Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2021 March 22 • Monday

The 666th Soundtrack of the Week is Laurie Johnson's music for the movie The Belstone Fox.

It starts with "The Belstone Fox Theme", a beautiful and sumptuous orchestral piece that suggests longing, mystery, romance and pastoral tranquililty. This is a side of Johnson that's relatively new to me. Knowing him mostly from his action tv music—and glorious it is—I was surprised by the tenderness, depth and sweep of his writing for this project.

The theme is developed further in "Early Days", which has the strings occasionally dropping out to emphasize a few select instruments. The mood is the same as in the main theme, perhaps with some more minor chords, a touch more sadness.

Then things get cheery and jaunty for a sprightly section that uses some blends of instruments that fans of The Avengers tv show will recognize from Johnson's work on that series. The latter part of the cue is a return to the mood and concept of the main theme, however.

"The Friendship" introduces the first note of real heaviness here, with at first all strings, no horns, and then all horns, no strings. Then the strings back up some brisk playing by wind instruments: oboe, clarinet, flute.

"Separation", with its use of harp and layers of orchestral color almost sounds like a Bernard Herrmann cue. Johnson and Herrmann were best friends in real life, so I geuss that's not surprising. It's an eerie, beautiful and stirring piece.

The main theme reappears in a bucolic tone for "Reunion", which quickly shifts into a rousing, galloping piece, another one similar from Johnson's Avengers work.

For "The Legend Starting" we get a simpler and more restrained approach to the main theme, a short and touching cue.

This is followed by two more short ones, "Tag's Escapades", which reprises the cheerful gallop of "Reunion", and "Kennel Woods", a total change of pace, still and shadowy.

"The Belstone Hunt" starts out slow and suspenseful, then explodes into a menacing ostinato with hunting horns blaring and percussion crashing. At the end it resolves into a lush and lovely orchestral section.

The sounds of violence and pursuit return in the next cue, "Vendetta". The use of the propulsive strings and hunting horns might remind you of some scores yet to come: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and perhaps The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Finally there's "Badger Hill", the longest track on the CD. It sustains strains of mystery and suspense with quiet, rumbling, thundery music before returning to a plaintive reiteration of the main theme.