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Seven Worlds One Planet
  • Composed by Jacob Shea
  • Silva Screen / 79m

Every year a new one of these comes out and every year I wonder if this is the time they’ve run out of new things to show us. But no, not yet – Seven Worlds One Planet is another genuinely stunning BBC natural history documentary, David Attenborough still providing education and entertainment to the masses as he has for as long as anyone can remember. A couple of years ago the otherwise-extraordinary Planet Earth II was rather ruined by its very silly trailer music-style score; last year’s Blue Planet II had a slight change of composing team and was better, if still a million miles behind what we had become accustomed to in these things; this time Jacob Shea is back with solo credit for the score itself (Hans Zimmer is co-credited for the main theme, which was enough to get him on the publicity circuit with Attenborough). It’s not exactly wonderful work, but it is never out of place in the show and is clearly the best of the three efforts by “Bleeding Fingers Music” so far. Said main theme is in keeping with the previous two years’ shows and is heard in an opening five-minute “suite” – surprisingly it’s not that memorable but it is appropriately soaring and very pleasant, really nice and perfectly in tune with the exquisite visuals. (It gets a particularly fine arrangement later on the album in “A Monumental Feat”.

The score itself – presented on a very long single CD this time rather than the double CDs (hence why I’m able to write about it… not many people can have actually made it through all two and a half hours of either of the previous two, myself certainly not one of them) – is more of a mixed bag, but does have some highlights. The opening “European Macaques” has a Thomas Newman vibe with the little piano phrases and dancing strings at first but this goes into some full-bodied action music; “Mayflies” is a strong piece of uplifting action music; “The House of Gods (Angel Falls)” is sweeping and majestic; there’s a balletic quality to “Fireflies” which is impressive; . As you might expect the show does have a focus on the devastation already being caused by climate change and there are some passages laced with tragedy in the score as a result – “Cotton-Top Tamarinds” is impressive the way it steers from a light-hearted opening to a tragic conclusion, “Albatross Facing Extinction” is as sad as you might expect. There are some misfires too (a couple of cues sound like they would belong in a Michael Bay movie – not in this) but generally this is decent music. It’s not as elegant as George Fenton or indeed most of the other composers who have followed in his stead on these things, but it’s a step in the right direction and is certainly worth a listen.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

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