New recording of score for classic 1950s sci-fi movie. Not one but two theremins.
Nick Reynolds 2003-03-21
The theremin is a very strange instrument. The sound of its eerie wailing is both creakily old fashioned and thoroughly modern. And there's lots of it all over this album. This is a new recording, in sparklingly clear digital sound, of Bernard Herrmann's original score for the 1950s science fiction film.
You may have seen it on afternoon TV. Its the one where Michael Rennie plays a curiously upright and noble extraterrestrial humanoid called Klaatu. He comes to earth in a flying saucer to warn mankind of the dangers of nuclear weapons. He has a really big cyclops robot called Gort. Mankind does not heed his message and Klaatu gets shot.
Hermann's score uses not one but two theremins. They take centre stage among a small eclectic ensemble of instruments, including two Hammond organs, electrically amplified violin and vibraphones.
The score consists of a number of short pieces, many of them under a minute and nothing over three. The mood is weird, unsettling and ominous. Sudden lurches and climaxes and rolling tympani increase the tension. There is one basic theme ('Prelude and Outer Space'), which reoccurs throughout, while 'The Magnetic Pull' includes some delightful stereo effects. Although it does remind you strongly of sequences in the film ('Gort's Rage') the music does work well as a kind of peculiar ambience. If you were having a dinner party with a elderly man from Mars, this would be perfect to put on in the background.
Since this new recording is so clear you do miss a little of the grainy ambience of the original analogue film. But on the other hand this does make it perfect for sampling! These strange, but compelling sounds may turn up, suitably disguised, on a lot of other peoples records very soon...