A week before the release of Danny Elfman's score for Planet Of The Apes and controversy hits: word is that Fox execs wanted Elfman to re-jig his score, making it more "heroic". This according the the online entertainment news website Inside.com. Their source mentioned that the Fox suits wanted to sell Planet Of The Apes like a "sci-fi Gladiator". This info is reportedly false, with Elfman denying the news in an interview with Soundtrack Magazine. One thing is for certain - Sony Classical's Planet Of The Apes album is comprised of cues recorded at a seperate session.
Elfman has described his score as being melodic and simple but with a lot of muscle behind it. In that respect he is very correct. Fans of Elfman's current style of composing will relish Planet Of The Apes. It is very much a robust mixture of his recent approach to scoring action with combating clusters of brass, and dissonance. Throw into the mix a heavy dose of sampled percussion ("The Hunt" has to be heard to be believed!) and the material becomes extremely thrilling. There are very few moments where this score relaxes, so for those who love their film music brisk and challenging, Planet Of The Apes should please you greatly.
Of particular note is the grinding synth drone that made it's first appearance in Elfman's score for Proof Of Life. It is used again in Planet Of The Apes and works wonderfully. Also re-appearing from Proof Of Life is the frame drum which receives a workout in "Main Titles", "The Hunt" and "The Battle Begins" among other tracks.
Like Elfman's Planet Of The Apes, the listener is required to dig a bit deeper to uncover thematic elements. There are quite a few recurring motifs in the score (variations on 3 ascending notes played on percussion, or brass being the most often repeated motif). Typical of Danny Elfman is his action scoring, which gets quite detailed. I know Elfman's music well and to me it's always sounded like he creates cues and sub-cues. These sub-cues join others within a particular scene to form an entire cue and therefore may not always flow from beginning to end, but always make for fun listening. Danny Elfman's music always touches upon multiple parts of a scene and can seem fragmented, but spending enough time with any of his more difficult scores will yield a better understanding of them and a clearer picture of what the music is doing. Until I see the film Planet Of The Apes it's difficult to visualize what Elfman is musically commenting on, but as a piece of music, there's enough here ("Escape From Ape City/The Legend" features some truly great moments along with the aforementioned tracks) to really enjoy.
Running through the tracks, "Main Titles" is an insane mixture of percussion and the careening orchestra from Mission: Impossible's "Zoom A" and "Zoom B". The percussion here is ladled on with much more intensity then in Elfman's Instinct (76 tracks of samples to be precise). The two suites are comprised of shorter cues which make many references to Elfman's early 1990's style (check out the string/percussion opening of "Suite #2") as does "Branding The Herd". "The Return" is a big, 7-minute plus cue that can be added to Elfman's cannon of brilliant "grand finale" tracks and "Main Title Deconstruction" offers an alternate take on the "Main Titles" this time with a few layers of samples stripped away but still just as pulse-quickening. Planet Of The Apes can be described as a mixture of the action material from Mars Attacks! and Sleepy Hollow. There are only a few hints of a choir.
I truly feel like this is another Elfman album that is only going to get better with time. Of all the composers writing film music today, Elfman has remained the one I enjoy the most. I have a strange phenomena with each album of his that is released, always finding it a bit strange when I have my first listen. You learn about a particular score or composer's work and you know it so well, that when something new comes along your brain tries to place it within those other works. The sensation of new music is almost overwhelming. Planet Of The Apes is a great album that I look forward to spending a lot of time with now and in the future. - Ryan Keaveney
Music Composed and Produced by Danny Elfman
Orchestrations by Steve Bartek, Mark McKenzie, Edgardo Simone and David Sloanaker
Conducted by Pete Anthony
Recorded and Mixed by Dennis Sands at Newman Scoring Stage at Twentieth Century Fox
Music Co-Produced by Steve Bartek, Ellen Segal and Marc Mann
Label (Catalogue): Sony Classical, (SK 89666)
Availability: In print
Purchasing options: Available at Amazon.com
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