Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2016 December 12 • Monday

Here's a movie that is, sadly, more timely now than it's ever been since it came out in the early 1970s. The music by Peter Schickele (also known as P.D.Q. Bach) is the 443rd Soundtrack of the Week: Silent Running.

The inspiration for both Mystery Science Theater 3000 and WALL-E, Silent Running was an unusual science-fiction movie with strong statements to make about ecology and some of humanity's more toxic "values".

The music is best remembered for two songs sung by Joan Baez, for whom Schickele had already been working as an arranger. The title song and "Rejoice in the Sun" are both strong and ethereal with a hippyish driving pulse.

Silent Running wasn't a long movie and Schickele didn't overscore it, which means that this CD release of the original album presentation (sourced from vinyl since none of the original elements survive) contains most of the score.

It's too bad Schickele didn't score more movies. His selection and arrangement of instruments, involving shifting textures and relying on the use of subtle sonic elements such as overtones, combining electric guitars and harpsichords, create cues that impress with their vulnerability and integrity.

Elegies for robots, love songs for forests, tension and dread as we march to our self-fulfilling prophecies of death and destruction.