Thursday, February 18, 2010


The Wolfman (Danny Elfman)

I admit I’m not the biggest score of soundtracks for horror films, except some of the classics such as Jerry Goldsmith’s fantastic score to The Omen. I also haven’t yet heard Kilar’s score to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which is widely considered one of the best horror scores of all time, and a big influence for the one I’m currently talking about. However, I am a big fan of Danny Elfman and his work on Tim Burton’s classic Sleepy Hollow. I don’t know whether I will be watching this new werewolf flick anytime soon or not, but I was definitely eager to hear what Danny would come up with a film so suited to his style of scoring. Like others, I was sorely disappointed when suddenly it was announced back in early November that due to the trouble-laden post production phase of the film’s cuts, Elfman’s score had been chosen to be replaced by a new one by electronica-based composer Paul Haslinger. Although I’m not familiar with Paul’s works, the description of this new score did not sound right to me at all. Thankfully, due to an unnatural turn of events, Elfman’s score was reinstated back in the film in January, and a score CD is due to be released on the 23rd this month by Varese Sarabande. It’s already out on iTunes, which is the version I’m talking about right now.

Elfman whips up a wonderfully dark, delicious and threatening score that is as creepy as Benicio Del Toro’s werewolf makeup in the film. The opening Wolf Suite (split into two tracks), consists of low, uneasily propulsive string ostinatos supported by dark piano chords, before the main “wolf” theme erupts – a supremely creepy cello theme that has “horror” written all over it. The music alternates between highs and lows through great performances by the orchestra, never letting go of that aura of horror and creepiness. There are softer, more solemn moments such as in The Funeral and The Healing Montage, as well as a wonderful string-based montage cue in The Traveling Montage. Danny delivers his classic adrenaline-fueled action music in tracks like Gypsy Massacre and Country Carnage. The album’s dramatic material begins its ascent from the First Transformation track, gradually rising to its climax in The Finale. The furious action music then calms down to reprise the sinister main theme one last time in Wolf Wild #2. The album presentation is excellent, delivering a coherent listening experience of 66 minutes in crisp, clear sound quality. I’m eager to get the physical CD once it’s released in stores here in India.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians – The Lightning Thief (Christophe Beck)

The only work of Beck I liked was his lovely emotional score for the TV series Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. His other works tended to be too contemporary and electronic/synth-based for my tastes. That aside, I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me this score to the new Christopher Columbus movie was by the same man who scored the Pink Panther movies. The score caught me totally by surprise here – a grand, sweepingly epic orchestral score that I’d expect someone like Edward Shearmur or Joel McNeely to write. The main theme is fairly simple and sparingly but aptly used. The highlight here is the lush, rich orchestration and sweeping action/adventure music, the kind I’m ever so partial to. Tracks like The Hydra, Fighting Luke and Mount Olympus are my favourites here, highlights in an album that offers around an hour of pure, magnificent, coherent orchestral goodness. Thumbs up to Mr. Beck for this fun-filled ride, and hope to hear this side of him more often.

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