Review: Loch Ness (1996)

Composer: Trevor Jones

Label: Perseverance Records

Catalogue Nr.: PRD 007

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Loch Ness is probably the most famous lake in the world. Even in our days of modern technology with GPS, Radar or Infra-red vision, the story of the Loch Ness monster Nessi can still fascinate scientists, believers and thousands of paying tourists who travel to the lake, hoping to shoot a fuzzy picture that will finally be a solid evidence for Nessi's existence. The myth of the monster also inspired filmmakers (and no, I am not talking about those guys who film driftwood and sell it as Nessi-footage) which resulted in several films that range from solid to mediocre. Loch Ness from 1996 can be seen as a more solid attempt, because it is rather a extravagant kids movie about characters and romanticism filmed at a magnificent countryside and not primarily a film about the monster. Due to the poor box office performances of other kiddie movies in 1995, the executives in charge quickly decided to transform the $12-million production into one of the most expensive TV films ever made.

The score:

The stunning images of the beautiful landscape in the Scottish highlands inspired a fine score by composer Trevor Jones. Jones, who previously composed the excellent score for The Last Of The Mohicans (1992) together with Randy Edelman, perfectly captured the romanticism and spirit of the story, the relationship between the characters and the soul of the Scottish highlands within his score. The composition features a broad, romantic and highly memorable main theme for strings and high-played trumpet introduced in "Main Title" which embodies the whole character of the film. Even now, almost nine years after I have watched the film, I am still able to remember this great main theme after listening to the CD. The tune is somewhat reminiscent of Basil Poledouris' main theme for Free Willy (1993) and certainly carries a similar elegant approach. Maybe it is used a little bit too much for all possible occasions throughout the movie but who cares if it sounds so good. Nevertheless, the score for Loch Ness still has more to offer than just the great main theme. "Main Title" also introduces a nice secondary theme for the Loch itself which follows the main theme and can be heard as a flute solo which goes into suspenseful atonal music at the end of the cue.

Trevor Jones enriched his score with a wealth of musical styles. Many parts consist of grand orchestral music superbly performed by the London Symphony Orchestra but a huge portion of the score is backed up with Scottish folk instruments and even jazz elements have a short appearance. The folk music with its slightly medieval touch is always present in a way, first featured in "Introducing The Locals" with lively fiddle and accordion music. It is interesting to note that Jones avoided the cliché of using bagpipes to represent the Scots. Lets imagine for a second that James Horner would have scored this film: we would certainly have a lot of bagpipe music that would go on the nerves after a while (and I know there are many people who hate the instrument) but Trevor Jones only used few bagpipes in a very subtle way. The only notable use of whispering bagpipes can be heard in "Adrian On The Pier".

Flute solos are playing a very important role in this score, especially during the romantic moments. "Dempsey Windsurfs" begins with a nice flute solo which goes into a statement of the main theme, followed by another flute solo of the secondary Loch-theme. "Expedition Prepares" is an upbeat cue which makes great use of fiddles and strings which quote a Scottish folk tune before it goes into a full orchestra performance of epic proportions. The introduction of another rather simple motif for the mysterious Ian Holm character follows in "The Keeper Of The Loch" performed by low played strings and woodwinds. A beautiful harp performance of the secondary Loch-theme follows in "Isobel's Nessi Impressions" which goes into another flute solo gently performing the main theme. "Local Antagonism" goes into a suspenseful rhythm during its second half and atonal brass music follows. These atonal passages can be considered as the weak parts of the score but they certainly do a good in the film. Be prepared for a clash of musical styles in "Dempsey Dispels The Myth". In that cue we have the folk music elements, the orchestra plus an upbeat jazz rhythm and a saxophone solo. Few moments of this very cool cue bring Bill Conti's Rocky Theme to mind when the brass is rising after 1:07 minutes, although Jone's cue is much more complex in its arrangement and musical ideas.

Romantic tones return in "Invitation For Dinner" and "She's Lonely Too" as the storyline is focusing on the love story between Ted Danson's and Joely Richardson's characters. "Nice Eyes" has a beautiful piano solo performing the main theme. The suspenseful theme from "Keeper Of The Loch" is featured again during "We're going out again" followed by dramatic atonal music at the end. "One Of The Family" and "The Fight" are bringing back the lively fiddle and accordion folk music. Calm and mysteriously twinkling harp music opens the cue "Nessi" with a huge and breathtaking full orchestra statement of the main theme at the end. "Searching For Issy" brings back the chaotic atonal action music which is kind of interrupting the beauty of the score whenever it sets in. "London" is an unusually classical mozart-esque cue with nervous strings and broad fanfares and creates a surprising contrast to the rest of the score before the main theme returns in "Where's Waldo" to broadly close the score... No wait! It is not fully over yet: there is still "Return To The Highlands" with its nice guitar solo at the beginning. This is fading into the end credits song "Rhythm Of My Heart" performed here not by Rod Stuart but an unknown artist.

 

RATING:

Score as heard in the film: 86%

Score as heard on CD: 82%

TOTAL: 84%

 

The presentation:

The release from Perseverance Records is nicely packaged with beautiful cover artwork and a thick booklet with informative liner notes about the film, the score and its composer. The track listing on the back is a little confusing though because the running times of some tracks are wrong, for  example "Keeper Of The Loch" is running longer than 3 minutes and not 2:29 as printed there. That's really not the main problem with the presentation. When the release was announced, there was no mention of this title being a limited edition. The release date was delayed several times and when it finally came out in September, Perseverance suddenly mentioned that it is a limited edition and that it is almost sold out while giving no exact information how limited it was. Now it seems that it is limited to 2000 units and that more than 1000 units are already sold out. Dear guys at Perseverance Records... we acknowledge the hard work that went into making this release possible but please don't let us, the fans who buy your product, in the dark about such important information because this will only lead to an unnecessary bad reputation.

Presentation by the Label: 79%

 

Summary:

A beautiful romantic score with one of Trevor Jones best main themes and the combination of different musical styles creating a unique and highly entertaining listening experience. Fans of calm romantic and folk music will have a great time with this score as well as those who enjoy scores with strong melodic ideas. Unfortunately, the few atonal action parts are not as impressive as the tender parts of the score which makes the score a little bit unbalanced. Everyone who is looking for an adventurous score with exciting action cues could be terribly disappointed by Loch Ness. It is not so much a rousing adventure score but more of a musical study of the Scottish countryside and soul of the people and characters which Trevor Jones perfectly captured in this fine score. If you plan on getting it you might want to do it now as the release is close to sell out soon.

Review by Andreas Creutzburg

 

                            Tracklisting:

01.  Main Title (03:26)
02.  Dempsey Arrives in Scotland (01:38)
03.  Introducing the Locals (00:26)
04.  Dempsey Windsurfs (02:57)
05.  The Expedition Prepares (02:06)
06.  The Keeper of the Loch (03:42)
07.  Isobel's Nessie Impressions (02:29)
08.  Isobel Throws a Stick (00:47)
09.  Local Antagonism (02:21)
10.  Dempsey Ddispels the Myth (03:31)
11.  Invitation to Dinner (01:16)
12.  She's Lonely, Too (00:29)
13.  Adrian on the Pier (01:03)
14.  Nice Eyes (01:39)
15.  You'll Be Leaving in the AM (01:16)
16.  We're Going Out Again (04:37)
17.  One of the Family (00:25)
18.  He Left Here Yesterday (01:27)
19.  The Fight (01:00)
20.  A Present for Mr. Dempsey (02:17)
21.  In Search of the Kelpie (01:30)
22.  Nessie (03:33)
23.  Searching for Issy (00:49)
24.  Laura and Dempsey Argue (02:46)
25.  London (01:44)
26.  Where's Waldo? (02:09)
27.  Return to the Highlands (06:31)

 

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