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Friday, March 30, 2007

CD Reviews - Meet The Robinsons & The Wrath of God + News from Air Studios

Meet The Robinsons
Music by Danny Elfman & Various Artists
Walt Disney Records 0094638572527 (EU)
18 Tracks (10 score) 52:52 mins

This zany new computer-generated animation has a typically wacky score by Danny Elfman, though boasts an almost lullaby-like main theme, with a the kind of fairytale quality he brought to the music of previous triumphs like Edward Scissorhands.
Although the score has to share the album with songs from the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Rob Thomas, The All-American Rejects (singing a partly composed by Elman song), Jamie Cullum and Jonas Brothers, it is quite generously represented over 10 tracks, which are thankfully all grouped together and not dotted amongst the songs.
The aforementioned main theme is introudced over "The Prologue," which flows into the joyful choral enhanced "To the Future," which contains a fragment of the lyric from the All-American Rejects number.
The succeeding score tracks take us through a variety of moods and styles, as is the composer's wont, from out and out wackiness, to exciting oompha-styled action, some lounge-styled music, reminiscent of Mars Attacks!, plenty of choral awe and sometimes menace, and some conflict involving heroic variations on the main theme, doing battle with a dark march for the villain of the piece. But at the end of the day, one knows things are bound to work out right and so the concluding "Setting Things Right"makes all the right, satisfying winding up noises to provide a happy musical ending.
Don't expect anything new and original here, but if you are a fan of Elfman's more wacky, fantastical and energetic writing, you'll be happy enough.

The Wrath of God
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Film Score Monthly Vol.10 No.2 (US)
23 Tracks 53:29 mins

During the period from about the mid-60s until about the mid-80s, Lalo Schifrin wrote some of the best film scores around. Sadly, few of them ever made it to LP or CD. But now, with the recent revival of music from that period, with several Bill Conti and David Shire (to name but two) scores finally reaching CD, the time is rife for a Schifrin revival also.
FSM lead the way with this release, in fine stereo sound, of the composer's score for the 1972 adventure The Wrath of God, which was a kind of Mexican western, though more modern, with cars and machine guns alongside the traditional horses and Winchesters.
At the heart of Schifrin's score is what is described in the usual excellent cue-by cue guide as a "questing melody," which is always welcome and more often than not in some travelling or action arrangement. We have to be patient though, as it doesn't arrive until track 5, following three happy Latin source cues and the introduction of the film's romantic flute theme in "Chela," a piece that will reach its ultimate development with yearning strings in "I Wish a Lot of Things."
The other key theme in the score is that for the villain Cordona, a real piece of Mexican menace in the finest traditions. Both the main theme and that of Cordona do battle throughout various sequences that follow, including the lengthy penultimate score cue, where the composer also introduces a somewhat rock-driven exciting action motif.
In addition to the aforementioned cue guide, Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall also provide notes on the film and its composer, with the booklet also featuring plenty of colour stills. More classic Schifrin please, gentlemen!

I am not familiar with the 2003 film Westender but the Internet Movie Database has it as the story of an heroic knight, set in a fictional medieval world.
The film's composer is Rob Simonsen and he has a promotional album out of the score, which he's kindly said he will let me have to review for you on his return to the States.
Currently he is to be found at London's Air Studios, where he is assisting Mychael Danna with his score for Surf's Up, a new Sony Pictures Animation feature, for which he also contributed to the additional music.
Nicholas Dodd orchestrated and conducts a 71 piece orchestra in the hall at Air Studios, with some additional instruments being tracked in Studio 1, where the score is being mixed with recordist/mixer Brad Haehnel, assisted by Jake Jackson.
Present at the sessions are the film's Directors Ash Brannon, who performs piano on one cue, and Chris Buck; together with Executive Producer Chris Jenkins.
We can but hope for a score album release and I'm sure Danna's usual publicists Costa Communications will keep me posted on that.
My thanks to Rob for the info and I look forward to covering his Westender album in due course.


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