WITHIN THE ROCK – Rod Gammons & Tony Fennell

A low budget made-for-TV movie from 1996, Within The Rock follows a specialized team of miners who are assembled for a mission and sent into space to land on a moon/comet/asteroid that has been discovered to be heading on a collision course towards Earth. Their job is to divert the object out of harm’s way by planting and detonating explosives. However, they accidentally set free an alien creature that begins to pick off the group one-by-one. Now the team must fight to survive AND save the world. The score for this poorly received movie is written by composers Rod Gammons and Tony Fennell (the latter briefly fronted UK band Ultravox in the early nineties).

Within The Rock is almost exclusively made up of atmospheric music that has little in the way of cohesive dramatic content. There’s not much that’s memorable save for the nods to music from other movies. The “Main Titles” sets the scene for the subsequent score in that it’s not a particularly memorable opening. In fact, it’s the track that follows – “One Million Years Ago” – that is more of a statement of an opening, with a somber theme and vaguely militaristic overtones. This track’s percussive clangs are reminiscent of Elliot Goldenthal’s Batman scores and the Goldenthal influences continue into “Actual Days” where Alien3-style brass rumblings and string tremolo phrases appear alongside insistent string stabs (Psycho anyone?).

There then follows track after track of a patchwork quilt of musical ideas – staccato string patterns, brass fragments, percussive elements, etc. – that are stitched together in a seemingly random pattern that does little more than fill the available time: there’s little feeling of a cohesive musical arc. Sometimes this approach is injected with a little energy and up-tempo strings or brass fanfares are added to add some excitement (e.g., “Shaw’s Rendering”) but these moments are only fleeting. There is a lot of atmospheric textures, even in tracks with dramatic titles – “Archer Dies”, “Creature Unleashed” – where you would expect to hear some dramatic action scoring. “Tunnel Chase” is one of the most sedate-sounding chase sequences I have heard on a soundtrack. Synth-rendered vocals do add a level of variety and interest (e.g., “Moon Tunnels”) that sometimes veers into Goldenthal’s Alien3 territory. There are moments where hints of a more musical side to the score (e.g., “Awakening”) but these are brief and are sorely missed when gone. “Awakening” is also one of the few places in the score that feels like it has a structured, dramatic feel to it, with a dramatic crescendo in the percussion and strings. But,  “The Moon Totem”, another lyrical interlude feels out of place with its romantic strings. The score then reverts back to the atmospheric tone, so there’s little in the way of any satisfactory conclusion to the score and the album just tails off without much of a closing statement (“Escape The Moon / Back To Home”).

Within The Rock has been released by North County Music as a digital release and it’s admirable that scores such as this are being released so that an audience has the opportunity to sample these obscure titles. However, on this occasion, it’s a release that I am unlikely to return to in the future.

This album can be listened to in full and purchased HERE on Bandcamp.

Rating: */*****

  1. Main Titles (1:09)
  2. One Million Years Ago (1:39)
  3. Actual Days (2:34)
  4. The Moon Camp (2:21)
  5. Shaw’s Rendering (5:36)
  6. Moon Tunnels (2:22)
  7. Awakening (1:31)
  8. Archer Dies (4:24)
  9. Creature Unleashed (2:35)
  10. Ryan Got It (1:40)
  11. More Lights (1:28)
  12. Hide and Seek (1:21)
  13. Tunnel Chase (2:52)
  14. Ryan Hits The Monster (1:17)
  15. The Moon Totem (0:44)
  16. Final Confrontation (0:16)
  17. Shaw Kills The Creature (0:37)
  18. Escape The Moon / Back To Home (2:21)
  19. End Credits (3:03)

Running Time: 39:59

North County Music (2019)

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