Plus Film & TV Music, Documentary, Vinyl Soundtracks & Game Music News
Emmy-winning and highly versatile composer Nathan Barr is known for incorporating eclectic instruments from musical cultures across the world. He has scored a diverse roster of some of television’s biggest shows, including all six seasons of FX’s THE AMERICANS (which earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music), all seven seasons of HBO’s Emmy-winning and fan-favorite series, TRUE BLOOD and Netflix’s HEMLOCK GROVE, for which Nathan earned his second Emmy nomination for the main title theme. Alongside his extensive career in television, Nathan has a long record of scoring successful films. A frequent collaborator with gore-horror master Eli Roth, Nathan scored his early cult-classics CABIN FEVER and HOSTEL as well as more recent projects such as THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS and the forthcoming BORDERLANDS; some of Nathan’s other feature scores include Jason Blum’s hit thriller THE BOY NEXT DOOR and Columbia Pictures’ sci-fi remake FLATLINERS. In addition to writing his scores, Nathan performs many of the instruments heard in his compositions, and is skilled in many styles ranging from orchestral to rock. He is known for his collection and inclusion of rare and unusual instruments from around the world, the gem of which is a 3 manual, 19 rank Wurlitzer Theater Organ with 1,366 pipes. The organ lived on the scoring stage at 20th Century Fox from 1928-1998 and was heard in dozens of scores by legendary composers such as Bernard Herrmann, Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams. It is now the centerpiece of Nathan’s Bandrika Studios, an 8,000 sq. foot scoring stage and recording facility conceived by Nathan as a permanent home for this history-rich instrument. Among his recent work is director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan’s action thriller KATE, set in Japan and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as an assassin whose mentor and handler (Woody Harrelson) assigns her to kill a high-ranking yakuza boss. During that final mission, she finds out that she has been poisoned and only has 24 hours to live, so she uses her last hours to hunt down and enact revenge on her killers — with unexpected assistance in the form of Ani (Miku Martineau), the teen daughter of one of Kate’s recent targets. While built from elements from a number of other action films, KATE work well on its own as a very satisfying revenge/action movie nicely sustained by Winstead with good support from Harrelson as well as award-winning actor Jun Kunimura as the lead Japanese yakuza leader. Barr’s score articulately energizes the film’s action, emotions, and characters quite nicely. We discuss his music for KATE in detail in the following interview. -rdl
Q: How did you become involved in KATE – and what were your initial interactions with director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan about the kind of music the film needed?
Nathan Barr: Netflix put me up for it, and I met with Cedric and we hit it off as far as the studio and my approach to music. He liked the idea that maybe I was going to deliver something a little bit not quite so predictable as might have been expected in the film, with all my unusual instruments. He just liked the possibility of experimentation, musically. Like it is with many directors, it was a bit of a learning curve as you’re figuring out what the particular musical tastes are of the director. Cedric is very wary of music that is too, as he calls it, illustrative – for him that describes a situation where every twist and turn of the story and dialog is met with a change in the music, and he doesn’t like that. He likes to find a mood for a scene, set it, and carry that throughout the scene.
Q: How did you decide on the kind of musical palette you wanted and the kind of arc the score needed to support the story?
Nathan Barr: There’s a very retro-1980s look to the film, it’s really slick looking and in its own way almost a callback to BLADE RUNNER and some other classic films as far as the cinematography goes – all the neon lights and the cityscapes. We both felt that the score needed to be rooted in synths, as opposed to orchestra. It can have some orchestral elements. It also needed to be thematic, so we have a theme for Kate, a theme for Ani, a theme for the Yakuza, a theme for Varreck, Woody Harrelson’s character. So it was very thematic, very synth-based, very vibe-ey.
Q: Would you describe your character themes and how you treated treat them musically or thematically?
Nathan Barr: Kate’s theme is an emotional theme. There’s a sadness to it because she feels like her life has been robbed when Varrick started training her as a kid to be an assassin, so it was ultimately an emotional theme. There’s almost a nod to the Western drama, to Sergio Leone, in that tune, which is interesting. Varrick was, if you listen to the melody there, it’s slightly off-kilter, as he is. He was a very manipulative guy and so the score tries to be that. The Yakuza has more of a generic, dark simple theme, a three- or four-note motif, and for Ani and Kate, their relationship, that’s where I used more guitars and bowed guitars and that was a nice way to plug into the two of them.
Q: Did Kajima, the head Yakuza boss, have a theme of his own, when he came into the story near the end?
Nathan Barr: Not so much. Kajima was more tied into the large Yakuza theme. Sometimes, as you know, when you score a film, as you go through it you figure out what you need, what you don’t need and it felt like one too many themes to give yet another theme to Kajima.
Q: Something we’re seeing more of in films these days are female-centric action movies - which KATE is both influenced by and serves to further enhance with its own filmic style. How did this affect your scoring technique?
Nathan Barr: I don’t know if it did, necessarily. One of my favorite female hero characters is Sigourney Weaver’s character in ALIENS, in particular. I just love her in that role. I think it’s just really about approaching it the way one would, honestly, with a male action character in a lot of ways. In the film she’s just kicking ass throughout the whole film and so it was about giving the energy she displays on screen even more intensity, and then also allowing there to be an emotional journey because that’s central to the whole story. While she’s on this revenge streak, she’s actually getting closer to her own death, as she knows.
Q: How did you treat that aspect of the film, that she’s on a time limit, knowing death is coming, and she’s got a certain amount of time to affect her revenge before that happens?
Nathan Barr: There is some ticking percussion to some extent, although Cedric was very wary of not wanting to be too on the nose with a musical representation of a clock ticking. There are really some tremendous action sequences and some of those are scored with songs and some I wrote score for, and so just being as cool and intense as it was shot was a big part of the order as far as what the score needed to do.
Q: How did the film’s setting in Japan influence your musical approach, or did it?
Nathan Barr: That was another thing we wanted to, more or less, stay away from – being too regional with the instrumentation. I’d say it was really more about the nod to the ‘80s with the synth sounds. Some of the very early explorations I did leaned into instruments like shamisen and koto and these kind of things, and most of that stuff was pretty quickly ruled out as a possibility by Cedric, who wanted to make it more about the synth.
Q: With that in mind, what kind of synths and/or samples and/or gear were integral in creating the kind of sounds that were unique to this score?
Nathan Barr: I had this big Wurlitzer theater pipe organ, so we used that quite bit in the score, more as a synth – you wouldn’t hear it and go “oh, that’s a pipe organ.” That’s a part of Kate’s emotional theme, a lot of the really low, rumbly stuff oftentimes is the bass pipes of the organ. Then I invented an instrument I called a stout-o-phone, that’s a winded organ that I can put random pipes onto and then manipulate them, so that’s heard quite a bit throughout the score as well. I always like to lean into that kind of stuff more than traditional patches that other composers may have access to, because it’s just a further way to make this film a bit more unique.
Q: There are a number of increasingly ferocious fight sequences throughout the film – how did you treat these musically and keep each of them a different flavor?
Nathan Barr: Yeah, those are super-intense fight sequences. The one in the Black Lizard [night club], where she’s going through these traditional tatami mats and punching through the screens with a knife and a sword, that was very taiko-drum based, and that was one of the times we leaned into the regional influence of Japanese music. But that whole sequence is set up with on-camera performances doing kabuki, so it was a natural way to go. I think once we got into the grit of the city and the neon lights in the Murakawa market, then we let it be more about synths and beats, and gave it that flavor. The place of each fight sequence very much dictated the sound of each fight.
Q: How about the climactic final sequence?
Nathan Barr: The final sequence where they storm the skyscraper and go up to confront Varreck also leaned more into the Murakawa market style, a lot of electronic and synth beats, and a lot of gunfire there. That was a whole tricky sequence to navigate because, as composers know, it can be a battle between sound effects and music, as far as who takes front and center in various places, and the gunfire was super important to Cedric to help with the story at the end, so that was a tricky balance to write with a palette that allowed the music to speak out over the hail of gunfire.
Q: How did you navigate the gunfight and find a place for the music to enhance that sequence?
Nathan Barr: We’re often dealing with sound effects that aren’t yet locked, so when we start out and we see there are going to be a lot of guns, we probably know what’s coming, or we’ve talked to the sound designer and know what’s coming. So if there’s going to be a lot of gunfire then maybe it’s not too much about short, percussive elements in the music – that’s going to get lost in the gunfire. It’s more about finding longer sustained things with a definitive pitch which then can float over the top of all the gunfire underneath it, where the music can be heard and you’re going to be able to add to the story the way you need to.
Q: There are a lot of songs in the film (and I must say I was pleased to see one of my favorite Asian bands, Band Maid, playing in one of the club scenes)…
Nathan Barr: Yeah, I saw that a lot of people were excited about that.
Q: In the film, songs are used both as source music and as non-diegetic music in the film scenes – how did you work around the needle-drops with your score?
Nathan Barr: Simple answer – I didn’t! They were what they were, I did what I did, there was never really any need. There was one transition at the end where she walks into the building where the scene starts with a song and then transitions into score, but it was just a matter of finding a compatible key and then gracefully getting out of the song into the score, and I think we did that well.
Q: What was most challenging to you about scoring KATE, and what was most rewarding?
Nathan Barr: The most challenging thing was just, like with any film, it’s just learning what a director’s tastes are and what they want, and so Cedric has a very particular approach about not wanting to be illustrative with the score. I constantly wanted to do what I’m normally asked to do, which is to carefully follow the action with key changes, rhythm changes, tempo changes, themes and all that, so that was the trickiest part, was pulling back my instincts from that and remembering it wasn’t the style of score he was looking for. And the most rewarding thing was working with Cedric, because he’s a really wonderful director, he’s super collaborative, and super talented. It’s nice to have another director I work with who I have a lot of respect for.
Nathan Barr: We worked together first on CABIN FEVER, then I did HOSTEL and HOSTEL II, then he went and had a Chilean phase of his career where he used someone else, and then we did A HOUSE WITH THE CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, and now we’re about to start BORDERLANDS together. It’s just been a happy collaboration. We both love horror films; we approach the whole process as fans of that genre, and so it’s always fun to work with him. We definitely have a shorthand at this point as far as what he’s looking for. It’s often times impossible to go too big – he always wants the music to be as big as what you’re seeing on the screen, which is cool. With HOSTEL I remember him just saying, with the sound effects and the music he wanted people to still sort of suffer! Even if they closed their eyes, he wanted them to have that experience and for the sound and music to be as horrifying as the images. HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS was a wonderful opportunity, sort of a callback to GOONIES and some other favorite films, so that was the approach to the score – to just to lean into the fact that this was tipping its hat to those films. It’s a really different score from HOSTEL. It’s very thematic but really was an opportunity to try and imitate, and yet make my own, some of my favorite film scores from Dave Grusin, Alan Silvestri, and people like that who were scoring those films back in the ‘80s. BORDERLANDS, which is coming up, is going to be totally different from anything I’ve done or from anything he’s done. So I just follow his lead in terms of the way he’s telling the story. This upcoming film also has Cate Blanchett and Jack Black and Kevin Hart, so it’s going to really be an exciting diversion for both of us from what we’ve done in the past.
Q: I understand you’ve recently completed THE DEVIL’S LIGHT although it won’t be appearing until next February. Is there anything you can tell me about scoring that, at this point?
Nathan Barr: Yeah, it’s from a director I’ve worked with before, Daniel Stamm, he did a really wonderful little film called THE LAST EXORCISM, and I was really impressed and blown away with that film. It was made for nothing, and I thought it was particularly creepy and wonderful. So Daniel and I looked for another opportunity to work together. Our schedules hadn’t quite worked out but then he had this story and this movie. I read the script and thought it was interesting and so Daniel and I hooked up. It was a tricky one because of the pandemic. The score is largely based around a lullaby, that was a thing I wrote very early before they even started shooting, and so there’s a very, hopefully memorable melody that had a central role not only in the score but also some on camera stuff and sort of floats throughout the film. So it was a fun challenge to take on.
Special thanks to Nathan Barr for taking time out to discuss his score for KATE with, and to his assistant Shaun Chen for facilitating our chat.
Recipient of the Jerry Goldsmith Award and the International Film Music Critics Award, George Kallis’s scores span the globe. He’s taken over scoring duties for the wildly popular film franchise to “AFTER,” starting with AFTER WE FELL, opening last September to theaters. Previously he composed the score for the box office hit THE LAST WARRIOR: THE ROOT OF EVIL for Walt Disney Pictures CIS, with the soundtrack being released worldwide by Walt Disney Records. His score for the biopic sports drama LEV YASHIN: THE DREAM GOALKEEPER, about the Russian superstar goalkeeper, earned George rave reviews, as well as his music for the black comedy AMERICAN SAUSAGE STANDOFF (aka GUTTERBEE), directed by Ulrich Thomsen. Disney’s first installment for the live-action fantasy THE LAST WARRIOR earned George a Jerry Goldsmith Award for Best Music for a Feature Film. His other fantasy scoring work includes ALBION THE ENCHANTED STALLION, which earned him the Breakthrough Composer of the Year award from the International Film Music Critics Association. George has written TV music for Emmy and Bafta award-winning programs, and his commercial work includes music for a number of popular brands. Other accolades include Best Music and Sound Design at the Los Angeles Film Awards for the historical drama THE BLACK PRINCE and Best Score Award at the Underground Cinema Festival for BLIGHT. He has been nominated twice for an African Academy Movie Award for his scores 93 DAYS, starring Danny Glover, and A PLACE IN THE STARS. George Kallis was born on the island of Cyprus where musically West meets East. As a songwriter he represented Cyprus in the Eurovision Song Contest. He has studied film composition at Berklee College of Music with a masters degree in composition from The Royal College of Music. Our interview examines a number of pivotal scores in the composer’s fourteen years of film scoring, discussed chronologically in forward order. - rdl
HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE (Fantasy Adventure TV Movie, 2007) Amid the chaos of a crumbling city, Highlander Duncan MacLeod remembers happier times. He leads the remaining Immortals, including his mysterious friend Methos, and a mortal, Watcher Joe Dawson, on a quest to locate the Holy Grail of their world, the source of their everlasting life.
George Kallis: That was one of the big surprises in my career; that was my second film ever. I was finishing a score called JOY DIVISION, which was a World War II film and I was working with music supervisor Graham Walker. We were mixing the score where the producer and director of HIGHLANDER were also posting on their film. They heard our music for JOY DIVISION in the mixing stage, and they inquired who the composer was. Graham Walker got involved and recommended me to be the composer for HIGHLANDER. I did have to go through a pitching process, I had to write the music for a couple of scenes for director Brett Leonard, and also I had to fly out to France and meet Bill Panzer who was the creator of HIGHLANDER. We had an interview there and discussed my ideas about the score; we were trying to go back to the roots and have a score which was very thematic and close to the sound that Michael Kamen created for the first film. He liked that approach and I secured that as a commission.
Q: How did that film, that score, enable you to get more and bigger films?
George Kallis: I wouldn’t say that, per se, even though it was a great opportunity for me. The film had a mixed reception, so in a sense it wasn’t publicized as I was hoping or expecting, even though the score received very warm reviews. I think your career depends on the success of the actual production. But I’m still very happy with the score, I loved the opportunity to work with the producers and the director.
GAGARIN, FIRST IN SPACE (Adventure Biopic, 2013) On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Gagarin blasted off in a Vostok rocket and he orbited Earth for 106 minutes. He was the cosmonaut who was selected from over three thousand fighter pilots throughout the Soviet Union.
George Kallis: That was actually a very funny way of getting a film: I got it out of a failure of getting another film! I had the opportunity to pitch for another film and I had an interview with the director, Anthony Waller, and it went really well and I scored some scenes for him. But he called me a couple of weeks later saying, “You know what? They want to go in a different direction. I’m sorry, I enjoyed your music, and hopefully we’ll work together in the future.” At the time, I was distraught, since it would have been a big opportunity for me. Then a few years go by and Anthony Waller calls me and says, “I’m co-producing a Russian film. I’m part of the production team, and I’d like you to pitch for it. You’ll have to write some music again so they can hear what you are doing; some other composers are doing it too, but I think it’s a great opportunity for you. I really enjoyed your music back then.” So I composed two scenes and the producers came back to me saying they loved what I did, and they offered me the job. So in a way, both these films, and other films that I’ve been doing most of my career, came from presenting my music for the production.
Q: What was it like working for a Russian production for the first time?
George Kallis: It was very interesting and it was the first non-English film I had done. So my worry was to make sure that I really understood the script and the dialogue. The way it worked was that on the demo stage I scored two of the main scenes, one was when Gagarin was rushing back to Earth, which was a bit of an action sequence, and the other was a flashback to his earlier childhood. The film has a lot of these flashbacks. So one was more dramatic and emotive, and one was more action-based. So they wanted to see how the themes interacted in those situations, and as soon as they approved that part then I started scoring the whole film. We temped the score very thematically, as Russian as possible but we wanted it to also have an international appeal, so I did get the direction of “we want the Russian sound, but make it a little bit Hollywood as well!” I did suggest to them to keep a classical kind of sensibility to it as well, because it’s a period piece – we’re going back 52 years – and that sound seems to have been appreciated by the producers and by the audiences.
BEREAVE (Romantic Drama, 2015). Fatally ill, Garvey thinks he has figured out how to die alone. But when his beloved wife Evelyn goes missing on their anniversary, he must live to save her.
George Kallis: This was my first film after arriving in Los Angeles. That score came from the Greek connection. My friends George and Evangelos Giovanis were finishing the film, they had a great cast – Jane Seymour, Malcolm McDowell, Keith Carradine. I had been in touch with them, letting them know I was arriving in Los Angeles and would love to have a meeting with them. They told me about the film, and we discussed what they wanted, and they asked me how I would approach scoring the film. They wanted a very haunting overall sound, and I explained that I was going to approach it by working with a piano and also creating some sound design to be able to get the chilling atmosphere they were looking for. They liked the approach and it worked out really well.
93 DAYS (Drama, 2016) What happens when the deadliest infectious disease known to man arrives in a megacity with over 21 million people?
George Kallis: 93 DAYS brought me to another side of the world, in Nigeria. In 2012 I did a film called A PLACE IN THE STARS with director Steve Gukas. We’ve done three movies, now, together, and this was the second. He’s one of the main directors in Nigeria, a fantastic visionary. It was based on a real event that happened in Nigeria in 2014, where a man unintentionally carried the Ebola virus from Liberia into Nigeria, and as soon as he was taken to hospital he was, thankfully, recognized from the very beginning by some amazing doctors in Nigeria. Eventually he passed away, after infecting other people in the hospital as well, but because they immediately recognized that it was Ebola, they managed to stop it in 93 days. It could have become a very huge pandemic because in Lagos everybody’s stuck together, with many millions of people living very close to each other. We had a wonderful orchestra, we recorded in Macedonia with the FAMES Orchestra, and they have an amazing sound. I also recorded a Nigeria/American singer named Onyi Love, who was based here. We had a wonderful collaboration and she recorded a lot of vocal improvisations which we did in pre-records and then as I was composing I was embedding her voice into the score. That ended up being the voice of Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh, the protagonist.
ALBION: THE ENCHANTED STALLION (Adventure Fantasy, 2016) A twelve-year-old girl is transported by a magical black stallion to the mystical world of ALBION, where she discovers that she alone is the key to saving an entire race of people.
George Kallis: That came through a recommendation by another producer, and she recommended me to this film’s producer, Dori Rath, who was actually the mother of the director, Castille Landon, and they were both also acting in the film. They sent me the script and I loved it. They had an amazing cast as well, Jennifer Morrison, Debra Messing, Stephen Dorff, and John Cleese. What they asked for, at the very beginning, was to write a song. There’s a scene where the protagonist, who’s a little girl, sings a lullaby along with some grown-ups, so we had to bring all these different voices together, and also write lyrics to the song. That’s the first thing I did, and through that the main theme was built. It was a great experience, working with Castille as well. We had a great time writing the songs, and she wrote some of the lyrics too. Then I went in and scored the film. For me it was a magical experience because it was the first time I was doing fantasy, a genre that I’ve always loved and wanted to do, creating these different musical colors and different musical dimensions. We recorded with a wonderful orchestra in Budapest, along with a choir.
Listen to a behind-the-scenes video of “A Wonderful Place In Nature” from the ALBION soundtrack:
THE LAST WARRIOR (Fantasy Adventure, 2017) Ivan is an ordinary guy who is transferred from modern Moscow into the parallel universe of Belogorye, where characters of Russian fairy tales live, magic is an integral part of daily life, and arguments are settled with the help of sword.
George Kallis: After GAGARIN I scored another Russian language film, a romantic comedy called ALL THAT JAM, and through that, the supervising sound editor Filipp Lamshin who enjoyed the music recommended me to Disney Russia who were starting on a family fantasy film called THE LAST WARRIOR. Yet again, I had to go through a pitching process amongst ten composers that they were considering. They sent me two scenes, the opening titles, which was a big action sequence, where they requested I write a main theme, and also a more sensitive moment that would incapsulate a love theme between the two protagonists. The success of the pitch presented the whole THE LAST WARRIOR trilogy for Disney Russia, which I am very grateful for. The overall musical language is based around the orchestra and is very thematic. Almost every character, from the three headed dragon Zmei Gorynych to immortal Koschei, has their own motive, and this helps in both their character development while also providing some comic relief when needed for our younger audiences.
Q: What orchestras did you use for these Russian scores?
George Kallis: I’ve worked with a number of different orchestras. For GAGARIN we used the State Symphony Cinema Orchestra, conducted by Sergei Skripka. For THE LAST WARRIOR, interestingly enough, we used a chamber orchestra called Musica Viva, which we expanded into a larger ensemble conducted by my friends Vladislav Lavrik and Leonid Kazakov. Due to Covid, the Russian tradition broke for THE LAST WARRIOR II (ROOT OF EVIL) and we hired the FAMES orchestra in North Macedonia, conducted by Oleg Kondratenko. The budget on THE LAST WARRIOR was a bit on the lower side, so we had to do some tricks to be able to make it sound larger. I mixed a lot of samples I had together with the orchestral sound and we complemented all that with a choir as well, which we double tracked in a few places so it also sounds larger. We had to make some adjustments but I think it worked out really well. We wanted to establish a kind of fantasy sound going for that film.
THE BLACK PRINCE (Historical Drama, 2017) The story of Queen Victoria and the Last King of Punjab, Maharajah Duleep Singh. His character is torn between two cultures and faces constant dilemmas as a result. The Black Prince begins a lifelong struggle to regain his Kingdom, which takes him on an extraordinary journey across the world.
George Kallis: THE BLACK PRINCE was the story of the last Maharaja of India. I’d been in touch with Kavi Raz, the director, for a long time before, and I’d always admired his work. We wanted to work on something together, and then when he was about to shoot THE BLACK PRINCE he reached out and said to me, “The producer would like to hear some of your music. Would you write some music for some scenes?!” I think that’s the way it is nowadays, everybody’s demoing and pitching! They want to hear the music before they hire you, basically. I’d never composed music that was a mixture of orchestral music and Indian instruments, so for me it was a beautiful opportunity to explore that sound. We used a Sarangi, we used a lot of north Indian instruments that I think created a very interesting color and a little bit of authenticity as well.
Q: Did you need to study any of the time period of that story to focus on music of the era?
George Kallis: A little bit. For the non-orchestral instrumentation I mostly worked with musicians who were experts on the local North-Indian music. I literally had to start scoring right away, because when Kavi came back from the edit suite I got presented with a three hour film. On top of that the spotting was really heavy on the music side, nearly wall-to-wall. I was given around 2 months to deliver it so I had to make some drastic decisions on how to get everything done in time. So the first thing I did was to compose the themes for Kavi to approve, and then I went ahead and pre-recorded some multitalented musicians such as Hans Christian who studied the Sarangi for years. We recorded the themes with those in various keys and in alternative versions, minimally, elongated, improvised, in an emotive way etc. Out of those I created a Kontakt sample library which allowed me to easily embedded those our recordings over the orchestral parts while I was scoring. I was also fortunate to have the protagonist Sartaaj, a famous Sikh folk singer, visit Los Angeles, and he was kind enough to record a lot of adlib phrases which were a wonderful reflection of the protagonist’s psyche as the voice timbre was coming directly from the character.
LEV YASHIN: THE DREAM GOALKEEPER (Sports Biopic, 2019) A Russian biographical sports drama film unfolding in the historical period of the 50s and 60s of the USSR, telling the audience about the legend of the Soviet Union national football team.
George Kallis: LEV YASHIN was from the producers of GAGARIN. And GAGARIN was a wonderful collaboration with them, they were very pleased with what I did, and they wanted to extend that to the other star, the football star Lev Yashin. It was more or less the same kind of idea, making it from a Russian period drama, but with a more contemporary attitude and accentuating the drama of the sport.
Q: Throughout this process you’ve had a relationship with the Russian soundtrack CD label, KeepMoving Records, which has allowed some of your scores to come out on CD. How did you get involved with them?
George Kallis: The recommendation came from the mixing engineer, Gennady Papin, who seemed quite taken by the music and said, “One of my good friends Dmitry Shlykov has this label. He’s very particular in what he releases but he would love to have the opportunity to listen to the music and make that decision. I think LEV YASHIN was the first one that we did, and then he got interested in releasing an extended version of GAGARIN, which we did last year. He had already discussed this with the producers without me knowing about it and surprised me by sending the final masters for approval!
CLIFFS OF FREEDOM (Historical Romantic Drama, 2019) Inspired by historical events, CLIFFS OF FREEDOM is a timeless romantic story of bravery and faith between a Greek village girl and a Turkish Ottoman Colonel during the dawn of the Greek War for Independence.
George Kallis: CLIFFS OF FREEDOM came from a recommendation by a good friend of mine Gene George, who’s served as an executive for both STARZ and Lionsgate for many years. He sits on the board of the L.A. Greek Film Festival and on the board was also the producer of the film, Marianne Metropoulos, who was also the creator of this story. I think the Hellenic connection worked here, as director Van Ling and the producers wanted a seamless use of traditional Greek instruments within the orchestral arrangements. I composed a demo for a short but intricate part of the story and that seemed to give us the tonal path for the rest of the score.
Listen to highlights from the CLIFFS OF FREEDOM Score:
Q: All the films we’ve discussed so far have been very heavily thematic and you’ve given them a powerful motivic structure which is quite compelling. What can you tell me about your process of orchestral scoring and creating themes that would work with the setting, the period, and the action of the stories in these films?
George Kallis: Thank you. I think melody arrives subliminally for me. I grew up in a household where we watched a lot of epic films from the Golden Age of Hollywood, I used to watch films such as EL CID and SPARTACUS. They had these very big scores by amazing composers like Miklós Rózsa and Alex North who were masters of thematic music. I remember always enjoying music in the background; I think that sound was something magical for me. It made characters and feelings come alive. So once I started scoring, focusing on melody became part of my process. This allowed for memorability and treating the score as another character in the film, so to speak. Not all films require lush thematic tunes of course, particularly nowadays where everyone is looking for something ‘new,’ but some directors love the use of melody and I am fortunate to have worked with quite a lot of them.
AMERICAN SAUSAGE STANDOFF (Comedy-Drama, 2019) Two hopeless dreamers join forces in a quest to erect the ultimate German sausage restaurant, much to the irritation of the residents of the small-town of Gutterbee, who want to keep their town wholly American.
George Kallis: This was a project from my Danish connection. I had done a film back in 2010 called THE CHRISTMAS PARTY which was a Danish film. The producer, Ronnie Fridthjof, was very good friends with Ulrich Thomsen, who’s one of the most recognizable actors in GOLDENEYE – he was the villain. Now he was directing a film called GUTTERBEE, which was the alternate title of AMERICAN SAUSAGE STANDOFF. He was looking for a very particular sound, and wanted music that had some Western orchestral influences. It was all a mixture of a lot of things, because it was a satire/comedy, so you had to be a little flexible in scoring what the scenes were requiring. We also had a little bit of orchestra, a little bit of choir, as well as slide guitars. We had Joy Adams, who is a fantastic cellist – she’s played on the current Emmy-winning score THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT – and she played some fantastic bluegrass cello! And I had my friend George Solonos play slide guitars, baritone guitars, and slide bass. It was, again, a great opportunity for me to explore a different side that I’d never done before, a kind of funky, bluegrass, orchestral music. It was fun to work with. There were a lot of songs, as well, that came from different sides of the world in the film, so together between the score and the songs the overall sound of the film is very rich and very colorful.
RATTLESNAKE: THE AHANNA STORY (Drama, 2020) Ahanna, a young gentleman who decides to rob the life he always wanted and dreamt of. He assembles a group of men called "The Armadas" with several different skills, carrying out a series of spectacular heists. But things take a swift U-turn and the gang suddenly find themselves with bitter enemies on both sides.
George Kallis: RATTLESNAKE was another film from Nigeria, which came from Steve Gukas’s connection with director Ramsey Nouah. I had previously worked with Ramsey and Steve on another film called LIVING IN BONDAGE, where the score is now nominated for an African Academy Film Award. RATTLESNAKE was a remake of the highly successful Nigerian film from the 90s, and it tells a story of Ahanna, who is lured by money and riches, and goes on to become famous for his notorious bank robberies. In the end has to make a choice of keeping his family safe or continue building his wealth even though he has made some serious enemies. The score is mostly contemporary and there is also a use of African percussion within the orchestral action sound. We did not have a budget for a live orchestra, and frankly I was given twelve days to deliver! So naturally this was a sampled score, and the only reason why I managed to get everything done was because I composed a lot of preparatory music by reading the script, thematic ideas, action sketches etc. So once I received the film, I started editing and adjusting these ideas to the picture. It would have been awesome to have a bit more time but I think everything glued together quite nicely in the end!
AFTER WE FELL (Romantic Drama, 2021) The third installment of the "After" franchise finds Tessa starting an exciting new chapter of her life. But as she prepares to move to Seattle for her dream job, Hardin’s jealousy and unpredictable behavior reach a fever pitch and threaten to end their intense relationship.
George Kallis: AFTER WE FELL came because of my previous collaborations with Castille Landon, the director. I did two films with her, ALBION: THE ENCHANTED STALLION (2016) and APPLE OF MY EYE (2017). I got a call from Castille a few months before she shot the film, saying, “Hey, I’m working on this film and I’d love you to be part of it, but I’ll have to pitch you to the producers – can you send me some music?” She described what she wanted – she actually didn’t tell me what the franchise was, that the film was part of this huge bestselling book series – she only described what she was looking for in the music. When I got off the phone, I realized I didn’t have anything on hand to send her, which horrified me, and I thought, maybe it’s best to spend the rest of the day composing some original music, specifically for what she described. So I wrote two pieces of music which I sent to Castille. A few months went by, she shot the film, and then she called me saying “Everybody loves your music and we’d love to hire you to score the film.” And interestingly enough, those demos that I did remain 90% as they were, and they are in both movies – because I’ve just finished scoring the next “After” film as well, AFTER EVER HAPPY. I just completed the last scene, and the second cue that I did that day worked perfectly for that last scene of the franchise! It was one of those situations where I had a very productive day that day, scoring those demos!
[The AFTER WE FELL soundtrack is now available on digital from Supercoolsounds. See links for Amazon, Spotify and Apple Music/iTunes.] Listen to this sample behind-the-scenes video featuring Kallis’ main theme:
THE LAST WARRIOR 3: (Fantasy Adventure, 2021) The Firebird is forced to leave Belogorie because of the cruel Koschei and go to modern Moscow in the form of a man.
George Kallis: I am in the middle of scoring the fifth reel at the moment, and I’m really having a ball. In our first two films, our story was based in Belogorie, an ancient land where knights, wizards, and dragons exist. The difference here is that our characters are transported by a portal into modern day Moscow, so it’s a lot of fun for me because I’m incorporating contemporary elements in the arrangements. We have a lot of electric guitars, sampled drums, and synths that integrate together with the fantasy elements of the orchestra. My aim is to create a very rich soundscape which is adapted into the modern world environment. We have some fun new characters like the famous mythological Firebird played by the Russian popstar Philipp Kirkorov. His theme is quirky but formidable when the Firebird gets angry!
Thanks to George Kallis for taking the time to answer my questions about these film scores. I will be looking forward to what he has to offer next! And thanks to Adrianna Perez and Kyrie Hood of White Bear PR for facilitating our interview.
CINDERELLA/Mychael Danna & Jessica Rose Weiss/Sony Classical - digital
Columbia Picture’s modern musical interpretation of CINDERELLA is a bold take on the classic folk tale, the origins of which began far before the Brothers Grimm set the story down to parchment. The 2021 film, directed by Kay Cannon and largely presented on Amazon Prime Video in most countries, features plenty of song and dance as our ambitious heroine has big dreams and, with the help of her fab Godmother, perseveres to make them come true – but our interest is of course in its masterful orchestral score, which is jointly presented by Academy Award-winning composer Mychael Danna and songwriter, producer, and composer-on-the-rise Jessica Rose Weiss. The film has been described as a “jukebox musical,” and given Weiss’ songwriting and producing background, Danna felt this was the ideal project for them to collaborate on (she has worked with her co-composer and longtime mentor Mychael on many projects, contributing additional music to his scores like THE ADDAMS FAMILY and A DOG’S WAY HOME). Their mutual goal was to create warm and lush fantasy music to juxtapose the sound of the bright pop songs heard in the film (a song album has been released separately), and it works quite nicely in that regard, offering an enjoyable melodic interlude with a few elements of lively vigor. The album offers a short 25 minutes of score but it’s a delicious treatment of romantic adventure music that makes for a fine listen, even if most of the cues track less than a minute (exceptions being the dramatically energetic “Palace Escape,” the awakening poignancy of “Could It Be Love,” and the delicately somber but vibrantly-decisive-at-its-crest “Viviane’s Lament” (at 2:30, 1:46, and 2:43 respectively), the latter of which leads into the short but engagingly muscular tracks “Escape Plan” and “Search for Ella,” concluding with a declaratively regal conclusion in “A Lady’s Right to Rule.” Despite its brevity this is a welcome release and a worthwhile and enjoyable listen. Stream/Purchase the soundtrack here.
Listen to an extended score suite of CINDERELLA:
DANTE’S PEAK Expanded/John Frizzell (theme James Newton Howard)/
Varèse Sarabande – CD
This 1997 Universal disaster movie starred Pierce Brosman and Linda Hamilton; he plays a vulcanologist who arrives at a countryside town recently named the second most desirable place to live in America, and discovers that the long dormant volcano, Dante’s Peak, may wake up at any moment; she plays the town’s divorced mayor and eventual love interest. Director Ronald Donaldson initially brought in James Newton Howard to score the picture; he composed a pair of themes (volcano motif & love theme) but when the need to speed up production in order to beat 20th Century Fox’s VOLCANO to theatres, Howard had to bow out. He endorsed John Frizzell, who’d similarly filled in for Howard a year prior on THE RICH MAN’S WIFE, and Frizzell completed the score using both of Howard’s themes as his central motifs. As it turned out he needed some help of his own to satisfy the film’s scoring needs, and brought in John Van Tongeran, Steve Porcaro, and Jeff Atmajian to get it done in time. The result provided a completely satisfying disaster/survival thriller. Originally released by Varèse Sarabande on CD in 1997 with a 10-track soundtrack album, this double-CD, 42-track expanded release (including the 10-tracks of the original soundtrack album) really offers up the goods on the efforts of Frizzell’s efforts. The music very nicely enhances the drama, romantic subplot, and increasing threat of the mountains eruption with broad orchestral strokes and worrisome, edgy sonic tendrils. It was a difficult assignment for Frizzell (the film’s second hour is nearly nonstop action music), but the success of the film and recognition of its score led to further memorable work scoring ALIEN RESURRECTION, I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, OFFICE SPACE, and much more. “I think this was a really critical phase, and having this much pressure to write this much music, I couldn’t get in my own way,” Frizzell told writer Tim Grieving for his liner notes for this release. “I just simply had to write. I really found out who I was as a composer in this film.” Listening to the greatly expanded two-CD album is clear evidence of the efforts of the composers and musicians, and it makes a fine powerhouse listening to be enjoyed.
Listen to James Newton Howard’s main title theme from DANTE’S PEAK, from the original soundtrack release:
DUNE/Hans Zimmer/WaterTower Music – CD + digital
Hans Zimmer’s scores for both DUNE and NO TIME TO DIE (see further down in Overviews) have been eagerly-awaited and are unique efforts for the composer, whose music many film score fans either love or hate or just don’t understand. I’ve found both of these new scores, each for major theatrical releases, to be extremely effective and relatively unique endeavors for the composer and each fits their films quite effectively and make for enjoyable listening on their own. With DUNE, we have a relatively unique soundtrack in that it’s been released in both standard digital and CD configurations as well as a digital release in Dolby Atmos Music, a listening technology the composer has wholeheartedly embraced for the music of DUNE. Zimmer has taken a unique approach in creating the music of this film, deciding that, since DUNE was about a different civilization, he would invent instruments to accompany that concept, instead of utilizing solely standard instrumentation. The result is a distinctly environmental approach in capturing the essence of the planet Arrakis (aka Dune), its various denizens both human and other, and the time period (20,000 years in our future) in which the story unfolds. This mix of topographic, expansive, linguistic, and religious sonic elements to identify and shape the world the film explores enables the music to really embody the grain, the character, and the impression of this place. One of the producers used the term “unfamiliar” when describing the score, and she’s nailed it. The music in all of its shapes and treatments in DUNE largely forms an operatic interpretation of the story’s shifting design of place, time, and variety of living organisms in conflict. Eerie sonorities and choral voicings open the score (“Dream of Arrakis”) and establish the feeling for the unique landscape of the planet, while sinewy woodwinds, deep reverberant percussion, and voices embody the assemblage of reverence and engagement that grows larger and develops more substance as film and score jointly proceed on their storytelling journey. Zimmer utilizes voices – both primal and sonorous – along with a variety of ambiences, textures, and motifs to enhance the milieu and its associated narrative. Exotic sounds from unique sources maintain a sensation of the otherworldly, but not in a frightening or horrific sense, rather evoking fascination and discovery. Swaths of smooth string choirs, dappled by delicate woodblock sounds and breathy winds forming into whooshing howls enhance first tentative then anxious, moody feelings (“Night on Arrakis”). Harsh, fluid choral elements are brandished along with growing measures of full orchestra that open into clashing structures of sturdy harmonics and dissonance before fading into dissolving, echoing articulations (“Armada”), a semblance informing the following track “Burning Palms” with its massive percussion elements crossing thick layers of orchestral steps and stretching, yowling synthetic entanglements. It’s largely a very dark score once the introduction of cultures and species have been satisfied, and there’s an interesting heaviness that maintains a subtle apprehension in “Blood For Blood,” culminating in a ferocious, snarling female vocalise, while the lighter strings, deep horn surges, ascending screeching figures, and breathy voices of “The Fall” begin tentatively but grow into just as discomforting a sense of danger. Imposing whispers respirate across large blocks of orchestral steps in “Holy War,” with distant bells growing closer and stronger in their resonance. “Sanctuary” provides a semblance of respite, with a consonant bed of tonality, soft voicings, and pleasing strums of guitar across its sinewy soundscape, a mood soon displaced by the discordant voices, drumming, and imposing chords of “Premonition.” “Ornithopter” is an interestingly textured track, built around a continuous beat denoting rotor blades enhanced by furious hand drumming, groaning strands of light and heavy twisting siren-like torsion. “Sandstorm” is a provocative action cue, growing from large, echoing drumbeats and chorale measures evoking a sense of danger, after some small and intricate faltering textures that join and grow into an enormous, surging beast, diminishing quickly into fading echoes. “Stillsuits” captures a melodious smoothness that floats in contrast to the more aggressive music we’ve been hearing, ending with a ponderous reverberation of rising wonder and welcome comfort. The album’s last track, “My Road Leads into the Desert,” is conformed in a similar way, opening hesitantly and then growing through high, measured voicings into an assured melody and final, echoing tone of resolve and purpose; it also reminds us that DUNE is only the first of two films and that the journey of Paul Atreides, aka Muad’Dib, is only just beginning.
The DUNE soundtrack album features 22 tracks of music from the film, and makes for quite a fascinating listen on its own. The textural basis of the score is constantly interesting and evocative, I believe it’s a soundtrack album that will offer itself to multiple listening and sonic treasures.
The digital soundtrack album is available from these links with the CD edition coming in later this month from Amazon US and UK. A related album released earlier by WaterTower, The DUNE Sketchbook (Music from the Soundtrack), provides extended, immersive musical explorations of the film score, some of which found their way into the film score and much did not.
GLORY/James Horner/La-La Land - CD
James Horner’s deeply-felt score for this dramatic U.S. Civil War story, about the 54th Regiment, the army’s first all-black volunteer company, is given a newly remastered and expanded 2-CD release. The 12-track version initially released by Virgin Records in 1989 is retained, albeit remastered, here, but the jewel in the soundtrack’s crown is the 20-track presentation of the full score which, along with source music cues, fills out the first CD; with a collection of 6 alternate cues following the original release tracklist on the second CD. A deeply sensitive and emotional score, fitting director Edward Zwick’s nuanced presentation of the story, GLORY is one of Horner’s most esteemed compositions, and this expansive treatment allows the music to be felt even deeper. Horner’s main orchestral theme, enhanced by the Boys’ Choir of Harlem, is effectively matched against his “brotherhood theme” which speaks not only for the dedicated and mistreated soldiers of the 54th but, simultaneously, “speaks to the circumstances of all soldiers in lyrical, sympathetic terms,” as writer Jeff Bond puts it in his thoroughly descriptive liner notes. Elsewhere, Bond notes that “GLORY is unique in Horner’s work in that the two most important and memorable pieces of thematic material… play throughout the score with little variation. They are stated simply and often expressed in their full form, reinforcing their familiarity and drawing the audience in with their melodic power.” A third recurring motif is associated with the regiment itself, both its white officers and black troops as they become a dedicated and devoted fighting force. With superb orchestration and clarity of sound on this newly remastered edition, the music is grand yet intimate, intensely dramatic and yet incredibly poignant. The Boys’ Choir intones purposefully during the climactic battle scenes, intoning like resolute angels joining the 54th in their final, hopeless charge against Fort Baxter. The music, as with the film’s images and performances, lingers long – especially so in La-La Land’s considered treatment, well-produced and prepared by Neil S. Bulk and Mike Matessino. For details see LaLaLand.
Listen to James Horner’s Closing Credits for GLORY, from the original soundtrack release:
GENERATION KALACH: LA FACE CACHÉE DES CITÉS/Maximilien Mathevon/Plaza Mayor - digital
This French documentary looks at the new generations of gangsters and traffickers from the country’s suburbs, which tend to be very organized and more violent. The documentary was broadcast on French TV channel RMC STORY on September 29th. French composer Maximilien Mathevon, known for creating original soundtracks for documentaries and movies, has crafted a unique sonic treatment for the film, using twisted and distorted electronic tones, out of tune piano, and all manner of synthetic textures which gives the documentary a dark ambiance that fits its depiction of the subject matter. Mathevon provides occasional glimmers of hope within the music that keeps the score from being too gloomy. The album is presented as a “concept album,” with a theme and three long suites, the last of which, “Dronescape,” intended as immersive, unfolds and elaborates these textures for 20 minutes. Apart from its effectiveness towards its documentary design, the music makes for an intriguing listen almost in the manner of Mathevon’s pure electronic music, and it remains a captivating sonic semblance. Speaking of electronic music, Mathevon has also announced his latest original electro album, which will be released digitally and streaming on Oct 22nd. It’s called Mountains. “One year ago, I began working on this new electro album,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “At the time, it was the second lockdown due to the COVID crisis here in France. All we dreamed of was vast spaces, nature, and freedom. Take a deep breath of fresh air.”
For more information on the composer, see http://www.maximilienmathevon.com
HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923)/Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum &
Laura Karpman/Kino Lorber – Blu-ray
Kino Lorber’s 4K restoration of Lon Chaney’s silent 1923 HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, now available on Blu-Ray, features a new score composed by Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum (STUNTWOMEN: THE UNTOLD HOLLYWOOD STORY, IN CASE OF EMERGENCY) and Laura Karpman (LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, SENIOR MOMENT, WHAT IF…?). A splendid and thoroughly arranged orchestral accompaniment across the film’s full 110-minutes is quite effective in the Blu-Ray’s DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track. Being a silent film, the score is fully responsible for the film’s sonic dimension, and in both composition, performance, and sound quality it is satisfactory and even superlative in adding a musical emotional layer to the film and it’s already masterful performances, especially that of Lon Chaney. What sounds to be string quartets, small choirs, solo voices, various percussion instruments, and/or what may be synths, samples, or perhaps a concertina or a melodica provides a variety of themes effectively orchestrated and delivered, providing lively, emotive, and energetic music that enriches and enlivens the storytelling of the film. Period music introduces us to the Festival of Fools at the film’s start, while choir offers a proper clerical sonority for early scenes at the Cathedral with Dom Claude Frollo and propulsive, rhythmic figures as we first see Quasimodo, the hunchback, scaling the towering walls of Notre Dame. The gypsy girl Esmeralda, the adopted daughter of Clopin, the king of the oppressed beggars of the Parisian underworld, is presented by a delicate mandolin tune and female voices, with harp, flute, and tambourine accompanying her dance. Phoebus, Captain of King Louis XI’s Archers, eyes Esmeralda while a gentle acoustic guitar ballad signifying his interest in the petit girl; then regal high tones from what sounds like a buisine (medieval trumpet) sample accompany him to his audience with King Louis in the Bastille, who is represented by furtive low brasses suggesting wicked intent. The big scene where Quasimodo is stripped of his tunic and whipped on the pillory for accosting Esmeralda is played against large steps of keyboard, then choir and sympathetic violin strains, and finally flutes as Esmeralda intervenes and brings him water.
A plaintive melodic flute plays as Phoebus pledges his love to Esmeralda outside the Cathedral, but then a tentative keyboard murmurs as jealous Jehan, the evil brother of saintly archdeacon Frollo, sneaks close. The composers impose brutal slashing chords as we see Jehan stab Phoebus, joined by groupings of tremolo violins, surging howls of horns and full orchestration of grief and urgent lies by Jehan, who accuses Esmeralda of having stabbed the officer. Echoing pizzicato and raps of heavy drums follow her to court and accusation; low bassoon resonates darkly as King Louis steps in and denies Jehan’s guilt, focusing blame on Esmeralda. Wicked tendrils of electronica buzz about as she is taken to a torture chamber to have her confession forced out of her via a foot screw – through this process the music imposes rhythmic surges that suggest the painful process, until she willingly confesses to avoid further torture. When a recovering Phoebus learns of her predicament, the music evokes a powerful emotional flurry from full strings. The famous scene at the midpoint where Esmeralda is about to be (falsely) hanged for stabbing Phoebus is given some of the score’s most affecting and dramatic music, from the poignant moment where a crazy gypsy woman, shrieking epithets at Esmeralda as she is taken to the scaffold until, discerning recognition, realizes the gypsy girl she’s been jeering at is in fact her long lost daughter, and the following moment when Quasimodo, staring down from the parapets high up on Notre Dame’s towers sees far below the girl who had been kind to him on the pillory, and determines to rescue her… the music reaches a dramatic crescendo, recedes to accompany the hunchback’s clamoring about to reach a rope, then resumes with heroic energy as Quasimodo slides down and clutches the forlorn girl, carrying her to sanctuary within the Cathedral’s walls, as choir and percussion intone triumphally. The acoustic guitar playing that had accompanied Phoebus’ affection for Esmeralda now plays for Quasimodo, as he lays her to rest and recovery in a quiet chamber within the Cathedral.
The film’s final climax is rousingly energetic, beginning as Clopin leads the whole of the underworld to storm the cathedral, demanding Esmeralda be returned to him. The music settles for an interlude of a quiet flute and a cantor’s singing voice before returning to the frantic energy of the attack music. When Quasimodo finds Jehan attacking Esmeralda, he hurls his former master off the ramparts of Notre Dame (a ragged tonality from organ), but not before Jehan fatally stabs him in the back (choir is added to the mix). Before he dies Quasimodo sees that Phoebus and Esmeralda have been safely reunited within the Cathedral’s walls, and so he struggles up to the bell tower and rings his own death toll before his wounds take him. The score quietly resolves with the cantor’s voice returning before the bells of Notre Dame slow down and stop their toll, and the film visually and sonically fades to black.
1923’s HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME is and remains a magnificent film, deserving of all the honors it’s earned over the 98 years since it’s first release, and the original score supplied by Kroll-Rosenbaum and Karpman serves it very well in this fine restoration.
MAN OF GOD/Zbigniew Preisner/Caldera Records - CD
The 45th CD-release of Caldera Records presents the music from this 2021 historical drama that tells the true story of an Eastern Greek Orthodox Bishop and Saint, Nektarios, who is slandered, convicted without a trial, and unjustly exiled from Egypt in 1891, yet he continues to preach the Word of God. The score, by acclaimed Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner, is largely and rather necessarily somber in tonality as it depicts the burdens and trials that Nektarios faces, although the score concludes with much more uplifting serenity in its end credits music. To give the score some texture that fit the time and place, the composer brought in the famous Byzantine choir, the Choir of Chanters, “The Maestros of the Psaltic Art,” to provide the chorale elements, while a variety of Greek instruments were used to accompany this tale of a Greek saint. Preisner also brought in Lisa Gerrard following their successful collaboration on the 2017 Scandinavian Gothic thriller VALLEY OF SHADOWS. She used her unique voice to sing vocal elements for the MAN OF GOD score. Further unique tonalities are created with a mix of symphonic and electronic music (especially effective in track 3, “Conversation”) which Preisner uses to characterize a sense of metaphysical spirituality. All told, MAN OF GOD is an interesting and reverent soundtrack, depicting a man’s commitment to caring devotion and service to others who, in spite of false accusations and reprehensible treatment from enemies within his own church, repays his ill treatment with the values of love, patience, kindness, and self-denial. It’s an interesting score which, through its mixture of symphonics, electronics, vocalise, and ethnic musical elements, is given a rather moving and memorable impression. For more information see Caldera.
NO TIME TO DIE/Hans Zimmer/Decca – CD + digital Hans Zimmer’s score for Eon Productions 25th James Bond movie pleasingly embraces the style of John Barry, providing a thoroughly enjoyable rendering of 007 music. The score opens with the traditional “Gun Barrel” prelude, given its familiar Barry rendition, which then opens into some sinewy strings and is followed on by the first of three fine renderings of Barry’s “We Have all The Time in the World,” from ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE. It is first heard in very lush orchestration when Bond speaks the line during the opening pre-credits sequence; Zimmer provides it again near the film’s end and finally in Louis Armstrong’s original vocal from OHMSS during the new film’s end credits scroll. “It’s startling enough to hear Craig utter that line, as it sets off alarm bells in the mind of any dyed-in-the-wool Bond buff,” writes Jon Burlingame in an article entitled “Louis Armstrong Meets James Bond, Again: Why We Have All the Time in the World Plays a Key Role in No Time to Die:” in Variety: “When James Bond (Daniel Craig) says that line to Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) nine minutes into NO TIME TO DIE, it may not mean much to the average moviegoer. But to Bond fans worldwide, it’s one of the most important in the history of the franchise, and a subtle hint of possible tragedy to come… In ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, it is the final line of dialogue, said by 007 (George Lazenby) moments after Blofeld murders Tracy (Diana Rigg), the British agent’s new wife, as they set off on their honeymoon.” Zimmer continues to parse John Barry’s traditional Bond music several times in his score, as well as reflections of David Arnold within his own treatment, forming an interesting sonic triangle of Barry & Arnold via Zimmer, but I find that it works very well and gives the film both the classic Barry flavor as well as the more contemporary mix of Arnold and Zimmer’s action quotient. I like the way reviewer Jon Broxton put it in his very detailed analysis of the NO TIME TO DIE score, and in much greater detail than I have room for here, writing “I think, at the end of the day, the thing I like the most about NO TIME TO DIE is how successfully Hans Zimmer has pulled off that difficult balancing act between staying true to himself as a composer with his own voice, and acknowledging the musical heritage of John Barry as it exists in the James Bond world.” That nails my own thoughts about and liking of the score. Zimmer has given us a score that is both true to the stylistic musical precedents of the Bond franchise while slipping nicely into the modern musical tradition of the 2020s without completely abandoning what we love about the Bond scores from the classic era. Bond #25 is both shaken and stirred, musically, and I think it comes off very well.
Listen to this Barryesque slice from Zimmer’s NO TIME TO DIE music:
ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING/Siddhartha Khosla/
Hollywood Records - digital Hulu’s new 10-episode mystery/comedy streaming series ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING, starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez, maintains a delightfully breezy tone as it depicts three strangers living in an exclusive Upper West Side New York City apartment building who share an obsession with true crime and suddenly find themselves wrapped up in one. When a grisly death occurs inside their building, the trio suspects murder and employs their ambiguous knowledge of true crime to investigate the truth via a personal podcast; yet each fails to share secrets of their own that may lead to background data on the homicide victim. The series has received largely positive reviews from critics, who particularly praised its comedic approach to crime fiction and the lead actors’ performances. The show’s score, composed and produced by Indian-American composer Siddhartha Khosla (THIS IS US, QUEENPINS, RUNAWAYS, LOOKING FOR ALASKA), initially shares the show’s breezy tone and pleasantry, but as the story develops there are opportunities for more substantially dramatic treatments, such as the powerfully fully orchestral cadence during of the mise-en-scene moment in episode 2’s “Who Was Tim Kono,” wherein more is learned about the homicide victim, a major highlight of the score. The heavy rock of the amateur sleuths’ “Podcast Theme” is another powerful motif that portrays the energy and serious ridiculousness of their podcast scheme. A pleasing “Romantic Theme,” based on the show’s main theme melody, is also provided, as is a clever faux jazz “Interrogation Fantasy” pattern for vibes and winds. The score makes dominant use of piano, in various registers, including the breezy vocalise and high, tinkling flecking of the keys that is part of the blustery Main theme. (Some have noted that Khosla’s treatment of plunking piano owes much to the theme from a real podcast, Nick Thorburn’s “Serial,” but according to Khosla, he was unaware of that podcast theme when he composed the music for OMITB, and only heard the “Serial” theme for the first time very recently once people started comparing the two themes.). Elsewhere, Khosla makes fine use of vocalise and piano, along with inflections of his infectious and prevailing main theme’s rhythm and tune. I’ve found the series to be a delight and the score highly effective in the show as well as being thoroughly enjoyable on its own merits.
Listen to Siddhartha Khosla’s opening theme:
PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND/Joseph Trapanese/Milan - digital
Milan Records has released the original soundtrack to PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND by critically-acclaimed composer Joseph Trapanese. The film is a 2021 American neo-noir science fiction/horror Western action film directed by Sion Sono in his English language debut, and starring Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, and Bill Moseley in a nightmarish mix of wild Takashi Miike, Minoru Kawasaki, Hitoshi Matsumoto, and Sono’s own idiosyncratic tendencies, a bizarre and colorful story guaranteed to impress some and turn off others (and critical ratings put it just over the half-way point for positive consensus, according to Rotten Tomatoes). In a region in Japan devastated and quarantined years ago in an accident in which highly volatile nuclear waste has intoxicated the environment, a settlement called Samurai Town is ruled by an unscrupulous Governor (Moseley) who has blended elements of Japanese society (both modern-day and pre-modern) and the old American West together at his whim, and is keeping a harem of adopted “granddaughters” as his sex slaves. The outside is a dystopian wasteland known as the Ghostland, inhabited by half-crazed outcasts and wildly irrational victims of the irradiated environment. Cage is an incarcerated bank robber freed by Mosely and strapped into a bomb-laden leather suit that will self-destruct in five days if he doesn’t find his adopted granddaughter (Boutella), who has disappeared into Ghostland.
Of the soundtrack, Joseph Trapanese says, “My score is a love letter to my favorite films and music. You’ll hear clear influences from Spaghetti Westerns and classic sci-fi, as well as from traditional Japanese music, Baroque Sarabande, and French Impressionism. For me, the collision of these musical styles with Nicolas’ expressive performance and Sion Sono’s beautiful images is the most gratifying result of the film. What I love most about Sono-san’s work is that regardless of how dark, violent, or unconventional it may be, there is a clear, effusive, and vibrant joy for filmmaking.” The cool thing about Trapanese’s score is that almost each track is completely different from the others, somewhat eschewing film order in favor of a listening experience on disc, each track essentially offering a unique sonic story apart from the others. All but four tracks range from 4 to 13-minutes in length, allowing for plenty of musical development and this allows the listener to really savor what he’s put into each track. The Japanese flute-and-percussion music commences after an introduction of warm synth pads in the first track, “Ghostland,” and is reprised more starkly in the following “Governor,” introducing Moseley’s character. Track 3, (Cage’s) “Bicycle Ride,” opens with a taste of “Ghostland’s soothing prelude before revving up into some enticing Italian Western guitar, percussion, and faux choir, with a soaring synth playing the deguello. “Arrival” is furnished with some provocative singing synth and drum interaction over a busy bed of bells, synth choir, and running drone. “The Robbery” is the score’s longest track, depicting in flashback the bank robbery that puts Cage in Samurai Town jail in the first place, and thus has lots of places to go – opening with a classically-styled piano prelude and a taste of the baroque before segueing into a mass of percussion, rushing water sounds, and orchestral flavorings before switching into a frenzy of low string interactions and more. “Radioactive” is a delicate short track for guitar, low synth winds, tubular bells, and a delicious string melody over choir sounds that is quite tasty. “Alas Poor Yorick” gives us a new sample of Spaghetti sonorities over a low drifting pattern of light synth percussion and padding waves. “Psycho” is a growing pattern of synth pads, pouring over a low rhythmic flow beneath string figures before, just beyond the two thirds point, opening into a chanting of assertive male choir and brass intonations, as it reflects the homicidal mania of Cage’s partner in the previous bank robbery. And there’s still a few more surprises in store. In other words, PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND, as a soundtrack, is a complete variegated musical delight. Very much a fascinating musical treatment, pleasingly presented – quite definitely an effusive and vibrant joy to be had in the listening. I thought it worked well in the film but it’s especially a treasure by itself where its nuances can be best realized and perceived.
Listen to the track “Psycho” from PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND:
STAR TREK LOWER DECKS Season 1/Chris Westlake/Lakeshore Records – digital
The STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS Volume 1 Original Series Soundtrack features music from the first and second seasons of the Paramount+ series. The 53-track album features an epic orchestrated original score by composer Chris Westlake (SOLAR OPPOSITES, CASTLE ROCK, BEFORE WE GO, TRANSIT, SMALL TOWN CRIMES). Season 1 was recorded entirely in quarantine, with 56 musicians recording their parts separately from their homes and apartments. Season 2 was recorded on the Streisand Scoring Stage and the Eastwood Scoring Stage in Los Angeles. The comedy series, set very reverently within the STAR TREK universe, follows the low-ranking support crew of the starship U.S.S. Cerritos in the year 2380. Westlake’s main theme for the series is a first-rate, emblematic STAR TREK theme that holds up well amongst the legacy of STAR TREK themes from television and film, and its use amid the show makes it clear that this is a proper STAR TREK series, even if the show focuses on the heroes working largely below decks – but they somehow manage to find their place on away missions and in the bridge as often as they’re clearing out weird space junk from the warp nacelles or repairing food replicators. And while the series is as full of jokes as a tribble-infested starship, it continually treats the STAR TREK franchise with respect. The amazing cast and the rapid-fire dialog delivery of their characters, splendid humor, and frequent references to prior STAR TREK events and history assures LOWER DECKS a firm, if smirking, place within TREK canon.
Westlake said (in an October 2020 interview about scoring the show at syfy.com) that he wanted the music to be sincere, feeling it was funnier to take the music seriously than to make it comedic, which is why his main theme includes a choir. Westlake wrote six or seven different main theme ideas for the series that were narrowed down to two: a slower, more stately theme; and a more energetic theme. The final theme is combines the elements of both of those compositions. “I came from more of the John Williams side of things,” Westlake told syfy.com. “[Lower Decks showrunner] Mike [McMahan] talked a lot about what makes STAR WARS music STAR WARS and what makes STAR TREK music STAR TREK. I mean, it’s impossible to erase that John Williams influence entirely, and I’d say that even some of Next Gen was inspired by Williams. But, what’s the difference? And the thing that I always have had in mind, is that STAR WARS music is fast-flying ships and dogfights and ducking and weaving and fast movements. But STAR TREK music is slow-moving ships. [It’s] that nautical thing.” Westlake’s main theme makes welcome appearances throughout most episodes in addition to its function during the opening and closing credits (track 27, “What Are Your Orders, Captain?,” is an especially sparkling and resonant version of the theme), but the heavier lifting during episode action scenes (the music properly lets the jokes play itself, except when part of the joke calls for strenuous musical accompaniment) and Westlake’s action music is thoroughly dynamic, thunderous, and melodic. The cues are largely short ones, in keeping with the show’s frantic pacing, but the tracks tend to flow into one another effectively enough to make all 53 tracks and 102 minutes of score congeal into a splendid listening experience. I’ve been admiring Westlake’s theme and his episode music since the show first aired and I’m delighted and very pleased to have it presented so nicely in this soundtrack package. Admirably recommended.
The second season of STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS premiered August 12 and is currently streaming on Paramount+. The soundtrack is available from these links.
Listen to Chris Westlake’s Main Theme from STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS from the soundtrack album:
THE TIME TUNNEL Vol. 2/Various/La-La Land Records – cd
Following up on the label’s March release of Volume 1, this second 3-CD volume of original soundtrack music from the Irwin Allen 1966 TIME TUNNEL TV series features outstanding music from composers John (“Johnny”) Williams, Leith Stevens, Joseph Mullendore, Paul Sawtell, Robert Drasnin, and George Duning, each of whom energized the show’s episodes with captivating orchestral ‘60s era television scoring. Showcased across this deluxe 3-Disc presentation are scores from the episodes “Revenge of the Gods,” “Massacre,” “Reign of Terror,” “Secret Weapon,” “The Death Trap,” and “The Death Merchant” along with some extra additional tracks, including two from the “Merlin the Magician” episode, not otherwise included on either volume of TIME TUNNEL music. Despite the inherent small size of the orchestral ensembles used to perform these scores, the veteran composers managed to pull out exciting and powerful musical accompaniment that enlivened each of the episodes and their sense of danger, fun, and time travel adventures. Highly recommended along with the label’s previous must-have volumes of music from Irwin Allen’s TV series, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (4 CDs, 2020), LOST IN SPACE (40th anniversary, 2 CDs, 2005; 50th anniversary, 12-CD box, 2015), and LAND OF THE GIANTS (4 CDs, 2019). This second TIME TUNNEL set, limited to 1000 units, is produced by Jeff Bond and Neil S. Bulk, executive produced for 20th Century Studios by Mike Matessino, and digitally edited and mastered from original mono recordings by James Nelson. The authoritative liner notes are by Irwin Allen expert Jeff Bond, while the sets memorable art design is by Mark Banning. See La-La Land.
Listen to John William’s catchy main theme from THE TIME TUNNEL:
THE WITCHING SEASON/THEY LIVE INSIDE US/Randin Graves/Howlin’ Wolf - CD Howlin’ Wolf Records presents two separate CDs containing horror scores by Randin Graves, a composer and player in rock, electronica, folk, reggae, funk, jazz, and world fusion bands and is world-renowned for his mastery of the Australian didgeridoo, among other instruments. He’s scored nearly 100 films (mostly short films) since 2005. His music for THE WITCHING SEASON, an American horror anthology series co-composed with Detroit-based horror musician/record producer Slasher Dave, is particularly evocative horror music. The series consists of five interlocking segments that revolve around the Halloween season. Each episode pays tribute to a different genre of horror. THEY LIVE INSIDE US is an expanded adaptation of episode #4 of THE WITCHING SEASON, in which a father and daughter spend Halloween night in the notoriously haunted Booth House only to discover hidden secrets more sinister than either could imagine. The themes and episode scores to THE WITCHING SEASON series are deliciously moody and old school, derived mostly from tonal synths and keyboards (plenty of wonderful tonalities from Prophet Rev2, Minikorg, Roland Fandom XA). The tonal difference in episodes 2 and 4, and the series theme, is that Graves and Slasher Dave provide a sense of fun spookiness without the terrifying cacophonies that establish more disturbing horrors found in Episodes 1 and 3. Episode 4, the original version of “They Live Inside Us,” is presented via eleven tracks and has a number of leitmotifs, chief of which is a gong motif inspired by the grandfather clock in the haunted Booth House, while also presenting a haunting romance theme inspired by VERTIGO’s “Scene D’Amour.” The other four episodes are given lengthy score suites. “Killer on the Loose” is highly percussive in its treatment of a masked killer chasing a woman on the run; this one is given a more modern approach with atonal strings, scraping gongs, drones, and unexpected jump scares. Episode 2, “Princess,” about a haunted toy, is provided with a hesitant music-box melody with digital choir that imposes itself on much of the episode’s spookiness, finally ending in a ferocious rush of chaotic sound that will satisfactorily jolt the listener into or out of his or her seat. Episode 3, “Not Alone” opens with a diegetic radio show theme featuring a groovy theremin sample; as the episode is sans dialogue, more disturbing sonic textures, drones, and swelling auras increase the terror tension. While the previous four episodes were created using virtual instruments, with the final fifth episode, “Is That You?,” a piercing electric fretless guitar creates the moody sonorities that give this chapter its dominant spookery, enhanced by sampled cymbals and scuffed gongs. The feature film version of THEY LIVE INSIDE US is based on the twenty minute WITCHING SEASON episode, but developed into a full length film. The textures and themes from the short version are fully enhanced and developed into a treatment suitable to the standalone full length episode, building some splendid tension, shock, and discomforting dread through dripping textures and twisting, layered drones. The original gong motif is reprised, with a plethora of subdued and penetrating drones evoking the appearance of ghosts. The reason the father and daughter decide to spend Halloween night in the haunted Booth House is because the father hopes to find inspiration for a new writing project; as the father’s stories are written, they become episodes in the film and are given unique themes of their own. A hollow synth moan and blown pipe sound creates the sound of the house itself, which creepily bookends the story. All in all these are wonderfully accessible horror scores, perfect for listening on a hallow’s eve or other dark, lonely night. Both of these CDs are released in very limited pressings, and include thoroughly descriptive liner notes by the composer(s). For more information or to order, see Howlin’ Wolf Records.
The 12th annual Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMA) will be presented Wednesday, November 17, 2021 at 5:30pm (PST). The HMMAs honor composers, songwriters, and music supervisors for their work in music for film, television, and videogames. The HMMA Academy submission deadline for film entries is extended to October 25, with all other categories due October 15th. The nominations will be announced November 2nd. The HMMA is the first awards organization to honor original music (song and score) in all visual media from around the globe, and the presentations will feature music performances, celebrity presenters, tributes to music industry icons, awards for composers, songwriters, and artists – and a new category, Outstanding On-Screen Performance in a Film, which will highlight the execution by a singer of an original song or pre-existing song in a film. Music In Visual Media eligibility release period is January 1st to December 31st of the current year. For additional information visit http://www.hmmawards.com
The Society of Composers & Lyricists has announced its third annual awards ceremony will be held February 1, 2022, in a presentation featuring entertainment and special guests. The SCL’s inaugural event in 2020 was launched in tandem with the organization’s 75th anniversary. Last year was a virtual show. Further details on the in-person ceremony will be announced in December 2021. The SCL Awards celebrate excellence and innovation in music for visual media. Awards will be presented in seven competitive categories: Outstanding Original Score for a Studio Film; Outstanding Original Score for an Independent Film; Outstanding Original Score for a Television Production; Outstanding Original Song for a Drama or Documentary; Outstanding Original Song for a Comedy or Musical; Outstanding Original Score for Interactive Media; and the David Raksin Award for Emerging Talent. Nominees and winners are judged and determined solely by SCL member composers and songwriters. For Submissions Guidelines and Eligibility please visit https://thescl.com/scl-awards/
WHAT IF…THE WATCHER BROKE HIS OATH?, the final episode of the first season of Disney/Marvel’s imaginative WHAT IF…? series that flips the script on the MCU, reimagining famous events from the films in unexpected ways, features a massive score by Emmy-winning composer Laura Karpman. Reflecting back on the season, Karpman commented on each episode: What If…Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? (Ep.1) – “I am so proud to be the composer of ‘WHAT IF…?’ Victoria Alonso, Kevin Feige, Brad Winderbaum, and Bryan Andrews gave me the perfect composer playground, rooted in the Marvel experience and the freedom to explore outside of it! In episode one, I got to play with the traditional sound for Captain America and transform it. What a great experience!” What If…T’Challa Became a Star-Lord? (Ep. 2) – “Episode 2 is a mashup of themes from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Black Panther’ – they surprisingly go well together. We also very much honor our beloved Chadwick Boseman with a musical tribute.” What If…The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes? (Ep. 3) – This one “is a mystery-thriller and the score makes the most of this mini-movie! It is truly epic!” What If…Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands? (Ep.4) – “Stephen and Christina have a big and ultimately tragic love story. It made my heart hurt to score it, but it was an honor to be able to support this incredibly beautiful story.” What If…Zombies?! (Ep.5) – “When the zombies find their way into the MCU, the score gets weird, wacky, and ultimately super scary!” What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark? (Ep. 6) – “One of the things that I love about Ludwig’s ‘Black Panther’ score, is that Killmonger is represented by an 808 sound. I took that sound and exploded it to make something new for our show!” What If…Thor Was an Only Child? (Ep. 7) – “The party episode! A romantic comedy! Scary mother! What a fun time we had with this circus.” What If…Ultron Won? (Ep. 8) – “The Watcher’s identity is put to the test, as well as The Watcher theme. The score incorporates The Watcher’s traditional orchestration with signature electronics that grow and grow, as Ultron‘s power expands. What If…The Watcher Broke His Oath? (Ep. 9) – “Finally in episode nine, The Watcher emerges as a powerful force. The Guardians Of The Multiverse are born and so is their epic new theme.”
Composer Kenji Kishi Leopo has won the Ariel Award (the Mexican “Oscar”) for best original score for LOS LOBOS (The Wolves), awarded by the Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences. The film, by director Samuel Kishi Leopo (the composer’s older brother), is the drama about two children – “little wolves” – recently emigrated to the US who wait for their mother to secure employment while letting their imaginations run wild as they dream of going to Disneyland one day. Actor Cici Lau also won the award for best female co-acting in the same film. Read an insightful review of the film at RogerEber.com.
Composer/writer Brian Satterwhite received the award for Best Score from the OTB [Only The Best] International Film Awards, for his score to HIS STRETCH OF TEXAS GROUND. The action/crime drama, directed by Erich Kemp, is about a local sheriff who stands against radical foreign terrorists who descend upon a small Texas town.
Ludwig Göransson won his second consecutive Emmy for scoring THE MANDALORIAN. This year’s Emmy was for the second season finale, in which The Child (aka Grogu) is rescued and turned over to Luke Skywalker. Göransson won a 2018 Oscar for his music for BLACK PANTHER, which coincidentally was about to be performed live-to-picture by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl when the 2021 Emmy was announced. Carlos Rafael Rivera also won his second Emmy, snagging a well-deserved trophy for composition for a limited series, movie or special, for Netflix’s THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT. Blake Neely won his first Emmy for his clever, percussive main title theme music for HBO Max’s THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT. British composer Steven Price won his first Emmy for music in a documentary series or special with Netflix’s DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A LIFE ON OUR PLANET. Oscar-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (FROZEN) won their first primetime Emmy for their popular “Agatha All Along” song from Marvel /Disney’s limited series WANDAVISION. – via Jon Burlingame in Variety
After the successful kick-off in 2020, the second edition of SoundTrack_Zurich (Sept 28-Oct. 1, 2021) featured Mychael Danna as Guest of Honor, who received the Career Achievement Award.
Composers Max Richter, Austin Wintory, Daniel Pemberton and Nainita Desai will give a Composer’s Talk during the World Soundtrack Awards’ (WSA) Industry Days (October 20-23, 2021). Each year, many composers, sound designers, agents and other film music professionals find their way to Film Fest Ghent in Belgium to take part in the WSA Industry Days: panel talks, masterclasses, and matchmaking events organized in the days leading up to the World Soundtrack Awards. For the first time ever, Music in Games gets a special focus. For more details, including tickets, see WSA.
Ludwig Göransson has revealed in a recent interview with Variety that he has started work on his score for Marvel Studios’ upcoming sequel BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. The film is currently shooting and is scheduled to be released in theaters on July 8, 2022. – via filmmusicreporter
FOUNDATION, developed by David S. Goyer based on Isaac Asimov’s classic science fiction novels, follows a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire. Lakeshore Records has released a digital soundtrack album for the Apple TV+ original series. The album features selections of the original music from the show’s first season composed by Emmy Award winner Bear McCreary, who has described his score (in a twitter tweet) as “a combination of live orchestra with an ‘algorithm orchestra’ playing fragmented phrases that would be virtually impossible for humans to perform.” The digital soundtrack is now available on Amazon and other digital music services here.
Listen to Bear’s behind-the-scenes video performance footage of his main theme for FOUNDATION:
Composer Jerome Leroy has posted a soundtrack album featuring his music from the horror film THE LIFT on his website for listening. The film is “an intense Vietnamese horror film directed by Peter Mourougaya which I worked on last year,” said Leroy. I had the pleasure of writing the notes for this release, as well as for his recent soundtrack to the Chinese drama TV series THE IDEAL CITY, also posted to his website. -rdl
On October 29th, Silva Screen Records will digitally release THE BEATLES AND INDIA, the original score for the award winning documentary film. The hypnotic, lyrical soundtrack was written by award winning composer Benji Merrison and recorded at Abbey Road Studio 2, the legendary home of The Beatles recording sessions. The film is a unique historical chronicle of the love affair between The Beatles and India that started more than half a century ago. Rare archival footage, recordings and photographs, eye-witness accounts and expert comments along with location shoots across India bring alive the fascinating journey of George, John, Paul and Ringo from their high octane celebrity lives in the West to a remote Himalayan ashram in search of spiritual bliss that inspires an unprecedented burst of creative songwriting. It is the first serious exploration of how India shaped the development of the greatest ever rock band and their own pioneering role bridging two vastly different cultures. The label has also released a soundtrack album for the horror thriller THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR. Scored by Emmy Award winning composer Anton Sanko (RABBIT HOLE, THE POSSESSION, THE HALF OF IT, BIG LOVE, OUIJA, THE SEAGULL), the film focuses on two boys attempting to escape their kidnapper’s house. Interestingly, this is a film in which children are the heroes but the film is not a children’s film on any level. The emotional complexity of THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR is assiduously depicted by Sanko’s dreamy, expanding and contracting and at points interrupted, electronic score. Sanko observes “Composing the score to THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR was like taking a deep dive into the depths of human depravity. And I mean that in the best possible way. David and Justin’s directorial style opened up a lot of space to explore as a composer, and I got to work in a musical sandbox that I really love.” The thriller premiered at last year’s Fantastic Fest and is now available to stream on Shudder. The digital soundtrack is available from Amazon and other major digital music services.
Silva Screen will release John Barry’s score to 1974’s THE TAMARIND SEED on November 19th. This tale of espionage, starring Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif, has been lacking from Barry’s discography without an officially sanctioned album release. “Seen as somewhat of a Holy Grail, no one ever truly expected it to see the light of day given that only sections of the master tapes have ever been traced,” reports the label. “Chances remained distinctly remote, ever diminishing with the passage of time…and yet, miraculously, almost half a century after the film was premiered, what was considered mere wishful thinking – a pipedream even – has finally come true. Though an official soundtrack album was apparently never planned, the tracks selected for this release include all the major cues used in the film together with Wilma Reading’s commercially released single ‘Play It Again,’ two different versions of ‘The End’ as performed by Danny Street, plus different versions of both main and end title themes.”
Xav Clarke is a musician and composer from Dorset, UK. He has written songs, music, and score for several animated series including the BAFTA winning series from Cartoon Network THE AMAZING WORLD OF GUMBALL, the Sci-fi adventure ELLIOTT FROM EARTH, and most recently the Joseph Gordon-Levitt produced WOLFBOY AND THE EVERYTHING FACTORY for Apple TV+. WOLFBOY follows the titular character as he discovers a strange realm where fantastical beings create things for the natural world above. To score the series, Xav was given the brief to “go weird, be experimental, and take chances.” What he created is an organic score as playful, curious, and creative as the titular character himself. See my compelling interview with Xav on scoring WOLFBOY at MusiqueFantastique. -rdl
Warner Bros. Pictures has confirmed that Johnny Klimek & Tom Tykwer are co-scoring the upcoming sci-fi action movie THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS. The film is directed by Lana Wachowski and stars Keanu Reeves & Carrie-Anne Moss who reprise their roles from the original MATRIX trilogy (scored by Don Davis). Klimek & Tykwer have previously scored the Wachowski’s Netflix series SENSE8 and also co-scored the Wachowski siblings/Tykwer-directed feature CLOUD ATLAS (with Reinhold Heil). THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS is scheduled to be released in theaters nationwide on December 22, 2021 and will be available to stream on HBO Max on the same day. – via filmmusicreporter
La-La Land Record’s October releases include Goldsmith at 20th Vol. IV, offering two early ‘70s aviation-themed dramas from Jerry Goldsmith: 1973’s post WWI father-and-son-barnstorming story ACE ELI AND RODGER OF THE SKIES and the 1970 Pearl Harbor docudrama TORA! TORA! TORA!. Bringing back out-of-print favorites while also debuting previously unreleased music, both scores on this 2-CD presentation explore wildly different sonic landscapes and emotions, and both soar as works of musical art. The second CD release for this month is a 25th Anniversary re-issue of Shirley Walker & John Carpenter’s score to the 1996 Paramount Pictures futuristic actioner ESCAPE FROM L.A. Both composer collaborated create the perfect musical soundscape for the further exploits of Snake Plissken. The audio presentation/master is the same as the label’s initial expanded release (2014), mastered by Doug Schwartz. These CDs are in limited edition of 2000 and 1500 units, respectively. See La-La Land Records.
In other news, production has commenced on La-La Land Entertainment's new documentary film on the amazing Wings Hauser. WORKING CLASS ACTOR is directed & produced by KING COHEN’s Steve Mitchell and executive produced by Jane Schulman and produced by Dan McKeon, Matt Verboys, and Cyrus Voris, with La-La Land’s M.V. Gerhard, John Dadlez, and Don Lamoreaux & Bernard Prabucki and Matthew Price. When completed, the docu will be distributed by Darkstar Pictures.
MovieScore Media’s early October releases include ADVENTURES OF A MATHEMATICIAN (Antoni Komasa-?azarkiewicz). The original score from the 2020 drama feature film directed by Thor Klein – “The warmhearted story of Polish immigrant and mathematician Stan Ulam, who moved to the U.S. in the 1930s, where he deals with the difficult losses of family and friends all while helping to create the hydrogen bomb and the first computer;” and EVERYTHING OF VALUE (Alles van Waarde) (Matthijs Kieboom), the original score from the 2021 drama television film directed by Stanley Kolk – “In the shadow of a church two men are assaulted at night. Random violence? A gay bashing? A filmmaker tries to uncover what really happened. Just how many issues remain undisclosed in this religious community?” The label follows those by two more releases, set for October 29 release: THE SHADOW IN MY EYE (Marco Beltrami, Ceiri Torjussen, & Buck Sanders), a new Danish World War II film that tells the story behind the inconceivable tragedy that hit Denmark March 21st 1945 – the catastrophic bombing of the French school in Copenhagen (it releases in Denmark on October 28th and shortly thereafter comes to Netflix); and EVEN MICE BELONG IN HEAVEN (Krzystof A. Janczak), a beautiful-looking stop-motion animated Czech language film about a mouse and fox who forge an unlikely friendship in the afterlife. Details will follow on MovieScoreMedia. Watch the delightful trailer for EVEN MICE BELONG IN HEAVEN:
Twenty-five years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past. The trailer for the new SCREAM (remake/sequel) movie just dropped, and it looks pretty good (and has garnered lots of positive response on YouTube). Brian Tyler is scoring the film – he previously worked with director Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett on their previous feature, READY OR NOT. The new SCREAM movie is slated for release in theaters on January 14, 2022 by Paramount Pictures. Watch the trailer:
Intrada offers a reissue of the two most celebrated scores from their acclaimed boxed collection of six Ava albums composed and conducted in the 1960’s by Elmer Bernstein: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and WALK ON THE WILD SIDE. As were all six recordings, both of these scores are presented from the original first-generation stereo masters vaulted in pristine condition. Each had earlier releases on various vinyl and CD labels; the Intrada presentations are the only ones mastered from the actual stereo masters, long missing in action. If you already have the earlier six-score Ava Collection, a double dip may not be necessary beyond the possible desire of having the main headliners on a single disc. Bernstein composes and conducts both scores, both CDs feature the original 1962 album artwork. See Intrada.
James Newton Howard has revealed in a recent interview in the latest episode of Score: The Podcast that he is attached to compose music for Lucasfilm’s upcoming Disney+ original series WILLOW. The show, developed by Jonathan Kasdan and Wendy Mericle, stars Warwick Davis who returns in the title role. Based on the 1988 feature film (produced and written by George Lucas, directed by Ron Howard and scored by James Horner) the forthcoming series will take place years after the events of the film, and has to do with a princess assembling a search party to join her on her quest to rescue her twin brother. Filming for the series began in June 2021 in Wales. The show is currently in production and is expected to premiere in 2022 on Disney+.
- via filmmusicreporter and other sources
Isabelle Engman and Gerardo Garcia Jr. are the composers behind Amazon Studios and Blumhouse Productions’ new folk-horror release, MADRES. Isabelle is a Swedish composer established in Los Angeles with a long experience in composing and producing music for multiple projects. Gerardo is a Texas native with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Composition from The University of Texas at San Antonio. They’ve collaborated on scores together since 2012. MADRES is directed by Ryan Zaragoza in his feature film debut. Engman & Garcia have utilized indigenous Aztec instruments to create a haunting, lyrical composition that acts as its own character in the film. The eerie score is driven by the melody of a music box, which is an in-world prop and was specially made for the film – it features an original tune by the pair. Read my interview with these composers on the unique scoring process of MADRES, just posted at MusiqueFantastique. -rdl
Gardener Recordings releases award-winning composer Gavin Brivik’s score for the drama-thriller WILD INDIAN in tandem with the release of the movie, which is now available for streaming and in theaters. The debut feature film from writer-director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr., stars Michael Greyeyes, Jesse Eisenberg, and Kate Bosworth, spans decades in a Wisconsin reservation tracing the lives of two Indigenous American men who learn to confront a traumatic secret they share involving the savage murder of a schoolmate. Brivik’s tense, understated score immerses the listener into the emotional contours of the narrative, utilizing subtle ambient electronic touches while still adhering to a contemporary classical arrangement. Tapping into “his roots as an indie rock and folk guitarist” he combines with orchestral and electronic instruments. He deftly synchronizes the score to the diegetic, found sounds of the movie such as the bleating of bells and the whooshes of a stream: “When I work in film, I can’t help it but notice all the foley sounds. All these sound effects – it’s like I can’t separate them from the music.”
Hildur Guðnadóttir has been hired to score the upcoming drama TAR. The film is written and directed by Todd Field (IN THE BEDROOM, LITTLE CHILDREN) and stars Cate Blanchett, Nina Hoss, and Noémie Merlant. The movie follows the first woman to be invited as the lead conductor of a major German orchestra. TAR is shooting this month in Germany and is expected to be released in 2022 by Focus Features. – via filmmusicreporter
Dutch composer Merlijn Snitker has scored the first Dutch film about Anne Frank, the German-Dutch diarist of Jewish heritage whose diary about hiding from the Nazi’s during World War II is one of the world’s best-known books and has been the basis for several plays and films. Based on the memoirs of Frank’s friend Hannah Goslar, MIJN BESTE VRIENDIN ANNE FRANK (My Best Friend Anne Frank) is the first movie about Frank to be made in her native Netherlands. Another rarity is that its soundtrack has been released, albeit digitally, by Dutch label Riva Media Records. The digital album is available from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Apple Music, and listenable on Spotify. Read a welcome review of the soundtrack on soundtrackworld.
Included as the third installment of “National Day Celebration” trilogy with MY PEOPLE, MY COUNTRY (2019) and MY PEOPLE, MY HOMELAND (2020), the Chinese film MY COUNTRY, MY PARENTS focuses on four Chinese families in four different eras. This new film has been scored by composer Gordy Haab (known for his numerous STAR WARS related video game scores), whose soundtrack is available on all major streaming platforms – here’s the Spotify link. “It’s a beautiful film, and easily the fastest I’ve ever had to score a film,” Gordy wrote in a Facebook post. “From receiving a rough cut to delivering final recordings and mixes was just about 2 weeks!”
Lakeshore Records has released Jessica Rose Weiss’ score to DOG GONE TROUBLE (aka TROUBLE), available now digitally on all major music services. The comedy film is about a pampered dog named Trouble who must learn to live in the real world while trying to escape from his former owner’s greedy children. The score blends big orchestral sounds with a bit of funk throughout the album, providing a hint of the mood and action of this feel-good animated feature now streaming on Netflix. Weiss (co-composer with Mychael Danna on CINDERELLA; see Reviews above) is currently scoring TV pilot THE LINE directed by Jorge Suarez.
OscarMartín Leanizbarrutia is an award-winning composer that attended the Royal High Conservatory of Music of Madrid, known for combining emotional melodies with electronic, symphonic, and chamber colors in a very original way. His recent score for CLARET, a Spanish historical drama about St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the Claretian religious order, is an especially evocative work. Originally set to premier in 2020, marking the 150th anniversary of the death of the Spanish archbishop, the COVID-19 pandemic forced director Pablo Moreno and his production company to push back the release of the film until September 24, 2021. Leanizbarrutia has self-released his score, which is now available on iTunes, Apple Music, and the like, and is well worth seeking out – it is a vast, emotive melodic landscape of impassioned sonority. For more information on the composer, read his interview with Jon Mansell about scoring CLARET, posted here.
Listen to the CLARET main theme:
The popular action-drama TV series SQUID GAME is scored by Korean composer Jaeil Jung (PARASITE), but in addition the show has licensed soundtrack music from American composer Walter Mair (TIL DEATH, THE UNFAMILIAR, CALL OF DUTY: MOBILE) which is also heard across all episodes.
Kris Bowers (GREEN BOOK, BRIDGERTON, MRS. AMERICA, BAD HAIR) is reuniting with writer/producer/director Ava DuVernay on the upcoming Netflix limited series COLIN IN BLACK AND WHITE. The 6-part bio-drama explores athlete/activist Colin Kaepernick’s high school years and chronicles what inspired him to risk his livelihood in support of civil rights. Bowers has previously collaborated with DuVernay on the Netflix limited series WHEN THEY SEE US. COLIN IN BLACK AND WHITE will premiere on October 29, 2021 on Netflix. – via filmmusicreporter
NIGHTBOOKS is a 2021 American dark fantasy film directed by David Yarovesky and stars Winslow Fegley, Lidya Jewett, and Krysten Ritter. Based on the 2018 horror-fantasy children’s book of the same name by J. A. White, it is now streaming on Netflix. The premise follows a young boy named Alex (Fegley) who becomes the prisoner of a witch (Ritter); to avoid certain death, he convinces her to let him tell her a scary story every night. Upon meeting the witch’s servant, Yazmin (Jewett), the two must use their wits to escape her apartment, a magical labyrinth filled with various dangers, before the witch does away with them both. The film is scored by Michael Abels, known for scoring Jordan Peele’s GET OUT and US, as well as BAD EDUCATION (2019), Stefon Bristol’s science fiction adventure drama SEE YOU YESTERDAY (2019), and Joe Robert Cole’s drama film ALL DAY AND A NIGHT (2020). A digital soundtrack for NIGHTBOOKS has been released by Maisie Music Publishing (29 tracks, 1hr 8 mins), available from the usual sources. The album includes a cover of the song “Cry Little Sister” by the band CHVRCHES, which is used in the film. Abels is currently scoring the horror film NOPE for Jordan Peele, scheduled for release in 2022.
Robert Kral (JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, SUPERMAN DOOMSDAY, BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM, THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT, ANGEL) has scored the latest Warner Bros./DC animated movie, INJUSTICE, which releases Oct 19. INJUSTICE was originally a 2013 video game from NetherRealm Studios, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, set in a parallel universe within the DC Comics’ Multiverse. In this reality, Superman becomes a tyrant and establishes a new world order after the Joker tricks him into killing Lois Lane and destroying Metropolis with a nuclear bomb. The 2021 animated movie is adapted from the comic series Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One that served as a prequel to the video game.
Watch the film’s trailer:
Variety has reported that Nathan Johnson (KNIVES OUT, LOOPER, THE BROTHERS BLOOM) has taken over scoring duties on Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming psychological thriller NIGHTMARE ALLEY. He is replacing Alexandre Desplat who was previously scoring the movie. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Toni Collette, Ron Perlman and David Strathairn. Based on the 1946 novel of the same title by William Lindsay Gresham, the film centers on an ambitious young carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words as he hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is. The movie is scheduled to be released in theaters nationwide on December 17, 2021 by Searchlight Pictures.
The digital soundtrack to the thriller sequel DON’T BREATHE 2, composed by Roque Baños, has been released by Lakeshore Records. Sequel to the hit 2016 thriller that was directed by Fede Álvarez (and also scored by Baños) which starred Stephen Lang as Norman Nordstrom, an anti-villain with a twisted sense of morality who, despite having lost his sight, uses his heightened other senses and extraordinary combat skills to fend off three teenagers who invade his home. The sequel, directed by Rodo Sayagues (who co-wrote the first film with Álvarez) is set in the years following the initial deadly home invasion, where Norman Nordstrom (Lang) lives in quiet solace until his past sins catch up to him. “Every element of the film’s soundtrack is calibrated to feed the story’s relentless energy, not least Spanish composer Roque Baños exquisitely eerie original score, which blends seamlessly with the sound design,” said director Sayagues, quoted in a story by Shoot Online. “Sometimes sound dominates, sometimes it’s the music. They work together like different parts of a symphony.” The soundtrack is now available at these links.
Neal Acree has scored the new Amazon animated series THE LEGEND OF VOX MACHINA, coming up on Amazon Prime Video on February 4th, 2022. The series is based on Campaign One from the Dungeons & Dragons web series CRITICAL ROLE. “It was a huge honor to weave the threads of Jason Charles Miller and Sam Riegel’s original CRITICAL ROLE themes with a little of something of my own for this beautiful animation by Titmouse and Studio Grackle,” wrote Acree in a Facebook post. The score features Kristin Naigus on pennywhistle, Eric Rigler on Uilleann pipes, Paul Jacob Cartwright on fiddle and the Budapest Scoring Orchestra. Listen to the opening title sequence with Acree’s masterful main theme music:
MARGRETE – QUEEN OF THE NORTH, a large-scale period drama starring Trine Dryholm as Margrete I, tells the previously untold story of one of the most powerful regents in Scandinavian history. Standing at the absolute center of power, Margrete sacrifices herself completely for her land, gathering the three Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden into a peaceful and visionary union. The film is scored by noted Swedish film composer Jon Ekstrand (LIFE, QUEEN OF HEARTS, CHILD 44, I AM GRETA), who comments: “I wanted to try and integrate a medieval instrument into this score, but bring it forwards into a more contemporary context. I landed on key harp (aka nøgleharpe, nyckelharpa), totally falling in love with the instrument and taking intensive lessons from the ground up. I ended up playing it myself on much of the score as I did not want it to sound so polished, but more disharmonic and textural.” In addition, cello was one of the main solo instruments on the score, accompanied by a string orchestra from the Gothenburgs Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gunnar Erikssons Chamber Choir, which gave the score the extra cinematic breath that the story was telling: “I really wanted to go away from the traditional medieval score route, with the big brass section and epic battle sounds. So the idea was to create these harmonic textures with the key harp to build tension and then allow the cello to be the melodic core of the score. I collaborated with the great cello soloist Linnea Olsson. The score also includes one song, for which I had the opportunity to collaborate with Rebekka Karijord again. She wrote the text for and sang on the piece “Lullaby for Oluf,” that really encapsulates a special moment in the film.”
Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Presents director Joe Wright’s re-imagining of CYRANO, the timeless tale of a heartbreaking love triangle. The film stars Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Ben Mendelsohn, and features music by Bryce Dessner (THE TWO POPES, IRRESISTIBLE, C’MON C’MON) & Aaron Dessner (TRANSPECOS, WHAT WILL BECOME OF US, JOCKEY). The film releases to theaters on December 31st, 2021.
Disney is currently developing the sequel to the hit Halloween classic, HOCUS POCUS, which will see Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy returning to reprise their roles as the delightfully wicked Sanderson Sisters in the live-action comedy HOCUS POCUS 2, which will be coming exclusively to Disney+ in 2022. In the film, three young women accidentally bring the Sanderson Sisters back to modern-day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on the world.It’s been revealed by Film Music Reporter that John Debney will be returning to compose the score for the upcoming movie, having scored the original 1993 film. He is also composing music for the upcoming Disney+ Original movie, HOME SWEET HOME ALONE.
THE ESTATE is a 2020 American comedy thriller film that follows a spoiled son and the newest wife of a billionaire patriarch they plot to murder, forming a psycho-sexual bond with their brutally handsome hitman – in other words: a story about terrible people doing terrible things. The dark comedy thriller premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival in October 2020 and releases in North America, the U.K., and Ireland on October 22 from Vertical Entertainment. THE ESTATE features a delectably seductive score by composer Dan Dombrowsky. While the score is full of the same brand of depravity, horrors, thrills, and campy fun of the film; Dan wanted to emphasize the inhumanity of these characters by recording choral elements and then distorting them to remove the organic human elements, leaving them sounding soulless… dead. A self-taught composer with no formal background, Dan used to work for RCA Records before he “got tired of yelling at people and losing his mind” and said, “I should be a composer!” And he’s been nailing ever since, scoring films such as the indie drama INK & STEEL as well as TV shows like HUSTLE & TOW and THE CARBONARO EFFECT.
Music from the critically acclaimed STARZ Original TV Series BLINDSPOTTING by Ambrose Akinmusire and Michael Yezerski is now available digitally from Lions Gate Records. The series is adapted from the acclaimed 2018 film of the same name. The score plays a major role in the storytelling in each of the eight episodes; Yezerski scored the original film; both composers share a similar aesthetic yet have different musical roots, which allowed them to create something completely new that works superbly for this complex series. The album features the co-composers’ score intermixed with spoken word elements by the cast. Stream or purchase the soundtrack from these links.
Roman Molino Dunn (a.k.a. Electropoint) has scored writer/director Evan Jackson Leong’s first narrative feature SNAKEHEAD (releasing in theaters & digital on October 29th), which was met with critical acclaim at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The movie is inspired by the real-life Cheng Chui Ping, a.k.a. Sister Ping, who ran one of the largest snakehead operations – gang-led human-smuggling rackets – for nearly 20 years before her arrest, as well as other ripped-from-the-headlines stories of human smuggling and organized crime in NYC’s Chinatown. Roman created a dark, gritty orchestral-electronic hybrid score, which he describes as, “a textural approach to orchestral music.” The main musical theme for Chinatown is a dark Venetian Waltz. Because of Evan’s documentary background, a lot of his opening sequences are exploratory of place and time; with a 10-minute opening sequence with no dialogue, Roman had the freedom to step out melodically from the textural minimalism that dramas often require.
BLUE BAYOU is a 2021 American drama film written and directed by Justin Chon and deals with a Korean-American man raised in the Louisiana bayou who works hard to make a life for his family, but must confront the ghosts of his past as he discovers that he could be deported from the only country he has ever called home. The film is scored by Roger Suen (SPY INTERVENTION, LADY BUG, MR. PURPLE) – see Daniel Schweiger’s interview with Suen on scoring BLUE BAYOU at TheFilmMusicInstutute. Back Lost Music has issued a digital soundtrack album, available on Amazon and other digital music sources.
Both the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Original Score album for THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE are available from Hollywood Records. Emmy nominated composer Theodore Shapiro (BOMBSHELL, TROPIC THUNDER, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS, GHOSTBUSTERS 2016) composed and produced the original score album, which was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. The film is an intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall, and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. In the 1970s and 80s, Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker, rose from humble beginnings to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, and were revered for their message of love, acceptance, and prosperity, but it wasn’t long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled their carefully constructed empire. Link to score album here.
Mattel, Inc. and Warner Music Group’s Arts Music division have released the soundtrack for the new CG-animated series, HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. Streaming on Netflix, the new series reimagines the heroic adventures of the Guardians of Grayskull, offering a fresh, stylized take on the world of Eternia that’s designed to reflect the sensibilities and aspirations of today’s kids. The soundtrack was composed by Emmy-nominated multi-instrumentalist Michael Kramer, whose credits include music for DISNEY’S STAR WARS: GALAXY’S EDGE, LEGO NINJAGO: MASTERS OF SPINJITSU and video games such as ASSASSIN’S CREED: BLACK FLAG. The album includes the series theme song by platinum producer and songwriter Ali Dee. Of scoring the series, Kramer said, “Whether it was programming custom 80s synth patches for He-Man, banging out the wild drums of the Tiger Tribe, or screaming into the microphone to capture the pure evil of Skeletor, the vast mythology and cast of characters of MOTU never failed to inspire. I hope the melodies and colors of the score help kids (and parents!) fall in love with this universe as much as I have.” Listen or download the score from these links. Kramer’s score to Disney’s LEGO STAR WARS: TERRIFYING TALES has also been released. Stream or purchase the soundtrack at these links. For more details, see my story at musiquefantastique. LEGO STAR WARS: TERRIFYING TALES is now streaming on Disney +. Watch the show’s trailer:
Imagine going about your day when suddenly every male on the planet mysteriously DIES… except one. That’s the premise of FX’s new series Y: THE LAST MAN, now streaming on Hulu. Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel series by Brian K. Vaughan, the series is scored by Icelandic composer Herdís Stefánsdóttir (THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, WE’RE HERE), who took an unconventional approach to create an experimental, apocalyptic, adventurous, and hopeful score. The first piece of music she wrote was a requiem for the lost men. Herdis imagined a collective cry of every female voice in the world, screaming at each other in confusion, lamenting the loss of their loved ones, and the chaotic sounds of this uncertain new world. Herdis channeled all of that grief and loss into her music for the series as a response to tragedies happening in our own world the past couple years… a theme that was shortened and became the main titles for the series. Also, traveling to the north of Iceland, Herdis recorded ten women talking in a dissonant way and created a sound world of those voices as part of the score. She continued composing thematic pieces just from the script, writing music freely and developing away from picture the whole time. This freedom to write whole measures of music rather than just snippets allowed Herdis to delve deeper into the subject matter and react in a visceral, more emotional way, creating a score that sounds like nothing else on TV.
Read my interview with Herdis on scoring Y: THE LAST MAN at musiquefantastique.com
Watch the trailer:
Beat Records releases Ennio Morricone’s score for the 1971 giallo movie GLI OCCHI FREDDI DELLA PAURA (The Cold Eyes of Fear), directed by Enzo G. Castellari. The music is of the experimental kind, conducted by Bruno Nicolai and performed by Gruppo di improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza. With just a few instruments performing a sort of conversation, the Maestro effectively created an avant-garde atmosphere, suspended and rarefied, alternating with other violent clashes of sound that provide the ideal background to the situation of pure terror in which the protagonists find themselves. For the making of this CD (with a total length of 55:54), the stereo master tapes of the original session were used, providing another discographic tribute to the musical art of Ennio Morricone and the cinematic art of director Enzo G. Castellari. The CD includes liner notes by Fabio Babini, mastering by Claudio Fuiano, and graphic layout by Daniele De Gemini. See Beat Records here.
Lakeshore has released the digital soundtrack to the Amazon Original Series GOLIATH. Fans of the legal drama will be happy to know the score album by Jon Ehrlich and Jason Derlatka encompasses all four seasons of the entire Prime Video series starring Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton. The fourth and final season of GOLIATH premiered on September 24th on Prime Video. Says Ehrlich: “We’re incredibly proud of the work we did on GOLIATH. In season four we had a really special opportunity to score in the classic film noir vernacular, as the season is visually dripping with classic noir associations and references. It was such a rare gift to be inhabiting that melodic and harmonic space, and to be able to develop those themes and ideas across an entire season.” Says Derlatka: “We’ve had such a great time putting our heads together each season to develop a distinct sound and palette that reflects that season’s setting, visual language, and legal case, while also maintaining the looming GOLIATH sound which evokes that dark, shadowy, and, at times, twisted force that’s out there hanging over Billy.”
Check out the soundtrack to listen or download here.
The label has also announced THE NORTH WATER original series score, featuring music by pioneering Canadian electronic musician and sound artist Tim Hecker. The arctic-drama series, starring Jack O’Connell and Colin Farrell, is based on Ian McGuire’s 2016 best-selling novel of the same name, and is adapted by writer-director Andrew Haigh (45 YEARS, LOOKING). Lakeshore Records will release the album in the Americas and Invada Records in the rest of the world. THE NORTH WATER is Tim’s first score album release and stands as a creative beacon in his career. The trailblazing musician is known for his gritty and innovative solo works, which include thirteen albums to date. Of the soundtrack, Hecker says, "The score for THE NORTH WATER was written just before and during the pandemic in 2020, mostly over arguably one of the darkest winters of some memory in Montreal. The music was an attempt to add depth and texture to a five-hour doomed arctic journey that charts a trajectory from hardened optimism into abject futility. We worked with a primary palette of synthesizers, electronics, and treated cello, in rich live spaces as well as suffocating dead ones. This version of the score is an enhanced mix of some of the material that made its way into the project.” Listen or purchase the album here.
Lakeshore Records has also released THE MORNING SHOW Season Two digital original series soundtrack featuring music by composer Carter Burwell (SPACE FORCE, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, FARGO). Starring and executive produced by Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, the 10-episode second season debuted globally last September on Apple TV+. Says Burwell: “When I worked on the first season of THE MORNING SHOW I had no experience with episodic television and kept trying to fit it to my understanding of film structure (beginning, middle, and end). This time around I was able to loosen my approach and view each episode as its own emotional experience with its own rationale and style. Also, because the themes already existed, the score has a self-awareness that’s different than the first season, when it was finding itself.” Listen or download the soundtrack at Spotify. Also from Lakeshore and Endeavor Content is John Paesano’s score to Apple TV+’s TRUTH BE TOLD: Season 2, a 24-track digital soundtrack available at these links. Octavia Spencer stars as a true-crime podcaster who tries to solve the mystery surrounding a family patriarch’s death. In addition, Lakeshore has just announced the soundtrack to the original series SEAL TEAM, featuring music by W.G. Snuffy Walden (THE WEST WING, THE WONDER YEARS, ROSEANNE) and A. Patrick Rose (NASHVILLE, UNDER THE DOME). The 36-track album features selected cues from Seasons 1 to 4 of the military drama starring David Boreanaz, currently airing on CBS and streaming on Paramount+. The album is available at these links.
Quartet Records and Carosello Edizioni Musicali present an expanded, completely remastered edition of Ennio Morricone’s tasty cult score for VERGOGNA SCHIFOSI (1969; Dirty Angels). Directed by Mauro Severino, the film is about a misstep from the past that comes back to haunt three young perpetrators from Milan with vengeance on its mind. Morricone’s catchy score is based on the lyrics of the classic nursery rhyme “Giro giro tondo” (the Italian version of “Ring Around the Rosie”) and has some wonderful vocalise from the incredible Edda Dell’Orso. The hit LP soundtrack was a strongly edited selection, while the full score has not been available until now. Besides including the original LP program (including source cues that were never used in the movie), this edition premieres the complete takes of Morricone’s two key themes, including all alternates that were combined in different ways for the film as well as the soundtrack. Produced by Dániel Winkler, supervised by Claudio Fuiano and mastered by Chris Malone from first-generation master tapes, the release includes a richly illustrated booklet with liner notes by Gergely Hubai, who provides a breakdown of how each take was used for the creation of this memorable score. A limited edition of 500 units, see Quartet Vergogna.
Also from Quartet, Carosello Edizioni Musicali, and Beat Records is the ultimate 2-CD expanded edition of Bruno Nicolai’s cult score for FEMMINE INSAZIABILI (1969; The Insatiables). Directed by Alberto de Martino, the film is about a journalist who is hot on the trail of investigating his friend’s mysterious death in a car accident in a journey that takes him to funerals, orgies, and plenty of sexual escapades. After working along with Ennio Morricone on previous engagements, Nicolai went solo with this De Martino effort, kicking things off with “I Want It All,” a raunchy theme song performed by Lara Saint Paul both in English and Italian. Made up of groovy, funky instrumentals, psychedelic organ pieces and Edda Dell’Orso’s vocalism, it is simply one of the catchiest scores from the composer’s filmography. The score was released on LP in 1969 and later reissued on CD in an expanded edition by Easy Tempo. The new Quartet release contains the original album program on Disc 1, while the second disc features the complete film versions and bonus tracks, adding up to a generous program of over 100 minutes. Produced by Enrico De Gemini and mastered by Chris Malone, the booklet includes richly illustrated liner notes by Gergely Hubai that provide cinematic context to this obscure movie, including the shocking details about its two different cuts. A limited edition of 500 units, see QuartetFemmine.
And just now announced, the label is releasing the soundtrack album of the thirteenth collaboration between director Pedro Almodóvar and composer Alberto Iglesias for MADRES PARALELAS (Parallel Mothers). The film is a sensitive drama about two mothers who give birth the same day (Quartet Madres). Also announced is a new album that pairs two scores by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis for two beloved Spanish cartoon TV series, LA VUELTA AL MUNDO DE WILLY FOG (based on Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days as experienced by animals), and D’ARTACÁN Y LOS TRES MOSQUEPERROS, based in the Alexandre Dumas’ masterpiece The Three Musketeers, with all the characters being dogs. (QuartetDeAngelis.)
I covered Varèse Sarabande’s deluxe vinyl release of Graeme Revell’s THE CROW in my August column, but this month brings a longer deluxe edition on CD as the label’s latest club release. Varèse Sarabande’s expanded 2-CD edition of THE CROW adds 25 additional tracks to the original album including Revell’s end title song, “It Can’t Rain All the Time,” performed by Jane Siberry. Revell’s score is a unique mélange of synthesized, industrial, vocal, non-Western, and Western elements—with everything from tribal drumming to rock guitars, children’s choir, blues riffs and bird samples, to a 50-piece string orchestra. “No one in the production saw the relevance of chamber strings to the Crow story but I persevered and recorded them anyway—in 3/4 time for good measure!” Revell writes in his album notes. “Time has proven such themes to be the emotional core of similar movies, even when the bulk of the plot is action oriented. In THE CROW, heroism took no pleasure in retribution. Sadness always remained.” In addition to Revell’s notes, there are detailed notes on both film and score by yours’ truly. The digital album is available on all streaming and download services, while the CD is exclusive to VareseSarabande.com.
Additional news: Varèse Sarabande has released six deluxe edition digital albums: THE COWBOYS by John Williams, PAYCHECK by John Powell, KNOWING by Marco Beltrami, ON DEADLY GROUND, UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY and ROBOCOP 3 by Basil Poledouris. All of these former CD Club releases (many permanently sold out) are being made available digitally for the first time. The albums will be available through streaming and download services, while lossless files are available exclusively through VareseSarabande.com in WAV, FLAC and ALAC formats. Stream these titles, and others, here.
The Asylum has, surprise, put together their latest mockbuster, PLANET DUNE, in which a mission to rescue a marooned base on a desert planet turns deadly when the crew finds themselves hunted and attacked by the planet’s apex predators: giant sandworms (of all things). Starring Sean Young (who played Chani back in David Lynch’s 1984 version of DUNE), Emily Killian, and Tammy Klein, the film features a score by two of Asylum’s go-to composers, Christopher Cano (SHARKNADO series, ARCTIC APOCALYPSE, ZOOMBIES 2 and much more) and Mikel Shane Prather (AQUARIUM OF THE DEAD, MEGALODON RISING, JUNGLE RUN). Despite the familiar concept of PLANET DUNE, the composers’ scores are known to be original, effective, and accomplished. The film debuts October 29th. Watch the film’s trailer, if you dare:
ABC’s reimagining of ‘The Wonder Years’ is the type of project composers Jacob Yoffee and Roahn Hylton have been waiting for. The longtime collaborators’ capabilities have been fully utilized on this series, allowing them to produce songs as well as create the musical score for this brand-new groundbreaking family story. The composers have centered the score around 1968-era music: soul, R&B, Motown, rhythm sections, horns & strings, twangy electric guitar. It’s a very groove-based score with a soul funk palette that’s unique to today. The composers have also produced at least one song to be performed by the cast in every episode. “The amount of care, thought, and excitement that we’ve put into this project is everything,” they said.
Johnny Greenwood has scored SPENCER, directed by Pablo Larraín and starring Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Sean Harris, and Sally Hawkins in a drama about the breakup of the marriage between Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Though rumors of affairs and a divorce abound, peace is ordained for the Christmas festivities at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate. But this year, things will be profoundly different. SPENCER is an imagining of what might have happened during those few fateful days. The film open in theaters November 5, 2021.
Composer Reber Clark’s soundtrack for the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s Dark Adventure Radio Theatre production of THE HORROR IN THE MUSEUM has been released and is availableto listen or purchase on his bandcamp page.
Play Time Records of France has released an album of three Georges Delerue scores, TENDRE POULET (1977, Dear Inspector), CHERE LOUISE (1972, Dear Louise), and LE DIABLE PAR LA QUEUE (1969, The Devil By The Tail).
Film composer David Michael Frank, known for his action scores during the ’80s and ‘90s and many other films, has scored the documentary feature CELEBRATING LAUGHTER: THE LIFE & FILMS OF COLIN HIGGINS, commemorating the work of the late comedy writer/director Colin Higgins, known for HAROLD AND MAUDE, FOUL PLAY, SILVER STREAK, NINE TO FIVE and other feature films. The documentary will premiere at the new Motion Picture Academy Museum on December 20th, which is the 50th anniversary of the opening day of HAROLD AND MAUDE. The score is a mix of live orchestra and sampled instruments. “I also wrote a song for it in the style of Cat Stevens because Colin used Cat Stevens songs in HAROLD AND MAUDE,” the composer told Soundtrax. “Todd Smallwood wrote the lyrics. The song is called “Whoever You Are,” and it celebrates individuality. It’s used as the main title and another version is used over the end credits.”
Lakeshore Records has released Kathryn Bostic’s EMMY-nominated score to AMY TAN: UNINTENDED MEMOIR. The 14-track album showcases her composition for the EMMY-nominated American Masters (PBS) documentary about pioneering author Amy Tan. The score is an emotionally rich backdrop to the documentary, centered around a compelling piano motive supported by strings and percussion, which reflect the strength of Tan’s spirit as her life and career unfold in the film. The album is available at these links.
Lakeshore has also released the soundtrack to the synthwave/synth music documentary THE RISE OF THE SYNTHS in retro-tastic cassette format as well as digitally. The film is a journey back and forth in time from the roots of the scene to its impact on today’s pop culture. Exploring a secret world, populated by some of the last rebels on the Internet, the film asks various questions, including: “Why now, this nostalgia for the 80s? Where does it come from? And what will become of it?” The brightly appealing electronic score is by Robin Ogden (aka OGRE). The digital album was released in October 2020 and remains available on Amazon and elsewhere, while the new limited cassette edition is available only at the Lakeshore Records webshop (sorry, US addresses only for now).
JACINTA is a 2021 documentary that was filmed for over three years about an unhealthily close bond between mother-and-daughter drug addicts. As a child, Jacinta became entangled in her mother's world of drugs and crime and has followed her in and out of the system since she was a teenager. With unparalleled access and a gripping vérité approach, director Jessica Earnshaw paints a deeply intimate portrait of mothers and daughters and the effects of trauma over generations. The film was scored by Gil Talmi, who has made his score available on bandcamp. “As a film composer, I am drawn to this type of storytelling,” Talmi writes on the. “It allows for nuance in the music itself, which I welcome as a challenge and methodology… Jessica was also very adamant from the get go about not wanting the score to become another cliché, guitar-driven addiction score, and an orchestral approach was going to be too big and potentially patronizing for an intimate, understated project such as this. So the score has an understated minimal approach to it, grounded in raw simplicity and a commitment to mostly stay out of the way.”
Eloi Ragot’s (THE BREAK, WOMEN OF THE NIGHT, RESERVOIR, UNSEEN) score for THE RED ORCHESTRA marks the launch of MovieScore Media’s new sub-label Reality Bytes, which is dedicated to documentary music. The 2021 film re-examines the story of the Red Orchestra: the most important resistance network in Nazi Germany, whose operations extended from Berlin and Brussels to Paris. See details here.
Nainita Desai has composed the score for PATRICK KIELTY: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF UNION, wherein Irish television personality Patrick Kielty explores what the future holds for Northern Ireland on the 100th anniversary of its creation. In this very personal film, Patrick’s focus is on a new generation born long after the ceasefire, as he tries to understand what is driving this new wave of unrest, particularly in loyalist communities. He also explores why some feel that a united Ireland could now be on the horizon and how the trauma of Northern Ireland’s past is shaping its future. He also investigates why a new trade border in the Irish Sea has led to violent protests, sparking fear among some of a return to conflict, nearly 25 years after the end of the Troubles; a conflict which claimed thousands of lives, including that of his father Jack Kielty. The doc is now showing in the UK on BBC One and Two.
BAD SPORT is a new Netflix sports documentary series which follows six stories of sports and crime, told by the athletes, coaches, and law enforcement officials involved. David Schweitzer has scored the series. “Each of the six episodes is a little film in it’s own right, with a unique atmosphere and mood (and score!),” Schweitzer wrote in a Facebook post. “It was a lot of work over a period of a year or so, but a pleasure to collaborate with the very talented teams of directors, editors, and producers. Even if you know (or care) nothing for sport, there are some really gripping stories here!”
Daniel Pemberton is composing the original music for National Geographic’s upcoming Disney+ docuseries WELCOME TO EARTH. The show is hosted by Will Smith and follows the actor/filmmaker on an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime adventure around the world to explore Earth’s greatest wonders and reveal its most hidden secrets. In each episode, he is guided by elite explorers to get up close and personal with some of the most thrilling spectacles on the planet. Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel are executive producing the 6-parter for Protozoa Pictures. Pemberton has previously contributed music to the Aronofsky & Handel-produced docuseries ONE STRANGE ROCK FOR PROTOZOA. WELCOME TO EARTH is set to premiere this December on Disney+. – via filmmusicreporter. Pemberton has also scored THE RESCUE, a documentary directed by E. Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin (FREE SOLO); the film details the rescue of a Thai soccer team trapped in a cave for 16 days. The movie premiered at the Telluride Film Festival earlier this month.
Watch the trailer for THE RESCUE:
Node Records has released a digital soundtrack by Jongnic Bontemps (4000, LAST NIGHT IN ROZZIE, CITIZEN ASHE) for the Amazon Prime Video original documentary MY NAME IS PAULI MURRAY, which looks at the life and ideas of Pauli Murray, a non-binary black lawyer, activist, and poet who influenced both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall. Available on Amazon.
Segun Akinola, best known for his work on the latest series of BBC’s DOCTOR WHO, scored the Apple TV+ and BBC documentary 9/11: INSIDE THE PRESIDENT’S WAR ROOM, narrated by Jeff Daniels. The music featured in this 20th anniversary retrospective is a daring fusion of traditional instruments and electro acoustic manipulation, which aims to encapsulate the mood of a Presidential Administration in the immediate hours after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Akinola has continued to make a mark across the documentary world, uplifting a variety of projects with his scores. Notably, he scored CNN’s THE LOST SONS, directed by Ursula Macfarlane, which premiered to great acclaim at SXSW, as well as the BBC’s BLACK AND BRITISH: A FORGOTTEN HISTORY, THE HUMAN BODY: SECRETS OF YOUR LIFE REVEALED, and EXPEDITION VOLCANO.
HELL OR HIGH SEAS follows U.S. Navy veteran Taylor Grieger and writer Stephen O’Shea as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime – sailing around Cape Horn, the world’s most treacherous ocean waters. The film is a moving portrait of a veteran using his own painful journey with PTSD to find healing for himself, and pave a smoother path for veterans returning to civilian life. The score has been composed by Michael Aharon, an Argentina-born, Philadelphia-raised, New York-based composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. For more details on the film, see https://www.hellorhighseas.com/.
Coming to theaters this October 22nd from National Geographic Documentary, BECOMING COUSTEAU (2020) is a look at the life, passions, achievements and tragedies surrounding the famous explorer and environmentalist Jacques Cousteau, featuring an archive of his newly restored footage. The film is directed by Liz Garbus and features music by scoring team Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans.
Clint Mansell’s synth score to Ben Wheatley’s IN THE EARTH is available from UK’s Invada Records as a limited edition exclusive mail order variant as well as the standard black vinyl edition. For the score, Mansell actually captured the sound of singing plants via PlantWave MIDI sprout machine, in keeping with the vegetal themes of the film. “It’s big, ominous, sometimes beautiful and often eerie – think BLADE RUNNER or ANNIHILATION – not to mention unsettling at times,” said the composer. As the world searches for a cure to a devastating virus, a scientist and a park scout venture deep into the woods. As night falls, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness as the forest comes to life around them. This and other vinyl variants are available from Invada Records.
Varèse Sarabande Records has announced its Record Store Day Black Friday 2021 titles: BLUE VELVET: Deluxe Edition by Angelo Badalamenti, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON by John Powell, GHOSTS OF MARS by John Carpenter, and THE IRON GIANT by Michael Kamen in a first-ever Picture Disc. These special limited-run LP releases will be available on Black Friday, November 26, at participating Record Store Day retailers. Visit RecordStoreDay.com for details.
In partnership with Netflix, Mondo presents Carlos Rafael Rivera’s Emmy award®-winning score to Netflix’s breakout 2020 show, THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT, on vinyl. Rivera said of his Emmy-winning score, “Having such a complex protagonist as Beth Harmon, I wanted to avoid writing a ‘Beth Theme,’ but rather themes for different aspects of her character: addiction, genius, mischief, growth, and more. By resorting to these, I could apply and develop them throughout the seven episodes, as Beth herself developed, helping create a more holistic representation of her character.” The 2XLP album, mastered for vinyl by Darren Page, features artwork by Alan Hynes and comprehensive liner notes by Charlie Brigden, and is pressed on 2x 140 Gram Color Vinyl. Housed inside a 3D optical illusion die-cut jacket, with two bespoke die-cut inner sleeves. See: Mondo.
Quartet Records and Studiocanal present a 2-LP set – the first official vinyl release of the complete score of Jerry Goldsmith’s BASIC INSTINCT (1992), starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone. At the time of the film’s release, Varèse Sarabande issued a 45-minute CD produced by Goldsmith himself – a great presentation of the score’s highlights. This new vinyl release presents the full 70+ minute score (Quartet has also reissued its 2015 2-disc CD version of the complete score as well). Produced by Neil S. Bulk and Bruce Botnick, and specially remastered for vinyl from the original digital tapes by Mr. Botnick with lacquers mastered by Bernie Grundman, this premiere LP edition has been pressed in 180 gram black vinyl. Presented in a gatefold jacket, it includes a separate 6-page insert featuring authoritative liner notes from Daniel Schweiger.
See Quartet Records
Waxwork Records and WaterTower Music present Joseph Bishara’s score to James Wan’s MALIGNANT on vinyl. The 2xLP presentation features blood red with gold blade and cold blue splattered vinyl, old-style tip-on gatefold jackets with satin coating, a 12”x12” insert, and original custom key art. See Waxwork. In addition to Milan’s digital release of the PRISONER OF THE GHOSTLAND soundtrack by Joseph Trapanese (see review section above), Waxwork Records will release an exclusive vinyl edition of the soundtrack, which will arrive as a deluxe double vinyl edition of the soundtrack pressed on 180-gram colored vinyl with gatefold packaging, liner notes from composer Joseph Trapanese, a 12″x12″ art print insert, with layout and design by Matt Needle. Preorder now from Waxwork.
Silva Screen has released a 2XLP vinyl collection of soundtracks from the STAR TREK Saga ranging from the first episodes’ original themes (dating back to 1979) to more recent episodes’ music, available for the first time in a vinyl version. Available via DiggersFactory
Mondo is distributing Lakeshore Records vinyl edition of THE STAND by Stephen King, music from the limited-event series composed by Nathaniel Walcott and Mike Mogis in a 2XLP presentation limited to 500 copies. This will be the only physical edition of THE STAND. Mondo is also distributing the vinyl edition of A QUIET PLACE PART II by Marco Beltrami, featuring artwork by Matt Ryan Tobin, mastered for vinyl by Darren Page, pressed on 140 Gram Color Vinyl. See Mondo. The label also offers the soundtrack to Santa Monica Studio’s GOD OF WAR, composed by Bear McCreary. The soundtrack features some of Bear’s most beautiful compositions to date, bouncing back and forth between solemn and sublime. See MondoGodOfWar.
Rustblade Records presents, for the first time ever on vinyl, the rousing and eclectic soundtrack by Claudio Simonetti for the Italian science fiction thriller HANDS OF STEEL (aka Vendetta dal Futuro). This musical score is rich with old analog synthesizers, arpeggios, tense rhythms and maestro Simonetti’s signature atmospheres. This limited edition release contains a wealth of unreleased material that’s never before been heard. Pre-orders now available, will ship in February 2022. See Rustblade.
Gareth Coker has won the Ivor Novello award for best original video game score of 2020 with Ori And The Will Of The Wisps. See my August 2021 Soundtrax column for an interview with Coker on scoring this score and others.
Bear McCreary has announced his official return to the God of War franchise as composer for God Of War Ragnarok . Watch the trailer below, which features a taste of his next score, including a significant new character theme:
The Battlefield 2042 official soundtrack has been released by Lakeshore Records, co-composed by two-time Grammy Award, Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy, and BAFTA Award-winning composer Hildur Guðnadóttir in collaboration with two-time Grammy Award-winning music producer and composer Sam Slater (score producer JOKER, CHERNOBYL). Lakeshore Records and Invada Records will co-release a vinyl edition at a later date. “We are thrilled to be writing our first video game score for Battlefield 2042, and teaming with Electronic Arts,” say the composers. “It was such a deeply creative experience to dive into this world and create a truly unique and disruptive musical environment for the game.” Purchase or stream the soundtrack here.
BAFTA-nominated French composer Olivier Derivière (A Plague Tale: Innocence, Streets Of Rage 4, Remember Me) scores his most ambitious soundtrack yet in Dying Light 2 Stay Human, the sequel to the best-selling open-world action game. Derivière commissioned A-list avant-garde musicians and custom-built instrumentation to bring a unique, emotional soundscape to the game’s deep story and visceral world infected by a viral outbreak. In his pursuit of unorthodox sounds, Derivière commissioned the London Contemporary Orchestra, one of the world’s leading innovative and respected avant-garde music ensembles, and recorded at Abbey Road Studios with three-time GRAMMY® award-winning score engineer John Kurlander. During their collaborative process, Derivière captured the experimental articulations of the orchestra to enhance the emotional narrative, while his rhythmic electronic synth soundtrack is steered by the strings of a bespoke electric psaltery instrument blended into the score and manipulated to evoke the gritty, lonely landscape and cold, corrupted state of the world’s seemingly hopeless future.See here for more game information. Watch a Behind The Scenes At Abbey Road Studios video of the recording session below (and below that, listen to Derivière’s main theme):
Listen to Main Theme Music Track “Run, Jump, Fight”, Featuring The London Contemporary Orchestra and Electric Psaltery Instrument:
Outcast 2 - A New Beginning is coming soon to PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X. Twenty years after the award-winning action adventure hit Outcast pioneered the genre of non-linear open-world games, the long-awaited sequel sees Cutter Slade return to the spectacular alien world of Adelpha. Resurrected by the almighty Yods, he has returned to find the Talans enslaved, the world stripped of its natural resources, and his own past intertwining with the invading robot forces. It’s up to him to go on a mission and save the planet again. Lennie Moore, best known as the composer of the 1999 video game Outcast, and more recently, the WATCHMEN Motion Comic episodic web series. See more details about the forthcoming Outcast 2 game here.
FYI: See my interview with Lennie about scoring the WATCHMEN Motion Comic webseries in my May 2021 Soundtrax column.
Listen to the bombastic trailer music by composer Lennie Moore for the announcement of Outcast 2 - A New Beginning:
Brazilian composer Pedro Bromfman, perhaps best known for his music from NARCOS (TV, 2015–2017) and ROBOCOP (2014), is providing the score for Far Cry® 6, the next entry in Ubisoft’s critically acclaimed narrative-driven video game series. The game takes place in the fictional country of Yara, and the music reflects its surroundings with roots in traditional Latin American and Caribbean music, while being completely free to experiment with contemporary sounds, elements, and techniques. “The album is based on a very modern score, drenched in lush soundscapes, driving percussion, processed organic instruments and a ton of synthesizers,” Bromfman said of his score. The Far Cry® 6 Original Game Soundtrack album is available across all available platforms featuring 21 tracks. On October 21st, the expanded Far Cry® 6: Complete Music (Original Game Soundtrack) will also be released. Purchase and stream here. Ubisoft has also released Far Cry® 6: The Music of Yara (from the original game soundtrack), a compilation of 28 tracks of in-game original songs and indie licensed tracks (a total duration of about 90 minutes of music) a companion soundtrack that highlights the Spanish language music featured in the game. Ubisoft Audio Director Eduardo Vaisman explained: “When we started planning on the music for Far Cry 6, one thing became clear: we wanted Yara to be more than a fantasy place to set the conflict between tyranny and revolution. It needed to feel like a real place, a place most of Latinos can relate to and a place that wanted to be visited by the curious adventurer or tourists looking for beautiful beaches. This soundtrack reflects how the Latino culture could be represented like a constellation of different emotions.”
Eidos-Montréal has released a new trailer detailing the out-of-this-world narrative adventure that awaits in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy video game. Set in the wake of an epic conflict known as the Galactic War, the game invites players to walk a lightyear in Peter Quill’s jet boots and lead his band of misfit heroes-for-hire across the cosmos in search of glory, riches, and a way out of whatever mess they’ve gotten themselves into this time. The game’s action is amplified by the sounds of the Star-Lord Band (Steve Szczepkowski & Yohann Boudreault), the name of Peter Quill’s favorite rock band, which eventually inspires his iconic moniker. A single from the soundtrack was released on mid-September (see: http://hollywoodrecs.co/GOTGGame) and is available in digital music stores, as well as part of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Spotify playlist featuring ten licensed songs from the game.
Lakeshore Records has released Scavengers original soundtrack, available digitally. Composed by BAFTA Games Award-nominated Kazuma Jinnouchi (Halo, Star Wars Visions: The Ninth Jedi), the intense and ominous electronic-score sets the tone for the team-based PvEvP online shooter game developed by Josh Holmes and Mary Olson (Halo, Battlefield). Jinnouchi created a special flute that adds otherworldly atmospherics that represent the harsh environs of the game. Developed by Midwinter Entertainment, Scavengers is available for free in Early Access on Steam and Epic Games Store on PC, with a console release due at a later date. The soundtrack is available at these links.
Capcom Sound Team announced the Mega Man Legends 2 original video game soundtrack. Continuing on from the Mega Man franchise’s transition from 2D to 3D graphics as seen in Mega Man Legends, Capcom infused this sequel with improved gameplay, graphics, and a much more complex plot – and of course, a soundtrack to match.
Previously only released in 2009 on CD (under the title Rockman DASH 2), Mega Man Legends 2 now makes its debut commercial appearance – on both vinyl and audio cassette – complete with new artwork by mushbuh and liner notes by Jeremy Parish. The score is epic in scope, touched with a mischievous playfulness to match the game’s sense of humor. Available to pre-order on LITA Exclusive Blue Wax – see LightInTheAttic here.
Randall D. Larson was for many years senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine. A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: A Survey of Film Music in the Fantastic Cinema and Music from the House of Hammer. He currently writes articles on film music and sf/horror cinema, and has written liner notes for nearly 300 soundtrack CDs. Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe for copyediting assistance.