Congo by Jerry Goldsmith available at Amazon.com

 

 

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Congo (Soundtrack) by Jerry Goldsmith

"Primal Goldsmith"
Review by Matt Peterson

 

Congo (Soundtrack) by Jerry Goldsmith

Congo
7/10

Buy Congo by Jerry Goldsmith available at Amazon.com

 

Category  |   Score

Originality 6
Music Selection 7
Composition 8
CD Length 8
Track Order 7
Performance 7
Final Score 7/10
 


 

 

 

 

 

Jerry Goldsmith
Composer 
Jerry Goldsmith

 

Quick Quotes


"A strong theme, Lebo M's vocals, and above average action cues make it a score that I can recommend to the general score community. There are better Goldsmith scores to own, but I'm proud of having Congo in my collection
." ***

Jason Farcone - Soundtrack Cinema reviews Congo

 

 

 

Composed, conduced and produced by Jerry Goldsmith
Selected tracks produced by Lebo M and Jerry Goldsmith
Orchestrated by Arthur Morton and Alexander Courage
Vocal arrangements by Lebo M

Released by Epic Soundtrax - June 13, 1995

Jerry Goldsmith has scored just about every genre of film in existence, and then some. He has certainly shown himself to be a legendary master of the craft. Recent years have shown many products of Goldsmith’s attraction to adventure pictures, the scores for which usually succeed in their musical intentions, even though the film which the score accompanies may be less than Oscar caliber. Recent examples include The Mummy (a solid tongue-in-cheek adventure film which Goldsmith himself panned as one of the worst films he’s scored), and the 1995 Frank Marshall film Congo. Yet another in a long line of Michael Crichton adaptations, Congo fit into the typical summer action blockbuster idiom, and resulted in critical reviews that usually accompany the genre. Nevertheless, Congo proved to be a tolerable adventure picture, despite some revealing gorilla suits from the usually stellar Stan Winston Studio, and less than convincing acting.

The music for Congo is not bad, but not fabulous. It is a typical, yet solid Goldsmith action score, with a majestic main theme, and a plucky “cute” theme for the little gorilla character, Amy. This material is basically what you’d expect. When I first saw this picture, and “Spirit of Africa” began to run over an impressively photographed African landscape, I knew I was at least in for a solid score. In Congo, Goldsmith experiments with new sounds and textures, reminiscent of his efforts in Planet of the Apes, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The score has a decidedly African and tribal flair, utilizing pan flutes, traditional African instruments, heavy percussion, electronics and several other instruments that are rare in the Goldsmith orchestra. Guest vocalist Lebo M (a somewhat cliched voice by now) provides African lyrics to a couple of tracks, delving the listener deeper into the context of the film. These lyrics are welcome but are only found in the beginning and at the end of the album (and film), sometimes feeling out of place. The highlight of these new elements is the intricately orchestrated percussion section, whose varied instruments shine in many of the cues (even though some of the performers are occasionally off tempo). Even though there are new elements, all of the Goldsmith trademarks are present, including strong thematic material (with many variations throughout), and driving brass/string action cues. To Goldsmith fans, many of the cues will sound familiar, some of which are very close to the ethnic textures of Goldsmith’s The Ghost and the Darkness, and later, The Mummy. Ultimately, this is the score’s failing: It comes off as somewhat uninspired. Its familiarity prevents the listener from truly being captured.

The album clocks in at a mere 33:37, but I personally wouldn’t want it any longer. Track highlights are difficult to discuss, considering that most of this score flows by the listener with a traditional Goldsmith consistency, sounding almost like one continuous suite with a few highs, and fewer lows. For the welfare of all you loyal readers out there, I’ll point some out anyway. “Spirit of Africa,” as mentioned before, features the brassy main theme, which is certainly memorable and well done. This theme does reappear throughout the score (always nice to hear), emerging in different variations, underscoring the more heroic, or Lawrence of Arabia-inspired nature shots/travel sequences. Amy’s charming theme debuts in “No Customs.” Whoever played the tambourine in “Deep Jungle” must of been out late the night before--the tempo becomes increasingly off as the track progresses, distracting the listener. “Gates of Zinj” features a smooth variation of the main theme, some suspenseful moments, and even an Asian (!?) phrase. The organized chaos of the action cues begins with Track 2, “Bail Out,” the driving strings of which will immediately remind film score fans of Tan Dun’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Dun must have been inspired by this cue). Blaring, almost mechanical brass outbursts, coupled with percussive responses in “Amy’s Nightmare” clearly mark the beginnings of The Mummy. “Kahega” features some triumphant, syncopated brass restatements of the main theme. Finally, the reprise of “Spirit of Africa” serves as the end credits suite, and grows tiresome, due to a mish-mash of what we have heard before, and the insertion of more extensive English language vocals—a strange choice which sounds very out of place.

Overall, Congo is a pretty typical, textbook Goldsmith adventure score. This is decent stuff with some new textures to add to the Goldsmith repertoire, but comes off as rather uninspired. If Goldsmith was not a fan of The Mummy, I can’t imagine he saw this film in a much more favorable light. Perhaps this led to his less than innovative effort. Even though there is little new material to be found here, this score will certainly appeal to Goldsmith fans and to those unfamiliar with his style. Better ethnically-flavored efforts from Goldsmith include the aforementioned The Mummy, The Ghost and the Darkness, and even the recent The Sum of All Fears--a score which clearly shows that Goldsmith has some musical steam left in him yet.

NOTE: The track order on the back cover is incorrect. The actual order can only be found on the CD itself! This is pretty sloppy packaging from Epic (they did manage include a note on the back in very tiny letters which reads “see label for sequence”). The track order below is correct.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track

Title Time

Rating

1 Spirit of Africa * 2:42  ****
2 Bail Out 2:59  ***
3 No Customs 1:49  ***
4 Deep Jungle 2:34  ***
5 Hippo Attack 2:27  **
6 Crash Site 2:00  ****
7 Gates of Zinj 4:03  ****
8 Amy's Nightmare 2:12  ***
9 Kahega 2:19  ****
10 Amy's Farewell/Spirit of Africa 10:28  ***
 

Total Running Time

33:37  

* produced by Lebo M and Jerry Goldsmith

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

 

Referenced Reviews
The Mummy

 

 

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