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Soundtrax: Episode 2022-1
January 2022

Feature Interviews:

Overviews: Soundtrack Reviews:

ALL CREATURES GREAT & SMALL Season 2/Harwood/Silva Screen, ARCHIVE 81/Salisbury & Barrow/Lakeshore, BOÎTE NOIR (Black Box)/Rombi/Music Box, THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT Vol. 1/Göransson & Shirley/Disney, CALL OF DUTY VANGUARD/McCreary/ Sparks & Shadows, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK/Newman/La-La Land, FIELD OF DREAMS Expanded/Horner/La-La Land, THE NAVIGATOR/SEVEN CHANCES/STEAMBOAT BILL JR./Bolling/ Music Box, QUACKERZ/Noskov & Maslov/KeepMoving, THE NUTCRACKER & THE MOUSE KING/Kasparov/KeepMoving, SCREAM/Tyler/Varèse Sarabande, SERVANT Season 3/Gureckis/ Lakeshore, ‘TIL KINGDOM COME/FLANNERY/Cutler/Perseverance, UNIVERSE/Anže Rozman/Silva Screen

Plus Film Music Books, Film & TV Music, Documentary, Vinyl Soundtracks & Game Music News

A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN is based on the true story of First Sergeant Charles Monroe King, a soldier deployed to Iraq who begins to keep a journal of love and advice for his infant son. Back at home, senior New York Times editor Dana Canedy revisits the story of her unlikely, life-altering relationship with King and his enduring devotion to her and their child. A sweeping account of a once-in-a-lifetime love, the film is a powerful reminder of the importance of family. The story of the lessons Charles would leave for his son – and the extraordinary love affair with Dana – is told in the new film A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN, directed by Denzel Washington and starring Michael B. Jordan and Chanté Adams. For everyone involved in the project, the film has been a labor of love for many years. Producer Todd Black sparked to the project when Canedy first wrote about Charles and the journal in the New York Times on New Year’s Day 2007 – just a few months after Charles was killed in Iraq.
Naturally, because Jordan was only six months old when his father died, Canedy saved the journal for him for a few years. “I put it away so that he could just be a child,” she says. “When he started asking questions that his father had anticipated, I said, ‘go see what your father had to say about that.’ And he’d pull out the journal and read about it. In difficult moments, in happy moments. To hear him quote his father’s words back – those are special moments for us.”
The score for A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN was written by Marcelo Zarvos, who previously collaborated with Denzel Washington on FENCES (2016) and is also known for WONDER (2017), and ENOUGH SAID (2013). The Brazilian-born Zarvos is a classically trained pianist and composer who earned his BFA from Cal Arts. He burst onto the film landscape in the early 2000s with his score for KISSING JESSICA STEIN and the film adaptation of the John Irving novel, THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR – since then he’s scored more than 80 films and television projects. “I think the main attraction [of film scoring] was the possibility of experimenting and combining a wide variety of musical styles including rock, without the constraints of a three-minute song format or preconceptions about genre,” Zarvos has said.
Regarding A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN, Zarvos said: “I had a long creative conversation with Denzel a few months before photography started. We talked in very broad terms about the story and what music could bring to it. Denzel is very musical, but is not a micromanager. He really lets you do your work and knows to give you a lot of freedom to try things. I found the dailies very inspiring – I was able to feel the film without necessarily being locked to any timings. I wrote some of the main themes of the film during that time, and so when we started to really get into it after production, there was already a good base line of the language and overall vibe of the score.”
Columbia Pictures presents in association with Creative Wealth Media an Escape Artists/BRON Studios production, A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN. The film was released in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2021.


Q: Coming into this project, having worked with Denzel before on FENCES, what were your initial impressions about scoring A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN?

Marcelo Zarvos: Because, as you said, we’d worked together before, the first instinct is to reach for what you’ve done before, so I assumed at first it was going to be extremely sparse. FENCES was the sparsest score I’ve ever done; the first cue comes in like 30 minutes into the movie, very much with the idea that less is more. So I wrongly, as it turned out, assumed it was going to be a similar approach! When we talked about it, I knew there were going to be a lot of songs – all the romance stuff in the second act was going to be mostly songs – and when the movie was temped it was, at first, thirty-something minutes of music. I learned from experience in the past that you let the movie tell you what it wants to be, musically, and I had a hunch that there was going to be more music, but rather than saying, “Hey, I really think we need to write a little more music for this,” I just let it play out naturally, and as it turned out everybody was in the same boat and very slowly cues started to grow, and we ended up with about an hour of music, almost twice what we thought we’d have.

Q: You’ve mentioned that you found the dailies very inspiring as you were working on the score – how did your score develop from those initial scenes?

Marcelo Zarvos: I’ve worked on a lot of movies, but for a variety of reasons – mostly that I never thought I could ask for it, and because usually I’m not hired to do the score before they start shooting – I never had a lot of interaction with dailies. Sometimes in TV shows, dailies were available, but if you have twelve episodes to go, you’re waiting for rough cuts, but in this case Denzel hired me while they were still a couple of months away from starting to shoot. When I asked for dailies, the studio itself was like, “Wait – composers never get dailies!” but our producer Todd Black and Denzel said, “We don’t see why Marcelo can’t watch the dailies,” so I started watching them. The first stuff that they shot was in California where all the training for the Iraq footage was filmed, at Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert. All the stuff that I saw first was the army footage, and in particular I was very taken by the drone footage that they had of the convoys at the training base and also of the mountains and the desert. That was very inspiring to me. You’re not trying to score the dailies, but it’s interesting to see them – the script gives you a good idea of what the movie’s going to be plot-wise, but the dailies give you a lot of visual inspiration; you can see the way that the movie looks and breathes. So I was very inspired by those dailies and I actually wrote a couple of themes that ultimately were used and were very central to the film – the music around the birth of Jordon and also Charles’ death. The themes that are in those scenes are things that I actually wrote to the dailies and the script, and they loved the music so we ended up using them. It wasn’t a lot of music but it was a couple of very important scenes, and when I saw the first cut they already had those themes in the cut, which was really nice. It doesn’t work that way very often, because as you know many times composers are brought in half-way through the cut and they already have temp music going on.

Listen to the track “Love” below:

Q: Your score captures an affecting serenity and intimacy, which is of course appropriate to the film’s emotional storyline and basis in reality. How did you decide on the film’s musical palette and what did you choose to have the instruments represent in the story?

Marcelo Zarvos: I knew from having worked with Denzel before – he knows and likes my music, and on FENCES we had a lot of piano – and I knew that piano was going to be a part of this film score. Denzel’s wife is a concert pianist and he plays it himself a little bit. It’s an instrument that is heard in scores everywhere and I think, particularly for the intimacy he was striving for, I find that it’s an instrument that really works. We also had a fair amount of harp for those more intimate childhood things, and those were in the back of my mind. The one instrument that I kept thinking about to capture more of Charles’ military soul, the brave warrior… I didn’t want to do trumpets because I felt that was too on the nose, so it ended up being the French horn, and there’s a little motif that appears throughout the film which is played on French horn, so that instrument became the voice of Charles’ nobility, his dedication to his country, the troops that he was commanding, and all of that.

I’d been told there was a small element of the movie that deals with war – obviously this is not a war movie, and the war scenes take place in a short amount of time, but I wanted to find an instrument that would have a good counterpoint with the brutality of war. I kept thinking about it and I arrived at a flute. It’s one of the most delicate instruments, but I wanted that sound – and Denzel was very clear that he didn’t want a big, actiony war sound in the score, even for the scenes where that might have been appropriate. He wanted a more spiritual approach, so the flute ended up playing this motif that comes in during the opening of the movie when we see the New York skyline, and I have the flutes playing a descending chord progression, and for me they represented an unstoppable element of time, like when your time’s up your time’s up. So that worked kind of like a ticking clock. I find, in a lot of movies that I work on, there’s often an element of time, and in the case of this one it has to do with the time they have together and how that time was going to run out. Denzel also really likes to have a couple of electronic elements - even on FENCES, which is not a film we would necessarily think of as having electronic things, there is a pulse that happens in a couple of scenes, so I also felt it would fit to introduce some very treated and tweaked percussion sounds. They would be a part of the palette from the very early scenes of Dana with the baby, so scenes that could be scored as just something sweet would have something else in them, and scenes that perhaps could have been scored as more tense and thriller-like would go against the grain. Denzel wants to be surprised about the music, and he wants the music to have turns that he’s not expecting – we’re going with it and then it takes a turn, even if it’s very subtle, harmonically or melodically. Developing some otherworldly sound – percussion, electronic, whatever – is something he wanted to be part of the palette. And then of course we have strings, because we all love them and they bring something that only they can bring.

I do feel like we’ve tried not to nail the different time periods with music, but rather we’ve joined them together and make it one flowing experience.

Q: How did you use your music to treat the navigation through the film’s time periods and the perspectives of both Dana and Charles as the story progresses?

Marcelo Zarvos: Some of the themes are introduced very early on. I mentioned this element of time that starts, but because the film jumps back and forth we couldn’t just rely on something that is moving forward. For me maybe the greatest example of a movie dealing with time in recent history might be DUNKIRK where you have literally that watch that starts and the whole movie runs on different timelines converging into one. This movie doesn’t work like that because it goes back and forth. From the first dream montage you see everything that happens very fast flashing in front of your eyes, so it was not something that we could separate in the way that other movies may progress from present to the future and to the past. I remember many years ago working on THE GOOD SHEPHERD, which also has this very complex timeline, I found that rather than separating timeframes with the music, I tended to want to join the things together, so there’s more of a continuity in the sound from the past to the present, and that was kind of the approach here. It was not so much like I wanted to make it clear: here’s the music from the past, here’s the present, and so on. It was more what I always feel is a more emotional approach where you’re scoring the emotions of a scene. Some of the themes, like their love theme, for example, comes in reasonably early and the first time you hear it is when they’re talking on the phone; there’s this beautiful shot where the camera zooms over Dana when she’s laying in bed and talking to him and we have a very slow version of their love theme that comes there, and then the love theme continues to develop and the “Flight to Akron” is the most fleshed out version of that theme. I do feel like we’ve tried not to nail the different time periods with music, but rather we’ve joined them together and make it one flowing experience.

Listen to the track “Flight to Akron” below:

Q: Did your musical score need to interact with or work around the classic R&B songs that were used in the film?

Marcelo Zarvos: It was more like I was coming in and out of them than anything else. There’s one on the beginning where she’s typing on her computer and then it cuts to the first big song, but it was more like passing the baton. As I said, I was fully prepared for there to be a lot more songs than there ultimately were, and one of the reasons is also that we started with the music so early that Denzel really got very comfortable with it, so he and the editor started getting ideas for places where we might use themes where we didn’t necessarily think we would before. So I didn’t need to shape or mold the music to reflect instrumentally whatever was happening in the songs. The songs were their own characters and the ones that are there have always been there; there was really nothing that was swapped out. From the very first time I saw the movie the songs that you hear are the songs that were there.

Listen to the track “Arlington” below:

Q: What musical moments in the film are you especially pleased with, or felt came off particularly effectively?

Marcelo Zarvos: I really love the birth sequence. I felt that accomplished a lot because you’re dealing with birth and death, and we’re cutting to Iraq where Charles was not only not present at the birth of his son but he was also present at the army corps when the people that have passed – I didn’t realize that tradition of the army when they’re doing their roll call, when they call the names of fallen soldiers a few times, in honor, and then play taps. I was very proud of that sequence. The “Flight to Akron” sequence was one that I was very pleased with as well, its one of the longer phone calls and their romance is already in a much higher gear and it was just really beautiful; the mood of the score had to really help us feel and understand the closeness they were experiencing because they never actually lived together, it was always a long distance relationship, so the music really had to land that. The sequence of Charles’ death and Dana getting the call was another one I was pleased with how it turned out. And finally the end when they pray at Arlington was also another sequence where I felt like the music was really able to open up. Denzel was very careful about how we used music – the music on this movie is a lot more emotional than I thought possible in a movie by Denzel because, with him, if things start to feel like they’re pushing more or they’re coloring the performances too much he really doesn’t like that, but it was nice for the music here to open up a little bit and become more emotional and really go for the gut; but that was always in sequences that were very carefully calibrated. He definitely didn’t want the whole movie to be like that. He’s very big on saving the big moments for where you really need them, and we plotted them carefully and economically, so you use that emotion and that bigger sound and the bigger resonance of the music just when you need it.

Q: I’ like to talk briefly about two other scores that you did that came out in 2021, one of them is a documentary THE DAY SPORTS STOOD STILL for Antoine Fuqua. What can you tell me about scoring that project?

Marcelo Zarvos: I’ve had a great collaborative relationship with Antoine now for a while – I feel in many ways it’s a continuation of the work we did together on WHAT’S MY NAME: MUHAMMAD ALI [2019], a documentary for HBO. I’d learned when I worked on ALI with Antoine that he’s interested in the dramatic element of sports and how, in his view, he’d always talk about them being the modern gladiators and how he sees them as real heroes, and they’re such a big part of peoples’ emotional lives. So that was always the approach with him, he wants the music to capture that part of it, and what we think of it after the event has taken place is more about the impact they have on society. What is very interesting about this new documentary is that it starts at something which has happened in real life, which was the difficulties of all the sports being shut down [over the pandemic] but then it becomes very mixed with the Black Lives Matter movement, so ultimately I feel the documentary was much more about that than the sports itself. Again, I was thinking of the symbolic part of it. And I just love working with Antoine, he loves music and he knows how to talk about music, and he’s not afraid of opening it up with it when he needs to. One of the reasons I love working on documentaries with him is that he feels that the music should be cinematic and should feel like a movie and not just like a “documentary,” – of course a documentary can mean many things and a documentary score can mean many things, but for him it’s like he doesn’t see it as fundamentally different from a fictional movie. I treat the athletes as characters in the story and they should get as much drama as a character in a fictional movie would get.

Q: The other one is another Antione Fuqua movie from the same year, THE GUILTY which is about a demoted police officer, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, assigned to a call dispatch desk who is conflicted when he receives an emergency phone call from a kidnapped woman, and the whole film essentially takes place in the 911 dispatch center. It’s a concept that interests me since I spent 20 years as a 911 dispatcher and supervisor before I retired to write about film music full time.

Marcelo Zarvos: Oh! The challenge of that one was that it is, in many ways, almost like a radio play. I watched the original Danish movie it is based on, which has no music, so we didn’t have to compare it to the original in that sense. But what Antoine was focusing on was that this was a story of redemption and of mental illness; those were the two things that we really talked a lot about. Again, the thriller aspect of it was important and we had to follow it and plot it with the music, but what he was really interested in was how this guy stuck in a kind of purgatory, which is how he saw it – he was stuck in this place where he didn’t want to be, so it was looking at it from a kind of spiritual point of view. The mental illness was very important because he feels, as Antoine and I do after having learned more about it, that there’s a real crisis in mental health in police work. A lot of the stuff that we see happens is horrific and is made worse by the fact that many of these people have severe PTSD that goes untreated, and so he was very interested in that human part of it. The music had to work very hard but it was also a fine line, because ultimately it was Jake sitting in the chair all the time and so if the music got too big or too busy, it was going to detract from his perspective. That was another case where I thought originally that there was going to be a lot less music, but the music kept working and Antoine kept asking for it, and ultimately it’s there almost the whole time except in a few places. But what we have is very limited bandwidth, because we also have to understand the entire story through our ears. Orchestration-wise, we had to be very careful, as there were no exterior visuals to fall back on, and if the music got too loud or too big you could miss important things in the dialog. So it was really a unique project, I have to say. [continues below]

Listen to the “Movie Score Suite” from THE GUILTY:

I always feel like, in many cases, a score can be like an accompaniment to an aria – the aria is the dialog and the score is the orchestral accompaniment of that aria.

In a sense, my approach to scoring – and I’ve done a lot of dramas, that’s probably what I tend to do the most – I always think the dialog is the key part, so many times when I’m scoring I might turn off the video and just leave the dialog on and write around that. In a sense I’ve been training myself for a long time to the challenge that THE GUILTY was, and I always feel like, in many cases, a score can be like an accompaniment to an aria – the aria is the dialog and the score is the orchestral accompaniment of that aria. I felt like in THE GUILTY that was really true, because everything you experience, you’re hearing from him and from the other side of the phone call. It was my years of doing very wordy dramas, whether it was FENCES or THE AFFAIR or whatever, I’ve always felt – perhaps because one of my first loves was literature and I always loved the text – that the dialog in a drama happens to be the more crucial element that needs more space than your normal film.

Q: What do you have coming up next that you can talk about?

Marcelo Zarvos: I’m working with Antoine on a documentary about The Lakers, which is a ten-part series for Hulu. It’s a very cool story of the whole saga of them, particularly starting in the late ‘70s and how that whole legacy came to be. And then I’m also going to start working on a series version of AMERICAN GIGOLO.  We already shot the pilot last year, and it’s got one of the showrunners that I worked on RAY DONOVAN with, David Hollander, and it’s very, very cool. The story starts where the movie left off, so a lot of it is what happens after the character comes out of jail, but it cuts back and forth in time. I’ve only worked on and seen the pilot, but I think it’s going to be a really fun ride bringing that world into modern times.

The digital soundtrack to A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN has been released by Sony Music. For more information on the composer, see his website at

Special thanks to Jeff Sanderson of Chasen & Co. for facilitating this interview.
The interview has been lightly edited for clarification.


Born and raised in the Costa Rican town of Heredia, music has been around Daniel Rojas since childhood. His mother was a classical pianist originally from China and his father a Costa Rican trumpet player & band director. Daniel began listening to film scores after his brother, who also plays the trumpet, developed a passion for them, often times encouraging Daniel to learn parts of the scores on the piano and guitar. After playing in numerous bands, Daniel decided to pursue music professionally at 15 years old and later went on to study jazz guitar at the University of North Texas, where he received a scholarship. In 2009, he moved to LA and began working as an assistant and occasional guitarist at the studios of composers such as Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer, eventually composing additional music under Klaus and later opening his own studio.
Years later, Daniel has written music for over 60 feature films, TV shows and video-games. His latest project being the Marvel animated comedy series HIT MONKEY and M.O.D.O.K, the latter starring Patton Oswalt. Daniel’s other recent works include the DreamWorks Animation series for Netflix titled KIPO AND THE AGE OF THE WONDERBEASTS, and he contributed music to the films ROOM (Brie Larson), Jodie Foster’s thriller MONEY MONSTER starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, and Alexander Payne’s DOWNSIZING starring Matt Damon. In addition to film scoring, he has produced and arranged over 100 songs in a wide variety of genres for several labels including Sony Music and Universal Music Group.
- bio via Kraft-Engel Management

HIT-MONKEY: Hit-Monkey is a wronged Japanese macaque who is mentored by the ghost of an American assassin named Bryce Fowler as he damages Tokyo’s crime underworld.

Watch the trailer to HIT-MONKEY:

Q: While M.O.D.O.K. came earlier, I understand you were asked to score HIT MONKEY first? How did you become involved in this series?

Daniel Rojas: The music supervisors for HIT-MONKEY are Kier Lehman and James Cartwright. They were music supervisors on a show that I previously scored called KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS for Dreamworks and Netflix, and we developed a very good relationship on that show. Kier and James have worked with Marvel before – they were the music supervisors on the INTO THE SPIDERVERSE movie, THE MITCHELLS VS THE MACHINES, and a lot of other animations. So Kier reached out and told me there was a show they were working on and they were looking for a composer. He thought I could be a good fit so he asked me to send some demos, which I did, and those demos got me a meeting, and from then on it was the typical kind of pitching, like an audition. I met with the showrunners and the executive producers and I was asked to score three scenes on spec. That was the whole process to convince them that I could score the show, and that’s how HIT MONKEY happened. I didn’t have a previous relationship with Marvel or with the showrunners, but my relationship with the music supervisors brought me in.

Listen to Daniel Rojas’ “Hit-Monkey Prologue:”

Q: HIT-MONKEY is such an audacious concept, yet one with its own style of humor and sympathy. Your music plays it mainly straight. When you first came on board, where did you begin, score-wise?

Daniel Rojas: I think the first few demos I sent were more to find the sound – the musical color of the show. We weren’t fully sure what would fit best, and initially the approach was a little more rock and roll than it ended up being, because the character just had that feel. So even at the beginning we were thinking of British rock, like grunge rock – Sex Pistols and things like that. That was the initial approach because of the look of the characters, but then it was hard to make that work with the comedy and the pacing of the show. And also there was the need to bring it into a little more of a Marvel sound, a more cinematic/action vibe. That’s how we landed in this hybrid world where there’s some orchestra but it’s also kind of rock and synthy. We actually did most of the show quite chronologically, which is not the norm. A lot of times you jump around a lot, but on HIT-MONKEY we mostly went straight from episodes one to ten. We fast-tracked a couple episodes, episode seven was a little earlier, but in general it was fairly chronological. That allowed us to develop the sound all the way through.

Q: The series touches on a number of different genres – you’ve got the Yakuza story, you’ve got a bit of film noir, you’ve got a bit of the Samurai and kung-fu traditions, and it’s not just Japanese either – you’ve got all these other palettes to explore. How did that affect where you were going as you were moving on in this score?

Daniel Rojas: All of that was definitely in the conversation. We needed to hit all those different tones and different pacings, and there’s a lot of dialogue too, with Bryce especially. A lot of that needed a little help, even just with a little ticker to support the comedy. As you’ve probably noticed there’s also some jazzy, swingy kind of things sometimes when he’s making jokes. In the world of scoring we call that a walk-and-talk, when characters are walking and talking and there’s music to support the pacing, but it’s not really saying much. You don’t want to color it, you don’t want to add too many starts and stops and make it sound like a weird, mickey-mouse comedy, but it’s just a little background to help the overall pacing.

One of the concepts that we did talk very early on in HIT-MONKEY was how we were going to approach the setting – meaning how much Japanese we were going to infuse into it. We wanted to have some of it, but the showrunners and producers were also adamant that they didn’t want it to feel overly Japanese. The story was already set in Japan and they wanted it to be more a superhero concept than anything specific to the region, so we kept the Japanese sounds mostly for the mountains. When they’re in the mountains it’s a little more orchestral and has more of the shakuhachi flutes or the taiko drums and a little bit of Koto, which are all traditional Japanese instruments, and when we’re in the city it’s a little more cosmopolitan, so it’s more synthy, has more rock, and it also makes the city feel a little more artificial and kind of detached from the animal world. So it makes Monkey feel a little more foreign, whereas when we’re outside in the mountains it’s much more like what we’d call a National Geographic type of sound. We recorded a string orchestra in Budapest, and that added a bit of the lushness so the scenes in the mountains have more of a grand theme.

Q: How did you treat the character of Hit-Monkey, beginning as a regular macaque, or snow monkey, until he has this transformation after surviving a massacre, when he learns how to use firearms and be an assassin?

Daniel Rojas: Hit-Monkey has his own theme, which is the main theme for the show, in general. That motif is repeated a lot, but it’s not like a theme that is in your face. But early on sometimes it’s with light strings and a little Koto line that denotes that melody, but towards the end it’s much more aggressive. That was the approach on Monkey, it starts with him being very peaceful and in his own world, and as he gets more committed to his mission of being a killer of killers, the music that’s with him becomes more rock and roll, like’s he’s enjoying it more.

Q: How about your music for Bryce, assuming you could get music in his constantly wonderful dialog commentary?

Daniel Rojas: Yeah! [laughs] There is a motif for Monkey and Bryce, but in general, with Bryce the mission was more to accompany the comedy but not to step on it. They needed something because it sounded weird to just keep it dry all the time. It was also very important to not be too in-your-face with “This is comedy! It should feel like this or like that!” There’s also the other side of Bryce, which is more emotional, like his backstory in Episode 8 or any moment where he talks about his family; there’s a piano theme that you can hear in Episode 1, at the end where he’s dying, you hear the piano figures. That comes in quite a bit when as a ghost he talks to Monkey and opens up about the things in his life, and that is developed into the Ascension theme in episode 10, when he finally ascends.

Listen to “Monkey & Bryce” from HIT-MONKEY:

Q: I think it’s interesting that you’re able to do all of that within a series that has a fairly short episode running time of some 23-minutes, but yet has that kind of intensity, that kind of heart, and that kind of story that takes us throughout so many of these emotional touchstones.

Daniel Rojas: I was fortunate in that the show gave me the opportunity to treat it as a two-and-a-half hour long movie. Will Speck and Josh Gordon, the creators and showrunners, always talked about it as one story. That’s how we treated the score, like a movie. It’s not so episodic so the music wasn’t so track-based, it was more like we’re finding the story arc and trying to develop those things.

Listen to the track “Ascension” from HIT-MONKEY Episode 10:

M.O.D.O.K.: After spending years failing to gain control of the world and battling superheroes along the way, M.O.D.O.K., having been removed from his company A.I.M. after it falls into bankruptcy and is sold to the rival evil corporation GRUMBL (Just Be Evil), begins to deal with his taunting family while facing a mid-life crisis.

Watch the trailer to M.O.D.O.K.:

Q: Moving on to M.O.D.O.K., how did you develop a theme for that character and what his story needed?

Daniel Rojas: M.O.D.O.K. was actually quite different, as you probably know. M.O.D.O.K. was all about the comedy and the action, but it’s also a bit of a parody show, making fun of itself and of Marvel in general, or different IP’s from Marvel. Comedy, especially parody, is something that musically is really fun, because it allows you to go all out there with no excuses! When Iron Man appears they want it to sound like Iron Man, so it has to be very in-your-face. The same was true of M.O.D.O.K. himself. We wanted something that made him feel confident and bass-ass, because we all know watching he show that he’s not! He has all these insecurities and all these issues but his music had to be something that felt like a boss, and that’s why we went with so much hip-hop. Even the main title theme has a vibe of “I’m ruling here! This is my town!” type of stimulus that we wanted to give him.

Listen to Daniel Rojas’ “If This Be M.O.D.O.K.”:

Q: HIT-MONKEY is a mostly stand-alone series, while M.O.D.O.K. is kind of a loose part of the MCU, in that there are references to Iron Man and The Avengers, the A.I.M. organization, and so on. How did you treat, or how were you asked to treat, these references or characters when they appeared?

Daniel Rojas: The approach was always to be as serious and grand as we could – almost treat it as if this was an Avengers movie. Obviously with our budget limitations we didn’t have access to a hundred-piece orchestra at Abbey Road, so we had to find an alternative to that! But that was actually fun, too, because it’s okay that he doesn’t sound one-hundred percent like The Avengers, because it’s not. So when we are in episode 6 on M.O.D.O.K., where they go to Asgard, the music is very cinematic with a full-on type of superhero sound so that it feels like this is the real Asgard and Thor might be here.

Listen to Daniel Rojas’ “Glory to Asgard” from M.O.D.O.K. Episode 6:

Iron Man has that kind of rock and roll sound. We actually talked about that, since all three Marvel IRON MAN movies have different composers, and they all did something quite different. They all have this rock-and-roll attitude, but Ramon Djawadi’s was much more with distorted guitars, John Debney used a little more electric cello and things like that, and Brian Tyler did his thing with orchestra and drums. We discussed that and decided to go with a mix, which almost sounds like generic Iron Man music, and that was the intended idea. We didn’t want to copy anything that they’ve done, and it has this almost Led Zeppelin/orchestral sound, like power chords with orchestra, just to sell the idea that this is Iron Man, fighting M.O.D.O.K. We did the same sort of thing for all the other superheroes and villains that come in to the show and were specific to M.O.D.O.K [such as Wonder Man, Poundcakes, The Leader, Mister Sinister, Madame Masque, Armadillo, Tenpin, Arcade, etc.]. We would talk about it and ask, how would this superhero sound if they were real and try to make exaggerated versions of that so it’s funny.

Q: M.O.D.O.K., as a series, contains a lot of self-parody revolving around the main character. You’ve obviously maintained a straight face in your score – how did you interact or play against the comedy in this series?

Daniel Rojas: That was the approach precisely. The comedy is in the antagonist and what he’s saying and how he’s trying to portray himself. There’s this sound that people associate with comedy that is more jumpy, like pizzicatos with short motifs and things like that. We didn’t want to bring that in because it didn’t feel like a comedy, it wasn’t like the type of sound that really fit M.O.D.O.K.

Listen to the track “Time to Change the World” from M.O.D.O.K.:

Q: Despite some of the verbal anarchy that he’s constantly spewing, there’s also a sense of heart to the character, especially between him and his wife Jodie, and what’s going on there. How did you approach this aspect of the series, where it becomes a bit of a heartfelt family sitcom in between the verbal jokes?

Daniel Rojas: Right, there is quite a bit of heart and that was also something we talked about. There is a recurring theme, we call it the family theme. It’s a kind of synthy, plucky thing with a piano line, very simple but that idea is heard in several episodes. That family theme is what grounds him. When I say “theme” I’m taking some liberty – themes are not as thematic nowadays as they used to be, so it’s more like a motif/idea that is repeated.

Listen to the Family Theme in “The Right Thing To Do” from M.O.D.O.K.:

Q: On the average, how much music did you write for the episodes of both M.O.D.O.K. and HIT-MONKEY?

Daniel Rojas: They were both quite music heavy. I would say HIT-MONKEY was heavier in the sense that it had more minutes. In general an episode of HIT-MONKEY would have 16 to 18 minutes of score, which is quite a lot for a show that is 22 minutes long! It’s one of those shows where there’s music from beginning to end except for some sections. We didn’t want it to be wall-to-wall, and a lot of the times the music is very softly used, just helping the big theme or doing something subtle. M.O.D.O.K. was a little bit lighter also, because it’s a comedy and a lot of what works best in comedy is silence, to give that awkwardness and let the dialogue do its own work. So M.O.D.O.K. was between 14-15 minutes of score per episode; a good three or four minutes less per episode than HIT-MONKEY was. But, on the other side, HIT-MONKEY had fewer cues, because they were longer and a little more cinematic, whereas M.O.D.O.K. had something like forty cues in an episode! Sometimes the cues were six-seconds long, like a crazy rock and roll thing that abruptly cuts to nothing. On HIT-MONKEY I would have scenes that were two-and-a-half minutes long, which never happened on M.O.D.O.K.!

Q: You mentioned this earlier and I wanted to ask about this in more detail – KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS. What can you tell me about scoring this series?

Daniel Rojas: KIPO was two years before M.O.D.O.K. and HIT-MONKEY. It was my first big show, so it was very meaningful in that sense, but it also was a bit of an experiment in many ways to find my voice and find what things worked best. The story on KIPO is divided into three seasons, but it was planned and written as such. It was really always intended as a three-season show, and we were all working on it with that mentality. It took almost two years to release the whole thing, but as with HIT-MONKEY I already knew what was happening in Season 3 when I started working on Season 1. I had the script, I knew what the story arcs would be, so I was very conscious of how I would develop themes for characters. What I’m proudest about with KIPO is the fact that it’s quite cohesive. You’ll hear themes in Season 3 that were very mildly planted in Season 1, or even a character who is very important appears on Episode 6 as the villain, you can hear his little motif all the way from Episodes 1 and 2. I had a lot of time on KIPO, compared to every other show and movie that I’ve done afterwards; on KIPO I had about two years. I did all the original songs as well.

Q: With these three shows, fairly early on in your career, how have they opened the door to further scoring opportunities? Where do you find yourself at this point, as a composer, and where would you like to be?

Daniel Rojas: Good question! Certainly this past four or five years have been the more fruitful of my career. I’m young, I’m 33, but I’ve been here about 12 years – I moved right after college when I was 21, and the first seven or eight years were quite challenging. I was mostly doing assistant work – I worked with several composers in all kinds of jobs: as an arranger, as a synth programmer, doing mix prep or orchestration prep, all those things for several years, paying bills with free-lancing in all sorts of different jobs within the film scoring world. The past five years were when I finally had opportunities to start my own projects. It’s been really good, and it’s been easier to get jobs after having done these three shows. I’ve gotten more offers which is something that didn’t happen before. I think at the beginning of your career, you always have to pitch and you always have to demo and convince people, and now some opportunities start appearing that are like, “We want you!” That never happened for me in my first eight years here, so that’s been nice, for sure. I have an agency, and I’ll get a call saying “X-Studio reached out and they have a show developing and they want to see if you’re interested and if you want to have a meeting,” and that’s something really nice! So now it’s more a matter of choosing where I want my career to go, and seeking the right projects to try to develop a good career. It’s easy to just say “Yes, yes, yes,” and then you end up drowning in work, and you might not be able to perform so well. I do have a show coming up with Nickelodeon and Paramount+, so I’m going to be doing those next year, and I’m also working on a feature film that I’m pretty excited about, also for next year. So those are things that I have, and it’s a change from the beginning of my career where I never had certainty of where my next show was coming from.

Q: And certainly having scored these two things that are part of, if not the live action, but part of the ancillary animated MCU series, is also a feather in your cap, too, so that’s great.

Daniel Rojas: Thank you. KIPO for me was great because it was my first opportunity, and now the Marvel shows have definitely helped me because they have a lot more output. They’re shows that people hear about. So that’s been very helpful.

Special thanks to Jordan von Netzer of Projection PR for facilitating this interview, and to Daniel Rojas for taking the time out to share his experiences with me on these projects in detail.

Digital soundtrack albums of both M.O.D.O.K. and HIT-MONKEY have been released by Marvel Music, available on Amazon, Apple Music and the other download and streaming sources.


Overviews: Recently Released Soundtracks

ALL CREATURES GREAT & SMALL Season 2/Alexandra Harwood/Silva Screen - digital
Set in 1937, this new adaptation of books by James Herriot (the pen name of Yorkshire veterinarian Alf Wight), follows the previous BBC series of 90 episodes that ran from 1978 to 1990. The new series was produced by Playground Entertainment for Channel 5 in the United Kingdom, and PBS in the United States with Season 2 starting on Sunday, January 9, 2022, on PBS. The show revolves around a trio of veterinary surgeons working in the Yorkshire Dales: Siegfried Farnon (described as an “eccentric”) hires James Herriot into his veterinary practice at Skeldale House; besides Siegfried and James, there is Siegfried’s younger brother, Tristan, and Mrs. Hall, their housekeeper, within this scenario revolve a number of situations and relationships, laughs, love, and the ongoing presence of animals to be treated and respected. Alexandra Harwood’s theme for the new series echoes the original, composed by the late British composer Johnny Pearson, with a sweeping piano line, bright strings, woodwind and harp, while her score for the new season’s episodes, as with the first, retain a gentle musical fragrance that is empathetic as well as adventurous. She favors a light touch with winds, strings, and piano to convey a quietly harmonic musical demeanor, turning to slightly more tenuous strains or actively dramatic orchestrations (such as in “The Funeral” and “The Night Watchman” – or, as in the prolonged violin strains of “The Kiss,” tentative and touching) only when necessary; likewise the composer’s melodic treatments of both free-standing material and thematic reappearances remain delightful and sensitively portrayed, always returning to a pleasing melodic arrangement. The music, as a whole is quite transformative, carrying the listener into the sunny and wistful environs of the story and its intriguing character interactions. The album includes musical highlights from the second series with the last 2 tracks featured in this year’s Christmas special.

ARCHIVE 81/Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow/ Invada UK and Lakeshore – digital (CD/vinyl forthcoming)
An original story loosely inspired by the popular podcast of the same name, ARCHIVE 81 is a supernatural thriller series produced by James Wan and now showing on Netflix. The series follows archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie), who takes a job restoring a collection of damaged videotapes from 1994. Reconstructing the work of a documentary filmmaker named Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi), he is drawn into her investigation of a dangerous cult at the Visser apartment building. As the season unfolds across these two timelines, Dan slowly finds himself obsessed with uncovering what happened to Melody. When the two characters form a mysterious connection, Dan becomes convinced he can save her from the terrifying end she met 25 years ago. British composer Ben Salisbury formed a composing partnership with Geoff Barrow (Portishead and Beak>) and together the pair have scored Alex Garland’s EX MACHINA, ANNIHILATION and the TV series DEVS, and have crafted a thoroughly engrossing and frightening score for ARCHIVE 81 that fits the intersecting timelines quite well. The score is created using a variety of tonalities, shifting textures, and eerie, quite frightening sonic layers, starting with “Archive 81 Titles,” a conflated miasma of vocal sounds, off-kilter, dappled keyboard notes and ringing tones, creating an effective discomfort from the very start. Treated voicings, associated with “The Visser Ritual,” are a big part of the musical atmosphere of the show and its frightening  adherents (“The Cult of Kaelego”). “We brought on our composers very early in the prep process,” show creator  Rebecca Sonnenshine said in an interview with Lauren Huff of “[They] helped create this sort of tune that was going to be used in many different ways, in different sort of incarnations of this tune. They were huge creative partners in creating the mythology of the song. It was very exciting to work with them on that because it’s so much a part of the story and the mythology, and they came up with these notes. It wasn’t anything that I was thinking it would be, because I thought it’ll be like a song, but it’s really more of a chant.” The eerie mantra is based on Old Saxon, to fit with the Northern European nature of the cult that Turner discovers in his treatment of the old videos; the composers also recorded a number of variations of the breaths taken by the chanters which adds further eerie sonic flavorings. Apart from the voicings, it’s the dark, sonic elements, some involving spooky tape manipulation (“Ghost Story/The Code,” “Church Seizure/The Compound”) that grate at the listener’s peace of mind; elsewhere percussive rhythmic patterns are set in a veil of ominous portent. “Otherside” opens with bright synth keyboard fingering, almost resembling something by Vangelis, before it is saturated by brutal sonic structures and unrecognizable vocal chanting that continues into the following cue, “Mold”  and is somewhat referenced in the ambient tones of “Pep Talk” and “Séance,” while “I’m a Spirit Receiver” intones a series of circling whorls that create mesmerizing whispers and low, haunting moans, eventually evaporating. The soundtrack culminates in the ghostly chanted warning of “Stay Out,” while the official end credits track, “Archive 81 Credits,” mimics the opening “Credits” sequence except with a variety of electronic notations, mixed bright and dark, along with brusque, unintelligible vocal sounds and percussive beats, concluding the sonic experience with a final gathering of auditory echoes and clatters. “Tape Cleaning” and “Journey to the Compound” both offer lighter synth atmospheres, reflecting Vangelis again more than the omnipresent obscurity of the more unnerving musical elements. But all of this – and more! – really creates an enticing mood of dark disturbiana, giving the eight-episode series a permeating sense of otherness and waiting ferocity. It’s a striking creation and works very well in maintaining an effective aura of unsettling danger, if it may tinge your nightmares after a thorough exposure.
Listen to “Journey To The Compound” from ARCHIVE 81:

BOÎTE NOIR (Black Box)/Philippe Rombi/Music Box – CD and digital
Philippe Rombi’s music for Yann Gozlan’s (BURN OUT, A PERFECT MAN) latest drama thriller is an extremely tense, often discreet, occasionally lyrical mix of orchestra (Orchestre National d’Île-de-France) and textural, largely percussive electronic elements. That musical palette is mixed together, creating an effective nervous anxiety that creeps through most of the score, providing the right tone for the story, which is about a young and talented black box analyst who is on a mission to discover the reason behind the deadly crash of a brand new aircraft. There’s a somber rigidness to the music, especially in the opening title track that sounds almost like the sordid ambience of a horror film, increasing up the apprehension in a singularly affecting way. But it’s this dark focus that gives the score its potent appeal.
(review continues below)
Get an idea of how tense the story is by watching the film’s trailer (in French but with English subtitles) below:

As the film follows analyst Matthieu (Pierre Niney) as he discovers there is something far more subversive to the crash than a mechanical malfunction, the unease increases as the audience is brought into Mathieu’s predicament, becoming more active (“Manipulation/Les documents secrets,” “Le code caché/Retour chez Pollock,” “Mathieu en danger”), but really offering no relief until the end, with the alleviation of “Scène finale.” A bonus track is included at the end of the CD, “Scène finale et Générique de fin [Version film],” which integrates the main theme’s dark ambience with elements from the final track. Overall I found the score’s dark momentum and resonant drifts very interesting while acknowledging the relative lack of respite until the very end gave it a largely unrelieved somber musical hue, but that is also part of its effectiveness. The album contains 64 minutes of music in 22 tracks, and features an 8-page CD booklet including statements from Rombi and director Gozlan, but only in French. Music Box offers the album in both CD and digital versions. Sample some of the tracks, or see further details from the label here.
Listen to “Scène finale” from BOÎTE NOIR below:

THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT Vol. 1/Ludwig Göransson & Joseph Shirley/
Walt Disney Records/digital

THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT is the latest STAR WARS spin-off adventure series, teased in a surprise end-credit sequence following the Season 2 finale of THE MANDALORIAN. The show follows legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and mercenary Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) navigating the galaxy’s underworld when they return to the sands of Tatooine to stake their claim on the territory once ruled by Jabba the Hutt and his crime syndicate. The series also features Jennifer Beals, David Pasquesi, Cary Jones, Robert Rodriguez, Danny Trejo, and others in regular or one-time roles. Disney’s first soundtrack album includes music from the first four (of seven) episodes; featuring themes by Oscar, Grammy, and Emmy-winning composer Ludwig Göransson (THE MANDALORIAN, TENET, BLACK PANTHER) and score by Joseph Shirley (BAD TRIP, THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY, FAIRFAX). Commenting on his score Shirley said, “THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT Volume One follows Boba’s heroic journey through Chapters 1-4. Musically, it explores the genre-melding vignettes that Jon [Favreau] and Dave [Filoni] so beautifully wrote into Boba’s expanding myth. Western, tribal, mystery, religioso epic, high-stakes action, retro-futuristic breakbeats, and classic gangster movie tendencies – they each have their moment within this soundtrack, while using Ludwig’s Main Theme as my North Star. It’s an honor for me to contribute music to this dearly loved STAR WARS universe; an adventure I do not take lightly or will ever forget!” Some spoilers appear below:
The music of the first two-thirds of the album is largely dark and tribal, beginning with “Rebirth” as Boba emerges from the sandy confines of Jabba’s sarlacc pit and is quickly captured by Tusken Raiders who eventually come to accept him as a friend after he saves a Tusken child from a sand creature. The first four episodes simultaneously tell a dual story: Boba’s emergence from the pit, his eventual friendship among the Tuskens, and his retribution when those Tuskens are slain by Nikto Sand Riders (a gang faction allied to the nasty Pyke Syndicate), and five years later when he has recovered from the pit in a healing bacta tank and, joined by Fennec Shand, has taken control of Jabba’s criminal empire on Tatooine, set in opposition to the rival Pyke syndicate. The music from this portion of the season includes a variety of vocalisms, clattering percussion, and heavy drums, as Shirley configures his scores to the environments in which the stories are being told. The earthy nature of the score begins to give way in episode 3 when Fett confronts a gang of out-of-work cyborgs stealing his water, and hire them as enforcers, with the ensuing “Road Rage” (Track 12) engaging their flashy hoverbikes in a wild chase across Mos Espa to chase down the fleeing Mayor's majordomo, with a percussively orchestral modernesque vibe, a palette that will continue through Track 16. Episode 4 reveals how Boba rescued Shand, who was apparently killed in THE MANDALORIAN when bounty hunter Toro Calican shot her and left her for dead in the desert; when Boba happens to find her in that same desert, he takes her to a Mos-Eisley parlor where a body-modification artist saves her with cybernetics; the artist is played by Grammy-award winning bass guitarist and singer Thundercat (Stephen Lee Bruner), and according to the track credit he is a featured [bass] player on the extremely modern cyber-punk “Body-Mod Parlour” track). Göransson’s main theme is presented on the album’s final track, “The Book of Boba Fett,” which is a mix of strings, drums, elegant brasses, and choral tribal voicings – reflecting both the modern science fantasy of the story as well as its earthy, largely primal environment. It’s an engaging and provocative musical design for the show so far, and I’m quite impressed with it, and eagerly love the show itself. We’ll see what Vol. 2 has to offer when The Mandalorian puts in an appearance. The Vol 1. Soundtrack is available at these links. Watch the series official trailer here. Watch the “Return of a Legend” featurette here.
Listen to Ludwig Göransson’s theme music from THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT:

CALL OF DUTY VANGUARD Game Score/Bear McCreary/Sparks & Shadows – CD
CALL OF DUTY: VANGUARD is a 2021 first-person shooter game developed by Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision. It serves as the 18th installment in the overall CALL OF DUTY series. VANGUARD establishes a storyline featuring the birth of the special forces to face an emerging threat at the end of the war during various theatres of World War II. Players are able to enact dogfights over the Pacific, airdrops over France, defend Stalingrad with a sniper’s precision, and blast through advancing forces in North Africa. Available from the composer’s boutique record label, Bear McCreary has created an energetic and nicely textured action score. McCreary has always been known for his outstanding musical themes – (as they benefitted such recent projects as FANTASY ISLAND (reviewed in my August 2020 column), MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVELATION (reviewed in my July-Aug 2021 column), FOUNDATION (reviewed in Dec 2021), and VANGUARD is no exception, with a powerful main theme opening with a descending siren-like sonority which then mixes a sinewy string melody with propulsive synth gestures which take the opening “sirenity” into a powerful descent of horns and synths with some intricate high-register violin figures. It sets up a gripping harmonic structure against which the gameplay begins and proceeds, and is developed effectively throughout the game with a number of variations and an inventive mixture of melodic elements set amongst commanding, forceful gestures that keep the music continually appealing and engaging. Working with creative campaign director David Swenson, McCreary was eager to give this iteration of the game a more intimate bearing, focusing on unique individuals as they experience the challenges of war’s myriad circumstances. “While we both knew there would be a home for epic, cinematic orchestral writing,” McCreary writes in the album insert, “we were both intrigued by the idea of leaning on more intimate sounds. We wanted players to sense the fingers on fretboards, bows rasping against strings, and other artifacts that only get picked up by close microphones in individual soloists.” This approach works very well, giving VANGUARD a close-miked texture that stands out even amidst the thrust and thrum of the heavier sonic structures supporting the gameplay; “Welcome To Bougainville” is an excellent example of both an exhilarating orchestral drive that allows intricate sounds of musicianship to shine through the subdued tumult. The following “Wade Into The Weeds” literally creates a musical sensation of slogging through sodden grasses and pushing one’s way through overgrown vegetation. The violin figures from the main theme resonate during “A Hunt In Stalingrad,” giving the propulsive energy of the track its own driving sensitivity, while “Arthur’s Elegy” offers a more emotive lament from violin and low piano. Offset peals of horns and strings, along with a rhythmic progression of musical footsteps beneath a continued tempo of fierce string notes and electric guitar in “Shrapnel” propel an exciting dynamic, infused by some tremendous peals of horn and synth energy. The music of CALL OF DUTY: VANGUARD also offers listeners focusing on the music itself a very satisfying musical journey, where each track offers something new in its sonic tread, the pleasure of its intricate orchestration, the placement and development of instruments across the surface and embedded within growing musical gestures and interactions. It’s as thrilling an excursion for the ears as it is immersive energy for one’s gameplay.
Listen to Bear McCreary’s “Vanguard” Main Theme:

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK/Alfred Newman/La-La Land – CD
This limited edition 2-CD set of renowned composer Alfred Newman’s original motion picture score to the 1959 drama classic THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK was originally released on  a 9-track LP in 1959 by 20th Century Fox. Directed by George Stevens and starring Millie Perkins, Joseph Schildkraut, and Shelley Winters, the film featured a powerful and stirring score considered to be a masterwork that pairs absolute despair and extraordinary beauty with breathtaking emotion as it enriches this famous, true WWII era story, as told in her diary, of the titular young teenage girl who spent years hiding from the Nazis, before being captured and interred at the concentration camps, where she died. Alfred Newman’s score finally gets an expanded 2-CD showcase within this deluxe presentation, which features the original 1959 soundtrack album, remastered, along with the world premiere presentation of the film score. The assembly also includes additional bonus music cues. Newman’s score is poignant and nightmarish, rich in a multitude of variations and sonic fragrances, contrasting the benevolence of Anne and her family against the brutality of the Nazi regime as they propagate Hitler’s murderous “cleansing” of all but pure Aryan persons. “The Captives” displays an especially bitter dirge, with menacing gestures from the lower frequencies, segueing in the same track to the bright sunshine of “Spring is Coming,” a remarkable musical contrast on a single track (Newman “pairs absolute despair with extraordinary beauty,” writes Julie Kirgo in her thoroughly detailed liner notes, of which this track is a striking example). A similar contrast is found between the purity of the majestic “The Dearness Of You, Peter” and the dour, spiteful “The Nightmare” later on the album. With the 9-track original album presentation on CD 1, the 35-track full film score and additional music occupying the second half of CD1 and all of CD2, this new, expanded edition of Newman’s graceful, reflective, and often harrowing music for this remarkable film make for an especially absorbing listen. Produced by the late Nick Redman (Kirgo’s notes are dedicated to his memory), along with Mike Matessino and Neil S. Bulk, and restored, mixed and mastered by Chris Malone, from multi-track 35mm magnetic film and a recently located ¼ stereo tape album master, this CD is available in a limited edition release of 2000 units.
Listen to Newman’s Main Theme from DIARY OF ANNE FRANK here.

FIELD OF DREAMS Expanded Edition/James Horner/La-La Land - CD
La-La Land Records, Universal Pictures and Sony Music proudly present a limited edition, remastered and expanded 2-CD release of legendary composer James Horner’s original motion picture score to the timeless 1989 baseball-themed drama FIELD OF DREAMS, starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta, and directed by Phil Alden Robinson. Based on WP. Kinsella’s 1982 novel, “Shoeless Joe,” the film is about Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella who is inspired by a voice he can’t ignore to pursue a dream he can hardly believe. Supported by his wife, Ray begins the quest by turning his ordinary cornfield into a baseball diamond, following a whispered calling that urges, “If you build it, he (‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson) will come.” Horner’s score, originally released in a 13-track album from Novus Records, is a delicate, wistful composition that engages Ray’s haunted vision with a subdued sense of nostalgic Americana for his cornfield quest with his love and dedication to his wife and young son as they in turn support his goal. Horner creates a variety or subdued motifs from soft murmurs of pan-pipe, muted French horns, soft gestures from low synth strains, and a hesitant motif for solo piano; preserving the orchestra until the finale when his dream of a cornfield baseball team is fulfilled and the specters of long gone players take their positions, supported by the melody of old swing tunes from their heyday. Horner’s musical home run gets the deluxe treatment with this limited edition reissue, remastered from the original digital tapes and expanded with previously unreleased music. Disc One features the expanded original soundtrack, doubling the number of tracks of the original 13-track album, while Disc Two presents the re-mastered original version. Produced by Mike Matessino and Neil S. Bulk and mastered by Matessino, this 2-CD release is limited to 5000 units and includes liner notes by writer Jeff Bond and art design by Jim Titus.  For details, see La-LaLandRecords.

Music Box - CD
At the beginning of the 1960s, three works of Buster Keaton were rediscovered thanks to the combined will of his widow, Eleanor, film collector Raymond Rohauer, and Jacques Robert, a cinephile and independent distributor. For this ambitious project, they hired French jazz pianist and film composer Claude Bolling (1930-2020) to compose new scores for the three restored films, giving them the jazz-inflected style preferred by the composer (BORSALINO, FLIC STORY, CALIFORNIA SUITE). “Bolling, a prolific and diversified composer whose career and overall style often evoke Henry Mancini’s, ranks among the most inventive and interesting contributors to the art of film music in France,” wrote Didier C. Deutsch in an extended overview of his film music for in 2020. “The comparison with Mancini is more than a casual recognition of the various types of films Bolling has written for. Like Mancini, his scores have included comedies, in which his originality has found new accents to underscore the misadventures of screen miscreants like Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Gabin, Alain Delon, and other familiar figures of French cinema; thrillers, in which his riveting jazz-influenced compositions have helped keep the action on the screen more tense and frightening; and historical dramas, in which the color and solidity of his writing have given new dimensions to the scope of the films themselves.”
Using a mix of the classic styles of jazz and rich orchestral music he’s most familiar with, Bolling energizes these silent films, giving them a start-to-finish accompaniment much in the way their original silent film pianos may have. For THE NAVIGATOR, presented here on disc 1 with 22 tracks, Bolling wrote the score for an ensemble of twenty musicians and chose a style reminiscent of jazz music from the years 1930 to 1935, inspired by Duke Ellington, and of which “Les Cannibales” is a standout track at more than 6-minutes, while several variations of “La Croisière” and the primary “Navigator” theme (it’s a ship, upon its weaving hull rich heir Keaton woos the daughter of the ship’s former owner Kathryn McGuire) have a number of engaging musical interactions, all of which provide a delicious variety of scrumptious light jazz (the main theme is set to a number of alternate treatments including a sad bit of banjo and brass (#2, #6, #7), a wild mix of banjo set against excited brass and winds (#3), a wiry mix of marimba and muted horn (#4), a dapper exchange between piano, winds, and hearty brass (#5), and a catchy resolve of both themes in the finale, “La Croisière Du Navigator (Générique Fin).”
The rescore of NAVIGATOR proved successful and prompted the team to renew the experiment with SEVEN CHANCES, a 1925 romantic comedy in which Keaton plays Jimmy Shannon, a shy bankrupt young man who learns he will inherit a fortune if he marries by 7 p.m. that same day. Two  cues are included at the end of disc 1: “Fiancees en Folie” is a zany, virtuosic piano piece for the chaos that ensues when hordes of veiled, would-be brides show up eager to marry young Jimmy, whose shyness has kept him from proposing to his real sweetheart. All ends well in the conclusive “Seven Chances,” a jaunty jazz mix of banjo and full orchestra.
Disc 2 provides 26 tracks from 1928’s STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. the last film directed independently by Keaton, about an impossible love story between the children of two rivals who want to take ownership of the navigation rights of each other’s steamboats on the Mississippi River. Bolling gave this film a splendid Dixieland jazz accompaniment, balancing the festive jazz with a snappy saxophone melody, alternatively taken by guitar, representing Keaton’s character, a cute piano riff for his betrothed, Kitty, while the lovebird’s wedding is accompanied by an elegant, full string section.
Recorded at Studio Davout, these three OSTs produced at the same period have been selected and remastered from the composer’s original master tapes. The CD comes with an 8-page booklet with liner notes by Gilles Loison, discussing the films and the scores. The release is limited to 350 units (I’m told only a few copies are left with the label, so you may need to check online retailers for copies). This album with its spirited music and the attitude of Buster Keaton laced thorough each track, is a complete delight.
Sample some of the tracks, or see for further details, here.

QUACKERZ/Dmitry Norkov & Alexander Maslov/
KeepMoving – CD

These two soundtrack CDs from Russian label KeepMoving are both very intriguing orchestral works. The former is an animated Russian-Chinese co-production telling the story of a group of mandarin ducks whose worldview is challenged by a group of mallards flying over their territory. Yet the son and the daughter of the two leaders see their future together… But even with two different worlds colliding, the two species must learn to work together in order to defeat a common enemy – humans! The energetic music by Dmitry Noskov and Alexander Maslov is a fun cartoon score in the classic sense, with lots of Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley influences, and a bit of stylish mickey-mousing in its thematic structure, recorded with an orchestra of 80+ musicians. There’s also a cute twanging Morriconesque Western bit in “Two Thieves and Mrs. Margot” in the midst of its surging orchestration, while “In The Lair Of The Witch” largely eschews the cartoon-style with a rich, seriously dramatic action-adventure piece. It’s nicely arranged and these references as well as its overall animated vibe makes for quite an enjoyable listen. The album includes booklet notes by Gergely Hubai discussing the making of each film and its score, based on  original interviews with the composers. On the other side of the animation/sophisticated music scale we have THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING, as KeepMoving resurrects a 2004 unused score by Yuri Kasparov who delicately scores an adaptation of the classic short story by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The music was originally designed to be an adaptation of the classic Tchaikovsky ballet score but was made lighter and more dramatically flexible, while other Tchaikovsky pieces were also seamlessly integrated into the score. Unfortunately when the movie was reconceptualized and new scenes were added, the music didn’t fit the movie anymore and found its way into film music oblivion, until being rescued for this CD Release. It’s classic orchestral grandeur makes for a fine and stimulating listen, whether or not you’re familiar with the Tchaikovsky ballet music. The composer provides his own booklet notes, describing in detail how his score came to be and how his pieces would have fit the original.
Both scores are very likable works and are worth the having. For more details or to order, see KeepMoving.

SCREAM/Brian Tyler/ Varèse Sarabande – CD + digital
Brian Tyler assumes the role previously occupied on the SCREAM franchise by Marco Beltrami, who scored the first four films in the franchise. Unlike franchises like HALLOWEEN and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, director Wes Craven in SCREAM acknowledged and embraced horror movie clichés, to the extent that characters in the film were even aware of them but still wound up falling for them, which made the films entertaining and scary at the same time. The new SCREAM likewise embraces these tropes, and Tyler definitely was aware of that when coming in to score the fifth SCREAM movie. “SCREAM is an incredible franchise with a storied history,” Tyler said in a statement included in Varèse Sarabande’s promo material. “I wanted to both acknowledge the history of the amazing score that came before this installment, while also taking the musical landscape into a new world. There are new themes as well as old-school themes intertwined in a way that I hope does the franchise justice. There was an emotional component to this new SCREAM that is an integral dynamic contrast to the terror that accompanies the journey of this film, reflecting Beltrami’s own similar mix of emotional material offset against scary music. I wanted to reflect this in the score and help make this movie a fully realized experience for the viewer.” As SCREAM #5 transports audiences back to the fictional town of Woodsboro, CA, where a new group of teenagers are targeted by the masked serial killer known as “Ghostface,” Tyler both recognizes what made the previous films work so well, ensuring that true emotions are in place for the characters, both new and old, who face the new threat of Ghostface, while heightening suspense with apprehension and jump scares that reflect shock, tension, and horror while investing them through the music with honest emotionality. “The peril is heightened if you really care about these characters, and you’re emotionally invested,” Tyler said in a video interview with Daniel Schweiger on Film Music Live. The plot of SCREAM 2022, reasonably, takes its cue from the original franchise, as does Tyler’s score, although he quickly makes it his own just have filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Opin and Tyler Gillett have, while honoring the legacy of director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson, and Tyler’s expertise with scoring horror and thriller films pays off in his articulate craftmanship on the new SCREAM’s effectiveness via music that’s both emotive and highly unnerving. Incidentally, since the soundtrack album insert only shows strings in its list of players, some fans have worried that the winds and brasses may have been digitally sampled; but Tyler has confirmed to me that an entire orchestra did, in fact, record the score and those low brasses, woodwinds, and heavy drums are quite real.
The soundtrack album is not configured in specific show order; the opening track, “New Horizons,” for example, is in fact the last cue of the film, ending the movie with a peaceful, melodic respite (and includes a bit of Beltrami’s “Sidney’s Lament” from the original SCREAM films), but it does provide a welcome opening to the album, before the screaming begins, and we should have no complaints about the running order. It works very well as a striking listening experience apart from the movie. (Additionally, one of Hans Zimmer’s themes from 1996’s BROKEN ARROW (“Brothers,” and Secure”) that Craven included in SCREAM 2, against Beltrami’s wishes, can be heard in the vocalise in SCREAM 5’s “Sacrifice,” further adding to the musical connection between the original series and this new film).
“Rules to Survive,” track 2, offers a soft melody for violins and piano to set the stage for what is to come. “Ring Ring” is heard during the film’s opening sequence, echoing the first SCREAM movie as its tentative tonalities, eerie bell sounds, weaving violin figures gradually rise until heavy brasses introduce the crashing horror as full orchestral steps begin the ride into scare terror-tory. The introduction of more frightening sonic intonations and gestures throughout the score, gradually increases its dramatic potency across its musical journey. Tyler will maintain a melodic gentleness in several cues, acknowledging the emotions of the characters from their affected perspectives – tracks like “Amends” (a gentle sonority offers a soft interlude for acoustic guitar, moving into worrisome echoed tonalities and ending with tentative piano notes), “Apparitions” (soft tendrils of winds and synth exuding unease, a brief piano glissando, quietly spooky), “History Repeats” (tentative worry with a soft choir), “Suspects, Rules, and Requels” (quietly spooky resonance), “Diversions” (subdued mood piece), “Sacrifice” (anxious, soft voices and strings), and “Not My Story” (introspective timbres, first introduces “Sidney’s Lament,” giving it a quiet air of trepidation).
But the scares ramp up and hit hard-and-fast in all of the other cues, which offer fascinating musical patterns, emerging reorchestrations and instrumental variances. Track 4, “Would You Like To Play A Game” (at 6:20 the score’s longest single track, and one of its best scare cues), is inhabited by eerie, breaths of acoustic and electronic designs that suddenly blast in force, break off for some hushed tension, tentative, roaming timbres and ominous metallic sounds; then, two-thirds of the way in, after a hazy glissando across piano strings, everything reemerges into massive, cacophonic percussion steps, slashing sonic descents, a variety of musical intonations dappled by a bit of high-register pizzicato before it all drifts off, musical vapors floating away into silence. This is a great track worthy of headphone listening in the dark.
“Pain in the Neck” is another powerfully massive track, full of chordal blocks, wild string bowing, drifting, sinewy rumbles, and frightening musical steps. “Lights Out” grows from soft winding synth tones into a running wash of propulsive acoustics pouring over electronic substances, echoing slams, drifting contours, and all manner of brief, dark sonic digressions. “Hospital Visitor” is a mélange of angry, buzzing sounds, echoing whispers and intrusive percussive slams, joined by emerging brass figures that gleam amidst the dark, shadowy electronics, all growing into an immense, thrilling cluster of untamed sound. “I Started All This” starts off innocently enough, with marcato string figures that rev up into a dynamic action rhythm as string tremolos battle one another amidst increasingly louder brass and percussion elements. “Chromeface” opens with fuzzy electronica rustles beneath echoing pings and brash descending footsteps. “Welcome to Act Three” imparts horrific sound collages and brash steps over wild string tremolos as well as bowed strikes for the film’s finale, while “Where It All Began” gives us a ghostly vocalise which opens into eerie sound designs placed one atop the other, gathering into a low cello upsurge just past the midpoint, then repeating the arrangement with sinewy sounds strung together culminating in another collective upsurge. While “Passing the Torch” conveys a mass of intricate bowing, blaring brass, and heavy drums signifying that this is probably not the end of the SCREAM franchise and its cornucopia of masked Ghostfaces, the final track, “Ghostface,” concludes the album with a soft resonance that elevates into a full-on action climax with a powerful sound collage driven by poundings of heavy drums, refreshing much from before, and offering an excellent closer to CD. All of this, and various other tracks, provide a changeable and immersive musical excursion for the ears into very interesting sonic territories. Highly recommended. See VareseSarabande.
Listen to the track, “Rules to Survive,” from Brian Tyler’s SCREAM:

SERVANT Season 3/Trevor Gureckis/Lakeshore - digital
Trevor Gureckis (THE GOLDFINCH, VOYAGERS, OLD) continues to push beyond boundaries to create what he notes is his “most intense music.” The score for M. Night Shyamalan’s mystery-drama-horror series on Apple TV+  tells the story of a Philadelphia couple who are in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home. When he started to create his initial musical palette for the series, Gureckis followed Shyamalan’s preference to avoid using an orchestral palette. “I bow a lot of things with a violin bow – I’ve got a glockenspiel, a kind of Tibetan bowl thing,” the composer told Clint Worthington in a January, 2020 interview with TheSpool website. “I use a… rattling speaker stand that I double with some other weird samples, and play it like it’s a drum. I play the concrete on my studio floor…  You could imagine it being like the sounds of the house or whatever… I needed interesting sounds, because [Night] was looking for that. Anything that sounded too conventional or out-of-the-box, it was something he would recognize immediately.” The result, as far as it comprises the sonic design of Season 3, is both interesting in what it does to provide a disturbing and frightening sound design for the season, but also is a difficult structure to listen to on its own. “Every season Night ratchets up the stakes with SERVANT and the music follows suit,” Gureckis said in Lakeshore’s press release for Season 3. “While there are moments of innocent, quiet reflection, some of the most intense music I’ve ever written is buried in this score. I picked up the violin for Season 1&2 but by the middle of this season, I’m hacking away on cello to get some really dark and heavy sounds. The end of this score is barely holding together – a true reflection of the Turner family and their battles within.” This season’s score is musically tense, saturated with clacking wooden noises, brusque tonalities from scraped instruments and various found sounds, eerie clusters of synthetic preponderances. Gureckis avoids electronic textures and maintains his sonic spookery mostly via acoustic instruments, which gives the music an appreciable organic quality. It’s both a difficult listen and a fascinating sonic treat, depending on one’s preference for scary music. The music is near continuously effective in providing a sense of tension and increasing dread, but likely won’t be for everyone. But it’s definitely a unique treat for scare score enthusiasts.
Listen to the track “Blood” from SERVANT Season 3:

Perseverance Records – digital
Two recent documentary scores by three-time Emmy nominated composer Miriam Cutler (RBG, LOVE, GILDA), who has an extensive background in scoring for independent film & TV projects (as well as two circuses) are available from Perseverance. The first is Emmy Award-winning Israeli documentarian Maya Zinshtein’s film ‘TIL KINGDOM COME, an in-depth look into the controversial bond between Evangelical Christianity and the Jewish State in a story of faith, power, and money. Cutler integrates a dramatic piano with a variety of string patterns to convey the doc’s concerns. It’s a relatively quiet score but its sparse instrumentation retains a powerful resonance that fits the environment of this documentary as well as suggesting the issues that are involved in the filmmaker’s concern. Cutler “is known for seeking out documentary projects that speak to her values,” as an article in Screen International (Oct. 2021) quoted her. “Directors just need to talk about the emotional purpose of the music, and I can translate that,” and the results are particularly persuasive musical scores that capture the issues as well as the images and voices of scores like this. KINGDOM COME makes a quite provocative musical listening experience on its own, even apart from the film’s issues of concern.
The second album is FLANNERY, which uses animations, never-before-seen archival footage, and compelling music to illustrate this biography of the brilliant, young writer from Georgia, USA. Flannery O’Connor’s story is brought to life with Mary Steenburgen’s voice and a variety of personalities who share their insights about O’Connor’s violent, redemptive work, while musicians – Lucinda Williams and Bruce Springsteen – impart their Flannery-inspired music in this feature-length, NEH-funded film. Cutler’s music is warmly resonant, using acoustic instruments to reflect the period(s) in which Flannery wrote, favoring piano and strings. “Nineteen Thirty-Nine,” for example, is a splendid piano cue that will likely engage your foot to tapping; but Cutler soon immerses the cue in a number of other period-reflective elements from pizzicato strings and organ to fiddle and guitar over hints of choir. It’s nicely bookended with “Nineteen Fifty-Four Love Story” later in the album, while “James Baldwin/Racism” shares its pianistic and organ treatment in its first half, moving into blues territory in its second. Other cues, like “Father,” “Wise Blood,” “Painting/Perverts,” and “To Lourdes” are more subdued and introspective, offering moving sonic treatments via gentle configurations. The 9-minute “Surrounded By Waves” opens as a terrific period jazz piece, then slows down using the same ensemble to offer more reflective resonances. It’s a thoroughly engaging track and is a delight to listen to. “Critics/The First Real Story” takes us through a gentle piano riff into an engaging string choir, both elements converging by the track’s end. “She Always Worked” concludes the score with a powerful string grouping before slowing to reprise the main theme, while a bonus track concludes the album with an engaging cello variant of the opening track, “Meet Flannery O’Connor.” Most of this album’s tracks are lengthy enough to accommodate a welcome progression and development into numerous flavorings and departures, and FLANNERY is an especially meaningful and musical journey. Both albums are available from Amazon (Flannery, Kingdom) and Apple Records (Flannery, Kingdom).

UNIVERSE/Anže Rozman/Silva Screen - digital
Anže Rozman has composed an awe-inspiring score for UNIVERSE, the BBC Earth’s sequel to THE PLANETS, the award-winning series featuring professor Brian Cox. The series features five 60-minute episodes, currently available to stream on BBC iPlayer in the UK, in the US on PBS under the title NOVA UNIVERSE REVEALED, and on BBC America in Canada. UNIVERSE offers a story of an interstellar journey to places that we didn’t even know existed ten years ago, revealing awe-inspiring wonders and recreating dramatic moments defining Earth’s destiny through stunning CGI imagery, the latest scientific research, and archival footage captured during scientific missions. This is an immersive and expansive series telling a dramatic story of the universe, from its moment of inception 13.8 billion years ago, to what could be its ultimate fate, trillions upon trillions of years in the future. Composer Anže Rozman’s powerful, often magisterial score perfectly complements the visuals and the narrative of the series as it explores the nature of the universe around us. Rozman uses orchestra, choir, electronics, and more to capture the sonic essence of the show’s exploration of massive structures in space, from the depths of black holes to mysterious alien worlds, journey into the darkest corners of the Universe where everything begins – and ends. The visuals gathered by the filmmakers are astonishing, given dynamic reality through the music which captivates and celebrates the sheer awesomeness of the cosmos in which we live.
“The use of voices was very prominent in the creation of the soundtrack for UNIVERSE,” Rozman described in a Facebook post. “The idea behind it was that the voices would breathe life into stars, galaxies, black holes and other ‘characters’ in the series. The sequences about Telescopes (Gaia, Kepler, Hubble), on the other hand, we left with out voices and more heavy on computer like synths.”
Born and raised in Slovenia, Rozman currently lives in LA where he works as part of the Bleeding Fingers Music, film and TV music collective formed by Hans Zimmer, Russell Emanuel, and Steve Kofsky. Anže’s credits include THE PLANETS (BBC), SUPER POWERED FALCONS (BBC), BIG BEASTS: LAST OF THE GIANTS (Sky One) and the eye-opening IMAX documentary GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST directed by Ian McAllister and narrated by Ryan Reynolds.
Hans Zimmer’s Bleeding Fingers Music has teamed up with the British band FOALS to create a reworked version of FOAL’s “Neptune.” The new version is the title track to the new BBC series Universe. Listen/watch below:


New Soundtracks & Film Music News

Remembering Ken Wannberg (1930-2022)

Word has it that Ken Wannberg, legendary composer, acclaimed music editor, has passed away. Details have not yet been released. Wannberg was one of those unsung heroes of film music, a quiet musician who labored tirelessly behind the scenes for more than forty years on some of Hollywood’s biggest scores and biggest films.
Kenneth Gail Wannberg (born June 28, 1930) served as a music apprentice and then an assistant in Hollywood, learning the trade on films like SOUTH PACIFIC and THE KING AND I. His work with Bernard Herrmann on JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH was his first as an official music editor, and he went on to work on more than a hundred films in that capacity.
“I started in film after I got out of the service,” Wannberg told writer David Hirsch in an interview published in Soundtrack! Magazine, March 1995 (issue Vol 14, No. 53). “I was playing in clubs and I didn’t want to do that anymore. A friend of mine was a film editor, and he said ‘Why don’t you become a music editor.’ I didn’t know what that was. He said ‘They do the same thing I do, but with music.’ I sent my resume to the head of music at Fox. I was granted an interview, he liked me, and three months later I was hired.”
Wannberg’s association with John Williams was legendary and ongoing. Their collaboration began with VALLEY OF THE DOLLS in 1967 (Williams had adapted the songs by Dory and André Previn into the film’s score) and continued through all six of the STAR WARS movies, the original INDIANA JONES trilogy, the first three HARRY POTTER films and most of Williams’ other big scores. Wannberg also worked with such composers as Georges Delerue (JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO, BEACHES), Alex North (PRIZZI’S HONOR, THE DEAD), James Horner (PROJECT X), Michael Small (BLACK WIDOW), Dave Grusin (LUCAS), several films for Michael Convertino, and many others. Wannberg retired in 2005, his last work as music editor was on Williams’ MUNICH. One of Wannberg’s favorite Williams songs was “Star of Bethlehem” from HOME ALONE (1990); and when Williams rearranged the song for concert performances, he dedicated it to Wannberg.
Wannberg was also a film composer, having scored nearly two dozen films and television shows, starting with an episode of TV’s ROOM 222 in 1970. Among his feature film scores were the crime thriller THE AMATEUR (1981), the horror film OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN (1984), the science fiction adventure THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT (1984), the romantic comedy BLAME IT ON RIO (1984, uncredited), and the TV movie remake of RED RIVER (1988). His last movie score was for 1992’s made-for-TV drama FATAL MEMORIES. Although he was only credited as conductor and arranger on Peter Medak’s ghost drama THE CHANGELING in 1980, Wannberg actually composed much of the film’s score, which is an amalgamation of himself and two other composers’ work, deftly woven together by Wannberg. “It was awkward, to say the least,” Wannberg told me in a 2001 interview. “It was just the preference of the director and producers. There’s a lot of it I would do differently today [and] there are a few things I like very much. But I’ve grown musically, so I would do things differently. I think every composer would say that about his early work. But it worked for the film, and what more can you ask?”
A regrettable farewell and an earnest salute for the loss of a relatively unsung master musical craftsman, whose efforts contributed to the effectiveness and artistry of some 200 film and television episodes.

- Randall D. Larson

The music from George Pal’s Academy Award®-winning classic THE TIME MACHINE is perhaps composer Russell Garcia’s most well-known work. Garcia created a thrilling symphonic score bursting with a sense of wonder and adventure. Now after 35 years since the initial vinyl/CD release, this beloved score returns in an upgraded stereo remastered collectors edition with previously unreleased tracks. This is Russell Garcia’s personal re-recording of his breathtaking music which he conducted with the celebrated 60-piece Graunke Symphony Orchestra in Munich, Germany. The CD will come in a jewel case with a 20-page color collectors booklet that features background, photos, and an exclusive interview with Russell Garcia. Cover and graphic design by Jim Titus. Liner notes by producer Arnold Leibovit. In 1987, this was a landmark re-recording of THE TIME MACHINE as it was the first time full music release of Russell Garcia’s score. Now, his brilliant composition is back, remastered from the original digital stereo elements. Several tracks that were edited out of the last release have been restored as Garcia originally recorded it. The rescored bonus suite from ATLANTIS, THE LOST CONTINENT that Garcia wrote for George Pal’s 1961 production is also included. Arnold Leibovit has devoted much of his life to the preservation and promotion of George Pal’s amazing film legacy. Leibovit is quite proud and grateful to be able to bring Russell Garcia’s greatest score, from George Pal’s greatest film, back to an eager audience. This release has benefitted from the cooperation of the Garcia family who are planning a tribute concert to Russell Garcia at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Pre-orders are being taken now – the CD will ship February 2022.
For more details, complete track list or to order:

Intrada’s latest releases include 48 HOURS, a remastered reissue of James Horner’s iconic 1980’s action score. This new 2022 release is presented from all-new hi-res transfers of the original stereo mixes, offering superior audio, while new master elements also allow for premiere of Horner’s never-before-heard unused, leaner take on the familiar “Main Title” which removes descending electronics, emphasizes clarity in rhythmic activity. Also premiering are a handful of additional score alternates, etc. Joining it is the premiere release of the complete score for its sequel, ANOTHER 48 HOURS; Horner returns, using motifs from his first score as a foundation to this more substantial work. Many of his cues were truncated or dropped – Intrada presents all of the music Horner scored for this sequel, with a handful of alternate sequences not used in the film. The label also presents a remastered 4-CD release of Jerry Goldsmith’s magnificent score for the 1981 miniseries MASADA, dramatizing the Roman siege of the titular Jewish fortress in AD 73. New 4-CD remastering of Goldsmith’s entire score includes several previously unreleased alternates and more. Goldsmith scored the miniseries’ first half, while Morton Stevens tackled its second half using Jerry’s themes augmented by his own original music. Newly discovered new transfers of the score from stereo masters allow a completely new true stereo mix of Stevens’ complete score plus previously unreleased alternate material. The label also offers a remastered (and modestly expanded) CD release of Robert Folk’s action-packed score to TOY SOLDIERS, as well as John Debney’s live action, big-screen adaptation of famed colossal canine character CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG. For details on all, see Intrada.

BIG NATE is an upcoming American computer-animated streaming television series based on the comic strip and book series of the same name by Lincoln Peirce. It follows the adventures of titular protagonist, alongside his friends, in sixth grade. Frederik Wiedmann has scored the show, which is set to premiere on Paramount+ on February 17, 2022. Watch the trailer:

Patrick Doyle is scoring Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming remake of DEATH ON THE NILE, scheduled for theatrical release in the US on February 11, 2022. The film is a follow-up to 2017’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS remake. Kenneth Branagh stars again as Hercule Poirot, along with Tom Bateman (also returning from the first film), along with Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, and Letitia Wright.

Varèse Sarabande revisits Marco Beltrami’s masterful scores from the SCREAM franchise’s first four films with a Scream-tacular choice of options: SCREAM Original Motion Picture Soundtracks, presented in CD, vinyl, and digital editions. Both the 6-CD and digital editions offer each film’s score in its entirety, plus more than four hours of unreleased music, previously unreleased demos, cues, and alternate takes. The 4-LP set, pressed on blood-red vinyl with black smoke swirls and coming to retail stores June 10th, dedicates a full album to each film and includes two hours of unreleased material. Available now for pre-order today, the vinyl collection is housed in a unique jacket, which folds out into a 3’ x 2’ Ghostface mask from and For fans seeking additional content, the 6-CD box set is available exclusively at and, limited to 1,800 units. For the digital album, see or Both the CD and vinyl versions feature new, in-depth liner notes from film music journalist and author, Jim Lochner.

THE BAD GUYS is an upcoming American computer-animated crime comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures. It is directed by Pierre Perifel (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Etan Cohen and Hilary Winston, based on the children’s book series of the same name by Aaron Blabey, who serves as executive producer. In a world where humans and anthropomorphic animals coexist, a gang of criminal animals known as Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, and Ms. Tarantula have made a deal to go good to avoid serving prison time, with Mr. Wolf beginning to enjoy this new lifestyle, while a new villain emerges. Starring the voices of Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Awkwafina, Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz, Lilly Singh, and Alex Borstein, the film is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States by Universal Pictures on April 22, 2022. Daniel Pemberton provides its score.

Premiering on Tuesday, January 18, is the Hulu original series HOW I MET YOUR FATHER developed by Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger and starring Hilary Duff, Kim Cattrall, Francia Raisa, Chris Lowell, Suraj Sharma, Tom Ainsley and Tien Tran. Jeff Cardoni (Silicon Valley, The Kominsky Method, CSI: Miami, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Heels) is composing the show’s original score.

DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS is an upcoming 2022 3D computer-animated superhero comedy film co-written Jared Stern with John Whittington, and co-directed by Stern and Sam Levine (in their respective directorial debuts). The film’s voice cast includes Dwayne Johnson (who also produces the film), Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, and Keanu Reeves. Steve Jablonsky (TRANSFORMERS, ENDER’S GAME, RED NOTICE) is scoring the film, which is currently scheduled for release in theaters nationwide on May 20, 2022 by Warner Bros. Pictures; and will be streamed on HBO Max 45 days after its theatrical release.

Simon Franglen (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, PANDORA: THE WORLD OF AVATAR, PEPPERMINT) has composed the original score for the upcoming French drama NOTRE-DAME ON FIRE (Notre-Dame brûle). The film is directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud (THE NAME OF THE ROSE, SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET) and stars Samuel Labarthe, Mikael Chirinian, and Jean-Paul Bordes. The movie dramatizes the events that took place on April 15, 2019, when the cathedral suffered the biggest blaze in its history and retraces how heroic men and women put their lives on the line to accomplish an awe-inspiring rescue. -via filmmusicreporter

Released early in December, La-La Land Records released a 3-CD limited edition 50th Anniversary remastered and expanded reissue of acclaimed composer John Williams’ Academy Award-Winning score to the classic 1971 motion picture adaptation of the Tony Award-Winning musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, starring Topol, Norma Crane and Leonard Frey, and produced and directed by Norman Jewison. The timeless songs (“Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” etc.) were written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, and the film soundtrack features virtuoso violin soloist Isaac Stern. Orchestrations for the film are by Alexander Courage and Williams himself. In celebration of the film’s 50th anniversary last year, this deluxe presentation, approved by Williams, offers a fully restored, remixed and remastered original soundtrack recording program on Disc One, a second disc of alternate versions, and a third disc featuring early “playback” versions of the songs as well as selections of Williams’ underscore and other musical material released for the first time; this latter CD will be especially of interest to those seeking to hear Williams’ instrumental music from the musical. Produced, restored, mixed and mastered in high resolution by Mike Matessino, this limited CD re-issue of 5000 units includes an exclusive, deluxe essay booklet by Matessino that provides a detailed account of the creation of the score, while a second booklet provides a colorful program guide. See La-LaLandRecords.

Brian Tyler’s latest score is for the historical romance REDEEMING LOVE, about a woman, sold into prostitution as a child, who knows nothing but betrayal. The central question is, can her heart ever be mended? Based upon the novel by Francine Rivers, the film is directed by D. J. Caruso, who Tyler worked with on such scores as EAGLE EYE, XXX RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM. Tyler is also scoring CHIP ‘N’ DALE: RESCUE RANGERS, an upcoming American live-action/CGI-animated adventure comedy film based on, and serving as a continuation of, the 1989 animated TV series of the same name. The film was directed by Akiva Schaffer and is currently planned for release as a Disney+ exclusive in early 2022.

In additional news, Tyler’s score for 1883, which he scored along with composer Breton Vivian, is now available from Milan/Sony. Created by Taylor Sheridan, 1883 is a prequel to Sheridan’s series YELLOWSTONE and follows the story of how the Duttons came to own the land that would become the Yellowstone Ranch. The new series premiered on December 19, 2021, on Paramount+.

British composer Anne Nikitin (AMERICAN ANIMALS, LOST GIRLS, FATE: THE WINX SAGA) is scoring the upcoming Hulu limited series THE DROPOUT. The show is based on ABC News’ podcast of the same name hosted by Rebecca Jarvis, and stars Amanda Seyfried, Naveen Andrews, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Kate Burton, LisaGay Hamilton, and William H. Macy. The 6-part drama tells the story of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and her attempt to revolutionize the healthcare industry after dropping out of college and starting a technology company.

Swiss-born British composer Dominik Scherrer’s eerie, period-warping score for Netflix’s 70s-tinged hit THE SERPENT includes four tracks not available on the digital edition of the soundtrack in a new released from Svart on LP and CD. Emmy nominated, Swiss-born British composer Scherrer’s score for THE SERPENT slithers appropriately between period grooviness and nail-biting suspense. “Like Dead Can Dance meets John Barry in an enthralling marriage of organic instrumentation and synthetic swells, blending numerous cultures, the serpent soundtrack is a perfect ‘east meets west’ sonic thriller,” writes the label. Now available from RoughTrade and from (CD ships to USA). (See my interview with Scherrer about scoring THE SERPENT in the May 2021 Soundtrax)

Nina Menkes’ (DISSOLUTION, PHANTOM LOVE, MASSACRE) new documentary, BRAINWASHED: SEX-CAMERA-POWER, investigates the politics of cinematic shot design, and how this meta-level of filmmaking intersects with the twin epidemics of sexual abuse/assault and employment discrimination against women, with over 80 movie clips from 1896 - 2020. Composer Sharon Farber has scored the film, which debuted at Sundance this last January 22nd. 

THE NORTHMAN is an upcoming epic historical thriller film directed by Robert Eggers, who co-wrote the screenplay with Sjón. Set at the turn of the tenth century in Iceland, it stars Alexander Skarsgård as Viking prince Amleth, who sets out on a mission of revenge after his father is murdered. Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk, and Willem Dafoe appear in supporting roles. It is scheduled to be theatrically released on April 22, 2022, by Focus Features. The film is scored by Robin Carolan & Sebastian Gainsborough in their feature film debut. Watch the film’s provocative trailer:

Pinar Toprak has signed on to score the upcoming Netflix original film SLUMBERLAND. Starring Jason Momoa, Kyle Chandler, and Chris O’Dowd, the fantasy adventure is inspired by the comic book strip Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay and revolves around a young girl who discovers a secret map to the dreamworld of Slumberland and traverses through dreams and flees nightmares, with the hope to see her late father again. SLUMBERLAND is currently in post-production and is expected to premiere later this year on Netflix.- via filmmusicreporter <- which see for more details.

Kritzerland presents a CD soundtrack release of the MGM/UK historical epic, ALFRED THE GREAT, composed and conducted by Raymond Leppard. David Hemmings was given the title role and an impressive cast was assembled, including Michael York, Colin Blakely, Ian McKellan, Julian Glover, Vivien Merchant, and Prunella Ransome. The film features a superb, atmospheric score by Ray Leppard. Known mostly as a conductor, ALFRED THE GREAT was and remains his only original film score. His score is majestic, haunting, regal, and with some great action cues. It’s a lush, beautiful score which has been lovingly mastered by Chris Malone. The CD contains the original album program plus two bonus tracks. ALFRED THE GREAT is limited to 500 copies only and priced at $19.98, plus shipping. This is a PRE-ORDER – CDs will ship by the by the second week of February.

Released on Christmas Eve, the AMERICAN UNDERDOG soundtrack features score by Academy Award® Nominee John Debney with additional music by Jeremy Redmon. The film, presented by Lionsgate, tells the story of NFL MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner. The album is now available at these links.

Plaza Mayor Company will release on January 21, 2022 the soundtrack album for the horror thriller SHELTER IN PLACE, featuring the original music composed by Zach Robinson (COBRA KAI, GOOD SAM, IMPRACTICAL JOKERS: THE MOVIE). The film is directed by Christopher Beyrooty & Connor Martin and stars Brendan Hines, Tatjana Marjanovic, Ola Kaminska, Kevin Daniels and Jey Reynolds. It follows a honeymooning couple who become stranded at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and learn that there is more to fear than just cabin fever. The thriller was released on VOD this past September by 1091 Pictures. – via filmmusicreporter.

The Amazon Prime original romantic comedy I WANT YOU BACK is scored by Siddhartha Khosla (ONLY MURDER IN THE BUILDING, RUNAWAYS). The film is about newly dumped thirty-somethings Peter and Emma who team up to sabotage their exes’ new relationships and win them back for good. The film stars Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, Gina Rodriguez, Scott Eastwood, Manny Jacinto and Mason Gooding and is scheduled to be released on February 11, 2022, by Amazon Studios.

Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (CANDYMAN) has been tapped to score the upcoming psychological horror thriller MASTER. The film is written and directed by Mariama Diallo and stars Regina Hall, Zoe Renee, Talia Ryder, Talia Balsam and Amber Gray. The movie follows three women who strive to find their place at an elite New England university built on the site of a Salem-era gallows hill and discover what lies behind the school’s immaculate facade. The film premieres in January at the Sundance Film Festival and will debut later in 2022 on Amazon Prime. – via filmmusicreporter

Composers Clint Mansell and Kevin Kiner (known for the collaborations on DC’s TITANS and DOOM PATROL series) have composed the score for James Gunn’s new series, PEACEMAKER, a spin-off from his film THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021), based on characters of DC Comics. John Cena reprises his role from THE SUICIDE SQUAD and stars in the new series. WaterTower Music will shortly release a digital soundtrack of their music. For more details see my interview with Kevin Kiner on scoring PEACEMAKER at musiquefantastique.
HBO Max has released the show’s unique opening credits, which introduces the cast members in an elaborately choreographed, dead-pan dance sequence to Wig Wam’s “Do Ya Wanna Taste It?” Watch the opening credits sequence below:

Composer Jimmy LaValle (THE ENDLESS, SYNCHRONIC) has scored his fourth collaboration with directors Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead in their new, mysterious sci-fi/horror feature SOMETHING IN THE DIRT. In the film, written by Benson and which also stars both Benson and Moorhead, two neighbors investigate supernatural events in their L.A. apartment building, diving deep into a supernatural rabbit hole that frays their friendship and uncovers the dangers of the phenomena, the city, and each other. LaValle was brought in early in the filmmaking process, writing initial pieces of score after reading the script, including a synth motif that remained the main focus in the film. He described this motif as having an “addictive” feeling to it – the sound is always moving and compulsive. An established composer also known for his solo work with his band The Album Leaf, LaValle’s go-to sounds are synths and strings; however, he went out of his comfort zone using woodwinds such as the bass clarinet, and Levi’s flute.

First Hand Records has announced the premiere release of the 1924 score of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, written by the American composer Mortimer Wilson at the request of the film’s producer and star Douglas Fairbanks. Written nearly 100 years ago, this masterpiece of cinematic composition appears here in its first ever recording, performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony from a score reconstruction by Mark Fitz-Gerald for PJS Productions. Release date: March 4, 2022. See FirstHandRecords.
Sample segments of the score below:

BLAZING SAMURAI is an upcoming computer-animated comedy film directed by Rob Minkoff and Mark Koetsier, loosely inspired by Mel Brooks’ 1974 film BLAZING SADDLES as it tells the story of Hank, a loveable dog with a head full of dreams about becoming a samurai, who sets off in search of his destiny. It features the voices of Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, Mel Brooks, George Takei, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, Cathy Shim, Kylie Kuioka, Gabriel Iglesias, and Aasif Mandvi. Bear McCreary is scoring the film. It is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States by Paramount Pictures on July 22, 2022.

Composer Kevin Smithers has scored HBO Max’s forthcoming stop-motion animation series, FRANKELDA’S BOOK OF SPOOKS (AKA: Sustos Ocultos de Frankelda). Brothers Roy and Arturo Ambriz’s musical kids’ series, a part musical, part horror, and part animated comedy adventure, is about an enthusiastic “ghost writer” and her book of scary stories. The series brings a modern twist to classic horror, and is currently available on HBO Max Latin America (a US/UK release is pending; as is a soundtrack release). “I was lucky enough to get the call to do both songs and score for the show,” Smithers told Soundtrax. “I grew up watching all the Disney/Alan Menken musicals, so this is certainly a big passion project for me.”

Rob Simonsen (GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE, FOXCATCHER, THE SPECTACULAR NOW) is composing the original music for the upcoming Netflix original film THE ADAM PROJECT. This science fiction adventure follows a time-traveling pilot who teams up with his younger self and his late father to come to terms with his past while saving the future. The movie is directed by Shawn Levy and stars Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Garner, Zoe Saldana, Mark Ruffalo, and Catherine Keener. The film is set to premiere on March 11, 2022 on Netflix.
- via filmmusicreporter.

KIMI is an upcoming techno-fear thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh starring Zoë Kravitz and Rita Wilson, written and produced by David Koepp. Soderbergh’s frequent collaborator, composer Cliff Martinez (SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE, SOLARIS, CONTAGION, TRAFFIC) is scoring the film. The title refers to an Alexa/Siri-like voice-activated digital assistant called KIMI, which is in use in the apartment of an agoraphobic tech worker named Angela Childs. KIMI hears everything said in the apartment, recording it all for a Big Brother-like corporation. Angela works from the apartment as a data stream interpreter. She is shaken after overhearing a murder on a recording she’s analyzing, but is met with resistance when she tries to report it. Seeking justice, she must now do the thing she fears the most: she must leave her apartment. KIMI is scheduled to be released on HBO Max on February 10, 2022.

Harry Gregson-Williams along with brother Rupert Gregson-Williams (the latter is known for WONDER WOMAN, AQUAMAN, HACKSAW RIDGE, THE CROWN series) have completed scoring the new HBO original series THE GILDED AGE. The 9-episode series follows a wide-eyed young scion of a conservative family who embarks on a mission to infiltrate the wealthy neighboring clan dominated by ruthless railroad tycoon George Russell, his rakish son, Larry, and his ambitious wife, Bertha. While Rupert conducted several of Harry’s previous scores, this is the brothers’ second co-composing collaboration since 2019’s CATCH-22. WaterTower Music is released a soundtrack later this year; and has released a digital single of the show’s main theme, available here.

Lakeshore Records has released MAYOR OF KINGSTOWN – Original Series Soundtrack Season 1 featuring the original score by Andrew Lockington (SAN ANDREAS, RAMPAGE, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS). The film follows the McLusky family, power brokers in Kingstown, Mich., where the business of incarceration is the only thriving industry. Tackling themes of systemic racism, corruption and inequality, the series provides a stark look at their attempt to bring order and justice to a town that has neither. Says Lockington: “[Co-creator/co-director] Taylor Sheridan challenged me to aurally paint the walls and the bars we can’t see, and hint at the hopes and dreams the characters are trying not to see. Our early experimentation recording medieval instruments and drums inside a decommissioned, maximum-security prison evolved into using mallets and cello bows on the prison walls themselves, essentially coaxing the music out of the structure. At one point, we had the entire 5-story atrium cage vibrating and resonating like the world’s largest suspended cymbal. The MAYOR OF KINGSTOWN score uses humming, orchestra, drums, analog synths, piano and prison textures to tell the other side of the story. Writing this music, I began to question which was more tragic – capturing the oppressive echo of this world, or musically revealing the utopian future the characters dream of, but will never have.”
The album is available at these links
Listen to the pensive track, “Orion”

Lakeshore Records also announces the digital release of FRAGGLE ROCK: BACK TO THE ROCK, original soundtrack music from the Apple TV+ series. The original songs feature all of the favorite characters from the beloved series, some of which include special guests such as Patti LaBelle, Ed Helms, Keenan Thompson, and Foo Fighters, who are featured in the reboot of the classic FRAGGLE ROCK series. Album available at these links.

Winter, 1843. A young woman is under investigation following the mysterious death of her family’s matriarch. Her recollection of the events sheds new light on the ageless forces behind the tragedy. The Shudder Original folk horror thriller THE LAST THING MARY SAW debuted on January 20, 2022, following premieres at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival and London’s FrightFest. The film has been scored by Keegan DeWitt (HEARTS BEAT LOUD, A TEACHER, I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS) has composed the music for the film. A digital soundtrack album has been released by Open Memory Music, which is available through Amazon and other streaming/download services.

Endeavor Content has released the digital original series soundtrack to WOLF LIKE ME. Composed by Piers Burbrook De Vere (LITTLE MONSTERS, UNDER THE VOLCANO), the music is at once dreamy with its echoey sonic palette as well as tension-filled and provides an evocative backdrop to the unusually challenging relationship within the offbeat series. Gary (Josh Gad) is an emotional wreck and struggles to provide for his daughter since the death of his wife. Mary (Isla Fisher) has a secret she can’t bring herself to share with anyone. The universe brought these two together for a reason, they just need to keep following the signs. Says Burbrook De Vere: “The work of scoring the show, and beginning to understand its central characters, would weirdly involve some thinking about how each of them would hear and interpret moments of on-screen music differently, with their own individual sets of baggage and vulnerabilities. Throughout the project it felt as if the music being used in WOLF LIKE ME could not exist separately from the score.” The soundtrack is available here.
Listen to the enticing “Dear Adelaide” from WOLF LIKE ME:

Plaza Mayor Company has released the original soundtrack to RAILWAY HEROES, director Feng Yang’s 2021 historical film about an enemy fighting the wits and courage of an extraordinary brave group of ordinary heroes known as the “Lunan Railway Brigade” who desperately fight to defend their homeland. The music is by Min He, an award-winning composer based in LA. An alumni of ASCAP film scoring workshop, she draws from a background of rich, eclectic ethnic sensibilities from her world travels, traditional orchestral music, and tasteful modular electronics to produce music that has been described as “truly beautiful and innovative.” Download from Amazon; or purchase from Plaza Mayor.

Plaza Mayor Company has also released the score by Anthony Chue to Hong Kong action thriller G STORM (G fung bou). Directed by David Lam, the film follows an investigator as he prevents a terrorist attack during a symposium held by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption. He later finds it has links to human trafficking in Thailand. Order from Plaza Mayor.

Netflix’s new sci-fi spy series IN FROM THE COLD streams on January 28. The series tells the story of an American single mom, exposed as an ex-Russian spy, who must juggle family life and her unique shape-shifting skills in a battle against an insidious enemy. Tori Letzler has created the series’ industrial, synth-heavy score for the series. Perhaps best known for her work as a vocalist on projects like WONDER WOMAN, CAPTAIN MARVEL, and AMERICAN HORROR STORY, as well as her solo work as an EDM artist and electronic producer under the moniker TINYKVT, Tori is bringing her diverse talents and eclectic experiences to compose striking film and TV scores, such as INCISION (2020), PICTURE PERFECT MYSTERIES (2019), THE DEAD GIRLS DETECTIVE AGENCY (2018), and ALL SUPERHEROES MUST DIE 2: THE LAST SUPERHERO (2016). Involved with IN FROM THE COLD from day one, she was first inspired by a Russian folk song and wrote a Russian lullaby the main villain sings that features as a prominent cornerstone in the story. As the series flashes back to the main character’s past, Tori also wrote a synth-heavy score based on the grunge and grittiness of 90’s industrial music, adding a feminine edge to it with soft and weirdly-affected vocals using sting-vocal processing.
For more details on the composer, see 
Watch the teaser trailer to IN FROM THE COLD:

THE KING’S DAUGHTER is an action-adventure fantasy film directed by Sean McNamara and based on the 1997 novel The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre, about what happens when French King Louis XIV’s quest for immortality leads him to capture and steal a mermaid’s life force, a move that is further complicated by his illegitimate daughter’s discovery of the creature. The film stars Pierce Brosnan as Louis XIV, Kaya Scodelario as Marie-Josèphe, and Benjamin Walker as Yves De La Croix. The film’s original music, performed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, is a combined effort by composers Joseph Metcalfe (lead composer; SLEEPING BEAUTY, APOCALYPSE POMPEII, BRUTAL, ATTILA), John Coda (CATS & DOGS 3: PAWS UNITE, ORPHAN HORSE, MONSTER MAN) & Grant Kirkhope (WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOWLANDS, THE HANDLER, MINECRAFT DUNGEONS: HIDDEN DEPTHS). A track (“Minuet”), written by Academy Award nominee Nicholas Britell (CRUELLA, SUCCESSION, DON’T LOOK UP, MOONLIGHT), is featured in the film and is on the album as well. A digital soundtrack album has been released and is available on Apple Music, Amazon, and other streaming sources.

Quartet Records presents the premiere CD edition of renowned British composer Ed Welch’s classy score for the 1978 version of THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS. Famously filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935, the first adaptation of John Buchan’s classic thriller novel actually strayed far away from its source material. Directed by Don Sharp, the 1978 version starring Robert Powell follows the novel more closely, telling the story of an unwitting engineer caught up in a plot to prevent Prussian agents from carrying out a political assassination designed to trigger World War I. The score by Ed Welch builds around the “Thirty-Nine Steps Concerto,” a piano-and-orchestra work brilliantly performed by Christopher Headington as piano soloist, and designed as a self-sustaining set piece along the lines of the “Warsaw Concerto” by Richard Addinsell. But there’s much more to this score as highlighted on the original soundtrack album, issued only on LP by United Artists Records. Even though the LP master was the only surviving element, the program is quite substantial and features most of the score. The label has also issued the 50th Anniversary premiere release of Natale Massara’s robust adventure score for Orson Welles’ TREASURE ISLAND from 1972. Making his scoring debut, Massara composed a real swashbuckling adventure score with a few modern twists added to it—as Welles, who was very much involved in the film’s postproduction, had requested. See details at QuartetRecords.

Music Box Records of France has released four new soundtracks for January: A 3-CD set featuring seven French soundtracks composed between 1979 and 1994: PLEURE PAS MY LOVE (Do Not Cry My Love), L’HOMME DE MA VIE (The Man of My Life) and TOUS LES JOURS DIMANCHE (Seven Sundays) all three composed by Raymond Alessandrini, JOY AND JOY & JOAN both composed by François Valéry, LA TRACE (The Trail) co-composed by Nicola Piovani & Marc Perrone, and AU REVOIR…À LUNDI (Bye, See You Monday) co-composed by Lewis Furey & Jean-Daniel Mercier. This remastered 3-CD box set includes a 16-page booklet with liner notes by Nicolas Magenham, discussing the films and the scores. The release is limited to 350 units. The second release is a remastered and expanded edition of Christopher Gunning’s score to the 2007 biographical musical film LA VIE EN ROSE (La Môme). The multi-awarded film, directed by Olivier Dahan, retraces the life of famous French singer Édith Piaf, played by Marion Cotillard, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance. Celebrating the film’s 15th anniversary, Music Box Records presents Gunning’s score with 40 minutes of previously unreleased material. Thirdly, the label presents a straight reissue of the remastered expanded edition of Gabriel Yared’s score to the 1992 drama film L’AMANT (The Lover), starring Jane March and Tony Leung, and directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud (THE BEAR, WOLF TOTEM). The expanded reissue contains 62 minutes of music, including 20 minutes never before released, and is strictly limited to 200 units; includes an 8-page booklet with liner notes by Sylvain Pfeffer. The fourth and final offering for January is a reissue of the expanded CD of LOLITA (1997), Ennio Morricone’s classic score for Adrian Lyne’s controversial adaptation of the Vladmir Nabokov novel. Starring Jeremy Irons, Melanie Griffith, Frank Langella and Dominique Swain, this version had to contend with the shadow of the earlier adaptation made by Stanley Kubrick. As with L’AMANT, this reissue is strictly limited to 200 units; the album features an 8-page CD booklet with liner notes by Gergely Hubai.
For more details, see MusicBoxRecords.

LIVING, the Kazuo Ishiguro-scripted remake of Akira Kurosawa’s IKIRU, stars Bill Nighy as a British civil servant who searches for meaning after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Directed by Oliver Hermanus (MOFFIE), LIVING moves the story from 1950s Tokyo to 1950s London, but otherwise retains the same basic plot, themes and structure. (<via Hollywood Reporter). The film is scored by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, an award-winning French London-based, French composer, pianist, and recording artist known for scoring Prano Bailey-Bond’s debut feature, CENSOR, Harry Wootliff’s 2018 BAFTA-nominated debut feature ONLY YOU, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s WWII feature THE FORGOTTEN BATTLE, and the critically acclaimed ROCKS directed by Sarah Gavron, for which Emilie received a Best Music nomination at the BIFA Awards. See more info about the composer at her website here.

Coming in February from Plaza Mayor Company, the company will release the first-ever soundtrack album for the fantasy adventure AGE OF THE DRAGONS. The album features the film’s original music composed by J Bateman (SAINTS AND SOLDIERS, THE SWAN PRINCESS series, FOREVER STRONG). The soundtrack will be released digitally on February 4, 2022 and is now available for pre-order on Amazon. The film was directed by Ryan Little and stars Danny Glover, Vinnie Jones, and Corey Sevier. Based on Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick, AGE OF DRAGONS tells the story of Captain Ahab and his legendary crew as they seek and destroy the one great white dragon for slaughtering his family and leaving him badly burned. The film was released in UK theaters in 2011 and was released in the U.S. the following year on VOD and DVD.
- via filmmusicreporter <- see for tracklist, trailer, more details.

Beat Records of Italy will soon release a new edition of Fabio Frizzi’s most admired horror score, ZOMBI 2 (aka in the US, ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS). Previously paired with Frizzi’s UN GATTO NEL CERVELLO (A Cat on the Brain) ZOMBI 2 now stands by itself in a version that is gifted with unreleased material recently located. “One of the holy grails in our catalogue, because of its shortness,” writes the label on its website. “Even if the older version featured a good portion of the score, it was largely incomplete. With the addition of the material transferred from the extra tape, and with the song “There’s No Matter,” which can be heard at the beginning of the movie (when the two protagonists investigate the sequestered ship), we can attest this is the definitive edition of this outstanding soundtrack, which marks a significant style evolution of Maestro Frizzi, and the growth of his artistic relationship with director Lucio Fulci.” The album will be available in two formats – a standard CD, and a collector’s edition package containing CD and a foldout vinyl version of the soundtrack [content is the same in all editions]. For more details and to pre-order, see BeatRecords (click the British flag in the upper banner for English language).

Milan Records has released BELLE (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – English Edition), an English language version of the soundtrack to Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda’s latest feature. Available everywhere now, the album features both score and vocal tracks written by a team of composers led by Taisei Iwasaki and including Ludvig Forssell and Yuta Bandoh. Originally written and performed in Japanese, the album’s vocal tracks have been newly recorded in English by Kylie McNeill, who voices ‘Belle’ in the English dubbed version of the film. This album follows the massive success of the original Japanese edition of the soundtrack (Ryû to sobakasu no hime), which has garnered over 20 million streams globally since its July 2021 release. From Hosoda and Studio Chizu, creators of MIRAI, WOLF CHILDREN, SUMMER WARS, BELLE is the story of Suzu, a shy high school student living in a rural village. When she enters “U,” a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Belle, a gorgeous and globally-beloved singer. One day, her concert is interrupted by a monstrous creature chased by vigilantes; as their hunt escalates, Suzu embarks on an emotional and epic quest to uncover the identity of this mysterious “beast” and to discover her true self in a world where you can be anyone. For the English soundtrack, see here; for the Japanese language soundtrack, see here.

YOU WON’T BE ALONE is a 2022 internationally co-produced folk horror film, written and directed by Goran Stolevski in his directorial debut. Starring Noomi Rapace, Anamaria Marinca, Alice Englert, Carloto Cotta, Félix Maritaud and Sara Klimoska, the film takes place in an isolated mountain village in 19th century Macedonia, where a young girl is kidnapped and then transformed into a witch by an ancient spirit. Australian-born, UK-based composer Mark Bradshaw, best known for his work in several of Jane Campion’s movies and TV series, including BRIGHT STAR (2009) and TOP OF THE LAKE (2013), has composed the film’s score. For more details, see musiquefantastique.

Based on the international bestseller by novelist Robert Harris, MUNICH - THE EDGE OF WAR is about a British diplomat who travels to Munich in the run-up to World War II, where a former classmate of his from Oxford is also enroute, but is working for the German government. Underlying the taut and powerful drama of the WWII thriller is an atmospheric and compelling score from British composer Isobel Waller-Bridge (the sports comedy THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN, co-composer on 2020’s Jane Austen drama EMMA). The digital soundtrack has been released by Milan. “For this score, I wanted to capture the intensity of the situation and a feeling of the threat of war,” says Waller-Bridge. “I created original sounds from woods and metals that I found in the city where my studio is located. I designed the layers of sound in combination with strings and piano to speak to the foresight of war – the sirens, the shrapnel, old bells and the transmission of codes and information. The fate of these people and their countries is heavy and I wanted to haunt the film with textures that reflect and to some degree anticipate this. Much of the score is minimalist sound design, but very dense as I wanted a close feeling... finally, when the chapter of the film is reached where our protagonists believe they have achieved peace, the score opens up for a sense of relief, but also vulnerability.” The score album is bookended with a haunting original vocal track “You Dream,” presented in both its original English language version and a German version), performed in both languages by Berlin-based, Norwegian-Irish artist Tara Nome Doyle.

Lakeshore Records has released the original digital soundtrack to the new Amazon series, THE LEGEND OF VOX MACHINA.  The soundtrack to the highly anticipated adult animated fantasy-adventure series based on beloved characters and stories from the world of Critical Role showcases a vivid, thrillingly orchestral score by Neal Acree performed by the Budapest Scoring Orchestra and featuring soloists Tina Guo (electric and acoustic fiddle), Paul Cartwright (fiddle), Krising Naigus (winds) and Eric Rigler (bagpipes). For availability, see here 
Listen to the opening titles:

No doubt fans of Hulu’s comedy series THE GREAT are fully aware of the show’s hilarious dialogue and opulent production design; and, what rounds it all out is Nathan Barr’s thrilling score! And now with Season 2 now streaming on Hulu, fans can expect to get their hands on the soundtrack, now available from Lakeshore at these links.




Film Music Books

Music By John Barry - A Chronology of Selected Works
By Jon Burlingame, Geoff Leonard and Pete Walker
Redcliff Press, Bristol, UK Press, 2022
496 pages

The book Music by John Barry – A Chronology of Selected Works, written by Jon Burlingame, Geoff Leonard, and Pete Walker, has been released by Redcliffe Press (Bristol, UK), consisting of 496 pages that offer a comprehensive look at John Barry’s principal scores throughout his career. The book consists of a chronological exploration of key landmarks underpinning John Barry’s illustrious career. Written in the form of extensively researched essays concentrating on one specific score, over forty are represented, from the first, BEAT GIRL, to the last, ENIGMA. Whether highly acclaimed or lower key films, each chapter sets out, clearly and accurately, the circumstances surrounding the inception and completion of the score under scrutiny and in doing so, provides fresh insights into John Barry’s remarkable legacy. The book is fully-illustrated, often with rarely seen images.
For more information and how to order, see

James Newton Howard's SIGNS, A Film Score Guide
By Erik Heine
Rowman and Littlefield

James Newton Howard’s Signs, A Film Score Guide by Erik Heine is Rowan & Littlefield’s latest in a series of film score examinations from the publisher. In this book, author Heine provides the first close reading of the composer’s work. He discusses Howard’s musical style and influences, as well as his ability to compose for a variety of genres, acknowledging him as one of the most versatile composers working today. The book demonstrates how Howard’s style is difficult to pigeonhole, since his focus is on serving the needs of the film. Drawing on completed orchestrated scores, as well as other material from the James Newton Howard Archive at the University of Southern California, the level of musical detail provided in this volume is unsurpassed. As a book that addresses Howard’s compositional style – and the only volume that significantly examines the music in any Shyamalan film – James Newton Howard’s Signs: A Film Score Guide will be of interest to music scholars, film scholars, and fans of the composer’s work.

Available from Rowman & Littlefield


Documentary Soundtracks

Composer Sid De La Cruz (HELL ON THE BORDER, CHECKMATE) has been awarded “Best Original Music” at the St. Petersburg Film & Television Festival for his score for SONGS OF LITTLE SAIGON, James Rael & Tina Huynh’s documentary about Vietnamese Americans whose musical talent, hope, and resilience propelled the rebuilding of their lives in Southern California after fleeing a war-torn Vietnam. This is Sid’s 3rd festival best score win for this film; it was also a nominee at the Burbank Film Festival and Golden Lemur Int’l Film Festival in 2021. For more information on the doc, see here. For more info on the composer, see and scroll down.

Disney has announced that a new DisneyNature documentary film, POLAR BEAR, will be coming to Disney+ on Earth Day, Friday April 22nd, 2022. The new film is narrated by two-time Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener (CAPOTE, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH) and scored by Harry Gregson-Williams, his third docu film for Disney after MONKEY KINGDOM and PENGUINS. Disneynature’s POLAR BEAR tells the story of a new mother whose memories of her own youth prepare her to navigate motherhood in the increasingly challenging world that polar bears face today.

Walter Mair has completed scoring DETTORI, Oscar nominee and Emmy/BAFTA award-winning director Anthony Wonke’s feature documentary on the life and career of iconic champion jockey Frankie Dettori, which is in selected theatres and also on Blu-ray, DVD, and download-to-own. “It’s been an absolute pleasure scoring this film and working with these brilliant filmmakers,” Mair posted on Facebook. “|The music ranges from small intimate string quartets to large-scale orchestra and electronic soundscapes. Big thanks to my music team: Jack Beech, Christian Heschl, [and] Joni Fuller.”

Rob Lewis has released a soundtrack album of his music for the Hulu original documentary DEAD ASLEEP,
The film, directed by Skye Borgman (ABDUCTED IN PLAIN SIGHT), follows the controversial case of Randy Herman Jr., who was convicted in 2019 of murdering his childhood friend and roommate Brooke Preston. The documentary investigates Herman’s claim that he was sleepwalking during the murder and therefore innocent.

Caitlin Yeo (DANGER CLOSE, THE ROCKET, THE BUTTERFLY TREE) will release a soundtrack album for the documentary PLAYING WITH SHARKS: THE VALERIE TAYLOR STORY. The docu film is directed by Sally Aitken and centers on Valerie Taylor, a living legend and icon in the underwater world whose life’s work has become the basis for much of what we know about sharks today.  – via filmmusicreporter.

Gavin Brivik has scored the new A&E documentary series SECRETS OF PLAYBOY, which premiered January 24th. The docu series explores the hidden truths behind the fable and philosophy of the Playboy empire through a modern-day lens, delving into the complex world Hugh Hefner created and examines its far-reaching consequences on our culture’s view of power and sexuality. Brivik is known for his work on the Sundance film WILD INDIAN (2021), the Blumhouse and Netflix original feature CAM (2018), the Netflix original series LIVING UNDOCUMENTED (2019), and the 90th Academy Award nominated film MY NEPHEW EMMETT (2018). He is winner of the 2017 World Soundtrack Award for Best Composition by a Young International Composer, a recipient of the ASCAP Jimmy Van Heuson Film Composer Award, honored with the distinguished Elmer Bernstein Film Scoring Award, and with the Alan Menken Composer Award.

Sweden’s MovieScore Media’s latest digital releases include three documentary soundtracks by Iranian composer Amir Molookpour: THERE IS NO EVIL is from the 2020 drama feature film directed by Mohammad Rasoulof and released by Kino Lorber (USA); the film contains four stories that are variations on the crucial themes of moral strength and the death penalty, asking to what extent individual freedom can be expressed under a despotic regime and its seemingly inescapable threats. SON-MOTHER is a 2019 drama feature film directed by Mahnaz Mohammadi, about a widow who works tirelessly at a failing factory in sanctions-gripped Iran who receives a marriage proposal that could mean financial security, but could also tear her family apart. WOODGIRLS: A DUET FOR A DREAM is from the 2021 documentary feature film directed by Azadeh Bizargiti about two female carpenters who are trying to follow their dream and open a carpentry workshop run by women for women. The label also presents the original score by Chad Cannon from the American documentary feature film, EXPOSING MUYBRIDGE, which tells the story of trailblazing 19th-Century photographer Eadweard Muybridge, who changed the world with his camera. For details and sample music, see MovieScoreMedia.


Vinyl Soundtrack News

Écoutez le Cinéma presents the anthology François de Roubaix - Compositeur Et Aventurier, dedicated to the pioneer of home studio and electro. This edition is presented in the form of a limited box set containing 5 vinyl lp’s, with, in particular, the facsimiles of the three Barclay anthologies, published between 1976 and 1979 as well as the third volume, never reissued with the aura of a grail for lovers of the electro side. “You will find in this box all the standards of Chapi Chapo au Vieux fusil, unpublished Touch me not, Saint-Tropez flies, La Rue, movie songs interpreted by Alain Delon, Johnny Hallyday, Brigitte Bardot... our way of continuing to conjugate François de Roubaix in the present tense,” writes the publisher. For more info and ordering, visit Music Box Records


Waxwork Records presents the 40th Anniversary expanded release of John Carpenter’s THE FOG Original Motion Picture Score. The double LP album features a 180 gram “The Fog” colored vinyl, old style tip-on gatefold jackets, a 12”x12” twelve page booklet including unreleased behind-the-scenes set photography, and full album artwork by Jérémy Pailler. See Waxwork.

Polish vinyl label GAD Records has released a vinyl album featuring two scores by Polish Maestro Wojciech Kilar (1932–2013; BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, THE NINTH GATE, DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, WE OWN THE NIGHT) from late 1960’s polish comedies. SAMI SWOI (1967, “Our Folks”), directed by Sylwester Ch?ci?ski, owns a lasting place in the history of Polish culture and even in everyday language as it tells of two quarreling peasant families who were forced to leave their lands after the war, who inadvertently settle on two neighboring farms. Now, the original score written by Wojciech Kilar has been released for the first time – and in its full version. Accompanying it is Kilar’s soundtrack from the little-known film by Stanis?aw Lenartowicz CZERWONE I Z?OTE (1969), about an old man who escapes from a retirement home to impersonate a man who has died in his arms and told him he never went home to his new bride after the First World War. Kilar’s lyrical piano waltz, performed with subtlety, guides the viewers throughout the story, and bursts each time in a fresh version, based on sounds of the vibraphone or the harp. Recordings from both films have been released on record for the first time, remastered from the original tapes kept at the archives of the CeTA Audiovisual Technology Center in Wroc?aw. The album is yet another addition to the series edited jointly by CeTA and GAD Records to present the most interesting recordings of film music preserved in the archives of the former Wroc?aw Feature Film Studios. Now this music of Wojciech Kilar appears for the first time on the album. Available on black vinyl or on black-and-white in a limited edition of just 250 copies. For more details see GAD Records.

Lakeshore is now taking pre-orders for a special vinyl edition of Jonny Greenwood’s soundtrack to Jane Campion’s masterful THE POWER OF THE DOG. Greenwood’s original score has won ‘Best Score’ at 13 major critics organizations and is now Society of Composers & Lyricists’ nominated for Outstanding Original Score for a Studio Film. The vinyl edition features alternate key art album cover with printed disc sleeve and pressed on classic high-fidelity black vinyl. Lakeshore Records offers a special advanced pre-order for its webshop customers and newsletter subscribers. This is a limited allocation pre-order. See LakeshoreRecordsShop. See also my review of the soundtrack in my December 2021 Soundtrax column.


Video Game Music

New from Laced Records is The Gears Of War series on vinyl. Remastered tracks from the original soundtracks to Gears of War 1, 2 and 3, including never before released music on Red. The Coalition and Laced Records have joined forces to bring stunning remasters of the original trilogy soundtracks to vinyl: 2006’s Gears of War was truly a trend-setter thanks to its cinematic action, cover system, Active Reload, and biceps the size of basketballs.
Composer Kevin Riepl (Unreal Tournament series, BATMAN UNLIMITED, JUSTICE SOCIETY: WORLD WAR II) and the Northwest Sinfonia infused the soundtrack with a propulsive sense of Sturm und Drang. On the frantic orchestral cues, driving metallic percussion accompanies thumping brass and busy string flurries. Riepl also forged the game’s signature sound with dark ambient pieces that employed electronic samples and delay. This double LP set features 31 tracks, specially remastered for vinyl. These will be pressed onto two audiophile-quality, heavyweight 180g red LPs. Discs will be housed in a wide-spined sleeve with two printed inner sleeves. See Gears1.
2008’s Gears of War 2 sealed the franchise’s position as a multiplayer juggernaut with 5v5 and Horde mode, and heightened the sense of spectacle with its epic campaign. Composer Steve Jablonsky (TRANSFORMERS film series) built on Kevin Riepl’s musical foundations by introducing more live and electronic instrumental and vocal layers to make things bigger, darker, and crunchier. This double LP set features 27 tracks, specially remastered for vinyl. These will be pressed onto two audiophile-quality, heavyweight 180g red LPs. Discs will be housed in a wide-spined sleeve with two printed inner sleeves. See Gears2.
2011’s Gears of War 3 rounded out the trilogy by refining the gameplay and modes, and heightening the spectacle. Composer Steve Jablonsky returned to provide a textured, immersive, and thematically rich score, using layers of live and electronic instruments and voices. This double LP set features 31 tracks, specially remastered for vinyl. See Gears3.


Randall D. Larson was for many years senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine. A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: A Survey of Film Music in the Fantastic Cinema and Music from the House of Hammer. He currently writes articles on film music and sf/horror cinema, and has written liner notes for nearly 300 soundtrack CDs.
Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe for copyediting assistance.

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