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Sunday, May 03, 2009


Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Music by Shirley Walker
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1089 (US)
20 Tracks 62:05 mins

Having recently released a splendid double album of the much sought after music from the Batman animated series of the '90s, La-La Land Records has now followed this up by releasing a greatly expanded limited edition album of Shirley Walker's acclaimed music for the spin-off feature Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, which almost doubles the playing length of the original album, brought out at the time of the film's release, and includes eight previously unreleased tracks, several extended tracks, and an alternate version of the main theme. I was never that keen on the original album which somehow didn't do the score justice. This new version, however, is a revelation.
Walker was given a remarkably large budget for such a project and, although she had worked wonders with smaller forces on the series, this allowed her to employ a larger orchestra and supplement it with a choir. In addition, she was given the time to really come up with "the goods."
The "Main Title" music, here expanded from that of the first album to over 5 minutes playing time, opens with the main theme Walker composed for the series in its most glorious incarnation, complete with a Capella choral (the choir actually chant the names of orchestrators Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion and Peter Tomashek sung backwards), which gives way to a mix of dark action and suspense, complete with ghostly synth representing the Phantasm. "The Promise" follows, with a subdued variation on the main theme, featuring female choir. Another expanded cue, "Ski Mask Vigilante" features plenty of slam-dunk action, with an all-conquering dark march at its core. By complete contrast, the all-too brief "Fancy Footwork," starts light and happy, with a Capella female choir ending the cue. "Phantasm's Graveyard Murder" re-acquaints us with the eerie Phantasm theme, which takes on menacing proportions as the action unfolds. The next cue combines three short sequences, mostly mysterious, but with big moments for the Batman theme. "First Love" follows, and brings some welcome light and gentleness to proceedings. It's back to the action for the most part in the cue that follows, with the choir returning in angelic mode at times for the lengthy "Birth of Batman," which covers several short scenes in sequence and reintroduces both the love theme and the main theme, gloriously, at the end.
"The Joker's Big Entrance" sees one of Batman's oldest foes join the fray, heralded by appropriately circusy music, and then concerto-like piano, before the cue takes on a much darker, threatening feel. "The Big Chase" follows and, after variations on the love theme, Phantasm's theme and of course the Batman theme, its action all the way, with a tremendous choral climax. The choir continues into the next track, "Nowhere to Run," but soon gives way to darker doings; the choir returning mournfully at its close. A lovely treatment of the love theme, for soaring strings and bells follows in "A Plea for Help." Four short scenes combine for the next cue, with variations on the Joker's music featuring, especially the concerto-like piano, amongst darker, threatening sounds. More Heavenly choir introduces "Andrea Remembers/True Identity," but the Phantasm's theme takes over, amid some powerful action writing, which continues for the most part, amidst suspenseful passages, in the big climactic showdown "Phantasm and the Joker Fight," with great, dramatic variations on the circusy Joker music and the Phantasm theme, with a powerful choral conclusion.
The score concludes with "Batman's Destiny," opening with the love theme, which soars at first, then turns wistful, before the Batman theme brings proceedings to a satisfying close. The End Title was unfortunately given over to a song, performed by singer/actress Tia Carrere, which is included here, before two bonus tracks, starting with Walker's alternate version of the End Title, which presents her Batman theme in its full orchestral/choral glory; and then a source music cue, the triumphant choral song "Welcome to the Future," heard when Bruce and Andrea visit the World's Fair.
Accompanying the disc is the usual high quality booklet, with artwork from the film, plus Randall D. Larson's splendid guide to the film and its music, including a cue-by-cue guide.
With just 300 copies of this album up for grabs, you'd best hurry along to, where you can listen to samples and order your copy.


Blogger simonizer said...

that's 3000 not 300 copies available... but still worth purchasing!

10:46 PM  

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