Past Columns

Soundtrax: Episode 2016-3
April 11th, 2016

By Randall D. Larson



  • The Man From JOBS

Daniel Pemberton on Scoring Uncles & Apples


A look at the television scores of Sean Callery

Soundtrack Reviews

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (McCreary), EPIC HOLLYWOOD/The Music of Miklós Rózsa (Tadlow), GODS OF EGYPT (Beltrami), HIGH-RISE (Mansell), HOUSE OF CARDS, SEASON 4 (Beal), IN THIS WORLD (Marianelli), LA LUNGA NOTTE DEL ’43 (Rustichelli), MR. SELFRIDGE (Mole), NICK OF TIME (Arthur B. Rubinstein), THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (Bishara), PIANO WORKS (Lemonnier), SHERPA (Partos), LA SORPRESA (Sensini), WESTENDER (Simonsen).

Book, Soundtrack, & Game Music News

Q: What were some of your early ideas about what the MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. score should be grounded in?

Daniel Pemberton: I’m a massive fan of that whole genre, and 1960s spy music is probably my favorite part of film music, really. So I went in wanting to play with that world, all the sounds and scores of that era that had influenced me – just cherry-picking my favorite bits, taking instruments like harpsichord and flutes, live bands, and basing tracks around rhythms, drums, holding back on the orchestra and trying to get the same kind of emotion from more unusual instruments like they did on a lot of those shows. It was often due to budgetary constraints where they couldn’t have large lineups, so they’d have to be a bit more inventive. I wanted to approach the score with that in mind, so I started writing that kind of material. What is great about working with Guy is that he always wants his scores to sound different – he doesn’t want them to sound like everything else that’s out at the moment, so he really pushes you to try and come up with something unique for the film, and he wants every single cue to be a standout cue, which is really hard! But the end result is worth it because I’m really proud about how that score came out.

Q: Was there ever a consideration about reprising Jerry Goldsmith’s original theme from the U.N.C.L.E. TV series?

Daniel Pemberton: I’m a massive Jerry Goldsmith fan and I was kind of hoping to get it in there. We had it in for a bit, but it didn’t go down very well with people, and they ended up taking it out. It’s a different sort of theme to things like Bond and MISSION themes, which are very iconic and very recognizable, and have a really cool swagger to them; U.N.C.L.E. was in a major key and has a lot more fun in it. It just didn’t translate well into the kind of film Guy was making.

Q: Your score works on many levels – it reflects the time period, the self-confidence and buddy-cop bantering of the agents, the moods of the various environments, the threat of the cold war, the moments of humor in the story, and the spy-vs-spy capering. Would you describe the operative structure of your UNCLE score?

Daniel Pemberton: It’s not really thematically – at one stage we did try and go very thematic, but Guy likes stuff to be surprising, and I think that’s actually pretty cool. I’m a massive fan of a thematic score, but at the same time I also like a score that surprises you, where you have no idea what’s going to come next, and that’s what we decided to go for with U.N.C.L.E., this idea of you don’t know what you’re going to hear next. Once we worked out that was the way Guy wanted to do this film, then it was like, let’s approach every single piece, every single cue, as a great piece of music on its own. So it meant you had to write all these pieces that sounded like big tracks and then somehow slop them together. The flute pops in and out of quite a few cues, and there’s some very subtle thematic material – it’s not totally up front but there’s stuff in there. Most of the time, though, the score was twenty tracks that have to sound different and have their own identity.

Q: The score also has a richly textured sound with some inventive instrumentation, from your use of bass flute and bass guitars to harpsichords, mandolins, a bit of Morriconesque Spaghetti Western guitar and voices. How did you try to integrate all of these sounds into specific sequences in the film?

Daniel Pemberton: I love using unusual instruments because I feel that’s a great way to make something feel new and engage you as a listener. Guy automatically responds to stuff that’s unusual. One of the great things of the ‘60s is that everyone was trying out really quite inventive ideas with instrumentation. It wasn’t just like “here’s a pile of instruments stuck on top of a bed.” It was like “hey, if we put these two things together, like an octave apart, and then we get this playing in the middle, it’s going to sound really cool.” So a lot of it was influenced by what was happening at that time in the ‘60s – to all kinds of music, not just film music but also rock and jazz music and using different instrumentation. Then in terms of whether things fit with the scene, there was definitely a lot of thought about that. If you’ve got something like an accordion, for example, it can be quite comic, and it’s harder to play that in a serious action scene, but if you’ve got a cimbalom, that’s kind of ingrained now in your subconscious as a cold war sound, and worked very well for Ilya Kuryakin – it also reflects the fact he’s a very strong character; it’s got a great strength in that sound. And the flute’s got a kind of lightness but also a funkiness and a coolness that fits Solo well, so you’re pulling all those things together and trying to find as many interesting other instruments that you can work with.

Q: So from the iconic Guy Ritchie you’ve gone to work with the iconic Danny Boyle with STEVE JOBS. How did you become involved in this film?

Daniel Pemberton: Danny had seen THE COUNSELOR and really liked the score to that, and he was familiar with some of my U.K. TV stuff as well. I got a call saying he’d like to meet me, and we met for like half an hour, had a good chat about how I liked to work. Then I said “Well, it’s good to meet you, let me know when you’re met everyone else,” and he said “We’re not meeting anyone else!”. They sent me the script and it had this unbelievably security – like Fort Knox!  It was such a hot script, you had to have all these apps on your iPad to unlock it and be able to look at it. Super-high security. I began writing music before they started shooting, and then I never met Danny again until he came back to England after he finished shooting, because the schedule was so crazy. We basically met for that half hour and then we talked a lot on the phone or on the Internet and I would continue writing while they were shooting.

Q: I understand that he filmed this in three distinct acts, requiring three different scoring approaches.

Daniel Pemberton: Yeah. The film is set into three different time periods, very clearly three different acts. Before I’d even started talking to Danny about that I tried to work it out. This film has got so much dialog in it, I kept thinking, “Right, I’ve got nothing to do! There’s literally nowhere in the film I can do anything!” So I was literally trying these kinds of ideas for bits like with guitars with in and out fades, which I thought was very clever but as it turns out actually it wasn’t. It was too minimal and it didn’t have the identity that the film needed.

Q: How did the score develop across these three narrative landscapes?

Daniel Pemberton: When I first met with Danny, we actually chatted about doing it as three different scores. He called the first act “Vision,” the second act was “Revenge,” and the third act was “Wisdom.” And so we toyed around with the idea of: wouldn’t it be cool if we did three different scores? The first act was this vision of the future, there was so much optimism about what technology could be to the world and how it did feel like the future back then. I had this idea of scoring it as if it was written in 1984, using the equipment of the time. The synthesizer was at its peak in 1984, in terms of its impact on culture of the time. So the idea was to write this almost quite optimistic synthesizer based score that could have existed in 1984. I ended up getting a lot of old keyboard synthesizers and used the method that you would have used to work on them back then, which was MIDI or you’d have to play things in by hand. There’s a synthesizer called the Roland SH-1000, which was a very early Roland synthesizer – it’s so old you can’t even connect it to a computer or MIDI or anything, you have to play every single part in by hand and record that. If something goes wrong you have to start over from scratch. It makes you write differently, because you don’t have what you have today, which is endless possibilities. That Roland had really quite limited possibilities; you could play one note at a time, if you want to make a chord you’d have to record it three times! And so you come up with ways to get around that, like how can I make a chord sound on basically a monophonic instrument?  Well, if I move the keys very fast that’s going to make a chord sound, so you start doing those things and it changes the way you write. And it’s the same way someone would write a piece of music in 1984. And that was very interesting. SO we brought in loads of synthesizers, including a Yamaha CS18, which was kind of a Vangelis synthesizer, and we actually got the guy who used to tune Vangelis’s synthesizers in the ‘70s to come around and tune the synthesizers for us!  He worked for Yamaha and we literally got him out of retirement. The synthesizer was huge and it weights like a tenth of a ton!  And we had Roland Juno-60s, Roland CS-3s, and the like - a lot of the synthesis of the time. That was a fun thing to do!

The second act was going to be this idea of almost like a Shakespearean revenge story, and it was set in the San Francisco Opera House, so we had the idea, why not write an opera?  Now, even as we said this idea, both of us kind of thought it was potentially a really bad idea, it was either one of those ideas that was either really brilliant or it would be a disaster. But I always like ideas that might be a disaster, because when they’re not a disaster they’re brilliant!  So I started writing a lot of classical operatic music, some of it was way too over the top that made everything too overtly dramatic, but we finally started getting some cues that were working, and that’s what went into the second act. That was completely different and nothing you’d expect in this movie, but I think, with the second act taking place in the San Francisco Opera House, which is an incredibly ornate environment, Steve is the conductor. He’s the ringmaster of the circus, in a way, and I think using this very elaborate opera with a chorus and a soprano and a bass really helped conjure up that mood. I enjoyed that a lot. We even had lyrics, in Italian, that were all about machines!  Then there was this big ten-minute symphonic piece in the middle, over this huge argument, which we had to keep rewriting that because it kept getting re-edited, but it had to play the dynamics of the story of what’s being said and at the same time not intrude on the dialogue too much, because the dialogue in this film is king. Even some of the opera things we had to strip back or pretty much strip out some of the soprano lines just so they don’t get in the way of the dialogue.

And then the third act, we’re in 1998. By 1998 computers were doing what they promised they’d be doing in 1984, and you can do just about everything you want right inside of the computer. So I wanted to write the third act just like that - inside the computer, using the software and the tools that we now have. We used Apple computers and Apple software, which I ordinarily use, although I use Logic. The third act is a lot more introspective, it’s based a lot more on sound design and manipulating sounds inside the computer, which is pretty modern compared to the other methods. So that was the idea of the third act. Now in reality some of the ideas bled into one another in the film, but that was our starting point. Once we got going we found some ideas actually worked very well in other places, so there’s a bit of a bleed and a bit of a remix approach to the film as a whole.

Q: Within that format, how did you focus on Steve’s personality and the technology he’s been involved with to underline the film’s dramatic arc?

Daniel Pemberton:  The score is doing lots of different jobs in this film, and I wouldn’t say it’s ever purely doing Steve’s emotions or telling the story of where they are. It’s a very layered and a very varied score, in the same way Danny’s shooting style and the whole way he did the film, he wanted to make everything as cinematic as possible, and even though they’re stuck back stage pretty much for the whole thing, there’s so much visual information to take in. We tried to do the same with the music. Sometimes the music is really big, sometimes it’s unbelievably subtle. There’s a fantastic scene in the third act between Steve and Woz, such an electric scene, but musically it’s incredibly basic; it’s almost like one note on an old synthesizer being manipulated very subtly with a few little chords underneath. You hardly notice it, but the impact on the scene was huge. And there’s an orchestral piece that sounds like an orchestra tuning up, but it’s actually every single note written out, so the tune-up actually turns into a kind of melody, very subtly, and then disappears like perfume in the air. There are lots of different ideas in the score. I think it’s one of those things where I’m really trying to do the unexpected.

Special thanks to Azalia Mendoza at Costa Communications for facilitating this interview.



Q: Were you at all familiar with the Jessica Jones character or the Hell’s Kitchen milieu when you came on board?

Sean Callery: I have to say that my baptism into the Marvel/Netflix universe began with JESSICA JONES. I had a passing knowledge of superhero characters in general – Spiderman, Superman, and Batman of course, but I wasn’t what you would call an avid comic book collector as a kid. I knew about them of course, but I didn’t know anything about the existence of Jessica Jones or her origin, so I was quite excited when I was approached about it because I didn’t have any pre-conceived notion about her. I learned as I went.

Q: How did you come up with the title theme music?

Sean Callery: Prayer!  [laughs] You know, if I could answer that I’d have a lot less grey hair. Marvel is very security-driven, so I wasn’t allowed to look at any actual footage until I had my studio completely security screened, which means it had to have perimeter security and we had to have firewalls and everything to protect the proprietary images I’d be working with. Before I got handed the first episode I would actually go over to their offices and sit in a room and they would show me slides! That was my first exposure to the look and the tone of the show. Those initial shots of Jessica on the fire escape, in her apartment, the image of the New York skyline at night, that was all in my head when I was sitting at the piano just trying to work out the melody for this character. I also found Jessica’s look completely striking; there was something about her that I wanted to bring into the theme as well – her coolness, the feeling that she walks to her own beat, and all of those things worked together into something that I’m happy to say is a theme that people responded to. One concern we had was that we didn’t want to make it something so dark and so destitute and so dire that no one wants to look at it; even if it’s a darker tale, you still want to make it accessible and inviting.

Q: Is JESSICA JONES scored with live instruments or have you had to rely on digital samples, or a hybrid of both?

Sean Callery: An absolute hybrid of both. There is live guitar and live trumpet, some live bass, I played the piano myself, and some of the more exotic percussion I would perform myself, but as a whole it was a hybrid design.

Q: How have you treated Jessica’ multifaceted character thematically?

Sean Callery: Jessica had a couple of different themes, and those wove throughout the series. I think she got damaged as a younger person but there is a light inside of her that is untouched by the cruelties that have befallen her. I stopped short of saying that it’s a happy theme, but it’s about her untouched pure self that she can trust in and is truly hers; it’s one of compassion and of caring. There’s another theme for her that plays on her outward appearance, which is one of toughness and resilience, and it’s something that she totally owns. It’s part of her as well. The themes for her were most effective when spoken from solo instruments. Whether they were guitar or solo piano, we always found that when the textures and the orchestration were minimal, soloistic, and expressive it just hit the right tone. Again, it was one of those magical shows where everyone is working together with respect and with great passion. It’s not as if we didn’t have creative adjustments along the way, but the respect and the brilliance of the people that I answered to… a composer cannot ask for more than that.

Q: How did you treat David Tennant’s Kilgrave character?

Sean Callery: David Tennant is incredible. I don’t think I’ve seen a better villain. I read a SILENCE OF THE LAMBS interview years ago that said no matter how evil Hannibal Lechter was, you actually cared about what happened to him – not that you wanted him to be saved, but you really wanted to see his outcome. In the same way, as evil as Kilgrave was, you were absolutely committed to what happens to him and obviously you hoped he had his comeuppance. The way we initially approached him, musically, since you didn’t see him for the first three or four episodes, we had to suggest his presence without actually seeing him. So initially he had a moody tone to him, which eventually started morphing into a darker theme later on in the series.

Q: What’s been most challenging for you about scoring JESSICA JONES?

Sean Callery: Probably the biggest challenge was to make sure everything you do remained authentic to the story but doesn’t get in the way of the story. There are sometimes moments where there was such delicacy in the execution of the story, and as the score’s being sculpted the music has to be very careful to not intrude, either through something that’s overly gestural or something that’s overly commenting. It was important to keep the authenticity of what you’re doing completely in sync with the story. The year before, I finished 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY, and that was a very challenging score to do – every single episode was really epic, but there was a grandness to it that had a different set of challenges from a show like JESSICA JONES, which is a more intimate experience. Yet there’s a ton of action on JESSICA JONES, but sometimes the fight scene was nothing but a drum set with brushes, and you’re like, “how’s that going to work?!” and it does. It does for that show. So the challenges were sort of trusting those moments.

Q: And what’s been most rewarding?

Sean Callery: Without a doubt, whenever I get a letter from any fan about it, I am so thrilled, because I’m kind of a Marvel novice – I will readily admit that. There were people who really know the Marvel Universe and there are people who know Jessica Jones and are very, very familiar with the origin of that character, so when people write me and respond to the series so positively, and then I read positive reviews of the series, that’s been an absolute pleasure.

Q: Early in your career you scored LA FEMME NIKITA, a series which had quite its own legacy both in films and on TV. Would you describe a bit about your approach to scoring this series?

Sean Callery: That was my very first credited series, back in 1997. Joel Surnow was the executive producer of that series and he went on to do 24 and became one of my dearest friends. Our initial discussions were about NIKITA feeling like a European international intrigue show – kind of a harbinger to ALIAS, quite frankly. This was the mid ‘90s, and so we were listening to all sorts of trance beats and things like that. I remember listening to a song called “Trigger Hippy” [by Morcheeba, 1995], and thinking it was cool, hazy, and hypnotic. They actually licensed that song in one of the episodes. But the hypnotic, driving beats of the action sequences were very much of that time period. RUN LOLA RUN was around that time [1998] and that was an influence. There was sort of a French-sounding love theme for Nikita and Michael, which was on solo piano. That was actually kind of lush; I don’t know if I’d get away with doing that today, but not only did the producer accept the theme but I ended up performing it live on a few occasions with an orchestra.

Q: The SHEENA TV series, inspired by the 1984 movie, has also had a long pedigree in films – and a far different sensibility and milieu from that of NIKITA. How did you approach the music for this show?

Sean Callery: SHEENA came in 1999, but it had a more primary-colors approach. It was bolder, musically. The series was set in the jungle, even though it was filmed in Florida, and everything just had a more natural feel to it, so there was more skin percussion, in conjunction with other things, and so forth. It had a more organic feel, so it was the opposite of NIKITA in that sense, where you had the trance/hypnotic dance beats of Europe and the lush, French impressionistic chordal textures. This was a bit more primal and charging. It was fun, it had humor… it was only a season and a half, but that’s where I got to meet Doug Schwartz, who had done BAYWATCH, and he was such a nice guy to me, too. The series didn’t last very long but I had a great experience on it.

Q: How did you treat the more fantastical aspects of the series, such as Sheena’s being taught how to morph into different animals?

Sean Callery: That character’s name was The Darachna, and it was discussed whether there should be a kind of sound/signature/texture for that character. I did create a kind of musical texture when she morphed. You have to be careful when you have a signature gesture that always gets used at certain moments, because then it becomes tired and predictable, so there were elements that were incorporated into the sound of when she transforms into the Darachna but I would stop short of saying that it’s an ironclad signature drop sound. I tried to weave it into whatever orchestrational needs were happening at the time. Before NIKITA I worked on DEEP SPACE NINE as a sound effects editor, and I had to sound-design weaponry, doors for Cardassian ships, and so forth, so when you had a big rolling door, once you had that sound, that was the door sound and that was it. But in this case we’re talking about having the elements of a transformation into the Darachna but having it fluid so that it would sound fresh every time.

Q: Do you remember how you created that sound?

Sean Callery: I think I used some sort of flutter-tonguing bass flute and some kind of an astral morphing sound element.

Q: After that came 24, this series you’ve been longest associated with and have really been able to make your own. What can you say about how you developed you musical signature on 24, how it’s developed over the series’ 9 year-plus storyline – up to the new 24: LEGACY?

Sean Callery: It started with the very first script, and that first script was a very compelling read. We’ve known the show for the better part of fifteen years, but at the start when you read all this content about how things are happening in real time and while this is happening on one screen something else is happening on another, it was very new to read. Probably the one film that was closest to what I thought it was going to be was TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING. That movie had sometimes four active square screens at once, and they’re all talking over one another, and I thought, wow, this is a lot to take in. Sometimes the best guidance I get is from non-musicians, and Joel Surnow was not a musician but he is a great storyteller. He said, “you know, the music really just wants to convey the notion that we’re all tied together by a moving clock.”  So musically, how would we convey the idea of time being this sort of interconnected thread between these various plots? We discussed the idea of pulsing, and spotting the show differently so that when we went over certain scenes rather than stop the music when we did a transition, maybe we would play through them more, something of that nature. The first part was about designing a score that would contribute to the real time narrative, and then the second part of the equation was: what is the sound and theme of his character? That theme for Jack Bauer came out long before I saw Kiefer Sutherland in a single shot. I wrote it on my own at the piano just trying it out and thinking it would be a broader heroic theme, and I started putting it together privately. When I started getting the footage, I began to experiment with using it, but not a lot. I started putting it here and there, and their response was pretty good to that. And then over the course of the years, Jack Bauer went from becoming a maverick CTU (Counter-Terrorist Unit) agent to kind of a wounded hero. At the end of Season 9 he is taken into custody by the Russian government and he’s worn out. He’s lost his wife, he’s not sure what happened to his family, and he’s paid a price for his service to his country. The music had to follow his journey, so even if the theme remained it would manifest in different kinds of light.

Q: MEDIUM was a detective series with a paranormal edge. You were one of three composers credited on the series, the others being Mychael Danna and Jeff Beal. Would you explain who did what in regard to scoring the show?

Sean Callery: Mychael Danna worked on the Main Title theme and Jeff Beal was the composer for the first few episodes, and then I took over the series from that point on. I never collaborated with Jeff Beal or Mychael Danna – although I’m actually good friends with them both, Mychael and I in particular have hung out on a number of occasions and there are fewer guys in my opinion who are more talented or as nice.

Q: What was your take on the series, when you came in, as far as dealing with the episodic scores?

Sean Callery: The showrunner was a guy named Glenn Gordon Caron who had done MOONLIGHTING, and I think he is one of the smartest people I have ever worked for. The interesting thing about MEDIUM is that the stories were always different. Her dreams were sometimes slapstick comedy, sometimes they were right out of a horror movie from the ‘50s, or sometimes they were just really happy new age floating around kind of stuff!  The show always had a changing vernacular when she was in her dreams, and often times the dreams and their meaning informed how the episode would be scored. I had an episode where we had to do a Bernard Herrmann kind of score, we had to do an episode that was more of an action series score, and we had to do one that was more of a tap-dancing ‘20s comedy kind of thing, almost like a Dixieland thing. But in the end it was a family drama more than it was a paranormal drama, and so, as with BONES and every other long-running show I’ve ever worked on, it’s always been about the people and the relationships.

Q: How did you treat the paranormal aspect of the story? Was there a need, like you did on SHEENA’s Darachna morphs, to emphasize those fantastical moments when the murdered dead speak to her through her dreams?

Sean Callery: The short answer is that we didn’t really treat it exotically. A lot of times she would daydream, so she’s walking through a lobby and all of a sudden she sees a horse walking across into an elevator, and you’re thinking “what’s that?!” It was just one of those moments where, instead of playing some sort of haunted music or choir or some sort of grand morphing gesture that says “ok, we’re not in reality anymore,” many times we’d kind of just ease into it very naturally, whether it was with strings or just an odd texture with woodwinds – whatever was needed in the moment. But we didn’t overly hit the paranormal part of it. As a matter of fact when you watch the show, she would be in the dream of something but you wouldn’t know that it’s a dream, you’re just watching something that you think is part of the story and then she wakes up because something really horrific happens. One thing we did do that was very effective was when she lunged awake from a dream in the cold opening, we would always full-stop the music at that point – there would be no decay. We always relished the effect of having the music literally stop as if you were lifting the needle off a turntable. The jolting of it was always extraordinarily effective. Also, we rarely segued the Main Title sequence in from the score in the cold opening; in other words, if she woke up from a dream, there would be a pause, and then you’d go into the main title sequence.

Q: ELEMENTARY brought the Sherlock Holmes concept, a couple years after the BBC’s modern day incarnation, to modern day New York. What was your process about coming up with a defining theme for the show, and how did you treat the characters and the concept across the four seasons we’ve had, so far.

Sean Callery: I knew Michael Cuesta, who directed the pilot, and he’d directed the HOMELAND pilot. He suggested me. I had not seen SHERLOCK at that time, and I decided not to watch it because I’d rather just have a completely untouched experience trying to conjure up a melody and some sort of tone and sound for this show. Like with 24, I wrote that melody before I saw any picture - before I even got hired, in fact. I just did it as an exercise. I wrote about a three-minute suite and I put it aside and I got back to my work on the other things I was doing, and then finally as pilot season came roaring into port in March and April, I did get a call saying “Look, we were going to track it and stuff, but now we want to put original score in.” I said “let’s try it.” I’d had some music marinating and I got out the theme again and started dropping into the score for the pilot; they liked the sound of it and we proceeded from there.

As far as a theme for Sherlock Holmes… I used to read him as a kid, and he was sort of like a super-hero in that when someone walked into a room he could observe and deduce simultaneous things at once about that person. All his five sense apertures were just completely wide open and I thought, it was almost like five simultaneous spinning threads, and the closest musical form that I ever had to master that required managing more than two or three voices at a time was baroque music – fugues and things. So I thought, from a classical point of view, that might be a neat way to play some of his precision, articulateness, and passion, but in a very, very neat and conformed way. And so I began thinking of those kinds of ideas, and I was thinking of muted strings and plucks and things that wouldn’t have long, lush decays. That was the beginning of the process of finding the sound for that show.

Q: How did you treat Watson? I love the fact that they have Lucy Liu playing that character. Did you need to treat the feminine Watson in a way that you wouldn’t have if it was a male actor playing the role?

Sean Callery: I don’t think I have, certainly not consciously. I was on the set once, years ago, and I got to meet them, and they’re such professionals. I truly marvel at actors. I studied acting, briefly, just so I could learn more about film scoring, believe it or not – how scenes are arced, how people put scenes together, and so forth. The way they interact as actors and certainly as their characters, you just want to be there. That’s what I walk away with when I look at the show. I love watching them together, bantering. It has nothing to do with the fact that she’s female, at all; it’s just that their relationship is one of caring and one of work and one of looking out for one another – and of course sometimes they get on each other’s nerves.

Q: And that’s the perfect approach, too, because you shouldn’t need to point out that fact. The character’s gender doesn’t make a difference.

Sean Callery: Right. It was unique in that historically Watson, in a literary sense, is always a male, but after that initial surprise of “Oh. Watson’s a woman” I don’t think there was a single discussion about it. I don’t know who made that choice, but aside from “that’s an interesting idea,” the fact that Watson was female has never, creatively or from the point of view of scoring, been an issue or something to emphasize.

Q: More recently you’ve scored the 2015 series MINORITY REPORT. How did you support this update to the Spielberg film and accentuate its futuristic environment and paranormal detective-story orientation?

Sean Callery: The first thing I realized was that I was standing on the shoulders of a film that I loved, and it has a score there that is one of my favorites. I mean, John Williams has written so many great scores, and MINORITY REPORT is a fantastic score. The writers said to me in the beginning, “we want to honor the futuristic environment that the film set up, and yet we are going to take the story forward by focusing more on the lives of the Precogs once they’ve grown up. I felt that if we’re going to honor the same world that was in the movie, that we should, musically, honor that score as well. It was a wonderfully rich orchestral score, but it also has some synthy sound design in it. The story was going to be different because it wasn’t focusing on John Anderton, it was focusing on the lives of the Precogs, who were innocent and now they’re out in the world and they’re hiding in plain sight, so to speak. You still have the same task of developing a unique sound for the series, that’s what I aspire to do on anything I work on, whether it’s MEDIUM or JESSICA JONES. In MINORITY REPORT, even though it’s based on a prior film, we didn’t want to just mirror the movie. So we worked to find a sound and tone that served a new story and a new environment, and honored the style and the setup that was put into place years ago in the film, which I think, actually, quite held up. Unfortunately the show didn’t succeed.

Q: Looking back at the last 20+ years, how do you view your career thus far – what do you see as the landmarks, the toughest assignments to crack, and what would you like to do in the future?

Sean Callery: I’ll start with the last one: I’d love to write a musical! I enjoyed working on and performing in musicals when I was very young, and I think it would be wonderful to be part of the process of putting together a musical. It’s a great art form, It’s so malleable, I think it would be a lot of fun. As far as my career, I do feel blessed to be employed, that’s just part of my upbringing that I’ve never taken for granted. There are so many talented people out there. The fact that I’m even asked to do anything is always appreciated. MINORITY REPORT had its own set of unforeseen challenges, JESSICA JONES had its own challenges, I think with every show I’ve ever worked on there’s always a new chapter of challenges, and I think that’s healthy for creativity. It’s healthy to be a little uncomfortable in reaching out of those comfort zones a bit. I don’t see there being any other way of doing this kind of work unless you are inheriting or taking on challenges to continue your growth.

Thanks to Ford A. Thaxton for assistance in facilitating this interview, and especially to Sean Callery for allowing me the time for a very pleasant and informative chat.


Snapshots: New Soundtracks in Review

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE/Bear McCreary/Sparks & Shadows – cd + digital
Bear McCreary has proven his mastery of television scoring with more than a dozen hugely successful series scores since he first boarded the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA in 2004. He’s had the opportunity to score several indie feature films over the years, most notably Sebastián Cordero’s eloquent s.f. thriller EUROPA REPORT (2013; see my interviews with McCreary and Cordero about the film and its score at musiquefantastique.com), but with the J.J. Abrams-produced 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, McCreary is really able to stretch his musical muscles with an A-list feature thriller. The feature film debut of director  Dan Trachtenberg, the film begins as an intense “captivity horror” film in which a young woman wakes up after a traffic accident to find that she's locked in a cellar with a doomsday survivalist, who claims he’s saved her life and that the world outside is uninhabitable following an apocalyptic catastrophe. After discovering evidence to the contrary, the woman sets in motion a plan that will eventually see the story turned on its head, although those who have seen Matt Reeves’ 2008 film CLOVERFIELD, which Abrams also co-produced, may have a reasonable expectation how this “spiritual successor” of that movie may ultimately turn out. McCreary’s intense score matches and invigorates the film, from the psychological claustrophobia of its bunker scenes to the massive terror that ensues once the left turn of its concept has been revealed. “Walking out of our first meeting, I had the sensation that J.J. had just given me permission to write the score I’d always wanted to write,” McCreary described. “And Dan knew intuitively that the music could help provide an emotional core to the story, support the tension coming from threats both inside and outside the bunker, and give an epic sense of scale.”  Coordinating the forces of a traditional 90-piece orchestra, a smaller 45-piece string ensemble, a grouping of 30 celli and 8 bass, and a string quartet (The Calder Quartet), McCreary combined them with performances from two unusual instruments, the Yayli tanbur (played by Malachai Bandy) and the Blaster Beam, that experimental instrument built and played by Craig Huxley, best known for its use in Jerry Goldsmith’s score for STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE. McCreary reached out to Huxley and was invited to explore the instrument“When I first saw the Blaster Beam, I could barely believe my eyes! I was giddy! It can best be described as a 15-foot-long pedal steel guitar… As soon as Craig played it, my imagination went into overdrive.”  The score prowls across the film with broad nuances ranging from energetic Bernard Herrmann and brusque hybrid sound design to jaw-dropping, blown-away incredulity, shaping the film in its journey from captivity to freedom to… something else entirely. The vividly orchestrated music circulates around a five-note main theme, which is altered into multiple forms from start to finish, most frequently heard in the exotic, sinewy tonality of the tanbur, but which is far from restricted to that single texture. It’s a massive, powerful work in all of its contours, and makes for a very impressive score both in film and on disc.

EPIC HOLLYWOOD/The Music of Miklós Rózsa/Tadlow Music
Tadlow Music

Tadlow’s latest recordings include a pair of double-cd offerings – from classic film music drawing back to film music’s Golden Age through the passionately majestic renderings of Miklós Rózsa, to that of his Silver Age counterpart, Jerry Goldsmith. The Rózsa album is taken from a live concert performed in Prague last September, which totals two CDs worth of magnificent renderings of Rózsa’s epic scores, from Alexander Korda’s THE THIEF OF BAGDAD through the biblical epics SODOM AND GOMORRAH and BEN-HUR, to such latter-year masterworks as THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, PROVIDENCE, and THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD. None of the works are rarities and have been oft-collected and performed in the past, but Tadlow’s digital recording of the City of Prague Philharmonic with all thrusters on is a masterwork that never fails to invigorate, from its quietest interludes to its massively muscular symphonic sweep. Pleasingly, Tadlow has chosen to track the audience’s appreciatively drawn-out applause onto their own tracks, which means you can create a playlist or program the CD to play just the music without “interruption” by prolonged enthusiastic clapping. The Goldsmith album is a marvelous studio performance that provides the complete 53-minute score to the 1966 World War I aerial drama THE BLUE MAX along with a collection of themes and suites from other Goldsmith scores that run the gamut of his career, from THE SAND PEBBLES and THE CHAIRMAN to INCHON, TORA! TORA! TORA!, THE MUMMY, OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT, and a few others. It’s a thoroughly breathtaking performance recorded in 28BIT at 96kHz, so the digital sound reproduction is astonishingly huge and dimensionally vivid. Both albums contain notes by Frank K. DeWald which cover in brief each of the films included (with THE BLUE MAX appropriately given a more thorough examination), while producer James Fitzpatrick includes valuable notes on the recording sessions.

  • Watch the live studio recording of Goldsmith’s “Retreat,” from THE BLUE MAX, here:
  • Listen to sound samples from the albums here:


GODS OF EGYPT/Marco Beltrami/Varèse Sarabande – cd + digital
Marco Beltrami provides a strikingly lovely and powerful score for Alex Proyas’ large-scaled fantasy adventure/CGI fest inspired by classic Egyptian Mythology. Centered on a primary theme that reflects the style and largess of Miklós Rózsa’s historical epics, Beltrami employs large orchestral and choral forces to evoke the thunder, majesty, passion, and fantasia of ancient Egypt as mortals ally with gods to thwart the usurping god of darkness who for his own wicked agenda has plunged the Empire into chaos and conflict. “The magnitude of the score is beyond anything I have done before,” said Beltrami. “This two-and-half hour score is the biggest film score project I have ever undertaken, after all these years that is saying something. Just mixing it took over a month but it was all worth it as it is really fun to stretch my wings a bit.”  It’s a vast sonic panorama that retains a cohesive musical sweep while evoking a nuanced sensitivity to character and godly political intrigue. Heavy drums are much in evidence as they tend to be in these kinds of films nowadays, but they’re used purposefully and mostly in collective driving charges where they’re effectively integrated with orchestra. All in all we have a very pleasing work that energizes its film and makes for a notably vigorous and harmonic listen on its own.

HIGH-RISE/Clint Mansell/Silva Screen – cd + digital
Clint Mansell has composed a brooding, edgy and unsettling orchestral score that evokes the dramatic essence of Ben Wheatley’s film. The movie adapts J.G Ballard’s 1975 novel about a luxury tower block and its wealthy inhabitants, who are so isolated from the rest of society by their wealth and conflicting interpersonal loyalties that their neighborly conflicts erupt in a savage microcosmic societal breakdown. Described by Hollywood Reporter as “a lustrous retro-classical score bursting with ironic good cheer,” Mansell’s music provides a glossy sheen of respectability, which plays in contrast with the building’s occupants as they descend into violence, the once-peaceful residents of a desirable apartment block now circling the drain of a world ruled by primal urges in which elevators become vicious battlegrounds and cocktail parties degenerate into brutal raids on "enemy" floors. Bolstered by a sophisticated, classically-styled string motif that floats throughout, Mansell’s score is otherwise completely chameleonic as it shifts through various shapes, contours, styles, and textures. Initially the music maintains an overall elegant sophistication that plays against the rude residential conflicts, but as the insulated society descends into brutality and open violence, the music follows suit to become increasingly heavy and overbearing. “Ben and I would have liked to have done like a John Carpenter-type score, but you just can’t get that heavy that quickly,” Mansell said in an interview posted at factmag.com. “By the time I saw the rough cut of the film, Ben had been using the classical pieces, the Bach, which set the tone – this idea of [the upper floor residents] all thinking they’re a bit better than the rest of us. It was really just trying to not get too dark too quickly. We wanted to get the sense of the building, obviously … and then as the wheels come off I could go more, as Ben refers to it, ‘Mansellian’.” Formerly the frontman of the English alternative band Pop Will Eat Itself (1981-1996), Mansell has carried on an impressive and respectable film scoring career, best known for his work with long-time collaborator Darren Aronofsky (REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, BLACK SWAN, THE FOUNTAIN, NOAH). Silva Screen released the soundtrack digitally back on March 18th, with a CD release scheduled for May 13 (a vinyl edition was also issued on April 5th).

HOUSE OF CARDS, SEASON 4/Jeff Beal/Varèse Sarabande – cd + digital
With its digital release on April 1st and a CD due out on April 29th, Jeff Beal’s music for this engrossing political drama is again preserved (Varese issued the first three seasons on previous albums). With a persuasive hybrid theme and score, Beal’s music has continually supported the series’ darker moments while nodding to the occasional bits of humor that evoke from character personalities along the way. Beal initially drew his inspiration from David Fincher’s pilot episode, the look of which reminded him of a favorite political thriller, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN. “Those 1970s political thrillers had a very certain sense to them that was gritty, they were [often] ambiguous but they also felt very evocative to me with their sense of dread and this cloud of intrigue and plotting, which is very much an important element in HOUSE OF CARDS,” Beal told me in a 2014 interview. “One of the things that makes the show fun is… this obvious Shakespearean element where the main character will directly address the camera like Richard the III…, and there’s a dark comedy often to that which we had fun with. That gives a little break to the more horrific or dirty or evil parts of the character.”  By the show’s fourth installment, Beal has reigned in his approach, which had become a little broader in the intervening seasons, returning to the purer focus of that pilot episode. “The story lines of a HOUSE OF CARDS season always inform my musical choices,” said Beal recently. “Season Four has a sense of struggle and conflict. [Writer-producer] Beau Willimon and I discussed the idea of getting down the essence of our characters – to distill the music to pure emotive terms… we tried to strip away any artifice or false notes, any extraneous plot driven gestures.” The music maintains the unsettling pulse that is introduced in its main theme, a confluence of strings, piano, bass, and trumpet, whose clarity, set over dark images of Washington DC, virtually define political intrigue and duplicity, as well as the various sonic elements that have personified the series. Beal’s subtle evocation of trepidation as well as the characters’ studied comportment that masks their cruel self-interest is the vibe that defines the show’s essence.  “‘Help You Win’ is a requiem of almost unbearable sadness and loss, ‘Remy Danton’ a simple hymn of longing, and ‘Perfectly Timed Exit’ pure Viennese romance,” Beal described. “Tracks such as ‘Make The Terror,’ ‘Any Less Hurtful’ & ‘Obedience’ have a percussive underbelly, helped along immensely by performances [from] drum master Peter Erskine.” This is a strongly interactive score, with a perfectly-sculpted rhythmic drive that defines what the show and its engrossing performances are all about, very well and thoroughly presented in this 2-CD release.

IN THIS WORLD/Dario Marianelli/MovieScore Media – cd + digital
Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2003, Michael Winterbottom’s documentary film In This World follows the plight of two Afghan refugees who embark on a perilous journey to reach London through Iran, Turkey and Italy. Based on a true story, Winterbottom’s movie won a lot of critical praise for dealing with a controversial subject that showed a different side of the Middle East whose role was just being reappraised in a post-9/11 world. The music by Academy Award-winning composer Dario Marianelli (ATONEMENT, 2007) reinforces the story with a layered accompaniment of orchestra and Middle Eastern vocalisms. “Michael Winterbottom had an interesting idea, when he talked to me initially about IN THIS WORLDrecalled the composer. “He wanted it to look as if it was a documentary, but at the same time, he wanted the sound of the movie to be as immersive and powerful as we could make it, and that included the music. I think his instinct proved right: it meant not being afraid to use a fairly large orchestra, and a score that tried to have a big resonant heart.” The score’s appealing acoustic sound design is contrasted against and also integrated with authentic ambient Middle Eastern folk songs performed by Parvin Cox and includes haunting passages for the duduk performed by Dirk Campbell; the music quickly touches the heart and provides a poignant resonance for the film. MSM’s world premiere release of Dario Marianelli’s music for IN THIS WORLDhappens to coincide with the greatest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War, noted album producer Mikael Carlsson. “The film itself is indeed both a stark and moving piece of art that is shockingly relevant today,” he said. “We should all see it as it allows us to connect to the current migration crisis on an emotional level. We tend to quickly forget that we are dealing with human beings constantly on the verge of tragedy.”

LA LUNGA NOTTE DEL ‘43/Carlo Rustichelli/Quartet Records
Released in 1960 in the US as IN HAPPENED IN ’43, this Italian wartime drama weaves a love triangle into the backdrop of real events that occurred in Italy. Carlo Rustichelli’s impassioned score focuses on that love story with a sublime melodic theme that reflects in several variations the woman and her two suitors, one crippled by disease, the other a previous suitor eager to rekindle times past; while his orchestral sonorities reflect the perilous circumstances within which the romance plays out. The combination of the two musical elements effectively describes the poignancy of maintaining love beneath the shadow of oppression; Rustichelli also nods to the wartime environment with a martial motif that is associated with the fascist quotient active in the story. The monophonic sound is somewhat restrained but very clean and clear, considering the age of the original tracks. Quartet’s release contains the complete score; only one track has been previously released, on a CAM compilation of the composer’s music. A limited release of only 350 copies; writer Gergely Hubai provides a fine set of liner notes that describe both film and score in detail.

MR. SELFRIDGE/Charlie Mole/Sony Classical - cd
With the PBS period drama entering its fourth and final season, Sony Classical has released a long-awaited soundtrack album, encompassing music from each of the series’ four seasons. British/French composer Charlie Mole (AN IDEAL HUSBAND, DORIAN GRAY, ST. TRINIAN’s – see my review of his score to DAD’S ARMY in my February column) was nominated for an Emmy for his music in MR. SELFRIDGE’s first season. Sony’s soundtrack contains 39 mostly short cues (two minutes being the average), but each is a delight. Mole provides a mix of dance band-styled background music, drawn from both British Light music, reflective of the series’ London setting, and tunes containing shades of Victor Young and perhaps Irving Berlin well in abundance, in accordance to the titular protagonist’s American heritage. More dramatic overtones are similarly orchestrated but embody a less festive atmosphere. Mole’s background in dance band music and songwriting is well suited to the show’s musical design, and the album is thoroughly likable and fun.

NICK OF TIME/Arthur B. Rubinstein/La-La Land
Originally issued by Milan in a 13-track soundtrack concurrent with the movie’s 1995 release, La-La Land has more than doubled the track time with this generous 30-track expanded album. John Badham’s film is a ticking-clock thriller starring Johnny Depp as a mild-mannered man whose daughter is kidnapped; the kidnappers then require Depp’s character to assassinate a specific person in one hour and fifteen minutes, or his daughter will be killed. The story follows his attempts to avoid committing the murder and rescuing his daughter within the time limit, which plays out, half a dozen years prior to the TV show 24, in real time. Rubinstein’s score does a fantastic job maintaining the tension from that point on, with blunt-edged horn chords, rapid-fire keyboard and harp arpeggios, percussion, and other musical figures that are associated with passing time and urgent maneuvering. Rubinstein left woodwinds out of the orchestra in order to focus on the harder edges of brass, crisp strings, and sharp percussion. Occasional pauses in the forward motion, as the hero investigates this or that, afford glimpses of a sympathetic motif from the strings, but even here Rubinstein maintains an ongoing suspense through gathered assemblages of horns and drums, or strident, harmonic vocalisms, and before long the music is off again at breakneck speed. With 26 tracks and four bonus alternate and source cues, this is a hefty album, vividly boiling over with inventive textures and adept orchestral hand-offs which emphasize apprehension and percolate unease. Jeff Bond provides comprehensive notes on both film and score which aids in the listener’s appreciation of how Rubinstein has crafted the store. Limited to 1500 units, the album is a welcome addition to the label’s significant expanded score releases, and the music’s power and anxious articulation is yet another reminder of what an underappreciated master of the craft Rubinstein is.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR/Joseph Bishara/Lakeshore –cd + digital
The latest soundtrack album from horror score specialist Joseph Bishara (THE CONJURING, INSIDIOUS, ANNABELLE) is for this British-Indian co-production about a woman whose son is killed in a tragic accident; she then discovers a ritual which will bring him back to say goodbye, but, as things do in these kinds of films, it all goes wrong. It’s an atmospheric and luxuriant score in its acoustic textures and airy, gliding rhythms; the score is dark but is colored by textures that reflect its Indian location. “The flavor of the film is location specific with it all taking place in and around India,” Bishara said. “This led to the use of figures written for the sarangi and soulful vocal wailings, as well as a string and wind ensemble. The energies behind the score were also inspired by the mythologies of a place which can facilitate communication with the dead.” Bishara provides plenty of scary potency in his brooding, harmonic  tonalities and sonic tendrils (“The Other Side,” “Call Through the Door,” “Door Opened”), but he also kept a sympathetic ear for the loss faced by the protagonist, which is reflected in the poignancy of subtler moments (“Back Not Lost,” “Dying All Around,” “He’s Come Back”). “The film had its needs grounded in a deep sense of loss, which translated into the musical motives that drive the journey not only into India, but into the supernatural worlds that open up the possibility of facing that loss, as well as creating the opportunity for a potential loss even greater,” said Bishara. All of this translates into an elegantly haunting score that has its moments of potent horror (“Diety Invoked,” “Mud Crawler,” “Where Did You Come From?”) but also captures that longing and sense of grief that displays less frightening emotions. Bashar’s next horror score, incidentally, is THE CONJURING 2, which reunited him with James Wan, and will open on June 2nd.

PIANO WORKS/Jérôme Lemonnier/La Majeur, distr. by Music Box Records - cd
This compilation presents all the piano pieces that French film composer Jérôme Lemonnier has composed for Denis Dercourt's movies since 2006. These have included such dramas as THE PAGE TURNER (2006), TOMORROW AT DAWN (2009), A PACT (2013), LA CHAIR DE MA CHAIR (2013/Flesh of my Flesh), and IN HARMONY (2015). These piano pieces range from very harmonic and classically styled pieces (“Grande Sonate” from TOMORROW AT DAWN, “Sonatine de Tristan” from THE PAGE TURNER) to delightfully and intricately fragile pieces (“Theme d’Anna” and “Paul À Bicyclette” from A PACT, “Croisements” from IN HARMONY; “Nocturne” from TOMORROW AT DAWN), to very mysterious and haunting interludes (“Duel” from TOMORROW AT DAWN, “Suite d’Anna” from LA CHAIR DE MA CHAIR). It’s a very stimulating collection; Lemonnier composes fine orchestral music, but these excerpts of his solo piano performances from these scores accommodates an intimate look at his work as composer/performer at the keyboard, which is most impressive.

  • For more information, and to hear some sample tracks, see:


SHERPA/Antony Partos/Lakeshore – cd + digital
This remarkable and affecting documentary film was made by Jennifer Peedom, who intended to make a movie about the 2014 Everest climbing season told from the Sherpas' point of view. The idea came about in response to violent confrontations between Sherpas and Europeans during the previous year. The filmmakers were on location when a tragic ice avalanche occurred on Everest's Khumbu Icefall, killing 16 Sherpas, which sparked a confrontation between the Sherpas, foreign expedition leaders, and the Nepalese government regarding wages and conditions which resulted in a significant increase in compensation paid to victims' families. Award-winning Australian composer Antony Partos (ANIMAL KINGDOM [Australian AFI Award for Best Feature Score], THE ROVER, DISGRACE, THE HOME SONG STORIES [AFI Award for Best Feature Score] and UNFINISHED SKY) has created an excellent work; like most documentary scores it’s relatively unobtrusive except when it needs to create a dramatic impact; but it provides the right kind of texture and mood to fit the documentary nature of the film, and creates a clear atmosphere of sympathy and respect throughout. “Finding the right tone and palette was where Jen Peedom, director, and I started,” Partos explained. “To score the sweeping landscapes and to capture the extent of the tragedy that the documentary depicts, I think there was no other choice other than to record it with a large string orchestra. I was also interested on alluding to the sounds that are part of the culture of the Nepalese, such as the ever present sounds of cow bells and the mysticism of the prayer wheels, so the use of bell like textures formed part of the palette.” The film avoids implicating blame but recognizes that there was some bad faith on all sides; moreover, in both Peedom’s film (and, I’ll add, in Partos’ score) “attention [is paid] to the courage and selflessness of [the] subjects,” as one critic put it.

LA SORPRESA/Kristian Sensini/KeyeStudios – ltd ed cd + digital
Italian composer Kristian Sensini has released his latest score on his own, digitally. Be thankful. Directed by Ivan Polidoro, LA SORPRESA (The Surprise) is a family drama that focuses on the awkward relationship between a father and his estranged daughter, compounded when he suddenly grows ill and she must take care of him; in the process she grows more distant when a male nurse is brought in who provides the kind of loving care she cannot. Sensini (HYDE’S SECRET NIGHTMARE – see my review in my Nov. 2012 column; ROCKS IN HIS POCKETS – see my review from the Oct. 2014 column) has provided an intimate score performed by a small string ensemble (violin, viola, cello), supplemented by guitar, flute, keyboard, and voice. The score begins with “Attese” (Expectations), a deeply morose intonation of cello chords that resonates with the sad disaffection between the woman and her father. Sensini’s title theme, with its highly reverberated keyboard underpinning, carries a poignant weight that is less harsh; its melody will drift throughout later cues to paint the family in colors of sympathy and sorrow (In “La Sorpresa 1,” the melody is taken by a synth-violin, while in “La Sorpresa 2,” Sensini gives the melody line to a toy piano, which, in referring to happier and younger days of the family, is quite touching). The awkwardness between father and daughter is adroitly summed up in the colorless measures of “Figlia del Padre,” while the close-miked cello melody evoked in “Padre” paints the father in a much more empathetic light. The voice of Laura Bruno is heard in several cues, including a recurring, hymnlike a capella motif titled “Ana Yelena” whose lyric repeats the titular name in beautiful, double-tracked harmony. The film’s turning point and score’s apotheosis is found in “Ragnatela,” an uplifting harmonic treatment for all three strings over an interplay of muted drums and electric guitar which offers a serene resolution to the distance inflicted upon father and daughter. A drum kit is added for “Un Tango,” adding a nice contemporary pop rhythm to the tango’s string melody and harmony; the drums are also present for the second reprise of “La Sorpresa,” where the melody is presented in a more positive tempo and much brighter harmony, the family’s journey from alienation is finding its reunion and redemption. “Surprise Me” is a pretty pop-styled melody played on keyboards with digital handclaps and drum-kit. LA SORPRESA is a thoroughly engaging and beautiful score, deeply honest and moving in its sensitivity and treatment of its subject matter.
The digital album is available on Italian iTunes and Amazon and elsewhere in the US.  A signed CD edition is available in limited quantities (100/c) from CDBaby.

WESTENDER/Rob Simonsen/KeepMoving Records – cd + digital
Rob Simonsen’s film music continues to make a very favorable impression on me. His music for STONEWALL (reviewed Jan., 2016), ALL GOOD THINGS (Aug., 2014), WISH I WAS HERE (Oct 2014), and SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (July 2012) have all been varied, compelling, and quite stimulating in their films as well as on their own as soundtrack album listening experiences. Russian label KeepMoving has gone back and resurrected Simonsen’s very first film score and presented it for the first time on commercial CD. An ambitious independent film from 2003, WESTENDER is a historical fantasy/drama set in a fictional medieval world in which Asbrey, the titular knight who has fallen from grace, seeks to restore his honor and legacy. The setting and concept prompted a sumptuous symphonic score that is performed by an ensemble of 20 players enhanced by a five-voice chorus. Simonsen’s use of multiple themes, Celtic orientation, engaging orchestration, and adroit, interactive performances embellished by subtle synthesis really gives the score a richly layered sound that belies its relatively small number of players. Simonsen later apprenticed for many years with Mychael Danna, but even at this early stage in his career, the WESTENDER exemplifies a maturity of concept and execution, and it’s a very pleasing work in every respect. Of particular note are the back-to-back tracks “Battle Flashback” and “Wrestling With Demons,” both standout tracks powerfully orchestrated. The first cue adds a layer of muscle and emotion to a painful flashback sequence, while the second accompanies  Asbrey’s coming out of the remembrance, disorientation and pulling off his armor as he contemplates suicide; opening with a mesmerizing didgeridoo sample over drums and cymbal, and a distant crying voice, emphasizing Asbrey’s bewilderment, as a gradual increase in the music’s velocity, instrumental thickness, and intensity accompanies his panic, until the music gathers together, that droning didgeridoo sample driving the rhythm like an enthusiastic cheer, until Asbrey’s wits return to him in a  redeeming resolution. A charming choral piece, “Gypsy Song,” beautifully harmonized by a trio of wistful soprano voices, concludes the album with a smile. (In addition from writing the music, Simonsen appeared in the film as Glim, the court jester who wronged Asbrey. An auspicious debut for the composer, indeed!). The album comes with a 12-page booklet with comprehensive commentary written by Gergely Hubai, incorporating a rich selection of quotes from Rob Simonsen and director Brock Morse.

  • For soundbytes and ordering information, click here


In Memorium

R.I.P. Terry Plumeri, Composer, 1945-2016
Remembering classical/film composer and conductor DonTerryl (Terry) Plumeri, who was found murdered, apparently by burglars, in his rental home in Dunnellon, Florida. Well known for his conducting of classic concerts and his own compositions (often using the name Johnterryl Plumeri), equally regarded as a jazz musician (he played bowed bass and released several jazz albums), he was also a prolific composer of film scores. Most of those scores tended to be for low-budget genre films, but he gave them high-quality and sophisticated orchestral treatments whenever possible. In recent years several have been released on soundtrack albums or promotional CDs. Having had the opportunity to know Terry for several years as an interviewer, correspondent, and co-author of album notes for one of his soundtrack releases, I remember Terry as a gentleman, enthusiastic and sophisticated about music, a classicist who never looked down on film scoring and who regarded his opportunities in cinema music as equally of creative value to his concert material, although clearly he favored the latter as his life’s legacy.

  • For an in-depth chat with Terry about his film music work, from 2009, see my full interview with him, published in my June 29, 2010 Soundtrax column
  • For a tribute featuring the as-yet unpublished segment on his fantasy/horror scores, see musiquefantastique.com

R.I.P. Brian O’Connor, French Horn, 1951-2016
Legendary Los Angeles studio French hornist Brian O'Connor died on March 4th, 2016, after fighting a long battle with brain cancer. Brian was an active LA recording studio Horn player and soloist for over thirty years.  He served as the Principal Horn of the American Ballet Theater Orchestra in Los Angeles for eleven years and played Principal Horn for many Broadway shows in L.A. for over twenty years including “Sweeney Todd” (recorded for PBS) and the original west coast production of “Phantom of the Opera.”  
He was involved in recording over 2,300 film scores (750 of them as Principal / Solo Horn) in the thirty years that he has participated as a first-call Los Angeles Studio Recording Musician. Brian played on such soundtracks as STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, THE INCREDIBLES, FINDING NEMO, TITANIC, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL, just to name a small fraction of his film and TV credits. Brian was Professor of Horn at UCLA for eleven years and, under his leadership, a strong national program has been built. The UCLA Horn Studio has grown to cover all aspects of professional Horn playing and currently has a significant reputation drawing many national applicants.


Soundtrack & Music News

Kevin Riepl has composed the score to the remake of CABIN FEVER, after previously scoring the music to the prequel to the original Eli Roth film, CABIN FEVER PATIENT ZERO. I recently interviewed Kevin about his CABIN FEVER scores as well as BATMAN UNLIMITED and others – which you can read on my Musique Fantastique web site: https://musiquefantastique.com/further-examinations/cabin-fever-the-music-gets-under-your-skin/

Golden Globe nominated composer Reinhold Heil received the most prestigious German TV award, the Grimme-Preis, on April 8, 2016 for his score for the RTL series DEUTSCHLAND 83. “I am honored to receive this prestigious award. There is only one way to be recognized by the esteemed Grimme jury: to be part of an outstanding project. DEUTSCHLAND 83 is one of those rare opportunities where a group of German filmmakers came together and showed that we can produce Television drama on the highest international level.” Heil also remarked on the challenge of working from his Los Angeles studio while the other post-production activities happened in Berlin. “Thankfully, Anna and Jörg Winger visited me early on in the process and we established a great rapport that translated just fine to our Skype sessions,” Heil added. “Later I was able to go to Berlin and finally meet Edward Berger, who directed the first five episodes and set the tone of the show. It took a few weeks to find the tone of the score and there was a bit of a struggle to get it right, but then it was pure pleasure despite the pressures of the accelerated schedule for the American broadcast on Sundance TV. Ultimately, working on the score to DEUTSCHLAND 83 turned out to be one of the most gratifying experiences in my career.”

Good Greek! Christopher Lennertz has scored MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2, the long-awaited sequel to the 2002 hit romcom, using a mix of traditional symphonic instruments as well as using Greek instruments in unconventional ways to give a subconscious feeling of the ethnic influence. “I didn’t write just Greek music,” Lennertz said. “I wrote music that concentrated solely on the emotion of the characters, and augmented everything with Bazouki and Baglama instruments. The first cue I wrote was when Nia finds her glasses at Zorba’s after a very long time. It was a perfect place to establish the film’s main theme, and really define her emotional arc in the film. We used a medium sized orchestra of strings, winds, and recorded overseas for the majority of the score.” A soundtrack CD was released, mixing songs and score, on March 25th from Back Lot Music.

The Spanish film music organization BSOSpirit announces the launch of two new film music festivals in Spain: Movie Score Málaga (MOSMA) in conjunction with Festival de Málaga (June 29-July 3), and the Úbeda Soundtrack Festival (July 7-9). The first edition of MOSMA will feature events including nightly concerts, panels, workshops, and presentations. The first two announced concerts include the opening night concert dedicated to Michael Kamen and the main MOSMA concert on July 2nd at the Teatro Cervantes with the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra, performing music by all of the international guests of the event, conducted by Arturo Díez Boscovich. The announced guests include leading Japanese composer Kenji Kawai, Spanish composer Roque Baños; and Italian Maestro Pino Donaggio, with Michael Kamen’s family in attendance.

Brian Tyler will be conducting a concert of his film music at the Royal Festival Hall in London on May 7 conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra! Full orchestra, choir, solo singers, and band will be performing music from my films plus a special tribute to John Williams. Tickets available here: http://tinyurl.com/zt3sm8y

John Debney’s new score for Disney’s live-action version of their animation classic THE JUNGLE BOOK looks to be something really special. John’s very pleased with the finished score and happy to be scoring a Disney blockbuster  - read about it in Jon Burlingame’s profile in Variety.

Lakeshore Records has released Aaron Zigman’s score to MR. RIGHT digitally on April 8th and on CD shortly thereafter. “It was a pleasure doing this film with Paco [Cabezas, director] because he had such original ideas, and because he made a film that was atypical of its genre,” said Zigman.  “When I first saw MR. RIGHT, I felt Paco was making not just a romantic comedy, but a comedy with action in it.  His concept for this film, and everything else he brought to the table, were absolutely something I had never seen before in a romantic comedy.” Zigman used his own palette of electronic pulses, which he and his team created for the film, augmented with orchestral elements.  “In this film the action was, in a sense, what brought these two characters together - it created this underlying, superhuman energy that bonded them together.”

Henry Jackman’s score to CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR will be released on Hollywood Records on May 6th.

Music Box Records presents a 3-CD selection of music from the 1989 revival of THE SAINT, composed by Serge Franklin (A Tale of Two Cities).  This revival of the character of Simon Templar, originally written by Leslie Charteris, starred British actor Simon Dutton in six television movies. On this release, Franklin delivers three exciting, action-filled scores all held together by an infectious, sax-based main theme which emphasizes Simon's new globetrotting lifestyle.

The French label also has announced an expanded score CD from the original documentary L’ARCHE ET LES DÉLUGES (The Ark and the Deluge) composed by Gabriel Yared in 1993. The film is an ambitious project, an epic naturalistic work dedicated to one of the major and most vital elements on our planet: water. Yared wrote a rich orchestral score, wavering between contemporary music, symphonic music and a mix of ethereal electronics. One theme unifies the score and comes up several times, played on different instruments (synthetic flute, horns…), evoking the breathtaking landscapes of the film. Through its repeated occurrences in various versions, his strongly evocative music calls to mind the marine universe and the never-ending backwash of the sea. “I wanted to write a timeless main theme. An iridescent music with a life of its own that would nonetheless match the essential topics of the film, the sky and the water”, explains composer Gabriel Yared.

Lakeshore Records has released Paul Hepker and Mark Kilian’s score for EYE IN THE SKY digitally on March 11 and on CD April 8. “EYE IN THE SKY is a taut, darkly comic, action thriller set against the backdrop of the highly topical (and controversial) modern warfare; the movie takes place in London, Nairobi, Las Vegas, Honolulu and 20,000 feet above the earth,” said Hepker. “The score blends electronic, orchestral, and world music elements as the story onscreen unfolds.”

Good news for Japanese classic horror fans from the ‘60s. Japan’s Cinema-Kan label will release on May 11th two complete 1968 horror film scores by Shunsuke Kikuchi, for GOKE, BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL and WAR OF THE INSECTS. This is the world premiere complete original soundtrack release of both scores. Sony Music Masterworks has released the soundtrack and score to STX Entertainment’s much buzzed about, adrenaline-fueled action film HARDCORE HENRY, which hits domestic theatres nationwide on April 8th. The digital version of the songtrack and the score by Dasha Charusha will be available on April 8 followed by a CD version of the soundtrack on April 15. Vinyl will be released in early summer.

After scoring Christopher Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT trilogy, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, MAN OF STEEL, and now BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, Zimmer declared in an interview with BBC’s HARDtalk: “I have officially retired from the superhero business … I did BATMAN BEGINS with Chris 12 years ago, so the DARK KNIGHT trilogy might be three movies to you, to me it was 11 years of my life,” he said in part. “This one was very hard for me to do, to try to find new language.” Read more and watch a video interview with Zimmer and Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) about scoring BVS:DoJ: http://collider.com/hans-zimmer-retired-batman-v-superman/

Quartet Records has announced its new releases for April 18th: a combined 2-CD containing expanded versions of two scores by Manuel De Sica, IL VIAGGIO (1974, the Voyage), and 1968’s AMANTI (A Place for Lovers), both romantic films directed by his father Vittorio de Sica. AMANTI was Manuel’s first score. Second up is another 2-CD package – containing Piero Piccioni’s score for Lewis Teague’s American gangland revenge film FIGHTING BACK (aka STREET WARS.)
http://www.quartetrecords.com /

MovieScore Media explores the ever expanding Chinese film industry with its latest release for the 2015 war epic THE CAIRO DECLARATION (Kai luo xua yuan) with music by Ye Xiaogang and Chad Cannon. The old-fashioned, orchestral score follows in the best tradition of Hollywood epics as it underscores the ferocious events of World War II on the Asian front. The 1943 meeting between Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill serves as the backdrop to international intrigue, a story of spies and traitors, as well as a subplot featuring Mao Zedong back in his Yan'an home base. The parallel storylines are expertly connected by a richly thematic score by eminent Chinese composer Ye Xiaogang and Chad Cannon, a frequent collaborator of Conrad Pope and Alexandre Desplat.

Sony Music Masterworks has released the songtrack and score (by Dasha Charusha) to STX Entertainment’s adrenaline-fueled action film HARDCORE HENRY. The digital versions are now available and CD releases are scheduled for April 15th with vinyl releases coming in early summer. Winner of the “People’s Choice Award Midnight Madness” at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, and a Headline Premiere selection at the SXSW film festival, HARDCORE HENRY is an unflinchingly original, first-person action film where YOU are the main character, Henry. You have just been rescued from the brink of death by your wife, who is kidnapped moments later. You have no memory, and no idea why the people who took her want you dead. Your mission is find her, solve the mystery of your existence & discover the truth behind your identity.

Intrada’s latest releases include an expanded release of Jerry Goldsmith’s complete score for POWDER, Victor Salva’s 1995 meld of science fiction and supernatural fantasy, originally released on Hollywood Records; a 2-CD release of the entire classic Miklós Rózsa fantasy soundtrack from THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD in stereo, coupled with first CD release of United Artists 1974 soundtrack album from genuine first generation stereo masters; and world premiere 3-CD release of music from 1980's revival of classic Rod Serling TV series, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, featuring fantastic work from composers Basil Poledouris, Christopher Young, Craig Safan, Fred Steiner, Dennis McCarthy, others! See; http://store.intrada.com/

La-La Land Records present Blake Neely’s (TV’s ARROW, THE FLASH and SUPERGIRL) original motion picture score to the 2008 feature film THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD. Neely’s vibrant orchestral score perfectly bonds the playful and emotional elements within this unique and lively story about a young man who becomes an assistant to an eccentric, Kreskin-like psychic performer. The label has also released the original motion picture score to the 2003 DC Universe Animated Original Movie BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN. Stalwart animated superhero music specialist Lolita Ritmanis (BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, BATMAN: BRAVE AND THE BOLD) returns to the BATMAN: TAS universe to craft a thrilling and atmospheric score with jazzy, noirish highlights – perfect for this feature-length tale in which Batman and all of Gotham are forced to reckon with a new costumed vigilante on the scene, Batwoman!

A gripping BBC adaptation of John le Carré’s espionage drama, THE NIGHT MANAGER brings together love, loss and revenge in a complex story of modern criminality. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Colman and Hugh Laurie and with a massive $30m budget, the series is the priciest drama per episode of any commissioned by a UK broadcaster. Composer Victor Reyes (BURIED, RED LIGHTS, GRAND PIANO), a major talent from the world of Spanish film and television, has composed the score, which was released last month by Silva Screen. “THE NIGHT MANAGER require[d] a very specific musical treatment and we had to consider so many things when writing music for such a complex and twisted plot,” Reyes said. “I feel enormously proud of the score.”

Pling Kong Recordings has announce a soundtrack for the 2014 stageplay adaptation of Astrid Lindgren's seminal fantasy novel THE BROTHERS LIONHEART, with music by Eirik Myhr.  Based on The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren, first published 1973.
Teaser 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YL1S4MP05es
Teaser 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNj56X7iy6s
See: www.plingkong.com

Europe’s New Scoring Studio Synchron Stage Vienna
Synchron Stage Vienna is a brand-new scoring stage and post-production facility set in the Music City of Baden, near Vienna, Austria that merges a historic building with cutting-edge technology, making it a unique and one-of-a-kind recording studio that is beginning to attract notable productions. In early March, Remote Control Productions chose Synchron Stage Vienna to record music for the upcoming Ron Howard directed feature INFERNO (score by Hans Zimmer) and for the new Netflix series THE CROWN (scored by Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson- Williams). One of the world’s leading virtual instrument and sample library companies, Vienna Symphonic Library, took the initiative to renovate the landmark and upgraded the interior, providing a world class recording facility. Located in the Austrian capital, the complex offers state-of-the-art recording technology, superior acoustics, and a unique integration of VSL’s award-winning software applications such as Vienna MIR PRO. The musicians were hand-selected from Vienna’s outstanding pool of talent. Clients have the possibility to record with a small chamber orchestra to full symphony and also augment with virtual instruments.
Synchron Stage Vienna is a brand-new scoring stage and post-production facility that merges a historic building with cutting-edge technology, making it a unique and one-of-a-kind recording studio that is beginning to attract notable productions. In early March, Remote Control Productions chose Synchron Stage Vienna to record music for the upcoming Ron Howard directed feature INFERNO (score by Hans Zimmer) and for the new Netflix series THE CROWN (scored by Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson- Williams). One of the world’s leading virtual instrument and sample library companies, Vienna Symphonic Library, took the initiative to renovate the landmark and upgraded the interior, providing a world class recording facility. Located in the Austrian capital, the complex offers state-of-the-art recording technology, superior acoustics, and a unique integration of VSL’s award-winning software applications such as Vienna MIR PRO. The studio features a substantial, original, room-in-room construction with a three meter gap all the way around the central 540 square meter Stage A, which can accommodate orchestras up to 130 musicians. "It sounds really open," notes Bernd Mazagg, Technical Director & Chief Audio Engineer at Synchron Stage Vienna. “I think it's one of the best rooms in the world."
Additional studio and office facilities surround that central stage, including the 80 square meter 'B' live room, Control Rooms A and B, production lounges and facilities, and offices. A DANTE network connects every room to every other room so that every audio channel is available anywhere in the facility. There is also a temperature-controlled basement instrument storage area with direct elevator access to the main stage. The air quality and temperature is the same in the studios as it is in the instrument storage spaces (for pianos and percussion), so that all the instruments are in perfect condition at all times and can be selected for recording immediately.
“It's incredible... The sound translates so well into this space,” said legendary scoring engineer Dennis Sands. “It's very smooth and open... And it sounds good no matter where you are... Truly a world class facility... Certainly one of the best rooms in the world, there's no question.”
Image: Stage A at Synchron Stage Vienna, during a Conrad Pope recording session. Photo via Synchron Stage Vienna.

See: https://www.facebook.com/synchronstage/


Film Music on Vinyl

Invada Records UK will release the music by Ulas Pakkan for the Turkish horror film BASKIN (Lakeshore has released the album on digital and CD). Invada’s release will be a limited edition presented as a double LP with 2 color pressings- Red Splatter on Transparent Vinyl (250 copies) & Solid Red (500 copies). All copies will contain a digital download code.
Listen to the Sampler Preview Here: 
For more information see http://www.invada.co.uk/

Intrada’s latest vinyl release is a world vinyl premiere release of the complete score to CLASH OF THE TITANS, Ray Harryhausen’s final mythological special effects extravaganza, featuring a marvelous Laurence Rosenthal score. The original LP & CD featured 39 minutes of music (less than half of the finished score) but Intrada 2-LP set presents entire 90-minute score, including rare choral pieces written for Mount Olympus scenes that went largely.

Mondo presents the soundtrack to the science fiction cult classic ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS (1964), for the first time ever on vinyl. Over 50 years before Matt Damon was labeled 'The Martian,' there was the story of lone astronaut Christopher "Kit" Draper and his struggle to survive on the red planet after being marooned by his ship's near miss with a meteor, accompanied by the music of  Nathan Van Cleave, whose themes are simultaneously foreboding and triumphant.
Listen to a few select tracks on Soundcloud here

Death Waltz returns to classic Hammer horror music with their vinyl release of Mike Vicker’s DRACULA A.D. 1972, pressed on 180 Gram Psychedelic Splatter Vinyl (limited to 1,000 units worldwide). Vickers’s score was a real departure for Hammer leaving behind the dark orchestra scores that put the studio on the map and opting for a superb mix of almost-70s cop flavors favored by the likes of Schifrin; he also mixes in some good psychedelic tuneage for good measure. Vickers puts his background as Manfred Man’s guitarist to good use creating some great rhythmic jazz infused songs full of gothic textures. This is one of my favorite Hammer scores - it's an easy listen and super fun.

Clint Mansell’s brooding, edgy and beautifully unsettled orchestral score to Ben Wheatley’s acclaimed film adaptation of J.G Ballard’s HIGH-RISE (see album review above) will be issued on vinyl on the 15th of April. By Transmission Records.

Nonesuch Records releases the first-ever vinyl edition of Clint Mansell's haunting score to Darren Aronofsky's REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, performed by Kronos Quartet. The album, pressed on two 180-gram LPs at Record Industry in the Netherlands, features the original soundtrack, remastered for the release, plus two previously unreleased bonus tracks, as well as a download of the complete album, and newly commissioned artwork by Simon C Page. The film was originally released 2000, and Ellen Burstyn was nominated for an Oscar for her haunting portrayal of Sara Goldfarb.

Stylotone in association with The Bernard Herrmann Estate, with a little help from director Quentin Tarantino, has announced the World Premiere Release of “TWISTED NERVE - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.” The release date is the 6th May, 2016 and will offer over 75 minutes of music across three formats (Vinyl, CD & Download - High-resolution WAV & 320kbps CBR MP3). A 4-track EP was released on 4th March, 2016. To round off these Super-Deluxe packages director Quentin Tarantino and Bernard Herrmann’s biographer, Steven C. Smith, both offer a unique and compelling insight into this legendary soundtrack with their own sleeve notes.
See: https://store.stylotone.com/



Film Music Books

A couple of foreign film music books that may interest the Spanish-speaking readers among you.

James Horner: The Gift of Immortality by Antonio Piñera and Antonio Pardo Larrosa is a 272-page chronicle of the late composer and his remarkable career.  Composer/conductor/orchestrator Conrad Pope and Varese Sarabande album producer Robert Townson have both written prologues for the new book. The book is currently available from Amazon Spain.
Read a review of the book at the James Horner Filmmusic web site:

El Legado Musical De La Hammer by Antonio Piñera
Piñera, who co-wrote the Horner book above and, last year, a Spanish-language book on Miklós Rózsa, has also just released a this new 340-page book dedicated to the composers of the Hammer. The book includes forewords by Caroline Munro and David Huckvale (author of a 2008 book on Hammer Film Music).
Available from Amazon Spain



Games Music News

Click image for larger version

What does it take to write music for video games? Hear from five of the industry's leading composers as they share their experiences and discuss the craft of scoring music for video games. The 2016 PAX East composer panel "Maestros of Video Games" will feature: Gareth Coker (Ori and the Blind ForestMinecraft: Greek MythologyARK: Survival Evolved), Mikolai Stroinski (The Witcher 3: Wild HuntThe Witcher 3: Blood & Wine), Daniel James Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain), Tom Salta
(Killer Instinct - Season 3, Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo 1&2 Anniversary), and Jason Hayes (World of WarcraftWarcraft IIIStarcraft: Legacy of the VoidStarcraft). Following the panel join the composers for a meet & greet / autograph session at The Queue Room from 12.30pm-2.00pm.
For more information & interview requests contact: greg@topdollarpr.com.
For information on PAX East visit http://east.paxsite.com.

BAFTA nominated Finnish composer, musician and producer Petri Alanko aka Lowland (ALAN WAKEIMAGINAERUM THE MOVIE) crafts an epic and emotional electronic sci-fi score for Remedy Entertainment’s next cinematic blockbuster, Quantum Break. The official soundtrack has been released and is available on amazon.

Sumthing Else Music Works, the premier record label dedicated to releasing video game soundtracks, has released digitally an on CD the original soundtrack from Ubisoft®'s highly anticipated online open world action role-playing video game, Tom Clancy's The Division. Composer Ola Strandh (World In Conflict®Ground Control II) has created the soundtrack for the pandemic-ravaged streets of a mid-crisis New York City. Immerse yourself in a moody mixture of synthesizers, percussion and acoustic instruments designed to complement the diverse locations and factions you'll encounter while exploring what's left of Manhattan.



Randall D. Larson was for many years senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine. A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: A Survey of Film Music in the Fantastic Cinema and Music from the House of Hammer. He currently writes articles on film music and sf/horror cinema, and has written liner notes for nearly 300 soundtrack CDs. A wholly re-written and expanded multi-book Second Edition of Musique Fantastique is being published:) the first book is now available from Creature Features and Book 2 coming up next Spring/Summer from Midnight Marquee Press. See: www.musiquefantastique.com

Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe for copy editing assistance.

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

Randall can be contacted via soundtraxrdl@gmail.com

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