BBC’s groundbreaking 2007 documentary, Earth, saw the world in macro, looking at the world as the film moves from North to the South Pole over the course of one year. It also took a view of three species - polar bear, bush elephant, and humpback whale -- to bring the focus a little closer in focus. Its sequel, Earth: One Amazing Day, was released earlier this year and flips the script.
As the press release for the score states, it “dramatically brings to life the crucial role the sun plays in shaping the destinies of life-forms on the planet, including ourselves.” One Amazing Day takes place over a 24-hour period and covers all manner of creatures: whales, baby pandas, reptiles, lions, sloths, penguins, mayflies, fireflies, field mice, and more.
The score sets out to complement the “spectacular vision of the rhythms of day and night and how a relationship with the sun binds every species together,” goodness, it succeeds. Alex Heffes’ music is gloriously epic, utilizing a full orchestra to bring a sense of how important something like “Iguanas Vs Snakes” is to the creatures themselves. It’s akin to a film like Ben Hur or Once Upon a Time in the West -- taking the action and scoring it with big, bold brass and striking strings, while the drums pound away.
More than anything, though, Heffes’ score for One Amazing Day seems to mimic the ebb and flow of a classical sampler like Disney’s Fantasia. The big, pounding, near-colossal sounds of “Iguanas Vs Snakes” sit side-by-side with “Waltz of the Flowers,” which is light and airy, floating along with strings and wordless choral flourishes, much as The Pastoral Symphony follows Rites of Spring.
Sounds of the regions in which the film was shot help to further compliment the visuals. A flute is the primary motif of “Baby Panda,” and “Brown Bear” gets a helping of acoustic guitar and saxophone. It might be a little obvious, but the regional touch helps ground the film when it begins to get too grand.
The quieter passages sound a little too quiet at times when playing the album, to the point where there’s a frantic flailing about to lower the volume when a loud piece comes on the heels of a more sedate one. It’s even more so with the vinyl edition than the digital, but the album is sequenced in such a way that it happens rarely, and the manner in which the music builds from piece to piece keeps it from becoming a sudden, shuddering transition.
The vinyl edition comes as a gatefold double LP, with one disc on blue translucent heavyweight wax, and the other on translucent green. They’re quite eye-catching, and ably reflect the picture of our planet on the cover. The artwork contains numerous photos from the film itself on the front and back covers, as well as the gatefold and printed inner sleeves. Our particular favourite is the field mouse on the sleeve for the first LP, but they’re all quite striking. It’s the sort of package which will have the listener readily showing it to everyone for whom they play it, as it’s just as lush as the sounds from the records themselves.
EARTH: ONE AMAZING DAY / COMPOSER: ALEX HEFFES / LABEL: DEMON MUSIC GROUP / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW