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Friday, December 02, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Two from Varese Sarabande

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D
Music by Robert Rodriguez, John Debney and Graeme Revell
Varese Sarabande VSD-6658 (EU)
22 Tracks 43:37 mins

Whilst I am not too keen on synths and samples scores, I must admit that this, yet another collaboration by director/composer Rodriguez and his two co-composers is great fun.
Based on a story by the director's young son, this sci-fi for kids came and went barely noticed, so I can't say whether it is as fun as the score, but the three composers came up with a couple of linked main themes that get plenty of workouts. The Shark Boy begins somewhat fairytale-like with celeste, harp and kids' choir and then becomes more weighty as the synths enter with a vengeance. The Lava Girl is quite memorable, with Rodriguez's sister Rebecca providing the wordless vocal. Talk about a family affair! But it doesn't end there, as the jaunty little The LaLas is written by Bob Weinstein, the head of Dimension Films' daughter Nicole.
Some cues are purely by the individual composers, but others are collaborations between Rodriguez and Debney. Revell doesn't appear to collaborate, but both he and Debney make use of the director's themes.
There is all you would expect from a score for this kind of sci-fi/fantasy, with plenty of exciting action, a good deal of menace, some pretty romance and some tragedy as well. It all ends up with the rock song, composed by Rodriguez, SharkBoy and LavaGirl by the LavaGirls (sister Rebecca and a 13-year-old from Austin, Texas). I've barely scratched the surface here and thankfully, the whole story of the music's evolution is recounted by Rodriguez in the accompanying booklet.

The Fog
Music by Graeme Revell
Varese Sarabande VSD-6697
19 Tracks 40:40 mins

The busy Revell is also responsible for the music to the recent remake of John Carpenter's classic ghost story and has come up with a truly chilling listening experience, which, though short on melody, has to be admired for its effectiveness at creating a feeling of terror and dread.
A mix of live players and plenty of electronics, hearing it one can just imagine the dense fog rolling in, bringing grisly death from the vengeful phantom pirates. A somewhat cliched lonely piano figure struggles to be heard amongst all the thick, dissonant electronics and furious, often string and percussion-lead savagery. Not best listened to at bedtime!


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