Marin County neighbors, percussionist Mickey Hart and filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola collaborated on the music and ethereal madness that sonically accompanied the groundbreaking and genre-defining Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now. This CD release is an upgrade to the vinyl/cassette version of The Rhythm Devils Play River Music (1980). While Hart was definitely a centrifugal force in the creation and execution of the sounds on the Apocalypse Now Sessions (1989), the actual aggregate credited on the disc is the Rhythm Devils. Included are Hart's Grateful Dead bandmates Bill Kreutzmann and Phil Lesh as well as world musicians Airto Moreira and Flora Purim. Also joining the festivities is Hart's longtime associate Michael Hinton, who co-composed much of the material with Hart and Moreira. Likewise featured are Bay Area musicians Greg Errico -- whose credits include stints with Sly & the Family Stone, Santana, and the Jerry Garcia Band -- as well as Jim Loveless and Jordan Amarantha. They utilize their considerable talents to create some of the most intense sounds to resonate throughout a motion picture. The 11 tracks included here offer up a substantial range from the driving hypnotic jungle-esque rhythms of the opening "Compound" to the full-throttle percussive exorcism portrayed during the "Beast," "Trenches," and "Napalm for Breakfast." Aptly contrasting these are the equally concentrated, yet understated sounds of "Street Gang," "Tar," and the most extended work on the disc, "Cave." The subsequent cuts create an ambience that envelopes listeners as they are rhythmically sucked into the various themes and motifs -- which are no sooner created than decayed. The liner notes essay describes the undertaking, detailing the various contributions from the members of the Rhythm Devils. There are also a few lines that further describe the project from a decidedly technical vantage point. According to several unrelated statements by Coppola made since this release, there are literally hundreds of tapes from which the film's natural or incidental soundtrack was compiled. While his stated intentions are to create additional volumes of sounds documented for Apocalypse Now, there have been none issued.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer