April 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Founder Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /April01/

Leonard ROSENMAN Battle for the Planet of the Apes
Conquest for the Planet of the Apes
Apes TV theme
FILM SCORE MONTHLY Silver Age Classics FSM Vol. 4 No. 1 [74:28]
(www.filmscoremonthly.com) Film Score Monthly, 8503 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, California, CA 90232. E-mail:info@filmscoremonthly.com)

I cannot speak highly enough of Film Score Monthly's efforts in making long neglected, cult scores available and even though on occasion the importance of the work historically may be more worthwhile than their inherent 'listenability', I feel very strongly that FSM's endeavours should be fully supported. Then, as far as I'm concerned, after their release of Ron Grainer's masterpiece The Omega Man, they can do no wrong in my eyes!

Packed to the brim with Planet of the Apes related material, the first half of this CD is dedicated to Tom Scott's music from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972). Opening with his slightly jazzy, militaristic 'Main Title', this piece is very representative of much of what follows, the overall tone one of strident oppressiveness as in cues such as 'Civil Disobedience' and 'Electrocution'. I also detected a similarity on tracks like 'Ape Auction/Armando Dies'(the original Star Trek series) and 'Ape Revolt Begins' (Time Tunnel or even Batman.) to the kind of incidental music heard in television sci-fi and fantasy during the mid-to-late sixties. And that's not to say this is a bad thing. Far from it. But it firmly places the music in its era and in some ways is indicative of the relatively low budget the producers had at their disposal. Certainly, with no disrespect to the composer, Tom Scott (experienced in television, but not film at the time) was obviously seen as a somewhat cheaper alternative to Jerry Goldsmith (Planet of the Apes (1968), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)) or even Leonard Rosenman (Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)). In contrast there are also several tracks that defy these conventions. The bizarre soft pop of '1991 Restaurant' sounds uncannily like something from the early 70s rather than the 90s (!) and 'Subjugation Soul' is quirky rock music embellished with some discordant electric guitar. Finally, the concluding piece 'Revolution' is an eleven-minute plus, avant-garde, jazz-influenced example of austere cacophony. Very hard to enjoy as a listening experience, but skilful enough to admire on a technical level.

In many ways this music takes its cue from the kind of desolate, percussive sound that Jerry Goldsmith introduced in the first Planet of the Apes film. And despite the fact, as the excellent sleeve notes tell us, that much of Tom Scott's score was ultimately not used in the finished film, this remains a fascinating offering and quite indispensable to 'Apes' fans (which would include myself).

To augment this, FSM have also been generous enough to provide the score from the final 'Apes' instalment, Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1974). This time Leonard Rosenman returned with another typically harsh offering (for this series). Indeed, so much of the work is brass led dissonance that it becomes rather claustrophobic. The 'Main Title' itself is a march-like, martial piece with a few artful satirical touches and although tracks like 'Caesar Departs' feature an unusually tender melody, generally speaking it's the dissonance that lingers in the mind, as heard in numerous pieces ('March to the Dead City', 'Discovery', 'Ape Harms Ape' and 'The Battle' etc.). To cap things off, as an added bonus, there is also Lalo Schifrin's 'Main Title' from the TV spin-off series, very much in-keeping with what has come before, a chilly, string led assault of unremitting discord.

A difficult CD to appreciate, lacking in melodic appeal and with so much of the work severe and remote, not everyone is going want to spend their time walking this bleak musical landscape. But just as long as you know what to expect and it's to your taste, this is still worth the price of admission for another visit to a world closer to us than we would like to believe, the Planet of the Apes.

Mark Hockley

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