The opening compositions for “King Kong” are very tranquil; they do not start gaining any intensity or anger until the strings enter during “Defeat is Always Momentary”. What the early tracks for this soundtrack really do is show the misunderstood ape (characterized at the beginning by very friendly arrangements) and the much more devious humans (the strings). There are not the dizzying highs and deep lows present in much of the soundtrack. Rather, James Newton Howard’s arrangements really plumb the middle ranges, only moving into higher drama when the most important points need to be underscored (as is present during tracks like “It’s In The Subtext”).
The repetition present in a number of the tracks really allow for those moments that break the established sound to excite that much more; “Two Grand” seems to be a great example of this. For the actual style of the disc, there seems to be a heavy Danny Elfman feel to tracks, to the point where one can listen in and hear “Batman” or “A Nightmare Before Christmas”. Most of the compositions on “King Kong” are not those quick ones that will leave a listener after a minute or two, but are stand-alone complexes that hang on for five, six and sometimes seven minutes before going gently into that good night. It is quite often the case that the shorter track involve a greater range of emotions; when a track like “Something Monstrous…Neither Beast Nor Man” comes on, there is a 360 done in terms of the energy present on the track.
What was simple and fairly linear turns into an oscillating wave, turns into something that individuals are much more affected by. The pomp of the orchestra is present throughout the disc; aside from setting the mood of each composition, they really create a narrative in which listeners are tied down further into completing this disc. Throughout it all, James Newton Howard adds to the King Kong mythos through intelligent arrangements that elicit feelings of pathos for the ape and sheer hatred for those would exploit Kong. Without one bestial roar, Howard has shown that roles can be changed and those without fur covering their body being the least human actors in this movie. This should be taken alongside the movie; while the compositions are good it is necessary to have an idea of what is going on in the movie to really gain a proper perspective on Howard’s compositions here.
Top Tracks: Captured, Central Park
OST: King Kong / 2005 Decca / 21 Tracks / http://www.kingkongmovie.com / / Reviewed 01 March 2006