Chris Bacon and the Adventure of the
CALL THE MIDWIFE/Malagnini/Dubois Records, CENTAUR/Matthias/Playa Mayor, CHAVELA/Gil Tami/Konsonant Records, I KILL GIANTS/del Mar/Varèse Sarabande, NO MARRIAGE/Gillioz/The Sun Made Me Do It, THAT GOOD NIGHT/Farley/Caldera, THRILLER 2/Goldsmith/Tadlow
Soundtrack & Game Music News
LOST IN SPACE premieres April 13 on Netflix. Based on the classic Irwin Allen TV series from 1965, Netflix’s LOST IN SPACE is a ten-episode science fiction thriller. This new series avoids the broad comedy of the original show, treating its premise seriously and with much more intense action and suspense. Like the original series, it also follows the adventures of a family of pioneering space colonists whose spaceship veers dangerously off-course.
Christopher Lennertz (SUPERNATURAL, AGENT CARTER, RIDE ALONG) has composed the series score as well as its new title theme; both affectionately integrate elements of John Williams’ music from the classic original TV series. Lakeshore Records will release a soundtrack album of LOST IN SPACE digitally on April 13, 2018 with a CD release forthcoming.
Q: How did you get involved in the new Netflix show, initially?
Christopher Lennertz: Actually it’s the kind of story that everyone always seems to talk about, which is I went to USC as an undergrad with Zach Estrin, who’s now the show runner of the series. We’d been friends in college. He was in the film school and I was in the music school. He ended up marrying one of my dear friends from college and for 20 years we’ve seen each other at social events and things like that and never really had the opportunity to work together. Then he came out of nowhere in September with an email and it just said “are you available?” I was actually busy as all get-out, so I said “I really want to work together but I’m slammed, what do you have?” He emailed back and he said “I’m rebooting LOST IN SPACE, and it looks amazing. It’s not campy - it’s going to be a serious family fun adventure – and I need lots of big themes and big epic music. Any interest?” I emailed him right back and all I said was “I’m in.”
Q: Now, let’s get to the first question that may be on a lot of people’s minds – will John Williams’ LOST IN SPACE theme make an appearance in your new series score?
Christopher Lennertz: We do use John Williams’ third-season theme from the original show, woven in when the whole family has big moments of success. That’s where you will find that little Easter Egg. It also appears in the main title and the end title as well. I was very, very happy and honored to be able to use John’s theme, because he is the reason I fell in love with music, sci-fi music in particular – growing up and going to see him at the Boston Pops where he would do E.T. and STAR WARS. That’s the pinnacle of film music for me when it comes to sci-fi.
Q: How would you describe that first meeting with Zach and the other producers? What were the initial thoughts they had in mind for the kind of music they wanted, and how did that develop into what we are going to be hearing on the 13th?
Christopher Lennertz: The first thing Zach said to me was “I want it to feel like an updated version of the great Amblin movies of the ‘80s, the things that Spielberg and Zemeckis and Richard Donner directed. I want that kind of vibe. I want lots of themes: I want you to really feel like you’re on an adventure ride every time we go into an action sequence.” He said, “I don’t want drones, I don’t want chugging of just rhythm, I want to be on a thrill ride where every action sequence has a beginning, middle, and an end, and a story to it. I need the melodies to go along with that – I want character melodies and people melodies that we can bring back so we can tell a story over the whole ten episodes.”
That was music to my ears, of course, because people don’t give us a chance to do that nearly as often anymore, so I really went right to work. I spent the first couple weeks of our process writing themes and I made sure he was happy with every theme. We had a theme for kids, a theme for the family, a theme for the robot, a theme for Dr. Smith, and then of course a new main theme for this new incarnation of the show, plus, of course, John’s original theme. So we had quite a bit of thematic material by the time I started actually writing cues to picture. I think it was really important that we got to develop that first. All the people involved were really happy with those themes, and then I used those to score the rest of the show. It’s what I would call a very modern reimagining of a very classic sort of family adventure storytelling music. There’s a lot of excitement and a lot of what I would call unabashed emotion. We didn’t try to be ambiguous, we wanted the characters to go on this journey and we wanted the viewers to be with them emotionally, so when they’re sad we’re sad, and when they’re victorious we’re victorious. We dive whole-heartedly in the way great storytelling music used to do. We wanted to bring that back, because people don’t do that as much now. Zach really wanted it to be a fun and joyful adventure for everybody, that’s really what we tried to do.
Q: What kind of orchestral resources were you given for the pilot and the ensuing episodes?
Christopher Lennertz: There was a ton of music to write for the show. It’s a lot of music per episode, and there are ten hour-long episodes, so it was close to 500 minutes of score. We knew from the beginning that we weren’t going to be able to do all of that with orchestra, just budgetarily speaking. But Zach knew I wanted to use real orchestra and he was super supportive. He and the people at Netflix and Legendary really fought to get us some resources to be able do [some] live orchestra, because we felt the show deserved it. We ended up with a little over 200 minutes – that’s over three hours of music – with a 50+ piece orchestra, plus overdubs, so it probably ended up being sixty players at Abbey Road in London. I conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra, and we made two separate trips to London. We recorded half during the first trip and we did the second half on the next trip in the Fall. The orchestral performances are fantastic and they sound really, really big. I think it’s really just gargantuan and it fits the visuals, which are so stunning. I felt they really needed to have that massive orchestral power.
Q: What was your technique as far as merging the digital samples with the orchestral tracks?
Christopher Lennertz: When Zach and I spotted each episode, we went through and picked out particular moments where we want the big orchestral themes to be, and where smaller moments that did not require the orchestral could be used. That was when we’re perhaps more emotional, or we’re more sneaky, or when it’s mysterious and other worldly where I used overdubbed ethnic instruments and processed synths and things like that. So we actually divided every show up and said, ‘ok we can afford to do about one third of this episode with the orchestra, and these other cues will be without. I showed the episodes to a lot of people and no one could really tell where the real stuff stopped and the non-orchestral music starts. We let the drama dictate large and small, and when it gets small and it gets down to just piano or just synths or a solo voice, then it doesn’t feel unnatural and it doesn’t feel like we stripped the orchestra out; it just feels like that’s what the music naturally wanted to do. For some of those smaller pieces I focused on specific instruments to take the lead; so there’s a great piece where we had Lisbeth Scott come in and sing some wordless vocals as one of the characters goes into space and that allowed me to do that piece without the orchestra but also have this lead instrument – her voice – on top. Or in some cases it would be a woodwind, where that became the focus. So it’s never really obvious that the material supporting that lead instrument might be synthesized somewhat.
And I wouldn’t say that our score is “John Williams-y” but it definitely uses his theme and uses sort of that same melodic and orchestral approach, although I think it’s probably a little more contemporary in the way it’s orchestrated and where the synths are added to it.
Q: Other than that did you keep the orchestra and the synth work separate, or were they somewhat integrated when possible?
Christopher Lennertz: We definitely combined it quite a bit. There’s a lot of synths with the orchestra, I always tried to use it in that Amblin movie way where the synths aren’t pretending to be an orchestra. When the synth is audible it sounds like a synth. It’s a pad or it’s a reversed sound or its bowed metal that’s got effects or echoes on it. I wanted it the way that Goldsmith or Horner really did it when they were doing those kinds of movies. When it’s a synth it’s less about pretending to be orchestral, and it’s really about the synth being another color in the palette.
Q: This being a Netflix show that would drop all at once; you composed all ten episodes in a row, instead of broken up into individual episodes over a number of weeks. How challenging was that?
Christopher Lennertz: That’s exactly what we talked about from day one. Zach said, “This is not television, this is not every week you’ll get an episode and you’ll score it that week. It’s more like how mini-series used to be; in this case it’s really five movies in a series. So that’s what it needed to be, and I totally agreed with that approach. When we first sat down and discussed the show, all we talked about was the entire arc of the ten episodes, and what each character did, where their relationships started, where they ended up, what became their issues, how did they solve this or that. It was really all about storytelling. As the show runner, Zach is the mastermind behind it along with the two writers, who are spectacular. They all had this concept that it was going to be this epic ten-hour story, and there are breaks, but for all intents and purposes it’s supposed to be viewed as one giant ten-hour story. I needed to do the music the same way, which is why we didn’t record every episode separately, but did them in those big chunks and why I wrote them that way. I didn’t write episode-by-episode, I wrote the entire scope because I wanted to make sure that the music progressed at the same time and with the same intent as the story. I felt that was really important, and Zach was really intent on being sure that we don’t do anything with the music either too early or too late compared to when the story lets the viewer in on information. That was really important to Zach and I think it actually made the score so much better because it really tells that ten-hour story all at once.
Q: How did you treat Parker Posey’s portray of Doctor Smith?
Christopher Lennertz: Parker Posey is really great and she plays Smith with such a sly internalization… like a ticking clock internal thing. That allowed us to go in the opposite direction from a normal villain. It’s not the big thematic villain situation, I wrote it pretty much for a solo piano with a slightly classical etude kind of theme and then I made sure a couple of the notes were off, because she’s off; she’s very off in the way her character develops and so I orchestrated it with non-orchestral instruments, using things like bowed dulcimers, backwards copper bowls, hammered strings, and things like that. The whole idea was to sound like we’re in her mind when she was scheming and manipulating, and that the music becomes the inner workings of that little clock of her scheming and her maneuverings. It allowed us to go the opposite direction of what a normal villain would be. I think that makes her interesting and also gives us a counterpoint to the big, epic thematic stuff when the Robinsons are doing their thing.
Q: How about music for the other characters – the Robinsons as a family or perhaps Will as an individual?
Christopher Lennertz: There’s a theme for Will and the Robot and then there’s a theme for the kids in general, and that moves into different instrumentation depending on the scene and depending on which child. There’s a family theme which is used for the family as a whole. At the beginning I started writing themes for each family member, but they’re always together and working together to solve something so we discovered that it was the idea of the Robinsons as a family that made the most sense. So I came up with a family theme and a kids theme, and if it’s the kids by themselves it’s one thing and if it’s the whole family it’s another thing.
Listen to an exclusive advance LOST IN SPACE music track: “Danger Will Robinson” at nerdist.com
Q: How did you treat the robot, specifically, in this show?
Christopher Lennertz: I’m not going to give too much away on that one, but the Robot is very different from the original series, and the robot has a humongous character arc and is very integral to the entire plot of the series. But because of that, the theme for the robot had to be easily manipulated, and it included both a chord progression that when you stretch it out it can become a heroic theme, but it also includes a created sound that I made by slowing down metal scraping. I got together with Alex Bornstein, a sound designer who works with me and who’s also an amazing composer in his own right, and we made this sound, which really becomes a signature whenever the robot is involved. And then that intermingles with the orchestra as the story goes.
Listen to an exclusive advance LOST IN SPACE music track: “Will and The Robot,” at inverse.com
Q: Now you’ve also got ACRIMONY coming up for Tyler Perry. Have you worked with Tyler before?
Christopher Lennertz: No, I hadn’t. That was my first job with Tyler and it was a very different thing for him because it’s all drama, he’s not in it, there’s no comedy, and it’s a very serious thriller, sort of in the same world as a FATAL ATTRACTION kind of thing. I was thrilled to get the opportunity; it’s very dark, and I’ve done a couple movies with Taraji P. Henson before, and she’s one of my favorite actresses, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do it. We recorded that one at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville with a full orchestra
because we wanted a little bit of that grit and looseness to the recording, and then we also had an amazing singer named Kirby Lauryen who was our lead vocalist who sang a sort of blues but in a very off-kilter way to represent the madness that Taraji sinks into as she gets further along. That was really interesting; it was a really great, dark, drama thriller, and I haven’t the chance to do one of those in a very, very long time.
Q: What kind of musical palette have you created for this film?
Christopher Lennertz: It’s very moody and ethereal, but with a little touch of romance-gone-wrong. I’d like to think it’s a little bit of a modern take on the thrillers of the past, whether it be a JAGGED EDGE or FATAL ATTRACTION, it’s got a little bit of those guys – John Barry, Maurice Jarre, Jerry Goldsmith, but with some romance to the thriller, which doesn’t happen in these types of films. There’s a lot more of this sort of emotion-gone-wrong that I tried to do with it. It’s very small, for the most part, and very moody. It is thematic and there’s definitely emotion to it, but it’s not sound design-y at all. It’s got a very classic score feel to it, but it’s not big orchestra, it’s pianos, guitars, voice, and some muted trumpets that are reversed, which are cool to give a little bit of that "bluesiness" with the vocals, and the strings are more supportive, in the background. It’s very soulful.
Hey! We’ve got an exclusive track too! Listen to an exclusive music video of Tyler Perry’s ACRIMONY with Christopher Lennertz’s score, and vocalise by Kirby Lauryen:
Q: You’re still scoring SUPERNATURAL; it’s been thirteen years now. Looking back on the series and where the music has gone over those thirteen seasons, what can you tell me about SUPERNATURAL a la 2018?
Christopher Lennertz: The show keeps going and it’s still great, and so I think the basis of what we do with the sound stays the same overall, in terms of the textures and palettes. Jay Gruska and I still share scoring duties – we flip-flop episodes as we have since the beginning and a lot of what makes the boys’ music great is still there. We have an amazing team which helps with it, there’s just so much music. But the thing that was really interesting this year is about two or three weeks ago we got to record live at Capitol Records because we did a cross-over episode where the boys get magically turned into cartoon characters in an episode of SCOOBY DOO. Jay and I actually scored this one together and we ended up going to Capitol and recording with an ensemble similar to what they would have used in the early SCOOBY DOO episodes, with everything from Theremin to saxes and alto flutes, wah-wah guitars and Hammond B3 organ, but still doing fun monster-hunting music! So it’s sort of a hybrid-SCOOBY-DOO/SUPERNATURAL score. So that was really an interesting thing to do and a lot of fun to keep the show fresh. The producers always try to do that, so every year there’s a couple of these episodes where we’re able to do something really unique and special.
Special thanks to Ray Costa, Costa Communications, and Dara Taylor, Christopher Lennertz Office, for assistance in facilitating this interview. - rdl
Known for scoring the sci-fi thriller SOURCE CODE, the popular TV series BATES MOTEL, and the current incarnation of THE TICK, not to mention additional music credits on such notable films as Peter Jackson’s KING KONG and Joss Whedon’s THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and the like, composer Chris Bacon has also developed a knack for bringing to life animated features, from the escapades of a family of gentle-hearted wolves in two ALPHA & OMEGA films to the sincere silliness of star-crossed lovers GNOMEO AND JULIET facing romantic tribulation in a village of garden gnomes. Bacon composed that score with James Newton Howard and, for a new and more mysterious adventure of gnomes Montague and Capulet, Bacon scored the recent SHERLOCK GNOMES, where marital tension coupled with mysterious disappearances bring in the famous investigator (voiced by Johnny Depp) to solve a series of disappearances of the friendly garden ornaments.
Q: Coming into this new adventure of Gnomeo & Juliet and scoring it on your own, how was your music for SHERLOCK GNOMES affected by what was scored in the first movie, and what new areas were you exploring musically in this new story?
Chris Bacon: It was treated very much like a different movie than the first one, and not so much as a sequel. Because the Gnomes have moved from Stratford-upon-Avon in the country into the city, and there’s a different energy to it. But I also needed to maintain the fact that these are still characters that we know and love from the first movie. There’s also a certain amount of charm and wit and humor to the fact that they are garden gnomes! So the trick was finding a way to keep some of that charm and light, orchestral fun to their sound, while introducing the gravity of Sherlock and how serious he is in making it his mission to save the gnomes who are in life-and-death peril. It was a different kind of exercise, while also maintaining the conceit that Elton John songs are again part of this universe!
Q: But of course!
Chris Bacon: Exactly! And frankly you don’t need any explanation when you have Elton John songs! So we kept on using themes that we had used in the first one, where little snips of “Rocket Man” as Gnomeo’s theme, and little bits of “Tiny Dancer” as Juliet’s, and together their love theme was “Your Song,” and we would try to find ways to sneak in a little bit of Elton’s melodies and tunes to connect both thematically and dramatically with the first movie. But Sherlock, being a new character, has his own theme; I used harpsichord as a sound for him. He and his partner, Watson, have a kind of dramatic theme of their own, as their partnership is pushed apart, so there’s a parallel track with Gnomeo & Juliet having a wedge placed between them as well as with Watson and Sherlock, and so part of the journey is realizing that they were all better together than they are pursuing their own individual interests. So there’s a new song that’s introduced in the movie to represent that, which is “I Need You To Turn To.”
Q: When you’re scoring a film like this, how do you temper the inherent humor of the gnome characters with the need to treat them seriously and realistic as characters within their world?
Chris Bacon: There is a certain amount of silliness build into it, because after all they are garden gnomes, and there’s a certain amount of fun that comes from playing around with that. But there’s also real stakes that they’re dealing with. So a lot of times it becomes treating the story seriously, because as far as they’re concerned the dramatic situations they find themselves in are very real and the stakes are very high for them. I usually find it’s best to play that dramatically and emotionally the same way you would with any live human character. We’re giving then the benefit of believing that they are real individual beings with real feelings and emotions and fear and joy and love, and so I think it plays more effectively if we treat that consistently.
Q: You’ve scored a number of animated films over the years – what challenges have you found in scoring animation and has it gotten better over the years both by you having scored more and the technology having gotten more advanced?
Chris Bacon: The technology continues to help raise the bar to what’s possible in these animated movies – they can do some incredible things. I think the challenge with animation is that everything is created from scratch. The setting, what we see, what we hear – there are no production sounds, it’s all created from nothing. Sometimes you overcompensate in trying to make it feel like a real world, but there’s also the tradition of animation, going back to the old Warner Bros. cartoons, where there tends to be a lot of notes. You try to avoid overdoing that when you can, but there’s still kind of a thread with animation that goes back to cliché in that animation music is a little more time consuming because it’s often more active music. I’m not sure why that is, other than again it’s just a world that is created completely from scratch so every bit of information has to be supplied rather than inferred by what the camera shows naturally. But I enjoy it, and it’s a lot of fun.
Special thanks to Chandler Poling and Adrianna Perez for their assistance in facilitating this interview. - rdl
CALL THE MIDWIFE/Maurizio Malagnini/Dubois Records –cd + digital
Emmy-nominated and IFMCA award-winning composer Maurizio Malagnini (THE PARADISE, PETER & WENDY, MUDDLE EARTH) began scoring this BAFTA-winning British TV drama series with its 4th season, continuing through the current 7th season which began airing on PBS in the USA on March 25, 2018. Malagnini’s music is simply wonderful here, with a sublime main theme for piano, winds, and strings on Track 2’s “The Miracle” and a fertile [no pun intended] assortment of elegant melodic themes displayed throughout the seasons. One of them is the mystery behind the creation of life, where Maurizio notes, “In every single scene in which a woman gives birth, there is something magical. The series portrays how extraordinary and diverse every birth can be and some of the most intense music I have ever composed is present in these scenes.” This is the first-ever released CALL THE MIDWIFE soundtrack album entirely dedicated to the composed music from this acclaimed BBC One/ PBS TV series, described as the most watched drama in the U.K., averaging more than 10 million viewers each week. Dubois released the album, which features a collection of the best tracks across seasons 4 through 7, digitally on March 26th, with a CD forthcoming in May 2018. ”One of the elements that fascinated me the most when I began scoring the series was the degree of realism and depth that [creator, writer, and executive producer] Heidi Thomas managed to create around the characters. I especially felt that every character, including leading characters Dr. Turner and Trixie, had a hidden side – an element of fragility that makes them more deep and real. I truly felt that my music could be an integral part of the storytelling and make each character seem more human, alive, and ultimately unveil the hidden side of their personalities,” said Maurizio of the role of his music in the series.
Watch this behind-the-scenes video in which Malagnini talks about creating the music for the series and the album. https://vimeo.com/261768021
CENTAUR/Andre Matthias/Playa Mayor – cd + digital
The film is a 2017 Kyrgyzstani production co-funded by Netherlands, German, and French co-producers. In this contemporary folktale from Aktan Arym Kubat, a humble Kyrgyz family man is driven by an ancient compulsion to steal racehorses. He still believes that Kyrgyz people once united and invincible thanks to their horses, have been punished by the heavens for misusing that power to achieve their mercenary goals, and that only a genuine racer riding at night and praying for forgiveness can write off the curse. In his score, Andre Matthias (THE DRUMMER, FOUR ASSASSINS) provided a layer of instrumental and choral ambiance that echoes the man’s deeply-held beliefs and quietly bolsters his impulse to try and set things right via horseback. This tonal aura surrounds the character and his actions and becomes a captivating tone poem when heard on its own. The score’s textures are gathered together into a beautifully languid melodic theme the lends gravitas to the story’s concept and action. The album contains nine tracks, averaging about 2:30 minutes each, and a 12.2-minute suite, which contains largely new material along with a reprise of the main theme. Very nice.
For more information on the composer, see http://www.andrematthias.com/
CHAVELA/Gil Tami/Konsonant Records - digital
Emmy-nominated composer Gil Talmi has provided an atmospheric and poignant score for CHAVELA, a documentary about the life of Costa Rican “Ranchera” singer Chavela Vargas.
Talmi focused on dramatic and tonal motifs and melodies for his score, leaving examples of Chavela’s singing to the documentary footage itself. The result is a series of pleasing and attractive rhythm-based impressions setting an intriguing tone for the soundtrack. The music is reflective and built around ambient melodies which float across the soundscape and provide a very likeable and enjoyable soundscape all on its own .
The digital soundtrack is available from iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp, and can be sampled on Spotify (membership required).
For more info on the film, see chavelavargasfilm.com
For more on the composer, see www.giltalmi.com/
I KILL GIANTS/ Laurent Perez del Mar/ Varèse Sarabande - cd
“From the acclaimed graphic novel comes an epic adventure about a world beyond imagination. Teen Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe, THE CONJURING 2) is the only thing that stands between terrible giants and the destruction of her small town. But as she boldly confronts her fears in increasingly dangerous ways, her new school counselor (Zoe Saldana, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) leads her to question everything she’s always believed to be true.[Based on an award-winning comic by Joe Kelly and Ken Nimura], I KILL GIANTS is an intense, touching story about trust, courage and love from the producers that brought you Harry Potter.” Laurent Pertez del Mar (SARAFA, THE RED TURTLE, ANTIGANG) has composed an enchanting and touching score for this magical fantasy film, full of emotional melodies and provocative motifs that lend an affecting soundscape for Barbara’s journey, including a poignant female vocalise featuring soprano Julia Wischniewski (Under the Water,” etc.), broad misterioso (“Giants”), a poignant reverie (“Mum”), prevalent choirs (“I Kill Giants,” “Another Giant is Coming”), and some earthy, wildly aggressive action cues (“The Forest Giants,” “Fight the Forest Giant”). It’s a most impressive and broadly-scaled composition recorded by the Macedonian Symphonic Orchestra & Choir. “On each film, I try to find a particular sound for the music,” explained the composer. “For I KILL GIANTS, I have mixed instruments like marimba, celesta, and cimbalom to obtain a ‘quirky’ sound for the ‘psycho’ theme of Barbara, and I mixed analog textures and an octobass for the dark side of the music, for the giants and the titans.
“[The] first emotional theme was not expected to be played so many times in the film, but the producers loved it so much that they decided to reuse it at several key moments. And I must admit that it was a good idea!” The score is supplemented by two songs, the exclusive and unreleased track “Under the Stars” by London Grammar and the original song “Something So Strong” by Rasmus Walter.
Sample some tracks here https://www.varesesarabande.com/products/i-kill-giants (click “Track List”)
NO MARRIAGE/Vincent Gillioz/ The Sun Made Me Do It Productions– digital + CDR
Vincent Gillioz (COLLAPSE, THE SAND) has composed the score for this Chinese rom-com, which is actually a live-action adaptation of a popular Chinese manga by the same name. The movie is part of a series of internet films by a consortium including Fox International and Tencent Pictures, aimed at the Chinese youth market. Here, two marriage-weary divorcees arrange a faux wedding in order for the woman to keep a new job that required employees be married – various hijinks and true love inevitably follow. In a departure from his more heavily jagged dramatic scores, Gillioz provides a light-hearted and quite engaging work built around a pair of themes, one for the girl and one for the boy, (the two themes are wonderfully stitched together and given a wild, manic treatment in “Under Pressure” that fits its title remarkably well!). The score is inventively orchestrated with a vivid selection of instruments that give each track its own unique sonic sensibility and magic. It also allows Gillioz to showcase a variety of witty tracks built from a variety of unique sound structures, ranging from “Bleeps and Bloops,” which portrays the primary two themes in the sonic style of an arcade video game, to a comic wedding scene in a mental hospital shaped around a manic version of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” using kazoos, toy piano, and comically operatic voices. The score’s emotional highlight, its light-hearted melody infused with the passion of awakening love, “The Map to My Star,” which really conveys the composer’s melodic articulation wherein the toy piano assumes a unique emotive power. The album also includes an infectious vocal developed from the refrain from the girl’s theme which creates a uniquely structured vocal line (sung by the film’s director, Wang Zhan), sounding almost as if the girl is scolding us with her adamantly assertive repetition of the film’s title! The soundtrack is available through various retailers and download suppliers, and also via the composer’s website.
THAT GOOD NIGHT/Guy Farley/Caldera - cd A kind of coming-of-age in old-age drama, based on the stage play by N.J. Crisp, tells of Ralph, an unhappy man in his seventies who is terminally ill, Ralph (John Hurt). Ralph sets out two goals before entering that good night: he wants to mend his relationship with long-abandoned son Michael and also make sure that he is not a burden to his much younger second wife, Anna. THAT GOOD NIGHT marked the last screen performance of John Hurt who passed away in January of 2017. The story’s sentimental yet sincere flavor allows for a poignantly lyrical main theme to evoke the regrets of the past. Given a nostalgic waltz-structure, Farley’s music is gently impassioned, and imprints upon the listener the earnestness of the character to right the wrongs of his self-centered past. Comprised of a chamber orchestra colored by ethnic instruments such as Spanish guitars and cavaquino, accordion, ethnic percussion, which conveys the Mediterranean flavor of the film’s rural Portuguese setting, carries the emotional storyline with an airy lightness that is both brightly appealing and eerily reflective.
For more information and sample tracks, see: http://caldera-records.com/portfolio/that-good-night/
THRILLER 2/Jerry Goldsmith/Tadlow Music – cd
Tadlow Music’s second helping of newly-recorded and dynamically preserved music by Jerry Goldsmith from the early ‘60s Boris Karloff-hosted supernatural-horror TV series features 70:44 minutes of music from six episodes. Each of the selected episodes are presented in a suite, comprising anywhere from five to 13:33 mins, and preluded by the episode’s pre-title “Prologue” and “Roll Call” (Karloff’s announcement of the cast and their roles in the episode about to air). Jon Burlingame provides his own “Roll Call” for the music presented for each episode, in detailed explanatory notes as he did with Vol 1. Co-producer Leigh Phillips, who also helmed the reconstruction and orchestration of the music so faithfully performed by elements from the City of Prague Philharmonic under the baton of Nic Raine, also provided a page of notes describing the process of reconstructing the music. He’s also helpfully included a list of famous film scores by Goldsmith, from which one can hear some sonic glimpses in these much earlier treatments, finding in these early incarnations music Goldsmith would redevelop in greater detail and years to come. As a bonus track, a 4:30-minute “Nocturne for Violin and Piano” created by Caesar Giovanni as a piece of source music in Goldsmith’s “Terror in Teakwood” episode score, is adapted into a fresh duet, concluding the album with delightful performance piece. As Burlingame puts it in his notes, “the musical contrast is striking: Giovanni’s 19th-century style ‘Chopin-esque piece’… versus Goldsmith’s intense and very 20th-century score.” Once again Tadlow has bestowed a treasure of beautifully and faithfully re-recorded music from important and iconic film and TV works, preserving from oblivion this marvelous music.
Watch 8-minute video from a Dec 2017 score reconstruction recording session below
Lakeshore Records will release the soundtrack from the original HBO film PATERNO digitally on April 27, 2018. The album features original music by brothers Evgueni Galperine and Sacha Galperine (LOVELESS, THE WIZARD OF LIES). Directed by Barry Levinson, PATERNO centers on Penn State’s Joe Paterno in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. After becoming the winningest coach in college football history, Paterno’s legacy is challenged and he is forced to face questions of institutional failure in regard to the victims. The composers very aware of complex undertaking of this story. “Barry [Levinson] told us that he would like to have an emotional score to reveal Joe Paterno’s complex feelings but at same time he wanted to avoid playing to compassion or pity,” said Evgueni. “His idea was to make people understand Joe, try to imagine what they would do in his place, but in no way did Barry want the score to entice the audience to pardon Paterno.” Sacha Galperine continued: “Our mission was to use the score to reveal Paterno’s emotional and psychological journey starting with denial and fear and finishing with understanding, guilt, and profound remorse.” The composers achieved this using organic instruments manipulated in unorthodox ways. PATERNO premiered April 7, 2018 on HBO; Lakeshore Records will release the soundtrack digitally on April 27, 2018.
Lakeshore Records has also released the soundtrack to 7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE digitally on April 6, with a CD promised to come. The album features original music by Brazilian composer/singer-songwriter Rodrigo Amarante (“Tuyo” from Narcos). 7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE is Amarante’s first film score. In his words: “There are two aspects of this story that I found useful to reflect in the score: one is that politics, no matter the scale nor the morals, is a tribal affair and as such it is filled with conspiracy and biased perspectives, prone to one-sided views of the outside, especially of one’s enemy. For that effect I used more rhythm than melody mixing ‘70s German Experimental music sounds and feel with Middle Eastern and African flavors. “The other aspect is the tragedy of lack of dialogue and consequent lack of perspective between opposing sides but most importantly, the lack of opinions expressed or accepted within each of these sides which is what leads to it. To hint at that sense of consensus, or narrow focus, I had the orchestra play a cyclical and stern melody in unison (that is when all instruments play the same notes without any harmony added), in the low register, which makes for a grave hum that seems to leave a lot of space around it but suffocates any attempt of dissonance with its concentration of power; it accepts only consonant additions, it represents a unilateral voice. As tragedy becomes imminent, voices start to untangle from the unison mass and emerge; the orchestra unfolds as harmonies and dissonances sing out of it.”
Records DK recently released the soundtrack to the short film LACRIMOSA. The album features original music by composer Elia Cmiral (RONIN, SPLINTER) featuring performances by pan lute master Gheorghe Zamfir. Cmiral has received numerous accolades for his work on LACRIMOSA, including Honorable Mention for Original Score at the Top Shorts Film Festival and Best Film Soundtrack at the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival. “The director and I wanted some unusual, haunting sound for the solo instrument and Master Zamfir’s beautiful, delicate and sensual tone perfectly matches what I had imagine for the score,” said Cmiral. “The haunting and sensual sound of the pan flute is the tone and character for the whole film, longing, emotional.” In the film, the young girl Mila wakes up in an unknown world full of mysteries. On her journey through ever changing surreal landscapes she meets her lover Theo. Mila has to learn that love also means to let go. “LACRIMOSA is only 17 minutes long and I felt I need to set a tone and bring the right voice to the whole movie from the very first frame,” said Cmiral. “The score is written in a very traditional, classical way using acoustic instruments, pan flute, bass flute, piano, harp, organ and a small string ensemble. I think to find the pan flute as a main sound for the score of a short art film is a bit unusual.”
Varèse Sarabande will release AMC’s INTO THE BADLANDS: SEASON 1 – Original Series Soundtrack digitally and on CD April 20, 2018. The album features original music composed by Dave Shephard (LONGMIRE) with main titles by Warrior Blade. Varèse Sarabande will be putting out the second season soundtrack later this year. “How much more inspiration can one ask for than a sweeping, futuristic epic set in a dystopian, feudal world of master sword-wielders and supernatural forces?” asked Shephard. The post-apocalyptic, visually stunning martial arts series with incredible cinematography and cinema-worthy fight sequences gave Shephard a good deal of inspiration. “From scene to scene to scene, I discovered richly textured characters, costumes, landscapes and story lines that conjured in me an immense wealth of musical ideas with which to play as I created a sound and musical narrative for the TV-series,” he explained.
“In the score there are taiko drums, distorted guitars, distorted strings, dark moody pads, ethnic instruments from around the globe, and obscure, native wind instruments,” Shephard continued. “These are all combined with modern recording studio effects with the intent of bringing dystopia and futurism together in sound. As a composer, this was a thrilling project to be a part of and I am grateful to have had this extraordinary opportunity.”
MovieScore Media goes Medieval with Stephen McKeon’s PILGRIMAGE, a score that has won the Irish Film and Television Awards for Best Music. Starring Tom Holland (SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING) and Jon Bernthal (THE PUNISHER) just before their casting into the world of Marvel movies, the film tells the story of a group of monks who must escort a sacred relic across an Irish landscape fraught with peril. Set in 13th century Ireland, PILGRIMAGE spans a score as uncompromising and brutal as the Medieval landscape, including powerful choral and solo voice passages that highlight both the dark side of religious fervor as well as the more uplifting side of faith.
“Music composed only of skin, bone, and iron, was the brief given to me by the film’s director,” explains composer Stephen McKeon about finding the raw, medieval tone for the project. “PILGRIMAGE is set in the 13th century and concerns the evil that men do in the name of religion but also the transformative power of love. I decided upon percussion, low male voices and low brass to represent those three elements. There are no female actors in the film and the only female element in the entire film is contained in the score. It’s a solo soprano who represents hope and our more noble possibilities.” The bare-bones orchestral music features the haunting choral work of Paul McGough and Crux Vocal Ensemble for maximum effect.
Music Box Records presents an extended soundtrack release of MONKEY SHINES: AN EXPERIMENT IN FEAR, George A. Romero’s vivid 1988 psychological horror thriller about a young man paralyzed from the neck down after an accident. In the story, the man is given a specially-trained capuchin monkey to help him with his day-to-day cares, unaware that the little monkey is actually the ongoing subject of a secret genetic experiment to increase animal intelligence. As a result, man and monkey develop a dangerous psychotic link that fuels homicidal rages that are shared and accentuated between them both.
The music was composed by David Shire, in one of only a few excursions into horror territory made by the composer. Shire’s skillful music is an engaging mix of sweeping lyrical melodies and jungle drum timbres and tempos that augment Romero’s visualized moments of fear and suspense. Shire delineates the thought-world of the capuchin with a growing interaction of sonic discord and shocking stingers that electrify Romero’s carefully choreographed scares. In following the contours of Romero’s scary story line Shire also composes some tremendous action music which intensifies the film’s excitement, suspense, and roaring action, all of which makes for a tense and thrilling listening experience.
This expanded soundtrack album contains 40 tracks and 65 minutes of music. The package features a 12-page illustrated booklet containing exclusive liner notes by Randall D. Larson that includes a new interview with the composer about his score. The release is limited to 1,000 units.
Pre-order now at http://www.musicbox-records.com
Film composer Jongnic Bontemps has scored an amazing soundtrack for the documentary, UNITED SKATES, which will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in a few weeks. The film spotlights the black roller skate culture in the U.S. and highlights hip-hop’s influence as a narrative. Jongnic’s score has hip-hop rhythmic elements along with traditional film score components, and is as he says, “instrumental hip-hop” (no lyrics). He previously scored the film, THE LAND.
Pinar Toprak is scoring the upcoming Netflix original movie THE ANGEL. The film is a spy thriller based on Uri Bar-Joseph’s bestselling novel, The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, and is directed by Ariel Vromen (THE ICEMAN, CRIMINAL). It tells the true story of high-ranking Egyptian official Ashraf Marwan, who became a spy for Israel despite being the son-in-law of former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and close adviser of his successor, Anwar Sadat THE ANGEL will premiere later this year on Netflix.
On April 6th the new dystopian ‘weird fiction’-series THE CITY AND THE CITY will air on BBC Two. The soundtrack for the series was written by award-winning composer Dominik Scherrer (THE MISSING, RIPPER STREET, PRIMEVAL, MARPLE). This new four-part series airs only two weeks after the worldwide release of the supernatural thriller series REQUIEM on Netflix, another series for which Scherrer composed an original score. THE CITY AND THE CITY is based on the futuristic science fiction novel by China Miéville. When the body of a foreign student is found in the streets of the fictional European city of Bes?el, a local police inspector discovers the murdered girl came from UI Quoma, a neighboring city that shares a dangerous and volatile relationship with Bes?el. “The two cities in which the story is set, Beszel and UI Quoma, coexist in the same geographical space but are separate because people are taught from birth to unsee the other city,” Scherrer explained. “The music had to highlight the contrast as well as unite the storyline spanning across the two cities.”
For more details on Scherrer’s score, watch the series’ trailer, and hear three sample tracks, visit: musiquefantastique.com
Game Score News
Film and game composer Siddhartha Barnhoorn has released his demo soundtrack to THIN AIR - Journey of the Seeker on his Bandcamp page. The surreal, narrative adventure video game follows the journey of a lone woman, The Seeker, on a hallucinogenic spirit quest. “For this soundtrack I experimented a lot with sampling with the Casio SK-1 and processing the sounds through the Roland RE-501, Lexicon PCM70+PCM80, Flux Effects Liquid Ambience and later post-processing with plugins,” said Barnhoorn. “While the developers were here from The Netherlands visiting and in my studio we did a jam session from which some elements were created that we eventually used in the game itself. Lara also recorded some of her vocals which were later used in the track “Spirit Quest.” I recorded a lot of instruments like singing bowls, kalimba, other percussive sounds plus woodwinds like the duduk and bansuri. Check it out here: siddharthabarnhoorn.bandcamp.com/album/thin-air-ep
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: www.musiquefantastique.com