The Land That Time Forgot: The Fantasy Film Music of Chris Ridenhour

Composed By: Chris Ridenhour

Distributed by: Moviescore Media

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Recently, Moviescore Media released three CD compilations dedicated to the musical compositions of American film score composer Chris Ridenhour.  Each release contains a specific theme: science fiction, monster films and fantasy films.  This time around, I decided to check out The Land That Time Forgot: The Fantasy Film Music of Chris Ridenhour.

            But who exactly is Chris Ridenhour and what makes his music so special that it is being celebrated in this fashion?  Chris Ridenhour is a composer who studied musical composition under William Averitt at Shenandoah University and learned the art of musical scoring while working for Todd and Janice Hayden in Los Angeles.  While under their tenure, he worked on musical scores created by such greats as Lalo Schifrin, John Debney and Mark Isham.  By 1999, he was composing a ballet, Chaya’s Letter, for the Carol Solomon Dance Company and Stephen Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation.  By the year 2000, he was creating his own musical scores for film, and in the year 2007 began working with the film production company known as The Asylum.  The Asylum is known for recreating or building upon cult classic science fiction, fantasy and monster films.  Chris Ridenhour and The Asylum proved to be a lucrative match-up with Ridenhour producing scores for such notable films as The Land That Time Forgot, Journey to the Center of the Earth. Megashark vs. Giant Octopus, Mega Piranha, The Hitchhiker, Transmorphers and more.

            Ridenhour’s approach to scoring revolves around specific themes, much like John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith: “Musically speaking, my process begins with sketching themes, motifs, harmonic and rhythmic patterns that will define the characters. Once I have material that I feel excited about, the score almost writes itself…Themes are very important for me. Each character has to have an identity and a soul.”  Therefore, each of the compositions found on The Land That Time Forgot: The Fantasy Film Music of Chris Ridenhour contains very specific themes that re-occur throughout.  Each track on this album is devoted to one specific film.  This particular soundtrack celebrates the movies The 7 Adventures of Sinbad, Merlin and the War of the Dragons, Dragonquest and The Land That Time Forgot.  There is also a bonus track featuring the trailer music created for Merlin and the War of the Dragons.

            Ridenhour’s approach to each film may be different, but there are some similarities to be found in his scoring for fantasy films.  Each of the films listed contain a great deal of action and adventure and Ridenhour uses a full orchestra to create the music designed for each film.  Percussions and horns are key, along with vocals used in different ways to accentuate the music.  For example, in Merlin, synths, horns, bells, organs all play a part in producing an exotic sound, but it’s the vocals that create a somewhat unearthly, magical quality.  Although he uses the same percussion beat in many of the films, it’s the way he uses them that makes each track unique.  For example, the drum beat used in Sinbad is applied to Merlin in a different style, adding tribal male vocals to create a completely different feel.  The drum beat is used again in Dragonquest, but the vocals are different.  This time around, the beat is set to vocals that perform a military-like cadence.  One slight tweak creating an entirely different sound unique to that particular film. 

            The Land That Time Forgot: The Fantasy Film Music of Chris Ridenhour contains over 77 minutes of musical scoring.  Each track contains the entire musical score of one film Ridenhour has worked on and his works are incredible.  This album is an incredible value at the digital download cost of only $8.99US and a terrific opportunity to see what great musical scoring is all about.


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