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The tagline for this 1998 CGI insect flick – Pixar’s equally impressive follow-up to ‘Toy Story’ – is ‘an epic of miniature proportions!’ This is also true of the score; the delightfully strange epic quality of the story (it’s about ANTS, for Pete’s sake!!!) is well reflected in Newman’s music, which is a quirky blend of cartoonish slapstick dissonance and melodic Western-like gushing, plus a whole lot more in-between the two.
It’s a pacy soundtrack, that tends to flick (or is that ‘Flik’?) between comic and sensitive nuances by the second. If you can keep up, there’s much to enjoy. Music accompanying the sections of narrative relating to the ant colony contains a likeably varied array of thematic material, a major feature of the more general ‘ant’ underscoring being a pentatonic five-note scale, which I hesitate to say, creates key signatures that sound astonishingly ant-like (!), giving the distinct impression of uncomplicated yet somehow dutiful characters. Again to Newman’s credit, the soundtrack always feels like the outdoors. You can almost breathe the lazy spring air wafting through the dandelions of Ant Island as you listen, I kid you not.
Tracks on the CD relating to the main supporting characters of Francis, Slim, Tuck & Roll and the other pitiful clownish failures make for a welcome contrast with their upbeat circus-themed stylistics, while the Kevin Spacey-and-his-jerkish-grasshopper-buddies motif is fun with an appropriate measure of menace. My favourite theme, however, is a pacy and aggressive action melody which occurs three or four times in the movie (heard first in the track ‘Red Alert’), which is just fantastic, because it apparently signifies nothing more than instances in which ‘every character onscreen runs around in a panic in all directions!’ Top stuff.