Music Monday: Blissful Edition

Firstly, my apologies for the lack of The Horror!? last Friday. I’ve been… distracted by recent events to an extent that I did not expect, but things are returning to normal. Last week’s The Horror!? column will post this Friday. Meanwhile, Music Monday must go on.

Up today is a selection (actually three selections combined for your enjoyment) from Sir Arthur Bliss’ tremendous score to director William Cameron Menzies and producer Alexander Korda’s epic 1936 misfire Things to Come, courtesy of a fine re-recording from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Rumon Gamba. These cues were composed for the effects-heavy building of the future Everytown, a scene I describe in my review as “perhaps the mother of all science fiction montages.” Bliss’ cues are as indelible as the imagery, and perhaps even more so, and it’s easy to see why his compositions are still popular with symphonies more than 75 years later.

The music here is sourced from the album The Film Music of Sir Arthur Bliss, which is quickly becoming a house favorite. Needless to say it comes highly recommended, and is readily available in both CD and MP3.

Music Monday – Don’t Give a Damn About Dinosaurs Edition

What can I say – I love John Scott’s score to Amicus’ minor 1977 Burroughs adaptation The People That Time Forgot. The sequel to the swell The Land That Time Forgot largely eschews the narrative of the eponymous Burroughs source story and filling in the spaces with some nonsense about a living volcano and an inordinate amount of explosive pyrotechnics. Provided expectations are checked it can be a whole heap of fun. John Scott’s score is of higher stuff than the film (best remembered these days for star Dana Gillespie’s gravity-defying prehistoric top) really deserves, and its moody themes have stuck with me since childhood.

I had a time deciding which track from the score to share here today, but ultimately settled on Court of Nagramata, a set of cues that concludes with the memorable March of the Nagas, a rousing number that was bouncing around my young mind for days after I first saw the film. The complete John Scott score to The People That Time Forgot is available on CD through the composer’s own JOS records, and can be purchased through Amazon.com or ScreenArchives.com.

Music Monday: What day is it again? Edition

It’s a little late (this is getting to be a trend), but here’s our track for the week, sourced from Mike Vickers’ criminally unrepresented score for Amicus’ production of At the Earth’s Core (from the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs). To the best of my knowledge Vickers’ score for this film, as well as the later Warlords of Atlantis, have never been properly issued. The music presented here, the wonderful opening title for the film, is taken from a Netflix stream and includes some sound effects.

Music Monday: We are Controlling Transmission Edition

While I’m not overly fond of the episode itself, I have to admit that Tourist Attraction, from season 1 of the original The Outer Limits, had some smashing music composed for it. Co-producer and regular composer Dominic Frontiere (Hang ‘em High) brought in fellow composer Robert Van Eps (a veteran of studio music departments) to do the majority of the scoring work for the episode, and I can’t argue with the results.

Here’s Dive #2 / Capturing the Creature, off disc 1 of the 3-disc limited edition The Outer Limits: Original Television Soundtrack from La-La Land in 2008. For those of you fans who have yet to pick this release up, do so while you have the chance – it’s worth every penny.

Music Monday – Humble Edition

Today’s triple threat of video game score extracts is less an effort by me to expand your musical horizons and more my way of saying, “Look! Humble Indie Bundle V! Buy, buy, buy!”

And just what is the Humble Indie Bundle V? It’s a collection of four terrific independently produced games – Psychonauts, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP, and LIMBO - that have been made available for a limited time (10 days left as of now) as a name-your-own price bundle whose proceeds go both to the developers themselves and, more importantly, to charity. What’s more, the soundtracks to each of the four titles are included too, and if you pay more than the average going rate for the bundle (less than $8 as of this writing) you’ll snag a fifth game – Bastion - and its soundtrack as well.

All of the titles are available for you choice of operating system – Windows, Mac, and (hooray!) Linux – and while I can’t speak for Psychonauts (I’ve yet to finish downloading much less install it) all of the other games are running just fine for me under 64-bit Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

Anyway, on to the music – one track each from Bastion, Psychonauts and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP respectively. Pick up the Humble Indie Bundle V while you can – it’s a hell of a deal, and for a good cause too. What’s not to love?

Music Monday – I’ve Got a (Broken) Bike Edition

I had the opportunity to see The Broken Bicycles, a local band of friends of friends, play this past Friday, so it only seems proper that I lend them a bit of shameless promotion on this Music Monday. No Amazon links today – those interested in hearing more, picking up any of their stuff, or keen on attending a live show will find all they need to know at The Broken Bicycles’ bandcamp page.

And yeah, you should follow them on Facebook, too.

The song for today is off their new album Minneapolis, and is entitled Little Crow. You’ll find the rest of the album up for streaming and purchase in a variety of formats back at their homepage. Be sure to check out the portfolio of the album’s cover artist as well – she’s a good friend of mine, and I promise it’s worth your time.

Music Monday – Incredible Shrinking Hans J. Salter Edition

No fancy introduction for this Music Monday, just an excellent piece of music that demands to be heard. I present the title theme for Jack Arnold’s indelible science fiction classic The Incredible Shrinking Man, adapted by Richard Matheson from his own novella and released by Universal-International in 1957. The music here is by studio composer Hans J. Salter (The Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man), and features the razor-sharp trumpet of Ray Anthony.

The title theme to The Incredible Shrinking Man has been released as part of a soundtrack suite on the mp3 album The Fantasy Music of Hans J. Salter, and is available for purchase through Amazon.com.

Music Monday – Quiet Disappointment Edition

I was singularly overjoyed this morning to discover, by happenstance, that Geoff Murphy’s memorable apocalyptic sci-fi yarn The Quiet Earth was out on Blu-ray in Germany, but singularly disappointed when a bit of simple searching later showed the disc to be a big disappointment – a 1080i PAL-speed rendering of a bright but noisy and unattractively sharpened HDTV master. Not exactly something I’m itching to put $40 down on, even with domestic DVDs of the film going out of print and no other Blu-ray in sight.

Still, with The Quiet Earth on the brain and a Music Monday post pending, I was inspired to dig out my Label X CD release of the film’s soundtrack for the first time in ages. John Charles’ score for The Quiet Earth is gripping, evocative stuff, and I’d argue more so than the film to which it is set. I’m not spoiling anything here with track 14 – Finale / Saturn Rising - as the imagery that accompanies it is plastered over practically every inch of the film’s advertising. It’s a striking image, admittedly, but I shudder to imagine how much of its brooding, nightmarish efficacy might have been lost without Charles’ contribution.

The out-of-print Label X release of John Charles’ scores for The Quiet Earth / Iris is available through third parties on Amazon.com.