Two scores released this week by a composer who I think is very talented but has never had any of his work released before now that is. Richard Blair Oliphant is an Emmy Award winning composer who has worked on several projects and seems to excel within the genre of the documentary or docu-drama. Movie score media are again the label we must thank for bringing us two of his atmospheric and theme laden soundtracks, THE LIFE OF EARTH and WHEN WE LEFT EARTH (THE NASA MISSIONS). If it were not for MSM we would have probably never been aware of these soundtracks or indeed the composer who penned them. THE LIFE OF THE EARTH is a work that is filled with a richness of quality thematic properties, one would think that for a documentary the need for such a strong score would not be required, however the music is an extension of the images and is used not just as a background but also as an integral component of the film making process, giving the images on screen new life and even more power and impact. Listening to Richard Blair Oliphant’s music evokes memories of what we now refer to as the silver age, when composers such as Barry, Goldsmith and Bernstein were at the height of their popularity and prowess, his scores or at least this score is based upon melodic foundations, the composer utilising symphonic and synthetic elements to create a sound and achieve a style that works both for the documentary and also has the ability to entertain away from the film and stand on its own as just musical themes that can be savoured and enjoyed. The composer makes effective use of both the brass and string sections of the orchestra, with percussive elements being added to support these, he fashions and moulds a collection of lush and quite lavish sounding musical passages that have the ability to enhance and support and at the same time remain unobtrusive. It’s a rare talent for a composer to write a score that assists the film but remains inconspicuous, and that is the sign of a composer who is perfectly in tune with the subject matter he is scoring. It’s a difficult balance to negotiate, writing music that is powerful and supportive, but also composing music that will not intrude too much into the storyline or the scene. Richard Blair Oliphant is one such composer. THE LIFE OF EARTH is a fascinating project, and the score is also entertaining and interesting, take a listen. The second score by this composer is also from a documentary, WHEN WE LEFT EARTH (THE NASA MISSIONS), is also a mix of symphonic and electronic, but the majority of the work from what I can make out is largely symphonic.
Again, the composer brings into play melodious themes and at times gracious sounding compositions, with brass, choral work strings and percussion combining to create soaring themes and gloriously inspiring themes that seem to sweep over the listener and have to them a sound that is not a million miles away from far that of the late James Horner. The composer combines a heavenly sounding choir with driving strings and brass to fashion affecting passages and weaves an intricate and emotive musical web throughout that is filled with poignancy and a feeling of hope. Again, a great score and one that should be played either before or straight after THE LIFE OF EARTH, two addictive and infectious scores, filled to overflowing with quality music and inventive orchestration. I can only recommend both of these releases too you, because you will be poorer if you do not explore them and this composer.