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Dune (Television) Soundtrack  by Graeme Revell

Return of Ol' Blue Eyes
Review by Christopher Coleman

 

Dune (Television) Soundtrack  by Graeme Revell

Dune (TV)
8/10

Dune (Television) by Graeme Revell from Amazon.com

 

 

Category

Score

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

 

 

Real Audio Clips

 

Track 1- Main Theme

Track 2 - Navigator
                     Advises

 

 


Composer 
Graeme Revell

 

Quick Quotes

 

"Revell seems to have taken a very careful, yet diverse approach, in scoring this saga. While I applaud the subtlety and indeed the restraint of the musical direction, I can't help but feel that this score simply did not capture my imagination."

Tom - Soundtrack Station reviews Dune (Revell)

 

 

 

Composed and Produced by Graeme Revell
Co-Produced by Ford A. Thaxton; Exec. Producer: Neil Norman
Performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir
Conducted by Mario Klemens; Choirmaster: Pavel Kuhn
Arranged and Orchestrated by Tim Simonec
Orchestrations by Geoffrey Alexander and Jeff Atmajian
Released by GNP Crescendo Records March 2001

Graeme Revell fans have gotten their wishes, once again, as Sci-Fi label extraordinaire, GNP Crescendo Records, comes to the rescue. Much ado was made over the remaking of the classic Dune tale in the form of a six hour mini-series. For film music fan's; however,  Revell's approach to scoring the return of ol' Blue Eyes, was met with equal anticipation. 

Some would say that a standard, of sorts, was set by one-hit-score-wonder, Toto, for the 1984 feature film, Dune.  The love/hate opinions of the film carried over to Toto's score as well.  Composer Graeme Revell would have somewhat of a battle all his own to wage while working on this project. The recent expanded-release of Toto's original score, made this an even more daunting task as Toto's music is likely to still be lingering in many soundtrack fanatics' ears. With Toto's heavy electronic influence in the 1984 score, the selection of Graeme Revell as the composer for this new millennial rendition of the story, and the fact that this is a made-for-tv-event (granted a six hour, $20 million, tv-event) it seems reasonable to have expected another strong electronic score.

As it turns out, This Dune is a surprise.  Yes, there are those synthesized elements one expects of a classic Revell score, yet what overshadows them is the bright, full performance of The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir and the use of a plethora of instruments from around the world.  Following the outline of the original novel and the miniseries, itself, the soundtrack has been compartmentalized into three parts.  Each of these three musical parts has its on flavor, yet carrying just enough commonality to keep them from clashing with one another.  As Revell elaborates in the thorough liner notes, Part 1 is largely orchestral; Part 2 reflects some Middle Eastern influences, and Part 3, is more action-oriented packed with what most would expect from the composer. Coming all together, most every element of this GNP release make for an enjoyable 60 minutes + of film music.

I spare the in-depth Toto comparison and contrast, as others will likely provide plenty of detail on this subject.   Instead, I make a different comparison.  Upon first listening, I couldn't help but be struck by a number of  similarities to a couple of other scores that are certainly receiving their fare share of attention.  Several tracks in Part 1 are reminiscent of Tan Dun's surprise hit score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, while Part 2, takes on shades of another Oscar contending score, Gladiator.  Part 3 maintains the otherworldly feel through its use of exotic instruments but, here, Revell's electronic-talents assert themselves.

Quite surprisingly to me, Revell's style in Part 1 of the disc,  calls to mind Tan Dun's recent score to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Probably not Revell's intention, but with Lee's film and Dun's score so prominent right now, others will surely hear the similarities. The Main Theme (1) provides just a hint with low, bellowing brass, a la Crouching Tiger's main theme. Track 2, Navigator Rises, is where things get eerily similar to Dun's score.  Track 2, like many moments of Dun's score, feature rising and falling strings, which produce that distinctive, musical "yearning/mourning."  Worm Sign/ Escape the Worm (4) again is unexpectedly familiar and draws easy comparisons to some of the more dramatic, fight-scene cues of Dun's 2000 score.  All surprises aside, part one is a good musical hook that also opens the door to even more exotic music that follows.

For fans of Zimmer's Gladiator, and I mean fans of the actual music, not the images and scenes the music evokes memories of, will find Part 2 appealing. Graeme Revell, whether intentionally or unintentionally, employs at least two clear ingredients found in Gladiator. First, the strong North African/ Middle Eastern influence is clear in the percussions, wordless vocals, and various string instruments. This ethnic edge seems to fit the desert setting of the planet, Dune and is a natural musical fit in describing the Fremen.  In addition, Revell even employs several Armenian instruments!  The Duduk is not specifically named in the liner notes, but clearly heard is, at least, one woodwind very close in tone to that very instrument. Yet another  element is much more understated, as it was in Gladiator.  Revell brings in a bit of guitar that is not too far off from Zimmer's under-used "Spaniard" motifs.  As Revell depicts the middle portion of the saga, where the downtrodden, Fremen are developed, his music becomes a bit more aggressive and leads the listener to the climactic Part 3.

The soundtrack concludes with more familiar Revell stylings including:  percussions, strings, and his own unique brand of ominous synthesizer work.  Still, he incorporates several elements from parts 1 and 2: the ethnic woodwinds and wordless vocals among them.  The soundtrack winds up with the score running full-throttle through its last few tracks with only the final track, Paul Chooses-Finale (27) as reflective piece which restates the not-too-aggressive-main theme.

The folks at GNP Crescendo keep churning out Sci-Fi score after Sci-Fi score. With this being their fourth major release of 2001 (Robocop: Prime Directives, Farscape, Lexx), they really deserve some credit and this release of Dune is, by far, the best of the four. The packaging is top-notch, including extensive liner notes, while the recording remains faithful to the high standard the label has set for itself over the years. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir furnish above-average performances and Revell does a nice job integrating their performances with his staple of electronic instruments.

Despite the surprising similarities mentioned above, Revell brings his own personality and style to this rendition of the Sci-Fi classic.  While many Dune fans of yesteryear found the miniseries a disappointment, music fan's fair better.  Complaints of this more detailed version of Frank Herbert's epic tale as being too slowly paced, should not be extended to the score.  This soundtrack release is solid through and through and is one of the early highlights of 2001.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track Title Time

Rating

Part 1 1 Main Theme 1:55  ****
2 Navigator Advises 1:30  ****
3 Pain Box 2:59  ***
4 Worm Sign/ Escape the Worm 4:17  ****
5 Dreamscape 1:57  ***
6 Up the Ladder/ Battle 1:22  ***
Part 2 7 Desert Trek 1:44  ***
8 Outrun Worm 2:22  ***
9 Travel with Fremen 1:21  ****
10 Reclaim Janis' Water/ Worm Riding 4:47  ****
11 Fremen Village 2:47  ***
12 Underground Lake Vision 2:14  ***
13 Paul & Chani 2:18  ***
14 Chani & Paul's Love 2:07  ***
15 Worm Bark 2:26  ***
16 Seduction-Pt.1 1:53  ***
17 Seduction Pt. 2 4:12  ***
18 Jessica Changes Water 1:41  ***
19 Desert Love 1:28  ***
Part 3 20 Paul's Vision 1:41  ***
21 Conquering The Worm 2:51  ***
22 Paul Drinks 2:49  ***
23 Paul Reigns 3:37  ****
24 The Killing of the Innocent 2:22  ***
25 Baron Harkonnen Dies 2:01  ***
26 Jihad Begins/ Last Fight 2:57  ***
27 Paul Chooses- Finale 3:25  ****
 

Total Running Time

67:03  
 

Referenced Reviews
Gladiator  |  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Lexx Farscape 

 

 

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