Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2011 January 31 • Monday

John Williams joins us for the first time for the 150th Soundtrack of the Week: Black Sunday.

Bruce Dern is a psycho Vietnam vet conspiring with Palestinian terrorists to put a giant nail bomb on the bottom of the Goodyear blimp, hijack said blimp, fly it over the audience during the Super Bowl and detonate the bomb, killing thousands of people, perhaps even the President of the United States, who will be in the audience. Robert Shaw is somewhat bizarrely cast as an Israeli soldier trying to uncover and stop the plot.

John Williams's music is appropriately suspenseful and more atmospheric than a lot of his other work. He uses the cymbalom, one of my favorite instruments, and exploits the potential of harp and timpani.

There are several great ostinato cues, and many ominously pulsating rhythms played by bass or marimba or the low keys on the piano. The strings easily vary from consonance to dissonance and often have a modern, atonal sound.

One motif, which usually accompanies the blimp's remorseless progress, is similar to the famous Jaws music.