Planet Of The Apes (newly expanded edition)

Planet Of The Apes (newly expanded edition)The modern world of big-screen reboots and remakes presents a minefield to the music department: how do you create music for a story that’s been done before, without doing the same music that’s been done before? (At least one movie remake, the modern remount of Hitchcock’s Psycho, opted to reuse the original music, albeit a new recording of it.) Matters are made worse when the soundtrack of the original version was a groundbreaking, genre-shaking opus that was practically its own character in the film – such as Jerry Goldsmith’s brutally percussive score from 1968’s Planet Of The Apes. In that respect, the 2001 reboot of Apes had a double burden – the original movie and its music were indelibly ingrained into the minds of genre fans. Top that.

Tim Burton tried to, and as he so often does, he brought frequent musical collaborator Danny Elfman along for the ride. Both had an unenviable task ahead of them. Arguably, the music succeeded better than the movie for which it was designed, and La-La Land has re-released the soundtrack to the 2001 Apes remake in an extravagant form, stretching the movie’s almost wall-to-wall music across three discs covering both the original soundtrack album as released in ’01 (which had a pretty healthy selection of music on it to begin with) as well as the complete score as heard in the film (the material on the single-CD soundtrack release differed significantly from the actual film score in many places).

As I was listening to the movie score, the thought struck me that Elfman – despite his seemingly permanent place on Hollywood’s music A-list – hasn’t scored too many sprawling space sagas. Planet Of The Apes isn’t really a sprawling space saga – its “space” scenes are confined to the movie’s opening minutes – but the music for those scenes is an interesting taste of how Elfman would handle the territory that is so often associated with Williams, Goldsmith, Horner and others more frequently regarded as “sci-fi composers.”

When the action comes jarringly down to Earth, the race is on for the film’s hero to outrun the apes, and for Elfman to do things differently from Jerry Goldsmith. As attached as I am to the original 1968 movie and its soundtrack, I found Elfman’s treatment of similar scenes to be more than satisfactory – in fact, they’re hugely enjoyable purely as a listening experience (they didn’t hurt the movie either, though arguably there were things other than the music that did hurt it). In some regards, it’s not entirely dissimilar from Goldsmith’s score because it doesn’t need to be – it’s not a case of anyone’s ideas being ripped off, it’s a case of both composers bowing to the tribally-rhythmic obvious.

The original single-disc soundtrack has been given fresh coat of remastered paint, and sounds great if you’re still attached to the original tracks and running order. (I still admit to enjoying Paul Oakenfold’s movie-dialogue-heavy “Rule The World Remix” as a guilty pleasure; Oakenfold probably does too, since it helped to raise his Hollywood profile, which now includes his own film scores.) Rounding things out are a selection of “source” cues Elfman concocted for scenes which needed “in universe” background music.

Planet Of The Apes was meant to launch a new generation of 20th Century Fox’s venerable Apes franchise for the 21st century, and its hugely-hyped launch seemed to all but guarantee that. Somewhere between the movie just not being as shocking or interesting as the 1968 original, and the inevitable anti-reboot backlash, it managed to fall between the cracks despite the hype. Elfman’s soundtrack remains possibly the most valid element of the movie – much like the re-release of the music from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (also reissued by La-La Land), it was ripe for reassessment despite being 4 out of 4only a decade old. I felt a little let down by the music from Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, so maybe this re-release could serve to remind the director and producers of the next Apes reboot-sequel-prequel-thingie that Elfman’s still out there – and he definitely knows how to go ape.

Order this CD

    Disc 1: Film Score Part 1

  1. Main Titles (film version) (3:53)
  2. Deep Space Launch / Space Station / Power Outage (2:36)
  3. Thumbs Up / Trouble (5:57)
  4. Pod Escape / New World / The Hunt (4:13)
  5. Ape City (2:13)
  6. A Look / Unloading /Thade’s Inspection / Ari Watches / The Branding (3:44)
  7. Ari Buys a Pet (1:24)
  8. Leo Wants Out / Dental Exam (2:12)
  9. Thade’s Desire (1:35)
  10. The Dirty Deed (1:54)
  11. The Escape (3:39)
  12. Trust / Escape (3:32)
  13. In the Forest /Into the Pond / The Messenger (2:29)
  14. Unused / Thade Gets His Way / Ari Connects (3:49)
  15. The Story (3:00)
  16. Scarecrow Stinger / The Camp / Raid (5:20)
  17. Thade Goes Ape (2:42)
  18. Calima (7:22)
  19. The Army Approaches (3:03)
  20. Thade’s Tent (2:10)
  21. Discovery (5:07)
  22. Preparing for Battle (3:51)
    Disc 2: Film Score Part 2

  1. The Charge (4:44)
  2. The Final Confrontation Landing / Showdown (8:34)
  3. The Aftermath / Thade’s Suite (7:31)
  4. Ape Suite #
  5. 4:59)
  6. Ape Suite #
  7. 2:36)
  8. Rule The Planet Remix (4:09)
  9. Thumbs Up / Trouble (alternate mix) (5:57)
  10. New World / The Hunt (alternate mix) (3:20)
  11. Dental Exam (alternate mix) (1:21)
  12. The Dirty Deed (alternate mix) (1:54)
  13. The Story (alternate mix) (2:59)
  14. Preparing for Battle (alternate) (3:35)
  15. The Final Confrontation (alternate mix) (7:14)
  16. The Aftermath / Thade’s Suite (unedited) (7:32)
  17. Camp Raid (percussion only) (4:08)
  18. Rule The Planet (overlay) (3:01)
  19. Source Music Montage (Band Source, Trendy Source, Jazzy Source, Calliope Source, Rave Source) (2:54)
  20. Dinner Source (1:40)
    Disc 3: Original Soundtrack Album

  1. Main Titles (3:49)
  2. Ape Suite #1 (3:52)
  3. Deep Space Launch (4:35)
  4. The Hunt (4:58)
  5. Branding The Herd (0:48)
  6. The Dirty Deed (2:27)
  7. Escape From Ape City / The Legend (5:57)
  8. Ape Suite #2 (2:42)
  9. Old Flames (2:10)
  10. Thade Goes Ape (2:37)
  11. Preparing For Battle (3:26)
  12. The Battle Begins (5:17)
  13. The Return (7:18)
  14. Main Title Deconstruction (4:22)
  15. Rule The Planet Remix (remixed by Paul Oakenfold) (4:03)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2012
Disc one total running time: 75:57
Disc two total running time: 78:24
Disc three total running time: 58:21

Battle Beyond The Stars / Humanoids From The Deep

Battle Beyond The Stars / Humanoids From The DeepThough the movies themselves have faded into that special pocket of semi-obscure hell reserved for stuff produced by Roger Corman, Battle Beyond The Stars and Humanoids From The Deep hold a special place in the hearts of soundtrack fans as the big-screen debut of a promising new young talent, James Horner. Hired with a mandate to try to duplicate the sound of – ironically – Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture score, Battle is basically the calling card that brought Horner into the Trek fold proper. I know I’ve jumped all over Horner in the past where originality is concerned, but let’s give credit where it’s due and give the guy a break: for this first movie scoring project, he was told to mimic Goldsmith. Say it with me again: Goldsmith. No pressure, eh? And then, on the strength of Battle, Horner was hired by Nicholas Meyer and asked to emulate himself. It’s no wonder Horner used and reused this basic material throughout the 1980s.

The nautical woodwind motifs that Horner refined in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan can be heard here in a slightly more primitive form, and his rapid-fire bursts of heroic brass can be heard here too, though with a rhythm that’s almost jazzy. What you will hear a lot of is the Blaster Beam, that unearthly electric stringed instrument that Goldsmith put on the musical map with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Its appearance here doesn’t sound quite as graceful as it did in that first movie, but with marching orders to copy Goldsmith’s style, Horner makes abundant use of it. In that respect, if you’re a fan of that rarely-used instrument, this soundtrack is a treat.

To be completely fair, while there is indeed blatant copying of such Goldsmith cues as “Spock Walk”, there’s enough originality within this score’s context that one can hear where Horner would have been labeled an up-and-coming young composer to keep an ear out for. Unfortunately, in later years, Horner would seem to have taken the instruction “Make it sound kind of like the music from…” a little too literally, and a few times too many.

Humanoids, though commissioned, composed and recorded at around the same time (and it actually hit the theaters before Battle), sounds altogether more assured and mature, with Horner developing some if his more “scary” motifs in their earliest form – much of Trek II‘s Mutara Nebula music can be traced back to this score. For his first major horror scoring assignment, Horner isn’t shy about borrowing from the masters, with plenty of Hermann-esque “stabbing” strings on display.

Put together, Battle Beyond The Stars and Humanoids From The Deep are a debut that, even despite the rough edges, would’ve done any Hollywood 3 out of 4newcomer proud. And even if I’m not Horner’s biggest fan in the world, I’m even less of a Corman fan – his greatest contributions have really been in the area of bringing top-notch talent into Hollywood that eventually turns out better material than he himself could ever manage – and these may be among the very finest scores ever to grace a Roger Corman movie (or two).

Order this CD

    Battle Beyond The Stars

  1. Main Title (2:00)
  2. Malmori Read Guard (3:52)
  3. The Battle Begins (4:33)
  4. Nanella And Shad (1:27)
  5. Cowboy And The Jackers (3:36)
  6. Nanella’s Capture (1:29)
  7. The Maze Battle (3:11)
  8. Shad’s Pursuit (3:23)
  9. Cowboy’s Attack (1:46)
  10. Love Theme (3:52)
  11. The Hunter (1:40)
  12. Gelt’s Death (1:30)
  13. Nanella (1:32)
  14. Heading For Sador (1:00)
  15. Destruction Of Hammerhead (2:36)
  16. Epilogue And End Title (5:02)

    Humanoids From The Deep

  17. Main Title (2:27)
  18. The Buck (3:45)
  19. Unwelcome Visitor (2:03)
  20. Night Swim (1:48)
  21. Jerry & Peggy (0:57)
  22. Trip Upriver (1:59)
  23. The Humanoids Attack (2:54)
  24. Jerry’s Death (2:04)
  25. Search For Clues (1:55)
  26. Strange Catch (1:07)
  27. The Grotto (3:22)
  28. Night Prowlers (2:08)
  29. Final Confrontation (3:05)
  30. Aftermath & New Birth (2:22)
  31. End Titles (2:10)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 76:35

Timeline – music by Jerry Goldsmith

If there’s one eternal truth that every composer of film or TV music faces sooner or later, it’s the rejection slip. Everyone gets one eventually. And even a composer of Jerry Goldsmith’s stature gets them, such as the one Goldsmith received when he turned in this score to the already-troubled time travel flick Timeline. However, as much as I love Goldsmith’s work in general, listening to this CD of his rejected score, released by Varese Sarabande, I came to one conclusion: there’s a reason Brian Tyler wound up scoring this movie.

For whatever reason, Goldsmith’s take on Timeline winds up sounding like, well, reheated Goldsmith. Now granted, even well-worn works by this particular composer make for good listening, but there are whole passages that sound almost exactly like music from Star Trek: First Contact. Given that this was one of Goldsmith’s final scores, I almost expected to hear stuff that was more like Star Trek: Nemesis, and thought that maybe I’d find a few things that he salvaged from this unused work for that movie. Nope. There are big stretches that sound a lot like, in particular, First Contact‘s “The Dish” cue, particularly the percussive, guttural battle music. (Ironically, I now realize that even when working on First Contact, Goldsmith used a particular kind of action music that dates back to the Logan’s Run score.)

The element that’s unique to Timeline is a strange approach to a brass theme, a clarion call that occasionally dips just far enough out of the dominant key that it seems to be at odds with everything else behind it. It sticks out just enough to be distracting early on, and one can only imagine the reaction of the movie’s director or studio head upon hearing that.

2 out of 4Sadly, I can’t say this is one of Goldsmith’s finer works; as a limited release, it’s clearly intended for Goldsmith collectors and completists only, though even that crowd may find themselves wondering what one of their favorite composers was thinking when working on this one. Then again, at the risk of overlaying my own opinion onto the proceedings, the source material – the movie itself – doesn’t appear to have been terribly inspiring either. This soundtrack-that-never-was is a curiosity for the late maestro’s faithful followers.

Order this CD

  1. The Dig (4:10)
  2. Cornflakes (2:05)
  3. No Pain (3:10)
  4. To Castlegard (1:27)
  5. Find Marek (1:55)
  6. The Rooftop (4:21)
  7. A Hole In The Wall (2:27)
  8. Move On (6:58)
  9. Be Careful (1:28)
  10. Ambushed (1:12)
  11. Setting Up (2:12)
  12. Greek Fire / Light The Arrows (2:32)
  13. Prepare For Battle / Victory (11:12)
  14. To My Friends (1:40)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: 2005
Total running time: 46:49

The Best Of Stargate SG-1

The Best Of Stargate SG-1A collection of suites from the first season of the show, The Best Of Stargate SG-1 paints a picture of the show in its infancy – and before Joel Goldsmith had cemented his place as the franchise’s composer-in-residence. Though after listening to the CD several times, it’s just possible that a case could be made that this CD shows why Goldsmith became the solo voice of Stargate.

Naturally, the CD opens with Goldsmith’s main theme for the movie, adapted from David Arnold’s original Stargate score. The first few tracks, however, present us with a completely different sound than what we’ve grown accustomed to. First up is a suite from The Enemy Within, composed by Star Trek’s Dennis McCarthy and frequent collaborator Kevin Kiner (who McCarthy came to rely on heavily during the last season of Star Trek: Enterprise, when budget constraints forced that series to all but abandon full orchestral scores). This music also sounds synthesized/sampled, but even so, it bears many of the hallmarks of McCarthy’s Star Trek scores – it’s rather nice, and maybe a bit more colorful than McCarthy was generally allowed to be with his Star Trek music.

Richard Band, who began his film scoring career with Joel Goldsmith on the movie Laserblast, contributes a score to Cold Lazarus, but in places it suffers from some slight cheesy-sounding synthesized instrument sounds; that wouldn’t be so distracting, except that the rest of the suites presented here seem to be a notch above it. (To be fair to Mr. Band, however, while this may stick out like a sore thumb on CD, I don’t recall it detracting from the episode itself.) Kevin Kiner flies solo with the scores for two episodes, Emancipation and The Torment Of Tantalus, the latter of which is up there with the best scores that the series has had. Its music is truly varied enough to merit this suite being the longest track on the CD, with the 1940s “period” scenes getting a touch of saxophone.

Longtime fans won’t find the sound they’re used to until the next track, Thor’s Hammer, which introduces a series of suites by Joel Goldsmith. Thor’s Hammer has a chaotic chorus that livens things up, and some passages strongly reminiscent of sections of the music from the then-recent Star Trek: First Contact, on which the junior Goldsmith collaborated with his father. The Nox has some lovely thematic material for the Nox themselves, with some shades of First Contact again creeping into the scenes featuring the Goa’uld. Hathor and Tin Man both show a playful side to Goldsmith’s scoring. Within The Serpent’s Grasp stands as Goldsmith’s crowning achievement of the first year, however, with outstanding action and suspense sections, and as a season cliffhanger it’s practically required to kick ass, and Goldsmith delivers. That’s why he’s got the job.

rating: 4 out of 4Overall, it’s a nice little selection of music from some of the first season’s standout episodes, displaying a musical diversity that the Stargate franchise has since abandoned. Though I might criticize them on their own musical merits, I find all of the tracks here enjoyable, and I sometimes wonder why some of these other composers haven’t been heard from again (aside from these scores being recycled into virtual “library music” for the first two seasons, a la the original Star Trek) – not that I’m complaining about Joel Goldsmith, mind you. Even just from Goldsmith’s scores, I could rattle off a list of 10 or 15 scores off the top of my head which could comprise a second Best Of Stargate SG-1 volume, though whether or not there’d be enough of a market to support it would be another question.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (1:03)
  2. The Enemy Within (6:46)
  3. Cold Lazarus (6:10)
  4. Emancipation (3:36)
  5. Torment Of Tantalus (10:14)
  6. Thor’s Hammer (7:33)
  7. The Nox (10:02)
  8. Hathor (6:45)
  9. Tin Man (6:57)
  10. Within The Serpent’s Grasp (8:43)
  11. Stargate SG-1 End Credits (0:58)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 59:27

Super Xevious – video game remixes by Haruomi Hosono

Super XeviousVideo game music legend Haruomi Hosono turns his remixing talents to some of Namco’s classics with this EP-length CD single. Curiously tagged Super Xevious, this remix CD essentially revolves around the music that game shared with its predecessor, Xevious. Hosono stretches the game’s few signature tunes out to a whopping eight minute remix; as you might expect, there’s quite a bit of musical repetition, but the music evolves by the layers of rhythm and other elements Hosono piles on top. A somewhat shorter remix of Hosono’s remix is included as the last track.

The track of music from Gaplus is essentially a layered reworking of the third-level music from that game; nothing is really changed from the original game music, but again, elements are added over the top 3 out of 4of it. A very brief track of music from Tower Of Druaga is also included, though even at its short length, this track doesn’t exactly invite repeat listening.

Perhaps a bit pricey for its meager running time, Super Xevious does include some interesting remix material that is, for the most part, a fun listen for fans of the 80s arcade classics.

Order this CD

  1. Super Xevious (8:51)
  2. Gaplus (5:20)
  3. The Tower of Druaga (1:47)
  4. Super Xevious – Gust Notch Mix (3:46)

Released by: Scitron Digital
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 19:47

Lexx: The Series – music by Marty Simon

Lexx soundtrackPicking up deftly where the first “season” left off (in more ways than one), Marty Simon’s selection of music from the second and third years of the series gives both something new, and more of the same.

On the “more of the same” front, there’s the fact that the various iterations of the theme music leaned entirely on elements from that first season. It’s interesting to hear two or three pieces of the first season’s music stuck into a blender, set on pureè, and compressed into a minute or so, but the elements are still distinctive and recognizable.

While there are comedy cues here (and, every soundtrack fan’s favorite thing in the world, dialogue from the show), this CD’s focus is on the more dramatic and introspective moments of the second and third seasons. This means some very distinctive and enjoyable material (“Prince To Lexx” and the eerie Lyekka theme, to name just two) as well as some music that, without its visual accompaniment, doesn’t make the most satisfying stand-alone listening experience. On the humorous side, we get “Wild Wild Lexx” and “All He Wants Is Sex”, though I was a bit less enamoured of Xev’s song from Lafftrak. Very, very conspicuous by its absence is anything from the musical episode Brigadoom, an omission that left me slack-jawed in surprise. One wonders if a whole CD devoted to that episode was perhaps planned and scrapped.

Also heard here are all of the opening title medleys from the second and third season (I say “all” because the title music changed in the second season after the change of lead actress).

It’ll all be a treat for devoted Lexx fans, though the stand-alone listening experience varies from track to track 3 out of 4(depending on how much you like songs with vocals in your soundtracks, or show dialogue dropped into the music, though it’s worth noting that the original Tales From A Parallel Universe soundtrack was also guilty of the latter). For those wanting to sample the music of Lexx without the dedicated fan’s knowledge of the show, however, I’d recommend that earlier release over this one.

Order this CD

  1. Opening Theme – Season 3 (1:02)
  2. 790 Quote (0:18)
  3. Prince To Lexx (2:20)
  4. All He Wants Is Sex (2:38)
  5. Angel Song (1:38)
  6. A Walk In The Desert (4:15)
  7. Seduction (0:58)
  8. Wild, Wild Lexx (3:42)
  9. Galley (2:41)
  10. Opening Theme – Season 2, Version 1 (1:03)
  11. Holograms (2:54)
  12. The Search (3:10)
  13. Xev’s Dream (4:13)
  14. Garden (6:33)
  15. Lexx Hungry (0:17)
  16. Into The Garden (1:36)
  17. Lyekka / Potato Hoe (4:58)
  18. Gondola Ride (4:47)
  19. Mantrid Medley (3:49)
  20. Prince Theme (2:01)
  21. Medieval Dance (1:38)
  22. Girl Awakes / Norb Launch (1:48)
  23. The Xev Show (0:32)
  24. Demented Chase (2:29)
  25. Yo-A-O / I’m Leaving (1:06)
  26. Zev Dies (2:23)
  27. Final Scene (1:42)
  28. Opening Theme – Season 2, Version 2 (1:27)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 77:58

Seth Sternberger – Unfortunate Brain Chemistry

Seth Sternberger - Unfortunate Brain ChemistrySeth Sternberger, the indie remix guru behind the sublime 8-Bit Weapon, also does the modern thing – and does it well – in Unfortunate Brain Chemistry. Seth’s jams run the gamut from traditional techno to the 2001 entry in the “Fifth Element Diva Dance competition” (something I award to the first person in a given year who sticks a beat on top of an operatic female vocal). The operatic track in question, “Venus”, is a beauty, and its placement early on in the tracklist nicely subverts whatever expectation you might have of what you’re listening to. Other favorites on here include the childlike-but-mechanical “Robot Kindergarten”, some retro kitsch courtesy of “Trite Little Disco Bunnies”, and the drum-heavy “Agonizing Truth About Love”.

There are some so-so tracks as well, namely the bits-of-recorded-conversation-over-breakbeats tracks “Chicks Dig Me” and the eyebrow-raising “My X Is A Whore”. (Erm…okay, Seth. Thanks for sharing!) “Chicks Dig Me” sounds like a lo-fi recording of someone’s phone sex conversation under a funky rhythm track. If you’re into that sort of thing. (Probably says more about me than it does the CD, but I’ve 3 out of 4actually gotten to like that one with repeated exposure.)

Unfortunate Brain Chemistry is a bit of a mixed bag, but it shows Seth Sternberger’s ability outside of the blip-tone genre, and certainly makes for an interesting contrast.

Order this CD

  1. Coal (4:28)
  2. Venus (2:45)
  3. Femachine (5:00)
  4. Chicks Dig Me (2:47)
  5. Frequency Push (4:12)
  6. Robot Kindergarten (2:28)
  7. My X Is A Whore (3:12)
  8. Waiting Remix (3:17)
  9. Trite Little Disco Bunnies (3:17)
  10. Agonizing Truth About Love (4:59)
  11. Don’t Play This Backwards (2:40)

Released by: Brainscream
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 39:05