Following on from the Herrmann and North collections, Smeaton is a surprising
but most welcome continuation in the series. Sadly, there is an immediate
problem the listener is faced with by this disc. A Town Like Alice
is the first of the two scores represented, but it is a generous 47 minutes
bound together as two cues in a "Symphonic Suite of Themes from the TV Score".
This makes it quite impossible to highlight the score's brightest moment
(of which there are many). It's made more maddening by what are quite obvious
pauses between tracks anyway.
The TV dramatisation was known in some territories as The Legacy.
It tells a WWII tale of love between P.O.W.s. The tone is consistently light
and playful, to depict the nobly struggling spirit indomitable to its oppressive
circumstances. To say the music comes across as unmistakably Australian isn't
to suggest native Aboriginal instrumentation. Instead there's a lyrical,
almost waltz-like quality in the best tradition of the country's famously
associated song. The main theme appears repeatedly in many subtle guises,
but without identifying cue numbers or titles it's all but impossible to
pinpoint the most lush or dramatic of the variations. There is more variety
in the second of the lengthy cues, where there is the odd spot of more densely
written drama, and also a back stoop hop that can be jigged along to.
Iceman is the second score and is perhaps ideally coupled with the
former in an effort to demonstrate Smeaton's range. When you get to "Vivarium"
which puts shakahuchi over keyboard icicle drips, you know you're a long
way from the first score. There's a lot of experimental sound for this. Amongst
the blowing icy landscapes from strings and woodwinds, there's plenty of
skirmishes into atonality on exotic percussion.
The title music is the most memorable material - a use of the shakahuchi
which far eclipses anything Horner has ever achieved.