Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2019 December 02 • Monday

The 598th Soundtrack of the Week is Basil Poledouris's music for On Deadly Ground.

The main title music starts sparsely and quietly with what sounds like a wooden flute. Then strings and percussion come in for a full, rich sound propelled forward by a triplet feel.

A heroic action setting gets introduced in “Aegis Flameout”, which has some of the force and power of John Barry’s Bond music.

Tension and suspense defused by heroism are the key elements of the first half of “Fire Out”, another cue which could almost be right for a Bond movie. The second half is airier and more meditative.

“Forrest Doesn’t Fight” starts out with a lush sweeping passage that suggests an epic storyline, then relaxes into a calm, lovely, peaceful cue.

Suspense and menace return in “Kill Hugh”, with some insistent percussion, dissonant strings and serpentine horn work. There’s also some interesting use of synths throughout and an almost otherworldy feel to the music. I could imagine it being used in a Star Trek<\em> movie.

The dissonance and menace return, along with some serene flute playing, for “Hugh Torture”, which is a surprisingly laidback piece.

That almost bucolic feel is continued, along with urgency created by pulsating synth percussion, in “Forrest Blown Up”.

Some delicately arpeggiated lines, gently lilting strings, solid horn playing and subtle percussion pick up the thread in “Forrest Found”. The main idea of this cue then gets developed further in “Chief Meets Forrest”.

After this comes the eight-minute “The Journey”, a suite of various themes and ideas from the pastoral to the heroic, the rhythmic to the textural.

Violence returns in “The Chief Is Shot”, but it’s another cue that’s surprisingly wistful and uplifting.

“Snowmobile Ride” has a great groove with energetic strings and soaring horns above it.

Then there’s a “Gunfight at Hugh’s”, the first straight-up action cue here, and it’s a blast of energy with great lines for the horns and strings.

Contemplative and suspenseful swirling strings come out of a pensive beginning in “The Mercs/Forrest Decides”. It ends with driving synth percussion and heroic horns that morph into a more organic and thicker sound.

“Safe House/Chopper Explosion” has an almost metronomic percussion part layered with the maniacal synth percussion figure as well as some martial snare drum work. This is contrasted with delicate string work, interrupted by explosive orchestral parts and eventually dominated by a very strong acoustic percussion groove. There’s even some nice guitar playing near the end.

For “Horse Chase”, Poledouris comes up with another driving heroic theme that blends perfectly with everything that came before.

Blaring horns announce that “Forrest Enters Aegis”, which sounds like a place of considerable tension and danger.

“Lights Out” beguns with a John Carpenter-esque keyboard part before returning to the percussive and soaring epic feel that makes up most of this score.

More martial and action music, as well as more sweeping heroics, are the contents of “Mutiny/Setting the Bombs”.

This release has an extended version of the strong and lyrical “Jennings Goes Down”, which swells in intensity and builds to several bursts of excitement over the course of its six minutes.

“The Warning” is gentle and thoughtful piece with plaintive strings and winds above softly bubbling electronic percussion, a chance to catch your breath after the heaviness of the previous track.

Moods of danger and heroism return for the end credits, with another strong rhythmic foundation for stirring orchestral figures.

As a couple of bonus tracks there are also an alternate version of “The Journey” and the music for the Seagal/Nasso production company logo.