Review: Robocop: Prime Directives
2 / 5 Stars
What would happen if you took Ennio Morricone and mixed him up with Mark Snow and a full synth setup? The result would be Norman Orenstein's rather unique score to the miniseries "Robocop: Prime Directives". A Canadian production that has yet to air in the United States, this miniseries follows the adventures of Murphy (Robocop) in a world that is closer to Paul Verhoeven's original vision for New Detroit in the first Robocop film. While Orenstein's score doesn't make use of Basil Poledouris' triumphant themes from the films, it has a unique approach to the score: that of a modern western.
Beginning with the "Prime Directives Overture", we immediately get a sense of the score. There's a lot of generic-sounding background underscore, but it builds up into a Spanish trumpet fanfare, which is just like something out of A Fistful of Dollars or one of those Spaghetti Westerns. It feels out of place, but metaphorically makes perfect sense. Robocop is a lone crusader, fighting much as the original law-enforcers did in the old West. Once you get over the initial surprise of this western motif existing in a futuristic score, you can't help but notice that the rest of the score really isn't much else to cheer about. A lot of tense rhythms and percussion add to the flavors, but they all feel muddled. There never seems to be any real energy to the score - it feels forces most of the time, and never held my attention for very long.
"Remember" and "Old Detroit" contain some more somber (and simpler) emotional strains, which I found to be more enjoyable than the hard rock of "Pursuit" and "Clash of the Titans". In the end, it took me a lot longer than the 73-minute running time of the album to actually listen to the whole thing, because I found that I really couldn't listen to it all at once. It just got muddled and blended all together - I never found myself really enjoying this album. Add to that the synth-factor. Had this score been recorded with an orchestra as opposed to Orenstein's impressive - but still obviously synth - setup, I think it would have had a much clearer and organic quality about the score that it was severely lacking. I had heard that the miniseries was pretty good - in fact, I'll try to watch it whenever it airs. I'm sure the score even works pretty well for the series, but as an album goes, it's really nothing to run out and buy.
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