Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2019 March 11 • Monday

The 560th Soundtrack of the Week is Patrick Gleeson's music (and a song by Alan Price) for the movie The Plague Dogs.

The Plague Dogs opens with the song “Time and Tide” by Alan Price. He begins with just solo voice: “I don’t feel no pain no more / I don’t feel no pain no more / I’ve left this cruel world behind / And I’ve found my peace of mind / I don’t feel no pain no more”.

A mixture of electric and acoustic instruments of different timbres then create a musical flurry that provides a transition into a straight, mid-tempo piano ballad. Halfway through it goes into a double time country feel, complete with steel guitar. Then there’s a flourish of Hammond organ and the song morphs into an even brisker gospel number.

He’s still not done, though. The song slows way down again for kind of a big rock musical number. It’s very well done!

This is a hard act to follow but Patrick Gleeson nails it immediately with a mysterious and entrancing cue called “Freedom” which combines strings and horns with otherworldly electronic instruments (and some kind of piano) as well as anybody ever has done, including Jerry Goldsmith. Parts of it reminded me of parts of James Horner’s Star Trek music and that’s never a bad thing.

“Wondering “ alternates between still, atmospheric ideas and some insistent pulsing figures that suggest forward momentum. Whatever the synthesizers are, they sound great. It ends up in something of a sonic cloud.

The synths sound like they do most of the work on “The Change”, which combines lyrical writing with strangely beautiful electronic noises, before a burst of Baroque-style music on acoustic instruments that itself gets interrupted by crashing electronic voices.

Low menacing long tones and some high-pitched piano noted with lots of space between them are most of what you’ll hear “In the Pens”.

A jaunty piece with synth horns taking the lead voices and establishing a triumphant mood describes “Sheep Dogs”. It ends on an ominous note, though.

“The Escape from the Incinerator” is a short cue of less than a minute and a very effective blend of strings, piano and timpani.

After that we get to go “Frog Catching”. Introduced by upright bass and with some light jazz drumming and a very strong blaring trumpet, this is reminiscent of some of Peter Thomas’s music.

Then it’s synthesizer-land again with “Rowf’s Kill”, a still musical atmosphere that has a complex emotional range.

“Lack Loud’s Death” continues in this vein but is more apprehensive and suggestive of danger.

Some more directly “horror” music is found “Inside the Laboratory” and it's easy to imagine a creepy scene to go with these unbalanced musical lines and washes of synth textures.

Crashing piano and keening synths announce “The Beginning of the End”. Electric bass guitar and drums come in and anchor the cue with a groove that stops and starts while lyrical melodic ideas float above it. It all comes crashing down again at the end.

“Chase Music” isn’t what I expected. There’s a driving low pulse and some vigorous snare work and some interesting statements from saxophone and keyboards.

Saxophone opens “Rowf and Snitter Run to the Sea” but the same ensemble from “Chase Music” soon joins it. Some of it is very intense scoring but it can shift into a gentler and more lyrical phase immediately, and just as soon shift back.

The record concludes with a reprise of “Time and Tide”, but instrumental and done almost in Vangelis style.