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Extreme Measures (1996)
Music Composed by Danny Elfman
Orchestrations by Steve Bartek
Conducted by Artie Kane
Additional Orchestrations by Edgardo Simone, Mark McKenzie
Recorded and Mixed by Shawn Murphy at Studio City, CA
MIDI Programming Marc Mann
Album Produced by Danny Elfman and Ellen Segal

Label (Catalogue): Varése Sarabande, (VSD-5767)
Availability: In print, limited availability
Purchasing options: Available used at

While Extreme Measures is an excellent Elfman score - it isn't given the necessary running time to actualy take you from a beginning to a satisfactory end. Usually 45-50 minute scores can do that, but not one that clocks in at just over 29 minutes. This is of course due to re-use fees for the union orchestra that performed the score.

Extreme Measures starts out like Danny's other Castle Rock film Dolores Claiborne. It must be the Castle Rock logo. These two scores are very close to one another - but while Dolores relied more on strings, Extreme Measures uses a lot of percussion and midi samples (programmed by Marc Mann). "Main Title" incorporates music for a very Tim Burton-ish vertical tracking shot down the side of a building. Danny uses his trademark choir to follow the movement.

Once again Elfman has found a theme for a film - a true theme that is memorable and of main calibre. While a lot of thrillers don't often require an identifiable theme - but instead rely on atonal or dissonant passages, Extreme Measures always comes back to it's own major theme. It is haunting, with piano, choir and and a touch of strings. Think of the first few seconds of Dolores' End titles. The theme plays nicely in both "Cokie" and "Dumped". Danny makes sure to vary it's orchestration slightly ever so often.

The CD really picks up an original twist with "The Descent". This was the cue that I first noticed in the theatre watching the movie. It has a nice out of control, montage feel to it. One moment horns are blaring from both channels then it quiets to some wonderfully mixed midi. Of course Shawn Murphy tosses in his sonic booms (Extreme Measures' recording is so-so. I have heard better sound quality in most other Murphy recordings). Other tracks of note include "Tough News" (which has this wonderful what I can only describe as a double orchestra swell with some child choir.."Think Childhood Remembered" from Batman) and "Elevator Madness" where we get a kooky action cue. The main theme repeat's itself taking the CD full circle, where the "End Credits" are structured like those of Dolores Claiborne. An action cue is sandwiched in between two soft passages. The first part of the last track "Epilogue" is my favorite cue on the CD - it has such a beautiful hope to it. The hint of desperation, exhaustion and sadness are still there but at the same time it's exhilirating.

If only this CD were a little longer, it might be worth it to buy for all types of film music fans. Unfortunately, due to it's length, Extreme Measures will be relegated to only die-hard Danny Elfman fans. I am glad that I bought it, and if you want to own all of his scores but are apprehensive, don't be. The music is worth it.

A lot of folks get wrinkled when they buy a CD and it ends up rounding out at 30 minutes (like Extreme Measures). Chances are the score was a short one, or it was performed by union musicians from the American Federation of Musicians (or AFM). Varese Sarabande is one of the few labels who release AFM recorded scores because they are very expensive. For more info on the economics of releasing a union recorded score, check out Varese Sarabande's Robert Townson's letter to Film Score Monthly.

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Click for enlarged CD artwork
Click cover to enlarge
01. Main Titles (2:29)
02. Hard Guys (2:40)
03. Cokie (2:24)
04. Dumped (1:17)
05. The Descent (6:38)
06. Tough News (2:40)
07. Hope/Fey (4:24)
08. Elevator Madness (2:29)
09. Epilogue/End Credits (4:32)

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