Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Music to have sweat on your brow to...

I love a good action score.

I do have tendency to like very operatic lines in both my films and my music. My tastes range widely, of course, but when I love the idea of telling a story with images and music, and there are some film scores, such as Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo, Basil Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian, John Williams' Superman, Jerry Goldsmith's Legend and so on, that are notable not only for their musical breadth, but also for how they work as accompaniment to the story and characters. That's one of the reasons why Howard Shore's work on The Lord of the Rings was so transfixing for me; it was a case where the scale was larger, both cinematically and musically, than had ever been attempted for a single project.

But I also love a good, pulse-pounding good time.

I love a good action score.

"I wanted a Bud light!!!"

Just tonight I (re)discovered a really good one, Edward Shearmur's Reign of Fire. It is sleek, streamlined and altogether involving. It's a great album to drive to, actually, because it bears some resemblance to Brian May's seminal work on The Road Warrior. It is rhythmic and brassy in all the ways I really like.

I've always loved action scores because they have a forward momentum to them; the music is always about movement. My first ever CD purchase was one of the best of this kind of score, Jerry Goldsmith's Total Recall (the CD has been supplanted on the shelf by the expanded edition, but thousands of CDs later, I still have it). And one of the reasons why I've always been partial to Goldsmith is because he does this shit better than anybody. This was evidenced by two recent CD releases of scores he wrote in the late 70s that are kind of dreams come true for me, The Swarm and the original tracks of Capricorn One. These two scores exemplify his command of this genre beautifully, and I laud the producers of the latter album for their mock-up of the album track "Break Out," which was a most welcome addition to a great release.

I loved Don Davis' score for The Matrix (I am also aware that his music for the sequels was very good, but I haven't gotten around to exploring them yet). Instead of using themes, Davis used textures and his musical "mobiles" that gave the score such an edgy, unique sound. "Ontological Shock" is perhaps the best example of how music can build intensity in a scene to a cathartic release. The cue "Field Attack" on Reign of Fire put me in mind of this score. It is not overly derivative of The Matrix score, but it's influence can be felt. It's a good influence, though.

A few months ago I discovered another score that I had a lot of fun with, as I am now with Reign of Fire, and that was Marco Beltrami's Blade II. Like Reign of Fire, it isn't a very thematic score, instead employing syncopation and explosions of sound. They both share an exhuberance of the sound of the orchestra, and building upon patterns to create little musical setpieces out of the action sequences.

Of course, one of the grand high poobahs of utilitarian action scoring is Brian May's The Road Warrior. Yes, there are themes and motives that crop up here and there, but when the action starts, few pieces of music can match its economy or its potency. I find stuff like this cathartic. Although I've never seen any of the Rambo movies (I find it tough to stomach Stallone), I love Goldsmith's scores for them.

I'm not going to get into the mixed feelings I have about the James Horner's Aliens score because I don't feel like starting that up again, but I should mention that it is an effective score along similar lines. There's just no original music in it.
Tags: film music

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