Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Jerry GOLDSMITH The Mummy OST DECCA CD 466 458-2 [57:42]






Jerry Goldsmith's music for this season's other big adventure blockbuster, boasting mind-boggling special effects, is fittingly garishly colourful and larger-than-life.

Right from the start, the slow quiet atmospheric opening evokes the parched Egyptian desert. The dust, sand, heat and the glare of the desert; plus the mystery and menace of the screenplay are powerfully conveyed with slow, heavy percussive treads, wordless choruses, oriental woodwind figures and high sustained screeching strings etc. So many influences parade by. All of them plus, of course, much more that is pure Goldsmith magic, are ingredients in a potent recipe for an emphatic and powerful score. One may recognise fragments, figures, phrases and allusions to scores by Jarre (Lawrence of Arabia); Williams (Raiders of the Lost Ark); and Yared (The English Patient). Then there is the North African tinged music by Holst (Beni Mora) and Albert Ketèlbey etc. Even Respighi's style is recognised together with many other threads spun in countless previous movies with the same setting and similar story lines.

The Mummy score may lack a really memorable theme, but Goldsmith's intriguing and richly textured harmonies plus his ever-resourceful and colourful orchestrations (particularly his intriguing and vastly varied battery of percussion instruments) more than compensate. 'Taureg Attack' plunges you in the path of a furiously charging band of camel-mounted, flowing black-robed marauders; 'Giza Port' evokes the sensuous and mysterious; and colourful trading along the quays; 'The Caravan' with its wordless choruses, hand drums, tambourines and small cymbals suggests dancing and other romances on the journey. Ancient rituals and regal ceremonies seem to inform 'The Sarcophagus' and 'Crowd Control'. Both tracks sound magnificent yet sinister too - a palpable sense of evil pervades them (the film has not arrived in the UK yet so I am making my assumptions based on the trailer and the notes supplied by Decca). Goldsmith uses what sounds like a block suggesting ancient bones for a recurring suggestion of the mummy plus, of course, slow, heavy percussive treads. The orchestra responds magnificently to this exciting music which contrasts fast moving chase-like material with slower darker music such as the choking, musty, malignant figures for 'The Crypt' - an extraordinarily vivid evocation with its creepy, sour brass figures. The textures and detail are all perfectly caught by a first class unnamed orchestra and we can marvel at Goldsmith's skill in creating music of wide dynamics and perspectives. You sit cringing wondering where the next menace will materialise. His sense of spatial relationships is dramatically acute. At one point conflicting sets of brass choirs and high sustained strings pass above and below, and by each other; at another point, a ppp brass figure hides and whispers furtively behind a forward string pattern before it grows in strength to overwhelm the sound stage. It is telling pieces of colour like this that arrest the ear continually throughout this score.

Like the film, this music is highly enjoyable hokum.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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