William Susman

Oil on Ice

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Oil on Ice is a documentary made for television directed and produced by Bo Boudart and Dale Djerassi, best known for Koko -- The Talking Gorilla (1978), made with Barbet Schroeder, about a gorilla who could communicate using sign language. In Oil on Ice, he takes on the question of the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, and the potential consequences for the environment and the Native Americans whose home it is. William Susman, who wrote the music, has impeccable academic credentials -- he was the youngest composer to receive a commission from Harvard's Fromm Music Foundation, and was invited to participate in IRCAM by Pierre Boulez. He also has extensive experience in jazz, and his score demonstrates the diversity of his interests. On a superficial level, it can be heard as a standard new age synthesized soundtrack, but closer listening reveals considerable sophistication in its composition. The song "Shik'eenoohtii," by Alaskan composer John Luther Adams, provides the pitch material from which Susman develops the various themes of his score. Joan Jeanrenaud, formerly of the Kronos Quartet, plays the solo cello part and Adeline Peter Raboff, a Native American environmental activist who plays an important part in the film, sings, and plays percussion. The sound quality is immaculate -- full and vivid.

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