CD: Batman: The Animated Series (Second Edition) (1992-1995 / 2013)

August 29, 2013 | By

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Rating: Very Good

Label: La-La Land Records / Released: July 19, 2013

Tracks & Album Length:  CD1: 35 tracks / (62:02) + CD2: 34 tracks / (67:27)


Special Notes: 20-page colour booklet with liner notes by Daniel Schweiger, and notes from series writer / producer Paul Dini and composer Danny Elfman / Limited to 5000 copies.


Composer: Shirley Walker, Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion




It was a natural choice to port over Danny Elfman’s big orchestral sound from Batman [M] (1989) to an animated TV spinoff, and in spite of the more modest budgets, Shirley Walker was able to convey the scope and sweeping gloominess of the film with her expert orchestrations and flawless integration of original material.

Walker had already tackled an animated Batman in the robustly scored Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) and adapted Elfman’s theme for the live-action The Flash series [M] (1990-1991), so a full series featuring more thematic material for the masked crusader wasn’t a tough challenge, and yet the wealth of material on La-La Land’s 2-disc set makes it clear she wrote a huge amount of music for the 30 episode run.

Walker’s music (plus contributions from Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion) covers main thematic material as well as seasonal holiday jaunts – the suite of material within “Christmas with the Joker” embraces jingling Xmas sounds as well as a little Burt Bacharach, with flashy brass and a pop-rock drum kit – and on occasion the style becomes a little rock-oriented (“The Last Laugh” suite features a heavy backbeat), but the bulk of the material on CD1 contains swerving theme statements, great dynamics between woodwinds and brass, and a percussion ensemble that still conveys the oomph of Elfman’s feature film scores. There’s also Walker’s sly humour which is more jaunty in the kid-friendly animated series, and little classical touches – her spin on the Nutcracker sugar plumb fairy dance is especially giddy.

CD2 is more robust in the action department, and the episodic extracts reflect darker scenarios, and suites like “Two Face Part II” have a more concentrated atmosphere of emerging gloom in their chords and use of dissonance. “Perchance to Dream” is equally energetic, with the series’ main theme leaping around some wonderful frenetic strings figures and booming percussion.

Any sense of direness is fleeting, however, as the show’s energy and the compact running time of the episodes mandate fast transitions, but cues do sustain specific moods without an overt sense of Mickey-Mousing energy. Mood shifts also occur in the jaunty suite for “Joker’s Favor,” with a 20s-style jazz rhythm, and a watery (and rather flatulent) sound effect.

If there’s any issue with the scores, it’s the sometimes fragmented nature of musical arcs, yet the cue edits are well-placed and give the impression of longer thematic development and dramatic musical arcs. Fans of the series will be pleased the large orchestral sounds inherent to Burton’s Batman are very much present, with only slight appearances by electronic elements.

LLL’s “Second Edition” CD is basically a slightly abbreviated  reissue of their 2008 2-disc set with the same content, plus two bonus suites featuring 21 extra minutes in the tracks “Gotham Citt Overture” and “Music of the Bat 101.”. The 2013 reissue is mastered from very clean sources, and the details of Walker’s orchestrations really shine in this 2+hour presentation, with the 20008 liner notes from Daniel Schweiger.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan


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