjoyment over perfection, which I think is a good thing. This quartet loves what they do and I love the way they do it. In all, this is a brilliant album, even if you prefer Philip Glass' original score. Anyway you like to approach this album, it's a highly recommended one, especially for post rock fans.