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PANDORUM – Michl Britsch

September 25, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The latest ‘haunted house in space’ film to play on cinema screens, after the genre was set in motion by the likes of Alien and, later, Event Horizon, Pandorum stars Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster star as a pair of astronauts who wake up from suspended animation with no memory of who they are, where they are, or what happened to the other 60, 000 passengers on their enormous space ship. Exploring the passageways of their industrial vessel, the pair quickly realizes that they are not alone on the ship, and are soon engaged in a desperate battle for survival against a deadly foe.

Well received as an effective sci-fi horror, the film marks the first English-language film of German director Christian Alvart, as well as that of his regular collaborator, composer Michl Britsch, whose debut mainstream work this is. As one might expect given the subject matter, Britsch’s score is thick with heavy atmospherics and textured electronic sound design that rumbles ominously away for a good chunk of the album’s running time. The orchestral part of the score tends to mirror this style, groaning away dissonantly for a lot of the time keeping the score overwhelmed with its darkly oppressive mood.

When it kicks in, some of the action writing is actually pretty decent. The second half of the opening “All That Is Left Of Us” works in a staccato string ostinato and some interesting vocal textures, and parts of “Hunting Party”, “Biolab Attack” and “Kanyma” revisit the style and build up a decent head of steam. One of the few comparatively lyrical moments comes via “Tanis Probe Broadast”, which introduces a lighter string motif and gentler rhythms.

Unfortunately, many of the other cues have a rather ghastly industrial edge that makes them difficult to appreciate; cues like “Pandorum”, “Shape”, “Kulzer Complex” and the wonderfully-titled “Fucking Solidarity” have all manner of grinding rock, metal and electronic effects – including some that sound like ambulance sirens and clocks ticking – which are quite dispiriting, despite their effectiveness in context. It also doesn’t help that the score runs for nigh on 71 minutes; this much musical groaning and moaning is a lot to handle over such a long period of time.

Fans of more ambient music, especially in the horror genre, may find something to appreciate here, but I found it to be a rather frustrating affair, with the score’s high points separated by far too much deathly droning.

Rating: **

Track Listing:

  • All That Is Left Of Us (2:43)
  • Pandorum (3:58)
  • Anti Riot (4:17)
  • Shape (2:03)
  • Hunting Party (2:48)
  • Kulzer Complex (4:40)
  • Tanis Probe Broadcast (2:01)
  • Scars (2:19)
  • Fucking Solidarity (3:28)
  • Gallo’s Birth (2:22)
  • Biolab Attack (2:25)
  • Kanyrna (3:21)
  • The Stars All Look Alike (4:31)
  • Boom (3:54)
  • Reactor (4:07)
  • Skin on Skin (3:21)
  • Fight Fight Fight (2:55)
  • Bower’s Trip (7:50)
  • Discovery End Credits (7:55)

Running Time: 70 minutes 58 seconds

Königskinder Music KK-010 (2009)

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