The Dark Crystal

Trevor Jones

" Even then, Jones knew how to present themes "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

Even in the early days of his compositional career, Trevor Jones was exploring the boundaries of fantasy. Fantasies in the tale of Excalibur or the more recent Merlin. Or fantasies like The Dark Crystal and four years after that Labyrinth. It was important to realize how the 2 Henson movies couldn't be further appart in sound, because Laybyrinth was electronic while The Dark Crystal was fully orchestral. And more important to know is the fact I'm reviewing the original release, and not the expanded 25th Anniversary release of La-La Land.

After several listens I came to the conclusion that many were simply mesmerized due to the appeal of the fantasy and mystery in Jones' score, something Jones is known for, because when it comes down to mystery and ambience, I can't mention a composer who's better at it. So it wasn't a surprise it already surfaced in Excalibur (a year before that I mean).

The score itself is Jones in a nutshell. It carries the mystical sound palette like many scores conjure up today, and while in a way boring for some, it also invites you to the world of Henson (whether you actually saw the movie or not). So, see The Dark Crystal as the cousin to a score like Merlin, it can sound boring but the world it creates with its mysterious sound palette is quite easily put, stunning in its own right.

Of course, every time you start a Trevor Jones score, you watch out for the main theme that will explode with an epic mesmerizing brass fanfare. And then you encounter it, a rather disappointing four note theme. Yet the beauty of it, it isn't over because the first part of it is rather ordinary and nothing epic, but then Jones adds another couple of notes and it becomes something else. And so you start to love its outbursts on brass from the second it appears during the score. Luckily from the first track "Overture", it has the theme in fabulous form and even after that theme he adds a sub theme to it that equally listens strong.

But also from the start, Jones starts weaving the mystery and fantasy around the score, and this will never end. "The Mystic Master Dies" has links towards Excalibur while "The Gelfling Ruins" captures some wonder through some short fanfares. "The Funerals / Jen's Journey" unleashes a couple of Jones qualities into one piece, with organ solos, a mournful flute solo that will become the love theme and a restatement of the main theme for when the journey begins. It is at times quite splendid. The same counts for "The Great Conjunction" at the end. It has good fanfares and main theme performances giving it a sort of rousing ending at times. The playful serenade giving memories of Excalibur is heard in "The Pod Dance" and a short yet adventurous swell (upbeat) of the main theme a la Krull standards in found in "The Landstrider Journey".

Yet there is one theme that hasn't been explained enough, and that is the "Love Theme". Heard first on flute during track 5, it is a rather simple but again great theme. It is Jones ability to make the theme rise with an epic grandeur, making it a lot more magical in the end. The last track "Finale" gives a terrific compilation version of all the themes, from the Gelfling one to the main theme ending with the same grandeur as in track 1.

The Dark Crystal overall isn't as strong as Merlin or The Mighty, but it has strong qualities. A main theme that actually amazes you each time you hear it, and a mystifying sense that will mesmerize you through its mood. Once again, The Dark Crystal is nothing like Labyrinth. Both have their qualities, but it is this tale that will mesmerize the most of you. And as ever, Jones has a theme that does miracles, especially when it adds a couple of notes to it.


1. Overture (3.12) Excellent track
2. The Power Ceremony (3.53)
3. The Storm (1.04)
4. The Mystic Master Dies (0.52)
5. The Funerals / Jen's Journey (5.25)
6. The Skesis Duel (2.41)
7. The Pod Dance (3.13)
8. Love Theme (3.19)
9. Gelfling Song (2.23)
10. The Gelfling Ruins (2.46)
11. The Landstrider Journey (0.45)
12. The Great Conjunction (4.14)
13. Finale (7.16) Excellent track

Total Length: 41.13
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 22 votes - average 4.11/5)

Released by

MCA Records CD 923749-2 (regular release 1982)

Conducted by

Marcus Dods

Orchestrations by

Peter Knight

Performed by

The London Symphony Orchestra