June 2005

John Gale - Dr. Phibes Rises Again
Perseverance Records PRD002
Released: 2004
Format: CD

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

Basil Kirchin - The Abominable Dr. Phibes
Perseverance Records PRD004
Released: 2004
Format: CD

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

by Anthony Di Marco

The scores for The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again are a treat to listen to because they are fresh and don’t rely on a typical Hollywood hook or two repeated over and over for sustenance. Composers Basil Kirchin and John Gale pull their varied cues from different genres, creating scores full of variation and fresh ideas. Influences from jazz, swing and classical music are sprinkled throughout their scores. What’s fun about this music is how colorful and deliciously twisted it is. It perfectly complements the plot surrounding the physically scarred and emotionally devastated Phibes character (played deliciously over the top by Vincent Price) that is seeking perverse revenge.

The level of workmanship on both CDs is excellent. Each track benefits from digital remastering, which places this harmonically rich music above a very low noise floor. Kirchin’s music is slightly more repetitive when compared to Gale’s. Dr. Phibes Rises Again has a more diverse and effortless quality to each track and more inspiring dynamics. The timpani and brass on "Into the Catacombs" is especially impressive.

There is not much information on the Perseverance Records website regarding the company's history, only a tagline proclaiming it as "A Small Label with a Big Mission." I gathered by its catalog that it is endeavoring to be the de facto source for film soundtracks, young and old. A huge film-score fan like myself will be a frequent visitor, and if the Dr. Phibes samples are any indication, a frequent customer as well.