It is nearly half a century since man was launched into space to navigate around the moon, it was 1968, a year in which not only man was to take steps that eventually led to mans landing on another planet, but it was also a period of turmoil and war. Vietnam was in the headlines with America being embroiled in a bloody and merciless war so far from its shores and the turmoil was not restricted to foreign lands but also the American people at home were also going through a battle of morals as a bitter civil rights action was being staged. In December of 1968, three astronauts, Frank Borman, James Lovell and Bill Anders, were the first people to leave the earth and travel into space to circumnavigate the Moon. These three men were the pathfinders and the pioneers of the American Apollo programme who paved the way for others to follow and eventually land on the surface of the moon in Apollo 11 in July 1969. Against a backdrop both civil and campus unrest in the United States, the unpopular Vietnam war an unrelenting cold war with Russia, they manged to hold the Gaze of the world and earn the admiration of the American people and establish themselves a place in history. FIRST TO THE MOON is a 2-hour documentary that relates the story of these astronauts and their journey. The documentary utilises restored archival material both visual and audio of Borman, Lovell and Anders who in their own words tell their stories. The music for the documentary is the work of composer Alexander Bornstein, and it is a work that for me certainly stands out as being innovative and entertaining, the way I hear this score is that is an old style film score as in one that comes from the 1960.s but purveyed in a contemporary fashion, if that makes any sense at all? It has a sound and style to it that is akin to composers such as Goldsmith, Fielding, Bernstein and even hints at the bold and affecting style employed by James Horner in places, and also with a nod in the direction of maybe Zimmer. I suppose what I am saying is, it contains themes and melodies as opposed to sounds and drone like passages, of course there are sections of the score realised synthetically or electronically, but this is the way of the film score in recent years with synthetic acting as a support to symphonic or vice versa. Maybe it is totally synthesised because these days it is so hard to distinguish between electronic and conventional instrumentation.
This is a haunting work that has subdued and fragile pieces which are complimented and supported by dramatic cues and bolstered by the composers ability to create compositions that whilst being apprehensive or action fuelled remain melodic or thematic, thus keeping the score fresh and vibrant and giving the listener a rich tapestry of theme laden pieces. It is a score that I think will grow on many collectors because of its leaning towards, for want of a better word an old school sound which in my opinion is not a bad thing. The cue BECOMING APOLLO 8, for example is a driving composition, that builds and creates a tense atmosphere, strings, with percussive elements slowly create a piece that is inspiring and patriotic sounding, it then alters and moves into a more dramatic and action led track, but all the time the composer fashioning a rich and developing theme, which is performed by horns that are supported and enhanced by strings and more percussion. It is one of those tracks that you find yourself returning to again and again, and on each visit there is something there that you did not hear before. DARK SIDE OF THE MOON to is slow burning cue, building and then ebbing creating a sound that mesmerises and entertains. This is one for your collection, please do not pass it by, just go buy it. Available on Notefornote entertainment.