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recommended new release,Alain Goraguer - La Planèt

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    Posted: 28 Sep 2023 at 8:33am

recommended new release,Alain Goraguer - La Planète Sauvage

by Barney Whittaker 

Earlier this year, the French composer Alain Goraguer sadly passed away at the age of 91. During his career, he arranged for the likes of Serge Gainsbourg and even played a hand in crafting the odd Francophone entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. But it’s his work on the 1973 sci-fi animation La Planète sauvage (Fantastic Planet) that I reckon he’ll best be remembered for, however. Most famous for its iconic production design, which features large blue humanoid aliens and a host of frightening alien creatures and backdrops, the film showed animation could be for adults, as its unrestrained storytelling and exploration of ethical themes display in a mature fashion.

Another crucial aspect of the film is the evocative jazz-funk bande sonore: a soundtrack boasting a series of twenty five musical cues penned by Goraguer that largely operate along the lines of variations on a theme. Only a handful of these movements last over a minute, but it’s this feeling of brevity that is integral to the score’s magic and narrative ability. In turn, the soundtrack’s pacing never loses the listener’s attention as it alternates between its signature groovy riffs and moments of avant-garde frenzy, frequently returning to and expanding on the hypnotic earworms introduced in earlier scenes. 

All the ingredients of psychedelic music of this era are there too, from ominous wordless incantations and vocalised respirations to the snappy instrumentation of electric piano and wah-drenched guitar. The dour inclusion of a clavinet even lends a foreboding neo-baroque sensibility to the score. Upon first listen, it’s not a million miles away from anything Pink Floyd had been getting up to at the time, with an audible sprinkling of King Crimson or Zappa thrown in for good measure. By way of introduction, the titular theme (or ‘Générique') radiates over an F# minor groove accentuated by buzzing strings and a formidable slow drum pattern. A space-age ‘Dies Irae’-like chant emerges from out of the tune’s depths; just one of the intuitive melodies that will be reimagined through all shapes and sizes over the course of the soundtrack’s duration. The bedazzling 'Méditation' theme is another such cue. Now with a bonus disc of previously unreleased material, it is fascinating to take a look what was left on the studio floor, so to speak. In many ways, Goraguer's score is its own character, and these new rarities reveal to us the composer's enigmatic talents for arranging such a standalone piece of work.  

Plenty of equally dreamy scores have come out of Europe, most notably by way of the Italian giallo genre, which often combines murder mystery plots with elements of psychological horror. Of course, not all soundtracks enjoy much success outside of the film to which they are attached, and yet La Planète sauvage has proved to be an evergreen and certified classic amongst fans to this day. Whilst hints of its seventies flavour cannot be avoided, the album as a whole still manages to sound like music from another dimension, one utterly divorced from time and place.


La Planète Sauvage 

Alain Goraguer

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Barney Whittaker

from www.prestomusic.com

Edited by snobb - 28 Sep 2023 at 8:34am
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