Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

CD REVIEW - Ercole Al Centro Della Terra

Ercole Al Centro Della Terra
Music by Armando Trovajoli
Digitmovies CDDM072 (Italy)
29 Tracks 64:49 mins

The thing that immediately struck me about the music to this 1961 Mario Bava hybrid of peplum and horror, starring Reg Park, taking over from Steve Reeves in the Hercules role, and Christopher Lee as the Lord of Darkness, was how similar a lot of it is to music familiar to me from the original Star Trek TV series. Trovajoli creates an experimental, otherwordly soundscape, utilising orchestra alone, similar to how the Star Trek composers created their immortal sound - and of course this film predates Star Trek, which begs the question, were they influenced by Trovajoli's music? The film was certainly released in the States, as the poster artwork in the usual colourful accompanying booklet clearly shows, although possibly Trovajoli's score may have been replaced by an American composer as was sometimes the habit. From listening to this, it is hard to believe that they didn't hear the score and weren't duly influenced, as there are striking similiarities.
I have to say that much of the music presented here would be hard to listen to on disc, had it not been for the striking similarities to the Trek music. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a "Trekkie" or "Trekker," as I believe they would like to be known as, but I have heard enough of the music over the years to believe I know what I'm talking about.
The experimental music that dominates this disc is achieved with a mystical combination of such as strings, harp, celeste and what sounds like vibraphone, with a good few crescendos arrived at; whilst the more menacing moments are big and brassy, with rolling piano chords under, and there are also a few fanfares here and there. What little melody there is, is reserved for the brief romantic scenes, often exotic sounding with flute lead - all familiar stuff to Trek fans.
It's not all reminiscent of Star Trek though, and there's an effective churning sound achieved for scenes of conflict late on in the film, and a rather nice viola solo rises up in "Ercole e Deianira."
The score proper concludes with the gloriously triumphant "L'Amore Trionfa," but is followed with a bonus track, the intermission music, discovered with the original master tapes.
Sound is mono but pretty good nonetheless, and the aforementioned accompanying booklet also features a good many colour and black-and-white stills from the film, together with Claudio Fuiano and Tim Lucas' notes on the film and its music.
Trovajoli's music for this film will certainly be more to the taste of horror score fans than peplum followers, as there's very little of the kind of music heard in the Steve Reeves outings. And if you're a fan of the music for the original Star Trek series, this disc is a must-have.


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