Review: Loch Ness
3 / 5 Stars
For some reason, whether due to rising interest level in science fiction and fantasy or more moderately priced visual effects, television in the mid to late 90\'s saw a glut of the Fantastic, many of the efforts produced by Hallmark Entertainment. From Gulliver\'s Travels to Arabian Nights and Don Quixote, tales of magic and fantasy were being presented in the type of lush, star-studded packages usually reserved for Danielle Steele and James Michener literary adaptations. A year after Trevor Jones tackled the legends of King Arthur in the television mini-series Merlin, he returned to the small screen in 1996 for Loch Ness, in which Ted Dansen plays a scientist attempting to prove the legendary creature exists. Now, Perseverance Records has satisfied many fans of the composer with the release of Jones\' large scale orchestral score for the tele-movie.
The "Main Title" opens in mysterious fashion through circling harp arpeggio and a short motif on airy synths. The main theme then bursts forth – a bright, sweeping melody for strings, which unfortunately also has several cloying turns of phrase. The theme works better in an extended, less obvious minor-key bridge on cellos, where the opening mysterious motif, representing the depths of Loch Ness, also returns on synths. The track works through this roiling thematic material to a full but uncertain crescendo. "Dempsey Arrives in Scotland" presents the bright main theme again, which seems to strive for a slight flavor of the Isles in its skipping melodic line, but instead ends up sounding disingenuous and cheap. A Scottish jig makes its requisite appearance in "Introducing The Locals" while a more flowing quality inhabits "Dempsey Windsurfs" though cascading harps moving beneath the renditions of the main theme moving through strings, horns and flutes. Admittedly, this theme is more effective when in a subdued state whether than over-reaching sweeping gestures. "The Expedition Prepares" opens with purpose where the hypnotic circling harp line from the "Main Title" is heard on clarinets and small string groupings, soon growing into a joyful, orchestral Scottish jig.
Tension is increased early in "The Keeper of the Loch" but this shifts into more mysterious textures again. Charming, Celtic-flavored harp tones open "Isobel\'s Nessie Impressions", before the main theme is heard on flute and the cue opens up into blossoming, mid-range strings and woodwinds. In "Local Antagonism", ominous colors flourish into threatening brass set against a dark Scottish jig rhythm in low strings and percussion. This quick-footed pace continues in "Dempsey Dispels the Myth" but includes an anachronistic sax and drums combo with the orchestra, making for an overall odd shift in tone for the score. All of a sudden it feels like an episode of TV\'s LA. Law from around 1986. Calm, romantic versions of the main theme return in "Invitation to Dinner", "She\'s Lonely, Too" and on piano in "Nice Eyes".
A purposeful low string ostinato anchors the synth and woodwind melodic lines, amid violin shivers, in "We\'re Going Out Again", while a more furious piece of brassy action rears its heads towards the climax. The light-hearted jig from earlier in the score reappears in "The Fight" to then be contrasted by the pensive string and woodwind tones of "A Present for Mr. Dempsey". The next notable set-piece is "Nessie" which starts with a low pedal drone set against high range strings and synths which then moves into a lilting, beautiful and unassuming passage. In the last minute, the main theme explodes forth in a celebratory manner, finishing the track with a flourish. "Searching for Issy" is a frantic slice of action, while "Laura and Dempsey Argue" moves the main theme through bittersweet, subtle guises for violin, full strings and then oboe. An ebullient, mock-classical approach with the melody is taken in "London" as its grand, full blown nature returns again in "Where\'s Waldo". The album and score closes with the six and half minute "Return to the Highlands", which opens on solo guitar, evolves quietly into a Celtic mode through the orchestra and synths but then careens suddenly into pop music territory for a "light FM" type song with vocals. Bagpipes and an overall Scottish flavor is added to drums and guitar mix, but it is certainly not a tune I hope to hear again anytime soon.
In closing, I think this release will appeal to those looking to beef up the number of Trevor Jones scores in their collection as it has some nice highlights in the understated portions and the action bits, but overall it falls a bit short of his other accomplishments in film and television.
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