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March 30, 2018


Feature Interviews:



Soundtrack Reviews:
BEN-HUR/Rózsa/Tadlow, THE COMMUTER/Baños/Varese Sarabande, LBJ / Marc Shaiman / Lakeshore, LE MAGNIFIQUE/Bolling/Music Box, MATHILDE/Beltrami/Moviescore Media, MAX AND ME/McKenzie/Sony Classical, THE ORPHANAGE 10th Anniv./Velasquez/Quartet, RED SPARROW /Newton Howard/Sony Classical, STASIS/ Glasgow/ Fourteen Kings Music, VIDEOMAN/Waveshaper & R Parker/Lakeshore

Book, Soundtrack, Vinyl, & Game Music News

Hitherto unknown in film scoring circles, David Shire had composed an original score, aided by synthesists Dan Wyman and Peter Bergren, for Francis Ford Copolla’s nightmarishly brilliant Vietnam War film, APOCALYPSE NOW (1979). It came to light, discovered by happenstance on a worn cassette tape in an unmarked drawer in the composer’s study, by journalist and soundtrack album producer Tim Grieving, through whose efforts the score has been rescued from oblivion and properly released on CD.

Q: I think the biggest surprise in film music last year was the discovery that you had composed a score for APOCALYPSE NOW that was never used, and not only that, it has now been released on CD by La-La Land Records!

David Shire: Yes. You’d never guess that I wrote it – it’s totally an outlier in my work! Francis Ford Coppola had gotten turned onto synthesizers around the time he began making APOCALYPSE NOW, and decided he wanted an electronic score for his film to convey the disconsolate moods he had in mind.

“Coppola imagined a soundtrack for [APOCALYPSE NOW] unlike any he’d ever heard, omitting the comforts of orchestral familiarity to capture the story’s alien setting and unglued psyche,” wrote Tim Grieving in his liner notes for the La-La Land album. After trying several approaches, Coppola decided to bring Shire into the project. Though known for his orchestral style, Shire had followed the rise of electronics since they first emerged in the music world, and was eager to accept the challenge.

Q: So how did you become involved with that - and why wasn’t your score used?

David Shire: I was working with his Francis’s father Carmine and a team of early 80’s pro synthesists who were as responsible for creating the score as I was. We worked in close collaboration. There wasn’t a lot for Carmine to do because – and I was a great admirer of my ex father-in-law as a serious acoustic composer – electronic music was something that was pretty foreign to him. I felt badly that we couldn’t give him specific things to do.

We worked on that picture for a year. It was Dan Wyman and a group called Sound Arts in L.A. which was the first big electronic studio that catered to film composers. Francis was in the Philippines, having his sets blown away, Martin Sheen getting sick, the production having to shut down for weeks at a time, and Brando giving him all kinds of trouble. Reels were coming back to the guys who were editing the movie in California. I’d had a very successful collaboration with Francis and [supervising film editor] Walter Murch on THE CONVERSATION, so it was working with old friends.

At the time, synthesizers like the popular ARP 2600, which were among the machines Shire used, created unique sounds, but they didn’t have the innumerable orchestral samples and other internal sounds to use at the flick of a switch or push of a button. In that era, composers synthesized their own sounds and used them to create ambiances, melodies, and musical sound patterns. “In a strange way, creating that score was pretty much the same process that I would have gone through if Francis had wanted a big symphonic score,” Shire told Grieving for his liner notes. “The only difference is, instead of having an 80-piece orchestra with, say, 20 different kinds of instruments, we had an infinite orchestra of any sound… We had a bigger palette, or a stranger palette.”

David Shire: We would take our temp tracks up to San Francisco and they would lay them in the movie, and the score was developing very nicely. We were on reel 12 of a 15-reel movie, but after six or seven months on the picture, only intermittently working on it with plenty of down time in between, I had to take another job that was offered to me, and I had plenty of time to do it. The job happened to be NORMA RAE, which worked out very well [Shire won an Oscar for best song with lyricist Norman Gimbel]. But when Francis found out about it, I got a phone call out of the blue from him, asking “Are you working on another picture?” I said “Yes, I have all this time in between working on APOCALYPSE.” And he said “Well you can’t work on another picture while working on my picture! You’re fired.”

Francis and I eventually became good friends again, and we’ve remained good friends since.

Q: Like people say, this was not only a film based on The Heart of Darkness, but this was Francis Ford Coppola’s heart of darkness just to get it done!

David Shire: It was everybody’s heart of darkness! The heart of darkness for me is that it was a real disappointment. We were doing good work. Walter Murch told me a couple years later, “The score we finally wound up with was not really that different from the score that you did. Yours would have worked fine as well!” So, I lost a chance at a major credit. But, win some lose some. Francis was going through hell down there and it was reflected in the way things worked out. And I got an Oscar instead for NORMA RAE.

The capper was when Tim Grieving finally had to go to Francis to get permission to do this album, and use the master tapes. Tim said to Francis “I’m interested in producing David Shire’s score for APOCALYPSE NOW,” and there was silence on the other end of the phone, until Francis said, ‘What score?’”

The score that was developing, while Coppola was busy filming in the Philippines, was unlike any score Shire had written before. The sounds that made up the music, as Grieving puts it, were at times, shockingly brutal and avant-garde. “Not just because of its cold inhuman electronic palette, but for its jaded, dissonant writing and Stravinskian collision of major and minor modes,” Grieving wrote.

Q: I’m delighted it was found and made available to listeners now.

David Shire: Tim dragged it up from the vault – as he explains in the album liner notes. He found an old cassette while he was looking for other scores of mine, and this one had “APOC NOW” written on it, and he asked “what is this?” I said, “Oh, yeh I did a score for that…” he said “WHAT?! Let me hear it!” So we played the cassette, which contained rough mixes from some of our sessions. And he said “this has to be released! This has to get out there!” And it all began with that. It took him three or four years to collect the masters, get the permission, get the stuff re-mastered. He did a helluva job!

Read the complete story of the making, the loss, the discovery, and the revival of this masterful electronic conceptualization in Tim Grieving’s thorough notes for the limited release soundtrack album. Listen to sample tracks and/or buy David Shire’s APOCALYPSE NOW: The Unused Score from La-La Land Records here:

Sample a track from David Shire’s APOCALYPSE NOW :


In mid-2017, composer Don Davis was invited to compose the music for a Japanese live-action film version of Sui Ishida’s popular dark Japanese anime/manga series, Tokyo Ghoul (T?ky? G?ru, serialized in print 2011-2014, with a two-season anime TV series adaptation released in 2014-2015). The live-action film based on the manga was released in July 2017, which is scheduled to release on combo Blu-Ray/DVD in the USA this April 1st. Directed by Kentaro Hagiwara and starring Masataka Kubota, Fumika Shimizu, and Nobuyuki Suzuki, the film tells the story of a Tokyo college student who is attacked by a ghoul, a superpowered human who feeds on human flesh. The student survives, but has become part ghoul, facing life as a fugitive on the run. Davis’s score is built around a solid anthemic and quite heroic main theme emphasizing horns; it is quite an engaging piece of music that grounds the score and its ghoulishly-afflicted hero. It’s a powerful work built upon a hefty string choir and prominent horn and trombone sections, which give the music a hearty baritone timbre, supplemented by effectively integrated digital samples. The score is thoroughly likeable, and very effective in its film.

Listen to the TOKYO GHOUL main theme:

Q: How did you get involved with TOKYO GHOUL?

Don Davis: I was called out of the blue. I guess there were people in Japan who liked THE MATRIX or something!  The film was based on a manga that was hugely popular in Japan, and I agreed to do it. I scored it in Nashville and it turned out pretty good, I think.

Q: How large of an orchestra did you use?

Don Davis: That was an interesting orchestral approach. The studio in Nashville wouldn’t hold that many players, plus the contract with the producers was on a package deal so I wanted to keep the numbers down. I went with a full string section, full horn and trombone sections, and everything else I did with samples. I felt that way I could get some real integrity from the string sound, and some real balls from the brass that I did have, and that would allow anything I added in the upper frequencies sound that much more real. The sampled piano in there I think sells itself really well because it’s over a bed of the full string section, and I think I had 12, 10, 8, 6 and 4 in strings [designating the number of first violins, second violins, violas, cellos, and basses]. So it was a pretty solid string section.

Q: How would you describe the structure of this score and how you musically covered this young college student who’s been turned into a half-ghoul?

Don Davis: I wouldn’t say it’s anything particularly unusual in terms of approach. In the end it was a kung-fu movie, so there were lots of fights and you do what you can do to keep the energy up. There were a couple of tender moments, there’s a thing with a young girl, I guess she’s supposed to be12 or something, so I composed some emotive music for with her.

Q: Would you describe your use of percussion in the action scenes?

Don Davis: Well, all the percussion came from digital samples, so I had a lot of sampled timpani, which really wasn’t moving any air, if you know what I mean – but I think the live orchestra moved enough air that it made the timpani sound more “timpanic,” if that makes sense.

Q: How was it working with the Japanese director and crew, as far as communicating…?

Don Davis: I told them I’d be happy to score it in Japan, as long as they were competitive, as it was a package deal. You know, they couldn’t use up the whole package on their score. So I guess they checked into it and realized they were not competitive, after all, so that was the end of that and I wound up recording in Nashville. It was kind of weird, because we did everything on Skype, and they had a translator there, so the director would say something, then the translator would tell me what he said, and then I’d answer and the translator would tell the director what I said, so it was rather tedious and time consuming. Plus ten o’clock in the morning there was five in the afternoon here, so it was a little challenging.

A soundtrack CD of Davis’s TOKYO GHOUL score was released in Japan on Shochiku Records in July, 2017; and on Milan in the US in Oct. 2017. The contents of both CDs, 27 score tracks plus a remix instrumental, are the same except there is an extra song by the band Illion on the Japanese release.

Listen to the track “The Kaneki Metamorphosis” from the TOKYO GHOUL soundtrack, which also features an arrangement of the main theme:

Views: Recently Released Soundtracks

BEN-HUR (complete score) / Miklós Rózsa /
Tadlow Music - CD

By any estimation, the classic soundtrack to William Wyler’s epic 1959 adaptation of Lew Wallace’s 1880 book remains one of the greatest film scores of all time. A powerful, cataclysmic, poignant, spiritual, and breathtaking composition of masterful thematic interaction and orchestrational brilliance, the score has seen a variety of releases over the years, from Rózsa’s original soundtrack performance to a multitude of re-recordings and concert arrangements by the composer and many others – but only now has every moment of its complete 157-minute magnificence (including previously unreleased and even unrecorded music) been presented in a stunning 24-Bit 96kHz digital sound, newly re-recorded by the award-winning City of Prague Philharmonic, conducted by Nic Raine and produced by label founder James Fitzpatrick. “I consider it a magnificent privilege to be able to contribute both this audio recording and the new computer-printed scores and parts to posterity,” said Fitzpatrick.  “It is what myself and Tadlow Music are all about: the preservation of outstanding music for future generations to enjoy and study.”
Reconstructionist and Rózsa expert Leigh Phillips was tasked with reconstructing and researching MGM’s original hand-written sheet music Rózsa would have provided to his orchestrator, interpreting and condensing them into new, computer-generated sheet music for the Prague musicians to follow.  Guided by Rózsa’s sketches, he orchestrated the music for what would ultimately be 96-piece orchestra and an 80-voice choir, with additional ethnic instruments playing a significant role.
The result is a brilliant new portrayal of this many-flavored and muchly-favored score in its finest fullness. It’s a huge undertaking that has resulted in a revitalized listening experience that affords new insights and fresh orchestrational treasures to behold. For more information and recording session videos, see:

THE COMMUTER / Roque Baños / Varèse Sarabande - CD
The Liam Neeson action film THE COMMUTER affords a very nice score from Roque Baños (EVIL DEAD remake, DON’T BREATHE, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA). Neeson plays an insurance salesman who runs into trouble on his commute home from work, unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy that carries life and death stakes for everyone on the train. “The director Jaume Collet-Serra was great to work with,” said Baños. “Jaume gave me total freedom to develop the music.  His only direction was to create patterns in the music that evoke a commuter’s everyday routine. I did that in the main theme actually, which is a repetition of a small phrase with little variations.” Baños’s score rides the rails with an onrushing bed of marcato strings while a delicate filigree of light piano notes identify Neeson’s character walking through the start of his day. Rhythm continues to propel the score with forward motion while other musical elements cross adjacent to that and punctuate the situations that the commuter becomes involved with while building tension. The music, while maintaining its focus on the train and the prime characters, begins to assert itself as the marcato shuffling becomes more tense, crossing over with a countermelody from horns and violins (“Suspicious Man,” “The Seek Starts,” “Moving Vagons” and so on). “I used a traditional line-up of instruments including piano, strings, brass, and percussion,” said Baños. “On top of all of those amazing musicians, I also incorporated an unusual instrument - the train horn. It gives personality to the score, and it puts the train as a central character in the movie. The train has its own theme, played by this train horn, giving the sound character.” Nicely done. The score’s final resolution, “The End Of The Line,” returns to the arpeggiated piano melody of the start that opens into a warm, heroic statement from horns, growing into a proud brassy melody of accomplishment and resolve. It’s an excellent score that makes for fine listening on its own.

LBJ / Marc Shaiman / Lakeshore - digital
Marc Shaiman provides a sturdy, straightforward dramatic score for this biopic of Lyndon Johnson’s sudden rise to the presidency in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and his struggles to champion JFK’s Civil Rights Act against the racism of his own southern heritage. The music carries a subtle sense of honor and diplomacy in its main themes (“Nomination Announcement,” “The Oval Office”) and acknowledges the loss of JFK in a serious and somber piano-and-strings epitaph (“Funeral on TV”), but it more significantly emphasizes Johnson’s shifting persona as he deals with his own racist birthright and the struggles of his Presidency. The score’s most profoundly moving moments are found in “Writing the Speech” and “The Speech,” where Johnson is seen doing the right thing for civil justice. “The film takes its audience up close to the psychological truth of LBJ’s complicated fusion of racism and racial enlightenment,” wrote a publicist in the film’ press materials, and I think he got it right. “His commitment to the Civil Rights Act becomes a way of seeing where the winds are blowing, but also letting those winds sculpt the sands of his humanity. To change the country, he changes himself.” It’s a very likable score, even as Shaiman evokes these notions of social justice in his tonalities and treatment of the film’s historicity, and I think the score carries a subtle power that makes those issues as significant to contemporary society as it did sixty+ years ago.

LE MAGNIFIQUE/Claude Bolling/Music Box Records - CD
Music Box Records presents an expanded and remastered 2-CD reissue of Claude Bolling’s charming score to 1973’s espionage parody LE MAGNIFIQUE (aka THE MAN FROM ACAPULCO), just in time for the movie’s 40th anniversary. This definitive 2-CD edition features the complete film score on the first CD (including alternate versions and previously unreleased cues) and the 1973 soundtrack LP contents, remastered, on the second one. The package includes a 16-page CD booklet with French and English liner notes by Nicolas Magenham, who discusses the film and the score in detail. The score is a lot of fun, playing it mostly straight but filtering a wildly eclectic mix that eagerly dances from Latin-American rhythms like Mariachi music to pop, big band, James Bondish spy music, romance and exotic moods – choose your flavor and you’ll probably find it here – filled out by a full symphony orchestra conducted by Carlo Savina and recorded in Rome. To say this score – and its expanded release from Music Box – is magnifique is right on the money.
For more information, see: musicbox-records

MATHILDE/Marco Beltrami/Moviescore Media – digital
(CD forthcoming from Quartet)

Marco Beltrami has composed a sophisticated and admirable score for this lavish historical Russian costumed drama film, performed by the world-class musicians of the Mariinsky Opera, conducted by the world-renowned Valery Gergiev. The film tells the story of the supposed romantic relationship between the heir to the Russian throne, Nicholas Romanov, and the ballerina of the Imperial Theater, Matilda Kshesinskaya. "I was immediately drawn to the story, the costumes, the sets… it was simply a gorgeous looking movie" said Beltrami about the film. With a brevity of themes, the composer enriches both the historical environment and the romantic drama between the protagonists, emphasizing their forbidden affair while providing some interesting thematic elements for other characters and a variety of action music that comes their way during the story (the tracks “Twilight of the Empire” with its urgent violin bowing, the introduction to the main theme in “Mathilde and the Balloon Ride,” the frantic panic of “Bear Fight” with its yowling brasses, the dark and mystical vision of “Fishel's Holograph,” as well as  “Dance Fight,” “Dress Reversal,” “Dream Kiss,” and the post-End Title “Mathilde’s Theme” reprise are particularly provocative and effusive favorites. It’s a thoroughly excellent score; an attractive, passionate, and thought-provoking, richly woven soundscape.  MSM released the soundtrack digitally on March 16, 2018, with Quartet Records issuing a physical CD release in the near future. For more details, see MovieScore Media
Watch MSM’s soundtrack trailer:

MAX AND ME/Mark McKenzie/Sony Classical  - cd
Mark McKenzie reunites with the Mexico-based production company Dos Corazones Films for the animated feature, MAX AND ME. For the same company he scored THE GREATEST MIRACLE which was awarded “Best Indie Film Score” from the Hollywood Music in Media Awards and was nominated for “Best Score of the Year” by the International Film Music Critics Association.  This animated movie tells the true story of Polish priest Maximilian Kolbe and the challenges he faced during the Nazi invasion of Poland during World War II. Kolbe protected and helped Jews from Nazi persecution, and as a result was sent to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. His ultimate sacrifice came when he volunteered to die in place of a stranger who was distraught for his wife and children. The story unfolds through a present - day encounter of an older man, Gunter, and a rebellious teenager, DJ, using the story of Father Max to teach DJ many lessons in love and sacrifice. Kolbe had asked those around him to not be overcome with hatred but to be filled with love for “Only love is creative.” McKenzie’s impassioned score is awash with Kolbe’s sentiment and the composer’s own proclivity for writing intensely beautiful music. The score’s melodic and harmonic phrasing is sincerely emotional, indeed, quite tear-inducing from its first note to its last. Using a constrained power of a 135-piece orchestra along with violin virtuoso Joshua Bell providing intricate solos and the spiritual fragrance of the London Singers and the world-renowned London boy’s choir Libera, this score, just on its own, is a powerfully affecting and emotive experience. McKenzie conveys such a gentle spirit of heartfelt compassion in this score, which surrounds the listener in heavy waves as Kolbe’s spirit of love contrasts against the burdens he faces in his imprisonment. By the time it’s over, few who have allowed this music to affect them will remain dry-eyed. It’s a very welcome and humbling experience.

THE ORPHANAGE - 10th Anniversary Special Edition/ Fernando Velasquez / Quartet - cd
J.A. Bayona’s poignant haunted house story El ORFANATO (produced by Guillermo del Toro) remains one of the most heartbreaking, yet somehow ultimately fulfilling horror films. Actress Belen Rueda headlines the cast as a former orphan who, married and with an adopted child, buys the shut-down orphanage where she grew up to turn it into a home for special children; until the ghosts of her former playmates begin showing up, her son disappears, and she is left alone to solve the puzzle and set things right. Bayona gives the story a peaceful, almost pastoral visual tonality, the story proceeding leisurely until it picks up pace and then hurtles towards a shocking, unanticipated, and unsettling denouement. The ending is both pragmatic and profound – the mystery of her son’s disappearance effectively if sadly tied together with unexpected events; the coda, a haunting reunion, becomes a thing of serene beauty, enhanced greatly by a sensitive and fluidly melodic score by Fernando Velazquez.  From that beginning, the director’s first feature-length film and the composer’s first major film score, they have continued to form a powerful cinematic partnership with the equally emotive and dramatically powerful cooperation, but the synchrony with which they collaborated on EL ORFANATO remains the most potent. With this 10th Anniversary release, Velasquez celebrated by conducting the full score (including 11 tracks previously unrealeased) in a splendid performance by the Basque National Orchestra and Kup Taldea Chorus whose sonic heft gives the score a powerfully expanded dimensionality from its lovely but tentative “Prologue” through to the serene, emotive majesty of “Reunion and Finale.” Both the film and its score have their spooky, frightening moments, but more often the music and the movie are things of beauty, purpose, and redemption. Quartet’s revisitation of this important and elegant score is very, very welcome.

RED SPARROW / James Newton Howard /
Sony Classical - cd

This suspense film stars Jennifer Lawrence as a ballerina recruited into 'Sparrow School,' a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. The film is deliciously Hitchcockian, a fine attribute that James Newton Howard embraces in his compelling and sinewy orchestral score. Shades of VERTIGO, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, PSYCHO’s suspense music, and other Hitchcock entities abound, often merging with shades of a Russian musical spirit, acknowledging the story’s setting. “My first assignment in RED SPARROW was to compose a twelve-minute piece that could serve as both a ballet and as accompaniment to an unfolding narrative. I also had the great honor of having my friend, Esa-Pekka Salonen conduct the main and end title music,” said the composer.  Those two pieces bookend the score, with an 11:34 Overture and a 9:30 End Title that are brilliantly conceived and conducted. Between these energetic concert-pieces the score follows a mysterious and roundabout path, maintaining a sense of tension as Lawrence’s ballerina enters a LA FEMME NIKITA-like world of assassin-training and mastering hand-to-hand combat survival skills. The music is mostly of the tonal and tenuous variety, with very few sidetracks into action and aggression (“Searching Marta's Room” being one of those); instead Howard maintains a classical/balletic like structure to the score as it carefully dances towards its final destination – the journey getting there is one of very fine elegance and class, an absorbing musical display of enthralling substance to be savored.

STASIS/Scott Glasgow/ Fourteen Kings Music - digital
Scott Glasgow (THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY, HATCHET III) has composed this intriguing sci –fi thriller directed by Nicole Jones-Dion (her first feature film). After a night out of partying Ava wakes up and sneaks back home only to find that somebody's already in her bed – someone who looks exactly like her. Ava learns that a time-traveling fugitive has stolen her body and she is now a ghost and invisible to everyone. Glasgow has composed a synth score very much in the BLADE RUNNER vein, which creates a compelling soundscape against which the adventures of the story fall nicely into place. The musical similarity isn’t as off-putting as it might sound, it’s “like” BLADE RUNNER the way many near future sci-fi films “look” like BLADE RUNNER – but Glasgow creates his own ambient articulation and renders the sonic stylization in his own voice. The recognizable source of Glasgow’s musical style should be no more distracting than James Newton Howard’s clear use of the Hitchcockian Herrmann vogue in RED SPARROW (see above), both are adapting familiar modes of musical reference to create a soundscape that is in a recognizably similar universe, to the benefit of their films and their accompanying scores.  The music of STASIS provides both the film and the score album a functioning flavor which is quite likeable while allowing it to breathe through a journey of its own. Sample and/or buy the soundtrack on amazon here.

VIDEOMAN/ Waveshaper & Robert Parker / Lakeshore - digital
This is a very interesting score that captures a pure vintage synth sound which is quite compelling. The film has to do with a VHS movie collector and a woman obsessed with the 1980s – both alcoholics who find romance with one another and a shared means to battle their personal failures. I just love the sound of the score, it’s got this simple purity of that ‘80s/’90s synth vibe when their synthetic sound was especially evocative, before it became overused and replaced by orchestral sampling and sound design. It makes for a delightful score and a very enjoyable repeated listening.  Swedish electronic/synthwave music artist Waveshaper’s modern cinematic melodies and retro-analog synthesist Robert Parker’s love for and expertise with analog synths creates a score that is pleasingly nostalgic and proffers a unique sonic mix for the movie.

Sample “Drift Apart” from the VIDEOMAN score:

Soundtrack & Music News

WOMEN WHO SCORE is a concert documentary celebrating women composers changing the score in Hollywood. In 2016, out of the 250 highest grossing films in Hollywood, only 3% were composed by women. Despite winning 25 major awards including Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, Golden Globes, and countless nominations, women composers have a long way to go. This short film documents the time-crushing rehearsal process running through 20 scores in 2 days, and introduces for a one-night-only - Women Who Score: Soundtracks Live Concert - performed by a live 80 person orchestra.
Watch it at vimeo here

On last March 13th, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s (UFEG) Global Talent Development & Inclusion group announced the launch of the Universal Film Music Composer Initiative.  The initiative has been designed to develop burgeoning and novice composers who have had limited or no access to the studio production process by engaging them through yearly assignments across various UFEG labels.  The composers will have the opportunity to work with filmmakers, executives and other talent from within Universal Pictures and Focus Features, as well as DreamWorks Animation, Universal 1440 Entertainment and Awesomeness.
Read the full story here

The Main Title music from Steven Spielberg’s READY PLAYER ONE, based on the Ernest Cline science fiction novel, has been released to those of us in the stacks today.  It’s fantasy adventure music from Alan Silvestri in his finest classic orchestral mode.

For the 30th Anniversary of the sci-fi comedy classic, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, composer John Massari has created a three-ring sci-fi/horror celebration, reuniting an amazing line-up of special guests, including the film’s creators, the Chiodo Brothers, musical guests The Dickies, stars Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder. Massari, along with the filmmakers and guests will celebrate the film’s 30th Anniversary with a Bacchanalian Circus Celebration and Fan Tribute on May 19, 2018 at The Montalban Theater (1615 Vine St. Los Angeles, CA 90028?, tickets at  At 6PM, the Kosmic Klown circus celebration will begin with stilt walkers, balloon folding artist Buster Balloon Cadwell, contortionist Bonnie Morgan, plus fortune tellers, strong men and women, magicians, body art, fan arts and crafts, and of course the Killer Klowns.  There will be a pre-show Q&A at 7PM , after which at 8PM the film will be screened with its original musical score performed live by The Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Massari.  LA's very own original punk rockers, The Dickies, will perform their enduring classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space theme song.
Varèse Sarabande Records will be releasing a new orchestral recording of the soundtrack on CD and LP, available for sale at the concert.  The album features the original score performed by members of The Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, with new orchestrations by Massari and Bernhard Eder. The Dickies recorded a BRAND NEW version of the film’s theme song featuring an extra creepy intro followed by their signature pure punk energized sound. “For 30 years, love and loyalty from fans the world over made this extraordinary movie a beloved cult classic,” said Massari.  “This event is our way to celebrate KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE directly with these fans.”

Film/game composer Austin Wintory has revealed the “most ambitious and personal project I've ever attempted. After years of work, I can now finally reveal A LIGHT IN THE VOID. This is a project which unites my two greatest loves: music and science. Imagine a TED conference with some of the most inspiring and accomplished scientists in the world, throw in a dose of theatrical storytelling, and then enrich the whole thing with continuous cinematic orchestral music. And somehow, despite how strange and counterintuitive this concept is, I'm overjoyed to say it's happening! October 5th of this year, I will conduct the Colorado Symphony in the premiere of A LIGHT IN THE VOID! To help take the project to the next level, Wintory has launched a Kickstarter page. Take a look at it here, and see if you’re able to support this amazing project.

Music Box Records has unleashed an expanded release of one of the most prestigious scores composed and conducted by Georges Delerue. Philippe de Broca’s film CHOUANS! is a rich score that exemplifies the dramatic impact of the composer’s lush and evocative style: a heartbreaking love theme characteristic of Delerue’s neo-baroque writing style, a folk theme inspired by traditional Breton music for the Chouans - flavorful period dances, lavish baroque pieces, marching tunes, and several powerful pieces for strings bringing to the film a dramatic dimension and creating an atmosphere of inevitable tragedy. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film in 2018, this edition has been fully remastered from the original master tapes and features 26 minutes of previously unreleased music. The package includes a 12-page booklet with liner notes by Sylvain Pfeffer, discussing the film and the score.
For more details, see: musicbox-records

Andre Matthias (THE DRUMMER) reports that Plaza Mayor has released his scores for BLESSED BENEFIT and CENTAUR in both digital and physical CD platforms, as well as re-releasing his music for THE LIGHT THIEF in digital only.

Composer Jared DePasquale, currently scoring independent genre films, Radio Theater, and audio dramas, has posted a fascinating look into his scoring process with his gorgeous score for the biblical audio drama THE TRIALS OF ST. PATRICK, based on the legend of the kidnapped English boy who became the beloved Saint of Ireland. Jared has deconstructed the thematic unity and interaction of this score and its compelling use of voice and ancient Irish flutes to characterize the drama, travails, and faith of the young Patrick. Have a watch and hear how the score works:

My recent interviews posted to (film music for fantasy, science fiction, & horror films and TV) that may interest you:

With the current political climate, no TV show seems more timely than COMRADE DETECTIVE - a six part Amazon miniseries that purports to be a lost Romanian crime procedural from the waning end of the Cold War. A raucous romp in the style of socialist propaganda, obviously this unique series needed a soundtrack just as singular. Enter composer Joe Kraemer, who crafted the series’ “step-back-in-time” score. “COMRADE DETECTIVE offered a unique opportunity to compose new music in the classic style of cop shows and movies from the 1970’s and 80’s,” Kraemer said. “The bizarro concept of the series meant we had to do everything old-school, with a minimum of artificial sounds (i.e. synthesizers). This necessitated live musicians playing themes and arrangements that sounded authentic but also fresh. We recorded the score with a live orchestra in Vienna, Austria, with a Romanian Concertmaster, which gave it a proper sense of time and place. I wrote a motivic score, with leitmotifs for the major characters, both heroes and villains. I also incorporated various anthems and signature pieces from various countries around the world, as the story dictated, lending the soundtrack an ironic intelligence that reflected the sensibilities of the director, writers, and producers. It was a really rewarding experience writing the music for this series…” 

Michael McCormack, known for scoring such movie-making documentaries as THE SHARK IS STILL WORKING: THE IMPACT AND LEGACY OF JAWS, completed his latest such film score last year, for LONG LIVE THE KING, a feature documentary about the enduring popularity of the character King Kong, and how the 1933 film has inspired countless artists, writers, and filmmakers. Watch a short sampler about McCormack’s score on youtube, or watch the film on amazon prime over here.

Varèse Sarabande will release the soundtrack to CHAPPAQUIDDICK digitally and on CD April 6, 2018. The album features the original score by New York-based double bassist and composer Garth Stevenson (TRACKS, RED KNOT). The film tells the untold story surrounding the scandal & mysterious events of Mary Jo Kopechne drowning as Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off the infamous bridge. Composer Garth Stevenson has spent a lot of time in Massachusetts and understands how this episode has colored local history.  “John [Curran, director] was looking for a balance or coexistence of darkness and lightness in the score. To hear the devils and angels overlapping within cues,” Stevenson described. “Ted’s main theme is introduced over the Chappaquiddick card, and is woven throughout the entire score.  This theme is about the shadow Chappaquiddick cast over Senator Kennedy’s life and career. Frequently presented in overlapping orchestrations, creating a canonic effect. It hangs over his head like the recurring image of the bridge at night.”

Silva Screen Records Announces they will release the DOCTOR WHO Season 9 soundtrack digitally on April 27, 2018. A CD version will be released that same date in the UK; a US release date will be forthcoming from the label. This edition will be generally available but is limited in number.  A Limited Edition CD version includes an additional booklet with Stuart Manning poster images and slipcase; while the Standard Edition is the same as the Limited only without the slipcase and additional booklet. Both editions will contain a 20-page booklet. Once the Limited Edition runs out, only the Standard Edition will be available. This all-encompassing four part collection features general cues on discs one and two, the complete score from the season’s penultimate episode “Heaven Sent” on disc three, and disc four will contain music from the Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song.”  The musical content is the same in both editions.  Discs 1 and 2 contain selected tracks from each episode of the 9th series; Disc 3 contains selections from “Heaven Sent,” the episode, and Disc 4 contains music from the Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song.”
For more information and the full track list, click here

Also: Silva screen also announces that five-time BAFTA nominee Murray Gold recently confirmed that he is stepping down from composer duties on the show after 12 years of providing some of the finest music to be heard on contemporary television. This is also the 12th Silva Screen release of his music from the 2005 revival onwards and underlines the breadth of Gold’s composing skill across over two and a half hours of music.

Tadlow Music Presents THRILLER 2, composed by Jerry Goldsmith, a Special Collector’s Edition featuring music from the noted horror show’s TV scores. As with the first volume, this second release features newly recorded suites from six episodes composed by Jerry Goldsmith. Volume 2 is scheduled for April 17, 2018. Fiore more details see the story here.

Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts and Marcus Trumpp recently scored the new hit horror/comedy LITTLE EVIL now on Netflix.
You can check out some tracks from the score available on the site.

According to composer Pinar Toprak, currently scoring SyFy’s KRYPTON, the sound of Superman’s home planet is a decisively “otherworldly” sound. In an online article posted at Variety, writer Jon Burlingame discussed with Toprak her process of scoring the new series. Using a phalanx of synthesizers and electronic music making machines in her own studio, Toprak is able to endow the planet of Krypton with a “dark, oppressive atmosphere” while augmenting its main characters with an evocative sonic spirit of “heroism and warmth.” Read story at Musique Fantastique here [tab down to KRYPTON story], which links to the Burlingame interview.

MovieScore Media launches into outer space with Kevin Riepl’s score for ATROPA, the new Canal+ streaming series. The 7-part adventure consisting of 11-13 minute-long episodes tells the story of a troubled Off-World Officer, running from his past, but finding himself slammed directly into it when he boards the mysterious spaceship Atropa. “The director of ATROPA, Eli Sasich, and I see eye to eye when it comes to how music should work and what kind of role it should play in a story of this magnitude,” said Riepl. “Working on the score for ATROPA, from the very beginning of the first musical sketches to the final orchestra recording, has been very special. There is a lot of energy and emotion in this story and since the director and I are big fans of science fiction films, we agreed that the best way to capture and support this was employing the use of some traditional orchestra alongside 80s inspired synths & ambiences. On completion the score became a slight homage to 80s sci-fi.”

Lakeshore Records issued Andrew Hollander’s score to MY FRIEND DAHMER on March 30th, just in time for the 2017 film’s home video release on April 19. The haunting drama examines the infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer as a teenager in high school, from the perspective of his then-friends. The score by Andrew Hollander (WAITRESS, SLEEPWALK WITH ME) walks the line by treating Dahmer from the familiar perspective of his friends, while still recognizing the monster this teenager will become. The Hollywood Reporter praised Hollander’s score, saying it “deepened the sense of dread” in a film that is “one of the most disturbing coming-of-age features in recent memory.”

Milan Records has released Marco Beltrami’s score for the new horror movie, A QUIET PLACE. The film marks Beltrami’s first collaboration with the film’s director/actor John Krasinski . The challenge of scoring this film was expanded by the plot device that the various characters needed to be very quiet or else the unseen horror would be unleashed. Beltrami established a reputation as a genre innovator with his non-traditional horror scores for the Wes Craven’s SCREAM franchise.  He later scored THE WOMAN IN BLACK, and DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK.  SCREAM marked the first Horror film Beltrami had ever seen, and though he claims not to particularly8like the genre, his career is marked by highly effective and potent scores.
Watch the film’s extended Super Bowl trailer:

Canada’s Disques Cinemusique has released a pair of formerly unreleased early French soundtracks by Georges Delerue, combining his music for Gerald Calderon's documentary film LE BESTIAIRE D'AMOUR (1965; The Lair of Love) with two suites from MONA L'ETOILE SANS NOM (1966; Nameless Star). The CD is limited to 500 copies.

If you haven’t seen it yet, make a point of watching SCORE. It’s an outstanding documentary, illuminating the art & science of writing music for movies. Really worth seeing for all music & movie fans, especially those who don't yet understand or value the role of music in movies. Out on Blu-Ray at amazon, etc.


Film Music on Vinyl

Tangerine Dream's score to MIRACLE MILE, which debuted in its full original film score release last year on Dragon's Domain Records, is now available in a beautifully illustrated orange-vinyl special reissue of the original re-recorded 1989 release. Paul Haslinger, who composed and performed the score with Edgar Froese, noted on Twitter that "@firerecordings will be releasing this limited explosive orange vinyl edition on @recordstoreday [April 21st], but we’ll have more MIRACLE MILE news down the line, so stay tuned."

Varèse Sarabande is launching Varèse Vinyl, an online store where fans can purchase the label’s vinyl recordings, on March 30, 2018. When Varèse Vinyl goes live the store will feature three new numbered, limited releases exclusive to the store: CHRISTINE (John Carpenter in association with Alan Howarth) in an exclusive “Fury Red” color, a 180-gram vinyl version of BARBARELLA (Bob Crewe and Charles Fox), and for the first time on LP, a two-record set of THE GOONIES (Dave Grusin) on “Willy’s Gold” colored vinyl. The three vinyl albums will be available to order from on Friday March 30th.

Death Waltz has announced the availability of Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack to the Italian version of SPACE: 1999, never before released on vinyl. In Italy, they cut three episodes of the British sci-fi television show together and released it to theatres as a full length film known as SPAZIO: 1999, and Morricone composed the score in all its full-on Jazz skronk awesomeness! “From the opening, the score launches into wild space jazz with piano and trumpet interspersed with all kinds of noise before it descends into a creepier vibe,” noted Charlie Brigden, creator of the Sound of Fear Podcast, writing on the (Mondo is Death Waltz’s vinyl distributor) web site. “Morricone uses unsettling violins and atonal music together with electronics to simulate the void of space and the danger faced by the intrepid heroes. What emerges is a mix of sci-fi and horror that will not only thrill you, but also scare the living daylights out of you. Human decision required.”

Released late last summer, copies of the 2-LP package are still available. See:

Film Music Books

Universal Terrors 1951-1955: Eight Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Films
By Tom Weaver with David Schecter, Robert J. Kiss, and Steve Kronenberg.
McFarland & Company, 2017.

Tom Weaver’s second (of three intended) books analyzing 1930-1960 sci-fi cinema in comprehensive detail is a follow up on Universal Horrors, The Studio’s Classic Films 1931-1946, published in a second edition in 2007, covering FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA 1931 through SHE-WOLF IN LONDON and THE BRUTE MAN in 1946. Along with the current volume, and a third volume to come (covering 1956 presumably through 1959), these books, as well as 2014’s close cousin, The Creature [from the Black Lagoon] Chronicles (2014), serve as a marvelously detailed overview of these films. Universal Horrors, giving some license for what was actually horror and what was perhaps close but not quite, covered some 75 movies; by cutting back its coverage into only eight movies, Universal Terrors, allows for tremendous detail and covering far more aspects of the films than was accomplished in the first volume. Taking an idea from The Creature Chronicles, where Weaver was assisted by Steve Kronenberg and classic horror and sci-fi music expert David Schecter to include wide-ranging coverage of the film’s music, Schecter was invited back among the quartet of writers covering Universal Horrors; he contributes a significant sheaf of pages to cover the music of these eight classic films. Thus the book’s audience is expanded from 1950s horror and science fiction movie fans, but film music fans as well, and is sure to become a first-rate, widely detailed reference source for genre film music of this decade. In a time when serious discussion and examination of these films began (with Carlos Claren’s groundbreaking 1967 volume A History of the Horror Film) first exposing the horror genre to serious discussion and evaluation, music has all too often  been left out of that discussion except in the most obvious of circumstances. By placing an equal focus on the musical quotient of these respected films – some of them even revered, Weaver and his compatriots, each an expert in a certain aspect of their cinematic-literary study, have provided an enriched encyclopedic analysis of these films from each’s unique perspective. The thorough explanation from Schecter of the usage of music to enhance these films’ interactive potency is very welcome.

Video Game Music

Sumthing Else Music Works released the original soundtrack to The Invisible Hours, an immersive and new murder mystery experience in the world of Virtual Reality, late last November. Composed by Cris Velasco (Resident Evil 7, Hulu's DIMENSION 404 and FREAKISH), the game experience plays like an elaborate immersive theater production, which can only be realized through a virtual reality game. Players freely explore an intricate web of interwoven stories within a sprawling mansion in order to untangle a dark truth. "We took our inspiration from stage theater and played with atmosphere and ambient sound," explains Raúl Rubio, CEO and Creative Director of Tequila Works. "Like the original silent movies of early 20th Century, we added a soundtrack matching the action only in very specific moments for dramatic purpose. The result is an intimate, atmospheric symphony that talks directly to your soul. And composer Cris Velasco is the invisible hand behind the chill you feel when wandering [the game’s many] domains spying the secret lives of all these strangers."
For more information visit .

Featuring Faroese vocalist Eivør Pálsdóttir and an orchestra of 50 strings, 17 brass instruments, and six low woodwinds, plus Iceland’s 22-singer Schola Cantorum choir and a 48-singer choir from Prague, Bear McCreary’s new score for God of War may well find itself among gaming’s greatest scores. The game, which will be released for PlayStation 4 on April 20, refocuses the prior games’ emphasis on Greek mythology to Norse lore. “I researched Nordic folk music [and] the way it sounds,” McCreary said. “I wanted to communicate something authentic. Rather than using traditional choirs recorded in London or Los Angeles, we went to Iceland. That’s as immersed as I can get into the world of God of War - going onto these glaciers and experiencing it.” By recording in Iceland with an Icelandic choir, the singers could read the text and pronounce the words properly, McCreary explained.  There’s a section of text in the game which is sung in the score; the words were translated by a scholar into Old Norse. That dialect no longer exists today as a spoken language, but of current languages it is closest to Icelandic. Having it sung in proper pronunciation gave McCreary an incredible edge in the historical authenticity of the choral music
Read the full article by Brian Leak at

Independent Swedish developer Fatshark has announced that BAFTA award-winning Danish composer Jesper Kyd ( ) is returning to compose an original soundtrack for the sequel to the first-person melee/shooter Warhammer: The End Times - Vermintide, based on Games Workshop's popular Warhammer Fantasy Battles world. Warhammer: Vermintide 2 introduces the dark, bloody and twisted Norse tribe 'Chaos' as an enemy faction. Inspired by Norse mythology, Jesper Kyd's original score for Vermintide 2 explores ancient tribal music and dark magic fantasy elements as well as evolving the raw acoustic soundscape he developed for the first game. Kyd channels his Scandinavian roots, blending Viking and Norse-inspired vocals, ritualistic percussion styles and new custom-made instruments built specifically for Vermintide 2, to create another unique soundtrack experience.


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 has written liner notes for more than 120 soundtrack CDs for such labels as La-La Land, FSM, Perseverance, Silva Screen, Harkit, Quartet, and BSX Records.  A largely re-written and expanded Second Edition of Musique Fantastique is being published: the first of this four-book series is now available.  See:

Randall can be contacted at