Unbearable Cage Match: Mark Isham on Scoring UNBEARABLE WEIGHT and THE NEVERS
Dancing In The Moon Knight: Hesham Nazih
Scores Marvel’s Latest Series
Interviews by Randall D. Larson
Highly Recommended: Recently Released Soundtracks in Review
THE EXORCISM OF GOD/Álvarez & Medina/MSM, FANTASTIC BEASTS THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE)/JN Howard/WaterTower, JACK IN THE BOX: THE AWAKENING/Clerestoried/Howlin’ Wolf, JULIA/J Russo/WaterTower, NOTRE-DAME BRÛLE/Franglen/Pathe/Sony, OPERATION: MINCEMEAT/T Newman/Lakeshore, PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK S2/Campbell/Milan, THE SOUND OF VIOLET/Pope/ Morning Star, THE WEATHER MAN/Zimmer/La-La Land
Film & TV Music, Documentary, Vinyl Soundtracks, & Game Music News
From his days as one of the pioneering icons of electronic music to his current status as a world-renowned legendary film composer, Mark Isham continues to be one of the most prolific and provocative artists on the scene. His gift for creating unforgettable melodies and his love of fresh, innovative sonic palettes have earned Isham many awards including a Grammy, an Emmy, and a Clio, in addition to multiple Grammy, Academy Award, and Golden Globe nominations for his material both as a composer and a recording artist. Most recently, Mark was honored by ASCAP with the Henry Mancini Award for Lifetime Achievement. Isham’s inimitable musical voice is evident in his memorable scores for award-winning features including the 2021 Oscar-winning JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH, CRASH (awarded the Oscar for Best Picture in 2005; Isham's score was named Best Soundtrack of 2005 by Cinescape.com), A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT (Oscar and Grammy Nominations) along with Golden Globe winning BOBBY, and NELL (Golden Globe Nomination) and THE BLACK DAHLIA with its critically lauded jazz noir soundtrack (awarded Best Score for a Drama Film - 2007, and nominated for Best Score of the Year by the International Film Music Critics Association). In 2020, Isham made Cannes Film Festival history as the first film composer to perform a live in-studio concert of some of his most beloved scores, for the inaugural film music summit of the Cannes Film Market, the business counterpart of the prestigious festival. With his latest score, THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT, Isham explains, “Nick’s characters are always perceived as larger than life, so the score needed to be larger than life to reflect all those emotions…” The music was recorded in several locations: an orchestra recorded strings and wind instruments in Budapest, the brass instruments in London, and the soloists in Los Angeles, with Isham performing on all keyboards and electronic instrumentation.
THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT (2022): Creatively unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, the fictionalized version of Nick Cage (Nicolas Cage) must accept a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of a dangerous superfan (Pedro Pascal). Things take a wildly unexpected turn when Cage is recruited by a CIA operative (Tiffany Haddish) and forced to live up to his own legend, channeling his most iconic and beloved on-screen characters in order to save himself and his loved ones. With a career built for this very moment, the seminal award-winning actor must take on the role of a lifetime: Nick Cage.
Listen to the track “Motorcycle Chase” from THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT:
Q: Tell me about starting in on THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT – what was your initial conception for the score and what musical components inspired your scoring of this very unique storyline?
Mark Isham: It’s interesting. When they called and said “We think you should do this,” I said, “I’ve read about this movie. It sounds unbelievably clever and potentially entertaining, but having not seen it I don’t even know if this thing will work, because it could also be a disaster!” So I said, “Show me the film.” And they did – and of course even then, before it was locked, I said “This is genius and it works really, really well.” So, because the temp is all over the place, the question was, what’s going to tie this thing together? The impression was that Nick, who is that sort of timeless actor – he has a creative span of decades and different generations know him for his different work across the decades here. So why don’t we do something similar in the score? Let’s do a very traditional score that borrows from Morricone and it borrows from Mancini or Lalo Schifrin… I even put Georges Delerue on the list in the beginning, although the more serious European feel didn’t last, but remains in some of the action music. But let’s make it timeless, with an 8-bar John Barry type theme that resonates as romance, it resonates as heroism, it resonates as sad and victorious, so that you really tie this thing together as you would in a classic film, because you have this sort of classic actor there. I thought we would keep it tongue-in-cheek without it being chic. It will make you smile all the time when things are very, very serious – and the music then can be deadly serious. It can be very sad, it can be very tense, but because you’re dipping back into a world of maybe twenty to forty years ago – or even longer; sixty years ago for some of the Morricone references – you’ll be smiling, you’ll be laughing, as you should. The music should not pull you out of this marvelous, rompish ride that the film is.
Q: How did you manage your thematic configuration on this score?
Mark Isham: I sat down and wrote what turned out to be a full, 16-bar all-the-bells-and-whistles type of theme. Believe it or not, I wrote it for guitar even though I don’t play guitar! I had a pretty good sample. I wanted to touch on the flamenco guitar because of the time and place, and also just because of the nature of their relationship. I also knew it really needed to go into this electric guitar/Spaghetti Western showdown feel. But I also knew it needed to end up in a big, victorious orchestral version, so I just tried it. The beauty of computer music these days is that you can just try stuff out, and it worked.
Listen to the track “The Heist” from THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT:
Q: What was your technique for shifting between Cage’s various personas as the story twists and turns between genres and emotions – such as action, comedy, suspense, romance?
Mark Isham: I think it was just based on experience. I don’t know how to define that technique other than just: you’ve done this enough times over the years you get a sense of how far you have to go in a certain direction, what the sounds are that you’ll need. Having mocked up about fifteen or twenty minutes of music early on, I stuck it up against three or four scenes for the director. Then, having him say “Absolutely, this is going to be great,” allowed me then to place some of these sounds against certain scenes, and then just see, “Oh, the Spaghetti Western guitar is going to be great here, ohhh but not so good here,” and then just try stuff. A lot of this stuff is trial and error. If you have an intellectual technique, I find you perhaps lose some of the great, happiest most miraculous accidents and those are always the best moments; especially in comedic music, because, yes you have Spike Jones for funny music but music inherently is at it’s funniest when it’s juxtaposed. It’s when you have a Haydn string quartet playing against a gun battle that makes it light. It’s these juxtapositions that bring the humor to music and can make music be a funny element. Music itself doesn’t inherently have to be funny, juxtaposition is what makes it funny. So that’s what you’re always experimenting with, trying not to think too hard about it and just find something.
Q: You’ve said that you wanted this score to pay homage to the great 60’s and 70’s film music by Morricone, Schifrin, Mancini, etcetera, and I especially liked your Morricone-esque vocal on “Black Box.” Would you describe how you incorporated those styles or traditions into this score?
Mark Isham: That was something I pitched early on, and then later the music editor stuck something in that used the voice, and the studio loved it. So it was just agreed upon on all fronts. I’d tried it before that piece showed up, and Tom loved that, and meanwhile the studio’s been working with the music editor, so it was a meeting of the minds. It’s the genius of Morricone who thought of it many, many years ago and he used it effectively in so many different ways, it was something worth borrowing!
Q: Who did the vocal for that?
Mark Isham: I used a lovely, very talented singer here in L.A., Suzanne Waters.
Listen to the track “Black Box” from THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT:
Q: How did you combine the orchestral and digital elements on this score?
Mark Isham: This score, I believe, unless I’ve lost track of some small cue here or there, basically wants to feel organic and wants to feel acoustic. There’s nothing really that wants a highly techno feel or highly electronic feel in the score. Having said that, there’s obviously a lot of electronic elements that one uses in modern scoring to increase the space, size, depth, the percussive impact. All the action music has an orchestral fundamental to it but there are a lot of things that are built out to make it compete with modern action scores. We took a little liberty with that music just so it would stand up in a theater, sonically. Then in some of the jazz pieces there’s electric pianos, and things like that are used in some of the more sitcom-y moments and jazz-influenced R&B moments, and things like that. There’s no real out-and-out electronic music sound in the score.
“The biggest challenge, I think, was the juxtaposition of certain styles with comedy moments. That’s something that doesn’t matter whether it’s an E or an E-flat or if it’s four-bars or five-bars long, what matters is the overall concept of the piece, the conflict of pieces – should this feel jazzy? Should it feel more R&B? Should it feel more sitcom-ish? Should it feel like Mike Post?”
Q: Were there any other unique challenges you faced on this project?
Mark Isham: The bulk of it went fairly smoothly. Once that theme was established, which came pretty quickly for me, then it was just a matter of getting the number of minutes done. There were a lot of minutes in the score! The biggest challenge, I think, was the juxtaposition of certain styles with comedy moments. That’s something that doesn’t matter whether it’s an E or an E-flat or if it’s four-bars or five-bars long; what matters is the overall concept of the piece, the conflict of pieces – should this feel jazzy? Should it feel more R&B? Should it feel more sitcom-ish? Should it feel like Mike Post? [chuckles] Those are the elements that you’re juggling when you’re doing pure comedic scenes, and that probably was just the toughest, to find that balance. I remember one cue that I had a version 15 or something like that!
The Nevers (2021+): August, 1896. Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular “turns,” all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter these gifted “orphans.” To do so, they will have to face the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind.
Q: I also wanted to ask you about a TV series which I thoroughly loved, THE NEVERS, which I thought beautifully captured its period as well as the immersive drama that is developed across the season. How did you conceive that series score?
Mark Isham: That’s near and dear to my heart as well. I had so much fun, in fact right now I have Season 1B, as they’re calling it, sitting in front of me, and I’m staring at episode 1-10! I just think the whole concept for that show was so wonderful and brilliant and just unique: a Victorian science fiction piece that was a wonderful balancing act. The pilot was temped so beautifully and was so inspired – there are two long sections in the pilot which are just music and it’s a show that really opened its arms for music. HBO has been very generous in giving us a budget for orchestra so we’re doing orchestra every week. It allows me, as you said, to find a contemporary way of scoring Victorian London, but orchestrally. I can lean into my big influences of John Adams and Steve Reich – or as far back as Samuel Barber in some cases – but to make it speak of 20th Century and 21st Century orchestral writing.
Listen to the main theme from THE NEVERS:
“I tend to not score characters with a theme, but I’ll score relationships.”
Q: How did you determine the thematic architecture of this score, and did you treat various characters or their powers in unique ways?
Mark Isham: There are actually quite a number of themes. I tend to not score characters with a theme, but I’ll score relationships. Mrs. True and Penance Adair have a theme when their relationship grows. The events of the shift doing what it does has a theme, so that can come back. So that structure tends to serve a thematic purpose better, at least from the way I think of storytelling with music, rather than specific characters. And then I chose a sort of pyramid orchestration which I’ve been experimenting a lot with over the last decade, actually. This has at the top a solo violin and solo cello, then a string quartet, then the chamber string orchestra, and then a layer of electronics. So it goes from single or duo voice all the way down to this really, really broad spread of electronics for the science fiction and the battle side of the story. So it’s a multi-tiered approach that can pretty much approach anything emotionally that you needed to do while maintaining this sense of connection to the picture of Victorian London.
Q: How did the “Song of the Touched” come about?
Mark Isham: There’s a young woman named Amy Garrity, a lovely young composer who I’ve actually worked with before, she’s really wonderful, and she had been contracted to write that song long before I was hired to do the score. She wrote this on set because they needed it during shooting. It’s a wonderful song and so I inherited this and worked it in, and it’s also appearing in Season1B. The song is a big part of the storytelling and it translated very well. It’s a beautiful thing she wrote.
Q: Then, of course, in episode 6, things turn in a very different way, story-wise. How did you approach scoring this final episode of Season 1A?
Mark Isham: We made as an abrupt turn as we could, as the picture does. The first half of episode 6 is in the future – not their future, but our future. All of a sudden you’re in an entirely different world. So I just said, “We’re going to go obviously electronic, and only when certain characters are revealed to be the same characters [from earlier episodes] will we go back into our vocabulary, and to help the audience understand this transition of getting to realize, ‘Oh, people are appearing in different time spans as well’ in this story.” And then, of course, it slam-cuts back to even earlier than our first episodes, and becomes almost a prequel. For that I went strictly string quartet, and added in the two soloists, so it’s, in effect, a string sextet for that. It really felt chamber-ish and totally of the time and place.
Listen to the track “Aftermath Arising” from THE NEVERS Episode 6:
Q: Without giving away any spoilers, is there anything you can say about where your score may take us in Season 1B?
Mark Isham: It gets very rich, very quickly, just as Season 1A did! We go back and pick up Mrs. True and Penance and their further adventures with the Galanthi, basically.
Mark Isham: THE GODFATHER OF HARLEM has been set for Season 3. I just met with the showrunner and his Script 3 has gone in for approval, so they’re going to start production in probably a month or so and we’ll be scoring in the fall.
Special thanks to Ray Costa and Marygrace Oglesby of Costa Communications, Inc. for facilitating this interview and, especially, to Mark Isham for his time and perspective on scoring these projects.
Hesham Nazih is an Egyptian composer best known for his distinguished style that interweaves authentic melodies with contemporary music. Nazih has built a 20+ year artistic career and has under his belt more than 40 award-winning soundtracks of blockbuster films that dominated the Egyptian box-office. He is well-known in Egypt for interweaving authentic melodies with contemporary music for films. Marvel’s MOON KNIGHT marks Hesham’s first major English-language project. Of course, the show needed to have that signature Egyptian flavor, but Hesham wanted the score to sound more modern rather than relying on outdated music tropes for the region, creating a fresh sound for the show which Marvel allowed him the freedom to explore. When it comes to his composing process, Hesham Nazih (pronounced “heh-shem nah-zee”) falls back on human emotions – using music to express what words cannot. What touched him about the character of Marc Spector is that he suffers from such human conflicts in his life that he could easily relate to him on many levels. Even as he’s saving the world as Moon Knight, he has to battle his own mental health issues with dissociative identity disorder – a super hero with very human struggles. MOON KNIGHT is the sixth television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to be produced by Marvel Studios, sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. When Steven Grant, a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life, he discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector. As Steven/Marc’s enemies converge upon them, they must navigate their complex identities while thrust into a deadly mystery among the powerful gods of Egypt. I interviewed Hesham the day before MOON KNIGHT’s sixth-episode finale to learn about how he brought his orchestral inclinations to the MCU’s dynamic and gave the distinctive characters of Marc, Steven, Layla, Arthur Harrow, Khonshu, Ammit to life across the series’ story arc. – rdl
Watch the trailer to MOON KNIGHT (Nazih’s music is not in the trailer; the trailer is set to a remix of the song Day 'N' Nite by rapper Kid Cudi):
Q: What brought you into scoring films in Egypt – what influences prompted you, or what inspired you, to move into scoring motion pictures?
Hesham Nazih: I was hit by this passion at a very early age in my life, since I was a kid. I grew up in a house where music and films were part of our days. My parents and my brother and sister, we all loved films and music and songs. We always painted and played music – and all of a sudden I got hit by this liaison of music and picture, music and story, sound and color. It’s this magical tie between an instant that might be a couple of seconds long on the screen that keeps being carved in your head and you cannot get rid of it. I guess that was it, and I kept telling myself that’s what I want to do with my life, creating unforgettable moments.
Q: Was it a difficult business to break into?
Hesham Nazih: Yes, but I think it’s the same everywhere. The difficulty lies with the fact that it’s not like being a lawyer or an engineer or something like that. It not like taking your graduation certificate and then applying for a job. You keep presenting yourself and proving yourself and improving yourself and trying to find the place for yourself; the spot where you can act and perform at your best and then get noticed at the same time. That’s the difficult practice.
Listen to the track “Moon Knight:”
Q: In the case of MOON KNIGHT, how did you become involved in scoring this series in the US?
Hesham Nazih: Mohamed Diab, the director of the show, recommended me to Marvel, and they contacted me. The funny thing is, first I received an email from Marvel and, because I didn’t know Mohamed Diab – of course I knew of him; I knew his films and I knew him as a director but we’d never met or worked together before. I knew nothing about the project. I’d only received this email from Marvel saying that they want to listen to my demo reel and hear my music. And that was that. Then a few weeks, after a few meetings with them, I flew from Cairo to Budapest where they were filming the show and I met with Mohamed for the first time. He told me about the whole thing.
Q: Obviously the Egyptian setting of much of the series made you very appropriate as composer for this show. How did you think your background in Egyptian music would fit this new television incarnation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Hesham Nazih: I knew that the Egyptian aspect had to sound and feel authentically Egyptian, and that’s one of the big reasons why I’m on board this project. This was not a big issue to me because asking me to compose authentically Egyptian music is like asking me to speak English with an Egyptian accent! It wouldn’t worry me much! What really took a big chunk of my thinking or my thought process while writing music of MOON KNIGHT was coming up with the main theme for the character and getting the right overall tone and musical intensity for the show. That’s what I had in mind.
Q: When you first came on board what discussions did you have with the producers or directors about what the shape and style of the music should be?
Hesham Nazih: It was a practice of exploration rather than “We want this” or “We want that.” We were exploring around. I came up with a ten-minute suite of music and then we built on it afterwards, and bit by bit we reached this musical equation, the final one we have. It was an accumulation of trials until we reached that.
Q: How would you describe the themes you’ve written for the show’s heroes, villains, Egyptian deities, and their conflicts?
Hesham Nazih: In my previous work I hadn’t used this strongly thematic approach of telling story. But here, in MOON KNIGHT, to me it was important and it was intriguing and challenging at the same time. In the beginning we decided that the music had to be melodic and musically colorful, it had to serve the themes. Moon Knight had to have a theme, Harrow had to have a theme, and I knew these themes had to survive and travel because these themes were going to be used in so many situations and circumstances. I needed to come up with a theme that would be easily recognizable and memorable and dramatically effective at the same time. A multipurpose kind of theme because it’s going to be used so many times in different dramatic situations.
Q: How large of an orchestra did you have to record the score with, and where was it recorded?
Hesham Nazih: That was recorded at the beautiful Synchron stage in Vienna with the Synchron Stage orchestra and chorale. The Egyptian elements and vocals were recorded here in Cairo, Egypt. We had about sixty strings, ten to twelve brass – six horns, three trombones, 1 bass trombone, one bass tuba. We doubled the winds. The choir was 32 or 40 singers.
Q: There’s a massiveness to your score that imparts itself, especially in the action scenes and some of the bridges between scenes. How would you describe how you utilized the “size” of the orchestra or the size of the sound you wanted to immerse the viewer within the drama of the story?
Hesham Nazih: The storyline of this show is very complex. It’s very chromatic – the vengeance, the romance, the love, the adventure. “Powerful” is an understatement! It had to be carried, musically, with an equally massive sound and musical sonority. Even with the tiniest of movement in the picture, at some points it needed a huge sound to describe the effect of it. I was driven by the massiveness of the storyline of the show and the picture itself – and of course of the performances of the actors.
Listen to the track “Summon the Suit” from MOON NIGHT
Q: The story takes place across a large series of geographic places. How did your music deal with those transitions and maintaining your thematic approach in those different environments?
Hesham Nazih: I always follow the storyline. The storyline is solid. Of course it’s very dynamic in the way it is told, but it’s very clear and solid in my head while I am writing. In some occasions I went with the locations – we needed to sound Egyptian in certain moments, but in some other situations I totally musically overlooked it. It doesn’t matter where we are now – it’s just emotion and dramatic tension that matters the most; not the location. So I neglected the fact that we are in Egypt – or we’re not! It was all about following the storyline strictly.
Q: Would you describe how you balanced Egyptian-sounding music with more Hollywood-styled musical elements?
Hesham Nazih: Egypt has a very long history of producing and making films, so we’re not so much alienated from the classical form of film music, utilizing orchestras. There’s a way of writing music using an orchestra that may sound, with the orchestra element, Egyptian. So I didn’t always have to have typical Egyptian instruments to sound Egyptian. I’d used it with the orchestra so many times. The spectrum of the Egyptian music and the Egyptian feel is wide for me, so I did not find myself stuck within the Egyptian elements. I could use them or not use them; I could inject the Egyptian feel within the orchestral lines and the orchestral composition.
Q: The blending is magnificent. It really works so well together to create this heightened and developing emotional concept or feeling for the viewer.
Hesham Nazih: Amazingly enough those typical instruments, the mizm?r – a reed instrument that is like a bagpipe – and the rababa, which is a fiddle instrument, amazingly enough they blended perfectly well with the sound of the orchestra. They sit in the spectrum sound of the orchestra without clashing or fighting with any harmonic range. Whether you want to use them on top of the orchestra or within or in the back, they find their way in as a sound. So it was a playful musical demeanor for me to use them within the orchestration or bring them up front sometimes or conceal them in other times.
Q: How did you deal musically with Steven/Marc’s dissociative identity, which is a prominent element of his characterizations and super-hero abilities?
Hesham Nazih: In the beginning of the episodes Steven and Marc’s characters seem to be far off, but halfway through you begin to realize that they are two sides of the same coin, and towards the end you understand there is an emotional bond between them that could be carried musically. Only that music can describe the reason why they seemed far off in the beginning. It was not a matter of finding a melody for them or a written tune for them, but finding a musical movement or motif to be used when they are far off and then used again to connect the dots when they are getting close. The audience, listening to this, will understand why this music was used at the beginning.
Q: Choir is a strong element in your MOON KNIGHT scores. How did this element come about, and how large of a choir have you used?
Hesham Nazih: The choir is a very, very powerful tool in the music. There’s a god involved in the story, Khonshu. The sheer power that he gives to Marc to become Moon Knight needed that element. When you come to think of it, the massiveness of the relationships between the gods themselves, and of Marc and the Khonshu, is so universally colossal. It speaks to size, and there’s a sense of spirituality in this, and all of that drove me to attach the choir and the chorale. It has a place in the story. And then when I started using them I was really intrigued by the fact that I could build a rhythm with the choir and then put the orchestra on top of them, rather than the other way around. Then sometimes I could present them in a very classical way and shift into the other ways. I think it’s a tool that found itself in the nature of the story and the nature of the project.
Q: What were some of the more unusual instrumental sounds and electronic elements that you brought into the score and how were they applied to the episodes?
Hesham Nazih: I think they presented a moment of epic-ness in the series. I decided to use the Egyptian elements as solo vocalists and as solo instruments in those epic moments and climactic moments. It was unexpected in a way because we wanted to hit hard with the orchestra in some epic moments and then all of a sudden you turn to a soloist that is typically classical Egyptian or something. This kind of shift is unusual – favorably unusual!
Listen to the track “The Sky” from MOON KNIGHT Episode 3:
Q: How was your music for the series episodes configured for the soundtrack album?
Hesham Nazih: The music team and Marvel decided on that. We were working together, so we were on the same page – we knew that this cue was special, that one was really nice, or “Oh, this one can not lose!” It was pretty clear from the beginning when I heard the selection.
Q: What was most challenging for you in scoring MOON KNIGHT?
Hesham Nazih: All of it! [laughs] I have never scored or written music for a superhero before. I’ve watched lots of superhero movies and lots of Marvel movies before, but I’ve never scored a film in this realm of superheroes. The whole thing was new to me; I’d think “Oh wow, am I really writing this?” The moments of summoning the suit, the transformation of Marc becoming the Moon Knight, and the chases, the fights, the action scenes – it was all very intense, very dramatic, very dynamic. The tempo of the events and the incidents and the situations, and keeping the momentum all the time, keeping it upbeat all the time without losing focus on the story, that was all challenging; but in a lovely way, it had to be said!
Q: With the finale of MOON KNIGHT coming up tomorrow, will we be hearing more of your music in Western film music projects, if it’s not too soon to say?
Hesham Nazih: I’d love to. Absolutely. There’s nothing I can confirm now, but, yeah, I’d love to.
Thanks to Hesham Nazih for an informative, enjoyable, and thorough interview. Special thanks to Andrew Krop and Kyrie Hood of White Bear PR and Natalia Salzetti of The Walt Disney Studios for helping facilitate this interview.
The interview is lightly edited for clarity.
Listen to the track “Befriending Myself” from MOON KNIGHT:
THE EXORCISM OF GOD/Elik Álvarez & Yoncarlos Medina/
Movie Score Media – digital
THE EXORCISM OF GOD is a 2021 American-Mexican supernatural horror drama directed by Alejandro Hidalgo and starring Will Beinbrink, María Gabriela de Faría and Joseph Marcell, released by Saban Films. An American priest working in Mexico is possessed during an exorcism and ends up committing a terrible act; eighteen years later, the consequences of his sin come back to haunt him, unleashing the greatest battle within. Composer Elik Álvarez, a Venezuelan-born composer based in Los Angeles, known for scoring many of Sir David Attenborough’s groundbreaking mini-series, and Yoncarlos Medina, known for scoring Hidalgo’s Venezuelan box office success THE HOUSE AT THE END OF TIME, have provided a very dark and uneasy musical design beneath the film’s unsettling storyline. Music programmer Cosme Liccardo and multidisciplinary artist Leonor Lanza were brought in to produce percussive and disturbing textures and supply a powerful voice to reinforce the presence of the devil, respectively. “As the story develops, self-condemnation is often blended with a profound search for forgiveness,” said the composers. “For this, we wrote a bold dramatic theme masterfully performed by the Budapest Scoring Orchestra.” This is a rather provocative and intriguing new take on the exorcist trope in horror films, centered around a unique predicament: while trying to exorcise a powerful demon from the person of a young woman, the demon jumps into the priest’s body and forces him to abuse the woman. Decades later, his deeply buried secret comes to light when the same demon, Balban, returns, possessing a girl and unleashing a deadly disease – requiring the priest to confront and try to overcome the demon for a final time. Complications ensue, culminating in something that essentially makes sense of the film’s title. The concept is pretty good and director Hidalgo manages it fairly well. The film’s score is powerful and effective; there are some necessary jump scares, and the textured orchestral score is enhanced by some rather overused electronic designs and eerie voicings, especially in reference to the ferocious Balban and the events of the film’s climax, though they generate proper queasiness and trepidation. The priest’s guilt is identified with more sympathetic orchestral techniques, and these provide an effective compassion for his unholy dilemma. Some of the more cacophonic measures of the music make for less desirable listening on their own, but all in all it’s a solid horror score that will deliver some fevered chills all on its own, while managing to musically convey the story sonically at the same time.
Listen to the title track from THE EXORCISM OF GOD:
FANTASTIC BEASTS THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE/
James Newton Howard / WaterTower – digital
James Newton Howard’s third score in the Harry Potter spin-off FANTASTIC BEASTS series continues the rich and exciting musical canvas woven by the composer in the first two films, as a young Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) realizes that powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches, and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. Rejoining David Yates, the capable director of the last four HARRY POTTER movies and both previous FANTASTIC BEASTS pictures, Howard’s new score is a wondrous delight of fantasy, mystery, energy, and passion. That said this new film perhaps reveals a darker territory than the exuberant tone of the first two. Across 39 tracks and one hour 50 minutes of solid music the composer generates a fanciful mix of broad orchestral maneuvers and exuberant choral cadences, driven by a wide range of themes new and old, set amidst a delicate fabric of fantasy and supernatural conflict that ranges from intricate sonic patterns to full-blown symphonic prowess. At 13 minutes longer than the first film’s soundtrack and 32 longer than the second, the score is both highly robust and poignantly emotive.
(Review continues below)
Listen to the track “He Sought to Kill, I Sought to Protect” from FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE:
Even among performances of new and old themes, Howard builds into his cues a depth of motific development that carries the music into fresh configurations, giving each track a nuanced flavor that changes and expands and builds in stages that makes for a very agreeable listening experience, especially among longer tracks in the 4-5 minute range, of which “Countersight” is an excellent example from its vivid opening rendition of the series’ theme and then its dashing sense of movement and hushed magic. The tense, emerging cadence of drums, strings, and horns that builds “A Message to Deliver” emerges into a delicate pattern of woodwind tonalities and drifting sonorities that evoke both mystery and expectancy, moving into a prolonged passage of drifting solo cello ambiance and ending in a quiet vocalise from women’s choir. “Insufficient Evidence” proffers a gentle percussive beat that grows with an added dimension of instruments until it erects a dazzling crescendo of orchestra and full choir. “Manticore Dance” is a whimsical kind of scherzo for what sounds like a kind of jazzy tack piano, accordion, string bass, guitar, and a variety of light percussion heard when Newt sneaks into a castle dungeon and has to dance in order to confuse various beasts intent on blocking his way. In numerous tracks, Howard really lets the power of the orchestra drive into high gear, with the instruments and choir roaring into full energy with “Assassin!,” “Surrounded,” “He Sought to Kill, I Sought to Protect,” and portions of “A Full Heart” before calming with the passionate resolve of “I Was Never Your Enemy” and the conclusive “The Ceremony.” The album ends with “Heaven,” a nice enough song performed by Gregory Porter, accompanied by piano and then, softly, the orchestra – although it seems a little plain as a coda after all of the score’s orchestral breadth. But maybe that’s just me. The score as a whole is outstanding, a stirring and effecting work which will likely generate repeated listening to plumb its considerable depths.
Listen to the track “Manticore Dance” from FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE:
JACK IN THE BOX: THE AWAKENING/Christoph Allerstorfer/
Howlin’ Wolf - CD
Set in England, as was its predecessor, THE JACK IN THE BOX: AWAKENING occurs in a secluded countryside mansion in which terminally ill heiress Olga Marsdale (Nicola Wright) and her devoted son Edgar (Matt McClure) have procured the Jack in the Box that houses a malevolent entity that is unleashed and must kill six people, among them their new housemaid Amy (Mollie Hindle), and drag them into the box to allow its demonic denizen to go back into hibernation. This sequel of the original 2020 film has a somewhat stronger plot than the first, and is hinged around the idea that when the Jack in the Box demon has had its fill of corpses, the box’s finder (Olga) will be cured of her illness. Christoph Allerstorfer, who also scored the original film, expands his thematic orchestral configuration from the first film’s score, and is given a few more players this time, allowing him to turn up an even more powerful musical tonality which gives the film a nice mix of contemporary and richly gothic sonority and drive. Performed by the Big Island Orchestra Vienna with 42 credited musicians and presented via 32 mostly short cues (and two bonus demo tracks that didn’t make the final dub), which merge together on the album to provide a provocative sonic saturation and an enjoyable dark listening experience. This score is built around the two themes from the first film (“Box” and “Kill”) which have been newly arranged for the sequel, and there are a couple of new motifs, including the titular “Awakening” which is introduced in the title sequence and shortly thereafter in “The Manor.” The score is much more of a tonal, ambient and melodic structure that grows in waves (such as “Sacrifices,” “Deadly Secret,” and the deadlier “Edgar’s Secret”), with occasional horror intonations saved for abrupt jump scares and the final climax, allowing the music to flow eloquently and emotionally in more tentative, sinewy, and haunting measures that gradually build to its inevitable horrific conclusion as things don’t necessarily go as Edgar, Olga, or even Amy would have perceived them. “Mother” is a brief jolt that explodes with weighty blocks of electronic percussion before drifting off into a misty hush. Of the more frightening tracks on the album, “The Cellar” offers some creepy sound patterns among echoing thrums, whispered voicings, and braising metallic scrapes; while the brief “Foreshadow,” its heavier “Jack Kills,” comprise some nice, creepy, tenuously terror moments of reverberant fear and startlement. These sounds gain additional traction in the pulse-pounding ferocity of “Jack Kills Again” (not to mention reprises of that in “Jack Kills Some More” and “Jack Kills Another One” giving the score’s most brazen and brassiest murder moment; while the heroic measures of “Amy Kills” provide a bit of a judicious respite [but wait – there’s more!]). Most cues are short, in the one-to-two minute range, with a few exceptions such as the powerful, massively resonant conclusive finale at nearly four-and-a-half, and the six-minute “Origin of the Jack/Dead Woman Walking.” The latter proffers an increasing sense of panic as the origin story of the Jack in the Box is revealed midway into the film. Overall this is an excellent horror score both in its fear/fright factor and its more worrisome, hesitant tonalities, working very well to maximize the film’s effectiveness and providing an enjoyable growing tension. See more details and sample some of the tracks at Howlin’ Wolf Records.
JULIA/Jeff Danna/WaterTower - digital WaterTower Music has released the soundtrack to JULIA, an HBO Max original comedy series inspired by Julia Child’s extraordinary life and her long-running television series, “The French Chef,” which pioneered the modern cooking show. Memorably portrayed here by Sarah Lancashire and with an excellent supporting cast, this series makes a fine companion to the 2021 documentary JULIA scored by Rachel Portman (see here). Jeff Danna provides a delightful piano-based score for the series which makes for an engaging listen on its own. On how he chose to sum up history’s most famous Food personality in a musical theme, Danna offered: “that was indeed the challenge posed to me by (JULIA Executive Producer and Showrunner) Chris Keyser and (JULIA Executive Producer and Creator) Daniel Goldfarb’s brilliant and warm showcase of Julia Child’s early years on television. The answer I arrived at was the tune that we hear throughout this series.” It is a tune,” continued the composer, “that is sometimes hurrying along, sometimes strutting with a swagger, sometimes leaking out with emotional resonance. I chose a sound that was somewhat vintage – it is 1962 after all – and able to live comfortably next to the source music selections from that era – but also, hopefully, a timeless melody that resonates as Julia Positivity anytime we hear it.” Provided in a variety of iterations, Danna’s dexterous theme is also given a jazzy-pop intonation (“Queen of Sheba Cake”), for solo violin, accordion, and accompaniment (“Julia & Simca Collaborate”), tentative pizzicato and jazz piano (“A Trial Episode”), sophisticated elegance (“The WGBH Waltz”), a tango deliciouso (“Coq Au Vin-Tango”), a thrilling scherzo (“Today's the Day!”), a decidedly French touch to cuisine (“Mousse à la Framboise”) and a pleasing reprise (“To Bigger and Better Things Ahead”), which nicely concludes the program. More tentative dramatic numbers like “The Doctor's Office,” a melancholy love theme with “Paul & Julia,” a festive welcome in “Julia's New Kitchen,” the dour glum of “Room Service,” and the heartache of “Pop Died,” render honest emotive drama. Danna’s JULIA is a completely entrancing score which brings the character and what she brought to the American public, through her debut cookbook and her subsequent television programs, to life in a very affecting and complimentary way. The 17-track JULIA soundtrack is now available for streaming and digital purchase at these links.
Listen to the track “Queen of Sheba Cake” from the JULIA soundtrack:
NOTRE-DAME BRÛLE/Simon Franglen/Pathe via Sony/Milan – digital/CD via Amazon.fr On April 15, 2019, just before 6:20 PM Parisian time, a major fire broke out beneath the roof of the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, one of France’s most famous landmarks. The 850-year-old Gothic building’s spire and roof collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, were saved. By the time the structure fire was extinguished, the building’s spire had collapsed, most of its roof had been destroyed and its upper walls were severely damaged. Extensive damage to the interior was prevented by its stone vaulted ceiling, which largely contained the burning roof as it collapsed. From director Jean-Jacques Annaud (THE NAME OF THE ROSE, SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET, ENEMY AT THE GATES, WOLF TOTEM) comes NOTRE-DAME ON FIRE, a film dramatizing, from the inside, the Notre-Dame de Paris fire of April 2019, retracing how heroic men and women put their lives on the line to accomplish an awe-inspiring rescue, mixing dramatization with newsreel footage of the fire. The 26-track orchestral score is a powerful work, reflecting the struggles of the workmen and the French firefighters in extinguishing the fire. Franglen, a former James Horner associate who took over scoring 2016’s THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN after Horner’s death early in production in 2015, has a clear influence from his mentor in his recent scores, the action thriller PEPPERMINT and the Chinese historical drama THE CURSE OF TURANDOT. With NOTRE-DAME BRÛLE, Franglen provides an excellent score, undoubtedly chosen by Annaud whose previous two films (2011’s DAY OF THE FALCON and 2015’s WOLF TOTEM) were scored by Horner. Franglen’s score utilizes melodic instrumentation from orchestra and choir, opening with the arrival of workmen earlier in the day (“The Workmen Arrive” tenders a rich phrasing from orchestra and segues into images of the crews starting to work within the huge 12th Century landmark structure), the music suggests a typical workday until darkening in “Through the Roof” as fire is reported, and the music turns tentative and worrisome, and almost mournful for what is about to happen. An initial “False Alarm” is caused when erroneous reports misdirect where the smoke is coming from within the massive Cathedral roof; the music hurries on, urgently and percussively, as a guard investigates the wrong location; and then “The Fire Starts” in earnest, and Franglen’s score is deadly serious, a musical conflagration rising as Notre Dame burns. (review continues below)
Listen to the track “The Steeple Falls” from NOTRE-DAME BRÛLE:
The film then focuses on various teams of firefighters and other responders and responsible persons doing what they can to extinguish the fire; from the Parisian firefighters (“Les pompiers”), drone operators (“The Drone Squad” – which provided assessment from above the Cathedral, as the fire was too big for helicopters and firefighter aircraft to get close), and various other situations and events that occurred during the blaze (fire apparatus deluge guns were used at lower-than-usual pressures to minimize damage to the cathedral and its contents; water was also supplied by fireboats pumping from the Seine). The biggest damage to the structure occurred when the building’s spire, rotted over water damage during previous years, collapsed inward and slammed into the bottom of the structure, which Franglen scores like a moment from a horror movie (“The Steeple Falls”); “Above and Below” recognizes the danger of molten lead falling from the roof and causing danger to firefighters; “Entering the Belfry” accompanies fire crews who, after the collapse of the spire, abandoned attempts to extinguish the roof and concentrated on saving the towers, fighting from within and between the towers.
Cues like the poignant, angelic “Crown of Thorns” also serve to recognize the efforts of cathedral workers to rescue and preserve significant holy relics that were endangered by the fire. The score accommodates these elements with strident orchestration that energizes the firefighting endeavors and creates an ongoing sense of tension, regret towards what has been lost, and ultimate relief that much of the Cathedral was spared from destruction and no loss of life occurred; remarkably, the fire was brought under control within three and a half hours (9:45 PM), although final extinguishment and overhaul took much longer. Franglen’s “The Fire Is Out” and his majestic “End Titles” echoes both heroism and relief. This score might be considered Simon Franglen’s TOWERING INFERNO – it’s that type of disaster film, albeit derived from an actual event; and the score intensifies the drama, the efforts of workers, firefighters, clerics, and others who helped keep the fire from being worse that it was. The digital soundtrack is available from Amazon; the French CD version is in stock as of this writing from Amazon.fr; US Amazon CD lists extended shipping for this item.
For more details about the Notre Dame fire itself, see Wikipedia.
Listen to the “End Titles” from NOTRE-DAME BRÛLE:
OPERATION: MINCEMEAT/Thomas Newman/Lakeshore - digital OPERATION MINCEMEAT is the soundtrack from the Netflix series featuring music by Academy Award-nominated, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning composer Thomas Newman (SKYFALL, BRIDGE OF SPIES). Directed by John Madden and starring Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, and Penelope Wilton, the film tells the incredible story of how the Allies conned the Nazis using a dead body. Operation Mincemeat is a new historical war movie based on amazing true-life events where two intelligence officers used a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops in 1943 during World War II. During these events, the Allies are determined to launch an all-out assault on Fortress Europe. But they face an impossible challenge: to protect a massive invasion force from entrenched German firepower and avert a potential massacre. Speaking about the plot, director John Madden said: “In the context of WW2 narratives, the story of Operation Mincemeat is unique – a bizarre and seductive cinematic blend of high-level espionage and ingenious fiction, where the stakes could hardly be higher.” The actual events of the real Operation Mincemeat were depicted in Operation Heartbreak, a 1950 novel by the former cabinet minister Duff Cooper, before one of the intelligence officers who planned and carried out Mincemeat, Ewen Montagu, wrote a history in 1953. Montagu’s work formed the basis for the 1956 British film THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS, while the current film is more specifically based on Ben Macintyre’s 2021 book Operation Mincemeat. (review continues below)
Watch the OPERATION MINCEMEAT Trailer:
Thomas Newman’s score is understated, suspenseful, echoing the crucial necessity of succeeding with the operation, while also recognizing the sheer audacity of the subterfuge concept. The music embodies the composer’s predilection for intense dramatic moments contrasted against more nuanced subtleties, using an effective mixture of orchestral percussion treatments and electronics that provides a kind of ticking-clock urgency throughout the story, and a reminder that the plan could very easy go snafu at any moment. Opening with “Submarine Rises,” a tentative piano measure sets the stage for danger and suspense; growing with string figures and assertive brass gestures, elements which will remain the mainstay for the score, providing a palpable atmosphere, energy, and urgency to the subterfuge (“Room 13” is another example). “Gulf of Cadiz” reprises somewhat the opening track, with delicate, tentative piano notes over sustained, flowing tonalities. “War Hero” sets the stage for the subterfuge as the delicate stand-in is dressed and prepared for his moment in the op. Delicate woodwinds enhance “Last Lovely Golden Day” with a pleasing sonority just before the plan goes into effect; a very pretty composition that fades away into worry at its end. “Haversack Ruse” continues the plan, treated with strident piano and reverberant guitar or mandolin notes; a variance repeated, with darker tonalities added, in “Holy Loch,” while “Fishwife” offers a suspenseful, double pianistic treatment. “Briefcase in Madrid” is a rumbling mix of percussive guitar elements and exuding tendrils of synth pitches, creating a strong sense of anxiety as the operation gets underway, while “Our Story Begins” reestablishes the wiry tonal tinges of the previous track. Tension advances its’ sweaty brow in “The Burial is Set” with a rumbling cadence of low piano fingering offsetting higher tickled notes, apprehension oozing out of each key. “Dangerous Waters” drifts in with a troublesome mix of uncertain piano notes and an intricate solo viola melody that ends up being rather soothing; then “A Missing Eyelash” threatens to put a kibosh on the plan as Newman provokes some rapid-fingered piano notes that are taken by desperate string strokes over a rumbling electronica; a worry that is carried over into “Fifth Column” which imposes growing electronic pads and worrisome whorls of timbre, opening into harshly driven, reverberating string notes over a muted cluster of muffled electronica. The longest track, at 6:09, is the title cue, which takes much of what has gone before and develops it into a massive sonic conflict that will ultimately determine the outcome of the war if the plan succeeds… or not. The following “Limited Casualties” announces with relief the outcome, with gentle waves of assurance; “Fallen Soldier” is an elegant solo piano piece, essentially a tribute to the man, whoever he was, whose remains fooled the German army. “Personal and Most Secret” concludes the score with most of the score’s elements reintroduced, with a rising melisma joining the electronic tonalities that conclude the score and keep its secrets safe… for a time. The score also provides some attractive and apropos period source music, like the vocal dance song “I'm Gonna Get Lit up” and the festive dance band number, “Peckin’.” Overall it’s a captivating score whose rhythms and intonations drive a fascinating story and make for a very provocative and enjoyable listening experience. The two-hour plus film has been released theatrically to cinemas in Europe, although the same presentation will be converted into a mini-series on Netflix in the US, beginning May 11th.
Listen to the track “The Burial Is Set” from OPERATION MINCEMEAT:
PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK Season 2/Brandon Campbell/
Milan Records – digital Milan has released a new streaming/digital soundtrack album for the Netflix original anime series PACIFIC RIM: THE BLACK, featuring selections of the original score from the show’s second season composed by Brandon Campbell (THE LETTER FOR THE KING, SLENDER MAN, STORYTELLERS, THE THINNING, AMAZING STORIES), who also scored the first season last year. This season tells the continuing story, after Kaiju ravage Australia, of two siblings as they try to make their way to Sydney base, piloting a Jaeger to search for their parents, fighting against the Kaijus, seedy characters, and chance allies they encounter along the way. The show still focuses on the general plot of the original films: a race of monsters known as Kaiju have taken over Australia, and the siblings are one of the few survivors on the continent. Milan released the first season soundtrack featuring the composer’s music last year. As he did with the first season, Campbell provides an elegant and quite immersive thematic structure for the series. The storyline progresses into the new season with a powerfully orchestrated mix of thunderous gravitas, eloquent vocalise, and guitar-driven melodies backed by orchestral flavors. The music fits the size of the Jaegers in the animated landscape as well as the predicaments and challenges faced by the siblings, with a number of poignant melodic moments, particularly in the penultimate track, “Out of the Black” and the sturdy conclusion of “Back 2 Black.”
Listen to the track “Out of the Black”
THE SOUND OF VIOLET/Conrad Pope/Morning Star Music - digital Conrad Pope, usually very busy as an admired orchestrator, conductor, and additional music composer for John Williams, Alexandre Desplat, Howard Shore, Danny Elfman and others, has stepped back into composition with a fine score for THE SOUND OF VIOLET, a new film written and directed by Allen Wolf, based on his own novel. The film stars Cason Thomas as Shawn and Cora Cleary as Violet, and tells the story of a man who believes he found his perfect soulmate, but his autism keeps him from realizing she’s actually a prostitute looking for a ticket out of her trapped life. Alan Ng’s review of the film in Film Threat properly sets the stage for what the movie does and what the score needs to do to support it, and I think it’s valuable to quote some of it “It is Violet’s narrative where THE SOUND OF VIOLET spends most of its dramatic capital. What starts as an account of a prostitute milking every last dollar from Shawn slowly shifts to a cautionary tale about human trafficking... Violet is not a freelance call girl but owes a never-ending debt to Anton. If you do minimal research on sex trafficking, you’ll know this ‘debt’ is how thousands of girls and women are forever enslaved to their pimps and traffickers until they are no longer helpful… Once I understood what side of the spectrum THE SOUND OF VIOLET fell on, I was in. The tale plays out like a romance novel in many aspects. Shawn’s Autism is what makes him the only person in the world to see Violet for who she truly is: a person in trouble and in need of love. His faith comes into play as the deeply religious Ruth only sees a prostitute, while Shawn sees Violet’s potential for redemption.”
Conrad’s score beautifully captures these nuances, providing a deliciously crafted light romantic flavor that both follows the story with vivid string section, solo piano, and pizzicato and recognizes the challenges that lie beneath the simple romantic flavor of the story as he musically portrays the would-be couple from initial meeting through dating, troubles, and ultimate resolution. It’s essentially monothematic, with a single motif carrying us through the storyline, with Pope’s mastery of instrumental variation, arrangement, and orchestration keeping the melody constantly shifting, renewed, and invigorating. He maintains a positive edge on the score until secrets come to the fore, when the music identifies shadows that interrupt Shawn’s confidence.
As doubts sink in, the score turns a darker corner with “Beneath The Surface,” which harbors a somber tonality from low strings and oboe, as do the bleak uneasiness of “Violet’s Secrets” and “No Way Out,” the latter concluding with percussive piano and associated muted bonging hits. “Escape Attempt” proffers a cheerless solo horn motif over sustained strings or synth pad, opening up with brighter violins at its end, and when Shawn discovers “The Truth About Violet” the music sets up a percussive, clacky rhythm reprising the horn solo from the previous cue, but after that a romantic resonance among Shawn and Violet clears things up and the score returns to its romantic presentation, climaxing with the assurance of “Grandma’s Theme,” which aids the couple in finding their way, followed by the fully orchestral passion of “Proposal” and “New Beginning.” The score proper concludes with “United,” which briefly riffs in its piano midsection a few notes from “Amazing Grace” before Pope reprises his main theme with a splendidly voiced version over the “End Credits” – which recognizes the struggle involved in the romance of the characters and delights in their impassioned victory. This is a magnificent score which submerges the viewer into its passion and pain while tugging on the heartstrings in a very honest and emotive way. The CD concludes with the song “You Could Be Anywhere,” written by Brandon Heath, Andrew Belle, and Jon Guerra and sung by Heath. The soundtrack is available via Amazon and other digital retailers. For more information on Conrad, see his website.
Listen to the film’s title music:
THE WEATHER MAN/Hans Zimmer/La-La Land Records, 2022 - CD La-La Land Records and Paramount Pictures proudly present the world premiere release of acclaimed composer Hans Zimmer’s original motion picture score to the 2005 dramatic comedy THE WEATHER MAN, starring Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine and Hope Davis, and directed by Gore Verbinski. Cage plays a Chicago weather man, separated from his wife and children, who debates whether professional and personal success are mutually exclusive. The score is mostly composed by Hans Zimmer, aided in several tracks by co-composer James S. Levine; other tracks are composed by or co-composed with Zimmer’s music team at the time, Clay Duncan, Heitor Pereira, David Baerwald, Melissa Muik, Martin Tillman, and Ryeland Allison, with director Verbinski and some others also playing in the group. The music is largely percussive in nature, from gongs, bells, synths, and keyboards, with a somewhat flowing, meditative tonality echoing the emotions of the storyline. Much of the score was created by Zimmer and his associates during jam sessions, which provides an interesting modern and reflective temperament. “The result was music that went against any concept or idea of what a character drama score should be,” wrote music journalist Kaya Savas in his album notes. “The score became a huge part of the film’s emotional core, and today is still one of the most distinctive and emotionally stirring scores to come from Hans.” In its forward motion, rhythms, and moody reflections, THE WEATHER MAN’s score creates an immersive sonic fascination, a layering that both registers and carries the inner sentiments of Cage’s weather man while echoing a unique jam session feeling that makes the music highly repeatable in this presentation. The bulk of Savas’ notes consist of an extensive 17-page interview with Zimmer, Verbinski, and members of the music team, which further explain the inspiration and intent of this unique and captivating score. See LaLaLand for sample tracks and purchasing details.
The 67th?presentation of Ivor Novello Awards at?The Ivors with Apple Music?take place at the Grosvenor House, London on Thursday May 19, 2022. The Ivors are a celebration of outstanding songwriting and composing and are widely recognized as a pinnacle of creative musical achievement. Nominees are judged by award-winning songwriters and composers from The Ivors Academy. Here are the 2022 nominees for film, television, and video music:
BEST ORIGINAL FILM SCORE
AFTER LOVE - composed by Chris Roe
CENSOR - composed by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch
LAST NIGHT IN SOHO - composed by Steven Price
SPENCER - composed by Jonny Greenwood
THE WORLD TO COME - composed by Daniel Blumberg
BEST ORIGINAL VIDEO GAME SCORE
MARVEL’S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - composed by Richard Jacques
OMNO - composed by Benedict Nichols
RETURNAL - composed by Bobby Krlic
BEST TELEVISION SOUNDTRACK
BLITZ SPIRIT WITH LUCY WORSLEY - composed by Jessica Dannheisser
LANDSCAPERS - composed by Arthur Sharpe
ROBIN ROBIN - composed by Ben Please and Beth Porter
THE OUTLAWS - composed by Stew Jackson and Dan Jones
THE SERPENT - composed by Dominic Scherrer
The winners of this year’s ASCAP Screen Music Awards and Composers’ Choice Awards have been announced. The awards honor ASCAP Composers and songwriters for their work during the 2021 calendar year. From Bear McCreary (FOUNDATION, THE WALKING DEAD) to Giorgio Moroder (QUEEN OF THE SOUTH) to Yair Elazar Glotman and Lucy Railton (FALSE POSITIVE), this year’s list of honorees reflect “the new golden age of streaming television.” Read the full list of winners at ASCAP online.
The Screen Composers Guild of Canada is pleased to announce the creation of the Canadian Screen Music Awards. Ten awards will be presented on September 21, 2022 highlighting the significant value that original music contributes to the screen. The Canadian Screen Music Awards are open to all Canadian and Permanent Resident composers. Nominees and winners in various categories are chosen by our juries and honored by the SCGC for their outstanding work in the media and screen based industries. For more details, see https://screencomposers.ca/awards/
In October 2022, Film Fest Ghent brings the cream of the international film music crop together in Ghent again, this time in Muziekcentrum De Bijloke, for the award ceremony of the 22nd World Soundtrack Awards. The festival is delighted to announce Mark Isham as guest of honor. The Brussels Philharmonic, conducted by maestro Dirk Brossé, will play a selection of works by Mark Isham and by Nainita Desai (winner of the Discovery of the Year Award 2021) during the presentation of the film music awards; Film Fest Ghent will also dedicate its annual Music for Film album to Mark Isham’s body of work, performed by the Brussels Philharmonic and conducted by Dirk Brossé; Mark Isham himself will play the trumpet. The album will be released in the run-up to the 22nd World Soundtrack Awards. On his invitation to be guest of honor, Isham said: “I am very grateful to be honored by the WSA this year. This is such a highly respected organization who does so much to support and promote the art of film composition. It will be a great treat to perform and take part in all of the events.”
Film music composer, orchestrator, reconstructionist, and conductor extraordinaire Leigh Phillips has launched a new project on Kickstarter to newly record two of Jerry Goldsmith’s television episode scores from the 1962 GE Theater ,“The Bar Mitzvah of Major Orlovsky” and “Sarah's Laughter.” These will be the first two of a proposed series of episode scores composed by the renowned composer from his early days in Hollywood. “I’m seeking your assistance into breathing new life into several short scores in the form of an ongoing project concentrating on the General Electric Theatre TV series,” Phillips says in the video describing the Kickstarter campaign. “To keep contributions and costs at a manageable level, the plan is to run a series of mini-Kickstarter campaigns with the purpose of recording each of the individual episode scores as they meet their respective funding goals. Using this approach, we will record as many Goldsmith scores as backers choose to support.” The recordings will be made by ensembles from the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, which has a long history of film music re-recordings. If this is successful, the idea is to move straight on to raising funds for the next score in the series (using any additional monies against the cost of the 2nd recording), and simply keep going until the series either stalls, or we capture all of the scores available/known. This project has been funded and the recording session is scheduled for May 27th. For more information or to contribute to the campaign, see the Kickstarter page here – and watch Leigh’s video on the page for more details.
Intrada has announced a colorful 2-CD expanded action score from James Horner, of his music for JUMANJI, the wildly successful 1995 fantasy jungle-adventure franchise. Based on the 1981 children’s book and its sequel, Zathura, by Chris Van Allsburg, the media franchise has spawned four feature films (1995’s JUMANJI, 2005’s ZATHURA, 2017’s JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE and 2019’s JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL, as well as an animated television series which aired from 1996 to 1999. The 1995 movie, directed by Joe Johnston and headlined by Robin Williams along with Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt, Jonathan Hyde, and Bebe Neuwirth, begins with a game, players make their moves, the pieces snap into place… and incredible adventures result: giant mosquitos, wild monkeys, animals on the rampage, man-eating plants all become real! Buried within is moving tale of boy lost inside from years past, now freed in the present. Matching the story note for note is Horner’s florid, exciting symphonic score. Mysterious ideas suddenly become frantic, action-filled romps, gentle moments become thundering musical outbursts. The generous 51-minute 1995 album of highlights is now expanded from the original digital scoring session masters, includes previously unreleased gems such as “Store Mayhem,” “Mosquito In Car,” Plant Almost Eats Peter,” and several other cues. For details see Intrada.
Composer Natalie Holt (Marvel’s LOKI) has been revealed as the composer for the forthcoming Disney+ series, OBI-WAN KENOBI. She is the first woman to score a live-action STAR WARS project. Holt spoke exclusively with Vanity Fair about what fans can expect to hear when OBI-WAN KENOBI debuts on May 27: “I think it’s an emotional score, and it does have its roots in the STAR WARS tradition a little more than THE MANDALORIAN does. We had a collection of 250 horns and flutes, and I used this hunting horn in the score. We’re also blending the orchestra with some more modern synth sounds as well. It’s definitely what we’re used to and a few new elements.”
Holt’s score will also incorporate cultural musical influences from the world in which the series takes place, like John Williams’ use of a Dixieland piece for the Mos Eisley Cantina scene in STAR WARS. “It’s taking things that we are familiar with on Earth and giving them a twist,” Holt said. “There are some new worlds that we are introduced to [in OBI-WAN KENOBI]. Coming up with the sound…each world has its own character.”
Read the full Vanity Fair interview here.
Italian film composer, flutist, and music producer Kristian Sensini announces a new music project called A Blurred Glass. “This project was born as a failure – it was originally a rejected soundtrack for a film,” Sensini said. “But I am very proud of this music and I transformed this failed project into something else, something better.” A Blurred Glass is an album for string quartet and electronics, with a focus on the sound of synthesizers of the ‘60s and ‘70s. “For this album I decided to collaborate with some Ukrainian musicians and to get them recorded in a studio near Odessa. I think it is essential at this time to support our colleagues and all those who work, or try to do so, in the artistic field in such a complex situation. The musicians involved in the project are Alexey Zavgorodniy, violin and viola, Kateryna Mytrofanova, cello, with recording by Oleh Mytrofanov. “The sound of this record reflects the last years of life at home, almost hidden from each other,” Sensini explained. “It is ‘chamber’ music in its primary meaning, music that is designed to be performed and listened to in the intimacy of the home. It is a record recorded at home, albeit with musicians who are hundreds of kilometers away from each other.” The proceeds from the sales, once the costs of the musicians have been covered, will go to charities in support of Ukrainian refugees. For more details and to order digital or CD, see https://www.kristiansensini.com/blurredglass/
Endeavor Content & Lakeshore Records will release a soundtrack album for the Apple TV+ anthology series ROAR. The show is an upcoming anthology series from Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, the creators of GLOW. It's based on the 2018 short story collection of the same name by Cecelia Ahern, and the 8-episode series. Each story in the collection is about women’s experiences and how women navigate through other’s perceptions of them as well as their own. Highlighting what it means to be a woman, these stories are considered “darkly comic feminist fables”; the series premiered on Apple TV+ April 15. The album features selections of the original music from the show’s first season composed by Isobel Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Emma, Munich: The Edge of War, The Phantom of the Open). – via filmmusicreporter and other sources
Intrada has released a 2-CD set of Miklos Rozsa’s final soundtrack, DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID, in honor of Rozsa’s 115th birthday (April 18, 1907). Director Carl Reiner directs Steve Martin in this 1982 homage to film noir, replete with murder, mystery, and romance. Rachel Ward co-stars in what is partly a collage film, incorporating clips from 19 vintage films which have been combined with new footage of Martin and other actors similarly shot in black-and-white, with the result that the original dialogue and acting of the classic films become part of a completely different story. “In signature fashion, Rozsa writes an angular motif for the suspense in the movie, full of interval leaps and intensity,” notes the label. “Getting equal attention in the other direction is his warm, ravishing love theme, itself full of dips and swirls. Both ideas permeate the score throughout with a degree of forward motion and pace.” CD 1 contains Rozsa’s entire 62-minute score, while CD 2 presents additional scoring cues and alternates. For details and to order, see Intrada. The label also offers the first-time on CD edition of Laurence Rosenthal’s magnificent Academy Award-nominated soundtrack to 1964’s historical drama BECKET, which chronicles the friendship/rivalry between Saxon bishop Thomas Becket and Henry II of England during the 12th century. See details here.
Gardener Recordings has released RUSSIAN DOLL: Seasons 1 & 2 (Music from the Netflix Original Series), coinciding with the April 20th Season Two launch on Netflix. Composed by Joe Wong – who has worked on some of Netflix’s biggest hits including MASTER OF NONE and the TO ALL THE BOYS… franchise, and their critically lauded THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL – the album consists of his dream-like original score with highlights from the breakout first season and the highly anticipated second season. The series follows Nadia (Natasha Lyonne), a cynical young woman in New York City who keeps dying and returning to the party that’s being thrown in her honor on that same evening. She tries to find a way out of this strange time loop. Season Two is set four years after Nadia and Alan saved each other and escaped the time loop in Season One – but now they’re stuck in a new kind of loop. This season, Nadia and Alan discover an unexpected time portal that sends them both on an era-spanning adventure through the past. The two must search for a way out of the loop together. “In many ways, we think of RUSSIAN DOLL as a musical, with the score serving to bridge and guide us through the rollercoaster of Nadia’s puzzle box adventure,” notes Natasha Lyonne, the show’s co-creator and star. “With the new season, we knew we wanted to use the investigative beats of the season one cues as a jumping off point to an ever more dense and psychedelic landing. The soundscape also allows us time to sit with some of the higher concept moments in the hopes of making them feel personal to the viewer’s life experience.”
“The score to RUSSIAN DOLL is constructed much like the eponymous nesting doll,” notes Wong. “I developed a series of leitmotifs which can function alone or nested inside one another, resulting in fugue-like cues. This season, our characters time-travel to historical Hungary, as well as 1980s New York. When deciding on the musical palette for this season, I imagined the sound of a Lisztian figure transported a hundred years into the future. This episode–the season finale–contains an intermingling of all of the main themes from both seasons, imagined through this sonic lens.” Of her collaboration with Wong, Lyonne adds, “It’s always such a joy to get to watch Joe work – he’s like a one man Jughead band. My only hope is that someday I get to see him work with a full orchestra as we bring our next joint project to life.” The album is available at these links.
Listen to the track “Mother Lode” from RUSSIAN DOLL Season 2:
Music Box Records announces a remastered edition of two Georges Delerue soundtracks on one CD: UN HOMME AMOUREUX (A Man in Love, 1987) and PREMIER VOYAGE (First Voyage, 1980). The first film, a romantic drama, stars Peter Coyote and Greta Scacchi in a story about an American film-star and an unknown British actress who meet on set in Rome eventually have a passionate relationship. Delerue’s score, resolutely melodic, accompanies the characters’ passion, revealing the strength of their feelings but also their frailty. The main theme, dominated by a Sicilian rhythm, slowly unfurls its broad melody entrusted to the strings, while separate themes associated with Jane (Scacchi; a soft, sad motif for oboe and flute) and Steve (Coyote, a melancholy piece played by a flute and strings). Nadine Trintignant’s sixth feature film, PREMIER VOYAGE is a road movie narrating the adventure of a brother and sister – played by the filmmaker’s own children, Marie and Vincent. The main theme develops a slow melody played on the zither by the famous soloist Monique Rollin and sounds rather like a music box, playing over and over in the young protagonists’ memory and bringing their lost childhood back to them. The CD includes a 12-page CD booklet with French and English liner notes by Sylvain Pfeffer, and is a limited edition of 700 units.
A second release from the label offers a World Premiere CD release of two original motion picture scores for Costa-Gavras films: SECTION SPÉCIALE (Special Section, 1975) composed by Éric Demarsan and CLAIR DE FEMME (Womanlight, 1979) composed by Jean Musy. The cynical humor that pervades the first film inspired the composer to write a main theme in the shape of an old-fashioned and light-hearted waltz, a perfect evocation of the parody of justice implemented by the Vichy government during World War II. The score also features percussive tracks with tense strings, and melodic pieces with romantic flute. For CLAIR DE FEMME, Jean Musy wrote three themes that emphasize the loneliness and emotional distress of the two main characters (Yves Montand and Romy Schneider). The touching, slow melody of the main theme is played on the panpipes. The album is rounded out by some pieces of source music and a lively pop version of Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor that gives a sparkly touch of color to this grief-ridden movie. Both scores have been fully remastered from the original master tapes. The package includes a 12-page booklet featuring exclusive liner notes by writer Sylvain Pfeffer discussing the films and the scores, based on new comments by Demarsan and Musy on their collaboration with Costa-Gavras. This release is limited to 300 units. For details see MusicBoxRecords.
Karl Frid is a Swedish composer, arranger, and producer, who composed the original music for NEON’s upcoming drama, PLEASURE. The Sundance Film Festival favorite will be released in U.S. theaters on May 13th. The story is told from the female gaze, a refreshing take that immediately intrigued Karl because it challenged him to find the right tonality and musical universe for the film. The music needed to accompany the viewer throughout the main character’s journey with open eyes and an open mind without it being generic or diminishing her experience and observations. To encompass this, Frid created a score that alternates between sacred opera and hardcore hip hop, a dichotomy echoing the conflict at the heart of Bella Cherry’s journey. Opera is symbolic of Bella finding her inner-voice and affirming her self-image and also sheds light on how the male gaze determines how a women should be or sound during coitus, according to patriarchal structures. For the choral-based tracks, he enlisted soprano Caroline Gentele, who he attributes as his muse on the score. Milan has released two lead singles from the album, the operatic “Confutatis” (see below), featuring Caroline Gentele, and the operatic/hip-hop mix “Hard to the Core” (feat. Mapei & Caroline Gentele); the full album arrives on Friday, May 13, and includes a mix of both original vocal tracks and instrumentals composed by Frid for the film – it can be pre-ordered here.
Listen to the track Confutatis:
Lionsgate presents THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, starring Omar Epps, Will Catlett, Glynn Turman, and Curtiss Cook in a story about a man who, after a lifetime of trouble, has the chance to turn things around with the love and support of his family. As he tries to do right, he finds himself spiraling back into the dark place he overcame. Written and directed by Charles Murray, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW evokes the questions: Am I my brother’s keeper? And at what cost? The score is composed by Chris Joyner, a Los Angeles native who has a reputation as one of the music industry’s go-to pianists and keyboardists. He previously scored Charles Murray’s A COLD HARD TRUTH (2019)
La-La Land Records’ releases for early May are Thomas Newman’s FLESH & BONE (1993 romantic mystery), expanded and remastered, and John Frizzell’s BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA (1996 animated comedy), also expanded and remastered. Both CDs are limited editions of 1000 units.
James Nunn has directed SHARK BAIT, a new underwater horror/survival thriller about a group of spring-breakers vacationing in Mexico who decide to steal a couple of jet skis, racing them out to sea and ending up in a terrifying head-on collision causing one of the jet skis to sink and the other broken down. They struggle to find a way home with a badly injured friend while at the mercy of a bloodthirsty shark… Walter Mair has composed the film’s score, which he described in a Facebook post: “The Scoring process consisted of several parts: recording of dark and unique sounding textures, performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra, recording of a lush orchestra for the more epic scenes in the film with Fames Project – Orchestral Music, spiced up with plenty of electronic instruments and vintage effects, as well as a thorough drum recording session.”
Johan Söderqvist (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, KON-TIKI, THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE, THE LAST VERMEER) has composed the music for the Netflix limited series ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL, a British anthology drama series developed by David E. Kelley and Melissa James Gibson. It is based on the novel of the same name by Sarah Vaughan. The 6-part thriller centers on a sexual consent scandal amongst British privileged elite and the women caught up in its wake. The soundtrack was released on April 15 by Maisie Music Publishing.
Quartet Records announces two new CD releases devoted to iconic filmmaker Fernando Di Leo – the premiere release of Luis Bacalov’s cult score for DIAMANTI SPORCHI DI SANGUE (aka BLOOD DIAMOND), and a 3-CD with the “insane” trilogy that Di Leo shot in 1969, including the cool scores of AMARSI MALE, BRUCIA RAGAZZO BRUCIA and I RAGAZZI DEL MASSACRO! For details see Quartet.
Set in 1883 Victorian London, DODGER is a new TV series which follows the exploits of the infamous pickpocket, the Artful Dodger, and Fagin’s gang as they find ingenious ways to survive their surroundings and conditions. The score is by Joel Cadbury and Will Harper and is not what one would ordinarily expect for a period drama such as this. “Why can’t a period drama have up-beat rocky sounds to enhance it?” mused journalist Jon Mansell in his review of the score at MovieMusicInternational. “Well, why not indeed? The score for DODGER is a mix of styles, at times we are treated to a jaunty piano solo that takes on a slightly unnerving persona although it sounds comedic as in the cue Fagin’s Waltz, which has to it a wistful almost mischievous lilt.” The soundtrack is available from Back Lot Music via Amazon and other digital/streaming sources. The series premiered in the UK on CBBC and on BBCiPlayer earlier this year. It also recently made its debut on BBC One. Watch the series trailer at filmmusicreporter.
Making its premiere on Netflix is the new Mike Myers comedy series, THE PENTAVERATE, a comedy limited series which is a spin-off of Myers’ 1993 romantic black comedy film, SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER: What if a secret society of five men has been working to influence world events for the greater good since the Black Plague of 1347? As this new series begins, one unlikely Canadian journalist finds himself embroiled in a mission to uncover the truth and just possibly save the world. Remember, The Pentaverate must never be exposed! The series premiered on May 5, 2022 and consists of six episodes. The series features a score by the award-winning English electronic music duo, Orbital (brothers Phil Hartnoll and Paul Hartnoll), who are celebrating their third decade expanding the boundaries of the genre. The album, Orbital’s first full score for TV or film, THE PENTAVERATE is released digitally in the Americas by Lakeshore and the rest of the world by Invada. A vinyl edition is forthcoming. See these links.
Watch the trailer for THE PENTAVERATE:
Lakeshore Records has released Blood Hive, the original score from the Showtime Series, YELLOWJACKETS featuring music by Craig Wedren, best known as the frontman for seminal post-hardcore band Shudder to Think, and Anna Waronker of alt-rock band That Dog, who scored most of the show’s episodes; and composer Theodore Shapiro who composed the music for the show’s pilot. The strikingly sinister score harkens back to the punk, grunge, and garage scenes of the 90’s and provides a darkly ominous backdrop to horror. Equal parts survival epic, psychological horror story, and coming-of-age drama, YELLOWJACKETS is the saga of a team of wildly talented high school girl soccer players who become the (un)lucky survivors of a plane crash deep in the remote northern wilderness. The series chronicles their descent from a complicated but thriving team to savage clans, while also tracking the lives they’ve attempted to piece back together nearly 25 years later, proving that the past is never really past and what began out in the wilderness is far from over. Available at these links.
Lucy Kirkwood’s play MARYLAND, first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London in October 2021, has been adapted into a 30-minute film for television to be shown on BBC Two. The adaptation is a collaboration between Lucy Kirkwood and acclaimed documentary film maker Brian Hill, and the film stars Zawe Ashton, Daniel Mays and Hayley Squires. Nainita Desai has scored the drama film, which follows two ‘Marys’ and a chorus of modern-day furies as they deliver their story of what happens in the wake of various sexual assaults. Said Lucy: “I wrote the play as a howl, a protest against the violence women are forced to reckon with in their everyday lives.”
Nathan Barr has scored A VERY BRITISH SCANDAL, a three-episode historical drama television miniseries, starring Claire Foy and Paul Bettany. The series dramatized the events surrounding the notorious divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll during the 1960s. The same production company, Blueprint Pictures, previously made A VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL (2018), about another British political and sex scandal, the Thorpe affair. The series premiered in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 26 December 2021 and was released on Amazon Prime Video on April 22, 2022.
WaterTower Music has released the soundtrack to SHINING VALE, the Starz Original horror comedy about a dysfunctional family that moves from the city to a small town after Patricia “Pat” Phelps, a former “wild child” who became famous through writing a raunchy female empowerment novel, is caught cheating on her husband. They move into a house in which terrible atrocities have taken place. But no one seems to notice except for Pat, who’s convinced she’s either depressed or possessed – turns out, the symptoms are exactly the same. The SHINING VALE Soundtrack showcases the music of composer Tim Miller. In addition to Miller’s compelling musical offerings, the album offers four songs that showcase vocals from the SHINING VALE cast, from stars Mira Sorvino and Gus Birney. The album is now available from these links.
Listen to the track “Wiccan’s World” from Tim Phillips’ SHINING VALE score:
Steven Bias has scored the forthcoming film FLUFFER, a comedy that takes place in the adult industry. “For the score, we didn’t want to go a typical comedy route or sitcom type music,” Bias told Soundtrax. “I’m a huge fan of Oingo Boingo and 80’s music, in general. So, we decided to pay homage to the new wave movement of the 80s. I had the good fortune to communicate with Richard Gibbs of Oingo Boingo; he was so very kind and we talked about his synth gear and setup for Oingo Boingo. I also wanted to pay homage to Giorgio Moroder, and there are a few cues that go in that direction. I wrote a song with my friend Aeralie Brighton, who also performed it. Her husband, Joren did a great job producing the track and I was channeling Giorgio Moroder and that late seventies, early eighties dance party, neon lights, Beverly Hills glam vibe. It was my first all electronic score and just a real blast to write.” Listen to FLUFFER on AmazonMusic.
Bias has also scored the horror/thriller radio drama with supernatural and cult elements in it, called “The Lowest Deep,” about a religious academy where students go missing. “It reminded me of Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA in some ways,” said Bias. “The director didn’t want any synthesizers or retro anything in the score, so I focused on the female protagonist and really tried to channel her haunted past and her current situation of uncovering the secrets of the school. It was a unique situation: there are no visuals and the voice work and sound fx/design were being done while I was writing the score. The time to compose was a bit compressed, so some days I was writing two or three cues that day. Since synthesizers couldn’t be part of the score’s fabric I had to devise orchestral ideas that were unique to this story. There’s techniques such as heavily processed bass flutes, bass drum effects, weird bells. I also used an instrument called the “Beam” in a few cues. Hans Zimmer used it on THE THIN RED LINE, but it’s employed entirely different here. Since the cues are so short, I’ve decided to expand a few and write some additional cues for scenes, that if in a movie, would have had music. Because it’s a radio drama, we had to be really careful about putting music in scenes that would conflict with the dialog or narration. So, in some ways, it functions like a stage play. The music sets the mood for the scene.”
Canadian digital soundtrack purveyor Disques Cinemusique has recently relaunched its website onto a new server after the discontinuation of its previous online distributor and complications in reloading their entire inventory, which included the need for re-registration of all audio, visual, and metadata material. Almost the entire catalog is now available again on the major stores. For more details, visit their restored website and check the purchase tab for links to online sites that carry their albums – or, for streaming, they suggest deezer, which proves to offer the best value for money with an HD subscription (Flac) cheaper than all its competitors. – via Clément Fontaine/Disques Cinemusique.
STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS premiered this Thursday, featuring main and end title music by Jeff Russo (STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, STAR TREK: PICARD) and episode scores by Nami Melumad (STAR TREK: PRODIGY animated series, the STAR TREK: SHORT TREKS short “Q&A”). I don’t know what the general consensus is but I think it’s premiere episode is one of the best STAR TREK episodes I’ve seen. -rdl
Watch the series trailer:
In other STAR TREK news, Lakeshore Records has released the STAR TREK: PICARD – Season 2 soundtrack, featuring score by Jeff Russo and featuring a cover of the Pat Benatar classic, “Shadows of the Night,” sung by the character Agnes Jurati (Allison Pill) and heard in episode 6, “Two of One” at the Europa mission’s pre-flight gala. A third and final season of the series has already been ordered and is expected to debut in 2023.The 31-track digital album is available at Amazon and other services.
Listen to “Second Chances” from the STAR TREK: PICARD Season 2 Soundtrack:
Lakeshore Records has released MEMORY, the original digital motion picture soundtrack featuring music by composer Rupert Parkes (AKA Photek). Parkes creates ominous tension with haunting electronics and strings above propulsive percussion. Directed by Martin Campbell (CASINO ROYALE), and starring Liam Neeson, Guy Pearce, and Monica Bellucci, the action thriller follows Alex Lewis (Neeson), an expert assassin with a reputation for discreet precision. Caught in a moral quagmire, Alex refuses to complete a job that violates his code and must quickly hunt down and kill the people who hired him before they and FBI agent Vincent Serra (Pearce) find him first. Alex is built for revenge but, with a memory that is beginning to falter, he is forced to question his every action, blurring the line between right and wrong. Notes Parkes: “With the music for MEMORY, there was a great opportunity to cover a few different styles within one score. On one hand I got to apply a very textural electronic palette that was quite dark and abrasive, but there were also moments that called for a more classical thematic approach. I used gated effects to add dynamic tension to the action scenes which I think worked really well in places where I might have previously used fast pulses or percussion. I was able to put a lot of technique into this score and I love how it turned out.” The album is available at these links.
Also from Lakeshore is BANG BANG BABY, a crime drama set in 1986. Alice is sixteen years old and lives in a small town in Northern Italy; her teenage life changes abruptly upon discovering her father, whom she believed dead, is still alive. Out of love for her father, she dives headfirst into the dangerous mob world and becomes seduced by the charm that comes with crime. The soundtrack is composed by Santi Pulvirenti, an Italian musician and composer for film and television who is known for IO C’È (2018), AT WAR WITH LOVE (2016) and THE MAFIA KILLS ONLY IN SUMMER (2013). Available at these links.
Lakeshore Records has also released GASLIT the original series soundtrack featuring music by Emmy Award-winning and Grammy-nominated composer Mac Quayle (MR. ROBOT, AMERICAN HORROR STORY). Quayle mixes dark orchestration with vivid percussion, vibes, and electronics creating a sinister backdrop to the historical Watergate era series based on the acclaimed first season of the “Slow Burn” podcast. Created, produced and written by Robbie Pickering, the series stars Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Dan Stevens, Betty Gilpin, and Shea Whigham, and is now available to watch on all STARZ platforms. Says Quayle: “The score is an attempt to find the musical sweet spot between the absurdity and paranoid anxiety of the characters involved in the Watergate scandal. I combined just a touch of 70’s political thriller with healthy doses of classical, avant garde and ambient styles, then assembled a group of LA’s finest musicians to blow, bow, pluck, strike, strum, and scrape the soundtrack into existence.” Listen/purchase from these links.
MALNAZIDOS is a Spanish zombie action film directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera and Alberto de Toro. Set in the Spanish Civil War during 1938, the appearance of ravenous zombies occurs as a result of the deployment of biological warfare by Nazi Schutzstaffel on the inhabitants of a small village. Republican and Francoist forces temporarily ally with each other to deal with the undead. The movie features Miki Esparbé, Aura Garrido, Luis Callejo, Álvaro Cervantes, Jesús Carroza and María Botto. The film premiered on October 8, 2020, at the 53rd Sitges Film Festival (FICFC) and, after numerous COVID-19 postponements, the movie was released in Spain on March 11, 2022. The film has been scored by Spanish composer Javier Rodero (GHOST GRADUATION, THREE MANY WEDDINGS, SPY TIME, SOMETHING HUGE), who crafted a very good Malnazidos March for his main theme. The digital soundtrack album was released along with the movie by Mira Mi Música and is available to listen or purchase via amazon, or listen to the March on Spotify.
Milan Records has released THE THING ABOUT PAM Original Series Soundtrack by acclaimed composer-duo Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli (THE WITCHER, THE ROMANOFFS). The riveting soundtrack for NBC’s true-crime hit is filled with unique musical subtleties that reflect the lies and deceit of the main protagonist, Pam Hupp, portrayed by two-time Oscar-winner Renée Zellweger. The limited event series is based on the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria that resulted in her husband Russ’ conviction, although he insisted on his innocence and was later exonerated. This brutal crime set off a chain of events that would expose a diabolical scheme deeply involving Pam Hupp. All six episodes of the series are available for streaming on Peacock and Hulu. “Pam tromps through town like a predatory larger-than-life force that will crush anything that comes her way,” said the composers. “Her theme is a motif combined with a predatory march – she's on a mission, marching to the beat of her own drum. The score is melody-driven; however, we chose to surround this melody with particular and absurd instrumental choices as the series of events that unfold in this story are both bizarre and unbelievable. Pam is constantly sipping her Big Gulp, therefore slurping is not just a part of her everyday lifestyle, it became an integral part of her soundtrack. We also added an occasional ‘ka-ching’ sound by sampling a cash register and commissioned an instrument maker to create a combination of a waterphone and daxophone.” The soundtrack is available at these links.
Kurt Farquhar (BLACK LIGHTNING, THE NEIGHBORHOOD, THE PROUD FAMILY: LOUDER AND PROUDER) announced on Facebook that he is scoring the forthcoming Netflix sci-fi/martial arts film ABSOLUTE DOMINION. Set in 2085 A.D. in a world destroyed by religious warfare, global governing forces host a martial arts tournament. The last fighter standing wins Absolute Dominion for one faith. Helmed and written by stunt-woman turned director Lexi Alexander (HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER), the movie stars German model-turned-actor Mia along with Julie Ann Emery, Andy Allo, Alex Winter, Reagan Gomez-Preston, Olunkike Adeliyi and June Carryl. The movie is co-produced by Blumhouse Television. There is no release date yet.
BAFTA-nominated composer Alex Heffes has released Sudden Light, a collection of piano performances of his iconic themes from cinema. Performed entirely by the composer, the album is available Silva Screen Records. Heffes’ music possesses a sense of lyricism that audiences have reacted to, so this collection is a way of consolidating that into a record that people could really enjoy for that quality. Alex has thrown in a few wild cards for a little variety including two ‘Ragtime’ pieces that he wrote for Kevin Wilmott’s THE 24TH (2020): that movie is set in the early years of WWI when this style of piano music was all the rage; Alex wrote a couple of pieces for the character Marie to play on camera. “The Final Letter” is from a film called DEAR FRANKIE (2004); Alex has received many letters over the years from people moved by the childhood theme of the movie and wanting to learn to play the score. He remembers one particular letter from someone who was learning to play it with their father who had dementia as a way of doing something meaningful together.
Back Lot Music has released Daniel Pemberton’s score to THE BAD GUYS, an American computer-animated crime comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film was directed by Pierre Perifel (his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Etan Cohen, and is loosely based on the children's book series of the same name by Aaron Blabey, who serves as an executive producer with Cohen and Patrick Hughes. The film stars the voices of Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Anthony Ramos, Craig Robinson and Awkwafina as a group of criminal animals who, upon being caught, pretend to attempt to reform themselves as model citizens. However, their leader Mr. Wolf, unexpectedly finds himself genuinely drawn to changing his ways, even as a new villain has his own plans. Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz, Lilly Singh, and Alex Borstein also appear in supporting roles. The album is now available from Amazon, Spotify, and other digital music retailers.
DANGEROUS LIAISONS is an upcoming American period drama television series, based upon the novel of the same name by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos about a pair of scheming ex-lovers who attempt to exploit others by using the power of seduction. The series is set to premiere on Starz. British composer Anne Nikitin (THE DROPOUT, FATE: THE WINX WAGA, AMERICAN ANIMALS, THE IMPOSTER) has scored the series.
Endeavor Content announces the release today a new single taken from the Apple TV+ series SEVERANCE: “Music of Wellness” composed by Theodore Shapiro. The track, initially not included in the score album, released digitally February 18 (see musiquefantastique), has been released due to overwhelming demand. The cue appears in Episode 2: “Half Loop,” and is heard as Irv has a wellness check with counselor Ms. Casey. SEVERANCE is Apple TV+’s 9-episode science fiction mystery drama in which the memories of office workers have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives; when a mysterious colleague appears outside of work, it begins a journey to discover the truth about their jobs. Says Shapiro: “Although SEVERANCE can be classified as science-fiction, at its heart it’s a mystery. The music of the score, built around four repeating chords, is a gigantic question mark. As the mystery unfolds, so do variations on our theme.”
The standalone single is now available at these links https://lnk.to/Severance-mow
Latest releases from MovieScore Media include: John Koutselinis’s original score from the 2022 western drama HOSTILE TERRITORY. “It’s always a thrill to be asked to compose thematic material and this was such opportunity in writing music for this film,” said Koutselinis. “The arrangements are multifaceted, although mainly orchestral. Small ensembles depict the beginnings of a new family and, in contrast, full orchestral arrangements reflect the battles taking place in the film, with a few choral moments underlining somber moments.” See an interview with the composer by Jon Mansell about scoring HOSTILE TERRITORY, and more, at MovieMusic International.
Also new from MSM is NINJAS DOWN THE STREET from Dutch composer Matthijs Kieboom. This family adventure comedy is a sequel to the 2020 comedy PIRATES DOWN THE STREET, which Kieboom also scored for van Hoeve, and has to do with neighboring pirates and ninjas in conflict. “This film was such a joy to score, paying homage to the great adventure scores I love, combined with martial arts music and pirate shanties,” said the composer. “Because this is the second installment of the series, my task was to create new themes for the new characters that had to sound good with the themes from the first film. Melodies that could flow from one into another, seamlessly. I continued to use the Nyckelharpa from the first film to represent the pirates. The fiddle like quality of the sound fit that role perfectly. And now, I needed to find an instrument that represented the Ninja’s. I’ve decided to use traditional wind instruments for them, because they are in good contrast with the nyckelharpa, both style & sound, but also because the Ninja’s are as swift as the wind.”
PLUNDER QUEST, Massimo Sammi’s original score from the 2022 adventure comedy, follows Thomas Waters who, after catching wind of valuable prohibition-era whiskey hidden on an island, embarks on a quest for liquid gold and ends up on the priceless adventure of a lifetime. “The director Kalani Hubbard, who’s an excellent musician in his own right, wanted me to represent the youthful and vibrant nature of the main character, with an homage to the classic action-comedy scores of the 80s, so we decided to use an orchestral palette, with fanfares featuring the beautiful live trumpet of Everett Kelly,” said the composer, whose score for this action comedy won the Best Soundtrack Award at the New York International Film Awards and at the Masters Of Cinema International Film Festival. “It was really challenging at first, since I was really pushed out of my comfort zone: I had to score all sort of genres from old school animation-style chase music, to a classic-Hollywood romantic kiss scene with soaring violins, heroic music for drone-shot montages, a tongue-in-cheek picaresque poker game, to the ending bombastic super-hero ostinatos with final build-up.” Read Jon Mansell’s review of the PLUNDER QUEST score at MovieMusicInternational.
Silva Screen UK announces the soundtrack to the ITV mini-series THE THIEF, HIS WIFE, AND THE CANOE. Featuring Bafta-winner Monica Dolan and Eddie Marsan, the series is based on the compelling true story of how John Darwin, together with his wife Anne, perpetrated one of the most elaborate, devastating, and surreal frauds of all time: faking his death in a canoe accident, he lived for five years undetected in a bedsit connected to his wife’s bedroom. The couple reaped the rewards of John’s life insurance and plotted a new life together in Panama, while their two adult sons believed John to be dead. Written by Harry Escott and Ben Pearson, the colorful score is a perfect match for this darkly comic and tragic fable. The music doesn’t shy away from the fantasy, the absurdity, and the painful reality of this coercive marriage and the unforgivable betrayal. For details see Silva Screen.
The eight-episode supernatural crime thriller THE RISING stars Clara Rugaard (I AM MOTHER), Nicholas Gleaves, and William Ash, and features score by BAFTA and Royal Television Society nominated Carly Paradis, a Canadian-born British composer, songwriter and pianist. The series premiered on Sky Max and NOW on April 22; Lakeshore Records issued the digital soundtrack album on the same date. About the series: “Neve Kelly (Clara Rugaard) is dead. Understandably, she’s scared and confused by this new (non) existence, but moreover, when she realizes she has been murdered, she’s furious. Determined to find her killer and get justice, she takes advantage of her new supernatural abilities to go where the police can’t and investigate her own death. In doing so, she uncovers deeply buried secrets and is forced to re-examine everything about her life and the people she cared about.” See the composer’s website here. Watch the series trailer below:
Plaza Mayor have released the soundtrack album to WHERE LIONESSES ROAR, where, in a remote Kosovar village, three young women who feel their dreams have been stifled go on a quest for independence. The film is the fiercely poetic debut of 20-year-old actor-turned–writer and director Luàna Bajrami. Starring are Andi Bajgora as Zem, Jeta’s tagalong boyfriend, and Bajrami herself as Lena, a jeune émigré to France who returns to her homeland with Émile Zola’s L’Assommoir – a pseudo-scientific study of alcoholism and poverty – in tow. The ensemble of newcomers is captured by Hugo Paturel’s dreamy cinematography, while the film is rhythmically paced with Aldo Shllaku’s ethereal score. For more details on the film, see TIFF 2022; the album is now streaming on Spotify and mp3 downloadable via Amazon.
Also new from Plaza Mayor is TOXICA, the moody original motion picture soundtrack by Nir Perlman. The film is Perlman’s first feature length soundtrack, after scoring a handful of shorts. The film, written and directed by Rona Walter (her first feature film after 9 shorts), stars Charlie Blackwood, Grace Henry, Andrew Forbes, and Phillip Ray Tommy and is about an injured stunt woman who is infected by an ancient biological compound when a side job as a private investigator PI goes wrong. Listen to the score on Spotify or purchase from Amazon.
Marvel’s latest, DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS, is now playing in theaters through Walt Disney Pictures. Danny Elfman, rejoining director Sam Raimi (their last collaboration was in 2013’s OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL), has composed the new film’s score, and the digital soundtrack was released by Hollywood Records & Marvel Music on May 4th. In this film, Dr. Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens the doorway to alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary, whose threat to humanity is too great for the combined forces of Strange, Wong, and Wanda Maximoff.
- via filmmusicreporter and other sources.
Decca Records has released the Official Motion Picture Soundtrack to DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA by Emmy-winning composer John Lunn, whose soundtrack retains the distinctive sweeping orchestration and title motifs from the multiple Emmy Award-winning series while celebrating the story’s entrance to a new decade with 1930’s swinging jazz and embracing the glitz of early cinema. Of the new soundtrack, Lunn says: “I’ve been working on DOWNTON ABBEY now for over ten years, but this is the soundtrack that I’m probably most proud of. It’s been a joyous return to working with the director Simon Curtis. Along with reworking familiar and well-loved themes, the new storylines have opened up a whole new vista for me.” The album also embraces the exciting new generation of UK Jazz/Soul artists, featuring award-winning British Jazz and Soul singer Cherise Adams-Burnett, whose honeyed voice shines on tracks “Crazy Rhythm” and “Am I Blue.”
Polydor Records has released Daniel Pemberton’s soundtrack to SLOW HORSES, a 6-episode series spy thriller television series based on the 2010 novel of the same name by Mick Herron. Developed by Will Smith and starring Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jonathan Pryce, Olivia Cooke and Jack Lowden, the film follows British MI5 agent River Cartwright who, after a failed and publicly embarrassing training mission, is exiled to Slough House, an administrative purgatory for the service’s outcasts. In addition to Pemberton’s score, the series’ title track “Strange Game” was performed by the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, who wrote the song exclusively for the show.
The album is in digital download (Amazon/Apple Music). – via AsturScore and other sources.
Interscope Records will release Music From The Motion Picture TOP GUN: MAVERICK on all DSPs and in stores on May 27. Available at all digital retailers, as well on CD, the soundtrack is available for pre-order now here. A Target exclusive CD of the soundtrack will include an exclusive cover and poster and is available for pre-order now. Arriving as one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the year, Paramount Pictures will release the film in theaters nationwide the same day. With a combination of classics from the original film, new music, and score, the album reflects Top Gun’s past, present, and future all at once. It boasts instantly recognizable cuts such as the theme song “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins, while TOP GUN: MAVERICK star Miles Teller recorded a show-stopping live rendition of “Great Balls of Fire” showcased in the film and included on the record. Plus, it features original score tracks by the movie’s composers – Lorne Balfe, Harold Faltermeyer, Lady Gaga, and Hans Zimmer.
CHARLOTTE is an animated drama that tells the true story of Charlotte Salomon, a young German-Jewish painter who comes of age in Berlin on the eve of the Second World War. The world around her is changing quickly and dangerously, limiting her options and derailing her dream. When anti-Semitic policies inspire violent mobs, she leaves Berlin for the safety of the South of France. There she begins to paint again, and finds new love, until a family tragedy reveals an even darker secret. The film is scored by Michelino Bisceglia, a Belgian musician working in the fields of jazz and film music. A digital soundtrack for Bisceglia’s score to CHARLOTTE has been released by Bisceglia Music BV, under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment; the soundtrack is available at these links
Bootleg Universe has released a soundtrack album for the Netflix superhero series THE GUARDIANS OF JUSTICE, featuring the original score composed by Oscillian, a solo project from Sweden featuring future-retro, cinematic, punk, and funky tunes with a nostalgic vibe. The Vol. 1 soundtrack is now available to stream/download on Amazon, Spotify, and other major digital music services. The series is a Netflix Original live action/adult animated mixed media and wild gore superhero television series created, directed, written, and executive produced by Adi Shankar. The series is a satire of DC Comics and the Justice League starring WWE Hall of Famer Diamond Dallas Page as Knight Hawk, a parody of an older grizzled Batman. Co-starring are Sharni Vinson, Derek Mears, Will Yun Lee, Denise Richards, and Jane Seymour. The show revolves around a team of troubled superheroes who must confront festering evil in the world – and in themselves – when their seemingly fearless leader self-destructs. The series premiered this past March and is now available to stream on Netflix. -via filmmusicreporter and other sources.
Listen to the GUARDIANS OF JUSTICE main theme:
MEN is an upcoming folk horror film and is visionary filmmaker Alex Garland’s latest feverish, shape-shifting new horror film. The film stars Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear, and is about Harper (Buckley) who, in the aftermath of a personal tragedy, retreats alone to the beautiful English countryside hoping to have found a place to heal. But someone or something from the surrounding woods appears to be stalking her. What begins as simmering dread becomes a fully-formed nightmare, inhabited by her darkest memories and fears. The film score has been composed by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow; the pair have scored Garland’s previous EX MACHINA, ANNIHILATION and DEVS. Other notable credits include the Netflix series ARCHIVE 81, Ben Wheatley’s FREE FIRE, and Charlie Brooker’s BLACK MIRROR episode, “Men Against Fire.” They’ve also scored three seasons of thriller series HANNA for Amazon Studios and NBC Universal, and the feature LUCE starring Octavia Spencer and Naomi Watts. MEN is scheduled to be released in the United States on May 20, 2022, by A24, and in the United Kingdom on June 1, 2022, by Entertainment Film Distributors. The eerie preview track “The Church” is available now at these links; the full album will be available digitally May 20 via Invada Records & Lakeshore Records
BLACK SITE is a science fiction action-thriller film directed by Sophia Banks as her debut feature film after scoring several shorts. The film stars Jason Clarke, Michelle Monaghan, and Jai Courtney, and was released on May 3, 2022, by Vertical Entertainment and Redbox. The film focuses on an elite military unit encountering a supernatural entity known as the Elder Gods, forcing them into a battle against an army from another world. The film’s music is by Patrick Savage, featuring Holeg Spies. Savage is an Australian-born composer and violinist best known for his collaboration with Holeg on the score for THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE) as well as the genre thrillers SHADOWLAND, HEX, APARTMENT 407, and HECKLE.
The soundtrack album is now available from Lakeshore Records at these links.
Back in 2018 Jeff Beal scored a remarkable documentary called THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM, which not only had a beautifully affecting score, but was a film full of rich beauty and emotion as it told of documentary filmmaker John Chester and his wife Molly, who left their tiny L.A. apartment to face the challenges and rewards of building one of the most diverse farms of its kind in complete coexistence with nature. That film is still available on Hulu and I can’t recommend it highly enough as a provocative, powerful, and affecting journey into creating a farm on 200 acres outside of Los Angeles. The Chesters have now released a 29-minute follow-up, THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM: THE RETURN, now streaming on Disney+, which revisits the creation of Apricot Lane Farms and shows where the farm has developed through today. Beal has provided a new score, partially based on his themes from the original film, and it’s another marvelous and affecting work of art. (FYI: Read my interview with Beal about scoring THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM in my July 2019 column).
Watch & enjoy THE RETURN trailer below:
BODY PARTS is a new documentary scored by Nainita Desai. The docu, which features a great cast including Jane Fonda, Rose McGowan, and Karyn Kusama, viscerally investigates the making of Hollywood “sex” scenes, revealing movie magic processes while candidly exploring the toll on those involved. Using a hybrid storytelling approach, the film traces how a cinematic legacy of exploitation and ingenuity has shaped audiences. Can an authentic, more ethical vision of female sexuality be conveyed? The answers go beyond the gates of the entertainment industry and impacts the world at large. The film will have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this June 8-19.
Composer Blake Neely (ARROW, THE PACIFIC, GREYHOUND THE FLASH) is reteaming with director Ryan White on the upcoming documentary GOOD NIGHT OPPY. The film tells the story of Opportunity, one of NASA’s twin Mars Exploration Rovers, and the connection that grew between the robotic explorer and the people who built and ran it. Industrial Light & Magic created the project’s visual effects. GOOD NIGHT OPPY will premiere this year on Amazon Prime. Neely’s current TV scoring projects include the second season of HBO Max’s THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT, which returned on April 21, as well as continuing seasons of The CW’s current “Arrowverse” series.
- via filmmusicreporter – which see for more details.
PREHISTORIC PLANET is an upcoming five-part nature documentary television series about dinosaurs that will premiere on Apple TV+. From executive producer Jon Favreau with music by Hans Zimmer, the docuseries will debut on Apple TV+ during a five-night event — Monday, May 23 through Friday, May 27 — with a new episode each day. It is produced by the BBC Studios Natural History Unit with visual effects by Moving Picture Company, and is narrated by natural historian David Attenborough. Watch the series’ impressive CGI-laden trailer:
David Schweitzer (EMMA, 9/11: ONE DAY IN AMERICA, BAD SPORT, FOUR HOURS AT THE CAPITOL) has composed the score for Netflix’ OUR GREAT NATIONAL PARKS, a five-part documentary series about some of the world’s national parks and their wildlife, presented by former president of the United States Barack Obama. It was released on April 13, 2022. “I wrote this score over much of last year and it took quite a bit of writing as there is a lot of music over the five episodes,” the composer said in a Facebook post. “I was lucky enough to spend five days recording with an orchestra as well as calling on the talents of many amazing soloists.” The soundtrack has been released by Maisie Music Publishing LLC and is available for listening on Spotify and download on Amazon.
Disneynature has released the original soundtrack by Harry Gregson-Williams to their new documentary film, POLAR BEAR, which tells the story of a new mother whose memories of her own youth prepare her to navigate motherhood in the increasingly challenging world that polar bears face today. Helmed by Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson, the directing team behind Disneynature’s PENGUINS (also scored by Harry Gregson-Williams), POLAR BEAR is now showing exclusively on Disney+ on April 22.
Transmission Records of the UK announces THE NORTHMAN vinyl soundtrack to the new Robert Eggers (THE WITCH, THE LIGHTHOUSE) adventure film, featuring the score by Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough. The record album will be released July 1, 2022. 2x180 gram red vinyl + a 12x12 print of the cover art exclusive to transmission, the package also includes a poster. For more details, see Transmission. The label also announces pre-orders for the HOOK 3LP soundtrack set on red vinyl, scheduled for release on June 3, 2022 – the LP is an expanded edition featuring 37 tracks (including 20 bonus tracks) pressed on 180 gram audiophile vinyl with a PVC protective sleeve, in a limited edition of 2000 individually numbered copies on translucent red colored vinyl. For more details see Transmission.
Waxwork Records announces the premiere vinyl release of the original soundtrack recording of THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN as a deluxe album featuring re-mastered audio, new artwork, and likeness approvals from famed actress Elsa Lanchester’s estate, with the music of Franz Waxman. The classic 1935 film was directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff & Elsa Lanchester and is the first sequel to the 1931 film FRANKENSTEIN, and widely regarded as one of the greatest sequels in cinematic history. Sourced from the original master acetates housed in the composer’s archives at Syracuse University and original masters from Universal, the soundtrack album has been meticulously restored and re-mastered. Working closely with Universal Pictures, this historic release marks the very first time the original film music by Waxman has been made available on vinyl. The album features new artwork by Phantom City Creative, a 12”x12” booklet including artwork and original scoring session photography, and liner notes by album producer and restoration engineer Mike Matessino. This item is a pre-order and is expected to ship May, 2022. See Waxwork.
When an ancient monster is accidentally released from its underground prison, there's only one kaiju you can count on to defend us all: Mothra! Mondo will release REBIRTH OF MOTHRA – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack LP, featuring music by Toshiyuki Watanabe, son of the great tokusatsu and anime composer Michiaki Watanabe, living up to his family legacy by supplying a bold and thrilling orchestral score. Watanabe’s music is full of ethereal beauty, with a fantastic opening title cue, replete with a glorious female choir to celebrate Earth's greatest defender and full-blooded brass magnificence. Artwork by Florian Bertmer. Numbered edition of 2000 units, pressed on 140g Gram Mosura Wing vinyl. Housed inside a reflective mirror gatefold sleeve. (Also available on recycled eco vinyl.) For more details see Mondo.
Light In The Attic announces vinyl exclusives from Milan: MIDSOMMAR, RATCHET & CLANK, UNDER THE SKIN, and more. All three are pre-orderable now: As in Aster’s breakout horror debut HEREDITARY, music plays a central role in MIDSOMMAR. Composer Bobby Krlic has crafted a gorgeous score that elevates the film to a new level; instead of your usual horror score, Krlic developed beautiful and harmonious compositions that complement the surface beauty of the Swedish rural setting while underlying the subtle and terrifying truth that hides in the shadow throughout the film. Pressed on LITA Exclusive Green! See LITA here. Based on the novel by Michael Faber, Jonathan Glazer’s UNDER THE SKIN follows the journey of a voluptuous woman (Scarlett Johansson) of unknown origin combing the highway in search of isolated or forsaken men. They are seduced, stripped of their humanity, and never heard from again. The music, which plays a critical role in the film and has been mentioned numerous times in reviews, is by British-born Mica Levi. Known by her stage name Micachu, she is classically trained and is best known for her band Micachu & The Shapes and for experimental music in a variety of genres. Pressed on LITA Exclusive Opaque Red! See Video Games below for RATCHET & CLANK.
The original score to LA PANTHERE DES NEIGES (AKA The Velvet Queen) by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is coming to vinyl in the UK. The digital album was originally released by Invada Records and Lakeshore Records at the end of 2021, and now, fans in the UK and Western Europe can get their hands on the physical copy as part of this limited release. The soundtrack is one of Ellis and Cave’s most heartfelt and haunting film projects. Amongst unexplored and inaccessible valleys lies one of the last sanctuaries of the wild world, where rare and undiscovered fauna live. Vincent Munier, one of the world’s most renowned wildlife photographers, takes the adventurer and novelist Sylvain Tesson (In the Forest of Siberia) with him on his latest mission. For several weeks, they’ll explore these valleys searching for unique animals and try to spot the snow leopard, one of the rarest and most difficult big cats to approach. Ellis explains how Cave and himself came to be involved: “There is something about the heart of this film that draws you in. I realized after a day, that I wanted to do whatever it took to compose an entire original score. The film deserved to have its own musical voice. I booked five days and asked Nick if he could come in for a day to write a theme song and play some piano. He saw the film and stayed for four days. In the end we made what I think is one of the most beautiful films we have ever worked on. One of my favorite experiences ever working on a project. The stars are the animals in all their wild glory, as we have never seen them before, and man in reverence and wonder.”
Watch the docu trailer (French language/subtitled in English) below:
Pre-order now from Stranger Than Paradise, UK.
From Light in the Attic on vinyl is Ghost of Tsushima: Music from Iki Island & Legends, which builds on the groundbreaking soundtrack to Ghost of Tsushima, the third-person adventure game by Sucker Punch Productions and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, featuring music by Chad Cannon and Bill Hemstapat. With Tsushima on the brink of destruction, Jin Sakai must sacrifice everything to defeat the ruthless Mongol invaders and protect what’s left of his home and people. As he embarks on an epic adventure for the freedom of Tsushima, he is forced to set aside samurai traditions and become a new kind of warrior. The score builds on the groundbreaking soundtrack to Ghost of Tsushima, the third-person adventure game by Sucker Punch Productions and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Pressed on LITA Exclusive Blue and Black Swirl:, the new Ghost of Tsushima offshoot game’s vinyl album contains 15 tracks, where 10 are from IKI ISLAND and 5 are from LEGENDS.
Another vinyl game score release from LITA, via Milan Records, is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, a 2021 third-person shooter platform game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 5 composed by Mark Mothersbaugh and Wataru Hokoyama. See LITA here.
Randall D. Larson was for many years publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine. A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: 100+ Years of Fantasy, Science Fiction & Horror Film Music and Music from the House of Hammer. He currently writes articles on film music and sf/horror cinema, and has written liner notes more than 300 soundtrack CDs. He can be contacted via https://musiquefantastique.com/ or follow Musique Fantastique on Facebook.