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|CD Reviews: Falling Off A Clef and Extreme Prejudice|
|Posted By: Jon Aanensen, David Coscina on June 21, 2005 - 9:00 PM|
CD Reviews: Falling Off A Clef and Extreme Prejudice
Falling Off A Clef *** 1/2
26 tracks - 59:41
When film score fans hear the name Vince DiCola, most probably think
back to 1984's Rocky IV.
DiCola's "Training Montage" and "War" have become classics, and were
both featured on the highly successful Rocky Story compilation CD from the
early '90s. This is especially noteworthy considering that only one
Bill Conti underscore track made it to the song-based album. In 1986
DiCola scored Transformers: The Movie
in a continuation of his Rocky
style, and then all but disappeared from the film scoring scene. Rocky IV and Transformers didn't give him the
breakthrough he hoped for, so he instead concentrated on songwriting in
rock bands like Thread and Storming Heaven.
In the new millennium things started to change. DiCola decided to
return to instrumental writing and promotional/concept albums like In-VINCE-ible! and Piano Solos saw the light of day.
In late 2003, he got a chance to score the Bill Gottlieb-produced movie
Sci-Fighter with friend and
colleague Kenny Meriedeth. This CD, Falling
Off A Clef, features around 35 minutes of music from Sci-Fighter, along with other
instrumental work by DiCola.
Sci-Fighter is professionally
done, although not extremely original. Comparisons with Trevor Rabin
and various Media Ventures-scores are inevitable on several of the
tracks in the rock-based/energetic/up tempo mode. DiCola and Meriedeth
are at their best in the softer moments, like in the brief "We Need To
Talk" with a glorious, sad piano theme, and in the epilogue "The Master
Returns." "Dance Of The Scorpion Queen" features a tasteful
Spanish-flavored acoustic guitar, while "Daddy's Home" showcases clever
rhythm programming. "Sci-Fighter Suite," running 9:44, is the longest
score-track on the CD.
Falling Off A Clef features
six other tracks, the best being the 11-minute "Castle Of The Gods
Suite/Five Movements." It's an exciting, filmic, classic DiCola track
that showcases DiCola's prog-rock roots to full extent. "A.P.B." is
DiCola's personal tribute to Keith Emerson, and it sounds just
like...Keith Emerson! Vince plays live drums on this track, and the
tune is noisy but nevertheless vibrant.
This CD shows that Vince DiCola is back on the film music
scene...hopefully with a vengeance. -- Jon
Extreme Prejudice (1987) *** 1/2
La La Land LLLCD 1028
20 tracks - 64:50
La La Land Records continues its successful run of resurrecting lost
gems of the past with Goldsmith's '80's action score to this Walter
Hill film. Extreme Prejudice
has stylistic traits found in two other seminal Goldsmith works: Hoosiers and Total Recall. The main theme
contains the same three-note rising motif under a minor 7th chord that
was featured as the Quaid theme in Total
Recall, his self-avowed last traditional large orchestral score.
The other point is the inclusion of completely dated drum machines.
With Hoosiers, it's less
obvious because the composer chose a long thematic approach wherein the
electronic percussion supported the themes. But Extreme Prejudice is a more motivic
score with an emphasis on rhythmic complexities as opposed to fluid
Aside from the aforementioned observations, this is vintage '80s
Goldsmith. The opening track features unused trailer music and
showcases the late composer's ability to balance electronics with the
orchestra. Goldsmith was a pioneer in that regard, especially in the
way he chose to integrate the two, by having the synths played through
amps on stage with the orchestra. Perhaps that's why tracks such as
"Cash," with its plaintive oboe melody contrasted by evolving
electronic pads, has an expansive sound.
It is the reflective moments on the soundtrack that make for protracted
listenings. However, much of the score is comprised of electronic
ostinatos and repeating sequences that don't hold any intrinsic appeal
when separated from the film source. Goldsmith was a master at textural
scoring and it's understandable that he'd approach Extreme Prejudice in this manner.
However, the problem when applying this ideology toward synthesizers
from the '80s is that they didn't possess a great timbral variety, so
much of this CD has a homogenous sound. And because of the
proliferation of FM synthesis patches, the sonorities are harsh and
overtly digital. An hour of listening to these sharp, grating sounds is
trying on the ears. The orchestra is relegated to two- or-three-note
utterances that mostly contrast the largely electronic timbres.
Meanwhile the drum machine sound and rhythms are so mechanical that
whatever interesting musical passages that occur in the acoustic
instruments are obscured and trivialized.
La La Land is to be commended for the sound and overall quality of this
disc. Generous running time along with the inclusion of several
additional cues such as the nine-minute "The Plan -- Original version,"
absent from the original soundtrack release. The addition of the
Carolco Logo is a nice treat too. But Extreme
Prejudice holds a limited appeal applying mainly to two groups
of film score collectors: rabid Goldsmith completists and '80s synth
score fans. For those weaned on '70s Goldsmith orchestral scores,
discretion is advised. -- David Coscina