Film Music Review
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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)







25 Tracks (Total Playing Time = 76:44)

A.I. ASSAULT (7 tracks, Playing Time = 23:31)

KOMODO VS. COBRA (9 tracks, Playing Time = 25:58)

SOLAR ATTACK (9 tracks, Playing Time = 25:09)

Album assembled and produced by Mike Joffe.

Music composed, produced, and performed by Chuck Cirino.

Digitally edited and mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland. Art direction by Mark Banning.

BSX Records BSXCD 8824

Limited edition of 1000 copies.

Rating: ***


For over twenty-five years, and spanning some 40 films, Chuck Cirino has been providing musical support for some of the most campy exploitation films. If you were a high school or college student in the 1980s, you will no doubt guiltily remember such films as CHOPPING MALL (1986) and THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING (1989), or 1995’s SORCERESS. His career began with 1980’s GYPSY ANGELS, the first of many “ Alan Smithee” films. He has also worked with Roger Corman. This disk presents three Lions Gate produced sci-fi television films and then direct-to-DVD variety from the past two years.

A.I. ASSAULT (2006) appeared on DVD in November of last year. The seven tracks here are high quality electronic scores using excellent orchestral sampling. There are exciting pop beats (more of an 80s techno sound) alongside “orchestral” sounds. There is even some interesting asymmetrical sections in “Jungle Bungle” impressive because they are a bit harder to pull off than simple straight rhythm patterns. The action music also includes a machine gun sound effect whose rhythm is incorporated into the musical components of the score. Cirino creates good thematic material here and is adept at integrating his musical material so that it does not sound like multiple-layered and unconnected musical ideas. There are moments that sound a lot like Jan Hammer’s scores for MIAMI VICE. The lyrical theme is reminiscent of Morricone and the final “Home Free” even has a kind of STAR TREK—THE NEXT GENERATION feel to its melodic outline and “orchestration.”

The center of the disc includes nine tracks from KOMODO VS. COBRA (2005) opening with an interesting main title. The music has that mix of sampled orchestra with interesting effects integrated into the music. This time out jungle drums are added to support a melody that is quite Barry-esque. In this score, Cirino enters into an updated lounge-style that reminded me a bit of Goldsmith’s FLINT scores, especially in “ Bora Bora.” My one thought throughout hearing this score was that this was the kind of music one hoped for in higher profile B-pictures like ANACONDA or DEEP RISING. The more subdued and lyric adventure quality of the score provides a welcome contrast musically to the opening of the disc.

SOLAR ATTACK (2005, aka SOLAR STRIKE) mixes a bit of the musical ideas heard in the other two scores but with a semi-Zimmer feel. It is equally interesting music as well as Cirino crafts a fine main title theme that includes some additional ambient sound additions to the texture. This is the most Goldsmith-esque of the scores here. There also seemed to be some melodic similarity here to the music from the previous score which was a little odd. Cirino mixes his musical ideas and electronic samples and sounds a lot like the experimental use of orchestration in 1960s Morricone. Here these kinds of ideas are all incorporated into a score that seems to combine the musical construction of the other scores featured here. The music though is still quite engaging nonetheless.

There is a lot of music here for those interested in hearing superbly created music from single source sampling and synthetic reproduction. This is top of the line craftsmanship, putting to shame so many of the Sci-Fi channel made for TV film scores, which reminds one that even the worst film can have fine musical support.

While it would be great to hear a large orchestra perform this music, Cirino’s equipment is superbly able to create the illusion that you are hearing one anyway. The sequencing also keeps the ear engaged with out being too much of any one thing. The bare bones booklet production includes a brief blurb about Cirino, and a couple of paragraphs from producer Dan Gilboy.

Now you can enjoy these scores without having to sit through their respective films. That may be the best gift BSX may have given Cirino’s fans.

--Steven A. Kennedy, 2 January 2007

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