Planet Of The Apes – music by Jerry Goldsmith

Planet Of The ApesSo much has been written down through the years about the influential career milestone that was Jerry Goldsmith‘s score for Planet Of The Apes that I’ve resisted reviewing it for a long time. It’s well known that it’s an unsettling, unconventional listening experience, with or without the movie. What is there to add to that?

The funny thing, however, is in giving it a fresh listen and finding that a lot of it is actually in a familiar orchestral vein. In some ways, it’s the exact opposite of Goldsmith’s later score to 1976‘s Logan’s Run, which starts out synthetic and becomes lushly orchestral only when the characters leave their artificially constructed, computer-regulated environment. Planet Of The Apes starts out aboard a futuristic spacecraft, familiar ground for many a science fiction flick, but then both the movie and the music ditch those familiar trappings for a desperate, primitive quest for survival.

Frequently, this is accomplished with a wall of percussion that, up until this point, viewers and listeners just didn’t expect to hear next to an orchestra. But it really isn’t until “The Search Continues” that Goldsmith pushes the music into a space where it’s barely recognizable to our ears as music. Using some novel instrumental effects, he creates the disconcerting audio equivalent of chittering apes. “The Hunt” uses the call of a primitive horn to raise the tension as Taylor (Charlton Heston) tries to lead a colony of humans to freedom.

Goldsmith eschews some obvious avenues for more traditional scoring at other points too – the short cue “A New Mate” is anything but sexy; instead it’s uneasy, as the apes prod him and a primitive human woman together. “The Revelation” plays up Taylor’s horror at discovering what’s happened to his surviving shipmate.

“The Trial” again uses existing instrumentation in unconventional ways to play out the parody of the Scopes monkey trial in which Taylor is railroaded and fast-tracked for execution simply because of what he represents. After that, the score is surprisingly low-key, seeming to rumble toward what seems like either an inevitable grim fate or a daring escape… only to culminate, like the movie, in both at the same time.

Rounding things off is a 16-minute suite of music from Goldsmith’s only follow-up in the Apes film series, Escape From The Planet Of The Apes, which presents a nice “highlight reel” of that movie’s music, which was all the more surprising for not following in the footsteps of what Goldsmith created for the first movie. (Varese would later release the entire Escape score on its own as a limited edition in 2009.)

Jerry Goldsmith did accomplish some amazing sounds with Planet Of The Apes, but perhaps even more significantly, he laid the groundwork for the use of unconventional percussion in film scoring to signify the otherworldly and the uninviting. 4 out of 4The percussion lexicon he all but created here led to such things as the Sand People music in Star Wars, Bear McCreary‘s wall of eastern percussion throughout the TV remake of Battlestar Galactica, and many, many others. The shadow cast by the music of Planet Of The Apes looms large over many familiar future scores in the same genre. Jerry Goldsmith just happened to get there first.

Order this CD

  1. 20th Century Fox Fanfare (0:15)
  2. Main Title (2:12)
  3. Crash Landing (6:39)
  4. The Searchers (2:26)
  5. The Search Continues (4:57)
  6. The Clothes Snatchers (3:09)
  7. The Hunt (5:10)
  8. A New Mate (1:05)
  9. The Revelation (3:22)
  10. No Escape (5:40)
  11. The Trial (1:45)
  12. New Identity (2:26)
  13. A Bid For Freedom (2:38)
  14. The Forbidden Zone (3:23)
  15. The Intruders (1:10)
  16. The Cave (1:20)
  17. The Revelation (Part II) (3:25)
  18. Suite: Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (16:27)

Released by: Varese Sarabande / 20th Century Fox Film Scores
Release date: 1997
Total running time: 67:29

The Peter Br̦tzmann Octet РThe Complete Machine Gun Sessions

Peter Brötzmann Octet - The Complete Machine Gun SessionsThere are three different types of people who will listen to this album. The first person will plug their ears after 10 seconds and turn it off. The second person will continue listening, not out of the respect to the music, but out of morbid curiosity: “Is this a joke? When does the music start?” The third person will listen to the album, listen to it again, and keep on listening. Digging deeper with every nuance of Brötzmann’s music, the listener will find himself faced with the unknown derived from familiarity. It is harsh, brutal and unforgiving — but also captivating and mesmerizing.

As the story goes, three things in particular make this album unique. First, Brötzmann employs an octet for the recording of this album. While octets in jazz are not new, they are uncommon (7 years later, Ornette Coleman used an octet for the recording of his album Free Jazz, but he split it up into two quartets who played simultaneously rather than eight musicians playing all at once). The second thing is that they recorded the album not in a studio but rather at a nightclub in Germany, which provided poor acoustics. This worked in Brötzmann’s favor, however, as it added to the “dense”-ness of the album. The third thing that is unique about the record is the music itself.

Yes, it is chaoctic. Brötzmann and Co. play their instruments to the breaking point, with blasts of drums piercing the wails of saxophones and basses. Yes, it is dissonant. There seems to be no trace of melody. In fact, the only time a semblance of song structure creeps in is about 15 minutes into the title track, but the walls of noise soon overtake it. Nevertheless, this is not music that is made simply to be listened to a couple times. It’s something to reflect; examine. It is music that has to be felt.

This new 2007 remaster by Atavistic includes the original LP, and adds two more alternate takes from the same session. There is also a live version of the title track performed two months prior to the studio sessions at the Frankfurt Jazz Festival in 1968. The original LP tracks are great by themselves, but the added material really adds more to the album. The live version in particular is sensational.

Overall, it is a simply astounding piece of work, and one that has few peers in the music archives.

4 out of 4

Order this CD

  1. Machine Gun (17:19)
  2. Responsible/For Jan Van De Ven (8:20)
  3. Music for Han Bennink (11:29)
  4. Machine Gun (Second Take) (15:01)
  5. Responsible/For Jan Van De Ven (First Take) (10:08)
  6. Machine Gun (Live) (17:40)

Released by: Atavistic
Release date: 1968 (re-released 2007)
Total running time: 79:53

Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-VidaIt’s become one of the most recognizable rock riffs in modern history. The “dun-dun-da-da-dun-dun” is known the world over for its melody and heaviness. Although Iron Butterfly may be considered a ’60s one-hit-wonder, their influence and musical stylings paved the way for today’s heavy metal bands. But many people don’t even realize that there was an entire album to go with that one song.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, the album, was released in 1968. Most of the music follows the titular track in terms of composition: Heavy, distorted guitars, clear drumming, and intricate organ melodies. The album kicks off with “Most Anything You Want”, a song which combines all of the aforementioned elements into a moderate rocker. “Flowers And Beads” probably could have been a hit had it been recorded by a band like The Monkees; a “light” (comparatively) tale about love. “My Mirage” is a moody piece set to a lead keyboard theme. “Termination” is another of the signature “hard” songs that Iron Butterfly was known for, and includes a good helping of overdrive. “Are You Happy” is another recording that prominently features the keyboards, and alternately sounds like Jimi Hendrix jamming with Emerson, Lake And Palmer.

But then there’s the track itself: “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”. And for those who haven’t heard the full, 17-minute version, it’s a beauty. It also contains an honest-to-God 2 1/2 minute drum solo (which nobody really does anymore, and certainly not for that long!). As a drummer myself, I found it very refreshing. Of course, after the solo, the guitars and keyboards kick back in to perform the now famous chorus and verse one more time.

3 out of 4The Deluxe Edition of this album released on CD contains two more versions of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”: another lengthy live version, and the much shorter single edit. Although it’s a nice way to fill out the remaining space, they certainly aren’t needed, and one wonders if other selections could have been chosen instead for the bonus material. Nevertheless, if you are a fan of rock music, psychedelia, or just someone who is interested in the origins of music history itself, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is not a bad choice to make.

Order this CD

  1. Most Anything You Want (3:48)
  2. Flowers And Beads (3:09)
  3. My Mirage (4:54)
  4. Termination (2:52)
  5. Are You Happy? (4:30)
  6. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (17:07)
  7. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Live) (18:52)
  8. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Single Edit) (2:54)

Released by: Atlantic
Release date: 1968 (re-released on CD in 1995)
Total running time: 58:10