Wednesday, February 17, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: Labyrinth (soundtrack)

Released on June 23, 1986 by EMI, the soundtrack album to the Jim Henson film Labyrinth is a collaboration between David Bowie and score composer Trevor Jones. Produced with Arif Mardin, the album is largely devoted to instrumentals by Jones with songs by Bowie as it features contributions from old collaborator Luther Vandross as well as Cissy Houston and Chaka Khan. Especially as the songs play into the strange elements in the film that also features Bowie playing the role of Jareth, the Goblin King.

The album opens and ends with the song Underground as it is this upbeat track that mixes elements of pop, blues, and gospel as it plays into the plight of the character of Sarah as the opening version is a mixture of Trevor Jones’ score with a mid-tempo rhythm while the closer is more driven by soul and gospel that includes guitar work by blues legend Albert King and backing vocals from Luther Vandross, Cissy Houston, and Chaka Khan. Magic Dance is a strange, upbeat track that has Bowie’s Jareth character sing with puppets that is this mixture of electro-funk with bits of soul and pop with Jareth reveling in taking Sarah’s baby brother Toby as it’s one of Bowie’s underrated songs. Chilly Down is this dark and mid-tempo track that is written by Bowie but sung by a group of actors in the roles of the Fiery creatures as it would change tempos for its chorus as it’s a strange but fun song.

The ballad As the World Falls Down is another of Bowie’s more overlooked songs as it is this soothing cut that has Bowie sing in a somber vocal to elements of soothing bass and synthesizers in a slow but steady tempo. The song’s lyrics would play into the fantasy of what Sarah could have as an adult but also the struggle with reality as she copes with growing up. Within You is another ballad in the soundtrack but it’s a darker ballad that plays into the conflict between Jareth and Sarah as it then becomes this mid-tempo piece with bopping rhythms and synthesizers as it is one of Bowie’s finer deep cuts.

Jones’ score pieces such as the electro-funk based Into the Labyrinth and the dreamy synthesizer theme for the Sarah character as they’re these instrumental pieces that have a dream-like quality but also have elements of folk as it plays into the world of Labyrinth. The eerie Hallucination with its mixture of jazz oboes, synthesizers, and brooding bass elements is a key piece on the album as it plays into Sarah’s struggle with fantasy and reality which serves as an intro to the song As the World Falls Down. The Goblin Battle is this upbeat piece that mixes blaring synthesizer notes with pulsating electronic beats and percussions as well as some guitar flourishes. Thirteen O’Clock is this very dark piece that includes some steady, mid-tempo beats as well as blaring guitars and synthesizer melodies as it adds to Sarah’s struggle to bring Toby home. The folk-based Home at Last is a track that has bits of synthesizer flourishes but its largely driven by its folk-based guitars as it play into a sense of hope that Sarah would encounter.

The soundtrack album to Labyrinth is an excellent album from David Bowie and Trevor Jones. While it might not be one of Bowie’s essential recordings, it is one of the more enjoyable highlights of his often polarizing period of the 1980s. Especially as it’s an accompanying piece to the cult film that is often beloved by many that includes Jones’ fantastic score. In the end, the soundtrack to Labyrinth is an amazing album from David Bowie and Trevor Jones.

Related: Labyrinth

Studio Releases: David Bowie (1967 album) - David Bowie (1969 album) - The Man Who Sold the World - Hunky Dory - The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Aladdin Sane - Pin Ups - Diamond Dogs - Young Americans - Station to Station - Low - "Heroes" - Lodger - Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) - Let’s Dance - Tonight - Never Let Me Down - Tin Machine - Tin Machine II - Black Tie White Noise - Outside - Earthling - ‘Hours…’ - Heathen - Reality - The Next Day - *

Live Releases: David Live - Stage - Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby - Bowie at the Beeb - (Live at Fashion Rocks (w/ Arcade Fire)) - (Live Santa Monica ‘72) - (Glass Spider Live) - (VH1 Storytellers) - (A Reality Tour)

Soundtracks: Christiane F. - The Buddha of Suburbia

Miscellaneous: Peter and the Wolf - Baal - Sound + Vision - (Early On (1964-1966)) - (All Saints) - Toy - (Nothing Has Changed)

© thevoid99 2016

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