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CD: Countdown to Zero (2010)
Review Rating:   Very Good  
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Lakeshore Records
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August 17, 2010

Tracks / Album Length:

19 tracks / (53:00)


Composer: Peter Golub

Special Notes:

Available on CD and as a digital download
Comments :    

For the doomsday-themed documentary Countdown to Zero (2010), Peter Golub uses a small orchestra to carry his main theme in little mood pieces, each one maintaining a unique sense of unease, sometimes with mechanical, clock-like rhythms, rattling empty bottles, or the use of a mournful oboe.

Other variations include a frenetic version with alto sax urging on the rest of the orchestra, and light rhythmic textures evoking clacking sounds of typewriters, off-tune metallic clangs, and a convergence of notes that create moments of dissonance.

In “Splitting the Atom,” Golub uses a really lovely plaintive rendition of his theme, using strings and juxtaposing them with a circular ascending figure that collectively create a sense of being swirled and swallowed up.

“Ship to US” is based around a clacking train rhythm that's later is expanded in “Bomb Making,” with individual instruments rotating thematic parts. The latter cue is also noteworthy for a circular mechanical rhythm that’s been processed to resemble a pneumatic machine, perpetually on the go. The addition of woodwinds provide contrast, shading the cue with different levels of apprehension.

Most of the cues tend to feed off Golub’s main theme, so the album tends to have one mood – uneasiness – and aside from various permutations of mechanical rhythmic textures (the longest appearing in “Launch Time Line”), there isn’t much thematic variation, making for a rather heavy listening experience if all 19 tracks are played straight through.

Golub’s writing is nevertheless first-rate, and his use of atmospheric electronic tones, organic woodwinds, and sharp orchestrations make Countdown to Zero worth a listen.


© 2010 Mark R. Hasan

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