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Soundtrax: Episode 2021-9
November 2021

Feature Interviews:

  • Brandon Roberts: Scoring MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM
  • I Know What You Did With Your Night Teeth:
    Drum & Lace and Ian Hultquist in Horror Territory

Interviews by Randall D. Larson

Overviews: Soundtrack Reviews:

ETERNALS/Djawadi (Marvel Music), FOUNDATION Season 1/McCreary (Lakeshore), HELP, I SHRUNK MY FRIENDS/Dern (MSM), INVASION Season 1/Richter (Decca), KIMANA TUSKERS/Gallagher (MSM Short Cuts), STAR TREK PRODIGY/Melumad (Viacom Intl), VENOM – LET THERE BE CARNAGE/Beltrami (Sony). VERGOGNA SCHIFOSI/ Morricone (Quartet), WEEKEND IN DUNKIRK/Jarre (Music Box/)

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

Set in an alternate America where witches ended their persecution nearly 300 years ago during the Salem witch trials, after cutting a deal with the U.S. government to fight for their country, MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM follows Raelle Collar, Abigail Bellweather, and Tally Craven, three witches who have enlisted into the U.S. Army. They train in combat magic and use their vocal cords to enact “seeds” or “seed sounds,” layering vocal sounds to create powerful spells and find themselves at odds against a terrorist organization known as the Spree, a witch resistance group fighting against the conscription of witches.

The series is composed by Brandon Roberts, a composer whose musical inclinations came at a young age, surrounded by the eclectic musical scene of his hometown, Carmel, California, earning awards from Clint Eastwood and The Monterey Jazz Festival. He continued his musical studies at the University of Southern California and entered the prestigious Scoring for Motion Pictures & Television graduate program. Upon graduating, Brandon continued composing for films, television, and albums in a wide range of styles, learning his trade while working as orchestrator and then co-composer for veteran composers Bear McCreary and Marco Beltrami, working on such notable scores as HUMAN TARGET (TV, 2010), A QUIET PLACE (I and II), LOGAN, UNDERWATER, CHAOS WALKING, and Netflix’s recent horror trilogy, FEAR STREET. In 2018 Brandon and Marco Beltrami won Primetime Emmy Awards for their score on the Academy Award Winning Documentary, FREE SOLO. Recently, on his own Brandon has scored  THE A-LIST (2015), THE FOURTH DOOR (TV, 2015), the sci-fi drama BLACK BOX (2020), with much more to come.

Watch the Season 1 Trailer for MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM:

Q: You worked with Bear McCreary and Marco Beltrami for many years, gradually taking on more duties until you began scoring films on your own. How did you get involved in this and how did working with them serve as a training ground for you in film music scoring and production?

Brandon Roberts: I was doing orchestration and some additional music for Bear McCreary, and then a good friend of mine, Marcus Trumpp, who had been working with Marco on some films – and we still all work together –told me that Marco needed help on this TV show called V. They were swamped with some other stuff so I thought  this would be great, because I had been doing a lot of TV with Bear. So I jumped in with both feet and it worked out well. It also happened to coincide where Marco was getting really busy, so after I did V I jumped right into some of his other films that he had going on, like SCREAM 4 and WOMAN IN BLACK. So it happened very quickly in a good way; it was a combination of having a friend on the inside [laughs] and then I had some really good timing and some good opportunities. Ever since it’s been exactly what you described – a little more responsibility on each gig until finally it’s doing films together.

Q: How did you become involved in MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM?

Brandon Roberts: I had met the music executives over at Freeform via my agent at the time, and we all thought it’d be cool to find the right project to work on. The opportunity for MOTHERLAND came up when they were interviewing. I had an interview with Eliot Laurence, the show creator, and Kevin Messick, the producer, and we just hit it off. We were all on the same page with Elliot’s vision of how the show would work, and how sound and magic would be utilized in the show. All the planets aligned just great, so I jumped in and wrote a few themes for them – concepts that I had that I was worried might be a little off-the-wall for them – like I used throat mics and recorded walkie-talkie static and all this for the scary stuff, but then I went very emotional and thematic with the emotional stuff. I had no idea if both of them would turn them off or not, but they loved it. That was how that started and then it was hitting the ground running on that one as well. It was a hefty job – I feel like each episode is a feature film in its own.

Q: How did you come up with the show’s main title music?

Brandon Roberts: That actually was Kevin Messick’s idea. One of the first things I played for him was this sequence where I thought it would be cool to have a theme for the main characters and a theme for the witch’s military connection to America. It’s semi heroic but could also be played introspectively and in a variety of different ways. There’s a scene where they’re all pledging to join the military and I had written this thing, and when I first played it for them they loved it, and Kevin said, “Can you guys really quickly grab this and put it on the main title sequence?” – which we hadn’t even discussed at this point. It literally, almost one-to-one, worked perfectly. He just sat back and smiled! So that was very lucky, and then I just adapted it and filled it out a little bit, did some recording, but it was to his credit that it wound up being the main title theme.

Q: How would you describe that title music?

Brandon Roberts: I tried to have some degree of scope, because there’s an epic quality to it. I liked the idea of incorporating voice in it – that was something that we added after we’d decided to use that theme for the main title. I added voice to it because the female vocals are such a huge part of the show. Eliot had this idea of using foot stomps, because all the female soldiers stomping their feet is a big part of the show [In lieu of clapping, military witches in MOTHERLAND show enthusiasm and support by rapidly stomping their feet on the ground to mimic the sound of thunder - motherlandwiki]. We recorded tons of stomps which I treated electronically and reversed them and they became percussive elements. There’s also a hint of lore and history to it, so it was trying to capture all of those elements. It couldn’t sound too modern because of the backstory and the lore that goes back hundreds of years.

Listen to Brandon’s Main Title theme from MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM

Q: As you’ve alluded, music is a large sonic factor throughout this show, what with the mother tongue and various vocalisms sung by the characters. How involved were you in this aspect of the series?

Brandon Roberts: Every single situation is taken differently and each one has to be discussed separately. I would say about 80% or more of the cues fall into the category of the sound designer. Last year we had Paula Fairfield doing all the sound design, so she and I might discuss with Eliot if the sequence in question if this is something that could be treated after the fact, or is this something we should have pre-recorded for on-screen, is this something I’ll need to write because it’s music related, or is this something that’s purely sound design?

We did a fair amount of pre-records with Úyanga Bold, she’s a vocalist who’s a huge part of the sound of the show, and is able to do amazing things with her voice – so much so that not only is she able to be a huge part of the music, but then she’s also been a huge part of the sound design. We’ve branched out in everything and tried some other things but it always comes back to what she’s able to do with her voice and then how the sound designer is able to treat it electronically and then I’m able to incorporate it at times into the score – but a lot of the vocal magic stems from literally her voice or manipulations of it. From a sonic standpoint, she’s one of the show’s greatest assets, in terms of what she’s able to do with her voice, and there are things in the show that you wouldn’t even know came from a human voice, and they’re all her!

One good story was, Eliot asked during a recording session, “I know this is a crazy thought, but can you do like an air raid siren?” And she’d go “Oh yeh, hold on a second please.” And she’s got this very soft voice – she’s very soft spoken – and then all of the sudden she belts out the loudest sounding thing I’ve ever heard, to the point where it literally sounded like you were in the blitz in World War II. And she’s like, “Oh, can we try another pass, please, I’d like to overdub.” And then she does it again, and we all just sat back and started laughing because it was so good and so unexpectedly spectacular! So we can pretty much throw anything at her and she’s game.

Q: Your musical palette for this series is quite wide-ranging, covering all manner of dramatic, emotive, and horrific sequences and much more.  Would you describe your instrumental palette and how you have used specific musical treatment for key sequences in the series?

Brandon Roberts: You’re correct that the show runs a gamut, stylistically, in terms of the drama of the score. A lot of it comes from discussions with Eliot during the spotting sessions, about how he wants a certain sequence to feel. That will, in turn, steer me toward a certain direction with sounds. Most of the time it’s instinctual. I’ll just say, “This could be a cool thing to try in this sequence.” The good thing about working with Eliot is that he’s game for some pretty out-there explorations, and he gives me the courage to try some stuff I wouldn’t normally try. It almost always works out quite well. I do a lot of treating of instruments so that they don’t sound like the instrument by the time I’m done manipulating it; I might do something to a cello or I might do something, like I mentioned, with the walkie-talkies or something like that to create a hybrid sound. For the most part it’s a case-by-case basis, but solo cello and solo violin have definitely been a huge part of the sound of the show, in addition to manipulating all kinds of sounds.

Q: Have you had a budget for live musicians and singers, or have you been restricted to using digital samples, or a mix of the two?

Brandon Roberts: It’s probably a bit of both. There are always budgetary restrictions and you can only do so much, but I would say the show lends itself to a sound that incorporates both synthesized elements as well as some live elements. Those are the kind of shows you hope for when you have a situation like that, where you can maybe only hire one or two musicians, but it’s a lot different than a situation where the whole score is supposed to sound like a symphonic orchestra and it just isn’t going to, no matter how good the synthesized version of it is. It just doesn’t have the same feel, though if you are going to work with limitations it’s best to sculpt the score that way, in my opinion, so that you’re not trying to make something without sufficient resources.

Q: What was your technique in working with those digital samples to provide an engaging and articulate orchestral sound for the show?

Brandon Roberts: I spent a lot of time picking sounds up front, making sounds, and/or manipulating existing sounds, That could be something from an interesting synthesized soft lead sound to a cool percussive hit or something like that which I think has character. I spent a lot of time up front picking the palette for the show. What’s very odd is after doing this for many years I still do not know what informs those decisions – it’s absolutely instinctual. I have my thoughts on what this should feel like, sonically. Maybe something sounds too harsh; “No, that’s not going to work for that.” Or maybe another sound is too percussive so we need to soften the percussion. All of these different elements help sculpt the sound or at least help inform me that I need to sculpt to sound a little differently – and then that becomes the palette of the show based also on reaction from Eliot. Then we just hone in on what the sound is. In this particular case we honed in on it very quickly, so I was very fortunate; it’s not like it’s the same in every episode, it changes based on certain sequences and certain episodes or new characters. The whole show has an interesting kind of hybrid between the synthesized sounds, the live stuff, and the emotional music.

Q: Would you describe the score’s thematic construction and how your themes have developed across the first two seasons?

Brandon Roberts: At the beginning there were four prominent themes. There’s the main Motherland theme for the main title, as we discussed. Then there was a theme for the Spree, which are the main antagonists in the first season, and that’s where I used a lot of really nasty digital distortion, the walkie-talkie noises, etcetera. There’s a soft, kind of friendship theme for our main characters, there’s a theme for Raelle who is one of the trio of main characters which uses a soft, rustic fiddle sound. There are some secondary motifs, but those are the four building blocks of themes – but then, of course, new themes are needed as the show goes on. For example in Season 2, Eliot introduced this whole mystery about Nicte, this other witch, and she had to have her own thematic element, which was a really heavy breathing motif. There’s also another antagonist who’s introduced in Season 2 – Alban Hearst, the leader of the Camarilla – which uses this bendy/eerie, distorted low bass sound, and then there’s the Mycelium [a seemingly sentient and powerful wall, found in Fort Salem, with some fungal properties], which was only alluded to in Season 1 but became a huge aspect of Season 2, and for that I did used shimmery strings and also included this bending, mysterious synth lead sound, and then doubled it with an eerie electric cello. So, by the time you’re done, it’s a little bit like GAME OF THRONES or any long-running epic show where you wind up with a few main themes but then along the way you realize, “Oh, we need a musical identity for this!” and by the time you’re done there’s like fifteen identifiable motifs!

Watch the Season 2 Trailer for MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM:

Q: How have you treated the three primary hero witches, musically/thematically, as they have grown across the arc of the series thus far?

Brandon Roberts: Originally I had the theme for Raelle and I had a friendship theme for all three of them, but I always thought that Raelle was the core, at least in Season 1. But then in Season 2 when stuff really started to open up with Abigail and Tally, their arcs wound up being front-and-center as well. I did a theme for Abigail that’s also vocal, but it gets used in instrumental ways as well, and that ended up being not just the theme for Abigail but, because her lineage and her pedigree is so important to her and with the whole history of the Bellweather name, it was also supposed to double as an identity of that as well. Then for Tally, I always thought that she’s the one that holds the three of them together; she’s the one who says, “Hey, let’s put our differences aside, we’re stronger together.” So I wanted her to have a motif that’s based on the friendship theme, because to me that’s what she is, she’s the core of the three of them, even if in the first Season Raelle’s musical arc got more attention, I felt that Tally was really what holds the three of them together. So I wanted it to extrapolate a little bit for her. She doesn’t really have a theme as much as maybe a motif that’s related to the friendship theme, and then it’s quoted just slightly in the main title, towards the end.

Q: How did you treat the relationship between Raelle and Scylla in your score?

Brandon Roberts: Raelle and Scylla’s theme was established in the pilot when they take the salva drug in the forest. It appears throughout both seasons in varied iterations and is played on a relatively unique instrument called a Guitar Viol. That’s an electro-acoustic instrument akin to a cross between a cello and bowed guitar.

Listen to Brandon’s theme for Raele and Scylla:

Q: What kind of theme did you compose for General Alder, the leader of the witch military, whose character goes through a number of permutations through the first two seasons?

Brandon Roberts: We’ve done some stuff together with the actress for the vocals. She’s an amazing actress and her character is so well written, so whenever she gives a speech it’s always such a great moment for music, and it’s always kind of inspiring. I extrapolated the chords from the main title and, a lot of time, for her, I’ll use these moving chords hinting at the main theme. The ancient chord of the witches and the military fits her because she sums up the whole show. She is Fort Salem and the entire history of the witches, on some level, and so it made sense for her to be related to the main theme. There’s a sequence even in the pilot where you hear it; she’s talking to Abigail, this is one of her first really cool, poignant speeches, and I used it there. That was the first iteration of her theme, and then it’s used throughout some of her other speeches. She always does these beautiful monologs; I could literally listen to that woman talk about anything.

Q: What kind of music have you created for the film’s supernatural elements?

Brandon Roberts: If they’re conjuring up tornadoes or doing some sort of vocal magic, I tend to try to get out of the way, because what Paula did last season was so amazing, it deserves to be exposed and not be mixed with music. So a lot of times I’ll either stay out of the way, or if a lot of her stuff is high range, I might do something down low to avoid interfering with the sound design. She and I talked ad nauseum last season about each episode, in terms of what her approach would be and what my approach should be, and we really developed a beautiful kind of shorthand. I’d say, “Why don’t we make this about what you’re doing? I’ll get out of the way and right when you’re done, I’ll comment, musically, on the big event that just happened.” And what we found was I could sometimes lead up to something, in anticipation, and then it’s about her in the moment, and after the event happens I’ll comment musically on what we just saw. That seemed to play better, emotionally, and then coincidentally served a dual purpose of staying out of each other’s sonic way, because there’s only so much room in that sonic spectrum to fill up.

Q: Another aspect of the show which seems to be very basic is its militaristic aspect, because it all has to do with this concept of an army of witches and its history and what they’re doing to fight off the Spree and later on The Camarilla. Did you treat the military aspect of the show in your score?

Brandon Roberts: Very little. It’s actually interesting you asked that. The only time it really gets addressed, that I can think of, is in the pilot during their training montage. So much of the show is about the relationships and the emotional dynamics of what’s happening more than an overtly military thing – other than the foot stomping, which does get used throughout – there’s very little traditional militaristic material. I don’t think I’ve once touched a snare drum on this show; maybe there’s a hint of that under the surface here and there, or there might be some big pulsing thing that happens during a battle sequence, but for the most part I’ve felt like you’re so invested in the relationship between everybody that the military aspect of it winds up falling by the wayside. Yes, they go into battle, but I always find myself more interested in seeing how they’re going to come out of it or how their personalities are going to get them out of a situation. Half the time things that come across like they would be battle sequences wind up having this entire emotional score to it. There’s a sequence in Season 2 where Raelle is being tortured, and you’d think it would be this horrific music, but it actually winds up being this beautiful thing because Eliot sneakily makes it about two things happening at once, there’s a whole secondary emotional element happening while she’s being tortured.

Q: Were you involved in the source music such as for dances, Charvel Bellweather’s wedding, various ceremonies, etc., or were those the purview of the music supervisor?

Brandon Roberts: We have an amazing music supervisor, Janet Lopez. That’s her working with Eliot and working with Kevin Messick to decide what it needs. Sometimes we’ve bounced stuff off of each other, especially if there’s going to be a handoff between score and source music, so we’re always talking about how it plays in, but it’s such a score-heavy show that it’s kind of refreshing when there’s these moments for a song or something other than what I do.

Q: What’s been most challenging for you in scoring MOTHERLAND, thus far?

Brandon Roberts: Making sure Eliot is happy with getting the emotional resonance from what he has in his head. The reason I say that is because he’s got this entire world and its characters up in his noggin somewhere, and it takes a lot of courage to put that out there, especially when you’re trying to describe it, whether it’s describing vocal magic or describing the feeling you want, or explaining how they can bend this with the sound of their voices, or whatever. I think I come in to each episode trying to not let him down, if that makes sense. He’s putting himself out there and he’s got enough courage to let emotion play out, because I think there’s some directors and certainly some projects I’ve been on where there’s a tendency to scale back on emotion, like there’s a fear of musical emotion or a fear of something becoming too sentimental, whereas I think Eliot and I have found a really nice balance where he’s not afraid to let me go emotional in a scene. Normally, on most gigs, I would say the most challenging thing is something very practical, but in this particular case he’s a good guy and he’s got a lot of heart and I just want his ideas to be musically complemented.

Q: Is there a musical moment, or moments, from MOTHERLAND that you are particularly satisfied with or rewarded by?

Brandon Roberts: Oh! Yeah, there’s a lot of big epic moments that come to mind. There’s a moment in Season 2 involving a plot element I can’t give away, which involves Alder that’s one of my favorite ones. There are some moments in the first episode that just came together really well, like the reveal of the Spree at the beginning or when the girls pledge their medals. Those are moments that just gelled, so I think the pilot and that moment with Alder came together nicely, and that scene with Raelle when she’s being tortured – a difficult dramatic subject but it was a good musical moment.

Listen to Brandon’s theme for the Spree:

Many thanks to Brandon Roberts for taking the time out to discuss scoring MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM in such detail with me. And a special thanks to Andrew Cohen and Margot Nissenblatt of Impact24 PR for facilitating this interview.

Filming for the third and final season of MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM began on November 2, 2021 and is scheduled to conclude on March 4, 2022.

The digital release MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM soundtrack, Season 1, featuring original music from the score by Brandon Roberts, has been released by Hollywood Records and is available through Amazon, Spotify, and other digital music services.


Drum & Lace, aka Sofia degli Alessandri-Hultquist, is an Italian composer and performer who creates music for film and media. Melding together sampled field recordings, chamber instruments and lush layers of synths, she creates densely textural and beat-heavy music, greatly drawing from film music, music concrete, and modern electronica. Her ambient and chamber work also gathers great inspiration from nature and natural sound, as well as the juxtaposition of unlikely sounds with one another.
Ian Hultquist is an American composer & producer based in Los Angeles, CA. Over the past few years, he has made a name for himself composing the scores for numerous films, documentaries, and TV shows. He started his career in music as a founding member of the band Passion Pit, which started in Boston, MA where he was studying Film Scoring at Berklee College of Music. He spent many years touring around the world and refining his productions skills as a Music Director.
In 2014 Ian along with his wife & fellow composer Sofia (aka Drum & Lace), relocated to Los Angeles, to fully dedicate themselves to working in music for film. They both score projects individually as well as collectively, among which are DEADLY ILLUSIONS (2021), Apple TV+’s DICKINSON (2019-2021), AT THE HEART OF GOLD: INSIDE THE USA GYMNASTICS SCANDAL (2019), ASSASSINATION NATION (2018), CLINICAL (2017), THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY (2016), and the two most recent projects we’re discussing below.
For more information on each composer see  and
(FYI Soundtrax previously interviewed both of them about their documentary scores in my June-July 2019 column.)

NIGHT TEETH (Netflix): To earn some extra cash, quirky college student Benny Perez (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr.) moonlights as a  chauffeur for one night. His task: drive two mysterious young women, Blaire and Zoe (Debby Ryan and Lucy Fry), around Los Angeles for a night of party hopping. Taken captive by his clients’ charm, he soon learns that his passengers have their own plans for him – and an insatiable thirst for blood. As his night spins out of control, Benny is thrust into the middle of a clandestine war that pits rival tribes of vampires, led by Victor (Alfie Allen) against the protectors of the human world, led by his brother Jay (Raúl Castillo), who will stop at nothing to send them back into the shadows. With sunrise fast approaching, Benny is forced to choose between fear and temptation if he wants to stay alive and save the City of Angels. - summary via Netflix

I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (Amazon Prime): The 8-episode TV series is a modern take on Lois Duncan’s original novel and its 1997 film adaptation. It takes place in a town full of secrets and follows a group of friends stalked by a brutal killer one year after covering up a car accident in which they killed someone on their graduation night. The estranged friends include twins Lennon and Alison (Madison Iseman), rich girl Margot (Brianne Tju), nice guy Dylan (Ezekiel Goodman), misfit Riley (Ashley Moore), and nice gay friend Johnny (Sebastian Amoruso); and they reunite to try and figure who might have revealed their secret or who else knows what they did one year before. Unable to go to the authorities, they need to solve the mystery on their own; but then more bodies turn up as they realize they’re being haunted and hunted. -summary via Rotten Tomatoes.

Watch the trailer to NIGHT TEETH:

Q: Let’s start with NIGHT TEETH, a film that I really enjoyed. What brought the two of you into this project?

Ian Hultquist: I was originally pitched for it quite a while ago, towards the end of 2019. I was sent the script, and I read it and absolutely fell in love with it right away. I just thought it was so fresh and exciting and had this amazing sense of adventure, so I immediately got attached and was harassing my agent, saying “please, please, please! We’ve got to get this!” And then I got to demo for it in early 2020, but then with the pandemic it disappeared for quite a while – so long that it kind of became a running joke between Sofia and I, like “Oh, do you think we’ll ever hear back about this film?” Then in February or March of this year they finally came back and said, “Okay, we love you, and we want to hire you and Sofia to do this as a co-score, are you down?” And Sofia and I jumped into the air and said “Yes!”

Drum & Lace: I feel like I was lucky enough to be brought into something that was already forming, just because, as Ian mentioned, he’d been talking about it so much and it was something that he wanted to do so much, that I got excited for him and was really excited to join him. Then, especially once we saw how good it looked and the vibe it had it was really exciting.

Q: You’ve mentioned elsewhere that you’re both fans of horror – so what were your thoughts about scoring this type of film and what influences have you had from following films in this genre?

Drum & Lace: You know, it’s interesting because this film, when you look at the poster and everything, makes it seem more horror than it really is. This is a very kind of campy, neon-lit, movie – I’d call it more action-horror than straight-up horror. To be honest, when we first started working on the music I think we were leaning more into the horror than Adam Randall, the director, and the producers and Netflix wanted, so we ended up having to inject a little more levity and go a little less dark with the score – although I feel synth-based scores inherently have a bit of a darkness to them. But being fans of the genre made it… I don’t want to say easier, but definitely gave us a different understanding of what people have done in the past with vampire movies and things that we wanted to stay away from and things that we wanted to lean more into. We approached this more as a dark, hip-hop/electro romp through the night.

Listen to the title track, “Good Morning, Mr. Perez,” which introduces Benny:

Ian Hultquist: We thought of the score more as like music that Benny might be listening to, like a score in his own head as opposed to this-is-a-vampire-horror-film. We were taking inspiration from a lot of the songs that were temped into the film, like the band Sault, which has an amazing throw-back vintage, hip-hop sound. We were trying to leak a lot of that stuff into our score.

Drum & Lace: Yeah – but there’s definitely horror moments. Like there’s one that involves Zoe and Benny and there’s a few of the interludes, like the scene with the two matriarch vampires, that leans more into the horror. I think what we were trying to do was make something sound modern but also hearken back to, whether it’s a Carpenter or a Goblin or some sort of vintage-y score like that but without going STRANGER THINGS, necessarily. That’s where we came from, sonically.

Q: Vampire films are of course legendary in the genre, and this film provides its own style of a “social vampire” scenario. How would you describe your musical take on the modern vampire legend as portrayed in this film?

Ian Hultquist: It’s interesting. I feel like we didn’t necessarily score it as a vampire film. It’s almost like our take was ignoring the vampire and focusing on Benny’s journey and the crazy, neon-lit underworld that he’s been dragged into, which happens to have vampires.

Drum & Lace: Yeah, I don’t think there’s any sort of Transylvania influence or anything trope-y like you would expect.

Ian Hultquist: We do have a very, almost ancient, guttural vocal loop that we developed for [vampire leader] Victor’s theme. That was the closest we got to a true Gothic vampire motif.

Drum & Lace: I think with [vampire crime boss] Gio’s theme, too. His moment is a little more in line with the suave type of vampire. But definitely Victor, yeah.

Q: To my perspective, I found the score to be an intriguing mix of traditional scoring techniques that refer to the supernatural vampiric aspect of the film while a variety of hip-hop vibes set the tone for the party atmosphere and urban clubbing vibe the story is mostly set in. Is that a correct statement in lieu of what you’ve just said, and then, how did this palette come about?

Drum & Lace: I think what you described is very much the way that Ian and I work and what our styles are. We were just talking about this the other day, about how Ian’s such a big movie buff that I think he has a deep knowledge of traditional film music, especially being a big fan of movies in the genre and movies that have to do with graphic novels and things like that. So that influence is definitely there and the more hip-hop and contemporary music is more on both of our ends, with the kind of band education that we’ve both been able to have and the fact that we both work with other artists and produce and do stuff like that. So I think that’s a really good way of looking at it, and in our minds maybe it sounds not necessarily very traditional, just because we didn’t use any live strings or anything, but I guess it does have an orchestral quality to it in the parts where it gets big.

Ian Hultquist: Yeah. We’re kind of arranging as we would for an orchestra but with synthesizers and electronic elements. And as far as happening upon that, I think definitely, as Sofia said, it’s where we usually drift towards, but also it may have been part of the reason we were brought onto the project was because Adam Randall really wanted to find something unique and interesting and fresh for the score, and wanted to incorporate all these different elements that we’ve talked about.

Q: There’s one moment I wanted to ask about – this is when Benny goes up in the hotel and we have the reveal that the ladies he’s been driving around are in fact vampires. Can you describe how you scored that sequence?

Drum & Lace: The part where Benny walks out of the elevator and is walking down this long hallway towards a room, I think that cue might be one of the weirdest cues in the film! We ran my vocals through a modular synth and just time stretched it and did this whole thing because it’s supposed to feel very surreal, because he doesn’t know what he’s walking into…

Listen to the track “And Please, Drink Responsibly,” from the “Benny Walks Down the Long Hallway” sequence:

Drum & Lace: [continuing]: …And then obviously once he walks in, stuff gets very real very quickly! The cue that comes after that is one of those where we lean a little more into horror, and Zoe’s theme is a little bit more horror-ish in a way.

Ian Hultquist: That moment is the reveal. It’s like, “Oh My God! It’s a vampire movie!” Because you don’t necessarily know for sure until that moment, and we just wanted to go for a mix of bizarre fear but still be playful. That was something that we strived for throughout the entire score – always keeping things a bit playful, because who Benny is as a character, and what we wanted the tone of the film to be.  That’s definitely one of the most out-there cues!

Drum & Lace: The reveal isn’t this scary, menacing thing, it’s very like, “Oh, Hey!” with Blair’s character being all bloody and going, “Ohhh, what are you doing here?” Again, that’s more of the levity that they wanted, and it was definitely a fun scene to score.

Ian Hultquist: I remember that we purposely put a hard cut on the music, to just play that scene dry, with Blair saying “Hey!” I’m such a huge fan of how Edgar Wright uses sound in his films, and you can push comedy so well with the juxtaposition with having something super-intense and then cutting it out and letting the funny moment happen dry. I think that adds to the absurdity of it. There’s one or two other moments in the film where we used that gimmick a little bit.

Q: The two of you have worked both together and individually on projects. What was your technique as far as collaborating together on this particular project?

Drum & Lace: It hasn’t differed. We found it the very beginning of working together, which was on a documentary called THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY, that was really the first time that we co-scored, and since then it hasn’t really changed. We’re both sitting in the studio, essentially at the keyboard in front of the computer at the same time, and we’ll work on every cue together. So, instead of delegating cues or reels we feel it’s actually been quicker for us to work on things together, just because I feel like there’s one more person’s opinion in the mix. Doing that has allowed for one of us never to go down a musical road with a cue that the other person then doesn’t think works. It’s like you can nip that in the bud right at the beginning, like if I played something and Ian is, “Uh, I don’t think so,” whereas if I’d just done it myself I might have gone with it and then it would have been a rewrite situation. We essentially do every cue together.

Ian Hultquist: It really is two brains at the keyboard working together.

Q: Would you describe your thematic architecture for this score and how you used motifs for certain characters or situations in NIGHT TEETH?

Ian Hultquist: I’m a huge fan of thematic writing. Every film is a little bit different – sometimes if there is the opportunity we’ll try and develop themes ahead of time, but that doesn’t always work out the way you intended it to. Sometimes I love to write blind, not to picture – I can veer away from what the film is really asking for. With NIGHT TEETH it was a little bit of a mix-up, where I had done some additional demos early on and I coupled those or provided some cool sound palette ideas that we could pull from, so there was also a lot of experimentation – just picking a character or a scene and start throwing stuff against picture and seeing what would stick. And then from there, once something started to feel good, we’d be like, “okay, we have  this same character in this scene later on, let’s see how we can re-introduce that.” A good example is Jay’s theme, which you first hear right at the top of the film during that crazy action sequence and he enters the warehouse and he sees bodies hanging. It’s a mix of this rhythmic thing that Sofia developed in the modular synth and this descending keyboard line, and that gives the driving momentum for the later scenes in the film where Jay’s going after Victor. He’s so set on revenge because of what happened at the beginning that we really wanted to push into that. He’s kind of this marching machine, and almost any time we come to Jay you’ll hear that.

Listen to “Jay’s Knife” from the NIGHT TEETH Soundtrack:

Drum & Lace: And on the flip side, Blair’s Theme is really soft-spoken. It’s just like one or two synths playing these chords, and it ends up becoming her theme with Benny. We really leaned into the thematic writing on this, more so than on a lot of other projects.

Q: A final moment of NIGHT TEETH that really blew me away was at the final climax at the end, where Benny manages to resolve the story perfectly.  Without giving any spoilers away, how would you describe your music for that final sequence?

Drum & Lace: That one was a bit challenging just because we originally had scored it differently, having the crash be silent and then have everything coming in really full force after that, once they start to realize what’s happening. I think the director felt like it was too much at once and that it didn’t really carry the scene through, and it was actually our music editor who had the idea of there being an impact but then slowly building rather than having everything start at once. So there’s a synth that builds into it rather than starting right from the top. But that scene, actually we had to work on quite a but because at first it just didn’t feel right. The other big note we had on that from Adam was: you spend five or more minutes before that with score and originally he felt like it was too much tied to that, so we ended up playing around with different keys until we found something that actually felt right.

Ian Hultquist: The whole top of the last reel is just wall-to-wall payoff. But that moment of Benny’s line at the end is another time where we did the Edgar Wright trick: we really played up the score, dropped it out, Benny has his line, then cut to the car, and them the music comes back.

Watch the trailer for the I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER TV Series:

Q: Now with I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER you’ve got a different kind of horror film, but one that maybe shares some of the other film’s youthful modernity. How would you describe the differences between the classic vampire elements of NIGHT TEETH and the hip, teen party animals of this series?

Drum & Lace: The sound for I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER is very different, and to be honest it ended up being a lot more, I don’t want to say drone-y, because I think theme drones get a bad rap, but it is definitely a little bit more lingering and unsettling in a very textural way, and it’s more angst-y in that way. The palette was completely different because we barely used any kind of arpeggiated synths or any sort of propulsion in I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, just because a lot of the music in the show needed to support what was happening on the screen and be more like underscore rather than, in NIGHT TEETH, so much of the music is montage-y and in your face. I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER had a lot more pads and we were finding interesting things to make pads out of – we used my voice, we used a bunch of other things to create new instruments for it. So not only the scope but also in the type of horror, too, because in I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER we could definitely lean more into the horror and bring in some strings that sound more like Penderecki and were more crazy with string effects and things like that.

Ian Hultquist: We called I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER “ambient horror,” or “ambient dread.” We’re playing it like a different type of fear. NIGHT TEETH is almost more fun than scary, where I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER is more mysterious – who is behind everything? Who is this faceless killer? There’s also a lot of melodrama that happens in the show as well, so there were more emotional scenes that we actually played into with our score. The music supervisors for I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER did an incredible job of covering the Tik-Tok teens’ music while we focused on emotions and terror.

Listen to the title theme for I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER TV Series:

Q: You’ve both scored a number of television series before, but in this particular case what was your technique as far as covering this type of music across the arc of the series’ eight episodes?

Drum & Lace: We worked thematically in this one, too, as there are definitely a few themes that come back pretty often, especially with Lennon’s inner conflict and her relationship with her father. And then the death scenes are all related, musically, even though they’re all a little bit different, because we were trying to escalate the killings as they progressed throughout the season. We may have written more music on I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER than any other TV show we’ve done. On the last episode, there’s almost a twenty-minute sequence of straight score, and I don’t think we’d ever had to cover that before in any of the other shows. It was really exciting but it was hard – sometimes we’d be working on an episode and we’d be like “ok we just wrote so much music!” and then we’re like, “Oh my God, we’re only half way there!”

Ian Hultquist: It’s a challenge to do it that way when you have so much to cover, but at the same time when we did get to episode eight and that twenty-minute sequence, because we had built up all these themes throughout the season we were able to put the puzzle together a little easier. It was like, “this theme makes sense here, we just need to augment it a little bit, or maybe lengthen this part.” The last episode was actually not as challenging as some of the other ones because the material was there; it was just finding the right place to implement it into the scene.

Q: Your main title for the show is especially provocative, with its mix of percussive rhythm and spooky vocalise – how have you used vocals in that theme and elsewhere in the series?

Drum & Lace: We wrote a long, five or six minute demo to try to get the show, and that was the first thing that we did. For the vocal sounds in this show, we tried a different technique where we used a contact mic which I placed on my throat, where an Adam’s apple would be, and just sang with that. We found that to be really cool because it sounded haunting but also like it could be a whale song or something, and we felt that would be very appropriate with this taking place in Hawaii and having the water being a big part of everything. Then Ian came up with a really cool sound on an instrument called the Waldorf Quantum.

Ian Hultquist: That’s actually Sofia’s voice. We put it through a granular synth engine inside of the keyboard.

Drum & Lace: I guess the reason we like the way the main titles work is because, even though it’s digitized and synthesized, it still comes from an organic place. Just like the time stretching and coupling with other synths and the different percussion that we brought into the score, it gave us the right balance of haunting and longing and also mystery.

Listen to the track “I’ve Been Here Before” from the I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER TV Series soundtrack:

Q: It fits so well also with the characters being mostly female.

Drum & Lace: Yeah. It’s a very female-centric show. If you really think about it there aren’t that many men in it, which is like the women aren’t the one’s who need to be saved, that sort of thing. The same goes for NIGHT TEETH, there’s very strong female presences, which in horror you don’t always yet.

Ian Hultquist: I think in I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER there was actually only one man in the writer’s room out of eight or nine people.

Q: Your score maintains an eerie, foreboding tonality that lends growing unease to the story as it progresses. How would you describe your sonic palette for the score and how you came up with these uneasy textures?

Ian Hultquist: It’s a mix of what Sofia said, a lot of processing organic elements and manipulating them to sound unlike they should, as well as mixing in some synthesizer stuff but never making it too recognizable. There are a few moments in the middle of the season where we lean a bit more heavily into John Carpenteresque horror stuff, but mostly we liked keeping the music uncommon… we wanted to keep the viewer questioning “What is this sound? It doesn’t sound like a cello, it doesn’t necessarily sound like a voice. It sounds like it’s coming from somewhere else, like somewhere it shouldn’t.” And I think we tried to do that with every cue that we wrote, where we keep the music a bit questioning, because the characters are questioning. They’re constantly trying to figure out what’s going on.

Drum & Lace: The whole premise of the show is that you are continually being led to be suspicious of someone else, because the whole time you’re trying to figure out who this killer is. There’s one character, for example, who had an organic texture that we sampled, and that was Clara. Ian has this beautiful instrument called the GuitarViol, and we sampled that, so it’s got, as Ian said, this cello-esque quality to it but then it’s not quite a cello, especially when it’s become samples and we’d  manipulate with it… We definitely, of course, played around a lot with tape emulator type plug-ins and whatnot to bring some analog warmth to things, and then played around a lot with delays and reverbs and stuff to prolong the sounds and extend them out.

Listen to the cue “Stay Quiet” from I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER TV Series:

Q: How did you treat the various characters, musically, across the arc of the storyline – and did the fact two were twins have any bearing on how you scored them?

Ian Hultquist: From the beginning Sara Goodman, our showrunner, who’s absolutely amazing, really wanted there to be a sense of duality within the music. I don’t know if we ever quite did exactly what was intended, but… instead of having a duality between two battling twins we kind of played more into the broken heartedness between them. Within that, you get the sense of two people fighting each other. It’s not two instruments battling each other within the score, but the themes and the melodies that we’re playing with them that covers the emotion.

Drum & Lace: I think what you just said, Ian, is such a good way of describing the characters, because all the characters in this are so broken between one thing and another. You can look past the substance abuse or the bad behavior in all of them and just call it what it is, that they’re all hurting in their different ways. One of the characters was hard to pinpoint with a theme because she also had a duality to them, which was Margo, because on paper and on social media within the show, she has this bubbly personality and a “talk to the hand” type of thing, but then you find out that she has such loneliness and has this other side to her. It was the same thing with all of the characters, so I don’t think that we necessarily made their themes evolve that much as we made the interpersonal themes develop more. As we went through the season there were chances to score moments where two characters are together, and that ends up being the accumulation that eventually leads to the end of the show.

Q: What did you find most interesting about scoring this series?

Ian Hultquist: It was a matter of realizing how much family drama actually played into the story. We didn’t really know what we were going to get into when we first started on the show. I was also a fan of the original film back in 1997, and I wasn’t sure if this was going to play off of that or not, and obviously it’s a very different story. So when we got hired, we were like, “Oh, it’s going to be a horror show,” and then we realized it is a horror show but it’s also a family drama. All of these friends are dealing with very real issues, and I think the reality of the characters’ lives was a surprise for it, but it was also an amazing opportunity to play into that, and to write music for the things that are going on between them.

Drum & Lace: More so, I think, because we were working on I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER at the same time we were working on NIGHT TEETH. It was interesting to see how different scoring a film that’s in the horror genre is and then scoring a TV show in the horror genre. With the movie you usually have one storyline that you’re following, so it’s a little more straightforward with what’s happening, especially in a movie like NIGHT TEETH where it’s one night of events happening – whereas on I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER I feel like there were so many more scenes but also so much more emotional support that had to be brought in. For me, when we got signed on I think we expected it to be a lot more horror, that we were going to have to do a lot more action music or a lot more string effects, and I feel like some of the feedback that has come back from the show so far is that, in a movie you can get away with having a killer just killing people every ten minutes and it’s just like, ten minutes of story and ten minutes of somebody dying, whereas when you do a TV show about something like that you also have to have more story. That’s what dispels the it’s-just-going-to-be-horror-stings and stuff like that.

Listen to the cue “Love Story of the Century” from I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER TV Series:

Q: Would you have any final comments about your experiences on either project that I haven’t asked about?

Ian Hultquist: I hope there’s a Season 2 of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER! [laughs]

Drum & Lace: Yeah! And it would be fun to work on a sequel to NIGHT TEETH, but I don’t know if that’s happening. We’re just really glad to have been able to do these two projects which live in a darker world than what we’ve been able to do in the past, and we both really enjoyed it. The biggest thing I thing we enjoyed was being able to work on a bigger project like NIGHT TEETH, because it gave us a lot of experience with working with a studio, because Netflix was very involved. Whereas on I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER we worked with the music supervisor more than we have in the past, but what’s interesting about both projects is that we never interacted with anyone in person until the very end. We finally met the showrunner of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER at the premiere! We never met anyone from getting hired until we finished the show!

Ian Hultquist: It’s interesting what Sofia brought up – I don’t think anyone’s really asked us about it, but everything that we’ve done was completely remote. Every single one of our meetings was over Zoom or something like Zoom. Dropbox was the place we stored all of our music that we were writing for both of these shows, and it was pretty remarkable that we were able to successfully score these two projects completely remotely. I would have loved to have had some meetings in person, especially when we were trying to really develop the sound of NIGHT TEETH – I think it would have been amazing to have been in a room with Adam, but it worked out and it says a lot about where technology is now, that we were able to do this without leaving the garage!

Q: What is next for you two, collectively or individually, that you can talk about?

Drum & Lace: People have been asking and we are just at the very beginning of a handful of projects, but it’s all so early on that we feel that we don’t want to jinx anything, since nothing’s been announced yet. But we’re definitely working on a bunch of stuff. We have one big project that Ian and I are signed on together, which is really exciting, and then I personally have a couple of films, two of which are horror, which continues this trend that I’m really excited about, and Ian’s finishing up another series with a frequent collaborator of his.

Ian Hultquist: Yeah, I’m finishing up a docu series with Erin Lee Carr [director of AT THE HEART OF GOLD: INSIDE THE USA GYMNASTICS SCANDAL, THOUGHT CRIMES: THE CASE OF THE CANNIBAL COP, HOW TO FIX A DRUG SCANDAL, and others that Ian scored].

Milan Records has released the digital NIGHT TEETH soundtrack; Madison Gate has released the digital soundtrack to I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER TV series. Both albums are available from Amazon, Apple music, Spotify and other streaming/digital services.

Special thanks to Adrianna Perez and Kyrie Hood of White Bear PR for facilitating this interview. And especially to Ian & Sofia for taking the time out to discuss these projects in detail.  


Overviews: Recently Released Soundtracks

ETERNALS/Ramin Djawadi/Marvel Music – digital
Marvel Studios’ ETERNALS follows a group of heroes from beyond the stars who had protected the Earth since the dawn of man. When monstrous creatures called the Deviants, long thought lost to history, mysteriously return, the Eternals are forced to reunite in order to defend humanity once again. After scoring Marvel’s IRON MAN with a heavy chordal electric guitar theme, Ramin Djawadi returns to the MCU with a more orchestral sound design not so far removed from his melodic orchestral music from GAME OF THRONES. This is a very fine and thoroughly engaging score, musically painting the Eternals as gleaming, godlike heroes. The main theme for ETERNALS is a fast paced, rhythmic construction for brass and strings, gaining substance via heavy drums as its main heroic melody kicks in, hefty brasses swelling high, dropping low, and increasing their ascending rise once again, conflated by a B-section embodying a choir of violin, returning to powerful brass, a hint of gleaming organ notes at around 2:24, all rising to a final eruptive gesture of its 12-note structure.
Listen to Djawadi’s ETERNALS theme below:

“It Is Time” is a textural melody with a hint of distant voices, as brass and vocals increase in fluid harmonic connection. “Mission” is a gentle, fragrant piano melody underscoring a soft vocalise; the piano line is counterpointed against strings in the cue’s second half and a choir added to the vocalise, lending a heroic purity to the song and its meaning, sustained by a powerful brassy culmination to the piece; the cue’s final moments will be reprised effectively in several of the grand action tracks as the score develops. “Somewhere in Time” is rather reflective, opening with a pattern of mandolin fingering and repeated, baying horns. “The Domo” is a theme for the Eternal’s spaceship of the same name, denoted musically by a robust, curving keyboard melody over low, rumbling synths, opening into a mix of full choir and soloist vocalise. “Celestials” is a powerfully resonant cue associated with the race of beings who created the Eternals to defend humanity from the Deviants (essentially, The Celestials are the gods of The Eternals); Djawadi’s majestic theme develops into a powerful blend of chorus, strings, impassioned solo violin, and a brief touch of keyboard; it slows to a halt midway through, allowing for some mysterious tonalities and keyboard renderings before opening into an arpeggiated chorus of strings driven by tympani and brass rising to a powerful, godlike grandeur before slowing into steps of massive, full orchestra-driven gravitas. “Not Worth Saving” is another track that starts out slowly and surges into a resplendent, commanding eloquence, adding some electric guitar chords into the mix before resolving in a series of downward step-patterns set against rising brasses; “Across the Oceans of Time” carries a similar format with choir, as does the soaring “Isn’t It Beautiful.” “This Is Your Fight Now” is embodied by dark, electronic substances as it undulates and grows into a surging, orchestral gathering amidst flourishing gestures of drums and brass ending with a heady conclusion. “Life,” “Remember,” and “A Wish” are fairly subdued tracks which harbor some respite from the more aggressive music around them. The score begins its resolution with “Emergence Sea,” a formidably weighty construction of devastating and colossal musical gestures, which are answered in the eloquent strings and piano of the following “Eternal Loss.” The final score cue, “Earth Is Just One Planet,” reflects on what has gone before and culminates with the main theme’s organ notes into its final declaration. As a whole Djawadi’s score is powerful stuff, enriched with massive eloquence, heroic battlements, and powerful melodic treatments. It’s a noteworthy addition to the growing collection of excellent scores embodied within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  
The album concludes with a pleasing vocal song called “Nach Mera Hero” (Dance My Hero), sung by Indian-origin singer Celina Sharma in mixed Hollywood-Bollywood style, featured in the movie during a scene where Kumail Nanjiani, playing Eternal superhero Kingo, pretends to be a Bollywood superstar and dances to the song. (For some reason, Sharma has been criticized by Indian viewers for singing the song, claiming it is “not Bollywood enough”  and is, in fact, an English track. Which is true, but for reasonable reasons. “I think it’s a Hollywood movie so they wanted something mixed like Hollywood-meets-Bollywood,” Sharma told the Hindustan times when asked about the “controversy.” “The whole song was about ‘dance my hero’ so we used that as the phrase throughout the whole song. But I feel like a lot of the production is very, very Bollywood.” What’s Hindi for “Good Grief?” Thankfully the French had no problem with the acoustic track “Joie De Vivre” used in the film. - OneMan’sOpinion.)
Listen to the track “Mission” by Ramin Djawadi from ETERNALS:

FOUNDATION Season 1/Bear McCreary/Lakeshore - digital
As the composer has stated, “Isaac Asimov’s book series, FOUNDATION, is probably one of the defining science fiction works of all time.” I agree and I think they’re right up there with Frank Herbert’s DUNE series, so it’s appropriate that Asimov’s equally political and world-expansive FOUNDATION series has been given a marvelous and extended chronicle on Apple TV+ television that is somewhat of a cinematic/literary equal to Herbert’s DUNE. Both FOUNDATION and Denis Villeneuve’s film are massive cinematic adaptations of epic science fiction literature; both utilize music in unique ways to provide atmospheres, textures, and environments that amplify their visual treatments. Asimov’s Foundation series deals with societal evolution and adaptation rather than the human and cultural qualities at one point in time. Advanced mathematics is used to predict with sufficient accuracy the effects of extraordinary, unforeseeable individuals and empires, while Herbert, in Dune, addresses the changing beliefs of humanity, rather than the future of humanity’s technology, and how humans and their institutions might change over time, focusing on religion, cultures and philosophy. Both literary franchises deal with the politics of their various empires, but in vastly different perspectives. They provide marvelous fantastic fiction which is carefully construed over real world considerations.
With Apple TV+’s FOUNDATION, McCreary has kept the orchestral melodic substance he is so well known for, while providing a kind of musical treatment that partners with the character of mathematician Hari Seldon, who has developed a theory of psychohistory, a new and effective mathematical sociology which has massive consequences for both society and empire. Bear has described his FOUNDATION 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 musical biology inherent within this approach provides a fascinating sonic presentation that supports the meaning of the story’s scientific and arithmetical drama while also operating magnificently as film music, serving the story, its characters, politics, and expansive literary themes motivically as well as intrinsically – resulting in, as he puts it in his online blog, “an epic hybrid score that blends a massive orchestra and choir with modern propulsive synths.”
Using a customized software called Seldon Black, developed by his friend Jonathan Snipes, the software allowed McCreary to manipulate particles of music in his computer, using touch controllers to change how they behave. “Confident I had discovered what would become the musical soul of FOUNDATION, I dove into scoring the series,” McCreary wrote in his online blog (link below). “My goal was to use orchestral sounds triggered by Seldon Black to represent psychohistory, mathematics, and the Prime Radiant, and to use a live orchestra to underscore the human characters and emotion.” This mixture of articulate, algorithmically-generated musical particles essentially fashioned Harry Seldon’s mathematical expressions into sonic gestures, while the harmonic ingredients of a full orchestra served the series’ emotional and dramatic needs, generating a score of distinctive and intriguing substance. McCreary’s powerful main theme with its swirling strings stirring his brass choir into their ascending harmonic motive, dissolving at the end into pebbles of mathematical elements serves in pleasing contrast to the appealing, pretty theme for series heroine Gaal Dornick (introduced in “Gaal Leaves Synnax”) with its delicate, descending melody (which is almost a reversal of his main theme melody) for horns over strings. “I wanted to write her a lyrical melody that could remind the audience of her desire to leave the confines of her restrictive society,” explained McCreary, “but simultaneously remind us of her heartbreak at leaving her family behind.”
Listen to the track “Gaal Leaves Synnax:”

McCreary’s main FOUNDATION theme is reprised effectively through a number of tracks throughout the album, centering the score nicely around its melody and pattern. As the series progresses, the setting shift from Synnax (mostly in flashback) and Trantor to the Periphery world of Terminus, where Seldon’s dream of establishing  the “Foundation,” a repository of human knowledge that he claims will shorten the dark age after the Imperium’s demise from thirty thousand years to a single millennium. “The Imperial Library” includes a bit of choir in its gentle cadences, as Gaal meets with Hari in the library on Trantor and they discuss her understanding of the unique mathematics they share. The five-minute long “Trial of Hari Seldon” seethes with menacing orchestral gestures from strings and horns, as the trial appears to be set to condemn both Hari and Gaal, with elements from the title theme surfacing amidst clusters of algorithm configurations that seem to prefigure an unfavorable verdict.
The cataclysmic energy of the track “Star Bridge” is heard near the end of the first episode as terrorists destroy the massive space elevator linking the planet Trantor to the orbiting Trantor Station, killing millions in opposition to centuries of rule by clones of Emperor Cleon I. The cue resolves in a tragic chorale. “The Promise of the Imperium” is one of the score’s most dramatic tracks, with compellingly layered depth and treatment, though “Escape Pod” is also highly energetic and substantive as Gaal is transported within to a distant future after a terrible event on Terminus. Bear’s wife, Raya Yarbrough, provides a splendid vocalise in the rhythmic musical choreography of “The Dream of Cleon the First,” from episode 3 (the fascinating and troubled new ruling emperors, Cleon I clones Brother Day, Brother Dusk, and Brother Dawn, are original characters created for the series; they are not part of Asimov’s novels, one of several interesting liberties the show takes with its source material). The music for the Anacreon, who Trantor assumes is responsible for destroying the Star Bridge, is a frenetic mixture of wooden percussion and exotic flavored violin material, setting a dark but dedicated musical sustenance for the Anacreon soldiers who seek revenge against the Empire’s neutron bombing of their home planet, which Trantor made in hostile retaliation for the Star Bridge destruction, although Anacreon was never decisively found responsible. “The Chant Of The Luminous” is a drum-driven female chorale heard in episode 4 when Brother Day departs Trantor to attend the Luminist Conclave to back a favored political personage.
The music on this “Season 1” album consists mostly of cues from the first five (of ten) episodes; one hopes that some music from the remainder of Season 1 may appears in a future collection of FOUNDATION score music.
Watch an extended video of composer McCreary detailing the creation of his “algorithm orchestra” and how he used computerized mathematics to parlay with his orchestral themes for his music in FOUNDATION:

HELP, I SHRUNK MY FRIENDS/Anne-Katherine Dern/MovieScore Media – digital
Bracketed by a pair of energetic pop songs by a L.A.-based Dutch and Indonesian singer-songwriter Kia (aka Kia Knoester), German composer Anne-Katherine Dern composed her second film in the “Shrunken” franchise – SHRUNK MY FRIENDS follows HELP, I SHRUNK MY TEACHER (2015; composed by Leland Cox and Karim Sebastian Elias) and Dern’s own 2018’s HELP, I SHRUNK MY PARENTS (2018, this title is available through MovieScore Media). “HELP I SHRUNK MY FRIENDS is the last installment in the ‘Shrunken’ series,” said Dern. “It was a joy to once again compose music for this world of magic and comedy. Despite the growing pandemic at the time, we managed to record the score in a rather unique way at a Belgian studio. We used ISO booths and a lot of post-production magic to get everything to sound right but in the end it was worth it for an exciting conclusion to this saga!” This new sci-fi/adventure comedy shows how Otto Leonhard, to protect his magic objects, has taught Felix the secret art of shrinking. When Felix’s friends almost mess up his date with Melanie, he shrinks them spontaneously to a tenth of their size. This score, unsurprisingly, continues the enchanting sensibility of the SHRUNK MY PARENTS score, with fragrant orchestral melodies and choral embellishment creating a mix of light-hearted adventure and musically-driven science-fantasy. Dern’s theme from SHRUNK MY PARENTS makes a brief reappearance but for the most part SHRUNK MY FRIENDS is wholly new music but in the style of the previous films in the series. Intended for a young audience, the score offers some mild suspense but keeps everything on a light, pleasurable mode. The composer’s themes and mildly dramatic passages make for a very pleasing listen.

INVASION Season 1/Max Richter/Decca – digital
In this new series, streaming on Apple+, Earth is visited by an alien species that threatens humanity's existence. Events unfold in real time through the eyes of five ordinary people across the globe as they struggle to make sense of the chaos unraveling around them. INVASION is a fascinating show about an alien invasion, but rather than focusing on the invasion or the aliens themselves, this 10-episode series, created by Simon Kinberg (the X-MEN film franchise) and David Weil, takes its time, as the invasion is seen through the different perspectives of various people on different continents across the world. The series has had mixed reviews, as some critics were displeased with the show’s unhurried pace, but I found that to be one of its high points – it’s a character study, not a science fiction spectacle. It’s a drama in which strange and unexplainable events begin to unfold across the globe, events pieced together by the perspectives of various people. The series focuses on a small set of characters in the United States, England, Japan, and Afghanistan to explore how they react to what is happening around them, and the film is as much a human drama about these characters as it is the quiet invasion from an unknown extraterrestrial antagonist. Similarly, Max Richter’s score focuses on the human toll rather than the spectacle of invasion, and provides a very eloquent, tonal atmosphere for the various groups of people, from a lone US soldier in Afghanistan unexpectedly isolated, a Muslim-American family in New York, workers at the fictional Japan Aeronautics and Space Administration [in reality, the country’s NASA equivalent is actually JAXA], a sheriff in a small rural American town, and a group of English schoolchildren on a remote field trip. While his main theme music ramps up to a powerful climax, his music conveys their reaction to events and the various interpersonal dramas that they take with them as they flee from what seem to be apparent terrorist attacks (in the US and Afghanistan), an evident space shuttle decompression (Japan), and a crash of their tour bus (England). The music does have its more dramatic moments, as in the evident destruction of the JASA’s space shuttle (“It’s the Hoshi-12” – the music imitating the warning bells and buzzers of the failing spacecraft) and the lone survivor of an overwhelming attack on the Afghanistan battlefield (crunchy synths, reflective, wailing tonalities, and percussive beats in “Carry Chavez Out”), the growing beeping of “Emergency Signal,” the tension of sinewy electronic whorls in “Quiet As A Mouse,” the tension as the young asthmatic British student realizing the group’s predicament is more than a bad bus crash (“Coming For Casper”), and the pensive electronic sonority of “Inside The Hive Mind,” which nicely contrast against Richter’s suspenseful tonalities. The Season 1 score ends on a fascinating musical note with “You're Full Of Stars,” a colorful, growing wash of sparkling synth notes dappled with bright burbling sonic bubbles, in high contrast against the more apprehensive music that has accommodated the tension of the suspenseful material. The effectiveness of Richter’s atmospheric and ambient musical design is supportive throughout and makes for an intriguing listen on its own.
Listen to “You’re Full Of Stars” from INVASION, Season 1:

KIMANA TUSKERS/Stephen Gallagher/MovieScore Media Short Cuts - digital
The second release in MovieScore Media’s new sub-label, Short Cuts – specializing in short film scores – is KIMANA TUSKERS, Stephen Gallagher’s music for the short documentary film that focuses on the few remaining elephants who’ve survived long enough to grow their tusks so long that they reach the ground. Filmed throughout the Greater Amboseli ecosystem in Kenya and narrated by two-time Academy nominated actor Djimon Hounsou, KIMANA TUSKERS is a short film of epic proportions. Follow the famous tusker known as Craig and the younger elephant bulls who entrust their lives to him as they navigate a vanishing landscape through the Kimana Wildlife Corridor. “You immediately see the tenderness and deep respect director Jamie Joseph has for the elephants in the footage that she and her team captured,” Gallagher said. “Our discussion around the score started with the emotions that she wanted to evoke in her story. The score had to guide us through an intimate insight of the elephant herd amongst the enormity of the Kenyan landscape and then underpin it all with a heaviness of the threat shadowing them. It felt like there was a steady grand majesty to the pictures. We wanted to color the score with big inviting textures as well as leaving room for the wondrous up-closeness with these incredible beasts.” Gallagher’s score consists of four very compelling tracks: the title track opens with electric keyboards, chimes, and heavy drums, introducing us to the environment and concept of these huge mammals; “Dust to Dust/Water to Water” conveys a powerful French horn melody over hand drums and marimba (or similar), and a soft bed of strings, bridged by sparkling electric guitar notes, all of which expresses the nobility and beauty of these fascinating, enormous animals. “The Rains Have Come” embodies the relation that the elephants have with the weather and rain season and how it effects the habitat in which they exist; Gallagher’s music here imparts the familiar rhythmic drum patterns we often associate with Africa, adding a languid horn melody and choir over the top; while the final track, “Please Help,” provides a soft pattern of reverberating keyboard notes over light percussion, with a gentler choir and heavier drums coming in near the end, an appeal for understanding and support towards these vanishing giants and the 2020-launched “Saving the Wild Bee Keeping Project” in the race to save the Kimana Wildlife Corridor and secure critical wild land for elephants and all wildlife in the greater Amboseli ecosystem.
For more detail on the film and the project, see or watch the film’s trailer here.
Listen to the track “Dust to Dust/Water to Water” from KIMANA TUSKERS:

STAR TREK PRODIGY/ Nami Melumad (Title Theme by Michael Giacchino)/
Viacom Intl - digital

Viacom International has released a soundtrack album of music from the animated series STAR TREK: PRODIGY, featuring the main theme composed by Michael Giacchino and episode score by Nami Melumad (AN AMERICAN PICKLE, ABSENTIA, MISS ARIZONA), who was hired after impressing Kurtzman with her work on the STAR TREK: SHORT TREKS short “Q&A.” STAR TREK: PRODIGY uses computer animation, differing from previous STAR TREK animation, and the show is intended for younger audiences than the rest of the franchise. The series follows a motley crew of young aliens who must figure out how to work together while navigating a greater galaxy, in search for a better future. These six young outcasts know nothing about the ship they have commandeered – a first in the history of the STAR TREK franchise – but over the course of their adventures together, they will each be introduced to Starfleet and the ideals it represents. Giacchino’s theme is nicely crafted from French horn and strings; it possesses an eloquent opening but emerges midway through with gusto via an electronic percussive pulse and plenty of ornamentation from strings, winds, tubular bells, and the like. It’s quite a likeable entry into the STAR WARS theme canon; Israeli-born composer Nelumad uses it sparingly but effectively throughout her episode scores, and her own orchestral material fits the characters and style of the new series, making for a fine listen on its own. She maintains the sound of French horns – always a suitable sonic flavor for STAR TREK scoring; and the score was recorded in Budapest by a live orchestra – throughout her scores, which maintain a fertile symphonic treat for the listeners’ ears. The show itself might be intended for younger audiences but its musical component is serious and profound. “It’s very character based,” Nelumad said in an interview with trekcore last October. “We’re [going with] motifs for these characters, so musically I’m kind of tying it together. [Characters and story] go together, because if you have a moment that is more about Jankom, or a moment that is more about Zero… it will be story based; for me, music is always story based. You want to address what’s happening on screen, especially with animation, music is such an integral part of moving forward, adding pace and drama… and shape to every scene. But it’s also about the characters, and you have to tie it in a certain way that works for that character in the scenario they’re at, whether its danger, or a comedy moment, or hope, or fear — you can play around with those themes to fit that particular emotion. The thing with animation, especially on this show, it moves very fast. Where you were 20 seconds ago is not where you’re at now! It moves very quickly, and it’s great. It provides you so much opportunity for [different] colors, and the characters are so different — they all come from different places. I get to really play with the orchestra, and some synth stuff… it’s very fun to make each of them distinct.” With a hologram Janeway from STAR TREK VOYAGER being a character in PRODIGY (voiced by the real Janeway’s Kate Mulgrew), Nelumad referenced Jerry Goldsmith’s VOYAGER theme a bit in her score for PRODIGY, telling that “…those kids, they don't know the VOYAGER theme. So that nod, the musical nod, is more nostalgic for Trekkies and for me as a Trekkie. I think that when you see Janeway, in a way it represents the Federation, which the kids are not really [familiar with]. This is new for them, kind of like the new viewers. So the introduction is quite slow, but the music goes with it.” So this is definitely music with a given STAR TREK pedigree and one that holds its own in the musical legacy of the franchise – and the 50-minutes of music provided in PRODIGY’s soundtrack makes a very satisfying and engaging listen.
Listen to the Main Title music from STAR TREK PRODIGY:

VENOM – LET THERE BE CARNAGE/Marco Beltrami/Sony – CD + digital
Marco Beltrami provides a commanding score for this sequel to Ruben Fleischer’s 2018 film VENOM, Sony’s interpretation of Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man spinoff sans Spider-Man. Ludwig Göransson had scored the first VENOM film (he had previously done Fleischer’s 30 MINUTES OR LESS in 2011); Beltrami was brought in to the sequel presumably due to having scored several Marvel-based films for Hutch Parker, one of the VENOM sequel’s producers. The new VENOM is the second directorial job for noted performance-capture actor Andy Serkis. Beltrami hits the ground running, wasting no time in making VENOM – LET THEIR BE CARNAGE his own with an array of sinewy elements suggesting the fleshly calisthenics the symbiotes Venom and Carnage are capable of producing, plenty of massively aggressive gestures that propel the furious battle scenes, and an effectual variety of orchestral and electronic sound designs (“There Is Only Carnage” is a splendid mix of both elements, as rhythmic orchestral shades mingle with rock guitars, ending with a wild, screeching feedback and rough, thrash metal carnage). All of it harbors some quite interesting sonic treatments of music. Beltrami maintains a variety of themes throughout the score: a new theme for alien symbiote Venom, a buddy theme for Venom and his human alter-ego Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a motif for Eddie himself, a theme for the aggressive symbiote Cletus/Carnage (Woody Harrelson), and a twisted love theme for Cletus and Shriek (Naomi Harris), who can manipulate sound energy with her screams. The latter theme is a fascinating one that transitions between darkness and passion (“Get Shriek”), harboring both a sense of true romance but housed within the twisted nature of the characters.
Powerhouse cues like “Brock’s Revival,” “Carnage Unleashed,” “Unholy Matrimony Parts 1 and 2,” offer splendid arrays of muscular writing and performance (the latter two tracks, harboring ten minutes of music between them, are especially sonically brimming over, as all of Beltrami’s themes come together within them). “The Great Escape” is also one of those powerhouse cues but it resolves in a rising melodic treatment of strings and brass dappled by soft piano. “Eddie Draws” contains an intriguing verve of rampant electronica held in check by a rhythm of violins and winds, heard when Venom manipulates Eddie’s body to hurriedly draw copies of the etchings Cletus’ has made on his prison cell walls, Eddie essentially dancing to the musical cadence that circulates through the cue. “Brock’s Revival” is a brisk, surging track stating Eddie’s theme in hero mode. “Panza And Quixote” concludes the film with a gentle, homespun rendition of the Eddie/Venom buddy theme. But wait, there’s more: three especially inventive tracks are added at the end of the CD program: “Venom And Blues,” a moody arrangement of the buddy theme for smoky-bar-room piano, electric guitar, violin, and horns; “Venom’s Suite Tooth” embodies Beltrami’s electronica patterns most decisively, with some serious thrashing guitars and dark syncopated rhythmic patterns amidst the cue’s orchestral outer skin; and the vigorous “Brock and Roll” which saturates Eddie’s Theme with a vivid hard rock vibe.
As director Serkis has pointed out, this film is a tale of two halves – a pair of adversarial symbiotes (Eddie/Venom, Cletus/Carnage), which provides musical opportunities between both opponents. There’s the comedic buddy aspect of Eddie vs Venom inhabiting the same body, and the darker portion of that shared by the villainous Cletus and Carnage, who are both complicit as mass murderers. Beltrami nicely balances these two aspects and provides effective musical dualities for their symbiotic manifestations as well as their simpler aspect as enemy rivals. It works very well in the film and makes for a very pleasing listen on its own.
Listen to Marco Belatrami’s subdued track, “Venom & Blues:”

VERGOGNA SCHIFOSI (1969)/Ennio Morricone/Quartet Records – CD
One of my absolute favorite Morricone scores comes with an expanded treatment via Quartet Records and Carosello Edizioni Musicali’s newly remastered edition of Ennio Morricone’s cult score for VERGOGNA SCHIFOSI (1969; known as DIRTY ANGELS in the UK). 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. Years after getting away with murder, they suddenly receive an incriminating photo, accompanied by a request for money. Despite their quick payment, they keep getting new messages. For a crime film, the movie possesses one of Morricone’s most flavorful scores, built around two primary themes. “Matto, Caldo, Soldi, Morto... Girotondo” is the breezy main song, which is adapted from the Italian version melody of “Ring Around the Rosie.” It’s a dainty tune sung by Gianna Spagnulo with the I Cantori Moderni di Allessandroni, with a rapturous vocalise interlude provided by the incomparable soprano Edda Dell’Orso (she also reprises her eloquent vocalise from the title track in “Una Spiaggia A Mezzogiorno/A Beach at Midday”). The second theme is “Ninna Nanna Per Adulti,” which replaces the singing of lyrics with choral or solo vocals with a repetition of “One, One” sung by Franco Cosacchi amidst fragrant tinkling bells & light keyboard, bridged by high end “da-di-do-do’s” from I Cantori Moderni – although both themes often creep into one another’s tracks – and in fact as writer Gergely Hubai writes in the album booklet, they are more a single theme presented in two major variations (as an example, “Ninna Nanna Per Adulti #3” is actually occupied by an instrumental rendition of the “Girotondo” theme with nary a “One, One” to be heard). Both songs are presented in a number of light and always infectious variations, their music (and a few other melodic cues) perpetuates the storyline as if the young criminals are children, and fits their attempts to avoid incarceration with delightfully melodic treatments from voice and modern instrumentation. Hubai also generously provides us with translations of the words that are sung before each reprise of “Girotondo” – Matto (Crazy), Caldo (Heat), Soldi (Money), and Morto (Dead) – which suggests (and not always in the same order) the dimensions of the song as each stanza reflects a different dramatic element. “Although ‘Giro Giro Tondo’ has a specific melody associated with the children’s song,” Hubai adds, “Morricone only takes the simple lyrics and twists his own music around it.” Each reprise of the tune(s) are presented differently, from the hushed whispers that open into the colorful festive chorus of the first track, which allows for Dell’Orso’s extended soaring vocalise through its middle section, to “Girotondo #4” in which the choir’s whispers escalate into spoken voice and finally into urgent, sensual panting, while “Girotondo #5” is a pleasing solo rendition by Spagnulo. So despite its sparse and simple melodic base, the thematic score is actually quite complicated and variegated. Only two cues are unrelated to the theme songs (and tellingly neither is heard in the film): the second track, “Guardami Negli Occhi” (“Look Into My Eyes”) is an electric guitar, organ, and drum-kit instrumental with no relation to the surrounding themes, while “Un Altro Mare” (“Another Sea”), a beautifully melodic waltz featuring a splendid vocalise from Edda.
The original 6-track LP soundtrack was a severely edited presentation, which Quartet has remedied by providing the complete score in this new CD edition. The album contains the original LP program (including source cues that were never used in the movie) as well as the complete takes of Morricone’s two key themes, including the 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 the aforementioned notes by Gergely Hubai who discusses the full story of the score and provides a breakdown of how each take was used.
For more details and sample tracks, see quartetrecords
Listen to Ennio Morricone’s “Matto, caldo, soldi, morto girotondo” theme from VERGOGNI SHIFOSI (from a previous recording)

WEEK-END À ZUYDCOOTE (Weekend at Dunkirk)/Maurice Jarre/
Music Box Records – CD

Our friends at the French label have provided a world premiere CD release of this Maurice Jarre wartime drama score, a newly remastered and expanded edition from its original four-track EP release in 1965 with this new 26-track rendition. (Tadlow released a 23-track new recording, reconstructed from the original and performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nic Raine; but this is the most complete rendition of its original recording). The film takes place in June 1940, during the Dunkirk evacuation of Allied troops to England, where French sergeant Julien Maillat and his men debate whether to evacuate to Britain or stay and fight the German troops that are closing-in from all directions. In order to illustrate the absurdity of war, the composer wrote a richly and uniquely orchestrated score, based on an obsessive and oppressive waltz and dominated by pounding percussion, from which emerges from time to time the sound of a banjo or an out-of-tune piano, as Sylvain Pfeffer describes in his CD liner notes (which are presented both in French and English). The score is nicely flavored with familiar stylistic elements of Jarre’s ouevre, which serve a number of thematic constructs. The piano and string-based main theme (“Generique”) possesses a lovely but fragmented waltz, its beauty twisted with percussive congestion that articulate the horrors of war being experienced by the characters. Star Jean Paul Belmondo’s character, “Sergeant Maillat,” is provided with a commanding motif for rhythmic drums, xylophone, flutes, horns, and strings, representing his authority and sense of duty which will carry him through the storyline. A pretty love theme for winds and piano, counterpointed by violin figures, is provided for “Jeanne et Maillat,” the romantic element of the storyline, which is reprised in the muscular martial rendition of “Maillat attend Jeanne,” and which resolves discordantly from an out-of-tune piano in the sad epitaph, “Mort de Maillat.” Jarre also supplies a characteristic military march in “Troupes Anglaises” originally heard from traditional winds and percussion with touches of banjo and harmonica. MBR’s expanded edition of this soundtrack has been fully remastered from the scoring session elements, featuring previously unreleased and unused tracks. The CD comes with a 8-page booklet with liner notes by Sylvain Pfeffer, discussing the film and the score. The release is limited to 1000 units. As a relatively little known entry in the late composer’s musical filmography (this was his last French film score before relocating to  Hollywood), this is a most welcome addition and a thoroughly enjoyable sonic experience, that prompts one to want to see the film and hear the music in its original placement.
Listen to Maurice Jarre’s “Générique”


New Soundtracks & Film Music News

The World Soundtrack Awards held its ceremony October 23-24th and here are the winners: Congratulations goes out to Daniel Pemberton, who was honored with the Composer of the Year Award for his work on THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7, ENOLA HOLMES, and RISING PHOENIX. Also in the winner’s circle this year are Nicholas Britell, who won Best Original Song for “Call me Cruella,” (shared with Florence Welch, Steph Jones, Jordan Powers and Taura Stinson), Carlos Rafael Rivera received the Television Composer of the Year Award, while Nainita Desai took home the Discovery of the Year Award and Composer Benji Merrison on his Public Choice Award win. Greek composer Eleni Kariandrou received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Read the full recap at WSA online.  Congratulations to all the winners and nominees this year!
Watch a video of Nainita Desai’s receiving of the “Best Discovery” award:

Rachel Portman will be honored as the first female composer with the Lifetime Achievement Award at SoundTrack_Cologne 18. The award ceremony will take place on Saturday, Nov 20, 2021 at the IHK Köln in Cologne, Germany. Portman will also speak about her body of work on a panel on Saturday afternoon. “The fact that I am a woman never stopped me,” Portman said. In 1997, she became the first female composer to win an Academy Award, which she received for the score of Jane Austen’s classic EMMA. She was also the first female composer to win a Primetime Emmy Award, which she received for BESSIE by Dee Rees. She has received two further Academy Nominations for THE CIDER HOUSE RULES and CHOCOLAT by Lasse Hallström, which also earned her a Golden Globe Nomination as well as Bafta nominations for ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT and THE WOMAN IN BLACK. As the winner of the SoundTrack_Cologne Lifetime Achievement Award, Rachel Portman joins the ranks of many renowned prize winners such as Craig Armstrong, Bruce Broughton, Cliff Martinez, Michael Nyman, Irmin Schmidt, Peter Thomas, Klaus Doldinger, and Don Davis. For more information, see

WOMEN WARRIORS: THE VOICES OF CHANGE is a 70 minute feature documentary production that originally premiered at Lincoln Center in September 2019 as a live-to-picture symphony concert. The project has since gone on to become a stand alone documentary film. This ground-breaking production honors the strength and heroism of global activists fighting for social justice, human and civil rights, LGBTQ rights, indigenous rights, environmental causes, minority rights, gender equality and the right of every girl to an education. This film highlights the lives of over sixty-five activists, spanning 700 years, who have been ignored in the media or left out of the history books. The 70-minute soundtrack features the orchestral scores of composers Nathalie Bonin, Miriam Cutler, Anne-Kathrin Dern, Isolde Fair, Sharon Farber, Penka Kouneva, Starr Parodi and Lolita Ritmanis, and is available on CD from La-La Land Records or directly from the Women Warriors: The Voices of Change Project, here, or digitally from Amazon and other digital music sources. For more information on the project, see their website here.
Listen to the Prologue from WOMEN WARRIORS: THE VOICES OF CHANGE:

YouTuber Thomas Flight has posted a fascinatingly detailed analysis of Hans Zimmer’s score for DUNE, examining the music and how the composer uses sound and melody in the soundtrack to develop themes and conflict in the film. “The first thing that greets you in this movie, before you even see the studio logos, is sound,” Flight explains in his introduction. “I think both the score and the sound design play a huge role in making Denis Villeneuve’s new adaptation of DUNE the experience that it is.” Highly recommended even if you’re not a fan of the score. Watch the video at YouTube here. See my own take on the DUNE score in my October column.

On Nov. 7th the folks behind Kaiju Masterclass arranged an exclusive Zoom video interview with composer Reijiro Koroku, translated into English during the video. Maestro Koroku discussed in detail his classic score to 1984’s THE RETURN OF GODZILLA, one of the most revered films (and scores) in the Godzilla series. Mr. Koroku also discussed his background in music, as well as composing scores for television, theater, anime, and video games, and his work as an educator at the Tokyo College of Music. (Moderators: John Desentis and Erik Homenick; translator Amanda Whalen)
Watch it here.
(Also, speaking of THE RETURN OF GODZILLA, see the Vinyl Soundtrax News section below for word on a gorgeous vinyl release of the soundtrack from Mondo).

THE LAST DUEL Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is available today from Hollywood Records.  Celebrated composer Harry Gregson-Williams, who has worked with the film’s director Ridley Scott numerous times over the past decade (THE MARTIAN, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, etc.), perfectly captures both the drama and the period of the film. In addition to using a large orchestra and choir, the score also features medieval instruments including wooden flutes, hammer dulcimers, a consort of viols, a cathedral organ and a lute.  Gregson-Williams also worked with a number of solo vocalists and the British vocal ensemble VOCES8. “There are just eight of them,” the composer said of this ensemble. “They are very, very precise (out of necessity) and the sound they make has a purity and accuracy that is as unique as it is wonderful.”

ANTLERS is a 2021 supernatural horror film directed by Scott Cooper, adapted from Nick Antosca’s short story “The Quiet Boy,” which was originally published in Guernica magazine in January 2019, and produced by Guillermo del Toro, David Goyer & J. Miles Dale. The film takes place in an isolated, rural Oregon town, in which a middle-school teacher and her sheriff brother become embroiled with her enigmatic student, whose dark secrets lead to terrifying encounters with a legendary ancestral creature who came before them. ANTLERS is scored by composer Javier Navarrete, known for scoring Guillermo del Toro’s THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE and PAN’S LABYRINTH, as well as WRATH OF THE TITANS, BYZANTIUM, and others. A digital soundtrack to ANTLERS has been released by Hollywood Records and is a available on Amazon, Spotify, and the other usual sources. Navarrete’s score revolves around piano and electric guitar as well as an intriguing use of children’s choir, as the composer described in a new interview with Daniel Schweiger for the Film Music Institute. “Piano has always the simplicity and the clarity necessary to evoke children and other elementary states of mind,” explained the composer. “Electric guitar is interesting because it talks about contemporary America.” Regarding the children’s choir, Navarrete said: “We found that at least one child of the choir was able to reach the upper C with a beautiful piercing tone, and I used it for the beginning and also for the end. There are also some processed voices that are created by overlaying the choir with detuned, sampled voices singing the same lines that resulting in an effect that is so real and eerie at the same time.” Read Daniel Schweiger’s complete in-depth interview with Navarette about scoring ANTLERS, and much else, here.
-via filmmusicreporter and other sources
Listen to the track “Temptation” from ANTLERS here.

Italian composer Marco Werba is scheduled to score SUGAR, a historical drama directed by New Zealand-born director, Christine Jeffs (SUNSHINE CLEANING, SYLVIA, RAIN). The film, which is still in development, takes place after the Civil War, about a group of fearless Southern plantation women  who band together to rescue two young girls (one African-American and one Cherokee Indian) who are kidnapped by KKK members after witnessing the lynching of a black landowner.

YELLOWSTONE Season 4 premiered on Nov. 7th, with the continuing adventures of a Montana ranching family facing off against others encroaching on their land. Brian Tyler has been scoring the series music, and brought on co-composer Brenton Vivian during Season 3 to assist. Tyler and Vivian have co-scored the fourth season; Lakeshore Records will release the 4th Season soundtrack soon, per Tyler.

Listen to Brian Tyler’s main theme for YELLOWSTONE, composed for its first season in 2018:

WaterTower Music has released a digital soundtrack for STARGIRL’s second season, featuring the score by Pinar Toprak. The label previously released a soundtrack featuring the composer’s score from Season 1 last year.
STARGIRL is developed by Geoff Johns based on the DC Comics superhero character created by himself & Lee Moder and stars Brec Bassinger, Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Cameron Gellman, Luke Wilson, and Amy Smart. The popular DC superhero show has already been renewed for a third season.
- via filmmusicreporter

Composer Torin Borrowdale is scoring the third season of Netflix’s LOCKE & KEY, having scored the previous two seasons. The dark fantasy series’ second season just debuted on the streaming site last October 22, 2021. Both Season 1 and 2 have had soundtrack releases from Maisie Music Publishing, available on Amazon, Apple Music, and other digital music and streaming services. I recently interviewed Borrowdale about scoring the show; he said “What interested me about LOCKE & KEY was all the possibilities that the music could go into. There’s the horror aspect of it, there’s the fantasy aspect, there’s the family aspect, there’s the drama aspect, and for me it was really exciting to get to explore all these different genres within the same show – to see how they tied together and how they went from one to the next.” Please read the full interview at musiquefantastique.

Perseverance Records has released a new compilation soundtrack CD, entitled Tears In Rain - Forsaken Themes From Fantastic Films, Vol. 1. The album is a compilation of rare and unreleased film music from the science-fiction, horror and fantasy genres –  re-recordings, orchestral suites, and original soundtracks – including music from BLADE RUNNER (Vangelis, 2017 Danish National Symphony Orchestra performance), world premiere score excerpts of PROM NIGHT II-IV (Paul Zaza) and TOM HOLLAND’S TWISTED TALES (Joe Renzetti), as well as the world premiere release of all the songs from THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN INVINCIBLE (performed by Alan Arkin & Christopher Lee among others). As an added bonus, the album contains the rejected Coil score to Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER (newly recorded Ryan Dodson performance). For more details, see perseverance.

THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN is a 2021 biographical drama film directed by Will Sharpe. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, and Toby Jones, and is set in Victorian London in the early 1900s. It tells the true story of eccentric British artist Louis Wain, whose playful, psychedelic pictures transformed the public’s perception of cats forever. After festival screenings, the film began its limited release in October and is now available on Amazon Prime Video. The film is scored by Arthur Sharpe (the director’s brother), who is an award-winning film & TV composer known for GUILT, FLOWERS, GHOSTS, BLACK POND, and THE DARKEST UNIVERSE. Alongside his film and TV work, Arthur also fronts and writes for the band Arthur In Colour. For more information on the composer, see A digital soundtrack has been released by Sony Music.
Listen to the track “Electricity” below:

DOPESICK is a drama miniseries created by Danny Strong based on the non-fiction book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy. The limited series stars Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg and Rosario Dawson, and focuses on “the epicenter of America’s struggle with Opioid addiction” across the U.S. Lorne Balfe has scored the series, which premiered on Hulu last October 13.
In additional Balfe news, Lorne has scored THE WHEEL OF TIME, a forthcoming epic fantasy television series set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on November 19, 2021. Based on one of the popular and enduring fantasy series of the same name by Robert Jordan, THE WHEEL OF TIME is set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists and only certain women are allowed to access it. The film follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the incredibly powerful all-female organization called the Aes Sedai, as she arrives in the small town of Two Rivers. There, she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young men and women, one of whom is prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn, who will either save or destroy humanity. Balfe is also set to score these major films in 2022: Michael’s Bay’s AMBULANCE (Universal), Steven Caple Jr.’s TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS (Paramount), Matthew Vaughn’s spy thriller ARGYLE (Apple TV+), and Christopher McQuarrie’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 7 and 2023’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 8 (both Paramount).
Listen to the track “Caisen’shar” (Old Blood) from Balfe’s THE WHEEL OF TIME soundtrack:

KUNG FU Season 2 is set to premiere on Wednesday, March 9 2022 on The CW. Nicky Chen is a girl that wants to find herself, so after finding out her mother yet again tried to change her life for her, she leaves and is found by a kind mentor. The mentor drives her to her area of teaching and trains her in the art of Kung Fu. Now Nicky uses her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community and bring criminals to justice – all while searching for the assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor and is now targeting her. Composer Sherri Chung (co-composer on BATWOMAN, RIVERDALE, BLINDSPOT, ARROW and its spinoffs) is returning as solo composer on the new season. She is also scoring Warner Bros. new animated show GREMLINS: SECRETS OF THE MOGWAI, which follows the adventures of Sam Wing in his youth and Gizmo the Mogwai in China. This show is scheduled to premiere in December of 2022.

Jeff Russo’s latest film score comes in the form of the drama LORELEI, released this past summer and available now On Digital. Starring Pablo Schreiber as a man who is released from prison after 15 years and reunites with his high school girlfriend (Jenna Malone) who is now a single mother of three.  The soundtrack has been released digitally on all major music services worldwide via Lakeshore Records and is available from these links.

MovieScore Media has released HELD FOR RANSOM, the original score by Johan Söderqvist from the 2019 drama feature directed by Niels Arden Oplev and Anders W. Berthelsen. The movie tells the story of Danish photographer Daniel Rye, who was captured by ISIS in Syria in 2013, tortured and held hostage for 398 days before being released. “The score places a lot of emphasis on character and tension with a dose of Oriental and Middle Eastern influences to reflect on the setting,” notes the label. “The toolbox includes electronic textures and live instrument overlays to represent the war torn country of Syria [and] rising moments of tension.” See details here. Listen to “Daniel’s Dream” from the soundtrack:

Milan Records has releases on Nov. 12th the digital soundtrack album for ARMY OF THIEVES, the Netflix original film, featuring original music jointly composed by Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro. This ARMY OF THE DEAD prequel, produced by Zack Snyder, follows small-town bank teller Sebastian as he gets drawn into the adventure of a lifetime when a mysterious woman recruits him to join a crew of Interpol’s most wanted criminals, attempting to heist a sequence of uniquely crafted safes housed in banks across Europe. The story of THIEVES is nicely interwoven with that of ARMY OF THE DEAD (and vice versa), although the zombie elements are kept mostly off screen in THIEVES – which is a heist comedy film taking place in Europe just as the zombie outbreak (which will form the storyline of ARMY OF THE DEAD) has begun in Nevada, USA; it is referenced briefly in news flashes shown on TVs in ARMY OF THIEVES, and on nightmares those news clips given to Sebastian. Matthias Schweighöfer stars as Sebastian (aka Ludwig Dieter, the name he will be known for in ARMY OF THE DEAD) and also directs the film. Co-stars include Nathalie Emmanuel (GAME OF THRONES, the last three FAST & THE FURIOUS movies), Ruby O. Fee, Stuart Martin, and Guz Khan. Together this “army” of thieves join together to break into three European banks that have the three safes created by legendary locksmith Hans Wagner, which currently belong to billionaire Bly Tanaka (who is one of the characters in ARMY OF THE DEAD, in which the fourth safe, referenced but not shown in THIEVES, is the MacGuffin that ARMY OF THE DEAD’s storyline hinges on). The film premiered last month and is now streaming on Netflix.
- via filmmusicreporter and other sources.

Lakeshore Records has released the soundtrack to DECEIT, a four-part British television drama miniseries based on the true story of a controversial undercover operation carried out by the Metropolitan Police in 1992. The album features score by Marc Canham, who readers may recall from his work on the Netflix drama, I CARE A LOT, the Netflix Original feature film CLOSE, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED and BURN BURN BURN, in addition to the internationally acclaimed THE DANGER TREE augmented reality art installation. The DECEIT soundtrack is available from these links.

Dominik Scherrer (THE SERPENT, RIPPER STREET, PRIMEVAL) has been hired to score the upcoming BBC and HBO Max limited series THE TOURIST. The show, created by Harry & Jack Williams, is a 6-part mystery thriller that follows a British man who finds himself in the glowing red heart of the Australian outback being pursued by a vast tank truck trying to drive him off the road. When he later wakes in hospital, he has no idea who he is, and his search for answers propels him through the vast and unforgiving outback. Scherrer has previously collaborated with the creators on such shows as THE MISSING, BAPTISTE and THE WIDOW. THE TOURIST is expected to premiere in late 2021 or early 2022 in the UK on BBC One and in the U.S. on HBO Max. – via filmmusicreporter.

Australian composer Brett Aplin is the primary composer for the Netflix series THE BUREAU OF MAGICAL THINGS (2018-2021). In this series, humans and magic co-exist in harmony, but the technology is advancing and the world of magic is being pushed back. The fairies and other magical creatures are endangered species and a girl named Kyra wants to change that. A Season 1 digital soundtrack is being released on December 1st, with the show’s first single, “The Bureau of Magical Things (Credits),” having been released on November 1st. Several of the tracks from the full album will be available as 'instant gratification' tracks on Apple Music/iTunes throughout November to build anticipation. The full album can be pre-saved or pre-ordered here, while the “Credits” single is now available at these links.

Aplin also co-composed an Australian TV series called MS FISHER’S MODERN MURDER MYSTERIES, described as a fun, light and contemporary interpretation of earlier espionage-flavored scores from the likes of John Barry and Lalo Schifrin, and their modern successors David Holmes and Daniel Pemberton. It was shown in America on Acorn TV. “We had a blast writing in this style using a mix of older instrumentation and modern styles and production techniques,” Aplin told Soundtrax. “An authentic 60s score was never the brief, but rather only to keep it fun, sneaky and fabulous with a retro sensibility.” The show is a 2019-2021 Australian drama television series spun off of the 2012 drama series MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES. MS FISHER’S MODERN MURDER MYSTERIES Season 2 was premiered on June 7th 2021. A digital soundtrack album, featuring the scores of Aplin, Burkhard Dallwitz, and Dmitri Golovko, was released last June and is available on Apple Music and other digital/streaming services.

Austin Wintory has scored James Nunn’s film ONE SHOT, a fun and tense action film about an elite squad of Navy SEALs who, on a covert mission to transport a prisoner off a CIA black site island prison, are trapped when insurgents attack while trying to rescue the same prisoner. “ONE SHOT was a chance to make a score with a very singular mission: rhythm,” Wintory said in a post on his Bandcamp page. “While I wouldn’t call it a default goal, it’s safe to say the majority of my work has often started with trying to hone in on a perfect melody or fragment. Some little succession of notes that can be the perfect symbol of the overall project. But in contrast, this was purely about rhythm, energy and color. Rarely have I had so much fun as this in terms of ‘sound mining,’ looking for constant new, interesting colors to help tell the story.” Have a listen to the score or purchase the soundtrack on bandcamp.

David Williams has composed the music for THEY LIVE IN THE GREY, a horror film written and directed by the Vang Brothers (BEDEVILED, SENTIENT). The film follows a young social worker who, while investigating a child abuse case, discovers that the family is being tormented by a supernatural entity. The movie stars Michelle Krusiec, Ken Kirby, Madelyn Grace, and Audrey Moore. THEY LIVE IN THE GREY will stream on the AMC Premium Channel SHUDDER in early 2022.

Lakeshore Records has released the soundtrack to Tom Hank’s new movie, FINCH. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic earth wherein an aging character named Finch Weinberg has built a special robot companion to take care of his beloved dog once he’s gone. Finch’s interactions and experiences with the robot he created may make him a mechanical-plus AI version of a real boy. The original music to the Apple Original Film is by Gustavo Santaolalla. The score album is available now digitally on Apple Music and all major music services worldwide – see here. 

Listen to Santaolalla’s theme from FINCH:

Lions Gate Records has digitally released music from Season One of the STARZ Original Television Series HEELS, composed by Jeff Cardoni (SILICON VALLEY, THE KOMINSKY METHOD). The album is available now, in conjunction with the recently aired climactic season finale. The score predominantly features electric guitar, augmented with strings and piano to reflect the gritty, down-to-earth world the wrestling drama is set in, focusing on a family-owned wrestling promotion as two brothers and rivals war over their late father’s legacy. In the ring, somebody must play the good guy and somebody must play their nemesis, the heel. But in the real world, those characters can be hard to live up to — or hard to leave behind. “Heels” is now available on the STARZ App.
Stream or purchase the soundtrack here.

Spain’s Quartet Records celebrates giallo soundtracks with three expanded releases of classic Italian scores: First up is a 50th-anniversary remastered edition of the cult-classic score by Ennio Morricone from Dario Argento’s THE CAT O’NINE TAILS (1971, IL GATTO A NOVE CODE), wherein Morricone demonstrated his uncanny ability to range from melodies of exquisite, lyrical beauty to some of the most uncompromising and alienating avant-garde sound experimentation ever heard in film; this anniversary edition has been completely rebuilt and mastered by Chris Malone from first-generation master tapes. A second 50th-anniversary soundtrack is the complete edition of the haunting, innovative score composed by Riz Ortolani for Antonio Margheriti’s stylish Italian gothic horror NELLA STRETTA MORSA DEL RAGNO (1971; a remake of Margheriti’s 1964 horror classic, DANZA MACABRA, also scored by Ortolani). Whereas for the 1964 film, Ortolani wrote a completely symphonic score in the best Gothic tradition, for the 1971 version he composed a totally different score, enriching his orchestration with distorted guitars, a wider range of percussion and even a cembalo to reflect the Baroque music of the era, finding the right balance between the horrific and romantic aspects of the story. Thirdly we have the premiere CD edition of the cult score composed by Daniele Patucchi for the obscure mondo-slasher shockumentary DIMENSIONE VIOLENZA (1985), directed by Mario Morra, about death, destruction and weird customs around the world. The soundtrack was originally released by Cinevox on a limited LP edition with ten cues, reproduced for the first time on CD with this release, along with the complete score, both in pristine stereo sound. All three albums are produced by Claudio Fuiano (co-producing CAT O’NINE TAILS with Dániel Winkler); that CD also features in-depth liner notes by Jeff Bond, while the other two have in-depth notes by Gergely Hubai. The albums are available from Quartet Records, Intrada, Screen Archives and other major soundtrack retailers.

Composer Jared dePasquale, specialist in audio drama music, has scored the 13-episode Brinkman Adventures radio series Freedom: William Bradford and the American Pilgrims. “This was a show with about three hours of score, and was composed over a long stretch of November 2020 to September 2021,” said dePasquale. “It was fun to stretch the orchestra and blend in some instruments from the Americas. I had a lot of great soloists play on the score, and they always add so much realism to my scores.” Watch an informative 8-minute behind-the-scenes video that dePasquale created about scoring the audio series on YouTube here.

Set for release on Nov. 19 from Walt Disney Records, the ENCANTO Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features eight original songs by Tony®- and Grammy®-winning songwriter/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton,” “Moana”) with score by award-winning composer Germaine Franco (DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD, LITTLE, TAG). Franco worked closely with filmmakers and Miranda to create a signature score that complemented the songs and story. In the film, the magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift from super strength to the power to heal—every child except one, Mirabel. But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might just be her exceptional family’s last hope. The soundtrack album features eight original songs and the full original score, plus one reprise and one end-credit version of a song from the film. The digital version of the soundtrack also includes instrumental versions of the songs. A physical soundtrack will be available on Dec. 17. ENCANTO opens in theaters November 24, 2021.

To coincide with the date that Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) went missing in 1983 in STRANGER THINGS Season 1, Netflix has launched Stranger Things Day for the big STRANGER THINGS Season 4 reveal. Although fans won’t get to watch the show until the Summer of 2022, there is plenty of content to keep the demogorgons at bay. As you’ll discover from the new trailer (below), Season 4 takes place at a whole new location and it’s safe to say, all the action will take place in California. From interviews made at the end of Season 3, composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein are expecting to return to score the STRANGER THINGS’ fourth season.If you’ve been meaning to watch Stranger Things or still need to catch up, all episodes of Seasons 1-3 are now streaming. on Netflix. And be sure to check out the soundtracks for all three seasons: If you’ve been meaning to watch STRANGER THINGS or still need to catch up, all episodes of Seasons 1-3 are now streaming. on Netflix. And be sure to check out the soundtracks for all three seasons: Stranger Things Season 1 Vol. 1, Stranger Things Season 1 Vol. 2, Stranger Things Season 2, and Stranger Things Season 3.
Watch the Season 4 trailer for STRANGER THINGS:

Endeavor Content and Lakeshore Records have released TRUTH BE TOLD: Season 2 (Apple TV+ Original Series Soundtrack). Series composer John Paesano returns for another season. Starring and executive produced by Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, the new season of the anthology drama also stars Academy Award nominee Kate Hudson in her first lead role in a television series. The series, which provides a glimpse into America’s obsession with true crime podcasts, debuted August 20, 2021. The soundtrack is available here.

Daniel Rojas (KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS) has been tapped to score the upcoming Hulu animated series MARVEL’S HIT-MONKEY. Rojas previously scored Marvel’s adult animated series M.O.D.O.K., which premiered earlier this year. MARVEL’S HIT-MONKEY, or simply HIT-MONKEY, is an upcoming American adult animated streaming television series created by Will Speck and Josh Gordon for the streaming service Hulu, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Fred Tatasciore stars as Hit-Monkey, a wronged Japanese snow monkey, mentored by the ghost of an American assassin, as he cuts a wide swath through the Tokyo underworld. Jason Sudeikis, George Takei, Olivia Munn, Ally Maki, and Nobi Nakanishi also star. Marvel’s HIT-MONKEY will debut on November 17, 2021 on Hulu.
– via filmmusicreporter and other sources.

Silva Screen Records has released three albums of music by three outstanding composers, Gabriel Yared, Mychael Danna, and Shigeru Umebayashi, including previously unreleased music, recorded by the Brussels Philharmonic and the Vlaams Radiokoor under the baton of Dirk Brossé, from performances at the recent Film Fest Ghent festival in Brussels. In celebration of Gabriel Yared’s 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award and on the original album’s 10th anniversary, Silva Screen has reissued the Gabriel Yared - Music For Film album, greatly expanding it with 50 minutes of additional music. The newly recorded pieces include ‘Ut Jucundas’, composed in 1992 for a Gaz de France advertisement, ‘Rosa’s Theme’ from Yared’s newest work THE LIFE AHEAD, ‘Elegy for Charlotte’ from AUTUMN IN NEW YORK, the ‘End Credits’ from AMELIA, and the premiere recording of the CITY OF ANGELS suite. The album also contains suites especially created for this album from L’AVION, LES SAVEURS DU PALAIS and TOM À LA FERME and three previously unreleased tracks, recorded at the 2011 sessions, from L’AMANT, TATIE DANIELLE and COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY. Mychael Danna – Music For Film is an expanded edition of the original 2008 album, and features pieces specifically recorded for this reissue, suites from HEARTS OF ATLANTIS, LIFE OF PI and a newly created, mesmerizing suite from MONEYBALL. Also added to the album is the suite from MONSOON WEDDING, recorded for Film Fest Ghent’s 2020 album World Soundtrack Awards - Tribute to the Film Composer. Shigeru Umebayashi - Music For Film is an updated version of Film Fest Ghent’s 2010 tribute to the composer’s work which featured his most celebrated music. This edition includes material that has not been otherwise released featuring two pieces from A SINGLE MAN, a cue from the anthology film HERO and ‘Moyou’, a new arrangement from his breakthrough score SOREKARA, which features in the film THE GRANDMASTER. All three digital albums have a release date of November 26, 2021. For details and to pre-order see 

Also coming from Silva Screen: following the success of THUNDERBIRDS, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson had proved they had hit upon a winning formula to wow audiences – their mixture of inventive special effects and puppetry: Supermarionation. First screened in 1967, CAPTAIN SCARLET AND THE MYSTERONS was written as a more mature series, set against an ongoing war with a foreboding unseen nemesis. Taking his lead from the series premise, CAPTAIN SCARLET inspired composer Barry Gray to explore an equally mature musical palette to what he had utilized for previous Supermarionation series. With subtle string arrangements replacing the bombast of Thunderbirds’ urgency, the original music composed for Scarlet was suitably more atmospheric and at times more sober than its predecessors. The alien nature of the Mysterons themselves saw Gray return to the experimental electronic work he had composed for FIREBALL XL5 to create something suitably other worldly.
Pre-order on CD now (released 19th November 2021 on CD and digital formats) here.

Mirrortone has digitally released the Snakehead Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by composer Roman Molino Dunn (a.k.a. Electropoint). The 22-track album features the artist’s gritty orchestral-electronic hybrid score, opening with a dark Venetian Waltz (“Chinatown”). About the film: Sister Tse comes from China to New York via a human smuggler known as a snakehead. She gains favor with the matriarch of the crime family and rises the ranks quickly, but success isn’t the only reason she came to America. Sister Tse needs to reconcile between personal success and her family. Of his soundtrack, Dunn says, “Since the film is set in the underworld of NYC's Chinatown, a certain darkness to the music was essential, but because organized crime has an element of seduction, neo-romanticism was a compelling musical language that I leaned into – that is where the idea of minor waltzes mixed with granular synthesizers came from. Conversely, there are also more sincere moments – familial love, loss, sadness – and for that, organic string instruments served as the vehicle to portray the humanity of the film. Thematically, Chinatown is the musical backbone over which our protagonist’s and antagonist’s themes duel, with one eventually winning out and fully integrating into Chinatown’s theme.” Stream or purchase the sound track at Spotify or Apple Music/iTunes.


Documentary Soundtracks

Composer David Donaldson (of the musical collective known as PLAN 9) reports on Facebook’s Documenting the Score page that an official soundtrack to director Peter Jackson’s revolutionary and groundbreaking WWI documentary, THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD (2018) has been released. The film is an acclaimed documentary compiling never-before-seen footage from World War I, commemorating the centennial of the end of the war. It was created using state of the art technology and original materials from the Imperial War Museum and BBC telling the story of World War 1 using the voices of the men who were there. The film premiered in October 2018 and was broadcast on BBC2 on 11 November 2018 the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day 1918. It was subsequently released world wide by Warner Bros. The soundtrack is available on Spotify or for download on bandcamp.

British Composer David Schweitzer has scored FOUR HOURS AT THE CAPITAL, an immersive look at the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol when Washington D.C. was overrun by protesters of the 2020 presidential election. The film premiered on HBO Max (BBC2 in the UK) on October 20th. Directed by Jamie Roberts (RISE OF THE MURDOCH DYNASTY) and produced by Dan Reed (LEAVING NEVERLAND), it’s a fascinating and disturbing watch. Schweitzer describes a bit about scoring the film and what it meant to him at his website, which also includes sample tracks from his score.

Patrick Jonsson’s score for the Netflix documentary CONVERGENCE: COURAGE IN A CRISIS has been released by Air-Edel Records and is available at these links. The film is a collaboration that spans eight countries and nine individual stories from the COVID-19 crisis, revealing the power of compassion and community in the face of the pandemic, the documentary follows everyday citizens across the globe as they rise to the challenges of this upheaval in extraordinary ways

WILD HORSES – A TALE FROM THE PUSZTA from director Zoltán Török of Hungary has been scored by Oliver Heuss. The film follows Dot, a little wild horse foal. She is a Przewalski’s horse: the only true wild horse species of the world. Although the origin of this endangered species is in Mongolia, Dot lives in the heart of Europe, on the grassy plains of Hungary called the “Puszta.” 25 years ago some were introduced here and the horses instantly formed an organic connection with this magical land with rich and unique wildlife. Today this is one of the largest Przewalski's horse herds on the planet. This is their story. Featuring a performance by the Budapest Art Orchestra, the original soundtrack is now available on all platforms: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Google, Deezer, etc.

Nainita Desai’s latest scoring project is a uniquely emotional documentary feature film that follows four female climbers who face the sporting challenge of a lifetime as they attempt to compete in the first ever Olympic climbing competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. THE WALL – CLIMB FOR GOLD follows four elite climbers, Janja Garnbret, Shauna Coxsey, Brooke Raboutou, and Miho Nonaka, over an extraordinary two years. They battle through Olympic qualifying events to earn their place at Tokyo, then face a grueling season of competition and training that sees everything put on hold when the Covid-19 pandemic forces the Games to be postponed. As the young women confront their own mental and physical demons enroute to Tokyo, the film reveals an astonishing and inspiring insight into what it takes to be an Olympian and ultimately what it means to be human. For more details on the doc, see the film’s website.
Desai has also completed scoring 14 PEAKS: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE, which releases on Netflix on Nov 29th. About a different kind of arduous climbing, the film follows Nepali Mountaineer Nimsdai Purja as he embarks on a seemingly impossible quest to summit all 14 of the worlds 8000-meter peaks in seven months (spoiler: it wasn’t impossible!). The film was written, directed, and produced by Torquil Jones, who has previously worked on the 2019 cricket documentary THE EDGE. Along with Purja himself, the film is produced by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, who worked on the 2018 Academy Award-winning documentary, FREE SOLO. Desai recorded the score at Abbey Road Studios last February, performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra featuring violin solos by Galya Bisengalieva; Lakeshore will release the soundtrack album shortly.
Watch the trailer:

PROCESSION is a remarkable documentary which has been playing a limited festival and theatrical run. It is now set to premiere on Netflix on November 19th. It is a two hour film that follows six midwestern men who come together to direct a drama therapy-inspired experiment designed to collectively work through their trauma. All six are survivors of childhood sexual assault at the hands of Catholic priests and clergy. As part of a radically collaborative filmmaking process, they create fictional scenes based on memories, dreams and experiences, meant to explore the church rituals, culture and hierarchies that enabled silence around their abuse. In the face of a failed legal system, we watch these men reclaim the spaces that allowed their assault, revealing the possibility for catharsis and redemption through a new-found fraternity. The film has been scored by Keegan DeWitt (ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, HEARTS BEAT LOUD, TRINKETS) and Dabney Morris (BROKEN DIAMONDS, ALMOST LOVE, COMFORT).
Watch the film’s trailer here.


Vinyl Soundtrack News

In conjunction with Toho, Mondo is bringing the first of their Heisei series of GODZILLA soundtracks, starting with the classic THE RETURN OF GODZILLA, the 16th film of the series and a direct sequel to the original 1954 GOJIRA. The film features a darker and more somber tone than previous films, with an incredible score by Reijiro Koroku. The artwork for the vinyl is by Henry Abrams, whose stunning and intricate pencil drawings capture the majesty and beauty of Godzilla perfectly. The package features a pop-up gatefold and is a numbered edition of 2500. As excited as we are for this first release, we cannot contain ourselves for what else is in store: Toho has allowed us to delve deep into their broader catalog, so be on the lookout for mushroom mayhem, giant crabs, cuttlefish, deadly pteranodons, and so much more! 140 Gram Heat-Ray vinyl, housed inside a pop-up gatefold sleeve. Gold foil numbered edition of 2500. Retail variant pressed on 140 Gram recycled eco vinyl. Limit one per person. $30 For more details, see Mondo.
– via Mondo (speaking of Maestro Koroku, check in the news section above for a video interview with the composer about scoring THE RETURN OF GODZILLA and other works).
Watch a quick video showing the wonder of this vinyl release:

Mondo has also announced Death Waltz Recording Co.’s vinyl release of FREDDY VS. JASON – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack LP with the music of Graeme Revell, artwork by Gary Pullin, and liner notes by J. Blake Fichera (author of the Scored to Death interview books). The initial pressing is of 1000 numbered copies, pressed on Red, Green, and Silver vinyl. Limit one per person.? Orders are expected to ship in December 2021. See details here.

AllScore Media reports that the soundtrack by Peter Thomas for WINNETOU AND OLD FIREHAND (1966, aka Thunder at the Border), one of many German Western movies made during the 1960s, is getting a vinyl soundtrack for the first time. This movie put an end to the Karl May film adaptations by Horst Wendlandt’s Rialto Film company. Director Alfred Vohrer brought this film away from comfy German Western oeuvre towards a more violent form of Spaghetti Western. The soundtrack went down an altogether different path, too: Thomas replaced Martin Böttcher in the role of “Winnetou composer” although it’s remained the only Karl May movie with music by Thomas. And no wonder: He was in high demand at the time, scoring Edgar Wallace thrillers as well as Jerry Cotton action flicks. It was not until 1980 that he returned to the franchise with his music to the TV series MEIN FREUND WINNETOU. The result was a soundtrack that can be seen as a missing link between Böttcher’s typical Karl May strings and the decidedly more experimental music of Italo Western from the likes of Ennio Morricone. This release marks the second vinyl/CD instalment in a new Allscore series exclusively dedicated to legendary composer Peter Thomas, who died in 2020. The gatefold LP is pressed on 180g black vinyl plus, with a pressing of 300 limited LPs in transparent turquoise vinyl; the album is also available on a CD digipack. See more details here.

Mondo, in partnership with ASG and Def Jam Recordings, announces the premiere vinyl release of the BLADE RUNNER: BLACK LOTUS soundtrack, featuring fifteen original tracks from various artists. The series does not credit a score composer. The package features exclusive artwork by Greg Ruth and its neon disc is housed inside a trim-fold gatefold sleeve, finished with hot foil stamping. The soundtrack arrives in advance of BLADE RUNNER: BLACK LOTUS, the new Adult Swim/Crunchyroll/Alcon Entertainment anime action series, premiering on November 13th (see details at musiquefantastique). For more details, see Mondo


Video Game Music

Winifred Phillips has composed the trailer music for the upcoming video digital collectible card game in the DC Comics universe — DC Dual Force, which will be is coming out in 2022. “The trailer was released as a part of the DC FanDome virtual convention,” wrote Winifred in a Facebook post. “Many thanks to the folks at developer Cryptozoic Entertainment, publisher YUKE’S, and the amazing team at Warner Bros. Entertainment — this was a fun project, and I loved composing the music for it!” 

Watch & listen to the trailer:

Lakeshore Records has released the soundtrack to Battlefield 2042, featuring score by award-winning composer Hildur Guðnadóttir and composer Sam Slater. Lakeshore presents the digital album worldwide while Invada Records will co-release the vinyl edition. “From the very beginning, Hildur and Sam set out to craft a score like no other, in which music and sound design meld to create an extraordinary soundscape experience,” says Steve Schnur, President of Music for Electronic Arts. “I can say unequivocally that the original score for Battlefield 2042 is the most significant cinematic achievement in the franchise and an absolute game changer for the medium.” The soundtrack is now available at these links.

Ubisoft® has announced that  Far Cry® 6: Complete Music (Original Game Soundtrack), featuring music by Pedro Bromfman, is now available on digital platforms. The soundtrack features 49 tracks – a total duration of about 120 minutes.  “The score for Far Cry 6 overflows with distinctive, haunting melodies and character themes, accompanying and further immersing the players in their amazing journey through Yara,” said the composer. “It’s a journey full of beauty, brutality, adrenaline, and passion.” Far Cry 6 immerses players into the adrenaline-filled world of a modern-day guerrilla revolution set in Yara, a tropical paradise frozen in time in the heart of the Caribbean. Playing as local Yaran Dani Rojas, players will explore an entire island nation and join the revolution to liberate its people from the oppressive rule of dictator Antón Castillo and his teenage son Diego. ind the soundtrack on Spotify here.

Call of Duty: Vanguard is a 2021 first-person shooter game developed by Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision. It serves as the eighteenth installment in the overall Call of Duty series. Vanguard establishes a storyline featuring the birth of the special forces to face an emerging threat at the end of the war during various theatres of World War II. The game has been scored by Bear McCreary, who stated in a press event, reported by, that he used “small ensembles of strings” as a starting point, aiming to create something “smaller and more urgent.” To that end, McCreary chose to use close mic’d instruments rather than full orchestra arrangements in a lot of the soundtrack. With Sledgehammer Games giving him the freedom to take a deeper dive into each specific character, he was able to create “raw and exposed” themes for each character while still creating a sweeping, epic score for the rest of the game. McCreary shared that the main theme is “emotionally ambiguous,” and leans more into the danger and panic of battle rather than just the heroism. This ties into the general tone of Vanguard, which is based on the “devastating” stories of real people who fought in WW2. A soundtrack of the game’s score has been issued by Activision and is available at AppleMusic, Amazon, and other sources; a CD is intended to be released by McCreary’s Sparks & Shadows label in the near future.
Listen to Bear McCreary’s main theme for Call of Duty: Vanguard:

The latest game from Marvel, Eidos-Montréal, and Square Enix, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy puts players in control of the universe’s least likely heroes. As fans have come to expect, the world of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot is full of incredible music and this game is no different – two soundtrack releases feature original music written for the game. The Original Video Game Soundtrack album features score by BAFTA and Ivor Novello-nominated composer Richard Jacques (Mass Effect, James Bond 007: Blood Stone). Jacques recorded the heroic, original thematic score and epic intergalactic symphony at Abbey Road Studios. Space Rider, the debut album by Star-Lord Band, the (fictional) eighties underground heavy metal act, is co-composed by Steve Sczepkowski and Yohann Boudreault. (In the game’s narrative, Peter Quill takes the name Star-Lord from the name of his favorite band name. Source music being as important as score is to the Guardians universe, an entire rock album of licensed and original songs were was created for the game.)  “The licensed music is such a big part of the DNA of the game,” said Jacques in an interview last August for “Steve [Szczepkowski] and I were both wanting to make a completely seamless experience. So even when some of the licensed tracks might change, I would then react to make sure the score that happens before and after that licensed track lands in the right key. Sometimes I’d have to change the ending of the score that precedes the tracks and comes after it, but we really wanted to make that seamless, and I think we’ve really taken a lot of attention to detail over that. Without giving too many tracks away, there are certain points where you might get an echo of the main melody or the main lyric and it just comes into the score, and you might get it in the French horns or something to take you into the next scene. So we’ve worked hard to make that as seamless as possible, and as a fan I love the selection. It took me back, and there’s a really good mixture of things for everyone.”

Composer Peter McConnell and Xbox Game Studios’ Double Fine Productions have partnered with Skill Tree Records to release Psychonauts 2 Original Soundtrack – Volume 1 for digital download and music streaming platforms. PSYCHONAUTS 2 was recorded with a wide variety of musicians and ensembles around the world, including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and marks a thirty-year creative partnership between composer McConnell and legendary game designer Tim Schafer (Brütal Legend, Broken Age, Grim Fandango). “Comprising more than three hours of music created over four years, the score to Psychonauts 2 is a journey through musical styles and statements as diverse as the human mind,” said McConnell. “So we decided to separate the soundtrack into three releases. Volume 1 focuses on the orchestral and jazz elements of the score that are integral to the story and gameplay.” Order the 29-track album here and check out digital and streaming links 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.

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