Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2018 February 05 • Monday

Last year saw the arrival on CD, courtesy of Intrada Records, of a much desired score from one of the greatest and most beloved soundtrack composers of all time. It was only a matter of time before it was a Soundtrack of the Week. Here it is, #503, Jerry Goldsmith's music for Damnation Alley.

It starts with a brief trumpet fanfare and a lot of space, as different parts of the orchestra make themselves heard. The mood is anticipatory and heralding, building in density, volume and excitement before finally taking off.

As the record and movie progress, the music gets more intense and varied. Goldsmith blends synthesizers with the orchestra for startling effects as well as moments of lyrical beauty.

A great example of this is on "The Voyage Begins", where electronic instruments are used rhythmically and subtly, echoing the castanets which are deployed elsewhere. This cue also introduces a much recurring theme that happens to be my favorite from this soundtrack. It's perhaps most beautifully presented on "The Desert".

Several of the cues reminded me of Star Trek, both the original series and Goldsmith's score for the first movie. You can also detect the same intelligence at work that created the music for Planet of the Apes and Logan's Run.

It took me a while to get into the Jerry Goldsmith scores that weren't jazzy and swinging, like his amazing music for the two Flint movies starring James Coburn. I'm glad I did, though, because every encounter with his work has been rewarding.