Morgan-Stromberg Film Music
Release Date: 2001
Conducted by William Stromberg
|3.||Attack at Tree Fort||2:39|
|10.||Through the Jungle||3:31|
|20.||March of Doom||2:09|
|26.||Dupont National Spot||1:05|
|27.||Men of Honor||2:43|
|31.||Crack the Code||2:00|
|32.||China Gets the Bomb||3:19|
|33.||Demon in the Bottle||3:28|
|Total Album Time:||72:00|
|by Matt Barry
on March 6th, 2004
I'll bet most up-and-coming composers would shed blood to have at their disposal the orchestral resources John Morgan and William Stromberg do. After years of reconstructing and re-recording classic film scores for the Marco Polo label, they've got one finely honed group of players in the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. So now that the time has come for the dynamic duo of classic score preservation to promote themselves as composers, they've provided us with a real treat here - this ain't no twenty minute synth demo reel.
Produced by Craig Spaulding of Screen Archives Entertainment, Stromberg and Morgan's Promo CD is seventy-two minutes of varying moods culled from seven films (such as Stromberg's Other Voices and Morgan's Demon In A Bottle and their collaborative works on the VCE Atomic Bomb films) and a Dupont national commercial. From the first few cues, it should be clear to any listener that a lot of those reconstructed classic film scores have rubbed off on these fellas as composers. I mean that as nothing but a compliment. It is both refreshing and exhilarating to hear this kind of huge orchestral music written for contemporary films, and both Morgan and Stromberg have got the chops to evoke that classic style as well as keep their music accessible to mainstream ears. If there is any justice in Tinseltown, this CD should get them a ton of work.
As much as I detest pigeonholing, right off the bat it is fairly clear who is who here. Stromberg is the big and brassy one, and action pieces such as "Space Race", "Russian Parade", and "Truck Battle" show his complete command of the orchestra and should make any fan of the Williams / Horner action sound perk up. Morgan, on the other hand, is a brooder in the best Bernard Herrmann tradition. Cues like "Devastation", "Lonely", and "Stalking" all have that low, sad woodwind sound that will always make me think of the opening few minutes of Citizen Kane.
As predicated by the films they were written for, the music here only occasionally breaks free of this brassy and brooding mold, but when it does it is a major treat. Stromberg's "Angry Jeff" sports a funky bass line that caught me off guard at first listen, but his Asian music for the cue "China Gets The Bomb" is one of the album's many highlights. Morgan's stirring and emotional "Metamorphosis" is another sweet spot, as is his Western Americana-tinged "Dupont National Spot".
The performances are first-rate, and the sound quality is superb, if a tad distant for my taste. Tracks are referenced by the initials of the relevant composer, but the filmic source of each cue is left largely a mystery. This is perhaps the most frustrating thing about the whole package here, and again it comes down to a matter of taste. This CD may achieve Stromberg and Morgan's stated goal of presenting "a potpourri of styles and moods to best represent our overall ability in contrasting musical situations", yet as presented here, the music lacks the cohesion and development of an album. Make no mistake, this was their intention. But for score fans it makes for a long and jumbled (but still very highly recommended) listening experience.
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Released: August 5, 1997