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Artwork copyright (c) 1975 BCP; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



Hardcore avant garde electronica


J. Lee Thompson had an interestingly eclectic career as a director, to say the least, moving from The Guns of Navarone, Taras Bulba and Cape Fear in the early 60s through to the slightly less glorious surroundings of King Solomon's Mines and Death Wish IV by the time his career was coming to an end.  It's odd, though, to note the incredible variety from one picture to the next - the films may not have been the best, but he did at least try to tackle some interesting subjects (and he worked with a great many of the finest film composers of the last forty years, including Messrs Bernstein, Tiomkin, Herrmann, Goldsmith, Williams, Barry and Waxman).  The Reincarnation of Peter Proud is one of the strangest, a science fiction movie based on the novel by Max Ehrlich in which a man begins to have flashbacks from his previous incarnations on earth, with a nice smattering of sex along the way.

This time out, Thompson worked with Goldsmith (as he had already done on The Chairman and would go on to do on Caboblanco and King Solomon's Mines).  There's a great website about Goldsmith called Deconstructing Goldsmith (there's a link on the links page of this website) and it features two especially perceptive comments about this score.  First, they note that you could use this score "to chase away your girlfriends, boyfriends, parents"; and second that "you can only describe it with great good will as music".  It's probably Goldsmith's most daring and risky score, and also probably his most unlistenable.  There are a couple of themes, but they are usually very subtly interpolated behind mutated synthesised sustained notes.  It's early experimentation with electronics from Goldsmith, coming a year or so before Logan's Run, and while it's very easy to admire his work - it's equally very difficult to enjoy it.

The score has never been officially released in any form, but has shown up on both LP and CD over the years as a bootleg.  The track titles are not given so it is difficult to provide much of a reference point, but after the promising first cue (which actually begins with the main theme being stated quite clearly, before it's overtaken by the electronics) it's the tenth and twelfth tracks before anything with even the slightest hint of warmth or pleasantness rears its head.  The twelfth, especially, is impressive, but it's real hard work to get even that far.  It's actually worth the wait, because it ushers in a series of far more palatable cues - it's hardly easy listening still, but at least it doesn't give you a headache, and the main theme gets a few nice airings, but is never allowed to run completely free without its awkward, dissonant accompaniment.  There's some quite nice writing for piano too.  It's then a long wait for the best cue on the whole CD, the last one, which features some first-rate action music typical of Goldsmith's 1970s output.

It's certainly true that there are moments of respite, but these are fairly few - for the most part this is relentlessly bleak music on a chamber scale.  Lovers of scores like The Mephisto Waltz might like it (though this is even darker and more abrasive) but I suspect the majority will not.  On a technical level it's amazing; but it's next to impossible to enjoy, in large patches.  A half-hour CD could probably be drawn up that was far more satisfying, but taken in this form at least, this score does not make for a very pleasant way to spend an hour.


  1. i (3:23)
  2. ii (:22)
  3. iii (1:32)
  4. iv (1:49)
  5. v (:41)
  6. vi (:23)
  7. vii (:35)
  8. viii (1:58)
  9. ix (1:11)
  10. x (2:24)
  11. xi (1:43)
  12. xii (1:34)
  13. xiii (2:17)
  14. xiv (1:42)
  15. xv (:58)
  16. xvi (:23)
  17. xvii (2:53)
  18. xviii (:50)
  19. xix (1:59)
  20. xx (2:01)
  21. xxi (2:45)
  22. xxii (1:21)
  23. xxiii (2:55)