Film Music Review
The Sammy awards







WIND (1992) and A WHALE FOR THE KILLING (1981)


Music composed, conducted, and orchestrated by Basil Poledouris.

29 Tracks (Playing Time = 76:23)



Album produced for BSX Records by Ford A. Thaxton. Additional orchestrations by Greig McRitchie. Synthesizers performed by Basil Poledouris, Michael Roddicker, and rick Marvin. Music edited by Jef Stevens. Music recorded and mixed by Tim Boyle. WIND recorded at Twentieth Century Fox, Todd AO; Studio City and Blowtorch Flats. Digitally mastered by James Nelson, Digital Outland. CD Art Direction by Mark Banning.

BSX Records 8862

Rating: ***

Limited edition of 1,000 copies


BSX records latest release of Poledouris’ music pairs together two scores for films with sea themes. A WHALE FOR THE KILLING is an earlier score for a 1981 made-for-TV movie based on a novel by Farley Mowat. WIND (1992) was directed by Carroll Ballard and was a bit of a labor of love for the composer created at the beginning of a heightened awareness of his music after several big projects.

WIND makes up the first portion of the release. The score is a bit of a departure for Poledouris as it is 60% electronic with some additional orchestral music added. The film deals with the America’s Cup races and it’s mostly on-sea footage allowed Poledouris to write a good amount of action material. The “Prologue” opens with a gentle electronic thematic presentation with interesting sounds shimmering around it. The music stays fairly rooted in traditional harmony once things get under way creating many beautiful soundscapes often driven by an electronic keyboard sound that keeps the music from being too odd aurally. The love theme appears briefly in “Love in the Sewers” and is one of the composer’s finer lyric constructions. The action sequences kick off then with a sound that still has its roots in 1980s electronic (a reminder of how amazing the new synth sounds are these days). Some of these receive a little orchestral push from real brass and winds which allows the electronics to meld into that texture very well. Some string writing also helps warm the sound a bit. You can hear how difficult sequencing these synths could be as a couple of moments the electronic loops feel as if they are moving just slightly too fast for the acoustic instrumental tempi. The irony is that this ends up creating an even more exciting edge to the music. The orchestral segments of the score are really some of Poledouris’s finest work. Listen especially to the simple presentation in the all too brief “Windshadow” for a glimpse of the composer’s lyrical side. The score really does tend to grow on the listener as it progresses and even those who are not appreciative of electronic-influenced scores will find this easy to enjoy

A WHALE FOR THE KILLING has a more intimate orchestral sound perhaps belying its television origins. There are some instances of ambient electronics in the music lending the score an almost Vangelis-like sound at times. The primary theme though is a warm and emotional piece with some Morricone-like twists and orchestrations. “ Barris Way” has a folkish sea shanty feel to the music one of many folk-like musical moments in this score. The title track especially makes use of ethnic instrumentation with a punctuated rhythm that would not be out of place in a spaghetti western. Already here we can discern Poledouris’ penchant for syncopated rhythms and unusual instrumentation with a melodic development that seems to come from an ancient, or folk source. (Fans of the composer’s CONAN THE BARBARIAN will no doubt hear germs of that score here.) A solo violin idea helps increase a Celtic folk style to the music increased by flutes and a rollicking accompaniment. Another example of the composer’s ability to craft wonderful tunes (“Whale Call”). This score too will be of interest to fans of the composer and is just different enough to create some contrast to the previous score without being radically diverse musically from it.

This is an essential release for fans of Poledouris’ music with an interesting look at his foray into electronics coupled with some wonderful themes.

BSX’s limited edition is a wonderful gift to go along side other earlier releases of the composer’s music for films such as FLYERS and BIG WEDNESDAY.


--reviewed by Steven A. Kennedy, 5 April 2010


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