Slipstream/Elmer Bernstein

September 9, 2011


There was a glitch when this CD was first released as far as obtaining all of the proper releases. It is my understanding that obtaining the  release is in the final stages of negotiation, will be resolved, and re-released. As soon as I get the final word I will let you know. The limited edition is for 1500 units.

Slipstream (1989) was one of those films you call a “bomb” for reasons that really had nothing to do with the quality of the film. It was victim to finances, politics, and last minute script changes. It came and left the movie theaters and to the best of my knowledge is in public domain. Starring Mark Hamill, Bill Paxson, Bob Peck, and Kitty Aldrige it told a science fiction story about life in the future. All of this has nothing to do with the wonderful score from Elmer Bernstein with able assistance from Cynthia Millar on the Ondes Martenot, an instrument that has a similar sound to a Theremin but has the advantage of a six octave keyboard.

Given a budget to work with Elmer composed a full symphony score. “Prologue and Pursuit” starts with a staccato like Star Wars type fanfare before it settles into a quiet theme from a solo trumpet that you’ll hear throughout the score. The tracks turn to dissonant chords, tense moments from the percussion and the presence of the Ondes Martenot. There is a brass motif that you’ll also hear again in the score, a giveaway as to who wrote it. His brass harmony easily identifies Elmer. “Escape” has quite an eerie start with the scary Ondes Martenot offering a theme backed by percussion. It changes to dissonant and hints at the brass motif before the horns quite loudly play the majestic main theme, one which is also repeated again in the score. It is quite loud with full forte from the brass and it has a hint of a western theme and again the chords leave no doubt as to the composer.  “Dreams” begins with an eerie moment from the Ondes Martenot with wordless female voice before the oboe offers a variation of the trumpet theme. It is played unusually loud for a wind instrument, over powering the rest of the orchestra almost as if a trumpet were playing it. There is a very brief Debussy sounding statement right from La Mer before the oboe and Ondes Martenot repeat their themes. The female voice and the Martenot end the track. “Lost Android” begins with a series of brass chords with piano harmony which leads into a section that could have been written for a western. This loud forte from the brass offers a Native American style before it concludes. “Slipstream People” offers the original opening brass motif from the opening track and this time it is allowed to develop somewhat more fully. It turns into the majestic theme we heard in the “Escape” track. The mysterious takes over with shrilling strings and a constant steady beat. “Avatar” features yet another mystery track with a solo Martenot being featured along with tinkling percussion, dissonant chords, solo flute, and a pentatonic reference are all included. “Travel to Dance” has romantic strings before it becomes an upbeat version of the theme from the “Dreams” track. The second part of the track is a yearning from the strings with some nice harp glissando the final part of the track is our main Star Wars type theme again. “Sacrifice” is very loud dissonant chords with snare drum and swirling woodwinds dominate the entire track. “Museum Society” is a scary statement with another pentatonic reference on a track which is rather quiet. Romantic strings are offered at the end along with a nice solo from Millar. “Android Love” begins with a calling from flute and a love theme from the Ondes Martenot and soprano saxophone. “Revenge and Resolution” at twelve minutes qualifies as a symphonic movement. The oboe repeats the theme very yearning and soulful before a loud dissonant statement followed by tension. The track features a short tuba solo, the proud majestic Star Wars theme once again in a rousing section for a simply superb track. The trumpet theme from the first track is repeated again and our score is complete.

This 1989 recording benefits from newer technology. The sound is crisp, clear, solid brass, good separation of the individual instruments and no distortion. You’ll hear a little Debussy, Herrmann, and Copland all composers I’m sure Elmer looked up to. This is a solid addition to your collection.

Track Listing:

1… Prologue and Pursuit (3:12)

2… Escape (3:01)

3… Dreams (4:07)

4… Lost Android (3:01)

5… Slipstream People (2:49)

6… Avatar (4:52)

7… Travel to Dance (5:55)

8… Sacrifice (3:11)

9… Museum Society (3:53)

10… Android Love (2:53)

11… Revenge and Resolution (12:22)

Total Time is 49:27

Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra

Perseverance CD# is PRD 039


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