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CD: Abominable (2006)
Review Rating:   Excellent  
Aleph Records
Catalog #:
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June 6, 2008

Tracks / Album Length:

21 tracks / (61:28)


Composer: Lalo Schifrin

Special Notes:

Full colour booklet with liner notes.
Comments :    

Ryan's Schifrin's film is a straightforward B-movie about a mountain creature that likes to devour and tear up human flesh (not necessarily in that order), and although father Lalo Schifrin has written a dead-faced score, the arching main motif for the monster is slyly tongue-in-cheek; the lilting celli discretely acknowledges the silliness of a bigfoot creature in the deep woods (a goofy cult monster, unless you believe a humanoid fuzzball actually lives in the mountains, munching on berries, maybe rabbits, and the occasional lost white meat ), but the elder Schifrin's use of peripheral dissonance and hulking bass tones effectively emphasize a primal terror and its resulting carnage, which the director has already shown in the film's opening scene.

Schifrin's return to the horror genre, even for a B-movie, is a major work because it's written with skill and wit, and unfolds like a ferocious beast rampaging through a pleasant holiday retreat, but there's also some lovely tender material in “Preston's Memories” which ground the alternate storyline about a mountain climber who lost his love in an accident, and became a paraplegic. The film's strongest emotional scene has Preston once again returning to the mountain cottage, and glancing at old photos.

The whole cabin is a shrine to his past, and Schifrin's arrangements, initially using French horn and later eloquent harp and hesitant strings, give the album as well as the film strong emotional grounding. The tragic theme is never cloying or overbearing, and it provides some emotional sobriety when the score's bulk is addressing suspicions of bi-pedal forest danger, and the first glimpses of bigfoot's assault on dumb hunters, and later college nubiles (particularly anyone naked).

Abominable is also rich in colour, with many memorable cuts: “There is Something Out There” consists of bold Stravinskian dissonance, acrobatic string glissandi, and rippling harp; “Monster Vision” is a wonderfully emphatic version of Preston's theme with a spiraling momentum created by revolving four-note couplets on strings, piano, and syncopated string bass; and “Rappelling” is a grand action cue which shifts between a hard ostinato, Schifrin's spiral motif, and various brass statements which ultimately congregate into one big orchestral payoff with heavy percussion.

“Escape Attempt” is demonstrative of Schifrin's knowledge of colour: the opening bars essentially introduce the strings, brass, and percussion elements of the cue, but he then focuses exclusively on high and low strings (the omission of a mid-range creates a particularly pinched type of tension); and after much frenzied action, brass are gradually introduced in increasing thickness, before a finale that's augmented with percussion.

Using a 90-piece orchestra, Abominable sounds grand and demands a loud playback. The album is packed with just over an hour of music, including some bonus cuts: an alternate version of the primal, percussion heavy “Rampage” that underscores the fuzzball's assault on civilian white meat; the classically jaunty “Girls Next Door”; and a mushball period ditty, “One Blade of Grass,” sung by Pat Windsor Mitchell.


© 2008 Mark R. Hasan

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