Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2011 February 28 • Monday

The 154th Soundtrack of the Week is two scores on one CD, Bird of Paradise by Daniele Amfitheatrof and Lydia Bailey by Hugo Friedhofer.

Bird of Paradise opens with "Tenga Returns", which starts with a blast of Les Baxterish exotica with worldess chorus, percussion, soaring strings and blaring brass. It's a masterpiece. Most of the seven minutes or so are more laidback and etheral, with some wonderful harp playing, but it's impossible to forget that introduction.

"Apau" begins very playfully but crashes into seriously ominous music, an atmosphere that made me think of angry volcano gods. "The Sacred Pool" begins with another light-hearted atmosphere but reverts to the main theme introduced in "Tenga Returns".

"It's a Beautiful Dream" conjures up another dreamy sort of atmosphere, with shimmering strings and pulsating percussion. Flutes float above it while the brass sections add some menace.

"Fire Walking" has a very peaceful beginning with chimes and flute playing against a delicate background Musical moods of tension, suspense and anger eventually surface.

"Prophecy" begins with a percussion part that recalls Masaru Sato's soundtrack for Yojimbo. It's the kind of thing I can listen to for hours. Other instruments come in gradually, making short statements. Eventually the wordless choir joins them. The main theme comes in at the end.

"The Parting" begins with buoyant writing that makes a nod or two to the main theme. Darker tones come crashing in, as they so often do, only to be replaced by a lush and romantic reprise of the main theme.

The first track of Lydia Bailey is called "Miabeau" and goes through several different moods in about five minutes. It begins with the sweeping strings of the Golden Age of Hollywood sound, but something about one of the figures reminded me of Elmer Bernstein's music for Johnny Staccato. Then there's the exotica mood, with log drum (I think) and some tense phrases that reminded me of Bernard Herrmann's music.

"Man Hunt" begins with another Herrmannesque statement and continues in a pensive but occasionally romantic mood. Other parts of it reminded me of John Barry's score for The Chase. About two minutes into this cue (which is slightly over five minutes) comes a terrifically propulsive percussion part, followed by dark stings by the horns. It builds to a climax then relaxes.

"Suspense" sounds mostly like action writing. It's also about five minutes long and very exciting, with what sounds like a love theme giving way to a bit of a march near the end.

"The Pastorale" is almost seven minutes long and begins with an eerie atmosphere, the sounds of fog and shadows. There's more superlative percussion playing, then another suspenseful theme introduced by solo flute before the orchestra picks it up. Then more rocking percussion.

"Refugees" begins with some phrases that reminded me of a cue from the television series The Prisoner. Similar figure, same instrument, I guess. Then there's a string drone with horn punctuation followed by some romantic writing. The string playing is very strong throughout.

"The Ouanga" is classic Golden Age of Hollywood scoring and sounded very familiar even though I've never seen this movie. It's easy to imagine a jungle scene at night for this. "Haiti" begins quietly then creates a sense of urgent movement. Eventually there's what sounds like a pastiche of "classical" music.

Thanks to Varese Sarabande's Soundtrack Club for making these obscure titles available!