Released in and around 2005/2006, and apparently crafted over a 3-year period, Dawn of the Goblin consists of cover versions of three themes from Goblin's much-beloved Zombi / Dawn of the Dead (1978) soundtrack – “Zombi,” “L'alba dei morti viventi,” and “La caccia.”
There's no denying a lot of devotion went into these faithful performances, and the personnel behind Dark Water Transit [DWT] have added a few contemporary enhancements that still fall within the dramatic realm of the original cues.
After the opening bars of “Zombi,” DWT slowly adds lengthy stretches of ongoing percussion textures, undulating bass, and some excellent sound design that expands on the watery tapping in the original score by thickening the textures, and making them more ambient and enveloping.
Sparse bass pulses and slight techno effects – including guitar feedback and clipped sounds – make up the midsection before the closing bars wrap up the cue, with haunting vocals, tympani hits, and brass accompaniment.
“Lalba” actually appears on the CD in two parts, with the first layered with a few sound effects – mostly wailing voices, waves of ambulance sirens, and radio chattter – that are discretely integrated into the slow-building cue. The main theme is initially performed by wavering keyboards (much like Goblin's own version, although DWT's updated gear adds coarser tones) and it's treated to thick guitar renditions, with bell chimes and bass guitar contributing some doom-laden atmosphere.
The second part which caps the CD is a few minutes shorter, and stays within the cue's original harmonic parameters, but contains different instrumentation. New are strings playing the melody's bass line in long, chunky whole notes, with an eventual theme statement done in rapid speed on organ. Unlike the first part, the focus here is on contrasting moods: as the cue's percussion textures and tempo slowly accelerate, the strings emphasize tragedy, which is largely absent in the first part.
The final theme on the album, “La caccia,” is one of the score's oddest cues because Goblin opted for a stunted rhythmic cluster to infer a bit of heroism, but it sometimes seems a bit mocking when the short melody is given a full prog-rock rendition on guitar and keyboards; the track is also filled with an overtly youthful zeal that's not wholly present in writer/director George Romero's characterizations, but DWT's extended interpretation (just over 10 mins.) stretches the cue's midsection by adding and subtracting waves of differing instrumentation during the repeated bars, ultimately concluding with an elastic, brassy convergence that sets up a techno pulse.
The combination of techno (which is still pretty subtle here) works within the group's reinterpretation, and the musicians eventually morph the pulses into wailing brass and guitar, sometimes evoking a police siren before the cue is ripped apart into abstract tones, pulses, and drones redolent of vintage eighties synthesizers that glide into the second part of “L'alba,” which closes the CD.
Perhaps the album's only weakness is its brevity, but it's an excellent attempt to take a very distinct soundtrack and thicken its strongest qualities beyond the film's time restrictions. Think of Dawn of the Goblin as straight prog-rock album, and it'll be a rewarding little journey.
© 2008 Mark R. Hasan