November 1999 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

Kristopher CARTER, Michael McCUISTION, Lolita RITMANIS, Shirley WALKER Batman Beyond    RHINO R2 75925 [40:10]

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Batman Beyond is an apparently successful animated series transposing a teenage Dark Knight in a futuristic Gotham City. According to the sleeve notes producer Bruce Timm wanted music "that would sound more authentic than anything currently heard on broadcast TV". Quite what this is supposed to mean is unclear, but the recipe is as follows.

Take the jittery-edged sampled percussion of Brad Fidel's Terminator 2: Judgement Day soundtrack, then get a razor-sharp thrash metal combo (with sampled drums) to beat it to a bloody pulp. Add a handful of assorted vocal and 'strange effects' samples. Repeat 20 times. Actually track 5 'Farewells' by Lolita Ritmanis makes some attempt at atmosphere, while track 19 'Move to the Groove', also by Ritmanis, has an Arabic flavour. It is only the remaining 18 tracks which are indistinguishable.

Given that Mark Snow can single-handedly score for an entire 25 episode run of The X Files, why it took a team of four composers headed by Shirley Walker to provide these sub-musical offerings is a mystery. Be unfortunate enough to put this disc in the CD player without knowing what it is and you might assume it was any thrash metal album ever made, but with the screaming removed. Just in case I haven't put you off, Bruce Timm adds, "I'm constantly amazed that these clean cut, well mannered, all round nice people can so consistently deliver such vicious music. And they're getting meaner. Perfectionists all, they keep trying to top themselves, pushing the sonic envelope to its breaking point. As good as these selections from their early scores are, their most recent efforts are even more relentless, even more intense. Hopefully, this album will sell well enough to encourage the good folks at Rhino to issue further volumes in the series."

Given that Rhino are to release a complete soundtrack of John Williams brilliant Superman score, we must forgive the good folks for this aberration. Never has a DC superhero so badly needed earplugs.


Gary S. Dalkin


Gary S. Dalkin

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