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Thursday, January 19, 2006

CD REVIEWS - Firefly and Effects

Music by Greg Edmondson
Varese Sarabande VSD-6699 (E.U.)
25 Tracks 60:28 mins

I have never actually heard of composer Greg Edmondson, nor the short-lived sci-fi series his music was written for, but apparently it was created by Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Joss Whedon, who also wrote the theme song, a country music-tinged song, performed by Sonny Rhodes. The show underwent something of a revival recently in the form of a feature film version, Serenity which, unfortunately for Edmondson, was scored by David Newman (also available on Varese Sarabande).
Whilst there was nothing wrong with Newman's efforts, on the strength of this, it would perhaps have been more interesting if Edmondson had been given a go.
Firefly's score is certainly not your usual sci-fi effort - not orchestral and not entirely electronic, although synths and samples are used here, along with plenty of percussion, but it's the small band of musicians employed, including the composer himself, that really shine, with particularly noteworthy solos for piano, guitar and violin. Stylistically, it's a mix of west meets east, with tracks that could easily fit into a traditional western movie and more ethnic, Indian and Asian-styled music. Just about every mood is covered in one way or another within the score, and eight bonus tracks are included (though why they are listed as such is a mystery), including the Celtic-styled River's Dance and a very nice violin & piano theme for Inside the Tam House.
I'm pleased Varese Sarabande have released this disc, as Edmondson deserves recognition for his efforts and will hopefully benefit from the attention, as I'd certainly like to hear more from him in the future.

Music by John Harrison
La-La land Records LLLCD 1040(U.S.)
22 Tracks 40:25 mins

La- la Land Records continues its association with '70s composer John Harrison, releasing his score for the 1978 thriller Effects, which was made entirely in Pittsburgh, with local talent and local money, by three friends, one of whom, Harrison, owned a piano, which was how he got started in film scoring on this project. As such, Harrison was able to try out a few things, and also to enlist some of his musician friends to contribute. The results are interesting, if not entirely engaging. It's basically synths-based, with a flowing keyboards main theme, a somewhat disturbed keyboard variation, a lilting flute-lead love theme and some repetitive threatening keyboards and guitars for the various chases and murders. There is also an inventive synthesised vocal effect, which makes a few appearances, after initially opening the score.
'70s-styled source music, both instrumental and vocal, the latter featuring the talents of Ron "Byrd" Foster, plus a quirky bonus track, UBU (after Satie) round out the disc.
The accompanying booklet features a note from the composer, from which the above info is taken, plus pictures from in front and behind the camera.


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