December 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Michael McLennan
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster: Len Mullenger

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Music composed and conducted by Lalo Schifrin
Performed by The Czech National Symphony Orchestra
  Available on Aleph Records (ALEPH036)
Running Time: 61:28
Crotchet   Amazon UK   Amazon US

It has been sighted 42,000 times in 68 countries. A creature of myth and legend known by several names; Yeti, Sasquatch and the infamous Bigfoot! We've hunted it for years, but what happens when it decides to hunt us? "Abominable" centers on a man recovering from a mountain climbing accident, trapped in a remote cabin in the woods, who sees the legendary beast, and must convince someone to believe him, before the monster goes on a bloody rampage. 2006.

- Publicity blurb for the film

The rather horrific artwork for this album could be easily put you off, especially if you had read that the music had been written by a lesser composer than classically-trained Schifrin, composer of  well over 100 films and TV shows including such scores as: Cool Hand Luke, Bullitt, The Fox, Dirty Harry, Voyage of the Damned, and that other classic of the horror score genre The Amityville Horror – not to mention that wonderful Mission Impossible theme (the brilliant original TV series, that is, not the less than brilliant films!). As a recording artist, Schifrin has bestrode the world of jazz, pop and classical.

The opening track does not dispel such fear: cue in eerie sound effects, bats and hooting owls and things that go slithering and clanking across the night in the ‘Pre-Title Sequence’ before the frenetic and frightening ‘Main Title’ music reassures us that this is going to be a rather different and much better score from those of the ‘also-rans’  Schifrin puts an imaginative spin on the usual ingredients of the horror movie – they are all here, all familiar - but Schifin gives them that extra bite, colour and dramatic and rhythmic tension in a richly textured, polytonal score performed with tremendous glee and virtuosity by the 90-piece Czech orchestra.

High pitched violin figures, heard in many tracks, recall the terror of Herrmann’s Psycho score and there are other subtle nods towards Herrmann (plus the classic horror music of Waxman and Roy Webb and John Williams) Listen to how imaginatively Schiffrin creates such an eerie, tense atmosphere from such little repetitive material in ‘Preston and Amanda’. Cues like ‘The Cave’, ‘Squatch Revealed’ and ‘Rappelling’ all are heart-thumpingly terrifying and should have theatre audiences clutching each other in fright. ‘Setting the Trap’ has stalking bass end piano figures, tip-toeing pizzicato strings, heavy-breathing woodwind figures and lisping brass all laid down slightly tongue-in-cheek. ‘Off-Road Rage/Final Battle’ is all finger-biting desperation. ‘The Survivors’, with muted horns and melancholy strings sound resolution and relief, with just a sour note that might indicate future dangers.

But the Abominable music is occasionally lyrical and romantic, often, admittedly, over edgy ostinatos; sample ‘Preston’s Memories.’

Three bonus tracks include a nice cheerful, chirpy piece that is ‘Girls Next Door’ while ‘Ottis Leaves’ returns to thunder and suspense. An alternative ‘Rampage’ completes the trio.

‘One blade of Grass’, sung by Pat Windsor Mitchell, is the obligatory ‘Pop’ song composed, thankfully, in a style of a bygone age.

Horror scoring?  Schiffrin shows how its done!

Ian Lace

Rating: 4

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