Score Season #27
Below are more soundtrack reviews of recent and archival releases.
RoboCop (Basil Poledouris, 1987) **** The meat and potatoes behind RoboCop must be those fleeting moments where spectacle and emotion mesh. Composer Basil Poledouris unleashes a battery of percussion, synthesizers, brass, woodwinds, strings and unusual atmospherics. Highlights such as “Van Chase,” “Drive Montage,” “Robo & Ed 209 Fight” and “Looking for Me” ignite from the speaker system into your collective unconscious. RoboCop lives!
The Black Hole (John Barry, 1979) * Only a poem this time:
The Black Hole destined to be reported.
My hopes were rather distorted.
With a reputation this high,
I can only sigh.
Known for his good taste
John Barry’s theme was a waste.
Although “The Door Opens” proved fair
Not much else from this affair.
The Eiger Sanction (John Williams, 1975) **** Just a poem:
The same year Jaws made a splash
Williams took the Eiger dash.
Unlike most in his repertoire
Unconcerned by the bourgeois.
Moody and romantic
Themes transcend the pedantic.
Pleasantly surprised by what I heard
Let loose this independent bird.
Jennifer 8 (Maurice Jarre, 1992) A rejected score can be many things: novelty, monstrosity or curiosity. Guess where this poem falls…
For such immaculate poise
Maurice Jarre made white noise.
A haunted house might contain
Jennifer 8, so mundane.
K20: Legend of the Mask (Naoki Sato, 2008) **** A poem:
A dashing hero shall strike.
This music you might like.
K20: Legend of the Mask
In heroic light, we bask.
The Legion of No Return (Michele Lacerenza, 1969) Another poem:
Aiming for a kill
This one doesn’t fit the bill.
Behold the stolen tap.
Clearly they needed a map.
Rubbish in all shapes and sizes
Whether the sun falls or rises.
Done out of spite?
The music remains trite.
THX 1138 (Lalo Schifrin, 1971) **** A sober and challenging work, Lalo Schifrin’s THX 1138 belongs to a particular mind-set: elegy. Light has escaped the narrative, while only shades of darkness operate without restraint. Elegantly composed, the woodwinds in “Be Happy/LUH/Society Montage” are coloured by oppression, even despondency. The degree to which listeners embrace this music might depend upon patience. There’s little release, except for the optimistic source cues. These include the more traditional jazz inflections found in Schifrin’s canon. Meanwhile, “Loneliness Sequence” packs the air with suspense, rarely allowing a breath to escape. Emotions are laid bare, subject to alien conditioning. For every sweet note, there’s a consequence; the harsh tone forever imprinting its lost cadences upon the audience. Like his later work for the Planet of the Apes television series, Schifrin applies creativity to every moment behind THX 1138. Admittedly, I haven’t discovered all of its secrets. Rest assured, many treasures await.
U-571 (Richard Marvin, 2000) **** Some flag-waving aside, Richard Marvin’s U-571 succeeds due to the rationale: make it big, make it emotional. Despite an album presentation which clashes with the running order of the film, only the suspenseful cues at the end (“Searching Below,” “Opening/U-571 Attacks,” “U-571 Surfaces” and “Tyler’s Torpedo Plan” put a stopper in the flow.
For one so true
A poem feels due.
Lacking a five-star cluster
Much feels good about this blockbuster.
If I ever felt starving
Put trust in Richard Marvin.
He follows such toil
Rarely going off the boil.
Viking (Dean Valentine, 2016) *** Hostility toward Dean Valentine’s Viking has gradually morphed into genuine appreciation. Although this music has Media Ventures taped into its blood stream, that’s not necessarily a prideful boast. Yes, Valentine’s score has issues. However, getting past the Transformers like “Prologue,” we arrive at “Ambush.” Again, he seems to embrace ideas which seem familiar, while others reach outside the box. Even “Rain” follows a similar code.
Now for a poem:
Rhythm of the dust
Of war, men have lust.
Barbarian heart I seek
Prodding with sharpened beak.
Music struck so fierce
Like a wound we pierce.
Much set on chance
Falling under the lance.
On notes, Valentine did labour
A few mistakes, ever present sabre.
His baton was hatchet
Seriousness prone to ratchet.
Blades of woodwind ghosts
Echoing from nearby coasts.
Voices the ancients are netting
There was much bloodletting.
SCORE OF THE MOMENT
Captain Nemo and the Underwater City (Angela Morley, 1969) ***** Breaking the waves with a poem:
The melody is haunting
From a figure so enchanting.
“To Sea/Fish Farm/Shark Fight” was a cracker.
Consider me a new backer.
From the sea, living elements culled.
Our senses rarely dulled.
There’s mystery to the aquatic
Little danger adopting the geriatric.
One as thrill-seeking as Nemo
Probably inspired men like Remo.
Such a positive search
Cannot leave us in the lurch.
Harp glissandi glistening like bubbles
We are free from troubles.
A view near the beach
Bright blue and peach.