Atomic Journeys / Nukes in Space
Visual Concept Entertainment (VCECD 02)
Release Date: 2004
Conducted by William Stromberg
The Moscow Symphony Orchestra
|2.||Alamagordo (Mood 2)|
|5.||Hiroshima Devastation (Mood 3)|
|6.||Travel To New Mexico|
|10.||Travel to Four Corners|
|13.||Vela Uniform (Mississippi)|
|14.||Meanwhile Back In Nevada|
|16.||Travel to Alaska|
|17.||Alaskan Wasteland (Cannikan)|
|18.||Back To Las Vegas|
|22.||Plumes of Destruction|
|26.||Nuclear Explosion Montage|
|27.||Atomic Journeys End|
|28.||Nukes In Space - Tag|
|29.||Do Not Adjust Your Television|
|30.||Do Not Adjust Your Television - Tag|
|36.||Calm Before The Storm (Mood 1)|
|37.||March Of Destruction|
|38.||Quiet Intensity (Mood 4)|
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|by Rafael Ruiz
on March 12th, 2004
Four years after the release of Trinity and Beyond (1995), documentary/FX Guru Peter Kuran reunited with Trinity composers William Stromberg and John Morgan on two smaller documentaries Atomic Journeys and Nukes in Space. These two shorter works continued chronicling the story of American Nuclear research and secret weapons testing in the deserts of Nevada, the upper atmosphere and accidentally at one point in a small South Carolina town.
While the Trinity score had its own unique tone, these two scores feel more like pastiches than music of real individual character. The Moscow Symphony Orchestra is back, but it sounds much smaller this time, possibly due to a reduced budget. Themes of power and strength played by a smaller orchestra don't paint as well on a smaller canvas. The music is still old school fun, but stripped of their symphonic might and chorus, Stromberg and Morganís compositions betray their influences a lot more obviously.
Atomic Journey is a rather silly documentary and because of it, Stromberg and Morgan use a jaunty harp and string combination to contrast with the darker implications of the atomic testing. Bernard Herrmann's influence is all over this score; be it the mysterious plucking strings of "Civil Defense" or descending chords straight out of Psycho ("Alaskan Wasteland (Cannikan)"). Other pieces like "Travel to Four Corners" or "Travel to Alaska" sounds too derivative of Danny Elfman's Men in Black work, which was already imitating Herrmann.
Nukes in Space takes much from The Day the Earth Stood Still, mostly likely due to the "space-race" flavor of the documentary. Though there are less tracks for this documentary, there are odd vignettes in† "Atomic Pizzicato" (a small piece of vintage Jerry Goldsmith) and a bonus track "Atomic Filmmakers" that sound like - of all things - Cherry 2000 (?!) with a piano and xylophone playing counterpoint with horns.
This album gets a decent rating, due to the fact that in a day and age where too many composers are asked to sound like a Media Ventures score, it is exciting to here such an organic orchestral score.† It is true that they are taking from Herrmann, but who else can do it so well? Their output here treads old ground safely, though efficiently. Stromberg and Morganís character comes out more in their darker and mysterious pieces ("Nuclear Caverns" and "Pastoral Death") and their military fanfares still pack a punch ("V-2 March", "Military Buildup").
Most importantly, if you like Trinity and Beyond, you will enjoy this album too. I look forward eagerly to their new work. Both Stromberg and Morgan are working on the direct-to-video Starship Troopers sequel, and their style will hopefully blend beautifully with Basil Poledouris' score for the original film. Someone should give them a big bold movie to do and let them rip!!
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