It's easy to forget just how pioneering this soundtrack was at the time. The use of electronic sound and music within films was relatively unheard of, and Forbidden Planet's soundtrack was the first to be comprised solely of electronic sounds, most of which could be quite challenging to general listeners heard in isolation. Of course similar electronic experimentation was going on at this time, but none that reached the audiences of a major motion picture from MGM. The richness and range of sounds that Louis and Bebe Barron conjured from their basic analogue oscillators is inspiring and perfectly complimented the strange futuristic world visited in the films story. There was a bitter twist to the story though as movie execs downgraded the Barrons' credit to 'Electronic Tonalities' which they believe robbed them of an Oscar nomination.
The first in a regular look at some of my favorite soundtracks. With so many to choose from its a tricky task, but here goes.
First up is John Carpenter's stark electronic score for his first feature film Assault on Precinct 13. The film itself is a pretty straight forward 'police under siege' story and is a great example of how a soundtrack can lift an otherwise unspectacular movie. Simple DIY electronics created using borrowed equipment, provide wavering synthesizer tones and repetitive primary drum machine rhythms, more noise than definable as actual drums, which lift the film and give it the cult status it rightly deserves. Its a powerfully evocative score that hints at later work to come in Escape From New York.
Recently re-issued by Death Waltz Records in a stunning package.