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Saturday, July 31, 2010


Office Space/Idiocracy
Music by John Frizzell/Music by Theodore Shapiro
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1134 (US)
42 Tracks 65:09 mins

The third Theodore Shapiro score I have for you is again for a comedy, but not a new film this time. Instead, La-La Land Records have released an album pairing two scores for satirical comedies, both written and directed by Mike Judge.
The Shapiro score is for 2006's Idiocracy, but the disc opens with John Frizzell's brief score (just over 20 minutes) for 1999's Office Space. With a total of 16 tracks, you can imagine that most of them are quite brief, with little room for thematic development. Track two is the longest and most enjoyable track, as it features an easy, laid-back arrangement of the standard "Beautiful Dreamer, with yodelling wordless vocalist, who returns for the Hawaiian styled "Peter Ignores Lumbergh," which is later reprised in the "End Credits." There is also a rather nice romantic theme for guitars that crops up in a couple of tracks, but unfortunately these are quite brief. At times, there's a cool vibe to the score, somewhat echoing the kind of scoring employed by the likes of Lalo Schifrin in thrillers of the early '70s; at others Frizzell plays more for laughs, with sneaky plucked strings often a feature.
Theodore Shapiro's music for Idiocracy is much different from those provided for the two new comedies I reviewed here recently. This time he follows the old Elmer Bernstein style of mostly playing against the comedy, providing a serious score for a large orchestra, initially martial-styled, with a noble theme introduced in "History of Man Part2," getting things off to a good start. There's action and tension in "Garbage Avalanche," and then the music goes off in a totally different direction, starting with the eerie "Joe Wakes Up/Joe Wanders/March 3, 2505/Future Shock," which echoes the late Jerry Goldsmith's Planet of the Apes, an approach suggested by the composer for a change, and not a result of his being asked by the powers that be to come up with similar music. Continuing in the tension, menace and action of subsequent tracks like "Joe's Arrest/Convicted," the Goldsmith trademarks are there for all to enjoy, not just from Planet of the Apes, but from his whole canon. It all makes for a fine homage to the great man.
In between, Shapiro does manage to come up with some of his own original touches, not least a gentle love theme that's heard all too briefly, and not all the exciting action material is Goldsmithian by any means, and includes a menacing theme for the villainous "Beef Supreme."
The only misfire in the score is the rock element that creeps in for a couple of tracks, but these are easily skipped. "President Joe Bauers" returns us to the opening nobility, though ending on a quiet, more homespun note.
A couple of handfuls of unused and alternate takes, most of them quite brief, close the album.
All in all, it's a very entertaining listen, especially if you're a Goldsmith fan.
The accompanying booklet is of the usual high quality from the label and features Daniel Schweiger's detailed notes on the films and their music, illustrated with colour stills from both productions.
Limited to just 1200 units, order your copy from, where you can first check out some samples if you wish.


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