The collaboration on Ecology was briefly held up as suitboyskin closed out his school term, which meant a lot of papers and finals that I didn't want to interfere with. They are through, and we have fired up the burner once again, and we actually have already had two rather productive sessions that have yielded some interesting refinements. What's strange about this is that our dynamic has changed so much over time; it just always feels so much more -------- concentrated now. It's interesting because it means that more work gets done in shorter periods of time. What was accomplished in a twenty-five minute brainstorm session this evening would have taken hours to work out when we initially started this. It's very satisfying because of how much work we get done, but I miss those long talks we used to have really plumbing the depths of these people we've created. The thing about a project like this, though, is that the collaboration evolves as the screenplay evolves, and at this point our concentration is on taking those characters whose depths have already been plumbed and arranging our story around them. This is equally rewarding, but it makes me look forward to experiencing that stage again in the next project.
The Bernard Herrmann thing occurred because I recently recieved the FSM releases of Beneath the 12 Mile Reef and On Dangerous Ground, and because in preparation for writing my review on Fellowship I realized that the music during the battle in Balin's Tomb was an hommage to Jason and the Argonauts, I had ordered the Bruce Broughton recording of which weeks ago for completely unrelated reasons, but it showed up the other day and I was totally right.
On Dangerous Ground is my favorite of all of these discs. This is one score that had completely flown under my radar, and I'll have to be honest, it may be one of his best. I can't get over how gorgeous the viola d'amore parts are. The only surviving source of the music were acetate discs of varying quality, and there are some tracks that sound pretty bad, but I don't care because this music is worth the lousy sound quality. I had known Beneath the 12 Mile Reef from Charles Gerhardt's Herrmann compilation, but I think that the original recording has an immediacy to it that Gerhardt's doesn't. The film's exotic imagery meant that Herrmann's talent for unusual instrumental combinations and orchestration had quite a palette to work against, and famously features nine harps. I love how the harps themselves are panned across the stereo soundfield on this album.
I first came across Jason and the Argonauts on one of Herrmann's own Phase 4 London recording, which was of my first vinyl hunting discoveries. I wasn't particularly taken with it on that album, but I had heard other recordings of it that were much better; like most of Herrmann's London recordings, he slowed the tempo down, and with the Jason prelude he turned something stately into something sluggish (don't get me started on his 1974 Psycho re-recording, which is more dead than Mother ever was). Bruce Broughton, an impressive composer in his own right, leads a spirited performance here. The orchestra was closely miked for clarity, and the results have that old school dry sound, but without sacrificing the thunderous boom of the previous Excalibur discs. Like Beneath the 12 Mile Reef, this is another score that relies very heavily on its textures. There are no strings but there are expanded brass and woodwind sections, and the results are very unique. I had never gotten around to getting the Excalibur recording of this score before, even though I absolutely loved their two Miklós Rózsa recordings of Ivanhoe nad Julius Caesar, the latter of which being a prime example of a re-recording being a more satisfying listening experience than the original soundtrack recording, a trait is has in common in my opinion with the Joel McNeely Vertigo re-recording, although I think that Varése Sarabande deserves a shout out for releasing the original of that as well. A lot of care went into this recording, and the results are obvious.
I can't be the ony person out there who thinks that the world would be a better place with a new recording of Mysterious Island...