February 2005

Michael Giachinno - The Incredibles
Walt Disney 861100
Released: November 2004
Format: CD

by Anthony Di Marco

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ****

If I were a betting man, I would wager that composer Michael Giachinno will be heir to the James Bond musical throne. The Incredibles possesses all the blazing brass and over-the-top bravado that has played an essential role in John Barry’s classic musical treatment of the popular British secret agent movies, with a little camp thrown in. For a man who started his career penning scores to video games, Giachinno demonstrates a masterful ability for creating densely melodic compositions. With a full orchestra at his disposal, Giachinno makes each colorful image jump off the screen. The central "Incredibles" theme is fitting of Bond, perhaps Superman, too.

This is a wonderfully entertaining score. Elements of various Bond films, including You Only Live Twice, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger, are peppered throughout, as well as some nods to Mission Impossible. But Giachinno is too clever to simply rip off cinematic classics. He borrows basic ideas, and then adds his own tasty spin to each track. His score moves from serious action music to more playful hi-jinks tunes. One minute my mind conjured images of Sean Connery with martini in hand, only to be shaken then stirred by a cue that pays homage to the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. Yet there is nothing sugar-coated or meandering about this score. A sense of majesty and class builds from every track, making this Pixar’s most memorable score. Thankfully absent is the worn-out crooning of Randy Newman.

Given the bold, sweeping nature of the score it is easy to pick out moments when dynamic compression cheats this music. One of the worst things an audio engineer can do is dull the skyward journey of a beautifully brassy trumpet or cram a bunch of instruments together into one muddy lump by using too much compression, and this recording has many such misjudged moments. Otherwise, the sound is detailed and balanced with nice depth and width to the soundstage.