January 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

J.A.C. REDFORD The Astronomers OST   INTRADA MAF-7018 [44:49]

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Scientists say the universe began with a scorching Big Bang, an incinerating cauldron of all the mass in existence then and now aggressively expanding to sculpt celestial objects. Now the universe is cooling, still forming, and many billions of years from today as the

last stars 'die' or turn into black holes they will eventually sweep heat from existence, plunging the whole of our finite state into absolute zero, the definitive frigid temperature, until the Big Crunch.

The temporary occasion for humanity to view the wonder and beauty of this milieu in our already short lives gives emphasis to the focus of J.A.C. Redford's score for 1991's six-part television docu-series "The Astronomers:" the secrets of the universe and those dedicated to uncovering them.

Redford uses cello, guitars, saxophones, synthesizers, and woodwinds in combinations for, as the liner notes by Redford state, "Slavic folk dances to electronic 'space' music, from jazz to 'classical' chamber music." The main theme is a simplistic hymn-like melody that brings a fair amount of heart to the cues... despite being predictable. The closeness of this collection gives a definite New Age feeling, and while the technical credits are estimable the ability to appreciate the score depends on one's mood, rather than the music having the power to swiftly change one's mood as great works tend to do. The composer's message tackles the musical and emotional approaches by episode, but does not challenge the intrinsic flaw of having a small ensemble try to sound big. It depreciates the effect.

The Geminids meteor shower is peaking as this review takes shape, and "The Astronomers" is playing in the background. The faults fade into a night of shooting stars. But the astonishment can happen on any clear night. Although the soundtrack does not function ideally, a key enthusiasm holds interest. With the right atmospheric conditions, it could soar.


Jeffrey Wheeler


Jeffrey Wheeler

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