AUDIO REVIEW: THE CHAIN REACTION / MUSIC: ANDREW THOMAS WILSON / LABEL: DUAL PLANET / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The hardest aspect of reviewing Andrew Thomas Wilson's score to the 1980 Ozploitation road movie The Chain Reaction is that the liner notes by Miles Brown are so good. Brown is one half of Australian synth duo The Night Terrors, and his writing does a perfect job of summing up what makes this score so absolutely wonderful.
Wilson's work is perhaps the sweet spot where the more progressive elements of Goblin meet with John Carpenter's more melodic aspects, with the beauty of Vangelis. The opening piece to the second side, Once More with Feeling, perfectly encapsulates that Venn diagram of electronic film scores and is the pinnacle of the more moody tracks in The Chain Reaction.
Additionally, Wilson works in electro-disco, as so many composers of this era did. It's such a joy to have soundtrack excerpts which can work well on their own, and this album has several. Chain Reaction, which closes the first side, is – as Brown's notes say – “the older cousin Daft Punk never knew they had,” and Car Chase is a shorter, punchier take on the likes of Girogio Moroder's indomitable Chase from Midnight Express.
If there's a real downside to this album, it's that the cuts which evoke mood rather than dance, such as Carmel's Theme, are so much shorter than the disco numbers, leaving the listener curious as to what Barry might've been able to do were he to work on something like Blade Runner, a picture with greater emotional scope.
It's a shame there's not more music by Wilson out there, because we certainly can't be the only people to have taken the needle off this LP when it was finished then immediately began searching for more of Wilson's compositions. As it is, though, Andrew Thomas Wilson's score for The Chain Reaction is an excellent lost gem and quite deserving of the fantastic treatment given it by Dual Planet. The 180-gram vinyl sounds fantastic, with nary a hiss nor pop, and the deluxe jacket with obi strip and printed inner jacket round out a gorgeous visual presentation.
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