Past Columns

Soundtrax: Episode 2016-5
October 1st, 2016

By Randall D. Larson



  • Batman: The Killing Joke – The Score

A Quick Chat with Dynamic Music Partners

  • Scoring The Girl in the Photographs

A Conversation with Nima Fakhrara

Soundtrack Reviews

ANTHROPOID (Foster/Lakeshore), ASSAULT ON A QUEEN (Duke Ellington/Dragon’s Domain), THE AWAKENING (Bolling/Quartet), THE BANNER SAGA 2 (Wintory/T-65b), BEYOND (Barnhoorn), The Chamber Suites (Cmiral/MovieScore Media), DARK WAVES (Cimini/Kronos), GHOSTBUSTERS (Shapiro/Sony), GODZILLA RESURGENCE (Sagisu/King), HALT AND CATCH FIRE (Haslinger/Lakeshore ), I.T.(Timothy Williams/Lakeshore), INDEPENDENCE DAY/RESURGENCE (Wander &Kloser/Sony), KATTENOOG (Hermy/Kronos), LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS (Talmi/Konsonant), THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (Horner-Franglen/Sony),
(Talmi/Konsonant ), NERVE (Simonsen/Lakeshore),
(Tyler/Varèse), ORPHANS & KINGDOMS (Rotondo),
(Q. Jones/Varèse Sarabande), SENSORIA (Ilfman/ScreamWork7s),
SPOGLIATI, PROTESTA, UCCIDI! (Morricone/Quartet), THE WELTS (Konarski/Caldera)

Book, Soundtrack, & Game Music News

Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion, and Kristopher Carter - aka Dynamic Music Partners – are probably the busiest composing team working in television and feature super-hero animation. While interviewing them jointly for an upcoming book project, I asked them about their latest project, the score for BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, a dark film based on the dark 1988 graphic novel that presented what’s become a definitive (and tragic) origin for The Joker. The film debuted at Comic Con on June 22, 2016, and was simultaneously released to theaters and online on July 26, with DVD and Blu-Ray release following on August 2 (there is an excellent featurette on scoring the film included in the bonus features). The soundtrack album has been released on CD by La-La Land and digitally by Water Tower Music.

Q: THE KILLING JOKE was a particularly cynical treatment of the character in its original graphic presentation.  How did this film’s perspective dictate how you would approach its music, and have you treated the animated film differently that you’ve done in previous BATMAN iterations?

Lolita Ritmanis: THE KILLING JOKE is a deeply psychological film. Not only is it a film painted with subtleties that reflect the deeply complex Joker and an equally complex Batman, but it also makes us, the observer, question our own opinions about how and why we would ever consider liking the Joker. It is a film for adults, absolutely not something young children should watch. Composing the music was a truly rewarding experience, as we had the brilliant voice actors in our ears throughout the process. Their performance are so strong that their vocal performances almost become musical phrases, phrases that then we as composers comment on, as well as surround with musical atmosphere.

Michael McCuistion: THE KILLING JOKE was truly a different kind of story than we ever encountered for the animated Batman shows we’d scored previously. This story was very intimate; it was really about the relationship between Batman and Joker, their similarities and differences. Because of the mature nature of the subject matter and the truly cinematic quality of the storytelling we approached the score as we would approach scoring a live-action psychological action thriller. All of these things came together to allow us to compose emotionally intense, intentionally punishing, and deeply introspective music at a level that would be appropriate only for a long-form feature such as this.

Kristopher Carter: The picture and the storytelling are inexorably intertwined with the music we create—the picture answers so many questions of “where” we go with the music and “how” we get there! We created a score that follows the irony, the despair, and the madness that are all present in the storytelling.


Born in Iran, Nima Fakhrara’s first experience with music was listening to his uncle play the santour. Influenced by this, he studied santour and became well versed in Persian classical music. After moving to the United States, Nima continued his musical studies and attended California State University Northridge where he obtained his degree in composition studies. He also studied ethnomusicology, anthropology, and how to construct instruments, which has led to Nima's penchant for using sounds of instruments from many regions of the world and even creating his own instruments to give him the kinds of sounds he is seeking.
In his score to THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS, Nick Simon’s horror thriller about a young woman trying to find out why someone is sending her photographs of brutally murdered young women, Fakhrara’s idea was to create a score that possessed a very classical sense of horror. “We wanted to capture something of a throwback to the horror genre and the classic horror movies,” he said. I interviewed Nima in May, as he was working on his video game score for 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, in which his fluency in Persian music especially paid off, as the game is set during the Iran revolution. - rdl

Q: What led to your involvement in instrument construction and how has this benefitted the sonic palette you have available to use when scoring films? 

Nima Fakhrara: I grew up playing Persian classical music, and one of the things about Persian classical music, especially the repertoire, is that it only allows for a specific type of sound to be played. For example, if you were going to play a bass tonality, you’d actually have to go into the Arabic culture and grab an oud in order for you to play that bass sound. So one of the things that interested me a lot was starting to modify instruments. So I took my child instrument – I grew up playing santur, which is equivalent to a hammered dulcimer – and I started changing the strings on those in order for me to get that bass sound that I wanted. And then one thing led to another – I grabbed a couple of other instruments, for example a sitar, and I added some animal skin on top of it to give it a membrane in order to get a little more of a bass-y sound. So that’s where it started with me, being able to experiment on modifying instruments. When I first moved to L.A., I was fortunate enough to be able to study with a gentleman named John Schneider. John used to be an apprentice for Harry Partch, who created all those microtonal instruments, and I was lucky enough to be able to look at some of these instruments, and I was inspired by that idea. So, studying Harry’s engineering I was able to look at instruments differently and be able to engineer what I hear in my head into a new instrument.

Q: What electronic tools are most valuable to you when you are composing and producing one of your film scores?

Nima Fakhrara: Most importantly, I’m lucky enough to have a scoring stage in my studio. With that said, I have an amazing staff of people who work with me and help me achieve that. Some of the electronic stuff is obviously from the computers but I utilize a tape machine most of the time to get that warm sound – I even run my analog synth scores through that, and I am actually am able to run the sound inside the scoring stage to get a little more “live” sound into the score – to achieve the kind of sonic atmosphere of being, if you will, in an actual recording stage.

Q: One of your early features was the vampire film RAVEN [2010]. Would you describe how you approached this film and followed the characters and their interactions while conveying an appropriate horror atmosphere throughout the film?

Nima Fakhrara: That was one of my very first scores. It was one of those things that I had four days in which to do the entire score! So it was more or less just being able to finish a score as quickly as possible and still be able to get an interesting sound in it. I used a lot of choir – this was before I had this studio here, so a lot of samples were used on that score. I did use a little bit of a live string section, recording it in my garage!

Q: What did you find unique about that – because horror cinema has a long history of different techniques, harmonies, and tonalities that have been used to increase a sense of horror. What was your take as far as creating your own voice in these four days that you had to formulate and record the score for RAVEN?

Nima Fakhrara: I knew I had to do a little bit of a vampire/Transylvania type of a score, so it was utilizing that language and those colors – organs, choirs, etc. – that dictated what I was going to be able to do for it. With that said, since I didn’t have too much time, it was just being able to write good music that actually worked up against the picture. One of my biggest philosophies in scoring film is that if it works against the picture, it works against the picture! There’s nothing you can do about it, even if it’s a single note [from a] piano. So that was my approach to RAVEN – write as quickly as possible and get it out the door before the dub date!

Q: REMOVAL [2010] for Nick Simon was a more modernistic horror thriller. Would you describe the elements of the film that your score focused on and how you treated them musically?

Nima Fakhrara: That was my first score that I did with Nick. In that film, we’re dealing with a multiple personality disorder and a person who is another person at certain times of the movie. I wanted to get inside this character, Cole, and explore what goes around, and what happens when he’s about to go from a carpet cleaner to a murderer. For me, that score was a very much of an unraveling of the mind, if you will. One of the tracks is a three minute cue that starts with from a D-flat Minor 7th (or something like that) – and for three minutes the entire orchestra just keeps bending, from one note to the next to a much, much lower sound. The idea was how does the mind unravel itself to become a murderer?  One of my biggest influences on that score was Bernard Herrmann’s very lush orchestral kind of sound. In order to be able to capture that really very beautiful, natural sound, we recorded that entire score in a church with a 20-piece string section.

Q: Hany Abu-Asad’s action thriller THE COURIER [2012] gave you the chance to write some propulsive rhythmic action music. What were the challenges in scoring this film?

Nima Fakhrara: That’s a very interesting score. It’s actually one, I guess, you could call a leaping point for me as far as my career was concerned. I was able to work with Hany, who is a Golden Globe winner and it was a pleasure to be able to throw ideas to him, back and forth. It’s a heist/crime/detective-esque story, there’s a love story involved, and there’s a path that goes back and forth with that, so there’s a duality that I was trying to capture. The whole story is set in New Orleans, so my idea, without going into super-zydeco and super-New Orleans kind of music, was how do we do a New Orleans-type score with an orchestra, and how do we make it into an action score? The idea came to me: let’s put the orchestra in a half circle, just like a band would sit down.  So that’s how we got the sound of the strings that way. It’s basically if you were on left-to-right in a semi-circle there was one cello sitting on one side and another sitting across from him, and then there were two violins, viola, two violins and another viola in the middle. It was more of a band setting, and that’s how we did that score.

Q: How did you approach Toya Sato’s remake of the classic anime GATCHAMAN [2013]. What musical opportunities did this project pose and how would you describe the musical palette you created for this film?

Nima Fakhrara: Another short project!  I actually got involved in that film through my previous agent, Koyo Sonae from Soundtrack Music Associates, who is an amazing, amazing guy, from Japanese descent – we went to school together, actually, a while back. I’d been a fan of that franchise for a while. It’s a Japanese super hero film; there are five characters in it who get together and become Gatchaman. It’s a very, very sweeping music with lots of brass, lots of action, and lots of orchestra. It’s very much of a hybrid- another Marvelesque super hero score.

Q: You scored the Bigfoot horror thriller EXISTS [2014]. How did you treat this film’s handling of the Bigfoot myth?

Nima Fakhrara: One of my favorite scores that I’ve ever done!  I’ve had the chance to work with one of the most amazing people, Eduardo Sánchez, who did BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. This was one of those amazing times that I got to do whatever I wanted to do!  It’s a found footage film, first of all, so it had to not be music but yet still be music. My approach was, if Bigfoot could play any sort of instrument, what would he actually play? So EXISTS became one of the first scores where I was able to modify and actually create one instrument for the project. I took a piano up into the forest in Simi Valley in California, and I put a sledge hammer to a piano! That sound became the melodic instruments within EXISTS. All the instruments that I played were broken instruments. I broke a cello for that score, I broke a violin for that project, and I gave the broken instruments to musicians to play. There’s a very romantic, thematic idea at the end of the movie when we finally see Bigfoot, and you understand why and I gave my violinist, Navid Hejazi, one of the broken violins and he played this very beautiful melody that I wrote for him. Then then we started messing around with different atmospheres for it, and it became very much of a minimalistic score but at the same time it had a lot of these weird things that you wonder if it’s sound design or music, which we, in fact, had to stay true to for the found footage aspect of the movie.

Q: What was your technique of placing music into the film in such a way so that it never sounded like music being affixed to the visual images?

Nima Fakhrara: With a found footage film you’re dealing with an environment that you have to stay true to. I was able to work on EXIST and also THE PYRAMID, which was another kind of found footage movie. So me, it’s: what does the atmosphere sound like? With EXISTS you’re dealing with a forest and also a creature, so it had to be a lot of wood sounds; so we did a bit of contact recording of trees, walking on leaves, walking in snow sound, which we made percussion sounds out of. It had to be approached from an environment without it becoming too much like sound design. I couldn’t just all of a sudden pull up a track from the sequencer and that would be our instrument for a wood-cracking sound. I couldn’t do that because that would have been sound design, and I didn’t want to overstep my boundaries and become a sound designer.

Q: THE PYRAMID [2014] was another outright monster movie. What can you explain about the music you wrote for this picture?

Nima Fakhrara: I had worked with Scott Silver and Chady Mattar, who were the producers of that film, on REMOVAL. I got a call from them and they introduced me to Alex Aja and Grégory Levasseur, and I was able to do this Middle Eastern horror monster movie! It was me going back to my roots a little bit, utilizing instruments I hadn’t heard in a long time in any of the movies that I’ve seen. I recorded a clarinet that was played in the manner of a duduk, I recorded a zurna, and I hired an Iranian vocalist who does overtone chanting, that very, very high chanting that’s two or three octaves full. And, just like EXISTS, it was a matter of how we create that environment, so after I recorded all of these instruments, I isolated them. I created a very small room, very cave-like, like in the front of a pyramid, so that I had a small, isolated area and you hear snapbacks within the acoustics of the room, so it becomes very claustrophobic. Then there are parts that are actually out of the pyramid and you hear a massive change. That was a little bit of an experiment for THE SIGNAL as well, that kind of approach.

Q: How did you find working on the Japanese TV series, DETECTIVE TO DETECTIVE [Tantei no tantei, 2015]?

Nima Fakhrara: That was one of the funnest things I’d done in a long time. That was actually a collaborative effort that I did with the team that I have here. A couple of composers who are housed in my studio, we got together and actually made this happen. A very good composer, Drew Denton, was a collaborator on this project with me, and I wrote the themes and we all kind of chipped in because we had a short period of time to write this. It was more a case of just writing music and then fitting it against the picture, because picture was coming in late for us and they weren’t subtitled, so we had to try and understand how we scored the emotional parts without getting in the way of the dialogue.

Q: What was it like for you, scoring multiple episodes of an ongoing series – as opposed to the cohesive structure of a 90-minute feature film?

Nima Fakhrara: One of the most important things for us for this series was to actually develop theme variations behind characters; the series has a female detective in the lead. Usually I like approaching my scores by writing a very long suite – 20-minutes or so – and then that gets fleshed out into different ideas. That 20-minute suite is actually only one idea; it’s an exercise in doing multiple variations of that initial idea.  It’s not that I just do a 30-second idea here and then switch to another idea and then switch again, and so on. It’s more or less, if you will, it’s like a symphonic suite of that theme, with multiple themes and variations emerging as I work on it.

Q: Your score for the science fiction drama THE SIGNAL [2014] portrayed a complementary cerebral/electronica vibe which fit the psychology of the characters and the concept of the story. How did you come up with the approach for this score and what challenges the film’s metaphorical concept presented to you?

Nima Fakhrara: That score still is very dear to me. It was one of the first times that I was able to create custom instruments and put them in the movie. I met [director/co-writer] Will Eubanks a while back and I fell in love with his movie LOVE [2011]. I approached the score in the sense that we’re going with our main character who is more or less lost in this world and trying to figure out what is going on with it. It’s kind of BLADE RUNNER-esque, in that there’s a lot of analog synths in there, but it’s also very organic sounding. A lot of it was recorded in my studio; a lot of the analog synths were blasted off into the room to capture a very atmospheric sound. There were also a lot of custom instruments; those came about because I wanted to create this robotic, out-of-ordinary sound without it being in tune. So there are orchestral elements and we actually re-tuned the orchestra to those custom instruments, versus tuning those instruments to the orchestra. Being custom instruments, they’re super-imperfect, there’s nothing you can do about that, and I didn’t want to touch the imperfectness of it.


Q: As a science fiction concept and story, did that fact – as opposed to one of these horror films or thrillers that takes place in the natural world – did that sci-fi aspect influence how you would develop the music and the kinds of sounds you wanted to get?

Nima Fakhrara: Absolutely. It gave me the opportunity to be able to experiment. When you’re dealing with a drama or with human nature, you have to stay true to that human aspect of it. But with a sci-fi such as THE SIGNAL I was able to mess around and do whatever I wanted to do. For example, I re-processed the orchestral recordings by putting them into the computer and completely manipulating them it in very weird ways – things you would never do with an orchestra if you actually love instruments! There are a lot of melodic elements that Navid played for me on a violin which don’t sound like violin music any more, and we were able to do that with this project. There is a cue at the end of the movie, it’s only one note on a piano, and then there’s a choir, kind of like the Ligeti choir music used in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, that comes into it that I felt it worked up against the picture just flawlessly.

Q: This brings us to THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS, which reunited you with director Nick Simon. You’ve said you wanted to give this film a classic kind of horror score – how did you apply that idea in capturing the mood and tone across the arc of the film’s storyline?

Nima Fakhrara: I started on this project very, very early, so I had a lot of time. But then, all of a sudden, we got into the Toronto Film Festival and everything got pushed up! But when I started, during the writing process with Nick, that allowed me time to develop my ideas and develop my sound as much as possible. We knew we would be doing, more or less, a monster movie – we had two killers and a female lead and the chemistry involved between them, so we were doing a horror score with a lot of human factors to it. A very orchestral, organic sound was required; kind of a throwback to another Bernard Herrmann feeling, like he did with PSYCHO and FAHRENHEIT 451 and scores like that.

Q:  How would you describe this film’s unique musical sound palette, and did you associate certain sounds with specific characters or situations in the manner of a musical motif, or were you going after more of a progressive atmosphere/ambience in the score?

Nima Fakhrara: The score has two aspects to it. There’s a love story and then there’s also the killers, so we have Colleen’s Theme and then we have Tom and Gerry’s Theme, who are the killers. For Colleen it was expressing who Colleen is, a lonely person in South Dakota who doesn’t belong there and who wants to leave; so her theme becomes a story telling her side. Then for Tom and Gerry, these guys are completely fucked up in the head and they’re just killing people. And the third element is the love story. The reason that Tom is going after Colleen is that Tom is in love with Colleen, so I composed Colleen’s theme as a small ensemble piano and orchestral piece, while for Tom and Gerry I created a passacaglia on this motif that keeps getting bigger and more complex, with different melodies coming in. As far as palette, I knew that I wanted to do something different; but I didn’t want to create a custom instrument for this project. I did pull in a lot of my analog synths from storage and I listened to those sounds, but then created them with real instruments. There are these bass patterns that you hear whenever you are in their lair, those are not analog synths but are created with an upright bass, and I processed it in order to achieve the sound I wanted out of it. Then for the orchestra, instead of a traditional string quartet I recorded four cellos playing string quartet parts. Since they were playing violin parts they were in their extreme registers and you feel that. There’s a cue on the album called “Lake House” that captures this very unsettling feeling, because when you’re in those very high registers it’s really very difficult to actually keep in tune, so you hear the fumbling of those notes. I loved doing those imperfections within that score.

Preview Fakhrara’s score for THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS here

Watch the film on Netflix.com

Q: When you start on a film like THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS, what is your process of watching the film and imagining the kind of sound you feel would work best in various sequences – then how do you achieve that sound?

Nima Fakhrara: What’s very important to me is the color palette. For me it’s not the melodic pattern that’s more important, it’s the color palette that fits against the picture. It comes back to the idea of sound design versus music. A lot of the time you have to deal with the environment in which the story is taking place. So I first need to hear the sound in my head before I capture it, either it’s from a Western orchestral instrument or it’s something that I have to create. For me, the start is to write that suite, mess up in that suite as much as possible, and then come back to it and actually figure something out. I like to call it “going down the rabbit hole” – I go away against the picture. For example, I watch the movie once, I step away from it, no one gets a call from me or no one talks to me for about three days, and then I come back to it and I start writing. That’s how I approach it – I dream about the film, unfortunately, and then it’s like, ok, here we go! Let’s become a killer. How do we do that?  And it just works out that way. For the themes, it’s usually ideas from that suite or ideas from the color palette that I used in that suite. I like to call everything colors because it just works just like a painting. And for me, a violin has a color that a guitar could technically have as well, if you treat it correctly; but then a guitar playing your violin is not going to have that same color – it’s going to have a little bit different color, and how is that going to be treated in the scene and within the characters of the film?

Q: What was most challenging for you in scoring this film?

Nima Fakhrara: The time, actually! It was great to be able to work with Nick again because he is very open with many different ideas, so if I have an idea of recording four celli, it’s “Ok! Let’s record four celli!” As long as it works, as long as the sound I’m capturing is right, it’s there. The challenge with this score were the extremes; they were the most important things. There was an experiment that I wanted to do, having the violinists wear headphones or actual earplugs while they were playing, so they don’t understand if they’re playing in tune or not. Unfortunately I couldn’t do it because I talked to some of the musicians and it wasn’t possible – with string instruments there’s such a memory-driven hand thing, it would have sounded way out of tune for what I wanted to capture. But it was an idea we had and wanted to try. Other things we couldn’t do it because of the time constraints.

Q: You’ve also composed a number of game scores. What differences do you find between this interactive medium and the experience of composing music for a movie?

Nima Fakhrara: For video games, usually what happens is that we write way more music than we ever need. For example, for the video games that I’ve been involved with, such as Resident Evil or 1979 Revolution, I wrote probably three hours of music, which eventually gets cut down to an hour and a half or two hours.  But the good thing about is that you have such a long time frame to do it. The challenge is that most of the times I’m dealing with no visuals whatsoever, so it’s kind of like working with animation, when the visuals aren’t ready when you begin writing.  But with animation you don’t have multiple scenarios and you don’t have to be in a loopable condition; for example, a character is walking into a room, all of a sudden he turns, there’s an enemy there. That shift could happen at any point within that game, so capturing multiple environments and multiple layers, especially the way I work, with multiple instruments and recording everything live. It can be really difficult, because I can’t all of a sudden cut a sample there and change the tempo on the fly. So it becomes a little bit more challenging that way.

Q:  1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a video game set during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Did working on a film set in your home country in this timeframe give you any insight or inspiration into how you wanted to compose its music?

Nima Fakhrara: Absolutely. I’d spoken with Navid Khonsari, the creator of this game, about three years ago when he we was interested in starting the project. I approached him and I told him about my background and with me being involved with films, it crossed paths very well. I wasn’t there in 1979, but because of my background in playing Persian classical music I’ve been around a lot of the masters of Persian classical music, and I’ve studied this story and Persian history a lot. But when the product came in, one of the biggest concerns was how to capture 1979, and how do we make it a little bit more modern and familiar to the Western ear, because this game is not for only Iranians to play, this is for a mass audience. What we finally came up with is actually a throw-back score: it’s a late ‘70s/early ‘80s type of score – lots of analog synths and lots of Middle Eastern instruments. Part of the approach was to replace a Western instrument with a Persian instrument. For example, we used a tar, which is a very guitar-like instrument. There’s a lot of guitar elements to the score, but most of them are not guitars being played, they’re actually the tar being played – that’s why you hear that weird slap-back delay, there’s a lot of processing going through it, but you hear that weird, unsettled feeling to it. Same thing with a piano. We did record a piano but it was replaced with a santur, the Persian dulcimer.

And, for me, one of things I’m most proud of is that whenever I’m doing a project I have to stay true for that location, for example, for THE PYRAMID, I stayed within the Egypt world, I didn’t go anywhere else. Same thing with 1979 Revolution, I wanted to stay in Iran, I didn’t want to go to Saudi Arabia and use a duduk, for example. I had to stay true to the environment we were in.

Listen to Nima’s theme from 1979 Revolution here

Q: How did you formulate that game score’s structure and create music that is flexible enough to fit all the possible variations where a player make take it?

Nima Fakhrara: Doing a lot of writing! There’s a lot of planning ahead and there’s a lot of drawings of lines and figuring out, ok, we have one time line, let’s say five minutes of music, at the three minute mark, or at the two-and-a-half minute mark, something could happen. So what I like to do is literally draw that pattern out on a piece of paper. I’ll make a timeline out of it, and then create different layers that could be triggered at any point that would still work within the environment as we’re changing contexts. Now, my being a percussionist and messing around with tempos and time signatures and all that, it’s not usually a pretty drawing! I drive most of my assistants crazy because I’ll all of a sudden change complex rhythms with different tempos – in my mind it works; in a lot of people’s mind it doesn’t! But it goes in the picture because it works.

Q: You’ve scored a lot of horror and thriller films – was that because they appealed to you or because that’s the kind of movie you were being offered as a new composer, and the more you did the more they were being offered to you? How do you regard scoring horror films, have you felt locked in by them at the expense of other kinds of movies you’d like to do?

Nima Fakhrara: Not at all, no. It has to do with both ideas. Yes, I am being offered those, but also Iove horror films, especially thrillers. I love doing scores that are intriguing and have something slightly “off” about that. For example, I did a movie called CONSUMED [2015], which was about a genetically modified organism, very much of a political drama, and that score is another example of using custom instruments. It’s very much a thriller score. But you can see in the film market that it’s a lot easier as a filmmaker to make a, let’s say, a $1.2 million dollar movie, it’s a lot easier for them to sell it as opposed to a $20 million dollar movie, so that’s what a lot of young filmmakers are making. That  gives me the opportunity to be able to be a little bit more flexible in my approach when working with these young filmmakers. Yes, I am still a young composer but at the same time I like approaching things very differently so I can feel fresh about it. So, I am being offered these things but I also love doing them, and one score to the next I try to keep it fresh in my own eyes in order for it not to become boring.

Watch a short video of Nima’s involvement creating custom instruments for the score to the video game Resident Evil Revelation 2 (2015), here

Listen to samples of Nima’s music here

Instruments Nima created for his score to THE SIGNAL (2014).


Closeup: Featured Soundtracks

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN/James Horner & Simon Franglen/Sony Classical – cd & digital
With the release of the soundtrack to Antoine Fuqua’s remake of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, James Horner's final composed film themes have been beautifully realized into a full film score by former associate Simon Franglen (who, having worked with Horner on a dozen or more scores, was most suitable for the job), and his team. Horner died in the crash of his private plane a week after he’d begun working on his themes for the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN score, shortly after accepting the job and long before filming had completed. Left with compelling thematic ideas but not complete score, Franglen was given the task of expanding Horner’s notes and sketches into a fully expressive feature length and fully orchestral motion picture score.
As Franglen notes in Sony’s press release about the soundtrack, “In approaching THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, James knew he’d have to write a score that related to Elmer Bernstein’s much-loved theme for the 1960 original, but he also knew that the film scoring language of that older film was not going to work in this modern retelling of Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece SEVEN SAMURAI. The challenges energized James; we met in London and he excitedly started working on themes while Antoine was beginning to film with his remarkable cast in Louisiana. A week later tragedy struck. James died in a private plane accident. We were devastated. In the aftermath, I couldn’t stop thinking about the powerful themes that were James’ final compositions. It seemed inconceivable that this music would never be heard. I was not alone with those thoughts. James’ trusted group of collaborators (including music editors Jim Henrikson and Joe E. Rand, and orchestrator J.A.C. Redford) were unanimous in encouraging [James’ longtime music scoring engineer] Simon Rhodes and me to finish prepping the London themes so they could be presented to Antoine. A couple weeks later I was on the set of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN playing the music to the astonished director, who was overwhelmed by this unexpected gift from his departed friend, a gift that so perfectly ‘got’ the essence of the movie that Antoine was making, without having ever seen a frame of it. From there, it was a nine-month process of finishing the film and the score, with all the filmmakers and musicians coming from a place of love and respect for James’ music.” (for further details behind the scenes on making this score, see an expanded interview with Franglen on the James Horner Filmmusic site).
The score is a complex one, a vastly compelling and richly affecting work that provides a myriad of moods and atmospheres; and yet its thematic melodies and motifs coalesce with one another and the score’s action and textural material resonates with simplicity, and all of it is so strikingly orchestrated it is fascinating to listen to and take in all of its instrumental formation. As intended, the score evokes musical references to Elmer Bernstein (the 1962 movie's composer) in the rousing, punchy brass that underlies the melody in “Volcano Springs” and “Seven Riders,” and perhaps to Morricone as well (the fatalistic bells in “So Far So Good” and, some have suggested, the prevalent use of female vocalise throughout the score, although, with the exception of the singer’s summation, echoed by trumpet, in “House of Judgment,” the voice is most often used in a manner more consistent with contemporary film scoring than the use to which Morricone put it in his Westerns, so this argument may contradict the assertion), and even a bit of Jerry Goldsmith’s echoplex-resembling trumpets in “Takedown” (the trumpet motif here is also representative of the fading out echoes that recur throughout the score from percussion and from pan flute in cues like “Volcano Springs,” “Knife Throwing,” “Bell Hangers, ”etc.).
Inasmuch as Fuqua was remaking Kurosawa’s 1954 SEVEN SAMURAI as a Western, rather than remaking John Sturges's previous Western interpretation of Kurosawa, Horner’s score is very much its own entity, as of course it should be. His musical textures are quite earthy, with emphasis on drums and low horns, although his higher-toned, ascending main theme does rise to heroic stature at pivotal moments (introduced briefly in “Seven Angels of Vengeance” and really expressed in “Volcano Springs,” heard in confident demeanor in “7 Days, That's all You Got;” rising out of the furtive, rhythmic opening of “Pacing the Town,” reprised in a very eloquent and respectful rendition in “Bell Hangers,” and emerging with an anthemic energy in “Faraday’s Drive” with its energetic violin velocity and fascinating orchestrational twists and turns, even a hint of a tribal cry at ca. 2:11 that leads up to the theme’s heartening reprise). But darker tonalities frequent such rough-edged discordant cues like the desolate opener, “Rose Creek Oppression,” the pained vocalisms and harsh, reverberant drumming of “Street Slaughter,” the lugubrious sustained strings, tenuous piano notes, and tribal flutes of “Red Harvest” (the percussive texture of this cue is remarkably chilling), as well as in “Sheriff Demoted” (this cue could have come out of a modern horror film!), the chaotic, aggressive “Army Comes to Town” (which also features a prominent reprisal of the main theme as well as the punchy brasses of “Volcano Springs”), the heartrending second-half of “The Darkest Hour,” where it is set against the main theme in an emotive conflict, and the grim precariousness of “House of Judgment.”
As a film score, Horner could not have asked for a finer epitaph than this well-constructed composition, and it’s to the credit of Simon Franglen and his team for making such a first-rate and substantial score out of the fragments Horner conceived when he first imagined what the score should be. While other hands have manufactured the musical edifice, its foundation was clearly laid by James Horner, whose ideas, thought, and feelings anchor and sustain its achievement. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, then, may well properly be regarded not only as Horner’s final score, but, in its completion, as one of his finest.
For more details about the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN score, see James Horner Filmmusic’s exclusive first listen feature here.)

ORPHANS & KINGDOMS/Giovanni Rotondo/G Rontondo - digital
This film is the multiple award-winning feature film debut from New Zealand filmmakers Paolo Rotondo (writer/director) and Fraser Brown (producer). It is a powerful drama that bravely explores the delicate relationships between children and parents, shot entirely at the country’s gorgeous Waiheke Island, on a micro-budget. The film debuted at the 2014 New Zealand International Film Festival but just received its wide release this last July. The composer, Italian-based Giovanni Rotondo (the director’s cousin), received his Bachelor’s Degree in music composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, after which he spent a year in Los Angeles working on his skills, which including being involved with several feature films, including SPIDER-MAN 3 as an assistant music editor. His score to ORPHANS & KINGDOMS is a very intimate and elegant composition, using a minimal amount of instruments in order to focus on the inherent loneliness of the characters. “The wide shots of the beautiful New Zealand landscape and the mesmerizing island of Waiheke helped me build a blend of instruments,” said Rotondo, in an e-mail interview with this author. “I used nylon and acoustic guitars, boy's voices, the harmonic textures of shakuhachi and erhu, and solemn repeated harp notes that lie on a bed of strings to try and touch the viewer's inner feelings.”

Track titles like “Alone,” “Bad Kids,” “Drugs,” and “Danger” suggest the kinds of conflict that are found in the film, and which Rotondo reflects in his evocative music. Several tracks (“Dreams,” “The House,” and the finale, “Kingdoms & Orphans”) are saturated with electronically processed music set against the acoustics of the primary instruments, which reveals the unresolved conflicts between parent and child.  “Bad Kids” introduces an effective counterpoint between a thin, wiry, high register synth line and a percussive, almost hip-hop shuffling base structure below.

“Even though I used quite a few folk instruments, I tried creating a sound that isn't binding to a particular geographical area but nevertheless that resonates with the movie's dramatic contents,” said Rotondo. “Also I wanted the music to convey a sense of familiarity and for me that meant hiding within the string textures some mandolin lines and writing lyrics for the boys to sing in Italian, a language that few in New Zealand (and many other countries) will recognize and understand but many - I hope - will subconsciously accept as euphonic and reassuring.”

The score is quite absorbing and possesses an appealing harmonic and lyrical characteristic that is quite satisfying. Some cues emphasize solo performances but almost all develop into a beautiful confluence, as in the lovely pairing of acoustic guitar over high, ringing strings and voice in “Sweet” or the urgent mix of piano and strings in “Worry” - the instrumental pairings capturing the shades of the interpersonal drama being examined in the film.

“The director was very helpful in guiding me toward an experimental sound while leaving me with the freedom I needed to make such a long leap away from my usual orchestral comfort zone,” Rotondo said. “At the end of the journey I feel I’ve really grown with this project and I am truly grateful for that.”

The soundtrack is available on iTunes.
For more information on the composer see his web site
For more information on the movie, see http://orphansandkingdoms.com/
Photo of Giovanni Rotondo via the composer.

Snapshots: New & Notable Soundtracks

ANTHROPOID/Robin Foster/LakeShore Records – digital
This film is a World War II thriller based on the true story of “Operation Anthropoid,” the code name for the Czechoslovakian operatives’ mission to assassinate SS officer Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution. Composer/guitarist Robin Foster, a critically acclaimed recording artist since his debut album “Life Is Elsewhere” in 2008, Foster began scoring films with a collaboration between British writer/director Sean (METRO MANILA) which led to his engagement to score ANTHROPOID.  The score is primarily atmospheric, with a preponderance of fairly short atmospheric cues that create a palpably tense mood as it supports the planning and machination of the murder.  Contrast is given with the minimalistic piano melody of “Lenka’s Theme,” associated with the main protagonist’s love interest, which recurs in a few tracks near the end; but Foster mostly focuses on a predominantly dark timbre to keep the viewer uneasy and allow the suspense thriller to work its unsettling drama to play out potently on the screen, achieving its climax after the sustained ascent of  the attempted “Assassination” and the tonal clusters of “The Reward” and moving into the reprises of Lenka’s piano motif for the aftermath. In “End Titles,” her theme is given a likable, rolling rhythm for that seems to reflect the historicity of the preceding story. Guy Farley, who scored Ellis’s CASHBACK and THE BROKEN, was engaged to compose the striking choral piece that concludes both film and soundtrack, “Dulce et Decorum Est” (no relation to a choral piece of the same name by Alex Patterson); Farley also arranged the 1927 Hoagy Carmichael standard “Stardust,” which is heard in the film (and included on the album) as a source track. Another source cue, the German 1940s’era pop tune, “Flasinetar,” performed by Bluestar,

Watch the ANTHROPOID trailer on YouTube here.

ASSAULT ON A QUEEN/Duke Ellington/Dragon’s Domain – cd
This is a very significant release, being the first ever album release of the film’s score, composed by Duke Ellington, whose stature as one of the 20th Century’s greatest musical figures as a preeminent American composer, bandleader, arranger, and instrumentalist of jazz orchestra. In his fifty-year career, Ellington had appeared with his band in many films, but also composed a handful of original film scores, including ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959), PARIS BLUES (1961), and the science fiction thriller, CHANGE OF MIND (1969), which still remains unreleased. ASSAULT ON A QUEEN (1966), based on a Jack Finney novel, revolved around the dubious premise of a band of deep-sea treasure hunters repairing a sunken World War II U-boat and using it to rob the Queen Mary on the high seas. Ellington was brought into the film by its star, his friend Frank Sinatra. Ellington didn’t have much time to create the score due to an imminent overseas concert commitment, but he did manage to assemble a good amount of music which he recorded with an 18-piece band made up of legendary soloists and musicians from his previous bands as well as the West Coast jazz scene. “During recording, Ellington had to leave to begin a concert tour overseas and work on the score continued with the participation of Nathan Van Cleave, a veteran composer and orchestrator,” wrote Jon Burlingame in his indispensable liner notes. “In addition arranger-orchestrator Frank Comstock joined the team to assist in the arranging and orchestrating.” With Ellington’s material (five pure Ellington recordings remain in the final film) the score is excellent jazz which gives the film a provocative rhythmic momentum, and with the rest of Ellington’s music arranged and molded by Van Cleave and Comstock around  the film’s dramatic moments, it also works as effective film music (tracks like “The First Dive [Raising The Sub],” “Skeleton Crew,” “Explosive Situation,” and the 10-minute centerpiece, “The Big Heist,” have some splendid dramatic material despite the music’s propensity to stay within a groove, and of course the pure jazz of Ellington’s love theme for Sinatra and Virna Lisi is enjoyable in any musical language). The album’s sound is satisfying – with the original score masters lost to the ages, DDR’s release was rescued from the film's monaural music stem; fluctuating volume levels have been smoothed out, but some hiss is audible, as are occasional low-level sound effects and dialogue bleed from the film's audio masters). The album’s mastering by James Nelson of Digital Outland has done an excellent job in minimizing these distractions as best as possible, and a light stereo ambiance added to improve listenability.
The album is available in a limited edition release of 1000 units.
For more information, click here

THE AWAKENING/Claude Bolling/Quartet Records
French composer Claude Bolling is best known for his work in the fields of jazz and pop music, and the majority of his more-than 100 film scores reflect that background – BORSALINO (1970), LE MAGNIFIQUE (1973), FLIC STORY (1975), CALIFORNIA SUITE (1979), etc. Scoring the 1980 American horror film, THE AWAKENING, a sensitively portrayed story of a Egyptian curse inflicting itself in the daughter of an archeologist (Charlton Heston), gave Bolling an opportunity to explore musical territory previously untrod. Bolling provided an opulent symphonic work built around a stirring, romantic melody, arranged predominantly for woodwind and strings, with various other instruments used here and there to provide an Egyptian flavor.  The motif for Queen Kara, the Egyptian princess, is strikingly beautiful in its quiet yet pervasive melody, and is elegantly portrayed; as is Bolling’s spooky music, which avoids simple and traditional “shock” crescendos in favor of sinewy and fluid bits of growing tension and suspense. Originally issued in 1980 on LP with 14 tracks from Entr’Acte Records, it was included with 18 tracks on the second CD of the French 2-CD collection from Frémeaux, American Movies, in 2009; Quartet reissues the Frémeaux and adds an extra track, totaling 19 tracks (The French CD swapped out the LP version of the main title, “Queen Kara,” with the actual film version; Quartet includes both versions). Album producer Stéphane Lerouge provides thorough and authoritative liner notes in the CD booket.
For more details, see www.quartetrecords.com/cd-catalogue/the-awakening.html

THE BANNER SAGA 2/Austin Wintory/T-65b Records - digital
The Banner Saga is a Viking-themed tactical role-playing video game developed by Stoic, released as a single-player campaign and first game of a projected trilogy, in 2014. The game was endowed with a splendid, fully-orchestrated score by Austin Wintory, a composer noted for his film (CAPTAIN ABU RAED, GRACE, AFTERMATH) and game (Flow, the multiple-award winning Journey, Abzû) scores. Intricately arranged and with a fine performance by the Dallas Wind Symphony, the score has been acclaimed, so it came as no surprise to find Wintory helming the music for the second game, this one performed by the Colorado Symphony, with the Icelandic indie-folk band Árstíðir lending their unique and vocal sound to several of the cues. The Banner Saga is one of my favorite things to have ever been part of, but despite that approaching the sequel was a huge challenge,” said Wintory. “It was the first sequel I've ever scored, and so reconciling old ideas with new ones proved tricky. Add to that that the game is actually pretty different based on how the first one ended (who fired the arrow?), and that has implications for the score and the need to capture multiple perspectives (or in some cases, compose entirely alternate cues).” The music reprises the earthy, acoustic sound of the first game score, reflecting sites environs and its denizens while allowing various action cues to come to the fore as dictated by the player’s actions. With such enticing track titles as “Minds like Streams and Streams like Minds,” “Blades Yearn for Courageous Blood,” “Even the Trees can Smell your Blood,” and “Threads Unweave,” this is a thoroughly evocative sonic feast, a journey through instrumental and vocal harmonic timbres that can be quite dazzling, tied together and given direction by various threads of motif and theme but more often left to create unique sonic landscapes, each track a quite thrilling musical adventure.
Sample tracks from THE BANNER SAGA 2 or purchase here

BEYOND/ Siddhartha Barnhoorn/Siddhartha Barnhoorn - digital
Netherlands-based film composer Siddhartha Barnhoorn continues to score effective feature, short, and documentary films, the soundtracks of which, like this one, are available for purchase at a name-your-price offer via his bandcamp site. BEYOND is a short suspense thriller from director Jeremy Haccoun, for whom Barnhoorn scored the marvelous short film PARADOX in 2006 as well as the OPPO Mobile campaign commercials starring Leonard DiCaprio. The 10.5-minute film involves a resourceful 7 year-old boy who, when a boulder falls and traps his parents inside a burning car, must find the hero within himself in order to save their lives. The film generates plenty of suspense and empathy in its short running time, aided strongly by Barnhoorn’s Williams-esque/Silvestri-esque score, which evokes the most out of its digital orchestra to fill the soundscape with urgent orchestrations, percussive throbs of peril, and a very honest and splendidly heartfelt theatricality to its resolution. It’s a very well-structured score in the classic mode which serves the film very well and makes for a fine listen on its own.

Watch BEYOND (also PARADOX) on the director’s web site at www.jhprod.com  
For more about the composer, see www.sidbarnhoorn.com 
Stream or purchase the soundtrack at http://siddharthabarnhoorn.bandcamp.com/album/beyond

The Chamber Suites/Elia Cmiral/MovieScore Media – cd, digital
A few years ago, Czech-born film composer Elia Cmiral created a concert suite from four of his film scores for a special concert held at the Consulate of the Czech Republic in Los Angeles in 2012. For this concert, Cmiral created suites from his orchestral scores to his first film score, for the psychological thriller APARTMENT ZERO, John Frankenheimer’s spy thriller  RONIN (1998), the World War II drama  HABERMANN (2010), and ATLAS SHRUGGED: PART 1, and reconfigured them for chamber trio of piano, violin, and cello. Each of the four scores is stylistically very different; Cmiral’s arrangements are deft and have nicely distilled the essence of the orchestral scores down into these intimate ensemble arrangements, which retain the melodic and harmonic sensibility of their original versions while reassigning the primary instrumental voices to one of the three instruments, each taking a turn in the foreground and all interacting harmonically throughout the recording. Performed by top Los Angeles studio musicians (violinist Mark Robertson, cellist Vanessa Freebairn-Smith, and pianist Robert Thies), Unreleased outside of a composer’s private demo in 2012, I’m very grateful for MovieScore Media for giving these unique performances a permanent home in this excellent release.

DARK WAVES (Belleroforte)/Alexander Cimini/Kronos
A winner of best score at multiple film festivals, the 2015 fantasy-horror film DARK WAVES contains a luxurious score by Alexander Cimini (RED KROKODIL, also available from Kronos). The score is one of serene beauty, possessing a powerfully fragility in its harmonic and intricate melodies and affecting soloing from its performers (especially soprano Monica Boschetti, clarinetist Giorgio Babbini, and violinist Roberto Noferino, whose depth of feeling is heartbreakingly expressive). It’s an unusual approach for a period fantasy film in which dead pirates rise from the sea to reclaim what belongs to them from the hot young couple who’s moved into their coastal tower. With a provocative Main Title theme by Marco Werba, Cimini’s own composition takes the music into a dramatically poignant direction as befits the uniquely introspective filmmaking style of director Domiziano Cristopharo (HYDE’S SECRET NIGHTMARE, RED KROKODIL, THE TRANSPARENT WOMAN), which is indeed more art-film than horror movie. Opening with Boschetti’s enthralling soprano vocalise, Cimini’s own primary theme is nearly overpoweringly beautiful in both its melody and presentation, and its various reprises throughout the score, in conjunction with other motifs and the composer’s overall dexterity with powerful harmonies and emotive structures, makes this very much an invigorating score. Not having seen the film, I can attest that the score on CD creates a mesmerizing listening experience and an attentive pleasure in the composer’s operatic musical artistry. This is definitely an album to savor repeatedly.
For more details about (and sample tracks from) the album, and to watch the film trailer, see: www.kronosrecords.com/K73.html

GHOSTBUSTERS/Theodore Shapiro/Sony – cd, digital
Despite the ire of haters unable to accept a creatively different version of the iconic 1984 original classic, let alone put up with the audacity of switching genders and, OMG, having New York City’s favorite ghost fighting team that consists of females, and then can’t seem to be content hating the idea themselves but insisting nobody else dare see or enjoy the film… Paul Feig’s remake, aside from the fact that it just isn’t very funny and lacks the kind of well-paced drama to keep an audience engaged, is, as far as I’m concerned, nonetheless an acceptable entertainment, and moreover gave composer Theodore Shapiro the opportunity to create one of his biggest and most sonically active scores to date. Best known for his deftness in laying orchestral straight man to comedy films like THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, TROPIC THUNDER, IDIOCRACY, ZOOLANDER 2, and Feig’s previous film, SPY, Shapiro follows suit with his GHOSTBUSTERS score, but is really allowed to stretch with some massive material for full orchestra and full choir when the ghosts invade Times Square and open numerous portals to ghostly realms and just really need busting.  Most of the score, in fact, is occupied with these wild dissonances and powerhouse choral-driven progressions, which are simply thrilling to behold, infused by Shapiro’s theme for the ghostbusting group and his darkly seeded motif for the villain; in addition Shapiro sparingly includes a few references to the Ray Parker Jr. theme song from the 1984 film, which serves as a musical cameo like the various stars from the original film that make cameos in remake.
For more information on Shapiro’s GHOSTBUSTERS score, see my interview with him posted here.
Next up for Shapiro is WHY HIM?, a zany romcom starring Bryan Cranston as a father who competes in a bitter game of one-upmanship against his daughter’s fiancé, James Franco. The film opens in December.

GODZILLA RESURGENCE/Shir? Sagisu/King Records (Japan)
With the advent of the new Japanese reboot of GODZILLA (known as Shin Godzilla, or Shin Gojira, in Japan) having a limited American first-run theatrical release this coming October, copies of the Japanese soundtrack release have been quickly finding their way across the Pacific into the eager hands of American kaiju fans. The new film is scored by Shir? Sagisu, known for the apocalyptic anime series NEON GENESIS EVANGELION and the live action sci-fi thriller, ATTACK ON TITAN, and it’s a powerful score that suits the new Godzilla well – despite the fact that the score draws frequently from a major theme in Sagisu’s score to NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. One of Sagisu’s major GODZILLA themes, “Under a Burning Sky,” is adapted or borrowed directly from his heavy drum action cue, “Decisive Battle” from NEON GENESIS EVANGELION, which works very well as an urgent action motif in more than a dozen tracks, despite its familiarity. The drum motif, a very fast series of tom-tom hits repeated throughout the cue, is given a variety of counter measures from choir to strings and horns, electric guitar to piano riffing, gongs to solo snare drum, and so on.  Akira Ifukube, the composer who defined Godzilla music at the start, is also well represented, with 8 tracks of Ifukube’s music from seven previous Toho sci-fi/horror movies being used in pivotal moments in the new film: two from GODZILLA/GOJIRA (tracks 2 and 23 here), KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (Track 8), TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (Track 9), BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE (Track 19), GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (Track 24), INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER (Track 25), GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA II (Track 26); in fact the entire finale of GODZILLA RESURGENCE is set to Ifukube’s music. That leaves only ten tracks that are original to this movie, but they all work very well as a cohesive and effective as proper and propulsive kaiju accompaniment.  The album also opens with the same massive stomps and roar that Toho’s original GODZILLA album did, only here it leads into Sagisu’s prelude, “Persecution of the Masses,” a striking orchestral rendering which opens into a provocative and weighty choral structure (listen to it on YouTube here). Sagisu’s other original tracks include an easy jazzy number, “Early morning from Tokyo,” presumably used as background source music, and several thrilling full-on orchestral/choral pieces (“Black Angels,” “Defeat Is No Option,” “Who Will Know” [surges out of a beautifully soft string melody],), and a couple of soft, melancholy cues (“SS 103,” “Omni,” a strings-only reprise of “Who Will Know;” the latter two are especially sorrowful, and perhaps serve as Ifukube’s famous GOJIRA Requiem music did in the original?).

HALT AND CATCH FIRE/Paul Haslinger/Lakeshore – cd & digital
AMC Studios’ TV series HALT AND CATCH FIRE, now in its third season, captures the rise of the PC era in the early 1980s, focused on four main characters attempting to innovate against the changing backdrop of technology and Texas’ Silicon Prairie. Lakeshore has issued composer Paul Haslinger’s score for the series digitally, with CD version coming out on Sept. 16. Haslinger (FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, DEATH RACE, UNDERWORLD, and a former member of Tangerine Dream [1986-90]) gives the show an interesting synthetic air using old school electronics that both fit the time of the show but also add coherence to the series’ multiple storylines. “I love exploring the mechanics of how the story is told,” Haslinger explained. “It has become perfectly normal, these days, to tell stories in nonlinear, sometimes parallel storylines. I think this is also reflective of our time, which is that of many streams of information going on at the same. Music sets the vibe and provides a musical connection between the characters, their highs and lows. As the audience witnesses their fortunes and misfortunes, music is there to support that experience.” Both in its interesting retro capacity as an adventure in ‘80s era synths, and in its fairly minimalist but harmonic and broadly-textured approach at following character stories, the music is quite enjoyable. Its essential character is found in the interaction of various ringing arpeggio threads that ring somewhat reflectively against sustained tonalities and counter melodies. Some of the tracks (“Western Arrivals,” “The Way In”) are reminiscent of vintage Tangerine Dream, others are intimately introspective (“The Slingshot”), and the overall tonality is one of pleasing tonality and texture.

I.T./Timothy Williams/Lakeshore – digital & on-demand
Lakeshore Records will release the soundtrack to I.T. digitally on September 23 and on Amazon Disc-on-Demand the same day. Directed by John Moore (A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, MAX PAYNE, THE OMEN remake), the film focuses on a successful high-tech business owner with a gorgeous wife and top-of-the-line smart house whose family becomes targeted by a disgruntled business partner able to attack using all the wondrous technological facets surrounding their lives. Tim Williams (DIABLO, WALKING WITH THE ENEMY) composed the film’s highly effective score, with Tyler Bates serving as executive music producer. “It was very clear that, while the film involved technology, it was at its heart a struggle between two people who both believe they are right,” Williams said. The score is very active, seething with conflict by using an rolling, undulating tonality of dark, growling synth on top of which Williams imparts a misterioso pattern of sinewy, sharp violin figures that often embody a percussive, synthetic industrial design (“The Call”, “Red and White Pill,” “The Crash,” “Disconnect the House,” etc.); but it always maintains a forward-moving propulsion, which instills a sense of danger as the story plays out. Through this hazardous musical material, Williams’ carries the main character’s motif (“Mike Regan,” “Information Technology,” and the finale, “Recover”) which is a more self-assured keyboard-driven riff that circulates through the score to identity Regan and his confidence in not giving in to his potentially lethal former partner. These components gather together to form an affecting and effective claustrophobia over which the story and its characters proceed at their peril. “Williams’s music perfectly illuminates that tension,” said director Moore. “It contains the paradoxes and propagandas of contrarian views. It tosses and turns the listener, demanding a complexity of understanding rare amongst motion picture soundtracks, which are usually lazily happy to simply underscore a narrative.” It also makes for a very intriguing listen with a striking sonic dimension on Lakeshore’s soundtrack album.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE/Thomas Wander and Harald Kloser/
Sony Classical – cd + digital

Director Roland Emmerich rejoins composers Thomas Wander and Harald Kloser, who’ve scored most of his feature films since 2004’s THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW for this revisitation of his and then-collaborator Dean Devlin’s 1996 hit, INDEPENDENCE DAY. The composers wisely reprise that film’s main theme, composed by Emmerich’s then-regular composer David Arnold (STARGATE, GODZILLA) as an anchor for their score, which gives this new film’s conclusion a powerful and recognizable climactic resonance (“We Are Rich,” “ID4 Reprise”). Their own main theme consists of a flow of brassy melodic phrases which isn’t really a melody but does provide some heroic measures that elevate the film’s early high points (notably “Great Speech,” “Fear,” “Welcome to the Moon,” “Humanity’s Last Stand”). The composers’ utilize an interesting palette for their more suspenseful music, with a tempered orchestral prowess driven by reverbed percussion, and given breadth by various elements of electronica both in high pitched tonalities and very low, unearthly textures (“The Queen is Leaving). “It’s Getting Real” and “It’s a Trap” both reflect the slow cadence and disconsolate music that first struck me from these composers in THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and 2012, carrying with it such an emotive sense of calamity and earth-shattering conflict, and it works well in this film’s setting. These musical components interact with and counterpoint against each other throughout the score to good effect (“Whitmore’s Choice,” “Bus Chase,” being a good example). The album concludes with a pair of source music songs: the unattractive disco tune “Electric U” and a quite nice rendition of Sonny & Cher’s 1966 hit “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot My Down),” most recently affiliated with KILL BILL, PART 1 as its main title song, wistfully sung here by Annie Trousseau.

KATTENOOG/Joris Hermy/Kronos – cd & digital
Belgian composer Joris Hermy has scored the hit Flemish TV series, KATTENOOG (Dutch for “Catseye”), a Dutch-language mystery-fantasy series in which the young members of a kids’ club protect the small lakeside village of Kattenoog from witches, vampires, werewolves and other manner of creatures, which are attracted to the site for reasons that eventually become clear.  The series is youth-oriented in the way that R.L. Stine’s GOOSEBUMPS series is in the USA, and so it is “horror-light,” which gives Hermy the opportunity to compose all manner of scary monster music without having it be too intense. The result is a delightful score, which consists of 33 cues culled from the series’ only season.  “I wrote approximately 350 minutes of music - these days they want music all over the place - so I really had to trim it down a bit to fit on the 48-minute album!” Hermy said. “The result is an album that represents the main character themes and a couple of the key scenes. Since it was written for television there unfortunately wasn’t a budget to score it with a real orchestra, but I did manage to attract a few great musicians (soprano, violins, guitar) to add more color to the score.” Hermy wields his digital orchestra well, capturing an exciting feel for the monsters, the mystery, and the members of the club and their interactions. Where some cues convey atmospheres of some anxiety, more often the score is colored with evocative melodies of adventure and contemporary action. Some tracks hearken back to classic horror strains of the 1930s and ‘40s (“Daphne's Resurrection,” for example; a nicely textured and flowing misterioso; “Olivia/Helena,” is a splendid Gothic march performed on modern keyboards, which creates an interesting sonic texture), others are more caper-ish and lend an air of humor to the investigative maneuverings of the kids (“Five Seconds” and a charming musical texture of piano, strings, bass, and percussion), while “Final Encounter” and “The New Order” resolve the score with a satisfactory sense of triumph. Hermy’s main title music is an inviting and fast-moving misterioso for piano, a clackety percussion pattern, and an evocative vocalise; the end titles serve as a fast-moving march for drums and sharply focused strings, with a hint of Gothic choir, as if the characters are marching off into the Kattenoog sunset, to await new adventures next episode.  The music draws you in to the show’s macabre escapades and then shuffles off when it’s done; in the interim Hermy, our musical tour guide, has laced the story with a variety of compelling musical adventure.
The CD is strictly limited to 300 copies; for more information and five tracks to sample, see: www.kronosrecords.com/K68.html
Watch the series’ German-language trailer here.

LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS/Gil Talmi/Konsonant Records - digital
In 2015’s LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS, Emmy-nominated director (for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: TUPPERWARE) Laurie Kahn turns her insightful eye towards another American pop culture phenomenon: the romance industry. “LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS is a feature-length documentary film about the little-known, surprisingly powerful community of women who read and write romance novels,” Kahn described. “Romance fiction is a female-powered engine of commerce, a multibillion-dollar business, and a tech-savvy global sisterhood.” The film’s appealing score is the work of documentary specialist composer Gil Talmi (FORGOTTEN ELLIS ISLAND, BILL W., FOOD CHAINS), who creates a compelling narrative work built around dreamy and impassioned melodies from light keyboards, pizzicato strings, accordion, and, in the conclusion, an up-beat and quite charming summary for pizzicato strings, brushed snare drum, piano, strings, and… a typewriter.  “I composed most of the score for solo piano which seemed like the obvious choice to convey the intimacy and romance of the subject matter,” Gil said. “The other obvious choice is of course a good old typewriter!” Listening to the score on its own, there’s something especially soothing and reflective about its intimate minimalism; it’s quite a sublime work that becomes more absorbing with each repeated listening.
The album is available on iTunes and Amazon, and elsewhere.
For more information on the film, see www.lovebetweenthecovers.com

THE MEMORY OF FISH/Gil Talmi/ Konsonant Records - digital
Narrated by Lili Taylor, this film is a documentary portrait of one man and his fight to free a river. The film follows the life story of mill worker-turned-conservationist Dick Goin, who dedicated his life to restoring Washington State’s Elwha River by battling for the biggest dam removal project in U.S. history. In his score, Talmi explores the submerged waters of the Elwha River with lush, electro-acoustic soundscapes and captures the essence of gentle, swaying fins and submerged wavelets with the music’s rocking cadences. Featuring the prowess of two Moog Mother-32 modular synths (amongst others), along with time-warped mandolins, pulsating electric guitars, and lots of lush reverbs and delays, it’s a very airy, mesmerizing score on its own, apart from the verbal narrative of the film. The music drifts, with the lead instruments taking the role of the water’s surface and its progress downstream, while the intricate textures and reflective tonalities of the Moogs suggest the activity within the depths, the potential for seething life eking out existence in the water spaces below the surface. All of this makes for a fascinating listen on its own, while providing a harmonic and very liquid musical atmosphere across which the story of Dick Goin and his commitment to the restoration of Elwha River courses with an assured purpose.
See more about the composer here
Read an interview with Talmi about THE MEMORY OF FISH on his web site here.
Read more about the film here
The album is available from iTunes

NERVE/Rob Simonsen/Lakeshore – digital
A high school senior finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.” The game, and the movie, is called NERVE, and it’s got a terrific retro 80’s synth score by Rob Simonsen that is thoroughly engaging and enjoyable. “The directors Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost, and I talked before shooting started, and discussed about using a lot of synthesizers and drawing from an 80’s vibe,” said Simonsen “This worked out great as I was hoping the score would reflect the excitement of the film - electricity through the nervous system, always playing on your nerves. We [also] came up with the idea of using a children’s choir to capture a sort of innocence of these kids doing crazy dares and being nonchalant about playing with life and death. We didn’t want a formal church-type of choir, but something that felt more loose and informal.” The pleasing rock vibe that is constant throughout much of the score is very appealing and makes this soundtrack an especially fun score to listen to on CD.

NOW YOU SEE ME 2/Brian Tyler/Varèse Sarabande – cd & digital
Brian Tyler has reinvigorated his surging main theme from the first film, and broadened its energy for this new incarnation.  It’s a very brisk, theatrical theme, combining orchestra with lively support from an electric guitar and rock & roll drum-kit, which is associated with the illusionists who use their “magic” technology to pull off extravagant heists, rewarding their audiences with the loot, and fits the brazen audacity of the troupe’s thievery. “The music feels at times groovy, having an old school throwback big band sound while still having a modern edge,” Tyler said. “It also has a magical, wistful quality while still being grounded in real emotions. At times it reflects the music of China, where much of the film takes place, while nodding to the jazz influences of the west.” Like most of Tyler’s themes, it possesses an engaging melody and a robust, spirited anthemic quality that instantly establishes audience identity with the good-natured heroes; the music also accommodates plenty of furtive caper riffing for their various illegal activities and quite often accelerates into hyperactivity with its furiously propelled orchestrations. The Chinese musical material is subtly mixed into the jazz material woven throughout the score, and with plenty or bongos, high-hat, and deft filigrees of unexpected instrumental appearances, the score is especially enjoyable on disc.

See Brian Tyler conduct his main theme from NOW YOU SEE ME 2 during his recent London concerts below:

ROOTS The Saga of an American Family/Quincy Jones/Varèse Sarabande - cd
In their budget reissue series, Varèse Sarabande has released the 1977 “music from and inspired by” album from the monumental ROOTS miniseries, assembled by jazz legend Quincy Jones, who was hired to compose the entire 8-episode miniseries but who was replaced after the first episode by Gerald Fried, who’d composed the series’ signature theme which was more along the lines of the kind of music the filmmaker’s wanted for their sweeping historical drama. Jones had composed the intrinsic and essential music for the African scenes in the first episode, and that’s what you’ll find on this album, not so much a soundtrack as a musical project based on the miniseries (and thus its unique subtitle) rushed out once the show proved to be a phenomenal success. Jones’ themes, especially his magnificent African folk song, “Many Rains Ago,” represent the land and the heritage of young Mandinka warrior Kunta Kinte who is stolen from his home and sold into slavery in America. With his own theme, dialogue excerpts from the mini-series, some new recordings of modern African music, and brief excerpts of Fried’s theme (three tracks, totaling barely four minutes, and at least a minute of that obscured by dialogue from the film), the album musically portrays the timeline from Africa to the Civil War through the Kinte’s experiences and that of his descended family. While the brevity of the album (28 min.) and lack of music from the latter 7 episodes disappointed many, and Quincy Jones fans seeking a jazz album likewise non-plussed, the album initially had mixed views. But it’s become regarded as an excellent album, and Varese’ reissue of the original (released by A&M on LP in 1977 and on CD in 1990) is  commendable; its updated notes, by Jim Lochner, reveal much of what Paul Grien’s for the 1977 LP weren’t able to say, namely explaining Jones’ abrupt removal from the miniseries. Oddly, considering the miniseries’ success, a proper soundtrack of the ROOTS score, including Jones’ material and a representative helping of Fried’s magnificent symphonic music, remains unreleased (his music for the 1979 mini-series, ROOTS: THE NEXT GENERATIONS, also remains unreleased; a 3-LP condensed complete mini-series soundtrack, with dialogue, sound effects, and music, was released by Warner Bros. in 1978, but its insufficient to appreciate the score(s) by any measure.)

SENSORIA/Frank Ilfman/ScreamWorks – digital & CD
This recent release from ScreamWorks Records contains Frank Ilfman’s score for the 2015 Swedish horror film SENSORIA, a psychological haunted house mystery where memories of the past unravel disturbing things about the present. "Christian [Hallman, director] was very clear that he wanted a very old school score feel, something in the likes of ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE OMEN and even some of the old Hammer films, but still give the sense of modern day and the now," said Ilfman. “Beside the main theme that we hear during the ‘Opening Titles,’ we also needed to have a few secondary themes for some of the main characters that we meet during the film. However I also wanted something that will connect everybody to this haunted apartment, so I used an old music box doubled with an old 19th century instrument called dulcitone, harp and piano to create a very specific feeling of being haunted.”
Ilfman (Saturn Award winner for his score to BIG BAD WOLVES, 2013), has composed a score of intricate fragility, a quiet, gentle expressionistic score that underlies both the psychological and spiritual ghosts that collect within the spooky house. A haunting vocalise wafts its way through many cues, interacting with the uneven cadence of that old music box, while a ghostly piano makes its reverberant way through the corridors with hushed unease. There’s a kind of comfort found in those repetitive arpeggios, the recurring three notes of the singer lulling us into calm… but if we pay attention we’re also conscious of a fog of synthesized tonality hanging a heavy atmosphere in the stale building’s quiet spaces, and the voice becomes a little more strident, perhaps a bit ominous, and the music gradually seems less reassuring as the story moves forward. As the story plays out, there are moments when heavy, menacing gongs replace the tinkling music box bells heard earlier, a woody, percussive guitar-esque beat lurches ahead in place of the pretty piano notation, and hushed, raspy voices gurgle beneath the soprano’s vocalise as it drifts away and leaves us trapped in the grasp of these unfamiliar and troubling new sounds. SENSORIA is a nice contrast to the many mechanical sound design-based horror scores that have proliferated recently; those have their place in the sonic shrouds of cinematic terror, but Ilfman’s subtle tweaking of restful melodies into something that’s just perceptibly darker and more menacing has a potent effect  all its own.
Also of note among Ilfman’s other recent credits are the monster movie ABULELE, which won the Jerry Goldsmith Award for best music in a feature film at the MOSMA film music festival in Malaga Spain (soundtrack released by Intrada), and the new logo of Legendary Pictures.
For more information on the composer, see www.frankilfman.com 

SPOGLIATI, PROTESTA, UCCIDI!/Ennio Morricone/Quartet Records
Among this Spanish label’s generous amount of first-time CD releases and reissues of elusive American and European soundtrack albums is this 1972 drama, also known as WHEN MAN IS THE PREY, and issued most recently on a two-score CD from CAM in 1992, and on an LP under the American title in 1986. Despite its provocative cover image (from the Italian poster) the film isn’t a sex comedy (albeit director Vittorio De Sisti’s forte) but a political and social drama about the romance between a white American politician’s daughter and a black European revolutionary.  This is the first of four films that Morricone scored for the director, who allowed his composer plenty of room for musical experimentation, which Morricone clearly took to heart, with an early ‘70s rock/pop kind of jazz. De Sisti’s films tended to need short scores with little synchronization necessary other than a wash of music, melodic or discordant as it might be, over various scenes. The result here us an uneven but an interesting score.  it’s best known for the anthematic pop theme song “No One Can,” sung by Swan Robinson and alternatively, in three versions of differing accompaniment, by I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni, and then with two different instrumental versions.  The song, which suggests the idea that “No One Can” understand what the protagonist, the girl, is going through, is a rather infectious ballad in any variation. The remaining cues are an evocative mix. “Dramma su di noi” is bit of catchy rock propulsion for piano, guitar, and drum-kit, and the concluding “Era Ia Tua Purezza” is a pretty, hymnlike choral piece from “I Cantori Moderni.” The other five tracks are very discordant and cacophonous mixes of echoey bongos, voicings and moanings, raucous electric guitars, and the like, which lend an interesting modern contrast to the sequences over which they play, and it’s likewise interesting to see what Morricone did when given total freedom back in the ‘70s. It’s worthwhile to have this score back in print in such an attractive presentation (Quartet’s release is from 2015 and sold out at the label’s web site, but is available via secondary markets). Gergely Hubai provides short but very sufficient notes about the score and its film.

THE WELTS (Pregi )/Adrian Konarski/Caldera - cd
This Polish drama is the directorial debut by Magdalena Piekorz and it tells the tale of Wojciech who was mistreated by his father at a young age and as a result becomes increasingly troubled when growing up; his chance for redemption arrived when he meets Tania if he can manage to bury the unhappiness of his past. Composer Adrian Konarski, a highly regarded musician for films, theater and concert in his native Poland, provides a sumptuously classical composition, rich in melancholy while still circulating with a glimpse of hope for the troubled character. The score operated with several themes, including a Love Theme, all very much in the classical style as they are varied throughout the score. The music is performed by a small orchestra with opportunities for intimate solos from piano and woodwinds. The short length of THE WELTS music allowed the label to include selections from two other scores of Konarski’s onto the album: DROWSINESS and CITIZEN, two other elegiac scores for movies by Magdalena Piekorz, performed by orchestra and soloists such as a mesmerizing soprano. Several other pieces also assembled on this compilation were written by Konarski for different projects, offering a vast variety of melodies and styles. The album concludes with Caldera’s usual bonus feature - an exclusive audio commentary by the composer where he talks about his work.
For more information see:


Soundtrack & Music News

Oscar-winning film composer Alexandre Desplat will no longer be scoring ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY, the first stand-alone movie in the Star Wars franchise.  Extensive reshoots caused significant delays in post-production, which meant that Desplat is no longer available to score it, due to commitments made to other projects. So Disney and Lucasfilm brought in Michael Giacchino, whose long relationship with the studio (not to mention his pedigree, having scored the new STAR TREK movies, JURASSIC WORLD, SUPER 8, and a majority of the Pixar animated features) made it a simple choice.  Much as many of us would have liked to hear what Desplat would have done on this score, Giacchino will surely serve the film very, very well.
Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter

The “Creative Arts” Emmy Awards, which is where they’ve hidden the music-related awards in order to give the stars and directors more time to bask undisturbed in their own glory, bestowed awards on these winner’s on Sept 11th:
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music

  • Marvel’s Jessica Jones/Sean Callery

Outstanding Music Direction for a Variety Series or Special

  • Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton/Danny Elfman

Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score)

  • The Night Manager/Victor Reyes

Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score)

  • Mr. Robot/Mac Quayle

Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics

  • The Hunting Ground/Miriam Cutler

Congrats to all winners!

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has announced it will honor the late composer, Jerry Goldsmith, with a Star on the Walk of Fame in 2017. In a statement by the composer’s widow Carol Goldsmith, she said, “This is simply wonderful news and I have to believe that Jerry can somehow see it all: this honor, the respect and celebration of his prolific and brilliant legacy being permanently embedded in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. My sincere appreciation goes to The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and Jerry’s musical colleagues, actors, directors and producers who worked with Jerry in film and television who graciously wrote letters of high praise of support for Jerry.” With Jerry Goldsmith’s music playing virtually every hour of every day somewhere around the world, this announcement pays appropriate tribute to an artist who remains a treasured part of the fabric that was and is Hollywood’s Entertainment Industry. For the full list of Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2017 click here.

On August 19th a significant event occurred in Los Angeles: “The Women Who Score: Soundtracks Live” was a concert featuring the music of more than 20 female composers as part of Downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Performances series. “Women composers are no longer invisible, they are no longer silent, said,  KUSC executive producer Gail Eichenthal. The evening highlighted music written by women from film, television, video games and interactive media, including pieces by Diane Warren, Rachel Portman, Starr Parodi, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, and Laura Karpman, performed by a 55-piece orchestra and 30-person choir.
Read Jon Burlingame’s report on the concert at the Film Music Society website.
Read Billboard’s report on the special event here.

Matthew Margeson (EDDIE THE EAGLE, KICK-ASS 2)collaborates with fellow composer, Emmy award winner Michael Higham (DEAD COOL, THE BALLAD OF SANDEEP) on a score that explores the aberrant world of Tim Burton’supcoming fantasy adventure film MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN. The film stars Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, and Asa Butterfield and follows a dark tale of a young boy who discovers a secret shelter for children with unusual abilities headed by the enigmatic Miss Peregrine (Green, of course). Soon, the boy realizes the danger imminent and takes it upon himself to protect the residents from their powerful enemies. The film marks Margeson’s and Burton’s second collaboration following ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, where they composed additional music  for Henry Jackman’s score.

Video: The Making of the SHARKNADO 4 Score: Composers Chris Ridenhour and Chris Cano. specialists in bringing The Asylum’s wild and whacky sci-fi films to a polished, cinematic musical energy, have posted a short video on YouTube about how the latest of the SHARKNADO scores was made.  This one features a super-hero theme matched with epic, apocalyptic orchestral crescendos using a powerful mix of digital and live symphonic orchestras. Watch the video here .

Eight-time Academy Award winning composer Alan Menken (LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) and Emmy-nominated composer Christopher Lennertz (SUPERNATURAL, HORRIBLE BOSSES) have co-scored Sony Entertainment’s SAUSAGE PARTY. For the score of SAUSAGE PARTY, Menken and Lennertz recorded with a full orchestra and choir at Abbey Road Studios in London.  The huge, lush score is reminiscent of a Disney classic. Alan Menken also wrote an original song, entitled “The Great Beyond” with his frequent collaborator Glenn Slater. SAUSAGE PARTY, which tells the story of a sausage and his other supermarket friends discovering the real truth to their existence upon leaving the grocery store, is the first ever R-rated CG animated comedy to be released.

Sony Masterworks will release Danny Elfman’s score for GIRL ON A TRAIN on Oct. 21. The film, directed by Tate Taylor (THE HELP) is about a divorcee who becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

Ennio Morricone has signed a major new record deal with Decca Records, celebrating his professional 60-year career and 600 compositions.  His new album Morricone 60 will be released on October 7 just ahead of his 88th birthday, and will be the first album of the composer’s greatest hits conducted, recorded, and curated by Morricone himself – and aims to create a legacy for his fans to enjoy. The album marks Ennio Morricone’s 60th anniversary as a composer and conductor and features brand new recordings with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has collaborated on major international movie scores.  

Morricone’s next musical project will be creating the soundtrack for the upcoming Holocaust film A ROSE IN WINTER. Joshua Sinclair (GIGOLO, JUDGMENT IN BERLIN) will write, direct, and produce the film, a Holocaust biopic revolving around Edith Stein, the only Jewish patron saint of Europe, who was killed by Nazis at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942 after fighting for women’s rights and gender equality in Germany. According to a press release, the film will tell Edith’s story from the perspective of New York Times journalist Michael Rosten, in the 1960s.

An interesting Morricone CD release has come from Italy. First Time on CD is a limited, numbered edition of 1200 copies from Pesi&Misure, a brand of Heristal Entertainment. The album, as titled, is a compilation of 13 unreleased tracks issues in vinyl by the Italian label Cometa during the 1970s. None have been legitimately released on CD. The titles include FORZA ITALIA, L’ITALIA VISTA DAL CIELO (“Italy from the Air”), ATTENTI AL BUFFONE (“Beware of the Fool”), L’UOMO E LA MAGIA (“The Man and the Magic. The digipak includes a 4-page booklet with notes in Italian and English describing the tracks and where they come from. For details, see the link at heristal.eu

In further Morricone news, Ace Records of England’s latest entry of their highly regarded Songwriter series is devoted to the songs of Ennio Morricone. Ricordare – The Songs of Ennio Morricone, due out on Nov. 4th and current available for pre-order from amazon US and UK, collects both adaptations of Morricone film songs by such singers as Milva and Romina Arena, as well as soundtrack songs performed by Edda Dell Orso, Fausto Cigliano, singing actresses Catherine Spaak and Lisa Gastoni, and Morricone’s regular choir, I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni. The songs are varied in style, but all carry the composer's indelible hallmark.
For details, see https://acerecords.co.uk/ricordare-the-songs-of-ennio-morricone

Cliff Martinez received the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award during the Soundtrack_Cologne award ceremony on August 27th, 2016. Soundtrack_Cologne CEO Michael Aust and program director Matthias Hornschuh said, “Cliff Martinez's talent is to contribute a very specific atmospheric frequency to movies through sound. Most recently this worked beautifully on Nicolas Winding Refn’s aesthetic masterpiece THE NEON DEMON. Martinez’s music adds to the visual level and his sound therefore becomes part of the narrative. His next-level electronic film scoring doesn’t make you miss the orchestra, but makes you experience a new and different quality.” Soundtrack_Cologne was founded in 2003 and is a film conference from a music perspective that makes its audience experience how influential, diverse and versatile music and sound help to narrate a film.
For more information, visit: http://www.soundtrackcologne.de/

Cliff Martinez has also signed on to score James Mangold’s currently untitled WOLVERINE sequel. The film stars Hugh Jackman in the title role and will mark his final appearance as the character. No plot details have been announced yet. Harry Gregson-Williams scored Gavin Hood’s first Wolverine movie, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009) while Marco Beltrami composed the music for 2013’s THE WOLVERINE directed by Mangold. The untitled third Wolverine film is set to be released on March 3, 2017 by 20th Century Fox. – via filmmusicreporter  

Varèse Sarabande will release the soundtrack to HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE FROZEN KINGDOM both digitally and on CD September 23. The film tells the story of a young H.P. Lovecraft. Before he becomes the famed horror writer, young Howard Lovecraft is a curious and imaginative boy living with his mother. But after she unwittingly gives Howard the legendary Necronomicon, he is transported to a dangerous and frozen world populated by horrifying creatures. The film’s score is by George Streicher (VIPER, ROCK EM’ DEAD, SPACE RANGERS), who stated: “Being a huge Williams/Goldsmith fan, I couldn't help but bring some of that flavor to the score. Those aspects definitely come out in some of the more action-adventure driven cues in the film, but for the most part, I tried to keep things light - it is a movie for kids, after all.”

Varèse Sarabande reports they will be launching a new semi-monthly music series featuring CD releases of limited edition soundtracks that fans have been requesting. The first release in the series will be BOULEVARD NIGHTSa gem from legendary composer Lalo Schifrin, available directly on September 30.

Water Tower Music will release the official soundtrack album for the J.K. Rowling fantasy adventure FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM. The album features the film’s original music composed by James Newton Howard. The soundtrack will be released digitally and physically on November 4, 2016; a vinyl version is also set to come out on the same day. – via filmmusicreporter

John Frizzell has scored the psychological thriller WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS, Jon Cassar’s psychological thriller, which opens September 9th. With his signature blend of hybrid acoustic/electronic sounds, Frizzell tracks a husband and wife's descent into the psychosis of their disturbed surrogate mother. A 40-piece string orchestra represents the couple’s dreams of finally having a baby, but avant-garde instrumentation takes over when the plot twists. Frizzell is known for his use of evolving music technology, including experimental devices and software. One of his signatures is the blending of acoustic and electronic instruments, in what he calls a chimera or hybrid effect. In When The Bough Breaks, a guitar viol is used extensively, as well as unique constructs including analog synths played through speakers embedded in a cymbal. Frizzell has a strong reputation with thrillers but is also known for his work in comedy including the cult classic OFFICE SPACE. Up next for him is the new ABC series CONVICTION and LEATHERFACE, a prequel to the classic slasher TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

My interview with composer Clinton Shorter, about scoring DISTRICT 9, POMPEII, and television’s THE EXPANSE, and THE COLONY, has recently been posted to my Musique Fantastique web page:

Silva Screen Records will release an extended version of Toru Takemitsu’s haunting score to Akira Kurosawa’s last epic film, RAN (1985). At the same time delicate and violent, the Japanese director’s feudal warlord story is bleak, brutal and breathtaking; the story is based on legends of the daimyo Mori Motonari, and draws parallels with Shakespeare’s King Lear, ending in total annihilation of all involved.  Takemitsu’s score won the 1985 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Music and also the 1986 Award of the Japanese Academy for Best Music Score. 
For details, track list, and to pre-order, see Silva Screen’s web site.

Junkie XL (aka Tom Holkenborg) will score the upcoming DC Cinematic Universe superhero movie JUSTICE LEAGUE. The film is directed by Zack Snyder and follows DC’s heroes Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg who are assembled to form the Justice League and combat a threat beyond each member’s capabilities. Junkie XL has previously co-scored Snyder’s BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE with Hans Zimmer and provided additional music for the director’s MAN OF STEELJustice League is set to be released on November 17, 2017 by Warner Bros. Pictures. (via Collider)
Holkenborg’s upcoming projects also include the mystery-Western BRIMSTONE and the sci-fi thriller SPECTRAL.
- via filmmusicreporter

James Fitzpatrick of Tadlow Music reports that new recordings of Classic film scores by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nic Raine, are due in the next few months, starting with IS PARIS BURNING? (Maurice Jarre, released in August), then THIEF OF BAGDAD (Miklós Rózsa), and then DUEL IN THE SUN (Dimitri Tiomkin).

Lakeshore Records will release Mark Kilian’s score to the new action thriller, LADY BLOODFIGHT, digitally on September 30th. The film is about a troubled American girl backpacking her way through Hong Kong whose street fighting abilities gets her recruited to fight in a vicious, all-female, underground martial arts tournament. In the process, other nefarious forces lie in the shadows, taking Jane on a journey through the gritty underworld of Hong Kong as she fights to be named the best female fighter in the world. Lakeshore will release Alexandre Desplat’s score for AMERICAN PASTORAL on Oct. 21.

In other Desplat news, according to a tweet from Luc Besson, Alexandre Desplat is composing the music for the epic French sci-fi adventure, VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS. Besson is directing the film, which is based on a popular French comic. The scheduled release date is July 21, 2017.

Dana Kaproff (WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, THE BIG RED ONE) has scored the new documentary GRINGO: THE DANGEROUS LIFE OF JOHN MCAFEE, the story of a man who made millions creating antivirus software, then reinvented himself as a yogi, a proponent of herbal medicine, and a serial entrepreneur – who suddenly moved from the US to Belize and built a heavily armed compound in the jungle, like a modern day Heart of Darkness. “I'd like to thank filmmaker Nanette Burstein for the opportunity to compose the music for this extraordinary Showtime Documentary Film,” Kaproff wrote on his Facebook page. “GRINGO is a startling, engrossing, and thoroughly entertaining journey not to be missed!”

Legendary Italian composer Fabio Frizzi is returning to the US to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of his iconic score to Lucio Fulci's horror classic: THE BEYOND. Frizzi will be joined on stage by his 8-piece band performing a newly realized composer’s cut of THE BEYOND score, respecting his original version while expanding the score for a live band. The re-score will be performed live to film plays, preserving all dialogue from the original uncut classic; a one-of a-kind chance to fully immerse yourself in the dreamlike atmosphere of Lucio Fulci’s classic. For more details, see mondotees.com.

Walt Disney Records has released digitally the season one soundtrack by Kevin Kiner (STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS) for the animated series STAR WARS: REBELS. For a taste, here's Kiner's main theme, posted on youtube.com

Madison Gate Records will release Bear McCreary’s soundtrack to OUTLANDER, Season 2, on Oct. 28.

Veteran film and TV composer Gerald Fried, best known for scoring Stanley Kubrick’s early films, the television mini-series ROOTS, and episodes of such classic shows as THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., GILLIGAN’S ISLAND and STAR TREK, was coaxed out of retirement – for the second time – to score a new film that is an affectionate parody of both STAR TREK and the cheesy science fiction B-movies of the 1950s. The film is called UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! and its cast is made up of many actors who have appeared on the various STAR TREK series, going back to The Original Series. That is why the producers approached Gerry, in order to extend that connection into the music as well. After years in development, it premiered in Hollywood on September 7th. Read a report on the UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!
recording sessions in New Mexico here.

Varèse Sarabande will release the soundtrack to SULLY digitally on Oct. 7th, with a CD release following on October 28th. The film is the Clint Eastwood-directed and Tom Hanks-starring story of US Airways Flight 1549 and the aftermath of its emergency landing in the Hudson River after having both engines knocked out by a flock of geese. The film’s original music is composed by Christian Jacob and The Tierney Sutton Band. Eastwood has contributed the score’s theme and also co-wrote the end titles song based on his theme. For background on the scoring of the film, see this article at billboard.com and this more extensive interview by Daniel Schweiger at filmmusic.com

Varèse Sarabande has also announced their next three limited CD Club releases headline by an expanded edition of Marco Beltrami’s terrific score for Guillermo del Toro’s HELLBOY (2004).  Remixed and remastered, now doing away with an unusual audio artifact that affected the original release, Hellboy sounds better than it ever has in this sprawling 2-CD presentation. Also on the roster is a deluxe single-CD release of Basil Poledouris’ ROBOCOP 3, re-energizing his music from the first film for the rousing second sequel; and a re-sequenced and remastered reissue of John Barry’s eloquent romantic thriller, JAGGED EDGE (1986), modifying its original LP and 1992 CD Club edition from untitled suites into proper track titles.

Lakeshore Records has released a soundtrack album for the horror thriller BLAIR WITCH. The album features the film’s original music composed by director Adam Wingard (THE GUESTYOU’RE NEXT) who makes his feature scoring debut on the project. The soundtrack was released digitally on September 16 and a physical version will released on October 24th. Also, Lakeshore has made the soundtrack to the HBO series THE NIGHT OF available to download; the limited series, which recently wrapped its critically acclaimed eight-episode season, was a summer smash on HBO. The album features original score that helped support the narrative of the series, written by Emmy®-nominated composer Jeff Russo, best known for his work on popular TV shows like FARGO, POWER and MANHATTAN.

With standout scores for recent Hollywood films like THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING and SICARIO, both of which gained Oscar nominations for best music, Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson has hit the A-list with quite an effect on his career. He’s scored the new Amy Adams science fiction blockbuster THE ARRIVAL and he’s just been chosen to compose the music for the BLADE RUNNER sequel, scheduled for release October 2017. From what I’ve heard of his evocative, progressive synthetic patterns in his previous score so far, I think he’ll fit into the BLADE RUNNER environment quite well. And for those whining about not seeing it if Vangelis doesn’t score it –don’t hold your breath. Vangelis hasn’t shown any interest in preserving his original BLADE RUNNER score in any authentic manner, so don’t expect him to retread what he’s already done into the new film. This is a sequel, not a remake, anyway. As for Jóhannsson, I think we can safely say he’s definitely a composer to watch. In between film scores, Jóhannsson has managed to release his first artist album in six years, Orphée - his first for the seminal classical label Deutsche Grammophon label, which is also set to release THE ARRIVAL in November.Sample a taste from Orphée on youtube here 

ScreamWorks has released its second score by Holly Amber Church (RITES OF SPRING) for director Padraig Reynolds, the horror thriller THE WORRY DOLLS (formerly titled THE DEVIL’S DOLLS). In the aftermath of the hunt for a serial killer, an ancient curse causing a series of brutal murders in the backwoods of Mississippi and pits a detective against the clock to save his daughter's life. "I'm very excited to share the music of WORRY DOLLS" said Church. "While it is a hybrid score, it contains some strong musical themes and an overall large orchestral presence and we were very fortunate to be able to record with the outstanding musicians here in Los Angeles who truly brought the music to life. There was so much great story to tell for this film - from the darkness of a deranged serial killer, to the mysticism surrounding the dolls and, at its heart, the bond between a father and his child."

Composer Kevin Croxton has posted a 7-minute score preview for his upcoming score for GIRL IN WOODS, a psychological horror film starring Charisma Carpenter, Jeremy London, Lee Perkins and Juliet Reeves. “It was fun to be able to take a dark turn with my music and create something very different from my previous works,” he said.  The soundtrack should be available on iTunes by the end of October.
For more information on the composer including additional music samples, see www.kevincroxton.com  

Howe Records has released Howard Shore’s complete original score to David Fincher’s renowned thriller SE7EN, containing over 60 minutes of original music by Shore. Contributing newly commissioned liner notes for this release is noted film historian and author Peter Cowie. He states: “When heard on its own, Shore’s score becomes even more intense and unnerving. It clasps the viewer in a deadly, serpentine embrace, forcing one to confront the malevolence of ‘John Doe,’ the serial killer stalked by detectives Mills and Somerset. Brass, woodwind, strings and timpani weave an abiding spell that would serve as the perfect accompaniment to a screen version of Dante’s Inferno, drawing one down inexorably from one circle of Hell to the next.”
Additionally, Shore’s latest score is for DENIAL. Based on the acclaimed book Denial: Holocaust History on TrialDENIAL recounts Deborah E. Lipstadt’s legal battle for historical truth against David Irving, who accused her of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. Howe Records will release the DENIAL soundtrack both on CD and digitally September 30, 2016.
Michael Wandmacher has been tagged to score the next movie in the UNDERWORLD series, UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS, slated for release January 6, 2017.  See the trailer here. Lakeshore Records will most likely release the soundtrack, as Lakeshore Entertainment is one of the film’s production companies.

Henry Jackman will score KONG: SKULL ISLAND, which explores the origin of the beloved giant-ape-on-a-rampage. The film opens March 10, 2017.

La-La Land Records celebrates the 30th anniversary of FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF with, at long last, the world premiere of the official soundtrack album. Never before released in any form, the limited collector’s release features songs from the film and the original score by acclaimed composer Ira Newborn (THE NAKED GUN TRILOGY, UNCLE BUCK, PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES). In addition, the label has release two albums of music by Blake Neely, from his television series scores for BLINDSPOT and LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, where Neely expands his DC musical landscape with another rich and exciting original score that winningly compliments this thrilling series of time-traveling superheroes and villains – a spinoff show from the wildly successful series ARROW and THE FLASH.

The latest release from Intrada is a massive world premiere 6-CD release of the complete Elmer Bernstein soundtrack for Cecil B. DeMille’s all-time greatest epic, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1957) – every bit of Bernstein’s magnificent and justifiably famous masterpiece appears intact and uncut, including numerous sequences edited from the finished film, demo recordings, and much more!  Details at intrada.com

The latest limited collector’s releases from France’s Music Box Records include an expanded reissue soundtrack of Henri Verneuil's LE SERPENT (also known as NIGHT FLIGHT FROM MOSCOW, 1973) composed by Ennio Morricone, whose music “perfectly transcribes the cold and emotionless world of the secret services… [composing] a mix of radical atonality and exacerbated romanticism.” Also issued was the complete soundtrack for the spectacular night-time sound and light show La Cinéscénie du Puy du Fou (1982-2002) composed by Georges Deere, a show composed of a huge series of choreographed scenes evoking the history of the Vendée region in Western France and its inhabitants from the Middle Ages to the early 20th Century; and the world premiere CD release of two Carlo Rustichelli scores for French films, L'HOMME PRESSÉ (The Hurried Man, 1977) and LE BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU EST ARRIVÉ (The New Beaujolais Wine Has Arrived, 1978) ,

Significant new Japanese releases on the CINEMA-KAN label include Masaru Sato’s music for the classic samurai films, SWORD OF DOOM (1968) and KILL! (also 1968), both directed by Kihachi Okamoto; The same label has also issued Sato’s music for the World War II films, JAPAN'S LONGEST DAY (1967) and BATTLE OF THE JAPAN SEA ( 1969).

Spanish composer Roque Baños has scored the new horror/thriller DON’T BREATHE, directed by Fede Alvarez. Baños previously collaborated with Alvarez on the director’s update of the Sam Raimi classic EVIL DEAD in 2013. DON’T BREATHE takes place almost entirely inside a house, as would-be robbers are confronted by its unexpectedly fierce owner. For such an intensely claustrophobic story, Baños decided to make “the house play the music,” by using ordinary household objects or materials as instruments for the score. For more details, see my interview with Baños about this score, posted to my Musique Fantastique page, here.

Milan has released Ryûichi Sakamoto’s soundtrack to NAGASAKI: MEMORIES OF MY SON, a sensitive drama from director Yoji Yamada about an aging midwife who is visited by the ghost of her son, whom she lost to the atomic bomb. Sakamoto’s “thought-provoking and often times deeply hued music is shaded both by Japan's history, as well as the human relationships in flux within its borders.  His score evokes a nostalgic landscape of the humble everyday life of Japanese people while successfully paying homage to the film music of the Golden Age of Japanese Cinema.”
For more information, watch the Japanese trailer, and sample some music tracks, see milanrecords.com

Quartet Records has announced its latest quartet of soundtrack releases: Fernando Velázquez’s music for A MONSTER CALLS, the new film from J.A. Bayona (THE ORPHANAGE, THE IMPOSSIBLE) about a boy seeking the help of a tree monster to cope with his mom's terminal illness; “Velázquez’s music encompasses tenderness, sadness and nostalgia, with dramatic passages and soaring climaxes, including powerful percussive passages - masterfully orchestrated and full of delicate nuances.” A second Velázquez score, this one for GERNIKA, an epic symphonic score in the old style, “featuring a radiant love theme and exciting action music” for director Koldo Serra’s historical romance about Northern Spain during the country’s turbulent internal struggle in the lead up to World War II; French composer Éric Neveux’s music for Danièle Thomson’s new film, CÉZANNE ET MOI, which tells the true history of the friendship between Paul Cézanne and Emile Zola; and Gabriel Yared’s bittersweet and deeply nostalgic score for Xavier Dolan’s drama JUSTE LA FIN DU MONDE, about an afternoon in the family of a young writer who, after 12 years away, returns to his hometown to announce his imminent death.

This month, Italy’s Digitmovies has released a pair of world premiere CD releases of Italian film scores. The first is Carlo Franci’s score for IL GLADIATORE INVINCIBILE, an energetic 1961 peplum adventure starring Richard Harrison. “Maestro Franci used a symphonic orchestra, dominated by powerful French horns,” Claudio Fuiano described the score. “For the realization of our CD (total running time 68:48 minutes) we used the mono master tapes of the recording session which took place over half a century ago and have been kept in good condition until now.” The second release is Angelo F. Lavagnino’s score for the 1968 Western SAPEVANO SOLO UCCIDERE (aka SAGUARO). “For this film he composed a compelling soundtrack performed by just a few instruments such as organ, percussion, and piano, but for the melody of the Mexican gang of he brought in a large orchestra. We were able to use each and every note found on the original mono master tapes for this CD.”

Penta Music has announced that it will be releasing a SPACE:1999 (or SPAZIO 1999) soundtrack CD containing the Ennio Morricone music created for the Italian theatrical release that premiered on January 14th 1975, and consists of three episodes edited together into a feature length format. The series’ original iconic score was removed from the Italian theatrical version and replaced with a fascinating score by Morricone, who composed original material featuring frantic jazz themes and futuristic electronic sequences, reminiscent of Barry Gray’s work on UFO. The release also includes avant-garde library material by Morricone selected from the RCA promotional series of vinyl LPs, Dimensioni Sonore, performed by symphonic orchestra, all in full stereo. Also included is the final large orchestral theme heard over the end credits, featuring vocals from Edda Dell’Orso and I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni (This was re-used in Morricone’s music for the 1979 mini-series ORIENT EXPRESS).

Beat Records of Italy’s latest releases include Piero Piccioni’s delicate score for Franco Rossi’s 1969 drama, GIOVINEZZA GIOVINEZZA (aka YOUTH MARCH, a dramatic feature film of 1969 against the backdrop of World War II and the everyday stories, love, and friendship in Fascist Italy; and an expanded “ultimate edition” of Ennio Morricone’s score to THE CHOSEN (aka HOLOCAUST 2000), a 1977 horror film about a wealthy industrialist faced with the danger of a nuclear disaster planned by none other than the antichrist himself (click here for details).

Chris’ Soundtrack Corner of Germany has released a nice cornucopia of Stelvio Cipriani scores over the last couple of months - starting with 1979 JAWS-inspired thriller THE GREAT ALLIGATOR, its first time on CD, for which the composer provided a vivacious and engaging listening experience; the complete soundtrack to Tonino Ricci's 1978 supernatural thriller, BERMUDA: CAVE OF THE SHARKS, which featured a luscious and infectiously melodic score; an expanded edition of Cipriani’s music for Mario Bava’s “lost film” RABID DOGS (Cani Arrabbiati), the suspenseful crime film left unfinished for 20 years before getting a restored release; Cipriani’s music very much in the contemporary jazz-infused oeuvre of the poliziotteschi (police) films, while reflecting the lush melodic lyricism that many of Cipriani’s scores possess; and finally, an expanded edition of A BAY OF BLOOD (Ecologia Del Delitto), Mario Bava’s 1971 thriller with which he essentially invented the slasher movie: tribal drumming, fuzzy electric guitar and bass, strident celeste, gentle pop rhythms, and yearning rhapsodic melodies work together to build a sonic environment into which the characters are placed, The first two releases feature comprehensive album notes by John Bender; the latter two by this writer.



Film Music on Vinyl

Varèse Sarabande reports the first-ever vinyl release of Marco Beltrami’s music for both SCREAM and SCREAM 2. The album features new cover art by legendary artist Gary Pullin, and 180 gram colored vinyl in Ghostface white with liberal “blood” splatter. The album is available exclusively through F.Y.E. stores and online.

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the STAR TREK franchise, La-La Land Records has created the STAR TREK 50th Anniversary Starfleet Insignia-Shaped Die-Cut 12’’ Vinyl Single, featuring STAR TREK:The Original Series Season One and Season Three Main Title themes on 180 gram, gold-colored vinyl, die-cut in a shape inspired by the iconic Starfleet Insignia. Die-cut from a 12’’ vinyl disc, this Starfleet Insignia-shaped single features The Main Title (Season Three – Soprano Version, long ending, stereo) on Side A (1:01), and The Main Title (Season One – Cello Version, short ending, mono) on Side B (0:51). See: www.lalalandrecords.com/Site/StarTrekVinyl.html
In addition, La-La Land Records commemorates 75 years of Wonder Woman, with a limited edition 7’’ vinyl picture disc single featuring Lynda Carter as the immortal WONDER WOMAN and, on the disc, her theme from the classic 70’s TV series, with the Diana Prince side containing the Season One Main Title and the Wonder Woman side containing the Season Three Main Title. The disc is a limited edition of 1000 units.

GDM Records of Italy is issuing several Italian soundtracks on vinyl, including Ennio Morricone’s LE SEGRETO and EL MAESTRO E MARGHERITA.

Rustblade announces Paura, Vol. 2, a limited transparent vinyl edition of their second collection of “fear film scores” from Ennio Morricone and sequel to the label’s April 2016 first release. This second collection shows the darker experimental side of Morricone with pieces that have accompanied such films as REVOLVER, 900, BARBABLU’, UNA PURA FORMALITA’, UN TRANQUILLO POSTO IN CAMPAGNA and many more: frightening orchestrations, dark jazz tapestries and unsettling piano movements abound. Limited to 499 copies.
Watch this video teaser for the album here
For more information, or to order, see rustblade.com

Lakeshore Records, in conjunction with Invada Records, will release the five-year anniversary vinyl reissue of the soundtrack to DRIVE on September 30, 2016. Available in stores from September 30 through the end of the year is a neon pink vinyl double LP with brand new packaging, liner notes and artwork. The film brought the genius sounds of Cliff Martinez to the forefront of the cinematic world.  With Martinez’s tones, pacing and emotional resonance, the score of DRIVE started a renaissance of synth-wave that now permeates film and television. “One thing that was unique for me about this project was having songs exert such a strong influence on the score,” Martinez explained.  “That helped to create a unified, one-size-fits-all, style of soundtrack…the 80s electronic pop style made a lot of sense to me.” In addition to Cliff Martinez’s score, the soundtrack album featured five Euro-synth songs by various artists.

Sub Ost, the soundtrack focused sub label of Subsound Records, presents the first vinyl release of Vince Tempera’s horror score, PAGANINI HORROR, released in 1989. The album includes original artwork by Enzo Sciotti, and is available in black or color vinyl.

Newbury Comics is offering the soundtrack to THE MATRIX in exclusive green vinyl. The album is a Varèse Sarabande release exclusively available from Newbury Comics in a limited edition of 1000 copies, 180 gram green vinyl. For more information or to order, click here.

Milan Records has announced that Ryûichi Sakamoto’s soundtrack to MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE, the 1983 World War II Nagisa Ôshima film starring Sakamoto and David Bowie, is getting the deluxe vinyl reissue treatment. The reissue features original artwork designed by famous Belgian illustrator Laurent Durieux. The vinyl includes the entire score on 180gm pressed vinyl as well as the vocal theme “Forbidden Colours” featuring David Sylvian on vocals. See details at pitchfork.com



Film Music Books

Scored to Death: Conversations with Some of Horror’s Greatest Composers by J. Blake Fichera (Silman-James Press, 2016) delves specifically and deeply into the minds of noted horror film composers. Fichera, who is both a film editor and a musician himself, has assembled a first rate collection of interviews, presented in straightforward Q&A format, and he asks both challenging and educated questions about the art and science of scoring the suspenseful and the scary. The book isn’t a narrative overview of the genre’s music, but rather a gathering of interviews by the author of fourteen composers who have either focused on the genre or made significant contributions to its music. Included are Nathan Barr (CABIN FEVER, HOSTEL), Charles Bernstein (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET), Joseph Bishara (THE CONJURING, INSIDIOUS), Simon Boswell (LORD OF ILLUSIONS), John Carpenter (HALLOWEEN), Jay Chattaway (MANIAC), Fabio Frizzi (ZOMBI 2, THE BEYOND), Jeff Grace (HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE INNKEEPERS), Maurizio Guiarini (SUSPIRIA, CONTAMINATION as a member of Goblin), Tom Hajdu (of tomandandy: RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION, SINISTER 2), Alan Howarth (HALLOWEEN 2-6), Harry Manfredini (FRIDAY THE 13TH series, HOUSE series), Claudio Simonetti (DEMONS, DRACULA 3D), and Christopher Young (HELLRAISER, DRAG ME TO HELL). Fichera’s interviews are hefty and comprehensive, and represent a good of major horror scorers from the 1980s to the present day.  As a whole the book presents a thorough examination of the composers’ perspective toward scoring horror cinema.

A book presented as Ennio Morricone’s autobiography and called “Inseguimento quell suono – La mia musica, la mia vita” was released on the 26th of April 2016 by Mondadori. Written by Alessandro De Rosa, a former student of Morricone’s in Rome from 2013-2015, this Italian-language book is an autobiography only in the manner that it is based on a series of long-form interviews its author had with Morricone, and which are quoted substantially to form the narrative of the book.  An English language biography that came our earlier this year called Life Notes, written by Morricone’s son Giovanni, is a more personal and familial look at the maestro, but De Rosa’s looks to be entirely authoritative and wide-ranging. One hopes Morricone’s significance as a composer might generate an English translation in the near future.
- details via Maestro, the online Ennio Morricone magazine #11
Watch a short Youtube video about the book.




Games Music News

Bear McCreary has scored Sony’s new God of War video game. As one might surmise, the game takes inspiration from Norse mythology, including a dramatic encounter with a dragon. Read Bear’s blog about scoring the video game, which includes the video of him conducting his God of War Theme live with orchestra at Sony’s Press Conference from last June, here
Watch an excellent 10-minute gameplay trailer, with score, here.

Sumthing Else Music Works has released the soundtrack to the game TRON Run/r, featuring the original score by Giorgio Moroder and co-composer Raney Shockne, coupled with a sonically arresting roster of contemporary artist remixes of the score, created for the game in homage to the godfather of Electronic Music.  "TRON scans several decades of really innovative music, whether it's Wendy Carlos in the first film or Daft Punk. So we wanted an artist who could really span those generations in a legitimate way," said executive producer Christopher Nicholls. "If you go back to the sound of original electro disco in the '70s, Giorgio is right at the heart of it. He's been pushing electronic music his whole career. We wanted to nod to the first film as well as the later incarnations of the series."

The upcoming release of WARHAMMER 40,000: DAWN OF WAR III© will feature music by composer Paul Leonard-Morgan (BATTLEFIELD HARDLINE, LIMITLESS). Leonard-Morgan also composed the music for the announcement trailer which was viewed one million times within the first day of release and has now been seen over 2.75 million times.

The original game soundtrack for HALCYON 6: Starbase Commander™ has been released by CD Baby. The soundtrack features the game’s original score by Steve London (BORN TO BE BLUE, SHALLOW GROUND, THAT BEAUTIFUL SOMEWHERE).


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. A wholly re-written and expanded multi-book Second Edition of Musique Fantastique is being published:) the first book is now available from Creature Features and Book 2 coming up next Spring/Summer from Midnight Marquee Press. See: www.musiquefantastique.com

Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe for copy editing assistance.

© 2016 - the Soundtrax column is copyright by Randall D. Larson; all rights reserved.

Randall can be contacted via soundtraxrdl@gmail.com

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