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Casper

1 rating: 5.0
An album by Original Soundtrack/James Horner

Producers: James Horner, Shawn Murphy, David Foster, Richie Zito, Little Richard. Engineers: Shawn Murphy, Dave Reitzas. Principally recorded at Todd AO, Los Angeles, California and Chartmaker, Malibu, California. Original score by James Horner.  Song … see full wiki

1 review about Casper

Friendly Ghosts and Memories by James Horner

  • Nov 19, 2008
Rating:
+5
Pros: Nice quiet pieces, fun upbeat pieces

Cons: Not quite for everyone

The Bottom Line: A good soundtrack that, despite its dependence upon the movie, manages to survive without it.

A long while ago my sister bought the Casper soundtrack - on tape.  That's right.  Back before CDs took over the world.  It was fun and there was one particular song we liked the most, and the last several months I'd wanted to hear it again, so I snagged the soundtrack and have been indulging ever since.

Initially I planned on going through the individual songs like I usually do, as there are only 15 tracks (and they add up to around 73 minutes of music), but there tend to be two main types that James Horner (one of my favorite composers by the way) uses throughout the soundtrack; fun and/or mildly spooky, and a soft music box-like theme used mostly for Casper.

The fun and goofy music applies mostly to the Carrigan and Dibs characters (hence the whole track for "Carrigan & Dibs"), and hints of the slightly shifty are added in when Casper's uncles are around since they're always joking around and playing tricks.  It's almost jazzy, in a way, the manner in which Horner puts the horns together and has certain woodwinds like clarinets dance around as "The Uncles Swing/End Credits" displays in its opening.  It's made to fit both the characters and what's going on in the scenes to help add to the amusement or general entertainment and not act just as background music.  A perfect example, actually most of the songs are great examples, but "First Haunting/The Swordfight" gets the most out of control to work with how crazy things get when Kat and her father first encounter the ghosts of the house.  The swordfight section is particularly climactic and dashing, if I may.

When Carrigan and Dibs aren't lurking around, the uncles aren't playing tricks, and Kat isn't goofing around with Casper, quieter moments and sadder pieces can sneak in.  Horner makes good use of piano and chorus (the chorus pops up in the more hectic pieces as well, so don't think they're just involved for the sentimental bits).  "Casper's Lullaby" is his main theme and my favorite piece overall.  It's the song I wanted to hear again because of it's music box-like quality with the gentle piano and small tinkling sounds and high yet soft notes on the flutes.  That similar style of softness appears in tracks like "The Lighthouse - Casper and Kat"  In the track "Descent to Lazarus" you get a little bit of everything, which isn't much of a surprise as it has a length of 10:20.

I almost forgot to mention the two songs with lyrics on this CD!  First is "Remember Me This Way" by Jordan Hill which definitely has that teen-slow-song-of-the-90s feel to it.  It's a good song, don't get me wrong, it's just that I was a young teen when this movie came out so I, ah, remember it that way.  Heh.  It was made in 1995 and has the whole synthy-sort of instruments going on in the manner of mid-90s music so it's not like I'm off the mark.  The other song is Little Richard's version of "Casper the Friendly Ghost."  Fast, snappy, with electric guitar and rockin' piano, it's fun to listen to and works great with the movie.  Bound to make you grin.

Important to note is that the majority of this music isn't made up of whole, sweeping orchestras, but rather different handfuls of instruments taking their time, jogging up notes like steps and skipping around as it transfers from one style to another.  It can make most of the CD sound the same (ok, well, it sort of does), with only a few truly standout pieces here and there that will make you keep coming back (most notably is Casper's theme).  It's odd that it matches up well with the movie's actions and yet still manages to stand on its own without a crutch (some soundtracks simply do not work without the action).

To be sure, Casper is a unique soundtrack with a style that only James Horner could bring you.  While I do recommend it, I also recommend listening to a few pieces before making a final decision.  I don't think it's for everyone, so try before you buy.  A few tracks will give you a strong idea of the overall CD.

NT

Other soundtracks by James Horner:
Willow - Original Soundtrack
Braveheart - Original Soundtrack
Troy - Original Soundtrack

Recommended:
Yes

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Casper
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Label: MCA Records (USA)
Release Date: May 23, 1995

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