Past Columns
200720082009201020112012201320142015
2016 201720182019202020212022
 
 

Soundtrax: Episode 2022-9
August, 2022

Feature Interviews:

  • Enter the Kingdom of Dream: David Buckley
    Scores THE SANDMAN
  • Composer Gary Lionelli: On Scoring Monsters, Cartoons, and Emmy-Winning Documentaries

    Interviews by Randall D. Larson

    Overviews: Soundtrack Reviews:

  • CHIP ‘N DALE: RESCUE RANGERS/Tyler/Disney, FORCE TO FEAR/Cannon/Howlin’ Wolf, DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS/Jablonsky/WaterTower Music, LOST IN SPACE Season 3/Lennertz/Lakeshore, LUCK/Debney/Sony, PREY/Schachner/20th Century Studios, TAD THE LOST EXPLORER & THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY/de la Riva/MovieScore Media

  • Film & TV Music News
  • New Soundtrack News
  • Film Music Book Review: The Sound of Cinema by Sean Wilson
  • Documentary Film & Soundtrack News
  • Vinyl Soundtracks
  • Game Music News & Soundtracks

    This month’s Soundtrax marks the 15th Anniversary of my Soundtrax column here at BuySountrax.com. The column actually had its genesis in 1999 on the website fandom.com, moving to cinescape.com in 2001, before finding its permanent home here in August 2007.

Emmy nominated composer David Buckley is currently scoring KANDAHAR starring Gerard Butler. Recent film scores include Universal’s NOBODY starring Bob Odenkirk, GREENLAND also starring Butler, the remake of PAPILLON starring Charlie Hunnam & Rami Malek, JASON BOURNE directed by Paul Greengrass and THE NICE GUYS for Shane Black and Joel Silver. Previous scores include the Joel Schumacher-directed thriller BLOOD CREEK, Ben Affleck’s crime drama THE TOWN, Taylor Hackford’s action feature PARKER and Rob Minkoff’s fantasy adventure THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM. For television, David composed the music for the hit Scott Free/CBS drama series THE GOOD WIFE and continues to score the spin-off, now in its sixth season, THE GOOD FIGHT (for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Title Music). He also continues to score EVIL (CBS) now in its third season. As well as film and TV, David has written the music for a number of games, including BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT (Warner Bros/Rocksteady).
Born in England, David’s first involvement with film music was as a cathedral choirboy performing on Peter Gabriel’s score for Martin Scorsese’s THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. He continued his musical education at Cambridge University. In 2006, David moved to Los Angeles where he began collaborating with Harry Gregson-Williams on film scores, including SHREK THE THIRD and GONE BABY GONE. He has written music for films including WONDER WOMAN, all the FIFTY SHADES movies, BIG EYES and AMERICAN HUSTLE, and his music was featured in David O’Russell’s JOY. David was honored as a ‘Brit to Watch’ by BAFTA.

About THE SANDMAN: “THE SANDMAN is an incredibly eclectic story spanning everything from other-worldly magic to deep trauma and horror, but is always told with real human feelings,” says Buckley. THE SANDMAN’S range of genres gave Buckley the opportunity to embrace a large palette for the score including full orchestra, choir, early music instruments, such as viola da gamba and baroque flutes, and some esoteric sounds. He combined historic classical music and instruments with modern electronic textures to bridge time within the music. One of the most notable experimentations is that of Dream’s theme, using bells to portray his character’s ruling of the sleeping world, reminding the viewer of a midnight chime. The bells are sometimes warped or dissonant, mimicking the inconsistency and eclecticism of dreams. As an Endless, Dream’s theme is ubiquitous, being used throughout episodes regardless of his on-screen presence. The highly emotional score switches from dark to dainty themes, episode to episode, while still remaining cohesive and homogenous. Buckley created sounds unique to every moment of the series, making the music feel alive and distinctive.

Q: What brought you into the realms of THE SANDMAN and what were your initial discussions with the showrunner(s) about what the music should – and shouldn’t – be?

David Buckley: I think I was fortunate in that some of my music was lurking around in the temp score. I think they were pulling it from not just one place, but from different previous scores and I think it probably helped them to realize that they needed to find a composer who was pretty nimble, who was able to move from some full-on orchestra tracks to some more ambient tracks to some solos. Not saying that I’m totally unique in that regard, but my music was in the temp and I think it was showing range, and that presumably helped my cause. My assumption was that there was a good amount of variety of what they were putting in there. With the initial conversations with what it should be and what it shouldn’t be, it was a bit more of what it shouldn’t be. The early conversations weren’t really about music – the first discussions I had with Allan Heinberg, the showrunner, and a few other producers, was more about me catching up on a world of which I didn’t know a whole lot. I hadn’t read the comics, so the first thing I did was read the comics, or at least a whole bunch of them, and spoke at length with Allan about the backstory and getting into all the non-musical details – just to help me absorb everything that these guys had been working on for years and years.

Musically – there were two things that I recall them saying that they didn’t want it to sound like: one was sci-fi, and two, they didn’t want anything overtly digital. That wasn’t to say there couldn’t be non-traditional sounds but they wanted to keep them organic and coming from a human sound source.

Q: Having familiarized yourself with the world of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, what impressions did you draw from that as you began to navigate the musical scope of this series?

David Buckley: It’s always interesting when there’s source material – I  mean, most composers have worked on things that are brand spanking new or something that has got a legacy behind it, and when something has a source and a specific pool of DNA, I think you have to look at it with a certain understanding. I’m not writing music for those comics. I haven’t heard it but I believe someone’s written a very beautiful score for the audiobooks. I couldn’t do that – I don’t think I’d be able to write music for a comic, I just don’t think that’s something I’d know how to do if I was ever tasked with such a mission, but having said that, I do think it’s important if there is source material to read it and get something from it. And, you know, Neil’s vision, it wasn’t like Neil was the writer and he wasn’t going to be consulted or heavily involved in the show – it is his show and he was heavily involved. We didn’t actually have any discourse between the two of us, it was all done by the showrunner. But I was glad to have seen what that was, and I was glad to have read the scripts and to see how they moved. Then obviously I felt I was at my most comfortable and my most raring-to-go when I was watching the actual episodes. But, again, because I had time, I was able to go through these processes, these stepping stones to get to actually the moment where I wrote music. I actually prevaricated for a little while because I thought it was certainly worth the time to get some part of my brain fired up by Neil’s original comics.

Q: THE SANDMAN offers up a fascinating and frightening fantasy canvass. Starting out, where did you begin and how did you determine the shape and size of this score and its musical palettes?

David Buckley: They had a couple of episodes ready for me when I came on board, and it didn’t take more than a couple of episodes to realize this was moving around – we’re not just in one space and we’re going to stay there for ten episodes. It’s “we’re going to move you from a pub in England in the 12th Century to Hell to a Diner – this is all over the map kind of stuff! And I mean that in the most positive way possible, because it upped the shock of realizing how bold the drama is. It was, like, wow – give me more colors to be inspired by! I suppose in some ways that was the big challenge of the show; it is, effectively, seven pilots in one season, and the first six episodes all have a very unique tone, and seven to ten are self-contained stories. So it was how do I mark all those occasions, all those dramatic backdrops, but still keep it sounding like THE SANDMAN and not feeling like I’ve suddenly switched gears too massively.

I can’t necessarily tell you how I achieved what I think I achieved, apart from the obvious points, which are: I drove home a melody for Morpheus (Dream). It’s the first thing you hear in the show, it’s the last thing you hear in the show, and it’s pretty much dotted around everywhere else. I’ve worked on stuff where I’ve been told not to write melodies – I’ve definitely worked on projects where melody has been considered forbidden, and there are definitely directors who would classify a melodic score as being too much. So the fact that they were keen for me to produce something that was Dream’s theme was, a: nice, and b: very useful for keeping all the threads and keeping him alive throughout episodes. For example, in episode five, set in the diner, he’s not really in the episode very much, but knowing that I can hit his theme on either end and just remind everyone that we’re watching THE SANDMAN as opposed to just mayhem in a diner, is useful. That’s hardly a profound film compositional device, having a tune and using it, but, boy, did I need it in this one! Had there been a sense of “we don’t want a tune” or “we want more ambience” then I don’t think the score would have done quite the right job.

Q: Tell me about more of the themes you have in this series. Would you describe your specific character motifs and how you treated them instrumentally?

David Buckley: With Dream [Tom Sturridge], there’s two things. There’s the warped bells which, to me, is supposed to represent The Dreaming and is slightly surreal. In a nutshell that explains what I was trying to do in terms of an organic-sounding instrument, a celeste, but played slightly inorganically but not contorted out of shape. I was never really interested in smashing something up so much that you didn’t know what the background of the instrument was. My desire was to keep the human presence within the sound and to add a slightly surreal extra level of something that sort of tickled the ear – or tickled the back of the brain sometimes, trying to process something that’s a little bit off, but you’re not necessarily quite sure why. The Dreaming seemed like the perfect place for that sort of slightly off-kilter bell sound. And then with Dream, I just liked the juxtaposition of the viola da gamba – or sometimes I used an instrument called the vielle – with a more analog synth sound, although with the amalgamation of the two sounds I found both have some interesting similarities, even though they have five hundred years between them, but I thought there was some kind of neatness to the eternal nature of Dream – that there’s this sort of antiquity on the one hand and modernity on the other.

Possibly my favorite episode, Episode 6, with Death [Kirby Howell-Baptiste], that theme’s really piano and strings and for some reason it’s one of the more conventional pieces I wrote. But it’s an unconventional application of music over the character of Death, because normally, I think if one doesn’t know the background material, or if I had just gone straight in scoring this, without having seen the episode (which would be very odd!), if I had suddenly realized, “Christ! we forgot to do this theme! You’ve got an hour to write music for Death!” my instinct would be that it would be kind of dark and foreboding and terrifying, because that’s a fairly conventional understanding of what death is. But in our show, that’s a moment of beauty, it’s a moment of warmth and tenderness, and love. That gave me an opportunity to try to write something beautiful, something I hope is sincere and feels warm and friendly and kind. The Corinthian [Boyd Holbrook] has got this slightly odd, not really a theme but more a motif; it’s a slightly tricked out trumpet sound. I wouldn’t say that it’s gone into the jazzy realm, because it hasn’t, and in fact there was a moment in time when it almost did, and I was told to pull back on that. I think they felt that had crossed some sort of line.

For Johanna Constantine [Jenna Coleman], a solo cello is where her main thematic melody is played, and for Ethel Cripps [Joely Richardson], her melody is played on an alto flute. So I’m not really trying to alienate people; I wanted to welcome people in, and by having an orchestra and orchestral instruments, which I consider the heart of a score, that’s what was wanted by my showrunner. But I needed to always have an extra layer of peculiarity floating around on top, whether tucked away and kind of hidden within the texture – or occasionally it would assert itself a little bit more.

Q: Along with the ongoing story established in the first episode, How did you deal with the multiple genres the series explores as it progresses? 

David Buckley: You have to service the drama. I can’t see this like a regular show where you establish a sound in the first episode and then you try and let that sustain itself for the season. That wasn’t going to work. I don’t think it even occurred to me to even try. So it was looking at everything as where am I standing, what am I looking at, who’s around me – just really trying to put myself into the world in which the characters are living. But then it was extrapolated from earlier episodes; Dream is pretty much in every episode, so it was  making sure that his theme pops when he is there. Beneath the surface I think there’s probably lots of other little, perhaps subconscious elements, so even if we’re in fairly disparate environments – we’re in Hell, or we’re in modern-day London, I think there is some cohesiveness to it, or certainly, just by little quirks, like a little harmonic movement or an instrumental combination choice. I think I was conscious of the fact that ‘yes, we’re in a different musical landscape, but there were things running throughout that I think added some layer of consistency without bland-ing everything out.’ That would be the last thing I’d want to do.

Q: How would you describe your mixture of sound design with orchestral melody and very lyrical moments of melody and use of choir?

David Buckley: Well, I’ve worked on some pretty abrasive sounding music in the past, not always because I wanted to, but that’s what the job was and I write music to order. I got involved and interested in sound design when I started working for Harry Gregson-Williams. The first couple of jobs I did for him were writing additional music for animation scores, and that’s kind of what I consider where my training began… I learned traditional orchestration, harmony, counterpoint, and a natural arrival point for those skill sets would be something like an animated score, where you can flex all those muscles. And then the third project on which I was helping Harry was a Joel Schumacher movie called THE NUMBER 23 [2007], and Harry said “Dave, you know, I’ve gotten to know you a little bit more and I think you’ve got a dark side to you, why don’t you try and help out on a couple of these bits.” So he let me loose on this small, sound design/ambient world, which I found enjoyable, and as I’ve left Harry and gone on and done my own thing, I’ve found myself going where the job requires, and as I’ve just prefaced what I said earlier, I’ve done a couple of scores which have been quite edgy and purely electronic. Maybe it was the right thing for the film, I can’t say this is the sort of thing I’d love to listen to – I wouldn’t put it on and kind of relax to some of that stuff.

But this, to me, for THE SANDMAN, was the absolute perfect combination of, for the most part, quite subtle and delicate sound design elements. I like to think they’re not too jarring and that they fit the world and there’s an appropriateness to them. It’s not like, sometimes the brief comes in, “we’ve got to be cool, we’ve got to be edgy, we’ve got to remove the orchestra, no woodwinds” – all these things. I can’t think of a better environment than this surreal, Neil Gaiman world, having traditional instruments fluttering alongside non-traditional instruments, be they synthetic or anything else. It seemed very appropriate, and ultimately it gave me a vast array of sounds to pull from, which is very welcome in a show as richly textured as this is.

Q: Episode five, “24/7,” is something of a standalone horror story which steps away from the main storyline for a while before bringing us back into The Dreaming. How did you approach this dark episode to give it what it needed while maintaining coherency that brings us back into the Dream world?

David Buckley: The bulk of the score in this episode, more than any of the others, is sound design. Only the end part, where Dream materializes back into the diner, I put that cue on the soundtrack album (“The Truth of Mankind,” track 20). For its’ first 40 minutes, I just couldn’t figure out how to make it as part of a listening experience, because that’s not what I was commissioned to do. My job was to add to the sense of impending dread, the impending mayhem, and at no point did I think, well, that requires an orchestral score in here. There was nothing about those scenes in the diner that screamed orchestra to me. It screamed creepy, crawling, weird, semi-audible, rumbling, musical squalor. It was really fun doing it and I loved doing it for the episode, but like I say, I just didn’t think, at the end of the day, that I want to put that on a soundtrack album, because it just didn’t translate. It probably is the most different sounding stuff compared to the other episodes, and the episode itself does stand out from everything else around it. I think what was critical for me was when Dream comes back in at the end, that is where the music needed to stop being this sort of creeping, crawling stuff and it needed to announce itself. Dream is here, and with six French horns and four trombones, there was something that shows the enormity of what Dream can encompass. The score for that episode was almost like something pulling, stretching, stretching, stretching, and then eventually, hang on for 40 minutes and only when our protagonist comes in does the “music” start, where you can say “Oh, I recognize that chord, or I recognize that tune.” I think it’s important that you’re waiting for something that you can actually latch on to – the fact that it is kind of grimy and murky, and then there is a kind of quasi-nobility to the music when he asserts himself.

Listen the track “The Truth of Mankind” from Episode 5:

Q: What orchestra performed the score?

David Buckley: It was from orchestras all over the world! Well, not quite, but it certainly was a mixed bunch of people. The brass and woodwinds were recorded in London, at Abbey Road and Air Studios, and depending on their availability I also recorded an orchestra in Vienna in the Synchron Stage there, which actually I feel bad now that I’ve said that, it makes it sound like the Vienna people were second best. I wanted to record in London because I’m a Brit and I’ve recorded very little in London, so they did have my attention but everyone was so busy… But, yeh, I was wonderfully pleased with all the brass and woodwinds. Strings were recorded in Budapest, Hungary, where I’ve recorded lots and lots of my scores. Choir was recorded in Bulgaria at Sofia and in London, and then there were lots of specialists, unique musicians, scattered all around the world, who just had little home studios and I would write something and say “Would you perform this?” and they’d send the music back to me. So it meant that my mixing engineer was cursing my name throughout the entire project, because he was the one who had to open these big sessions up and import all this stuff from Hungary and wherever it was and try to make it sound like it was all in one space!

Q: Tell me about scoring the secret surprise bonus two-part 11th episode that was premiered two weeks after the original ten episodes?

David Buckley: Having worked on a few animated films over the years, I was delighted to see such original and beautiful work from A Dream of a Thousand Cats director, Hisko Hulsing – his work is both dreamy and realistic. We wanted to buck the conventions of cute animation music and keep a darker orchestral tone for the most part. I actually found this one of the most enjoyable parts of the show to score as it really did feel unique and very classy. But I also liked the second part of the bonus episode, Calliope. I used a female chorus throughout this part of the episode (recorded in London), and loved how it added this sense of tragedy to the world. There was also a wonderful intimacy to Calliope as we learn more about Morpheus and his painful backstory. Although I have no idea what comes next (if we are even given the opportunity to continue), but it seems to me there is a lot more to explore with this story and it would be a joy to score.

Q: What was most challenging and interesting about scoring THE SANDMAN?

David Buckley: Challenging would be two things. One, what we’ve already mentioned, the sheer diversity of dramatic styles within the storytelling and making sure that a needle was still being thread through all of it. That was a big challenge. I was told it was going to be and it was! And, of course, then the obvious – whenever you are establishing music for a new show, it’s always a bit daunting because every day that goes by I feel the world is getting saturated with music. Well, of course it is; there’s not less music coming into the world, there’s more, and it’s everywhere. So I think whenever you’re starting something there is that sense of “What can I do? What’s left? What are my choices?” There’s almost a sense of defeat that so many things have been done and so many options have been considered and utilized or over-utilized, so I always find the beginning of any project a little bit daunting – it’s also exciting because there is the blank page excitement, but there’s the terror. There in equal measure, I would say.

What was interesting? I think it was being able to look at characters, like something like Lucifer or Death, or even the Corinthian who in normal storytelling would be considered the bad guy and Dream/Morbius would be the good guy. But looking at them all, and knowing that, musically, I don’t need to be as black-and-white with any of these people as perhaps I would have thought before I got into this world. They are more intricate characters. We can feel sympathy for The Corinthian, towards the end of the show, we can hate Dream at certain moments within the show. We can love a character called Death. There’s a beautiful scene between Lucifer and Dream as they play The World’s Oldest Game – there’s a stunning bit of television there. Even John D. in the diner, the guy who’s causing all this mayhem, there’s something about him and my heart kind of goes out to him – he’s a broken human being. I felt that I was given permission to play around with these characters and try to add something. I hope, for the most part, my desire was to have a beauty within them, even a broken, decayed beauty. That’s what I was trying for, all the way through, to just write something that had a sort of loveliness to it. And I don’t mean kind of shiny, happy, or any of that – often I think there’s an inherent melancholy in Dream’s main theme, but I think that’s because there’s an inherent melancholy in his character.

I was also pleased to not be relatively noted to death – I’ve worked on shows where with every piece of music someone’s got to say something about every single measure! Certainly at the beginning there was a lot of input and a lot of discussions, but I did feel a confidence in this that I was given, and there were some wonderful people who were very, very encouraging. I’m quite self-critical of my work and certainly when I was putting the soundtrack album together, I felt a confidence and maturity in this score, compared to some of my previous work, and that in itself is very satisfying.

Many thanks to Kyrie Hood of White Bear PR for facilitating this interview, and especially to David Buckley for taking the time to answer my questions and provide a thorough discussion about his work for THE SANDMAN.

The digital soundtrack of Buckley’s score for THE SANDMAN was released by Watertower Music and is available at these links

For more information on the composer, see his website.

The 11-episode series of THE SANDMAN is now streaming at Netflix.

___________________________________________________________________

Three-time Emmy-winning composer Gary Lionelli received a 2017 Primetime Emmy nomination for his score for the 2017 Academy Award-winning film O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA, directed by Ezra Edelman, depicting the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson from football legend to murder suspect. He also scored Rory Kennedy’s 2015 Academy Award-nominated film LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM and HBO’s dramatic series LUCK, helmed by Michael Mann and David Milch and starring Dustin Hoffman, the romantic comedy POOR GREG DROWNING, for director Jeffrey Scott Collins, and the recent documentary DOWNFALL: THE CASE AGAINST BOEING, for Brian Grazer and Ron Howard at Imagine Entertainment, directed by Rory Kennedy. The film premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Gary’s other work has included the HBO films FOSTER, by Academy Award-winning filmmakers Deborah Oppenheimer and Mark Jonathan Harris, and A CHOICE OF WEAPONS, directed by John Maggio, as well as THE CLINTON AFFAIR by filmmakers Blair Foster and Alex Gibney, and NUCLEAR FAMILY, for director Ry Russo-Young.
As an addition to working with orchestras, Gary performs on many of the instruments heard in his scores. These include many strange and unusual instruments from all over the globe such as a glass euphone, dulcitone, guitar-viol, and many more. Gary currently lives in Los Angeles, California.

Q: What brought you into scoring films, and what can you tell me about scoring these first projects?

Gary Lionelli: After college, I spent a number of years in various rock bands in Boston and New York, and while I have a degree in music, I consider my musical development to have been mostly influenced by my years writing and performing in those bands. After doing that for quite a while I found myself getting more and more interested in film music. That interest was sparked by hearing a lot of Bernard Herrmann’s work on the Hitchcock films. I was all set to move to New York City, but took a last-minute visit to LA to see my ex-girlfriend—and never left! We got married, and I ended up studying film scoring at UCLA. At the time I had signed with ASCAP, and there was a woman there who recommended me for a low-budget film called WILD MAN. It was my first film and I was thrilled. I didn’t get paid all that much money for it and it was kind of cheesy, but it was a good first step and a lot of experience. And then – it’s funny how you get jobs -- I got a chance to work on a quirky, cool little anthology series called MONSTERS, because my ophthalmologist mentioned that her sister was producing the series, and that they were looking for a few composers. I think we had a total of four composers on the show and we alternated episodes. It also was a chance to do what had originally brought me into wanting to do scoring -- a little bit of that Bernard Herrmann vibe. Each episode had a different director, and a lot of them asked for those influences, so it ended up being a lot of fun.

Q: Then you scored a number of Hanna-Barbera TV cartoon series – what were those experiences like?

Gary Lionelli: That was something I never even knew I wanted to do. I just decided I had to look for work wherever I could, and my wife suggested looking into composing for animation. I sent a demo to Hanna-Barbera that got rejected, but a year later I tried again and got called in for an interview. The interview went well, but I worried that it’d go nowhere because there was very little material on it that would be appropriate for animation. So I rented a video of an old Roadrunner cartoon, stripped out the music and dialog, and scored four minutes of it.  I called them back and asked if they wanted to hear it. Two weeks later I got hired to score the DROOPY cartoons that were part of their new Tom and Jerry series. You had to wear a lot of different hats to do cartoons, because the settings can vary wildly. One episode can be in Hawaii and the next in France, so I learned quite a bit during my time there. That series let to many others that I ended up working on, but the most fun was THE REAL ADVENTURES OF JONNY QUEST, which at the time was a modern-day version of the original series from the ‘60s. It required straight-ahead dramatic action-adventure music. From there, after Hanna-Barbera was purchased by Warner Bros and subsequently shut down, I moved onto Cartoon Network and worked on shows such as DEXTER’S LAB.

Q: Were any of those shows done with orchestras?

Gary Lionelli: Most were done with samples, however I recorded the main title for JONNY QUEST with an orchestra. There were also a handful of other cartoons where we had the budget to use a small orchestra.  In those days everyone’s go-to samples were done on Emulator and Kurzweil keyboards, and they hold up well to this day. It’s largely a matter of how carefully the samples are orchestrated, which is always evident when you a hear a Stravinsky piece done with samples. It’s an amazing lesson in how important orchestration is! Of course, a downside to working with samples is that you usually had to avoid writing things might not be executed very very well, so that’s one limitation that we don’t have so much anymore. However, nowadays I don’t use samples to approximate an orchestra, but rather use them as elements and colors in their own right.

Q: In 2004 you began to score documentaries, and before too long you were scoring documentaries regularly and almost exclusively. What brought that on and how did scoring these types of films attract you?

Gary Lionelli: After a certain point, I made a conscious decision to head in a different direction from animation. I’d always thought about doing documentaries, though I had no idea how to break into that world. Who was going to hire an animation composer to do documentaries? But, once again, it’s where the personal connections come into play, and a college friend who had been the bass player in my band, one day said, “I know these guys in New York City and they’re documentary filmmakers, and you should send then a demo!” They were working on a film called JOCKEY, about the dark side of horseracing. I ended up getting hired, and since it was an HBO film, it had a lot of visibility. That led to many other films, such as GUERRILLA: THE TAKING OF PATTY HEARST, from director Robert Stone. That film was an opportunity to explore music that was gritty and unusual, with a lot of found sounds, manipulated samples, and mangled electronics, along with traditional orchestral elements. That defined what I decided I wanted to incorporate into whatever work I might have going forward in documentaries.

Q: By the 2000s, music for documentary films began to take on more cinematic-styled treatments than I believe they had in previous decades. How did this provide new opportunities for you in scoring them, especially with less talking heads and more overt musical treatments?

Gary Lionelli: That’s exactly right. Previous to that time, most documentaries would either have “canned” library music that was wall-to-wall and in the background, and very irritating because it was like a motor that never stopped.  It also wasn’t providing an emotional or dramatic foundation that specifically related to the picture. However, things were starting to change right around the time I was getting into it. It was the beginning of a trend where all these composers were looking at it as a new opportunity to bring documentary scoring up to the level of narrative film, in terms of the music really supporting the subject matter. I think myself and a lot of other composers saw it as an untapped opportunity to make cinematic music, and now it’s really par for the course. It’s not even unusual anymore, but back then it was very rare.

Q: In 2017 you received a Primetime Emmy nomination for 2016’s O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA, and prior to that you’d also had three Sports Emmy wins for music…

Gary Lionelli: It was a surprise to get a Primetime Emmy for a documentary score when they didn’t even have a Primetime documentary music category. I think that was largely because that film, O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA, won every award known to man – Academy Award, Emmy Award, and something like twenty other awards. It was an incredible film to work on. Beyond O.J. Simpson, the film chronicled the LAPD and racial tension in America. It was a brilliant film and had a lot of visibility, which is one of the reasons why it made it easier for me to get an Emmy score nomination. There were many other films I scored from HBO that were sports-related too, the first of which was BROOKLYN DODGERS: THE GHOSTS OF FLATBUSH (2007). It was a great, dramatic story about how the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. It was an opportunity to do emotional orchestral music blended with electronics. Following along those lines, I scored TED WILLIAMS: THERE GOES THE GREATEST HITTER THAT EVER LIVED (2009) and then more recently KAREEM: MINORITY OF ONE (2015), which was my third Emmy.

Q: One of your recent scores was for the doc DOWNFALL: THE CASE AGAINST BOEING for Netflix, which I found a particularly compelling watch. What can you tell me about scoring this one?

Gary Lionelli: Downfall was obviously a very emotional film, and very fresh in the minds of a lot of people. I felt I owed it to the families of the victims to be as careful and subtle with the music as I possibly could, without being heavy-handed or overly dramatic. I tried to be as sensitive as I could, but still have it be effective. We had a live orchestra for that, again mixed with electronics and manipulated elements.

Q: Your most recent doc scores are the film DALTON: A STORY OF SURVIVAL and the TV miniseries TAKEN HOSTAGE– would you describe a bit on how you scored them?

Gary Lionelli: DALTON is a very interesting project – I did that for free because it was a student-run film. The filmmakers are all 15-16 years old and they decided they were going to call me to see if I would be interested in donating my time. I couldn’t turn them down, so I did a combination of original and preexisting music. TAKEN HOSTAGE hasn’t aired yet – that should probably be broadcast early next year. It’s part of the American Experience series and it’s about the Iran-Contra affair and the hostage situation. I included some references to Middle Eastern music, while trying not to be stereotypical with it. We had some live orchestra with that as well.

Q: Have any of your scores been released on soundtrack albums?

Gary Lionelli: O.J.: Made in America (2016) was released on Lakeshore Records, as was THE NEWSPAPERMAN (2017), and CHASING THE MOON (2019), which was a 4-part series on the backstory on the US beating the Russians to the Moon. There are others that were self-released, such as LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM (2014), and BILLY THE KID (2013).

Special thanks to Gary Lionelli for taking time out to discuss his work with me, and to Jordan von Netzer at Projection PR for his support and assistance.

For more information about the composer, see his website https://www.garylionelli.com/

_________________________________________________________________________

Overviews: Recently Released Soundtracks

CHIP ‘N DALE: RESCUE RANGERS/Brian Tyler/Walt Disney Records - digital
A comeback 30 years in the making, this hybrid live-action/CG animated action-comedy catches up with the former Disney Afternoon television stars in modern-day Los Angeles. CHIP ‘N DALE: RESCUE RANGERS is a live-action/animated adventure comedy film based on, and a continuation of, the animated TV series of the same name (1989-90). The highly versatile composer Brian Tyler has composed an engaging and energetic score that offers a pleasing listening experience on its own. His “Rescue Rangers Anthem” begins with an elegant cadence and then morphs into a powerful, drum-driven melody rich in its driving force and catchy tune, and is featured in welcome variations throughout the score. With 28 tracks (including 90’s rapper Post Malone’s own end title song “Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers Theme,” a less effective track with little relevance to the music that follows) ranging from 1:20 to 5:12, with an average length of 2:30, there is plenty of melody, action, poignancy, and verve here to attract and satisfy one’s ears. Tracks like “Monterey Jack,” “Bootlegging,” “Mission Chippossible,” “Chipnapped,” and “Frankenpete” occupy a lively, internally varied, and potent sonic treatment from action to suspense, tentative danger and powerful dynamism. We’re also treated to a delicious jazzy rendition of “The Bare Necessities” from Disney’s JUNGLE BOOK. (review continues below)
Listen to the track “Monterey Jack:”

There’s also a minor-keyed, malevolently-tinged villain’s theme with “Sweet Pete Suite,” for the nasty Sweet Pete, leader of the gang threatening Monterey Jack, whose plea for assistance brings Chip ‘n Dale out of retirement. The  album closes with a richly fragrant rendition of the “Rescue Rangers” theme. Tyler hasn’t scored Chip ‘n Dale as a cartoon – it’s very much an action movie treatment, but there’s enough variance in each cue and recurring hints of his main theme to make this a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Highly recommended.
Listen to the concluding track “Rescue Rangers:”

FORCE TO FEAR/Matt Cannon/Howlin’ Wolf Records – CD 
Matt Cannon is a proud low-budget horror film composer. His work ranges from various music projects, short films to full length feature work. His main composition style consists of digital and analog synthesizers, hearkening back to methods of John Carpenter, Tim Krog, Claudio Simonetti, Piero Montanari, Richard Band, and Victor Spiegel. He’s garnered nearly 20 film credits since he came onto the scoring stage around 2015. Howlin’ Wolf Records recently released Matt’s first soundtrack album on CD, with his award-winning score to the 2020 horror-thriller FORCE TO FEAR (Best Score awards at Crimson Screen Horror Film Fest and GenreBlast Film Festival; Best Music Nominee at Indie Horror Film Festival, Chicago). Co-written/directed by Zane Hershberger and Chad Bruns, the film pays homage to the action horror films of the ‘80s such as SILENT RAGE. The score “has both inventive and innovative qualities, but above all contains a sound that we readily associate with horror films from the ‘80s and evokes memories of such composers as Jay Chattaway, Alan Silvestri, Brad Fiedel, Harold Faltermeyer, and Alan Howarth,” wrote John Mansell in his liner notes for the CD. “There was a distinct sound that became standard during that decade and Matt Cannon has successfully re-created this sound, whilst also placing his own inimitable musical fingerprint upon the production, fusing both styles and putting them to effective and affecting use.” The score is given a propulsive rock-styled treatment by Cannon using a variety of synths and synth plug-ins, as well as electric guitar. Cannon builds his themes and textures from repetition, tempo, harmonic materials, and driving beats, very much in the style of the ‘80s action scores the film is serving to venerate. It gives the film the momentum and energy it needs and makes for an absorbing treat to listen to by itself. The soundtrack concludes with the track “Judge and the Jury” by Philadelphia gothic rock/groove band Voltheque from their recent EP Verdict. The CD features a 28-page booklet with a foreword by filmmaker Zane Hershberger, liner notes by writer John Mansell, and composer’s notes and track summaries by Matt Cannon, all presented with vivid ‘80s-vibe imagery. Sample tracks or order from Howlin’ Wolf Records.
For more details on the composer, see my recent interview with Matt Cannon about FORCE TO FEAR and his other low-budget horror scores at Musique Fantastique

DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS/Steve Jablonsky/WaterTower Music
Steve Jablonsky has provided a marvelous score for this 3D computer animated film featuring Krypto the Super-Dog and Superman. When the Justice League are captured by Lex Luthor, Superman’s dog, Krypto, forms a team of shelter-pets who have gained super-powers in order to rescue them. Steve’s score “beautifully creates classic superhero wonder for a modern audience, capturing the whimsy of superpowered pets along with thrilling action and truly lovely emotional motifs,” said director Jared Stern. Jablonsky said, “One of my earliest questions to filmmakers and Warner Bros. was, ‘Am I allowed to use some of the classic DC themes I grew up with?’ I was so happy when they said yes. Without a doubt, using the themes of my heroes was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. It was important to me that we tip our musical hat to some of the classic DC themes.” Jablonsky also chose to explore the film’s humor through the score: “One thing that makes ‘Super-Pets’ unique is the way it combines superheroes, animation, and humor. There is so much humor in the film it allowed us to have fun with tropes rather than treat them too seriously. For example, I used a theremin for Lex Luthor, which is one of the tropiest instruments of all time… And when your most evil villain is a hairless guinea pig named Lulu, that’s something a composer should have fun with. For her, I used a huge brass section and choir to create our biggest and most serious theme in the film. In Lulu’s mind, she is the ultimate villain, so I wanted to treat her that way!” Jablonsky illustrates previous superhero motifs right from the get-go, with several phrases of John Williams’ fanfare from SUPERMAN prominently displayed in the opening track, “Leaving Krypton” and at critical points elsewhere in the film. There’s a splendid villain theme for Lulu, who assists Luthor in capturing the Justice League heroes with a phalanx of fellow guinea pigs. (review continues below)
Listen to “Leaving Krypton:”

While the film is action packs and has its moments of comedy: Jablonsky recognizes that the pets and their unique journey to find forever homes is at the heart of the story, and his score is rich with poignant and emotive music and motifs as well – balancing the splendid energy and heroics of the action themes with lots of propulsive brass maneuvers, flailing string deployment, and percussive beats. The 5-minute plus track “All Billionaires Have Rocketships” is a powerful action sequence with thunderous elements from the entire orchestra for a massive battle scene when Krypto defeats the guinea pig army while their leader, Lulu, launches a rocket from the building, bits of choir infusing “Squeezy Bruce” and “Super Team Stats,” and “Finally Reunited” offers an elegantly expressive reflection for strings, brass, percussion and a touch of Theremin. The album (and film) concludes with “Krypto the Superdog,” a fine 5:11 rendition of Krypto’s theme and an extended configuration of the score’s main elements. The soundtrack also includes an original ballad, “Count On Me,” written and produced by Jeremy Silver and performed by Jac Ross, heard prominently in the film.
Listen to the track “No Justice Without Truth:”

LOST IN SPACE Season 3/Christopher Lennertz/Lakeshore – digital
Christopher Lennertz’s score for the third and final season of the revived LOST IN SPACE on Netflix is both a summation of the previous two seasons and a culmination of the saga of the Robinson family’s fight against all odds to survive after crash-landing on an alien planet. Based on the 1960s sci-fi series, the Robinsons must come together to find a way home after being stranded light years from their destination. In the third and final season, Judy, Penny, Will and the Robot must lead 97 young colonists in a harrowing evacuation – but not before secrets are unearthed that will change their lives forever. Meanwhile John and Maureen must battle overwhelming odds as they try to reunite with their kids. The Robinsons will have to grapple with the emotional challenge of not just being lost – but being separated from the ones they love... as they face the greatest alien threat yet. Leaning into the emotional bonds that have tie this family together over the first two seasons, their final venture finds the Robinson family, along with Smith (Parker Posey), Don (Ignacio Serricchio), and Robot (Brian Steele) fighting their way through the galaxy and back to one another. We learn that the power of love and the gathering of family is all you really need to defeat fearsome robot enemies. (review continues below)
Listen to the track “Robot Fight:”

Released last December (pardon my belated review), Lennertz’ soundtrack album for this final season is a powerful and emotive mix of action music and affecting harmonic treatments as the colonists face various dangers and personal conflicts in their attempts to find a way home, while remaining vigilant for incursions of the Second Alien Robot (SAR) which has been threatening them all since the end of Season 1. Lennertz provides a rousing orchestral cover of John Williams’ 1966 LOST IN SPACE theme for the track “Jupiter Rising/Updraft” and in briefer moments elsewhere in the score; Lennertz used the Williams’ theme often in the series, usually reserved for situations when the Robinson family has its moments of success. “It Can’t Be” features a moving vocalise from singer Ayana Haviv from episode 6; “Grant and Judy” evokes a family theme when Judy locates the Fortuna lander and revives the in-stasis Grant Kelly, who is revealed to be her biological father; “Dad and Will” establishes a similar emotional touch. “Flying Towards Robots” and “Helping The Robots” gather degrees of eloquent hope while, in the later tracks’ second half, the Robinson’s remember to be wary, while “Robot Fight” energizes the conflict between the robots as it is settled in the final episode. “Sacrifice/Trust” lends a determined acceptance from former adversaries, although the track’s disconcerting end is a reminder of former misgivings. As for the action cues, “Meteor Shower” establishes a frantic turmoil when the planet they are stranded on is continually bombarded by meteors; “Skeletons and Falling Rocks” carries a similar dynamic for aggressive action and danger. “Road Out of Town” proffers an exciting dynamism for a journey toward rescue, and “Everyone vs SAAR” brings the clashes to an end with a compelling final resolve. Lennertz concludes the season, and the series, with “Finale and Coda” offering an earnest and poignant finish to the experiences of the previous years. “LOST IN SPACE does well to give each character a satisfying ending and fully completed arc, while still allowing hope for the future, both inside the world of the series, and for the potential for new stories,” writes Amanda Reimer in a recap of the final season for Collider.com – “because how do we know SAR is really gone?”
The soundtrack features 25 tracks of original score music by Christopher Lennertz alongside an acoustic cover of “Three Little Birds” from Season 3’s first episode, performed by Ajay Friese. It’s quite an absorbing and passionate experience; Lennertz and his additional music composing team (Alexander Bornstein, Dara Taylor, Chris Forsgren, George Shaw) have made an effective and appealing set of scores for series’ final season.
Listen to the track “It Can’t Be” featuring vocalist Ayana Haviv:

LUCK/John Debney/Milan - digital
Directed by Peggy Holmes (THE PIRATE FAIRY, SECRET OF THE WINGS, LITTLE MERMAID: ARIEL’S BEGINNING, and a former choreographer for more then two dozen films including Debney’s HOCUS POCUS), this animated movie pulls back the curtain on the millennia-old battle between the organizations of good luck and bad luck that secretly affect everyday lives. Produced by Skydance Animation, the film features the voices of Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Flula Borg, Lil Rel Howery, Colin O’Donoghue, and John Ratzenberger. Samantha Greenfield is a clumsy 18-year-old orphaned teenager whose life is constantly plagued by misfortune and has recently moved out; one night, after sharing a panini with a black cat, she finds a penny and later notices that the penny has made her luck significantly improve. But she soon loses the penny and, encountering the cat again she follows the dark feline through a portal to the Land of Luck, where she meets creatures like leprechauns who create good luck for the people on Earth. The storyline is a bit forced, but Debney’s score is all kinds of delightful. Of the soundtrack, the composer said: “Writing the music for LUCK was a dream come true. I fell in love with the idea of a Land Of Luck which mirrors and influences our own world. Working with Peggy Holmes was such a pleasure. Peggy is a wonderful director with a clear and unique vision. Being reunited with my old friend John Lasseter was also a dream come true. The main theme is one I’ve dedicated to my beautiful granddaughter titled: ‘Sam’s Theme.’ I hope everyone enjoys the music from Luck as much as I did creating it!” Debney’s 30-track soundtrack album is a gentle pleasure, starting out with solo piano, passing its melody to woodwind over strings, emerging in a richer rendition for the full orchestra in compassionate resonance. The music welcomes the ear and proceeds to deliver a delicately impassioned ingredient of music that makes for warm and wistful listening. The tracks range from less than a minute to just over 5 minutes, though the average length is about two and a half minutes, but the cues flow in a pleasing rhythm and Debney’s ability to create and conform his themes and melodies provides a very agreeable listening experience. Included among Debney’s 30 score tracks is an original cover of Madonna’s hit song “Lucky Star" by Grammy Award-winning actress Eva Noblezada, who voices Sam in the film. Produced by Skydance Animation, LUCK is available globally on Apple TV+ now.
Listen to “Samantha’s Theme” from LUCK:
 

PREY/Sarah Schachner/20th Century Studios - digital
Hulu’s premiere streaming presentation of PREY, the origin story of the PREDATOR in the world of the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, is a remarkable prequel that makes history as Hollywood’s first franchise movie to star an all-Native American cast. Amber Midthunder stars as Naru, a skilled female warrior who fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth. The music for the film has been composed by Sarah Schachner, best known (until now) for her video game work creating multiple scores for Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. PREY is her first major studio feature film score. Aided by Robert Mirabal, a world-renown Taos Pueblo musician known for his Native America flutes, which have been displayed in the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of the American Indian, Sarah and Robert, working remotely, recorded a collection of authentic Native American woodwinds, percussion and vocables (a special type of Native American vocalization/singing) which were then woven into the score (their collective work can be heard together in the album track “Communion” – heard in the film when Naru gets out of her tent and sees Taabe holding the lion’s head). Those vocals provided a prominent extra layer of depth to the score. The resultant work is a provocative and very unique soundscape which fits the texture of the film’s 1700 AD period, while also crafting material aligned to the Comanche tribe and their village, an emotive melody for Naru herself, and a percussive mix of low, rhythmically grinding bass strings eventually joined by would-be grimacing percussion taps, which effectively represents the “Predator Instinct,” which opens the album. Schachner performed nearly almost all of the string instruments herself, including a horsehead cello from Mongolia and a primitive violin from Kazakhstan (see Tim Greiving’s article on the score at npr.org, which expands on Mirabal’s involvement in the score), and lends to the resonant sounds of the environment as well as the character motifs. When it came to the Predator theme, Schachner told Shane Romanchick in an interview for Collider, “That came about almost in full form right away. I have a voice note of me playing it and working it out for the first time on the double bass… I tend to channel my own emotions directly into my playing, so writing and performing all the increasingly aggressive iterations of the Predator motif was like therapy for me.”
(review continues below)
Listen to “Predator Instinct” from PREY:
 
As Schachner told Jazz Tangcay in Variety, “We were making a ‘Predator’ film with all the fun gory action and suspense you’d expect, but the music had to simultaneously tell Naru’s emotional story and her evolution... The key was to not be afraid to say something in a film with so little dialogue.” Schachner and director Dan Trachtenberg collaborated on creating Naru’s theme. Trachtenberg insisted that the theme should feel like a journey, “that it starts small and really takes you somewhere,” Schachner told Tangcay, who added, “She didn’t write the score to picture and the version of Naru’s theme that features on the soundtrack is longer than in the film. ‘They told me they went out and shot more footage to accommodate the length,’ reveals Schachner.”
“Thrill of the Chase” is the second track, and appears near the start of the film when Naru chases a deer and distractedly witnesses the lights of an alien Predator’s spacecraft skimming above the tree line (which she interprets as a Thunderbird, taking it as a sign to prove herself). The cue proffers a repeated attack of marcato string accents and clacking native percussion that accompanies Naru and her dog’s headlong rush through the forest (review continues below).
Listen to “Thrill of the Case:”

“Naru’s Way,” the character’s theme on the soundtrack album, is an expressive melody for violin dappled by high flutes that expands into a violin choir and an effective woodwind counterpoint which offers a melodic vibe for the heroic woman who daringly takes on the well-armed Predator – the cue is first heard when Naru grabs her bag and goes into the woods with her dog to prove the others wrong about the creature (it’s later reprised as the second theme in the end credits scroll). There’s an affecting violin and percussion theme for the Comanche people with “Beyond the Great Plains,” heard when Naru and her dog walk through the camp, which ends in a splendid upbeat flute resolve. “Naru and Surii” [spelled “Sarii” in some reports] reflects the bond between Naru and her dog.
“Moon Wanderer” is an elegant piece for flute over drums and violin as Naru and Surii begin searching for the creature by following its footprints. “Trapped” offers a mounting percussive suspense for brooding, echoing strings and percussion, then sets a worrisome ambience for its first two minutes, before increasingly high-pitched strings join the music which builds up to a particularly worried, almost horror-like crescendo with a rising, grinding squeal of strings. “The Cruel Delight” conveys a contrasting rhythm of a strangled folk tune over the horrific scene of the Predator killing the French hunters. “Human Bait” is an increasingly suspenseful gradient rise in texture that intensifies Naru’s serving as a lure in order to catch the Predator in a trap. “Brave Girl” follows as, with Surii’s help, Naru defeats the Predator and hurls it into the swamp; the five-minute cue maintains a constant percussive base with violin measures floating above. “Seeing With New Eyes” reprises the “Beyond the Great Plains” music when Naru displays the Predators head to the rest of the tribe). “The Hunter” concludes the album tracklist and leads into the end credits; in the film it is joined by “Neru’s Way” reprise, “The Onslaught,” and “The Cruel Delight” reprise over the extended end credits roll.
There are a few references to Alan Silvestri’s original 1987 PREDATOR theme in Schachner’s score, but they are minimum as she keeps the focus centered on Naru and her people. As Jon Broxton has written in his score review (which is recommended for its extended detail), “Cleverly, Schachner utilizes the underlying rhythmic element of [Silvestri’s] theme throughout a fair bit of the score, but whereas Silvestri’s original orchestration was for percussion, Schachner shifts it to throbbing, enraged strings.” Throughout, Schachner articulately reprises, varies, and intersects all of these motifs, with the result being a unique progression of natural-sounding music that comfortably and attractively fits the landscape, characters, and monster of the piece. Very highly recommended. The PREY soundtrack has been released by 20th Century Studios and is available digitally from these sources. [Thanks to soundtracki.com for verifying film source identification on cue placement].
Listen to “Naru’s Way” from PREY:

TAD THE LOST EXPLORER AND THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY/Zacarías M. de la Riva/MovieScore Media – digital / Saimel – CD (forthcoming)
This is the third feature-length film in the Spanish 3D animated TAD THE LOST EXPLORER series. Each has been scored by Spanish composer Zacarías M. de la Riva (who also scored two TAD shorts prior to the feature films); this third adventure film is probably the best in the series so far, and it’s been given a thoroughly engaging and energetic orchestral action performed by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra. MSM released da le Riva’s first score, TAD THE LOST EXPLORER; and Quartet Records released his score for the second film, TADEO JONES 2: EL SECRETO DEL REY MIDAS (Tad, the Lost Explorer, and the Secret of King Midas) on CD. With the third film, the composer offers a splendid orchestral experience, light-hearted but adventurous, with a terrific main theme for marcato strings, energetic brassy call, and rapping snare (“Tad and Sara”). This tale has to do with Tad accidentally destroying a sarcophagus and unleashing an ancient spell that endangers the lives of his friends. With everyone against him and only helped by Sara, he sets off on an adventure that will take him from Mexico to Chicago and from Paris to Egypt, in order to put an end to the curse of the Mummy. De la Riva invests a variety of motifs, from the brisk opener of “Strange Symbol” and its myriad of orchestral highs and lows, ancient Greek elements (the rhythmic full-throated brasses and vibrant violins of “The Legend of Hermes” with its vague suggestions of Indiana Jones’ “The Map Room” in its midsection) to “Egyptian Sarcophagus” and its companion piece “Opening the Sarcophagus,” the first beginning with a herald of brass and strings, the latter with a slow up surge of winds and string. Both tracks open into mysterious figures and sustains, the latter extending into a step pattern of brass and violins, a ringing peal from on high sounding several times before the track switches into a jaunty measure for winds and percussion, then low brass until emerging with a full blown circulation of brass, strings, and harp. “Victoria Moon” is a low assemblage of gentle winds and strings, emerging into a growing rustle of orchestra ending in a rising parlay of winds tagged by a final bell tone.
From here we explore a dizzying, fully orchestral chase sequence in “Mummy Ammyt,” the carefree cadence of violin and winds in “Pickle and Ramirez” as it grows into a piping, soaring mix of brass and woodwinds; a pleasing bit of Parisian whirlwind accordion and marimba along with the orchestra in “Tadeo to Paris,” some slithering violin and woodwind suspense for the interior examination of “Dominique’s Office,” mixed in with several powerful upsurges of brass. “God Horus” is given a jaunty, savory woodwind motif; “Bathtub Chase” is exciting high energy figures from each part of the orchestra; “From the Louvre to Egypt” mixes a bit of the chase music with a bit of the “God Horus” music to generate a moody and mysterious tone that opens, a third of the way through, with furtive, worrisome chords and revolving woodwinds and brass figures, slithering into drum-driven brass, keyboard twinkles, and energetic references from the “Tad and Sara” theme. “Flying with Ammyt” is awash with further exciting music, piping strings, metal drum beats, cymbal crashes, rising woodwind interludes handed over to brass. “The Emerald Map” opens with the main theme, pausing for a sprightly interlude that opens into a wash of strings, more woodwind filigrees and various other measures both enlivening and suspenseful. “Lock Them Up!” opens with a cadence of revolving string figures and stepping brass patterns, emerging into a rapid whirlwind of the full orchestra with beaten timpani, bell chimes, and the like, finally calming to a reprise of the Egyptian music from the “Hermes” and “Sarcophagus” tracks, repeated again in the following and lively “Inside the Pyramid,” after which “Ammyt Attacks” with lively spirit and robust energy, culminating with a decisive orchestral climax. The album concludes with a final amount of vitality with “Fight Tad!” which similarly ends with a decisive victory on behalf of the explorer. It’s all extremely  pervasive and abundantly prolific music, fully dynamic in its conception and treatment, rendering an exhilarating and flavorful jaunt full of energy, providing a very exciting and fun listen. De la Riva has also scored a fourth film in the series, TAD, THE LOST EXPLORER AND THE EMERALD TABLE, which opened this week in France and Spain. Hopefully a new album will soon follow in its delightfully animated wake!
For details see MovieScore Media.

_____________________________________________________________________

Soundtracks & Film Music News

Composer Craig Safan was recently commissioned to compose a new score for a live to screen presentation of the classic silent Buster Keaton Civil War comedy THE GENERAL. Craig’s score is absolutely brilliant and wonderful, and he’s posted the entire public domain video along with his live accompaniment on YouTube and I highly recommend giving it a watch and a listen! – rdl
Listen to Craig Safan’s Opening Music from THE GENERAL:

Also listen to Craig Safan’s Train Chase music from THE GENERAL:

Interviewing composer Natalie Holt about scoring LOKI and OBI-WAN KENOBI for DiscussingFilm.net, Beatrine Shahzad asked Holt about Warner Bros.’ cancellation of the nearly-finished BATGIRL movie (rather than taking a tax write-off on the $90 million comic book tentpole). “I had written about an hour and a half of music,” Holt told Shahzad. “I’ve been working on it for a year. So yeah, pretty sad what’s happened to it. [They’d] loved LOKI and that’s why I got picked to do the score for BATGIRL. So it’s a shame that it’s not going to be out there in the world after all that time… pretty disappointing.”

In George Miller’s THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING Tilda Swinton is a lonely scholar who, on a trip to Istanbul, discovers a Djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. Tom Holkenborg has composed the score, and United Artist Releasing has released a new clip and the soundtrack cover image. The film released in the United States on August 26, 2022. Watch the clip from the movie:

In a recent report from Trekmovie.com, the STAR TREK: PICARD series has two new composers working on the show’s third season. Stephen Barton is the main composer for PICARD season three (he previously worked with PICARD S3 showrunner Terry Matalas on his series 12 MONKEYS; he is also known for his work on a number of video games, including STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER, for which he was nominated and won several awards. Composer Frederik Wiedmann, whose credits in films and animation go back over two decades, garnering him a number of Annie Awards nominations and an Emmy win, is also on board to provide additional music for season three. PICARD’s third and final season features the return of the main cast of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and, appropriately enough, according to Matalas, the season’s music will pay tribute to the work of late composer Jerry Goldsmith, who scored STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (which theme for that movie became the title theme for STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION), and who created the title music for STAR TREK: VOYAGER. “The legendary composer has been credited in a number of Picard episodes that have used elements of his music, including his Emmy-winning theme from VOYAGER,” Anthony Pascale wrote in the trekmovie article. “Earlier in July. Matalas revealed that season three of Picard will honor Goldsmith’s work ‘in a big way.’  He also confirmed they will be paying homage to Goldsmith’s TNG theme.” For more details and a snippet from a PICARD scoring session with a bit of Goldsmith’s TNG majesty, read the full story at
trekmovie.com
.

SLUMBERLAND is an upcoming fantasy comedy-adventure film directed by Francis Lawrence based on Winsor McCay’s classic 1905-1911 comic strip, Little Nemo in Slumberland. The film follows a young girl (Marlow Barkley) who discovers a secret map to the dreamworld of Slumberland, and with the help of an eccentric outlaw (Jason Momoa), hopes she will be able to see her late father again. Kyle Chandler, Weruche Opia, India de Beaufort, Chris O’Dowd co-star. Pinar Toprak (CAPTAIN MARVEL, STARGIRL, SKYFIRE, THE LOST CITY, KRYPTON series) is scoring the film, which is scheduled to be released on November 18, 2022, by Netflix.

I AM GROOT is a series of short films created by Kirsten Lepore for Disney+, based on the Marvel Comics character Groot. It features characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) following Baby Groot going on various troublesome adventures, and is set between the ending of the film GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 2 (2017) and one of its mid-credits scenes. Vin Diesel reprises his role as the voice of Baby Groot from the MCU films, with Bradley Cooper also starring. The GROOT series is scored by Daniele Luppi (THE WOMAN CHASER, , BAD HABITS, MONA LISA AND THE BLOOD MOON, the main theme for Netflix’s MARCO POLO and Starz’s MAGIC CITY). “I knew that we didn’t want a normal orchestral score,” said Lepore in Marvel’s production brief. “Daniele Luppi was the perfect choice as our composer. He has done so much work with that early electronic sound. He’s able to do music that sounds like it came out of a spaghetti western with the same kind of patina on it from that era. He’s using old microphones and keyboards – analog instruments that really give it an authentic, more organic sound. We licensed a couple songs. For example, the piece you hear in the first short, ‘Groot’s First Steps,’ is ‘In the Hall of the Mountain Queen,’ very early electronic music by Raymond Scott. I think it gives the short this really weird flavor, this spacey, early electro feel that was our palette from the beginning.”
The series premiered with five shorts on Disney+ on August 10, 2022, as part of Phase Four of the MCU. An additional five shorts are in development.

THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES is based on the 2020 novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins. It is a prequel to the film series THE HUNGER GAMES, and will be the fifth overall installment in the franchise. Directed by Francis Lawrence, it stars Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow, who mentors and develops feelings for the female District 12 tribute during the 10th Hunger Games. Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Jason Schwartzman, Peter Dinklage, and Viola Davis co-star. James Newton Howard will return to the franchise and score the new film. The film began shooting in Poland in June 2022 and is scheduled for release in the United States on November 17, 2023. Read more details at musiquefantastique.

Jeff Beal (HOUSE OF CARDS, BLACKFISH, CARNIVALE, THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM) will be scoring the upcoming drama RAYMOND & RAY. Starring Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke, the film follows two half-brothers who have lived in the shadow of a terrible father when they get a chance to reinvent themselves at his funeral. The film is set to premiere this Fall on Apple TV+.

The Sony Pictures Entertainment horror-thriller THE INVITATION is written and directed by Jessica M. Thompson, co-written by Blair Butler, and produced by Emile Gladstone. The film stars Nathalie Emmanuel and Thomas Doherty. After the death of her mother and having no other known relatives, Evie takes a DNA test and discovers a long-lost cousin she never knew she had. Invited by her newfound family to a lavish wedding in the English countryside, Evie's at first seduced by the sexy aristocratic host. However, she’s soon thrust into a nightmare of survival as she uncovers twisted secrets about her family history and the unsettling intentions behind their sinful generosity. The film, released to theaters on August 26, has been scored by Dara Taylor, whose music shifts from eerie strings, obscure clangs, and avant-garde melodies to beguiling gothic-romance symphonies. While one portion of the score is classically driven, the other utilizes synthetic and processed elements, such as percussive sounds from pottery and distorted vocals, experimenting with the different sounds the human body can create. “I loved working on THE INVITATION because both director Jessica Thompson and the film encouraged me to really think outside the box when it came to sound pallets and motifs,” said Taylor. “I used strange esoteric synthetics, processed found sounds, and processed vocals, which I then blended with a large gothic orchestra to mirror the blend of modern and gothic in the story. An added fun bonus was finding ways to add bits of romanticism within the fabric of the story while still keeping a feeling of unease. I was also thrilled that Jess and I were so in sync on the prevalent use of female vocals throughout the score.” For more details see my interview with Dara Taylor on scoring THE INVITATION at MusiqueFantastique.

Holly Amber Church has scored Saban Films’ THE RUNNER, about Aiden, a trouble teenager who, after being busted for drug possession, is forced by police to go undercover and risk his life to bring down a dangerous drug king pin. “This is one of my favorite films that I’ve worked on and is a moving drama and thriller,” said Church. Directed by Michelle Danner (HELLO HERMAN, BAD IMPULSE) and written by Jason Chase Tyrrell (GHOST HOUSE), the film stars Elisabeth Röhm, Eric Balfour, and Jessica Amlee.

PEARL is an upcoming American slasher film serving as a prequel to X (2022). The film is directed by Ti West, and co-written by West and Mia Goth, who reprises her role as Pearl from the previous film. PEARL serves as an origin story for the titular villain. Tyler Bates, who scored X with recording artist Chelsea Wolfe, joins here with composer Tim Williams (BRIGHTBURN, FINAL FREQUENCY, WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS) to co-score PEARL. The film will have its world premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival in September 2022, and is scheduled to be released in the United States on September 16, 2022.
Watch the trailer for PEARL:

Salvatore Sangiovanni & Susan DiBona have scored the Italian film noir opera ISMENE, which premiered in Italy last September. Directed by Natale Filice and starring Stefania de Cola as Ismene and Annalisa Gioia as Ismene’s Reflection. The project is based on the Greek myth of the same name, and is a multimedia production with a combination of live stage actors, operatic soprano, and film. It’s been playing in southern Italy, in theaters and in outdoor amphitheaters. “There are themes of dual personalities and surrealism which prompted us to create a semi-psychedelic, hybrid sound,” Sangiovanni told Soundtrax. “There’s use of delay and other digital effects to symbolize mirrors, reflections, artificial perceptions of self ...a female personality in crisis! The story is based on the book by Ritsos.” Have a listen here.

In further Tim Williams scoring news, he’s composed the music for the 10-episode series BAD SISTERS (originally titled EMERALD), a dark comedy thriller television series created by Sharon Horgan for Apple TV+. Set between London and Dublin, it is based on the Flemish series CLAN. A delicious blend of both dark comedy and thriller, BAD SISTERS follows the lives of the five Garvey sisters, who are bound together by the premature death of their parents and a promise to always protect one another. Filmed in Ireland, the series stars Sharon Horgan, Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle, Sarah Greene, and Claes Bang.
Watch the series trailer:

Steven Price (GRAVITY, OUR PLANET, LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, OVER THE MOON, SUICIDE SQUAD, FURY) has composed the original score for the new thriller BEAST. The film is directed by Baltasar Kormákur (EVEREST, 2 GUNS, ADRIFT) and stars Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley, Iyana Halley and Leah Sava Jeffries. The movie revolves around a father and his two teenage daughters who find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion intent on proving that the savannah has but one apex predator. The film was released in theaters nationwide August 19, 2022 by Universal Pictures. – via filmmusicreporter

Ryan Shore announces his latest feature for Netflix, LOVE IN THE VILLA, which premieres on Sept 1st. “I absolutely loved scoring this tremendously funny and beautifully heartfelt romcom starring Kat Graham and Tom Hopper,” Shore said. Watch the film’s trailer:

In BARBARIAN a woman staying at an Airbnb discovers that the house she has rented is not what it seems. The film is written and directed by Zach Cregger and stars Bill Skarsgård, Georgina Campbell, and Justin Long. The film is scored by composer Anna Drubich, a frequent collaborator with film composer Marco Beltrami who has also  recently scored on her own the film HYPNOSIS (2020), the horror comedy thriller WEREWOLVES WITHIN, and the drama thriller JANE (2022). BARBARIAN premiered at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con; it is also set to appear at the Arrow Video FrightFest on August 29. It is scheduled to be released to theaters on September 9 by 20th Century Studios and New Regency. Watch the film’s potent trailer at MusiqueFantastique.

_________________________________________________________________________

New Soundtrack News

The ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING Season 2 Original Score Soundtrack arrived August 12th on Hollywood Records, and includes 23 tracks of original score composed and produced by six-time EMMY® Award-nominated composer Siddhartha Khosla. The music hinges on orchestral vignettes and motifs reminiscent of classic detective flick and film noir soundtracks from Hollywood’s Golden Age as evidenced by cues such as “We’re Back” and “Death Threat.” At the same time, it treads new territory with the likes of the unabashedly funky “Son of Sam.” This time around, Siddhartha recorded with a cohort of elite musicians at the iconic Capitol Studios and The Village. To build this vision, he heeded the advice of co-creator John Hoffman who told him, “Don’t be afraid to do something weird.” The series concluded its Season Finale on August 23, with a very satisfying resolve to its whodunnit and a cool teaser for a third Season. “You have these iconic performers and actors on this show and they’re not holding back, so I try not to as well,” comments Khosla. “In Season Two, the show becomes a bigger version of itself. We start exploring backstories of characters, and we go deeper into the history of the Arconia. I was inspired by just the expansiveness of that world. The mystery grows. In terms of influence and inspiration, the musicians that play on this score are some of the best in the world.” The soundtrack is available at these links. See my review of Khosla’s Season 1 soundtrack in my October 2021 column, here.

Intrada Records has released the complete score to Henry Mancini’s s.f.-horror film, Tobe Hooper’s LIFEFORCE, on a remastered 2-CD set. Based on a Colin Wilson’s novel, the film takes place in London when a race of space vampires arrives and infects the populace, beginning an apocalyptic descent into chaos. Mancini, once a regular composer for Universal horror films in the 1950s before becoming a household name in 1960s film scoring, created a powerfully ferocious and evocative score for this film – but due to a number of post-production editorial changes to the film prior to release, Mancini was unable to come back in to rescore the affected segments – notably the entire opening – and composer Michael Kamen was brought in to handle the additional scoring duties. Intrada’s new 2-CD set is all Mancini’s music – a separate album of Michael Kamen’s score, including the premiere of his orchestral sessions, is also available from the label. The 2-CD Mancini set includes the composer’s entire score plus a few alternates, courtesy of MGM. The original Varese label CD program appears on CD 2. Kamen wound up recording over 75 minutes of music, including the powerful orchestral cues for the entire opening sequence and complex electronic music for much of the film thereafter. This standalone single CD presentation is all Michael Kamen, produced in cooperation with the Michael Kamen Estate. In addition to his underscore, Kamen recorded two lengthy sequences which he entitled, “Alien Spacecraft Atmospheres” and these appear as extras after the 65-minute score proper, with the second one bringing the entire album to a peaceful, serene cascading of electronic chimes that fade, twinkling away into the night. Both the 2-CD Mancini soundtrack and the 1-CD Kamen soundtrack, sold separately, include informative booklet notes by Tim Greiving.  
For full details, see Intrada: ManciniKamen.

Quartet Records of Spain presents an expanded, remastered edition of Ennio Morricone’s classic fantasy sword-and-sorcery score for the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle RED SONJA (1985), directed by Richard Fleischer and also starring Brigitte Nielsen as Sonja. Initially conceived as a kind of continuation of the Conan saga started three years earlier by the same producer, Dino de Laurentiis, the original idea was to tie in Sonja’s character with the rest of the Conan universe and create a trilogy featuring the hulky Cimmerian. But the picture eventually became just a loose appendage to the franchise, although it kept the same director as CONAN THE DESTROYER and Schwarzenegger as the main star. Morricone, who took over after Basil Poledouris scored the first two CONAN films, provides a powerful and exciting score dominated by an epic march as the main theme, far away from the Poledouris style. The score also features a beautiful love theme, fierce action cues, adventure music and dark and mystical passages. This new edition contains all the music from the original Varèse Sarabande album program in stereo (reorganized in film order) and then the complete score in mono (from the only elements available). Both versions of the score have music that’s not heard in the other. By combining the two programs, this is as complete as RED SONJA can get.
Quartet Records has also released a remastered reissue of Georges Delerue’s 1973 Academy-Award nominated score for the Mike Nichols classic sci-fi paranoia thriller THE DAY OF THE DOLPHIN, starring George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere and Paul Sorvino, about a marine biologist who teaches his dolphins to communicate, but shady characters plan to kidnap the trained mammals for a more sinister purpose. Delerue provided an impressive score with a bittersweet main theme, lyrical music for the dolphins, and subdued, tense music for the conspiracy. The original 35-minute album was released in 1974 by AVCO and then twice again on CD in the nineties in Japan, with a limited edition complete score from Percepto Records in 2008. For this new edition, Quartet includes both the original album assembly and the film score, which present different mixes and cues of different lengths. For more details and to order see Quartet Records https://quartetrecords.com/

Lakeshore Records has digitally released the Amazon Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to SAMARITAN, featuring music by Jed Kurzel and Kevin Kiner. The pulsating score merges menacing electronics with dark orchestration to provide an ominous backdrop to the vigilante-themed thriller. SAMARITAN is an MGM film directed by Julius Avery, starring Sylvester Stallone. The film premiered exclusively on Prime Video globally starting August 26. The fantasy action/drama follows 13-year-old Sam Cleary (Javon “Wanna” Walton) who suspects that his mysterious and reclusive neighbor Mr. Smith (Sylvester Stallone) is actually a legend hiding in plain sight. Twenty-five years ago, Granite City’s super-powered vigilante, Samaritan, was reported dead after a fiery warehouse battle with his rival, Nemesis. Most believe Samaritan perished in the fire, but some in the city, like Sam, have hope that he is still alive. With crime on the rise and the city on the brink of chaos, Sam makes it his mission to coax his neighbor out of hiding to save the city from ruin. Says Kiner: “I’ve always loved collaborating with other composers and my experience with Jed Kurzel has been one of my favorite associations thus far. I believe you will find an extremely unique unorthodox sound as you listen to the Samaritan soundtrack. This is a goal I always set out to achieve when I am composing, but pulling off a truly fresh vibe and palette is easier said than done. I hope you have as much fun listening as we did working on this rollicking ride!” The soundtrack is available from these links.

The 32-track digital soundtrack album for the fourth season of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY has been released by Lakeshore Records, featuring selections of the original score composed by Emmy Award winner Jeff Russo. Included on the album Annabelle Wallis’ rendition of the Harold Arlen-Ted Koehler-penned song “Stormy Weather,” which was sung by Wallis (the voice of Zora) on the season’s sixth episode. Season four of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY found Captain Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery facing a threat unlike any they’ve ever encountered. With Federation and non-Federation worlds alike feeling the impact, they must confront the unknown and work together to ensure a hopeful future for all. Said Russo: “This season of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY presented an extraordinary opportunity to explore a thematic connection between the known and the unknown. Pushing the musical envelope of the Star Trek universe was this season's idea.” The fourth season of the sci-fi series premiered in late 2021 and early 2022 and is now streaming on Paramount+. A fifth season is set to debut in 2023.

Milan Records has released BETTER CALL SAUL, VOL. 3 (Original Score From The TV Series) featuring music by composer Dave Porter, who returns to the BREAKING BAD universe after having scored the entirety of the original series and its corresponding film EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE, in what has been a longstanding creative partnership between the composer and series creator Vince Gilligan. Of the score, Porter said, “It has been the joy and distinct privilege of my professional career to have written all of the original music for the BREAKING BAD universe, culminating in this final incredible season of BETTER CALL SAUL. For the past 15 years, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have supported and encouraged me to take creative risks and push the boundaries of what it means to be a film/tv composer. From the craziest capers to the darkest terrors to the remarkable love between Jimmy and Kim, this final installment of my score represents some of our finest work, and without question some of the music that I’m the most proud of having created.” The digital soundtrack is available from these links.

Netflix Music has released the soundtrack by Drum & Lace and Ian Hultquist for the romantic comedy LOOK BOTH WAYS. The film is directed by Wanuri Kahiu and stars Lili Reinhart, Danny Ramirez, and Aisha Dee. On the eve of her college graduation, Natalie’s life forks into two parallel realities: in one of them, she becomes pregnant and must face the challenges of being a young mother in her native Texas; in the other, she moves to Los Angeles to pursue her professional career. Through both experiences in her early twenties, Natalie experiences transforming love, her devastating disillusionment, and rediscovers herself. The album is now available for digital download from Amazon, Apple Music, and other sources.
- via AsturScore

Netflix Music has also released a soundtrack album for the streamer’s Spanish original series THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR (originally titled ALMA). Quartet Records presents the label’s first collaboration with Netflix, working together in the album release of Fernando Velázquez’s impressive and powerful symphonic score for the new sci-fi drama series. In the film, after losing her memory in a bizarre accident that kills most of her classmates, Alma tries to unravel what happened that day and regain her identity. The soundtrack is digitally available in all platforms. – via filmmusicreporter, Quartet Records, and other sources.
Watch the film’s trailer (Spanish with English subtitles):

Hollywood Records and Searchlight Pictures release the NOT OKAY Original Soundtrack – Music by Pierre-Philippe Ct (a.k.a. Pilou). It accompanies the critically acclaimed Gen Z dark comedy, written and directed by Quinn Shephard and starring Zoey Deutch. The film is exclusively streaming as a HULU Original in the U.S. and Internationally on Disney+ as a Star Original. The music filters Gen Z whimsy through a kaleidoscope of indie alternative, pop, and rock. For the score, Pilou says he was inspired by the concept that the score music would be the collective voice, a choir of people responding to the film’s protagonist Danni Sanders’ (Deutch) fake social media post. He says, “The music is the evil voice in Danni’s mind, and it’s also the sound of the mob-like crowd talking to her through her cell phone, so every time Danni has a really bad idea, the score says the opposite. It’s like the evil voice in her head saying it’s a really good idea.” Listen to the NOT OKAY Original Soundtrack – Music By Pilou now here.

In celebration of John Williams’ 90th birthday and the classic film E.T.’s 40th anniversary, La-La Land Records presents a 2-CD reissue of their restored, remastered re-issue of John Williams’ original motion picture score to the beloved 1982 film, E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL. This special 2-CD release is limited to 5000 units and features exclusive, in-depth liner notes by Mike Matessino, as well as celestially wondrous package design by Jim Titus including new cover art approved by the director. Also announced is a 45th Anniversary Edition 2-CD re-issue of Williams’ CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Disc One of this presentation is grand symphony contained on a single disc; while Disc Two is comprised of discrete versions of cues, alternates and selections not heard on Disc One, plus many of the 1977 album tracks, as well as previously unreleased source music recorded for the film. Both of these CDs are available in a limited edition release of 5000 units. NOTE: Aside from the “40th Anniversary” notation and slight revisions to the CD’s front cover, this re-issue utilizes the same master and overall content as the label’s previous 35th Anniversary 2-CD release. For more details see La-La Land Records.

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS: ORIGINAL SIN is a slasher horror drama streaming television series created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lindsay Calhoon Bring for HBO Max. It is the fourth television series in the PRETTY LITTLE LIARS franchise, which is based on the novel series written by Sara Shepard, and set within the same continuity as the previous series. WaterTower Music has released a soundtrack album of the original score for the show’s first season, composed by Joseph Bishara (MALIGNANT, THE CONJURING, INSIDIOUS, THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA, et al). The album is available at these links.

Kronos Records of Malta has announced the premiere release of THE PROUD AND DAMNED, a 1972 film, written and directed by Ferde Grofé Jr and starring the late Chuck Connors in the lead role. The story takes place in 1870 about five ex-Confederate soldiers who get embroiled in a foreign civil war south of the border. The music was composed an conducted by Gene Kauer & Douglas M. Lackey, a duo that scored a long string of films together, most notably AGENT FOR H.A.R.M. (1966), BROTHER OF THE WIND (1973), ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE (1977), and ADVENTURE FAMILY (1977). Their music brought a high level of excitement to this film with a very strong Latin flavor to the score, primarily a Mexican flavor with a Hollywood flare. For more details see http://www.kronosrecords.com/KG43.html
The other release is MOTORCYCLE GANG, a 1957 film directed by Edward L. Cahn and based on a story by Lou Rusoff, about a troublemaker member of a motorcycle gang who returns to town only to find his old pals have joined a supervised motorcycle club. Friction erupts. The music was written by prolific composer Albert Glasser (THE MONSTER MAKER, THE CISCO KID RETURNS, HUK, THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN). Glasser’s score is an eclectic mixture of big band pieces for the more leisurely and toned down scenes and the big orchestra is left to handle the action, suspense the romance. For more details see http://www.kronosrecords.com/KG44.html. Both releases are limited to 300 copies.

Earlier this month, Kronos announced three new premiere releases: the first CD edition of the soundtrack to historical drama CLARET by Óscar M. Leanizbarrutia (listen to sound samples/pre-order http://kronosrecords.com/K113.html), the award winning soundtrack to Somalia’s first ever Oscar submission, THE GRAVEDIGGER’S WIFE (aka GULED AND NASRA) scored by Andre Matthias (sound samples/pre-order http://kronosrecords.com/K114.html), and SUONI VELATI, a collection of documentary music and other contemporary compositions by the very talented Matteo Cremolini (sound samples/pre-order http://kronosrecords.com/KL221.html).

AMERICAN CARNAGE is a horror comedy thriller starring Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Jenna Ortega, and Bella Ortiz, directed by Diego Hallivis. The movie follows a group of newly detained young ICE detainees who are offered a chance to avoid deportation by joining a program to help the elderly, but soon realize something is horribly wrong with their elderly charges. The film’s music is scored by Nima Fakharara, an Iranian film composer currently based in Los Angeles and known for scoring THE SIGNAL, THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS, BECKY, and DETROIT: BECOME HUMAN. A soundtrack album has been released by the composer and is now available to stream/download on Amazon, Spotify, and other major digital music services. The film was released in select theaters and on VOD last month by Saban Films and will be coming out on Blu-ray and DVD on August 30.
- via filmmusicreporter

WaterTower Music has released the WESTWORLD: Season 4 soundtrack from the HBO® Series, featuring the music of Ramin Djawadi (GAME OF THRONES, IRON MAN and the forthcoming GAME OF THRONES: HOUSE OF THE DRAGON). As has been Djawadi’s thematic approach on each of his WESTWORLD soundtracks, the 34-track album features the composer’s original music along with unique versions of well-known songs which were originally performed by Radiohead, Billie Eilish, Frank Ocean, Metallica, Lana Del Rey, Nine Inch Nails, and Lou Reed – all of which were heard throughout WESTWORLD: Season 4. The soundtrack is available to stream and download at all digital retailers – see these links.

Christoffer Franzen, the composer behind cinematic powerhouse Lights & Motion, has released a new 11 track album titled Fusion: Music For TV & Film last June. “After writing more delicate and melodic music for quite some time, my fingers were itching to create something really gritty and percussive, something that could get your blood pumping… I thought it was going to be really challenging to write in a completely new and different style to what I have in the past, but once I got the sound under my fingers the songs came in rapid succession. I titled the album Fusion; Music for TV & Film because I wanted to present a new version of cinematic music, one filled with edge, adrenaline and thumping bass and drums. On this album you will hear everything from clapping hands and electric guitar riffs to distorted baselines and crunchy drums in a contemporary and exciting blend, hopefully providing an inspiring backdrop to filmmakers and creatives looking for new and energetic sounds," says Franzen. Listen on Spotify or stream from these links.

MovieScore Media has released the soundtrack to LES VOLETS VERTS, by Belgian composer Frédéric Vercheval. The 2022 drama feature film directed by Jean Becker, starring Gérard Depardieu, Fanny Ardant and Benoît Poelvoorde, and is about the twilight of a sacred monster: Jules Maugin, an actor at the height of his glory. Under the famous personality, the big mouth, and the social shell, lies the intimate portrait of a man laid bare. “It was a great experience for me to compose the music for Jean Becker, who is now 89 years old,” said the composer. “The music underlines this melancholy, the nostalgia of an era, of a past love. Jean wanted me to compose a theme that brings together all these elements. The theme is initiated by the piano and is taken up by the Brussels Film Orchestra.” For more details see MovieScoreMedia. Coming from the label on September 2nd is FATHOM: THE BODY AS A UNIVERSE, a dance-art-music collaboration in two acts, inspired by the life of Kukai, a Japanese Buddhist grand master who lived in the 8th century. The music is composed by Ariel Blumenthal. See info at Sentient Film. Check the label for album details on the 2nd.

Node Records had releases its original soundtrack for the film STOWAWAY, curated by Tracy McKnight with music by BC Smith & Tom Scholefield. The action thriller is directed by Declan White Bloom and stars Ruby Rose alongside Frank Grillo and Patrick Schwarzenegger; it’s about a tenacious party girl who fights to survive after three thieves commandeer her luxury yacht. Unable to escape and trapped on the yacht at high seas, she turns the tables on the intruders and takes matters into her own hands. The soundtrack is now available from Node Records. And can be purchased on Amazon and any other major digital music services.

Waxwork Records has released the first-ever soundtrack album for the 1983 Canadian slasher movie CURTAINS directed by Richard Ciupka and starring John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, and Linda Thorson. The film is about six young actresses auditioning for a movie role at a remote mansion who become targeted by a mysterious masked murderer. The digital album features the film’s original music composed by Paul Zaza (PORKY’S, PROM NIGHT,  MY BLOODY VALENTINE, MURDER BY DECREE, A CHRISTMAS STORY). The soundtrack is now available to stream/download on Amazon, Spotify, and other digital retailers. A vinyl edition is also expected to be announced soon.
- via filmmusicreporter and other sources.
Watch the film’s 1983 trailer:

Plaza Mayor Company announces these three new original motion picture soundtrack releases: JEZABEL, a crime thriller by director Hernan Jabes about four upper-class high school students who live carefree between drugs, games and love until one of the girls, Eli, is brutally killed. Sixteen years later, the memory of the crime torments Alain, another member of the group. Music by Tomás Barreiro (see Spotify), LOVE N QUARANTINE, a comedy by director David J. Espinosa about a couple who has been married for years, until their love gets put to the test when they are both thrust into quarantine. Music by Lance Warlock (see Spotify), and DEMON FIGHTER, a horror film from director David Espinosa currently showing on Amazon Prime, about a Kung Fu master who becomes a Jesuit priest ordained as an exorcist fighting demons in the streets and wrestling with his own. Music also by Lance Warlock (see Spotify)

DEVIL IN OHIO is an upcoming suspense thriller limited series based on the book of the same name by Daria Polatin for Netflix. The series will consist of eight episodes and is scheduled to be released on September 2, 2022. Emily Deschanel plays a psychiatrist who shelters a mysterious cult escapee, only to find her world is turned upside down as the girl’s arrival threatens to tear her own family apart. Will Bates has scored the series, giving the film a mixture of raw horror and psychological thriller. Manipulated hand-cranked strings give it an old world rural connotation, unsettling but also beautiful. Female vocals, Gaelic percussion and custom made modular synths run through an old tape machine. Frequent collaborator Maiah Manser sings the hymn Bates composed for the satanic cult on the show which has its roots in early 20th century Ireland. Bates (also known under the moniker Fall on Your Sword) has composed original scores for such films as ANOTHER EARTH, I ORIGINS, THE GIRL IN THE BOOK, IMPERIUM, SyFy’s hit series THE MAGICIANS, and much more.

Milan Records is excited to announce the release of THIRTEEN LIVES by composer Benjamin Wallfisch. The film recounts the incredible true story of the tremendous global effort to rescue a Thai soccer team who become trapped in the Tham Luang cave during an unexpected rainstorm. Faced with insurmountable odds, a team of the world’s most skilled and experienced divers – uniquely able to navigate the maze of flooded, narrow cave tunnels – join with Thai forces and more than 10,000 volunteers to attempt a harrowing rescue of the twelve boys and their coach. Wallfisch spent three months working almost daily with director Ron Howard. Of their work together, Howard said: “It was important to us that the music in THIRTEEN LIVES helped us to further embody the Thai culture and create that key element of suspense. My vision for the score was for it to set a tone that was chilling, while also subtle and distinctive.” Added Wallfisch: “The responsibility of finding a musical analogue for this story of unimaginable heroism, without over-dramatizing or trivializing the true events, and of course incorporating the complex and rich musical heritage of the region, was a unique challenge.” The score is also at times very experimental, manipulating instruments to make them sound as if they are being warped under water, and with the percussion of the ticking clock being made from samples of the scraping, tapping, and air escape from oxygen canisters, alongside many other unusual score concepts.
This 15-track album is available now, on all major digital platforms.

Gardener Recordings has released a soundtrack album for the horror thriller MID-CENTURY, featuring the music of composer Vivek Maddala (THE TOM AND JERRY SHOW, ASIAN AMERICANS, WHITE SUN). MID-CENTURY is helmed by actress/director Sonja O’Hara (ROOT LETTER, DOOMSDAY TV series) and stars Shane West, Sarah Hay, Stephen Lang and Bruce Dern. The film explores an architect husband and his wife’s weekend in a mid-century modern vacation rental, which turns deadly when the husband discovers the owner/architect is a psychopath ghost with a backyard of buried secrets and designs on his wife. Vivek Maddala is a four-time Emmy® award-winning composer and multi-instrumental performer. He has scored dozens of feature films, theater & dance productions, and TV programs. His music, which combines melodic symphony writing with modern textures from around the world, has been described as “an emotive frenzy of guitar, percussion, brass, woodwinds, and strings.” For more information, see his website. The horror thriller was released by Lionsgate to select theaters and on demand and digital platforms on June 17, 2022, and is now also available on Blu-ray and DVD. The digital soundtrack album is now available from Amazon, Spotify, and other digital music sources.
-  via filmmusicreporter and other sources.
Listen to Vivek Maddala’s Main Title theme from MID-CENTURY:

From Decca Records comes a soundtrack album for the British thriller ROGUE AGENT. The album features the film’s original music composed by Hannah Peel (GAME OF THRONES: THE LAST WATCH, THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS, THE DECEIVED). The soundtrack is now available to stream/download on most major digital music services. ROGUE AGENT is co-written and directed by Declan Lawn & Adam Patterson and stars Gemma Arterton, James Norton, Sarah Goldberg, and Marisa Abela. The movie tells the true story of conman, Robert Freegard, who posed as an undercover MI5 agent kidnapping countless victims amidst a high-stakes manhunt until the woman who fell for him brought him to justice.
 - via filmmusicreporter

Madison Gate Records is excited to announce the release of SUMMERING Original Motion Picture Soundtrack with music by Drum & Lace. The film follows four best friends who, as their last summer before middle school comes to a close, face the uncertainties of growing up and embark on their biggest adventure yet. The evocative score is a mix of real and synthesized voice, layers of lush synths, plucky and resonant bells, and solo strings and piano. The music perfectly captures the feelings and emotion of the last weekend of summer, as well as supporting the timelessness that the movie possesses and puts forth. SUMMERING was an Official Sundance Film Festival Selection in 2022. Find the soundtrack at these links

Sam Ewing’s score for Voltage Pictures’ action thriller film LAST SEEN ALIVE (formerly known as CHASE), from Sky Cinema, is now available as a digital soundtrack album, streaming and downloadable on Apple Music/iTunes and other major digital and streaming services soon. The action thriller, which debuted last June, was directed by Brian Goodman and centers on Will Spann (Gerard Butler), who is driving his soon-to-be ex-wife Lisa (Jaimie Alexander) to her parents’ home when she mysteriously disappears without a trace during a stop at a gas station. A frantic Will engages the local police and Lisa’s parents in a desperate attempt to find her, but as time passes and suspicion falls on him, he must take matters into his own hands, delving into the town’s criminal underbelly while running from the authorities in a race against time to find Lisa. “The entire score (except pianos) was recorded live, including analog synths, with the singular intention of creating a gritty and out-of-control atmosphere,” Ewing said in a Facebook post, adding: “Special shout-out to Bear McCreary for making this opportunity happen and to Joe Augustine on producing the soundtrack.”  - via filmmusicreporter and other sources. Watch the film’s trailer here. Listen to a track from the soundtrack, via YouTube:

BODIES BODIES BODIES is a black comedy horror thriller directed by Halina Reijn. The film follows a group of rich 20-somethings who plan a hurricane party at a remote family mansion – but a party game turns deadly in this fresh and funny look at backstabbing, fake friends, and one party gone very, very wrong. The film’s eerie music score was composed by Disasterpeace (IT FOLLOWS, UNDER THE SILVER LAKE, MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON), aka Richard Vreeland. A 9-track music score album has been by A24 Music. – via filmmusicreporter and other sources.

Saltwater music has released Magnolia Pictures’ I LOVE MY DAD (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) with music by composer Jeremy W. Bullock. The film won the Grand Jury Award and the Audience Award in the Narrative Feature category at SXSW 2022. The percussion-driven score quickly goes from light and playful to more abrasive, finding a balance between the comedic moments of the film and the more uncomfortable ones. Said Bullock about his score: “During the pandemic, as a way of escaping from the chaos that was going on in the world, I found myself heavily inspired by electronic ambient music that was coming out of Japan in the mid to late ‘80s. A lot of that music was made with Japanese synthesizers at the time that had a bunch of modeled percussion sounds on them (mallets, wood blocks, etc.)  Playing around with sounds that were familiar yet artificial ended up being a huge part of the score for us.” Available from these links.

Node Records has released the soundtrack album to the feature film THE COMEBACK TRAIL featuring an original score by acclaimed composer Aldo Shllaku. The film, a love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood, tells the story of two movie producers indebted to the mob who plot to kill off their aging movie star for the insurance money to pay their debit. It stars Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, Zach Braff, Emile Hirsch, Eddie Griffin and Morgan Freeman and was co-written by Josh Posner and the film’s director George Gallo (BAD BOYS, MIDNIGHT RUN, VANQUISH). The score was conceptualized as a homage to movie making in its fullest glory. Shllaku uses orchestra and choir to get the sweeping sounds capturing action, romance and comedy. “It was really fun to bring this comedic score to life,” the composer said. “Blending orchestral and pop ethos of that era – the music really covers all the different elements from the time period in Old Hollywood. Overall, the energy is exciting, and it was a thrill to score this film.” Available at these links.

Arts Music has released a soundtrack album for the Netflix animated series HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. The album features selections of the show’s original score composed by Michael Kramer (NINJAGO, LEGO STAR WARS: THE FREEMAKER ADVENTURES, THE GHOST AND MOLLY MCGEE). Also included is a new song (“Nobody’s Better Baby”) by Ali Dee. The second season of the Mattel Television production premiered earlier this year and the third and final season just made its debut last week on Netflix.
- via filmmusicreporter

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Film Music Books

BOOK TITLE:  The Sound of Cinema
AUTHOR:  Sean Wilson
ISBN(S):  pISBN 9781476687575, eISBN 9781476646480
PUBLISHER & IMPRINT:  McFarland
FORMAT(S) & PRICE(S):  softcover $39.95, ebook $23.99
NUMBER OF PAGES: 275pp.
BOOK WEBPAGE: 
https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/The-Sound-of-Cinema/

DESCRIPTION: While some film scores crash through theater speakers to claim their place in memory, others are more unassuming. Either way, a film’s score is integral to successful world building. This book lifts the curtain on the elusive yet thrilling art form, examining the birth of the Hollywood film score, its turbulent evolution throughout the decades and the multidimensional challenges to musicians that lie ahead.

Author Sean Wilson, a digital soundtrack journalist based in Bristol, southwest UK, who has conducted numerous interviews with many Hollywood composers for various publications, has created a very timely, wide-ranging, and thorough historical examination of film music and how it has developed and changed throughout the decades from the silent era to the modern day. Citing numerous films, comments and quotes from published books and interviews (including the author’s own interviews), Wilson provides a detailed historical assessment and analysis of music for the movies from a critical and historical consideration from his own as well as the perspective of leading composers of Hollywood.

“I intended to write this book to address what I perceive as a somewhat startling gap in the academic market,” Wilson writes in his Preface. “Music has been bound up with the visual image since the onset of cinema, yet relatively few books have traced the aesthetic development of film scoring from the 19th century through the present day… I wanted to address the overall evolution of the medium: where it started, where it’s been and where it’s going in the future… this allows me to put a fair amount of emphasis on contemporary franchise scoring, which by and large is not well anthologized in academy circles (largely because we’re living through that phase at the moment and the need for retrospective appraisal hasn’t yet reached a critical mass.” To this premise, Wilson has added the thoughts and ideologies of various leading Hollywood film composers. “…by allowing these prodigiously talented individuals to speak for themselves, I aim to fashion a greater sense of emotional directness and credibility with the reader.” Wilson has thus provided us with both a historical analysis of the growth of film music from the early days of cinema and a glimpse into the film scoring process as relayed by respected practitioners of the trade.

The book is divided into six chapters, each of which are subdivided into a number of sections. The first chapter focuses on The Onset of Film Music and discusses the early relationship between music and picture and the early history of cinema, with Chapter Two examining The Romantic Era of Early Film Music (Max Steiner [much covering his beloved score to KING KONG and its relevance to film music history), Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alfred Newman, and Bernard Herrmann). Chapter Three covers Jazz, Rock and Roll, and the Slide Towards Experimentalism (Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, Ennio Morricone, Rock and Roll in the Movies). Chapter Four brings us to STAR WARS and the Resurgence of the Symphonic Score (at 155 pages, the longest chapter in the book). Chapter Five considers The Role of Film Music in the Era of Franchising (Hans Zimmer and the Changing Perception of Film Music, The Rise of the Comic Book Movie Score). Chapter Six scrutinizes Gender Disparity, Temp Scores and Rejected Scores, perhaps the most timely and relevant chapter in terms of current affairs and concerns in film music. Wilson concludes with a Coda: The Future of Hollywood Film Scoring, where he surveys what he’s examined in the previous chapters, concluding: “Hopefully [this book] demonstrated the majesty that can occur when picture and music fuse together in harmonious fashion. On a somewhat more disquieting note, it has, perhaps, also revealed the vulnerability of said music, particularly when it butts heads with the wider film industry. The delicacy of a graceful film melody is no match for the discordant aggression of the Hollywood marketing machine… A perfect score must… enhance its movie first and foremost. However, it also has the capacity to transcend the images as a standalone listening experience, communicating the ebb and flow of the film’s narrative even when divorced from the visuals.”

Randall D. Larson

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Documentary Soundtrack News

Òscar Senén has scored director Pavlo Peleshok’s documentary LIFE TO THE LIMIT. Two successful film producers with an office in the center of Kyiv after the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014 decide to leave everything and volunteer for the war in eastern Ukraine, to defend the homeland from the Russian occupiers. After two years of war (2016), the film they made, WINTER ON FIRE, became a nominee for an American Academy Award. A week after the awards ceremony and elite cocktail parties in Los Angeles, they returned to the trenches of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Five years later, as veterans, at the cost of losing close friends, survivor guilt syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, medals for bravery, they have returned to their profession to show from fragments of memories and their own video archive why the Russian-Ukrainian war was possible in the 21st Century. Òscar Senén is a composer and orchestrator for films, TV and games with more than 15 years of experience in the music industry. For more details and to watch the film’s trailer, see https://lifetothelimit.movie/

Alan Williams has scored RONIN 3: THE BATTLE FOR SANGIN, a war documentary of the 3/5 Darkhorse Marines. Before the marines arrived in Sangin, Afghanistan, 2010, the Taliban owned the ground, littered with countless IEDs and murder holes...Not to be deterred, Ronin 3 platoon became the predators not the prey in this edge-of-your seat story of how they changed devastation to dominance in the most violent place on earth. They emblazoned the creed: “No better friend, no worse enemy” on shifting battlegrounds. Watch the film’s trailer on YouTube.

Composer Jeff Beal announces two reissues from his new label, Categorical Records: BLACKFISH, a BAFTA winning and buzzworthy 2013 doc. from director Gabriella Cowperthwaite, about the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales; and coming soon the 2013 comedy HE’S WAY MORE FAMOUS THAN YOU directed by Michael Urie, which follows an aspiring actress who loses her support system in one fell swoop and sets out with a stolen script, her brother, and his boyfriend to make a movie.

Netflix Music announces the release of WEB OF MAKE BELIEVE: DEATH, LIES & THE INTERNET (Soundtrack From the Netflix Series) with music by composer John Dragonetti. From Oscar-winning executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, this docuseries helmed by acclaimed director Brian Knappenberger (THE TRIALS OF GABRIEL FERNANDEZ) tells harrowing true stories of the internet age. Dragonetti created a unique soundscape using an antique piano, creating interesting percussive sounds, as well as an old metal fan, hitting it to create a reverb. Those sounds were the basis for a lot of the drum tracks in the score. “A lot of the music doesn’t sound like your usual documentary score,” said the composer. “I got a lot of inspiration from music and bands that I’ve loved over the years that aren’t necessarily film music…channeling psychedelic textures with post punk and ‘80s British synth music.” Listen to the music at these links.

Featuring music by cinematic composer and Emmy Award-winning pianist Carly Comando, the original score for the film LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD by director Jeremy Workman and executive producer Kelly Marie Tran includes several new stunning recordings Carly composed for the documentary. Filmed over three years across countless cities and featuring appearances by Jimmy Fallon, Katy Perry, Will Smith and a steady stream of Gen-Z creators, the film follows 20 year old sensation Lily Hevesh – the world’s most acclaimed domino toppler and the only girl in her field – in a coming-of-age story of a quiet Chinese adoptee who transforms into a global artistic force with nearly 1.5 Billion views on YouTube alone. “My goal in composing the custom score tracks was to bridge Lily’s story and director Jeremy Workman’s directorial vision without getting in the way of either,” said Carly. “My characteristic style is melodic minimalism, usually going with the idea I come up with in the first take. I wanted to make sure the music supported the storyline in tone and energy versus telling the viewer how they should feel at the time… Once I had the major melody set up, I began adding in little references to the dominos falling in real time. I also mixed in a little toy piano sound in the melody of the piece because there’s so much sweet, innocent childlike wonder in the art that Lily creates despite her immense success as an adult.” LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD is streaming now on Discovery+. Listen to the album on Spotify, or sample a track and/or purchase from DeepElm Records here

Silva Screen Records Presents THIS IS JOAN COLLINS. Framing and adding sizzle to the exciting self-narrated story of actress Joan Collin’s life, composer Lindsay Wright taps into the jazzy 60’s cocktail sounds to create an era defining soundtrack. THIS IS JOAN COLLINS is an immensely entertaining feature-length documentary on the life of one of the last surviving actresses from the golden age of Hollywood. The film is told from the ringside as Joan narrates her rollercoaster life story with her inimitable wit and verve. A worldwide television phenomenon with her decade-defining role in DYNASTY, Collins shares her extraordinary archive and never before seen home movie footage. With this film she gives the public an intimate glimpse into her world and reveals her story as that of an extraordinary life, a life of a woman who has lived through the glitz, the glamour and the enduring moments of Hollywood history, and survived it all with panache, humor and resilience. THIS IS JOAN COLLINS is currently available to stream on BritBox and BBC iPlayer; the soundtrack has been released digitally by Silva Screen Records. See more details at SilvaScreen or SilvaScreenUK.

Australian composer Brett Aplin and German Australian composer Burkhard Dallwitz have collaborated on the score to SPLICE HERE: A PROJECTED ODYSSEY, a love letter to film told through the eyes of documentarian and projectionist, Rob (Bert) Murphy. A decade ago when film projectors were being ripped out of cinemas and replaced by digital counterparts it was pretty clear that film was facing its death knell. Like many others Rob felt digital was a poor substitute, so (without knowing exactly what he was starting) he picked up a camera and began recording what he thought was the end of an era. The resulting ten year adventure has now crossed three continents and explored every facet of film preservation through the secret world of the projectionist underground. We discover how the digital revolution has not just changed the way we see movies, but is becoming a very real threat to how we will remember them. “I think we’ve created a strangely beautiful and uniquely interesting score to a fascinating film, in a mix of styles and instrumentation that shouldn’t work together but delightfully do,” Aplin said in a Facebook post. The film is currently screening at the Melbourne Film Festival; the soundtrack is available at these links. Watch the trailer below:
 

Amanda Jones has scored SUPER/NATURAL, a James Cameron-produced National Geographic docu series, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, that uses the latest scientific innovations and filmmaking technology to reveal the powers and super-senses of the world’s animals, allowing inviting viewers to experience the natural world as a specific species does. “I loved writing the music for this series,” Jones said in a Facebook post. “I started working on this about a year ago and its pretty darn epic. Big thanks to James Cameron’s team, National Geographic, and Plimsoll for having me. As always massive thank you to my incredible music team!” (additional Writers Kristen Personius, Sandro Morales Santoro, and Nikhil Seetharam; musicians Leila Nunez-Fredell – Violin; Yonathan Gavidia – Percussion; Lee Harcourt – Drums; Trevor Jarvis – Cello; Mishkar Nunez-Fredell – Violin; Max Mueller – Cello; Emily Williams – Viola; Music Editor: Marcelle Simpson / JTN Music). Experience a realm beyond human perception – the all-new series is streaming September 21 only on Disney+
Watch the trailer:

Shie Rozow announces the release of his third album Music For The Screen Vol. 1: Leo Pfeifer Short Docs, now out and available for purchase and/or streaming on all major digital platforms. The album is a compilation of four scores from award-winning documentaries by director Leo Pfeifer. Three of the scores earned Telly Awards, and the fourth film earned a Telly for Leo & his co-director. The album is available to listen or purchase at these links.

Light & Magic is a 2022 documentary TV series directed by Lawrence Kasdan, produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. and Imagine Documentaries. The series recounts the history of the motion picture visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) from its founding in 1975 to its key role in the development of visual effects in filmmaking. The doc was scored by James Newton Howard, including some additional music tracks by Michael Dean ParsonsXander Rodzinski & Tobin Pugash. A soundtrack album was released last Friday the 26th and is available from AmazonSpotify, and other sources. The series debuted as a Disney+ Original on July 27, 2022.

Listen to a bit of the score:

Adam Lukas reports that he has been scoring FROZEN PLANET II alongside Hans Zimmerand James Everingham for Bleeding Fingers Music. “This is a dream come true and so far the biggest endeavor I’ve undertaken in my career, having written 6 hours of music together with Hans and James for the last 7 months,” he said in a Facebook post. “FROZEN PLANET II is produced by the BBC, with Mark Brownlow as executive producer and Elizabeth White as the series producer. The show is a celebration of wondrous wildlife overcoming the challenges of life in the extremes; yet today it faces the even greater challenge of climate change. In addition to the composer’s music, singer Camila Cabello joins legendary composer Hans Zimmer on their new track “Take Me Back Home,” which marks the first time a new song has been written to support a BBC One natural history landmark release, and features the haunting vocals of Cabello supported by the epic orchestration of Zimmer and his long-term collaborators - arranger Ane Rozman and producer Russell Emanuel for Bleeding Fingers Music. The show premieres on September 11th on BBC and BBC iPlayer.

Watch the music video of “Take My Back Home” set to images of the show:

_______________________________________________________________________________

Vinyl Soundtrack News

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE have finally landed at Waxwork Records. After much anticipation, the label is thrilled to present the official 1988 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by John Massari for the very first time on vinyl. In this ‘80’s cult classic, teens Mike Tobacco (Grant Cramer) and Debbie Stone (Suzanne Snyder) have to fight both the diabolical bozos and the local law enforcement’s disbelief to save themselves and their community. The original score to KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE is kicked off by the classic 80’s horror movie theme track, “Killer Klowns (From Outer Space)” by California punk band, The Dickies. The ‘nightmare merry-go-round’ continues with a smattering of menacing electronic brass sections, electric guitar, bombastic drum machine beats, & harpsichord combined with sci-fi synth elements to capture the ultra-specific origins of the antagonists. Massari’s score to Klowns is a retro-synth joyride. Available with 180 gram “Cotton Candy” and “Popcorn” colored vinyl with exclusive liner notes by composer John Massari and co-creator Stephen Chiodo. Features a heavyweight 12” x 12” art print house in old-style tip-on jackets with matte satin coating. See details at WaxworkRecords.

Varèse Sarabande has released a 1500 copy limited edition pressing of Tangerine Dream’s classic electronic score for the1980 FIRESTARTER on LP. The band considered FIRESTARTER one of their most challenging scores, as they needed to provide not only suspense and pace for the paranormal chases and powers, but an emotional sensitivity to the child protagonist. New liner notes by Randall D. Larson explain how the band did not score to picture, but created “wild” cues to be used by the film’s music editors. Hence this 11 track program is the same as MCA Records’ 1984 soundtrack album, released by Varèse Sarabande on CD in 1990, and newly remastered for this long-awaited reissue. The new vinyl edition is an exclusive available on VareseSarabande.com or Intl.VareseSarabande.com  (The label’s new CD version of this edition is also available, in a limited run of 1,500 copies. See Varèse Sarabande.)

Waxwork Records in partnership with Back Lot Music has released NOPE Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Michael Abels. Oscar® winner Jordan Peele disrupted and redefined modern horror with GET OUT and then US. Now, he reimagines the summer movie with a new pop nightmare: the expansive horror epic, NOPE. “NOPE is my most ambitious score to date,” says Abels. “There are elements from the genres of sci-fi, action, horror, and westerns, but always through the tonal palette of Jordan Peele’s unique vision. The lines between source music and score are blurred, as a good part of the score seems to be playing at the theme park, which is a key location in the story. The score is at times terrifying, yet also invokes the sense of awe and wonder that the characters feel as they realize what they are seeing. The film eventually becomes a grand adventure, and so the music expands into the larger-than-life scale we expect of a summer blockbuster.” Waxwork Records is thrilled to present the official NOPE deluxe double LP soundtrack album. The package comes complete with 180-gram colored vinyl, quality packaging, original artwork by Ethan Mesa, heavyweight gatefold jacket with matte coating, a multi-page 12”x12” booklet, liner notes, and more. The vinyl soundtrack will be available from Waxwork Records in the US and Transmission Records in the UK on December, 2022

Four Flies Records has released an extended reissue, double vinyl LP set of Giuliano Sorgini’s ZOO FOLLE for the first time in its full, extended glory. This double LP contains both the soundtrack as released in 1974 (sides A and B) and previously unreleased gems (sides C and D), all tracks remastered from the original master tapes. “Back in 2016 we put out the first official reissue of ZOO FOLLE,” the label reports. “It sold out in a matter of months, leaving many vinyl collectors hungry for more. Quite serendipitously, the following year we found ourselves digging through Giuliano Sorgini’s personal archives to prepare what would become AFRICA OSCURA and stumbled upon a few mysterious reels that could be traced back to ZOO FOLLE. Imagine our joy when we realized that they contained the complete recording sessions of the original soundtrack, including unreleased material and never-before heard alternate versions! It was a no-brainer to start planning this extended reissue.” ZOO FOLLE is Sorgini’s most committed and personal work, reflecting at once his beliefs as an animal rightist and his deep friendship with TV director and long-time collaborator Riccardo Fellini (brother of Federico). It was Fellini himself who asked Sorgini to score his documentary on the living conditions of animals in zoos in Western metropolises (Rome, London, and Paris in particular). A 2LP Gatefold Vinyl, out on September 23, 2022 For more details and to pre-order, see FourFliesRecords.

________________________________________________________________________

Video Game Music News

Lakeshore Records has digitally released the IMMORTALITY Original Soundtrack to the Interactive Trilogy by Nainita Desai. Reuniting with TELLING LIES game designer Sam Barlow, Nainita composed a multi-themed score for this “interactive film trilogy.” IMMORTALITY is Sam Barlow’s first return to the horror genre since SILENT HILL: SHATTERED MEMORIES in 2009. In this game, players get to explore a treasure trove of newly unearthed footage from the three lost movies of Marissa Marcel. By using a magical new mechanic – the ability to ‘match cut’ from a visual at any point in a piece of footage – players navigate via cinematic language to dig up the secrets beneath the surface. Nainita composed three score themes each connected to one of these films, and each has a subverted theme of sadness as the undercurrent to the inherent glitz and glamor. This narrative duality was Nainita’s main challenge in scoring IMMORTALITY, but she enjoyed twisting, manipulating, and mangling the orchestral recordings to evoke this “hidden” side to the unfolding mystery. The vividly cinematic score is orchestrated with darkly twisted melodies and crescendos that greatly enhance the interactive movie trilogy. Says Desai: “IMMORTALITY is a boldly ambitious attempt to deconstruct cinema through gameplay. There are three musical themes and each theme is connected to a film, dealing with Marissa’s story and her grappling with how she engages with mortality. The themes represent the different types of ‘magic.’ Mapped with each theme is a subverted theme which all contain a form of sadness as the magic fades or fails. There’s another side to the themes revealed during gameplay where I had a lot of fun, twisting, manipulating and mangling the orchestral recordings to evoke a ‘hidden’ side to the narrative.  The game is quite philosophical, dealing with mortality, the creation of art as an immortality machine, the extent to which our physicality is part of the art, and what it means for art to live on.” The soundtrack is available from these links.
Listen to Nainita Desai’s “Life” from IMMORTALITY:

____________________________________________________________________

Randall D. Larson was for many years publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine. A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: 100+ Years of Fantasy, Science Fiction & Horror Film Music and Music from the House of Hammer. He currently writes articles on film music and sf/horror cinema, and has written liner notes more than 300 soundtrack CDs. He can be contacted via https://musiquefantastique.com/ or follow Musique Fantastique on Facebook.

Follow Randall on Twitter at https://twitter.com/randalldlarson and https://twitter.com/MusiqueFantast1

Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe for copyediting assistance.