I have recently decided not to limit my soundtrack reviews to a weekly feature. There are just too many great soundtracks out there, and so little listening time to limit this to just one per week. I am thus renaming this feature to The Soundtrack Spotlight. Today's spotlight score is another old favorite: Billy Goldenberg's score to the 1969 Night Gallery pilot film. When I say old favorite, I mean that I remember telling the three stories of this film around a fire when I went off to camp as a kid.
Billy Goldenberg is easily on the list of my Top 5 favorite soundtrack composers, and he is also easily the most obscure on that Top 5. Working primarily in the 60's and 70's as a Universal contract composer, composing initially for television (most famously for Columbo, Kojak and Spielberg's debut feature TV film Duel), he was soon elevated to scoring feature films in a variety of genres and styles. Even in his malleable nature, there is a definite style that, to me, is irresistible and stirs something deep within me. His score for Peter Hyams' Busting (1973), for example, which is seeing a CD release via Kritzerland this month (hooray!), achieves something that an artist like Elmer Bernstein tried to achieve in the 70's but sadly never really did, i.e. a fusion of funk, jazz and rock sensibilities to score a thriller in a successful, effective and amazingly unaffected way.
Goldenberg combines the best elements of Bernard Herrmann, Ennio Morricone, Nora Orlandi and Krzystof Penderecki while still managing to create a wholly new musical idiom, experimenting with instrumentation in a way entirely apropos to what he is scoring. I find, often times, that many composers force this kind of musical conceit onto films that cannot properly frame or digest it. There is no better example of this than his score for the 1969 Night Gallery film.
The downloadable soundtrack file is self-compiled from the actual movie because unfortunately no soundtrack was ever released. This is one to savor. It is comprised of a Main Title and Closing Title, along with suites from the three omnibus-style segments. Savor the surreal, antithetical-seeming but brilliant computerized keyboard sounds in "Suite from The Cemetery". In that piece, there is also a bone shivering "ghost noise" (there is no way else for me to describe it because there is no way I can really identify the instruments) that creeps up twice. Look out for more difficult-to-identify but effective experimental instrumentation in "Suite from Eyes," which is the score from Spielberg's first ever studio gig (directed Joan Crawford at 21). And...the piece de resistance: "Suite from Escape Route". My iTunes play-count for this piece totals 18 on just one of the two computers I use. There are so many things about this score that I hold in such high regard. This is all without mentioning the oh-so-original Main Theme heard in the Opening and Closing Title.
Download the score here.
BONUS: For Billy Goldenberg's Duel score, go here.