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Soundtrack Review

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Forbidden Planet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)


Composer: Louis Barron and Bebe Barron
RRP: £13.99
PoppyLP 012
Available 09 May 2011

A classic of Science fiction cinema, with its plot based on Shakespeare's The Tempest, and its extraordinary visual style created by Mentor Huebner, Forbidden Planet starred the late lamented Leslie Neilson in his then serious mode, and a bona fide old-school movie star in Walter Pidgeon, which took the movie out of the kiddie sci-fi category into serious filmmaking. Forbidden Planet's innovative electronic music score (credited as "electronic tonalities" was composed by Louis and Bebe Barron...

The soundtrack to 1956's Forbidden Planet was, and still is, a bit of an oddity. For the movie it created an atmospheric backdrop, but when listened to in isolation it provides an eerie, rather bizarre listening experience.

The MGM producer Dore Schary discovered Louis and Bebe Barron quite by chance at a beatnik nightclub in Greenwich Village while on a family Christmas visit to New York City. Schary hired them on the spot to compose his film's musical score.

Using ideas and procedures from the book, Cybernetics: Or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (1948) by  Norbert Wiener, Louis Barron constructed his own electronic circuits that he used to generate the "bleeps, blurps, whirs, whines, throbs, hums, and screeches".

After recording the basic sounds, the Barrons further manipulated them, adding effects, such as reverberation and delay, and reversing or changing the speeds of certain sounds.

This is not a score that will be to everyone's liking. It's not overly easy on the ears (or the head for that matter) but if you're looking for something "new" and very different you've found it here.


Nick Smithson

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