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Monday, September 08, 2008


Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Music by Kevin Kiner
Sony Classical 88697-35616-2 (US)
32 Tracks 67:37 mins

For a good while now we've been hearing that George Lucas would be bringin us yet more Star Wars, in the form of an animated TV series. Well, as a prelude to the series, which is due to debut in the States this Autumn, comes a feature-length introduction, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a computer generated adventure, which has the look of a video game, and which reviews generally say is aimed at the audience and especially the very young. All the familiar characters from the three prequel films return in animated form, though not many of the original actors are involved in voicing the characters.
Although the score quotes John Williams' original Star Wars themes and motifs, the great man didn't compose it, but instead Kevin Kiner got the job. A man more used to lower music budgets, having worked largely in TV and on smaller films, here he found himself conducting the 90-piece City of Prague Orchestra, which do a creditable job.
Though, in addition to the themes, familiar Williams flourishes enhance the score, Kiner has composed largely his own original music, which includes a number of ethnic-styled scene-setting cues, as well as injections of the same in some of the dramatic scoring, written at Lucas' suggestion, featuring sounds more readily associated with Asia, The Middle East and South America,along of course with plenty of exciting and adventurous action scoring.
The album does not get off to the greatest start, sounding as if the recordist just missed the opening downbeat and fans of the classic SW film may not like the fact that it is delivered in a slightly different tempo, accompanied by furious drumming. The theme dissolves into some big and relentless scoring and is followed by a grand and familiar march for "Admiral Yularen."
I have to say that, though you might be disappointed that Williams did not compose the score, there is still plenty to enjoy in this score and, for the most part, it does have a creditably authentic sound to it, with some particularly enjoyable action cues, like "Battle of Christophsis," with its relentless, Egyptian-styled orchestral/choral march, which is to crop up in subsequent tracks. "Landing on Teth" boasts a bold and heroic opening; with more heroics following in "Destroying the Shield," with the latter having a bombastic theme of its own. More excitement can be found in tracks like "Jedi Don't Run!," "Ziro Surrounded," "Scaling the Cliff," and "Rough Landing."
However, the rock guitars that accompany "Obi-Wan To The Rescue," and also feature in "Battle of Teth" and "Courtyard Fight" are a definite mis-step, which will have fans shaking their heads. Think Iron Man and you'll have an idea what to expect.
Mystic voices accompany "The Jedi Council," with "General Loathsom Defeated" offering some passionate string writing, suggestive in part of the Force Theme, which does eventually appear in full at the end of "Fight to the End."
In the traditions of Williams' "Cantina Band," Kiner has also composed brief source cues for "Jabba's Chamber Dance," "Ziro's Nightclub Band" and "Seedy City Swing."
Kiner's new arrangement of the SW theme returns in fuller form over the "End Credits."
Although some of the cues are quite brief, the tracks flow almost seemlessly at times, making for a satisfying listening experience, with just the ethnic scene-setting and source cues disturbing the flow somewhat.
The disc insert features plenty of colour stills from the film, music credits, and unfolds into a poster for your wall, if you are so inclined.
I believe Kiner will be composer for the series as well, though I should imagine will have smaller resources to work with, but it will be interesting to hear the result. In the meantime, if you fancy a largely full-blooded orchestral/choral score, this should adequately fit the bill.


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