Music Review: ‘Legend’ Arranged By Brandon K. Verrett

Music can make a huge difference in a film, particularly a sci-fi or fantasy one.

Take the film Legend, for example. When I saw promo pictures for the movie, I was fixated on one thing: How can that guy hold his head up while wearing horns so big? I never really thought of that when I saw the motion picture, though. I was too engrossed in the story, and the music was a big part of that.

Since I saw it in the States, I was treated to the score as performed by the German group Tangerine Dream. (The Jerry Goldsmithscore aired elsewhere around the world.) The group, known for the electronic sound and for starting the new age music genre, had already made the transition to film scoring with music for movies including Risky Business, Sorcerer, Firestarter, and The Thief.

Legend has gone on to be a genre cult classic, making the rounds occasionally on cable television. But the music always stood out to me.

Well, BuySoundtrax Records approached composer Brandon Verretta few years ago with idea of arranging the “Unicorn Theme” for a digital single. Verrett’s arrangements and orchestrations can be found in films such as Priest, Drag Me To Hell, Untraceable, and The Informers.

“The success of that arrangement is what sparked the idea of recreating the entire album,” Verrett said. “Our original intent was to take the conception of the original Tangerine Dream tracks and arrange them in such a way that they feel organic, earthy, and more contemporary while still capturing the essence of the originals.”

That has lead to the entire soundtrack being reworked, including two songs featured in the movie: “Loved by the Sun,” sung by Yes singer Jon Anderson (a lyricized version of “Unicorn Theme”), and “Is Your Love Strong Enough”, performed by Bryan Ferry and heard over the end credits.  On this recording, singer Katie Campbell, a frequent performer on BuySoundtrax albums, gives these songs a new dimension with her interpretations.

This collection is like re-discovering a lost love. While the music is more orchestral than synthesizer sounds and 80s guitar, the original passion is back … and then some!

Much of the music is ethereal and emotional, and Verrett’s arrangement takes full advantage of the strings in particular. “In keeping with that organic concept,” said Verrett, “I decided that a more orchestral approach would likely solicit a visceral and appeasing response from listeners both familiar and unfamiliar with the original score. With that I also decided to utilize living, breathing instrumentalists.  So, on this album you will find violin, erhu, piano, guitar, voice, cello and a few other instruments coupled with synthetic textures all carefully molded to bring the album alive.”

I often closed my eyes and remembered the settings from the film, both natural and magical.

My favorite selections include “Jack Vs. Darkness,” the aforementioned “Unicorn Theme,” “Kitchen Fight,” and the other-worldly “Opening.” The tempo varies from piece to piece, but you always get that spiritual, mystical feel regardless of the selection’s pace, so I really did enjoy them all!

Why revisit a classic film? I’ve heard it said (and believe it myself) that new interpretations of popular film scores are gaining in popularity with music audiences, similar to how classical ensembles record their take on compositions or how pop artists cover songs from other performers. “I think it’s a great way to introduce music of yesteryear to an entirely new audience,” Verrett said.  “It’s in a new package with new sounds and new colors.  In a way, it’s been given cosmetic surgery. As a composer, however I would encourage a healthy respect for reinterpreted music, but I would also encourage authenticity and forward thinking when adapting this kind of music into new forms.”

If you enjoyed this movie as much as I did and want to re-visit that experience, Legend will be available digitally on June 12 and is available on CD (limited edition 1500) as of May 21. For more information, go to www.buysoundtrax.com.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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