Past Columns

Soundtrax: Episode 2016-4
June 1st, 2016

By Randall D. Larson



  • John Ottman: Nice Guy

70’s Retro Scoring for THE NICE GUYS

  • Fosters Are Go!

Relaunching THUNDERBIRDS and the Musical Legacy of Barry Gray:
A conversation with Ben Foster & Nick Foster

Soundtrack Reviews

400 DAYS (Wojciech Golczewski), 1979 REVOLUTION: BLACK FRIDAY (Nima Fakhara), BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN (Lolita Ritmanis), THE CHAMP/THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN (Dave Grusin), CINEMA'S EXILES: FROM HITLER TO HOLLYWOOD (Peter Melnick), THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY (Scott Glasgow), IL DOLCE CORPO DE DEBORAH (NOra Orlandi), DUELL DER BRUDER (Frederick Wiedmann), HATCHET III (Scott Glasgow), THE JUNGLE BOOK (John Debney), MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN (Carlo Siliotto), MODIGLIANI (Guy Farley), THE NIGHT MANAGER (Victor Reyes), QUANTUM BREAK (Petri Alanko), REVELATION (Neal Acree), RIPLEY'S GAME (Ennio Morricone)

Book, Soundtrack, & Game Music News

While interviewing composer John Ottman about another topic, we briefly discussed his latest score, for Shane Black’s action/comedy/crime/mystery/thriller THE NICE GUYS. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as private eyes investigating the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles, uncovers a shady conspiracy in the process. THE NICE GUYS marks Ottman’s second collaboration with director Shane Black, after the action comedy KISS KISS BANG BANG. Black and producer Joel Silver put Ottman together with David Buckley to conceive the score. “Joel called me before shooting began, asking for a theme that reminded us of classic cop or spy 70s TV shows and movies,” said Ottman. “I wrote a balls-out theme for full orchestra, but the challenge for David Buckley and me was adapting the theme into a score that kept the film fun and quirky without feeling too silly.”
Lakeshore Records will release both song and score albums digitally on May 27th and on CD June 24th. The film opens on May 20th through Warner Bros.

Q: THE NICE GUYS is a period crime thriller with comedic elements, going back to the ‘70s period. How would you describe your approach to scoring this film?

John Ottman: The first inclination was to go quirky and score it like a ‘70s composer would have if it had been a movie coming out in the ‘70s. That inclination stayed however it did take many journeys until we came back to that idea. I wrote this theme that kind of reminds you of IT TAKES A THIEF – actually my inspiration for it was THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO. Everyone dug it, and then of course the overthink happened and then this week it was “maybe it should be a thriller score,” the next week “maybe it should be synthesized/modern,” and then, I swear to God, the next week it could have been circus music! So at the end of the day we came back around to the ‘70s styled score. It is easy to slip into parody and become THE NAKED GUN as opposed to something cool, so it was really hard to have the music not be making fun of the movie and instead having fun with the film. That was the biggest challenge. It’s all about nuance, and it’s all about how tastefully we did the ‘70s vibe.

Q: What was your instrumental pallet?

John Ottman: It was basically strings and brass, jazz flute, electric guitar, and a drum set. We wanted the same kind of ensemble that would have been in the studio orchestra for a composer doing a ‘70s movie.

Q: How did you treat the main characters, thematically?

John Ottman: Initially I wanted both of them to have their own themes, and I started writing themes for both of them in the early days of the film when I was scoring to very rough edits (that was because I was so petrified I’d have to leave the project and go up to shoot X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, this is how long ago I started on it. But as it turned out, those first reels got so accelerated in terms of the cutting that the individual character stories got cut way back, so it’s not very long before they’re together as a team; and at that point I thought it makes sense just to have one theme that represents the two of them, which became the theme of the movie. I felt the simple way was the best way to go, especially in a film where you have a lot of source music, so the score doesn’t have that much of an opportunity to present itself. In that situation, the simpler and more recognizable the theme could be, the better. Unlike KISS KISS BANG BANG, there’s no opening title sequence, it’s a song, and so there wasn’t a chance to really establish a theme at the start, so I had to find a way to jam it in any way I could in the movie so that there was some perceived thread without having been introduced to it.

Q: Now you’re scheduled to do 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA for Bryan Singer next year. Have you had any thoughts yet about where you might go with that at this early stage?

John Ottman: Lots of bubbles in the score! [laughs] No – I have no idea. It’s so early, there’s not even a schedule for that film, so I have no idea. I plan to take a long break before I even think about that!

Thanks to Heather Miley at Costa Communications for facilitating my interview with John Ottman. -rdl


Gerry Anderson’s classic Supermarionation TV series THUNDERBIRDS (1965-1966) was a big part of many fans of futuristic action, adventure, and drama when they were growing up – and many of us continue to enjoy the show via re-runs and home video collections. With the advent of a new, beautifully designed no-strings-attached CGI-animated series that debuted in 2015, THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO, even as adults – even senior citizens – we can enjoy the new show just as the current generations of youngsters are discovering the franchise’s exciting entertainment for the first time. THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO is made by fans of the original show who are dedicated to doing the show right – faithful to the concept, spirit, and character of the original show while modernized just enough in scope and style to capture a contemporary vibe. Among the original show’s fans were brothers Ben Foster and Nick Foster, both active composers, Ben as orchestrator and conductor for Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS and the BBC series DOCTOR WHO and composer of its spin-off TORCHWOOD, and Nick as an active record producer and composer for television shows in the UK and US, such as THE CUBE, the DERREN BROWN programs, and the game show BENCHMARK. Both have joined forces to compose THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO, embracing Barry Gray’s music from the original show while scoring the new series in a broad swath of exciting and dramatic orchestral music.

Watch the THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y2hFqgtjLk

Introducing the World of THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDKP_N37OAE


1: Getting Involved

Ben Foster: My agent sent me an email at the beginning of 2013, asking if I would like to do a pitch for this new show called THUNDERBIRDS. And I just couldn’t contain my excitement. The opportunity to work on a show that had been so beloved by my brother and I when we were kids… it occurred to me: wouldn’t it be great if we could work on it together? We’d done a few bits of work together, and I think it would work very well, and also being something that will be a running series, having the two of us doing it would allow us to do it while we keep our work going as well. We could work on it together and it would be great fun and we’d both have the energy to do it. For the initial pitch they wanted the theme tune revamped, so we sat down and we did about three versions, because we really wanted to get it right. We brought in some musician friends in London and went over to Nick’s studio and recorded some violin, trumpet, and French horn and we put the pitch together.

We sent it out and we felt pretty confident, but you never know with these things!  Then a few weeks later they called and decided they liked it and arranged for us to come and have a meeting at ITV, which was really exciting. We met with [executive producers] Giles Ridge and Estelle Hughes at their headquarters in the big, tall building on the south side of London, and immediately we realized this was a project like no other, in terms of the commitment from the producers, who were determined to do everything they could to make it not only as true to the original as is relevant to the 21st Century, but that they’d also try and move it ahead and make it something exciting and fresh at the same time.

We really saw that it was a valid project that wouldn’t just be a sluggish remake. It would be something new and it would be relevant to a new audience. We have the legacy of films like the THUNDERBIRDS film from 2004, and I think that’s been universally derided even though there’s probably some merit to it, but it didn’t really have any relevance to the original, which was a real shame. Same with THE AVENGERS movie (1998) which we were so excited about when we were late teenagers…

Nick Foster: The reason why THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO works is that it is made by fans. It’s made by people who loved the show, especially in New Zealand and Australia where it’s been repeated so often, so they know it by the back of their hand, but they’ve not been afraid to develop it and say, “We love that show but we can’t just duplicate it. Here are the bits that we really want to pull through to the new version, here are the important aspects, and that’s what I hope we’ve tried to do with the music because we’re both huge fans of Barry Gray, as Ben said. We grew up with all of his stuff, CAPTAIN SCARLET as well as THUNDERBIRDS and a lot of the others. We tried to use some of the jumping-off points and move on with respect.

Ben Foster: I think it’s great that we’ve all come from different backgrounds. The crew in New Zealand worked on some huge films with Peter Jackson and they’ve worked with Richard Taylor at WETA, but they’ve come back to this. This was the thing they loved when they were kids and they’d give their right arm to work on. They’ve gone off and worked on other films and in other genres and they’ve come back to this with that experience, and I think it’s richer for that.

Nick Foster: It’s rather lovely when you go out to WETA in Wellington, which we’ve both done. We had a wonderful tour and Sir Richard took us round and gave us a lovely reception, but what’s amazing is that they’re all huge fans of THUNDERBIRDS - they’ve got models of the original craft in their workspaces! So it’s a real passion project for them.

Ben Foster: Like the original, it was never patronizing; it never felt like it was written for kids of six, seven, eight, or nine. It just appealed to kids of that age group because it was acceptable – it didn’t have much violence, parents would let you watch it, but it was serious and the production levels were really inventive. And so musically we haven’t sat down and written dumbed-down version of previous music; we write the music as seriously as we would to do for an adult show. It’s all drama and it’s all the same kind of technique, really. That’s what makes it so satisfying, because you can use every skill you have and at the heart of it, you still remember what was so important to you as a kid, and hopefully the kids of that age now will see it through their eyes.


Digital or Live Orchestra?

Ben Foster: We were very keen to utilize a real orchestra, because as kids growing up hearing shows, we knew the difference, and we knew how much it feels of a bigger scale if it’s an orchestral soundtrack. I think kids are still attuned to that, although they’re getting used to hearing things that aren’t orchestras but pretend to be, if you know what I mean – they’re sample-based things which I understand the value of, but I didn’t want to have a show that could potentially be so much a part of kids’ growing up with sampled music. They need to hear live music, and that’s really important to us. So we were very grateful to ITV for actually taking that request on. After we signed the contract, we vehemently continued to push for an orchestra, saying, “Listen, we can do this with two or three musicians and we’ll back it up with synth samples and stuff, but what if we tried to put the scale up? What if we could find a little bit of extra money towards the recording of an orchestra?”  They thought about it for some time, and eventually they came back and said, “OK, we’re going to do it. We think you’re right, we know the value of it. We think the show’s going to be a success and we think we can find the money. So, try it and we’ll see how it goes.” And the first session they came to with the orchestra, they were utterly convinced.

Nick Foster: It took a leap of faith. Ben advocated particularly strongly for an orchestra, brilliantly and passionately, and I think it was partly because of his legacy, the work he’s done orchestrally, that they were willing to give it a try. But I do think that we were in a really fortunate position thanks to the team at ITV, Giles Ridge and people of that sort, who are passionate and care and somehow were able to make it work for us. And we’re in this lovely position where we have a really decent sized orchestra – bigger than Barry had!

Ben Foster: We have a trumpet guy who records in his dining room at home, and we record the rest of the orchestra in Prague. We weren’t reluctant to go to Prague because we were aware that they were a first class orchestra, but of course we had wanted to keep it in London and record with our pals up at Air Studios, but it would have been prohibitively expensive, so the journey to Prague was worth it. It was not only inevitable but also a great pleasure, having worked with orchestras and tour events with DOCTOR WHO and with my other project with Peter Gabriel [Scratch my Back world tour and albums] and other artists, that I realized there’s another experience, actually, taking your music abroad and taking it to a new orchestra and having a relationship with them. We’ve had a relationship with the City of Prague Philharmonic now over the last two years and we feel very comfortable. James Fitzpatrick, our music contractor, is a big THUNDERBIRDS fan, and he’s been very much involved over the years with Silva Screen and had re-recorded some of Barry Gray’s music, so the whole thing came together very effortlessly, really, and we feel like we’ve got a lovely network of people who know the importance of this show. They know this is a British institution and must be given its best, and James has done a great job in terms of the budget which has really helped us out.

Nick Foster: That’s one of the things about working on this project, that everyone along the line cares about it. James gets us this fantastic band every time. We’ve done hours and hours of music, we go and record 40 minutes of music at a time, and they’re fantastic.

Ben Foster: And we’re continuing with Prague on the second series. Right now, we’re shaping up our scores for the first two episodes of series 2, and we’re off to Prague on the 28th [April, 2016].


Recording in Prague

Nick Foster: The production schedule groups the episodes into threes. So at least two out of three we’ll write through from the top to the bottom. We just finished an episode last night where we write from minute 1 to minute 22 together and then we’re going to record that. Our usual schedule is to have 45 minutes across the session, so we have to make that work. With each episode you’ve got a few repeated bits – not much, but you’ve got the countdown, you’ve got the launch, and so on, so that takes you down to about 18 minutes of action per show, and we tend to write the vast majority of that fresh each time. We do a little bit of re-use but we don’t just slap in old cues, we take them and we’ll retailor them.

Ben Foster: Sometimes we’ll misremember a cue from another episode that we’ve done before, so we’ll think, “oh, that thing, what was that feeling…” and we’ll replay it and bash it in again on the piano and it will develop differently or the key will change or whatever. So an episode will have a new set of themes and a new reworking of old themes, and it’s much more satisfying that way than just re-using the recording. What I learned conducting and recording DOCTOR WHO for ten years is knowing the boundaries, knowing exactly how to get the best out of six hours of recording time.

Nick Foster: Also, knowing that it’s sometimes very quick to orchestrate a score, it’s better to orchestrate it and re-mix it than it is just to cut it up and make an edit.

Ben Foster: You can tweak the tempo and because the show is short, it doesn’t feel like it. But you’re talking about a second here and there between an impact of an explosion with the sound effects and the music, so if everything happens at exactly the same time it’s very unsatisfying, but if you can tailor it exactly to the frame, then you really get every ounce of drama out of that 23-24 minute duration.

Nick Foster: People get disappointed if the keys are different from what they remember. If we change the Launch Sequence we’ve noticed people get quite upset! 

Ben Foster: The only reason we changed it was because some editing happened early on before we got involved. It’s done so far ahead, the previz animation, although it’s not the final animation, is really the locked cut.

Nick Foster: They’d timed the launches to the original theme, and we wanted to write something new for that bit, which I’m very glad we did. They had just re-used the original Barry Gray theme in the previz, not our version.


Adapting Barry Gray’s Main Theme

Ben Foster: We tried it a couple of ways. We tried it in different keys. The main thing for us is that the original had a very upbeat, positive, smiley feel.

Nick Foster: It’s in F-major, and that was great, but we felt like most motion picture scores of a dramatic nature are in a minor key. That doesn’t mean they’re downbeat, that just means they’re dramatic, and so we took the theme’s melody, and we played it over a D-minor which is the relative of F-major and it fit so well. We felt like it had a familiar filmic feeling, that D-minor kind of feeling that most film scores of the last seven or eight years have perhaps had – that kind of darkness, without feeling threatening – it felt positive but exciting, mostly because you’ve got a jaunty melody over something that’s darker or more dramatic. I think that’s a perfect marriage, actually, and that was a lovely discovery.

Ben Foster: And then we evolved the middle section and reshaped it a bit. Obviously the theme tune these days is a lot shorter than the early days

Nick Foster: About 30 seconds from the countdown to the end, isn’t it?

Ben Foster: Um hum. But in the original you had that very long pre-title, which was the preview of what was to come. That of course was the wonderful piece of music which was originally written for “Fireflash” [climax of the original series’ pilot episode] and it was so popular that it was re-used during the preview after that. But we didn’t have that in the new show, and also we separated the countdown from the exclamation of “Thunderbirds Are Go!”

Nick Foster: Originally it started with “Thunderbirds Are Go!” [and then the theme music]. But we put that at the end, so we did “5… 4… 3… 2…1…” then full on music, and then at the end, “boom, boom, boom, Thunderbirds Are Go! Boom!”

Ben Foster: And that was apparently something that nobody else did.

Compare 1965 title sequence

Compare 2015 title sequence

Ben Foster: But it was a big responsibility, like anything of these things. Nick and I have both done for other shows, re-workings of other people’s theme tunes.

Nick Foster: It’s the most exciting thing in the world to rework something. I’ve done a lot of it and I loved it. I used to be a record producer and you do a cover version of a lovely song and it’s the most thrilling thing, if you love the music. But it’s also a challenge and a bit terrifying because you think, “Well, I’m on to a moving wicket here, there’s so much capacity for disapproval from people who remember the original,” so what I always tried to do with Barry Gray’s music is to do something confident but sound like 2014 rather than 1965. That is the long and short of it, and we use the tools that we have now, but I hope in doing that we didn’t lose what was brilliant about it. And we did the first four bars, when we sing the melody, are exactly the same. So what people sing along to, it will still sound the same as it did in 1965. We kept the hook, in other words.

Ben Foster: We did Hollywood-ize the music.

Nick Foster: It was just more loopy and more synthy.

Ben Foster: I think we had to leave certain elements of the arrangement because they didn’t really fit well with the atmosphere of the show.

Nick Foster: Especially when you get to the second movement, that B-section. It’s delightful but it’s very jaunty.


Re-Recording Barry’s Cues for New Episodes

Ben Foster: What’s been nice about this series is that early on we negotiated to use the Thunderbirds Theme in the launch, at the very end, but apart from that we weren’t given permission by the publishers to re-use any of Barry’s music at any other point in the show. So when the “Fireflash” episode came along…

Nick Foster: It was the remake of “Trapped in the Sky” [episode 5 of series 1]. We saw an opportunity and we didn’t do it just for the fans, we did it because we wanted to do it. When we saw they were doing “Fireflash” for the second time, with Kayo, we had to use that cue, from “Fireflash.” It’s the music that was on the pre-titles that we were talking about. We said, “Wow this is great, let’s just get it!” I called up Ralph Tipperton at BarryGray.com at UK, who’s the brilliant custodian of Barry’s music legacy, and I said, “Have you got the ‘Fireflash’ landing music?” and he said “Yeah, great. I’ll send it over.” So he sent over a PDF of the original manuscript, which we transcribed (and checked 150 times to make sure we’d got it right!) and then we rerecorded it with an orchestra. It was the most terrifically thrilling moment, because we couldn’t use Barry’s original recording but we got the chance to rerecord the cue.

Ben Foster: And then we went back to London and had to get permission to use it! We got our agents to contact the publisher, Sony/EMI/Island, and they played it for them and it was the day before the dub and they hadn’t said anything, and we hadn’t got anything else…

Nick Foster: No, we hadn’t recorded anything else, because what else would you put there? So when the permission came through we were thrilled!

Compare Barry Gray’s 1965 music for “Fireflash Landing”

Compare 2015 “Fireflash Landing” sequence

Ben Foster: And after that people were saying to us, “you should use more of Barry’s music,” and we said, “Yeah, we know!”

Nick Foster: It’s in a context where people would expect it. I don’t think it works if we simply put Barry’s cues from the original shows against it. People have done this on YouTube – it’s interesting and curious but I don’t think it works. It doesn’t work as a bit of drama, because it’s two different temperatures, completely. We have gone back to Barry’s music a couple of times more in future episodes, you’ll see them in the US in a little while but not quite yet.

Ben Foster: There was a thrilling opportunity in “Designated Driver” [episode 22 of series 1], an episode written by David Baddiel, one of our finest British comedians and a terrific writer. He wrote this episode which had a part for Sylvia [Anderson] – lovely Sylvia, God rest her soul – Sylvia played the part of Great Aunt Sylvia…

Nick Foster: And in the end she drives off the island in FAB-1 and I thought we have to use that wonderful Century 21 March theme, but instead of being done in a very jaunty way we did in a rather elegiac way. Again, we wrote it and then we tried to get permission. It was very easy to get permission for that one, and we did something for episode 1 of series 2 just yesterday, which was beyond beautiful. It’s like one of the treasures of THUNDERBIRDS past, so we rerecorded another of Barry’s pieces.

Ben Foster: We feel it’s important to put Barry back in, just in the way that the THUNDERBIRDS writers are, in particular in this case, looking back at what happened before, and trying to include what worked before, visually, in the original show exist as a piece of history in the new show. That’s something that’s really beautiful, so that’s why we will continue to try to find a moment to quote Barry’s themes because I think it’s really important.



Nick Foster: “Robust” is how we’d describe our collaboration!  One of us will sit at the piano until that one gets up and goes away and then the other one sits at the piano for a bit. We do work through an episode together quite a lot.

Ben Foster: We’re looking at episode 2 of season 2 now, which is where we left of in episode 1 of season 2, because it’s a two-parter, so we’ll continue with some themes we’ve written for a new villain, and we’ll have the arc continuing through the rest of the series.

Nick Foster: I think what’s nice is it’s a heavily thematic show, and deliberately so, because you’ve have big characters and big themes, and between the two of us we’ve written different themes which we now both draw on, so who started a theme and who finished it is irrelevant, because as it goes on we rewrite them every time, or we re-develop them every time.

Ben Foster: We have very few occasions where Nick or myself will work solely on an episode, but here have been a couple of times where we’ve been [busy] and I’ll say you take this one and I’ll take that one, but in either case we’re drawing from our joint archive of material that we’ve written. It’s very much collaborative and of course after the writing process Nick will involve himself in the production-end of mixing and writing other parts to go with the orchestra while I’m doing the orchestrations, so we both have a second hat to put on after the writing stage and, again, that makes it an experience where we don’t feel the time pressure because we’ve both got our strengths in those areas.


Themes and Variations

Ben Foster: It really helps kids understand the narrative. It helps them hang onto the history and the backstory, and it’s so valid. It genuinely makes a composer’s job easier because you’re going] along and remembering these themes that you’ve written and it’s great fun.

Nick Foster: And misremembering!  Especially phonetic misremembering, because it might be a cue that one or the other of us has been playing a bit an then the other one of us will quote it and invariably do so slightly differently, and that’s rather nice, I think, because it means the thing grows and changes.

Ben Foster: And you can imagine once you’ve done one series, 26 episodes, you’re actually really keen to keep playing because you’ve hit a nice pace and we have a lot of stuff in the bank, as it were, so we’re moving forward.


Season Two

Nick Foster: And it’s lovely to talk about the show, but the next 26, which is what we’re working on now, based the one’s we’ve seen, the show gets better and better and better. People are more confident, the show looks better; it’s just great.

Ben Foster: We’ve known for about a year what people have been saying over and over, “wait until you seen the scripts for Season 2!” And now we’re watching it and yes, it’s even better. It’s really good!  And the confidence the Amazon deal has brought, in terms of having a global American network behind it is just incredibly encouraging for everybody. We do our best, and we never take it for granted, because we think it’s important. We think it’s as important to kids as it was to us, we hope, when we were that age.

The first season of THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO is available for Amazon Prime members to stream using the Amazon Video app for TVs, connected devices including Amazon Fire TV, and mobile devices, or online at Amazon.com/originals, at no additional cost to their membership. Customers who are not already Prime members can sign up for a free trial at www.amazon.com/prime. THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO will also be available as part of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, the all-you-can-eat subscription service designed from the ground up for kids.


Snapshots: New Soundtracks in Review

400 DAYS/ Wojciech Golczewski/Lakeshore – cd + digital
This is a psychological science fiction film centering on four astronauts who are sent on a simulated mission to a distant planet to test the psychological effects of deep space travel. Locked away for 400 days, the crew’s mental state begins to deteriorate when they lose all communication with the outside world. Forced to exit the ship, they discover that this mission may not have been a simulation after all. Polish-born composer Wojciech Golczewski (the Norwegian thriller DARK SOULS, the werewolf film LATE PHASES, and the haunted house film WE ARE STILL HERE) has composed an electronic score that, while rather dissonant as a listening experience away from the movie, creates a superbly tense sonic commotion over much of the film. “This score is claustrophobic, dizzy, and brings all that stuff that can happen while you're locked for so long in a small space. That is what I tried to underline with the music,” said Golczewski. Highlights include the recurring main theme, a progressive ambiance punctuated by a ringing chime motif that augments the increasing tension of isolation; the compelling rhythmic ascent of “Taking Off;” the quasi-gamelan gradation of “Tranquility;” and the rough-edged apotheosis of “Time to Leave;” and the shifting chordal structures of “Final Flight.” It’s an uneven score on disc but works very effectively in context with the film. Golczewski’s chiming main motif is the score’s through-line, its recurring five-note melody a reorienting figure even as its singular repetition suggests confinement and disorientation.

1979 REVOLUTION: BLACK FRIDAY/Nima Fakhara/Lakeshore - cd + digital
Born in Tehran and now based in Los Angeles, inventive composer Nima Fakhara (THE SIGNAL) has gained a notable filmography over the last few years, especially with his recent thriller score THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS and this new game score, which allows him to revisit his homeland with an interactive adventure set during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The game, already banned in Iran, unsurprisingly, is supported by a compelling and often subdued score featuring instruments created by the composer that are specifically unique to this game, along with traditional Persian instruments associated with the game setting. Fakhara has provided the score with a remarkable delicacy, building cues for various locations that resonate with an authentic feeling of time and place, while a subtle, underlying burbling rhythm is employed to maintain a feeling of forward motion throughout the score. Fakhara’s synths combined with the Persian instruments and a poignant use of solo piano lend an evocative texture while the rhythmic ambiances, buffeted occasionally by powerful incursions of ‘70s-styled buzzing synths, create a marvelous feeling of time and place. I’m not a gamer so I can’t attest to the music’s effect in the game, but on disc it serves as a very effective listening experience, very nicely textured and harmonized. “Hand In Hand” is an excellent example of this quality. Preview this and other tracks at iTunes
For more information on the composer, see http://www.nimafilmmusic.com/
Watch the game teaser on YouTube here

BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN/Lolita Ritmanis/La-La Land – cd
The response to BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES during its four season run (1992-1995) from Warner Animation was so successful that it spawned a number of feature-length animated films over the years, most of them released direct to video. One of these, BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN (2003), pitted Batman against a mysterious female vigilante who ruthlessly emulates him. The 75-minute feature was scored by Lolita Ritmanis, one of Shirley Walker’s teammates on BATMAN: TAS – after Shirley’s untimely death in 2006, Lolita joined fellow TAS composers Michael McCuistion and Kristopher Carter to create Dynamic Music Partners – the trio is now scoring the lion’s share of Warner Animation’s super hero series, and others. Walker’s own Batman theme from TAS makes its presence known in MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN, but largely it’s Ritmanis’s own minor-mode noirish sax and piano theme for the Batwoman that carries the film, augmenting the creepy caped femme fatale’s inherently slinky and sinister allure. “I knew that the main theme would need to feel mysterious and seductive, without being overtly light,” she told writer John Takis for his album notes. The style of the theme carries over into much of the orchestral action music, the energy of which benefits from her years working with Shirley Walker and the team behind BATMAN: TAS’s musical dynamics. While the digital samples of 1993 aren’t quite as authentic as those of the new millennium, the score nonetheless has a powerful orchestral sensibility. The music for TAS had been accomplished largely with a live orchestra, but Warner had subsequently reduced the series’ music budget since its debut, and Ritmanis had to make do with digital samples and synths to accommodate the Gothic sonority needed for MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN. She did bring in session player John Yoakum to play live saxophone and woodwinds, while Lolita herself played live piano, which enhanced the digital orchestra with an organic instrumental sound. She’s been able to orchestrate a muscular temperament out of her mix of live soloists and digital orchestra, and the music carries an effective and pleasing sonic dimension even if its synthetic performance is in in evidence. In addition to the BATWOMAN score, the album contains the complete score for its accompanying animated 7-minute short, CHASE ME, in which Yoakum’s saxophone chops are put to elegant jazz/pop use as Bruce Wayne tries to evade the clutches of a bevy of clingy socialites. The short had no dialog so Ritmanis’s music becomes a dance in which Batman and Catwoman spar affectionately. A handful of source music and a different version of the Main Title round out the album, which also includes a booklet with commentary notes about the film and its score by John Takis and a note from the composer.

Dave Grusin/Varese Sarabande - cd

Varese has reissued these two elusive Dave Grusin soundtracks, one of them on CD for the first time, as part of its no-frills soundtrack reissue series. THE CHAMP, Grusin’s score for the 1985 Franco Zeffirelli film about a boxer (John Voight), his son, and the woman (Faye Dunaway) who came between them, was nominated for an Academy Award, and the soundtrack has been out of print since its 1985 LP reissue on Columbia sold out. Grusin’s main lilting melody appears in several of the tracks; the subordinate motif, “T.J.’s Theme,” is softly sonorous and reflective. The score’s final component is a contemporaneous funky groove riff, most accomplished in the “Gym Montage.” Grusin also supplies a very cool steel-drum number, “A Cha-Cha-Do Brazil” which is bridged by a reprise of his main theme on strings, and a gentle number, “Salon Du Miami,” played by a hotel orchestra during a fashion show. The album also includes the song, “If You Remember Me,” which was written for the movie by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager but wasn’t used in the final cut of the film. THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN is Sydney Pollack’s 1979 romcom between an ex-rodeo champ (Robert Redford) and a TV reporter (Jane Fonda). The first half of the album contains five songs by Willie Nelson, who was top of the country pops at the time and also co-starred in the film, so thus was the commercial-minded top-billing for the album, followed by half a dozen of Grusin’s score cues. The score is in Grusin’s orchestral jazz mode, very up-beat and light with an especially poignant love theme featuring harmonica. The title tune is full-on funk, not unlike THE CHAMP’s “Gym Montage,” with plenty of wah-wah guitar, cymbal riffing, and enthusiastic rhythm section. There’s even a “Disco Magic” track co-written with Grusin by Patti Austin, who though not credited is probably among the vocalists on the track. Both of these are pop-oriented scores with contemporaneous-flavored themes – and they’re among Grusin’s most attractively up-beat works for cinema; both are delightfully varied and highly pleasing scores to have available (or newly-available, in the latter’s case) on CD.

CINEMA’S EXILES: FROM HITLER TO HOLLYWOOD/Peter Melnick’s/MovieScore Media - cd + digital 
Seven years after the album was originally produced (the title was cancelled at that time due to contractual reasons), MovieScore Media  announces the release of Peter Melnick’s CINEMA’S EXILES: FROM HITLER TO HOLLYWOOD, a masterful documentary about the exodus of German and Austrian filmmakers (directors like Fritz Lang, Robert Siodmak and composers like Franz Waxman and Erich Wolfgang Korngold) in the wake of Hitler’s rise to dictatorship. The latter material is particularly of interest to the film music aficionado, as the pre-Hollywood lives of those Golden Age masters haven’t been documented with much detail. Melnick’s music possesses a delightfully old-school theatricality, conveying both a splendid sense of nostalgia as well as a timeless gaiety about them which is enthusiastically invigorating, functioning as music-of-the-era in between the more dramatic tonalities associated with the whole reason-they’re-leaving-Europe moments and giving the album some of its most charming personality. In addition to Melnick’s original score and adapted tributes, the album also includes actual vintage Waxman recordings of the era: a six-minute suite, previously unreleased, from Fritz Lang’s LILIOM, the 1934 film that launched the composer’s career in Hollywood, as well as "Ach, wie ist das Leben schön" and "Für’n Groschen Liebe", two Waxman songs performed by Dolly Haas from the soundtrack of the 1932 picture SCAMPOLO (since these tracks are taken from vintage sources, their quality is archival).
For details, see: http://moviescoremedia.com/cinemas-exiles-from-hitler-to-hollywood-peter-melnick/

THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY/Scott Glasgow/MovieScore Media – cd + digital
Scott Glasgow’s new score for THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY reunites him with Pearry Teo, the director of the cyberpunk thriller he scored in 2007, THE GENE GENERATION (reviewed in my April 2009 column). The gothic-fantasy film is a dark re-imagining of the classic Brothers Grimm story set in the present day, with emphasis on horror as a man named Thomas inherits a mansion that harbors a mysterious legend involving the sleeping princess. In his complex and highly nuanced score, Glasgow embraces the Gothic centrality of the modern story with a strong use of choir mixed with orchestra, while a modernistic blend of orchestral textures emphasizes the stylistic modernity of the filmmaking. “THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY has music that is exotic/otherworldly combined with Gothic horror orchestral gestures” explained Glasgow in MSM’s release announcement. “There is a blend of religiousness using choir singing Latin adaptations of liturgical text transformed to fit the film subject which is combined with exotic instruments such as the Tibetan ‘kangling’ (bone trumpet), glass harmonica, and Aztec ‘death flute.’ There is also the traditional orchestra and sorrowful cello solos which balance the two worlds of the film.” In addition, Glasgow collaborated with MovieScore Media’s producer Mikael Carlsson to utilize the voices of Swedish choir Johannebergs Vokalensemble for the recording of the score, with Carlsson himself providing the countertenor solos for the film’s surreal dream sequences. Throughout the score, Glasgow plays off of the contrast between a theme oriented around the curse itself (the layered choral material) and a theme for Thomas given to solo cello, but the score’s overall thematic heart is Sleeping Beauty’s theme, a variation on the Gregorian chant “Dies Irae” also known from the Catholic Mass for the Dead, and a potent instrumental staple of horror scores since the late 1920s which still retains its ability to conjure up supernatural wickedness; Glasgow treats it chorally rather than orchestrally which gives it an unusual and fresh timbre not often heard in previous usages. It’s a thoroughly compelling work from conception to performance and makes for a very fine listen, from the fluidity of its yearning solo cellos to the massive layers of its orchestral attack and the striking harmony of the choral intonations. The digital release is available now; the CD will be released on May 27.
For details, see: http://moviescoremedia.com/the-curse-of-sleeping-beauty-scott-glasgow/
For soundbytes see: www.scottglasgowmusic.com/music/curse-of-sleeping-beauty-album/
Watch video clip of “The Kiss” sequence, one of the big musical moments with the choir: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exRBKeowG_M&feature=youtu.be

Quartet Records has recently released an expanded reissue of a soundtrack previously available from CAM (by way of Sweden’s Fin de Siècle label) in much shorter form. Nora Orlandi’s THE SWEET BODY OF DEBORAH is a 1968 giallo starring Caroll Baker and directed by Romolo Guerrieri in a stopover between Italian Westerns (JOHNNY YUMA; 10,000 DOLLARI PER UN MASSACRO) and poliziotteschi (YOUNG, VIOLENT, DANGEROUS; CITY UNDER SIEGE). Composer/vocalist Orlandi, the leading (if not only) female composer in Italian cinema at the time, provides a score rich in melody and easy-listening/lounge jazz as picturesque as the colorful photography employed by Guerrieri’s cinematographer Marcello Masciocchi in the film, especially a vividly painted lounge bar that figures prominently in the film. The score is built around a very cool organ motif, which is arranged in variegated form throughout the score, and features Orlandi’s own vocalise as well as song vocals by her sister Paola and a psychedelic growler sung by a singer simply named Tony. A very fun frolic in the characteristic giallo style, playing against the suspense and violence with extravagantly melodious scoring. Quartet’s presentation includes the original 12-track album presentation and the bonus tracks that were on the Fin de Siècle release, all in true stereo (Fin de Siècle’s was mono and simulated stereo) and includes additional unreleased tracks for a total program of 30 tracks and just under an hour of music, allowing all of Orlandi’s theme variations, extra organ solos, and the like to be fully appreciated.

DUELL DER BRÜDER/Frederik Wiedmann/ i2i Musikverlag - digital
Frederik Wiedmann, known for scoring numerous series and features in the DC Animated Universe with a notable flair for heroic themes and engaging action music, has composed his first feature film back in his native Germany. (He scored half a dozen episodes of the long-running German police TV series ALARM FÜR COBRA 11 – DIE AUTOBAHNPOLIZEI (Alarm for Cobra 11 – The Highway Police) in 2014 and 2016, but this is his first feature film on home soil.) The 2016 film carries a full title of DUELL DER BRÜDER: DIE GESCHICHTE VON ADIDAS UND PUMA (Duel of the Brothers - The Story of Adidas and Puma) and is a true character drama about the partnership and conflict between the two German brothers who created the Adidas and Puma line of sports shoes. Wiedmann’s score is a wonderfully melodic and harmonically rich score that captures a compelling sonority for the brothers through a large string section punctuated by piano and by horns, while a harsher semblance of electric guitar, keyboard, and drums addresses the rivalry and conflict that estranges the two siblings. The score is as much delicate and moving throughout its journey as it is stringent and discomforting, but throughout the music remains elegant and confluent  (the emotional agony of the solo violin that pierces the tenuous string and piano interface of “Zusammenbruch” [Collapse] is truly heartbreaking all on its own) and the music remains full of these kinds of emotional threads. The convergence of each of the score’s parallel motifs – brotherhood and adversity – joins together in tracks like that one, as well as “Drei Schuster” and “Das Wunder von Bern” (The Miracle of Bern) both highlights the brothers’ struggle as well as leads the way toward a kind of resolve, in musical as much as dramatic terms. A completely absorbing score, its melodic direction and harmonic coloration is quite affecting and pleasing. Very highly recommended.
Available from iTunes and Amazon
For more information, see the composer’s web site at www.frederikwiedmann.com/

HATCHET III/Scott Glasgow/Intrada - cd
Scott Glasgow’s second new horror score making it to soundtrack this year is for the second sequel to Adam Green’s 2006 horror show introducing the character of deformed, hatchet-wielding Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) whose hidden swampland homestead is interrupted by a visiting New Orleans swamp tour group, and much hatchet-swingin’ ensues. Just as the end of HATCHET bled right into Green’s HATCHET II, HATCHET III (directed by BJ McDonnell, camera operator on the first two films) takes over right where that first sequel left off, as a search and recovery team heads into the haunted swamp to pick up the pieces and Marybeth (scream queen Danielle Harris), last girl standing in the second film, learns the secret to ending the voodoo curse that has left Crowley haunting and hunting about Honey Island Swamp for decades. Glasgow’s score is vigorously orchestral, achieving a fine symphonic sound despite being budget-restricted to a digital orchestra, the result on screen and on album is a thoroughly engaging, full-blooded, hatchet-swinging musical score. “My goal for the music was to create a full, aggressive action orchestral score with nods to PREDATOR and ALIENS,” Glasgow writes in his album notes. “I used no music from the first two HATCHET films – I started with a clean slate.” Samples of Cajun instruments were seamlessly integrated into the sound mix to represent the swampy, bayou territory across which the story plays, and all of it feels as authentic as the geysers of blood erupting from the business end of Crowley’s titular instrument. Glasgow’s nuanced suspense material is gloomy and seething with tension, with a recurring motif sounding occasionally in the low strings (“it is made up of low phrase ‘breaths’ or small segments with pauses,” Glasgow explains). Another recurrent motif, which Glasgow calls “smear chords” because they seem to “smear into each other.”  Aside from these, and a pulsing synth riff associated with the SWAT team that accompanies Marybeth back to the island to try and capture Crowley (spoiler: epic fail), Glasgow’s score is predatory and pleasingly textured in its progressive maneuvering. Intrada’s presentation includes an 8-page booklet with written commentary by the composer and a brief note from the director. A great idea was including the cue assembly chart which notates exactly which cues make up each of the album tracks, which is very helpful when correlating each piece of music to where it is used in the film. I’d like to see this kind of thing used more.
For details, see http://store.intrada.com/s.nl/it.A/id.10045/.f
For soundbytes, see http://www.scottglasgowmusic.com/music/hatchet-3-album/

THE JUNGLE BOOK/John Debney/Walt Disney – cd + digital
John Debney’s score to Disney’s live-action/CGI remake of Rudyard Kipling’s THE JUNGLE BOOK is a soft breeze wafting across Seoni grasses. It’s the windy snort of a Great Indian Rhinoceros, the chatter of langurs cavorting in the trees. An orange sunset silhouetted among darkening mango leaves, verdant grasses rustled by the weight of a gliding python, the languid perception of a passing cloud. Debney’s score for THE JUNGLE BOOK is an intensely emotive work, enriched by carefully crafted melodies as serene as a Madhya Pradesh sunset and occasionally as energetic as an onrushing panther or indignant ape. It’s not Debney’s first score for Disney – he scored WHITE FANG 2 for the studio in 1994 – but it’s certainly his most personal, having grown up exploring the studio as a child, son of a Disney producer, and with fond memories of meeting the Sherman Brothers when they were writing songs for Disney’s 1967 animated version of Kipling’s book (“Emotionally, it means more to me than any other movie I’ve done,” he told Billboard). Debney has invested much of himself into this score, with the result being, just on its own, a pure emotional experience, musically. The score is as harmonically elegant as something by John Barry yet with Debney’s own stamp upon each note and timbre; a fine aural experience. In addition to the impassioned melodies and various thematic pieces for each of the main characters, THE JUNGLE BOOK also possesses some strikingly orchestrated action cues near the film’s second half – such as the adrenalin-charged and drum-laden “Monkeys Kidnap Mowgli,” the choir-infused second half of “Cold Lair Chase” with its magnificent brass interactions, the rousing orchestral strokes and choral prowess of “Mowgli Takes Red Flower,” and the final confrontation of “Shere Khan Fights Everyone,” which is bridged by a reprise of Debney’s blissfully lovely opening melody (at 0:32). In addition to the score, the album includes the vocal renditions featured in the film, which are all based on Robert & Richard Sherman for Disney’s 1967 animated version (Scarlett Johansson sings “Trust In Me,” New Orleans bluesman Dr. John does a rendition of “Bare Necessities” for the end titles while Bill Murray, as Baloo, sings in the film proper, and Christopher Walken magnificently interprets the Dixieland-flavored “I Wanna Be Like You”). Debney also pays tribute to the Shermans’ legacy in his score, incorporating the melody of “Bare Necessities” into a couple of his score cues at significant moments. This is a thoroughly thrilling soundtrack in every respect, and I’m not afraid to admit that much of the music alone gets me misty-eyed every time. THE JUNGLE BOOK is certainly to be counted among John Debney’s very finest musical works; and it’s my favorite score of the year so far. Eventually it will make a fantastic concert suite (in fact, elements of the score have already been conducted by Debney at the Valley Performing Arts Center earlier this month).
See also: Jon Burlingame’s interview with Debney on THE JUNGLE BOOK in Variety.
And this Huffington Post on Debney’s “Real Life Disney Dream - Writing the JUNGLE BOOK Score.”

MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN/Carlo Siliotto/Madison Gate - digital
This faith-based/feel-good movie, based on the memoir by Christy Beam and directed by Patricia Riggen (THE 33), contains the kind of euphonious, orchestrating the heart-strings score you’d expect from this type of movie. Fortunately it’s written by Italian composer Carlo Siliotto, in his second collaboration with director Riggen (2007’s UNDER THE SAME MOON being the first), who invests a heartfelt honesty into his richly melodic score and none of the sonic saccharine that can sometimes be poured into these kinds of message films. Siliotto has always been a master of affecting melodies and harmonically-compelling compositions, even his best-known American score, the 2004 version of Marvel’s THE PUNISHER, had its swelling moments of poignant emotive melody. And that poignancy is richly invested into this film, which recounts the story of Beam’s young daughter who was inexplicably healed from an incurable disease. The music is soft and subtle and, for the most part, conveyed with a standard orchestral timbre, which makes it kind of a one-tone affair, but as the story develops Siliotto evokes some unusual and interesting aural combinations in a few of the tracks and these are what makes the score somewhat unique and interesting. “Since the story is so magical and unusual,” said the composer, “I have been using a few tricks like dubbing solo instruments with barely audible human voices or using sounds from the mystic tradition of different cultures, like Tibetan bells and Indian percussion.”  It’s a pleasing work, but even in its tranquil beauty the music tends to remain fairly placid, as if Siliotto was asked to stay out of the way of the drama rather than reflecting the intensity of its emotion. The result is a likable but subdued score that operates rather timidly.

MODIGLIANI/Guy Farley/Caldera Records
Guy Farley’s music for MODIGLIANI (2004), Mick Davis’s largely fictionalized historical drama about Amedeo Modigliani's (Andy Garcia) bitter rivalry with Pablo Picasso and his tragic romance with Jeanne Hebuterne, is an extraordinarily impassioned score, accompanying a tragic tale with a primary theme steeped with intense beauty and grief. By moving “Jeanne’s Death,” which occurs at the end of the film, to the first track, the album introduces the heartbreaking beauty of the theme right at the start, in a manner of a flash forward. This cue, the score’s most elegantly despondent moment, has become one of Farley’s most beloved cues, and I am pleased to hear it right at the start of the album. Expressed in close-miked piano over strings, the sad melody is nearly overwhelming in its penetrating emotion; its serene lamentation bookending the musical journey that will follow. In the film, the theme is heard over the main titles and then not reprised fully until the film’s final quarter, as the sad tale of Modigliani and Jeanne begins to unspool to its final destination. Along the way there are a number of intimate moments for orchestra associated with Modigliani’s alcohol and opium addictions, as well as some marvelous ethnic-based source music – a terrific guitar fandango for “Picasso’s Party,” heard during an artist’s reception for the visiting Spanish painter, a dazzling arrangement of the Romanian folk tune “Sanie Cu Zurgatai,” Farley’s own original counterpart “Chilvatu,” and the provocative, accordion-led “Meat Burglary Tango” which doesn’t appear to have been used in the finished film. The soundtrack includes two cues not of Farley’s composition but were remixed by him, taken from classical/pop/electronica diva Sasha Lazard’s 2002 debut album, “The Myth of Red,” which includes the sensual modernesque “Ode to Innocence,” heard during the montage of the artists working on their paintings for the competition, and the concluding “Angeli” which carries us into the end title montage with its provocative vocal rendering and drum beat.

The soundtrack was originally released by Milan in 2004 in a 22-track presentation that quickly sold out. A dozen years later and a proper release, carefully resequenced and remastered by Caldera Records, really gives Farley’s score its proper delivery on disc, with 30 tracks, a new arrangement of the main theme for cello and piano that Farley did especially for the album, and a fascinating 18-minute audio commentary by Farley about how he got the job and worked with director Mick Davis on scoring the film. Moreover, the album booklet contains Davis’s own notes on working with Farley, general film and music notes by Gergely Hubai, and Farley’s own handwritten sheet music of the main theme.

For more information see: http://caldera-records.com/portfolio/modigliani/
Sample Farley’s main theme from MODIGLIANI on YouTube

THE NIGHT MANAGER/Victor Reyes/Silva Screen – cd +_digital
For this contemporary interpretation of John Le Carré’s espionage drama, a 6-part BBC miniseries, Spanish composer Victor Reyes (THE CITY WITH NO LIMITS, BURIED, GRAND PIANO) has composed a darkly flavored orchestral score favoring keyboards and strings that hits the right notes for the series and its story arc. Tom Hiddleston plays a former British soldier now working as the night manager of an Egyptian hotel who is recruited by intelligence agents to infiltrate the network of an international arms dealer (Hugh Laurie). Reyes’ sturdy score is suitably tense, secretive, and occasionally reflective; as a spy drama, not an action thriller, the music, after a very nice percussive riff in the second track, doesn’t evoke a propulsive trajectory until a few tracks near the end, but rather serves to add the properly flavored nuances to support the developing subterfuge and espionage doublespeak. Reyes accommodates this quite well; the score has both a restrained power and self-assured confidence, and its layered components – interactions of dark and light sheets of violins, delicate gradations of piano, and the occasional bursting forth of a brief percussive run here and there during moments of peril or discovery – are very nicely conveyed. Reyes grounds the score in a very nice main theme for Hiddleston’s character, evoking an everyman who remembers every bit of his soldiering instinct and training, which snakes its way through the musical story arc quite covertly, popping up to be recognized only when it’s advantageous to do so. A very good score nicely preserved on disk.

Along with Nora Orlandi’s IL DOLCE CORPO DE DEBORAH/ (see above), Quartet has very nicely restored and reissued this 1974 giallo score composed very early in his career by Nicola Piovani. The film, aka THE PERFUME OF THE WOMAN IN BLACK, stars Mimsy Farmer and directed by Francesco Barilli, possesses a masterful suspense score favoring strings and winds, eschewing the melodious/lounge/songlike format of traditional giallo scoring in preference for straightforward orchestral suspense score. With a pleasing waltz melody for the central character “Mimsy” and a more elusive, menacing but still pretty title theme (both of which are given numerous variations across the length of the score), Piovani crafts a potently suspenseful work, occasionally (as in “Scaring Little Girl”) developing some really creepy sounds with twisted, scraped, and bent violin playing. Along with the composer’s folkish-based horror score of the same year FLAVIA, LA MONACA MUSULMANA (aka FLAVIA, PRIESTESS OF VIOLENCE – and which has yet to appear on a proper CD, although Amazon an iTunes now offer a digital version of the 1974 Cinevox LP), PROFUMO is one of Piovani’s best scores of his early years in film scoring.

QUANTUM BREAK/Petri Alanko/Microsoft Studios – digital + vinyl
Finnish composer Petri Alanko (Alan Wake and Trials Fusion game scores, IMAGINAERUM BY NIGHTWISH video score) has created a compelling score for this sci-fi third-person shooter video game. Gameplay centers around a character named Jack Joyce who attempts to stabilize time before it breaks completely, after he gains the ability to manipulate time locally when an experiment goes awry. The music has a provocative electronica sound that ranges from intense momentum to melodic progression, thickly layered driving rhythms to fairly hushed moments of trepidation. Some of the material reminds me of the style of Tangerine Dream, if a comparison must be made for descriptive purposes - “Still Waters (Run Cold And Deep)” is one of the best of these, a multifaceted jewel of a cue with myriad reflective components from massed arpeggios to soaring ascends in a splendidly interactive array. There’s an engaging layering effect of shifting textures and drum-beaten cadences, and a standout emotive atmospheric cue (“Campus”) which is quite captivating in its rhythmic/melodic presentation. Alanko adds electric guitar to his array of keyboard-generated sounds and heavy drum-beats are a regular part of his musical arsenal here (“Don't Stand In My Way” is a marvelous evocation of electronics and epic drumming, one of the score’s most intriguing sonic pleasures, while “Dodging Bullets” is a tremendously exciting and propulsive action cue).
The digital OST is out now on amazon and iTunes.
The vinyl OST also available for pre-order (ships late summer):
Sample sound bytes at: https://play.spotify.com/album/4qOpD0MgKVTaPahw9zHL59

REVELATION/Neal Acree/Varese Sarabandecd + digital
Neal Acree’s multiple award-winning game score to REVELATION, a Chinese themed fantasy MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online role playing game) by NetEase, has been released digitally by Varèse Sarabande, with a CD version to follow on May 27, 2016. Acree (WORLD OF WARCRAFT, OVERWATCH) has crafted an epically styled score with a luxuriant Oriental flavoring and a strikingly beautiful main theme. “Having worked in both film and games I really enjoy projects like these where the line between the mediums is blurred,” said Acree. “The score for REVELATION called for a rich, cinematic sound but the game’s story and artwork called for a traditional Chinese palette,” Acree described. “Orchestra blended with traditional Chinese and Japanese instruments was the natural approach and can make for some beautiful and evocative colors. Each Chinese instrument has its counterpart in the Western orchestra but brings a unique character to the overall sound. Combining the cinematic scope of the orchestra with the unique colors of the traditional Asian instruments helped create an otherworldly sound that existed somewhere between the two worlds that created it.” The sonic texture of the main title music is completely engaging, with choir adding the final piece of emotive tissue to give it a stimulating potency (listen to it on YouTube here). Supported by a hand-picked gathering of top ethnic instrumentalists, including Tina Guo (cello solos), Karen Han (erhu), Bei Bei (guzheng), Jie Ma (pipa) and Uyanga Bold (vocals), give Acree’s score its organic, resplendent sound. Crescendos and solos alike are intimately touching and provide a backdrop for gameplay which is quite dazzling. Listened to on its own, the music conveys a brilliantly rich sonority and a broad depth of aural timbre which is quite enthralling. “The score for REVELATION could easily have been a score for a film,” noted Acree. “Ultimately we are all telling stories and painting pictures with sound. The viewer or the player might be experiencing these stories and places in different ways but the emotions we paint with are universal.” 

RIPLEY’S GAME/Ennio Morricone/Kronos - CD
Kronos Records presents Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack for Liliana Cavani's 2002 film RIPLEY'S GAME, originally released in Italy by Warner Strategic Marketing in 2003 and long since sold out. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s third “Ripliad” novel, John Malkovich plays con-artist Tom Ripley, who persuades a man to commit a murder for a large sum of money. Unsurprisingly, the situation goes out of control, and that man must escape trouble. Lena Headey and Chiara Caselli co-star. Morricone’s score is sumptuous and haunting, evoking the sordid character Ripley in elegant, self-important tones clouded over with dark shadows. Embellishing his orchestra with harpsichord, electric piano, and a variety of percussive elements, the music is constantly in motion, seething with tension while embracing a melodic thematic construction. Modern musical styles shoulder up against classic sensibilities, making the listening experience of this lost classic enjoyable and quite rewarding.
The CD is limited to 500 copies.
For soundbytes and more info, see http://www.kronosrecords.com/K70.html



Soundtrack & Music News

James Newton Howard received the BMI Icon award for career achievement, while David Newman received the Classic Contribution Award, at the annual Film and Television Awards of Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) on May 11th at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Read Jon Burlingame’s report of the evening here. (Photo via BMI).
Links to Jon’s red carpet interviews with each composer are posted on YouTube here: (Howard) and (Newman).

Austrian born composer Max Steiner is one of the founders of film music as we know it today. He scored over 300 movies and was nominated for 24 Academy Awards, winning three. Each year, the City of Vienna presents the “Max Steiner Film Music Achievement Award” during the annual Hollywood in Vienna gala to one of the world’s most renowned film music composers. The award is meant to be a symbol of recognition for exceptional achievements in the art of film music. Hollywood in Vienna CEO and Founder Sandra Tomek has announced that Alexandre Desplat will receive the 2016 Max Steiner award. The ninth annual film music gala, Hollywood in Vienna, will take place October 14th, 2016 at the historic Concert Hall (Konzerthaus) in Vienna, Austria. “His elegant compositions and his rare versatility make Alexandre Desplat one of the most sought-after composers of our time,” said Tomek. “He has a unique gift to always find a nuanced emotional tone that captures the audience and supports the film, which he has proven over and over again.”
For more information, see: http://www.hollywoodinvienna.com/

Congratulations Frederik Wiedmann (composer) and Mitch Watson (lyrics) on receiving Daytime Emmys in the category of “Outstanding Original Song” for the song “True Bromance” in the popular Dreamworks animated series ALL HAIL KING JULIEN! This is Frederik’s first nomination and win. The soundtrack is available from Lakeshore Records. The series is available on Netflix.

Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto will receive World Soundtrack Lifetime Achievement Award during the 43rd Film Fest Gent (Oct 11-21), in Belgium. The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Ryuichi Sakamoto at the 16th World Soundtrack Awards, following the festival’s spotlight on Japanese cinema. A selection of his work will be performed by Brussels Philharmonic conducted by Dirk Brossé. “We are extremely pleased to welcome Mr. Sakamoto next October at the World Soundtrack Awards Gala where he will be the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a film composer. With his recent creative collaboration with Mexican director Alejandro G.Inarritu on The Revenant, Ryuichi Sakamoto found himself again at the forefront of the film music profession.”
Concluding the Gent festival, the 16th edition of the World Soundtrack Awards (WSA) will take place on October 19-20 during the WSA Gala on October 19th will feature the award ceremony and concert; an extra WSA Concert will be held on the 20th (without ceremony). The concert programs will both showcase music from television.  On the 19th, the Brussels Philharmonic and the Flemish Radio Choir will perform the scores from series including FARGO, HOMELAND, HOUSE OF CARDS, SHERLOCK and THE LEFTOVERS with the composers. Jeff Russo, Sean Callery, Jeff Beal, David Arnold and Max Richter in attendance; the second concert on the 20th will reprise and expand that of the 19th, with music from classic TV series from the ‘60s.
For more info & Tickets sales see: www.worldsoundtrackawards.com/en 

On July 8th and 9th  at the Hollywood Bowl, J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot of STAR TREK will be shown in HD on the Bowl’s big screen with Michael Giacchino’s thrilling score performed live-to-picture by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. For Tickets, see: http://hollywoodbowl.com/startrek
In this short interview on Youtube, Giacchino talks about his excitement over these upcoming Hollywood Bowl concerts, and the process of composing the score: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iJBUe4sctI

Hollywood Chamber Orchestra music directors Noah Gladstone and Mark Robertson announced that Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal will conduct the world premiere of his acclaimed score to the 2013 documentary film BLACKFISH, live-to-picture, on Friday, July 1, 2016, at the Montalbán Theater in Hollywood. See here for more information.

John Williams is this year's recipient of AFI's lifetime achievement award. Steven Spielberg will be on hand to present the award at the private gala tribute at the Dolby Theatre on June 9. Spielberg and Williams have worked on 25 titles together. Williams is the first composer to receive the AFI honor.

AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: A Tribute to John Williams will air June 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TNT.

Intrada announces its latest release. Combining two early Hollywood soundtracks by Miklós Rózsa onto a single CD. The Egyptian locale, character intrigue, and tank battle backdrop of Billy Wilder’s 1943 Paramount WWII drama, FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO, inspired Rózsa to create a vivid and dramatic underscore replete with exciting major-key flourishes, edged motifs, tense suspense sequences. The nearly-complete score survives as part of Paramount restoration project, which previously was available only a newly-recorded suite on collections. Also making its first appearance is another WWII film, SO PROUDLY WE HAIL (1943) about with nurses following Pearl Harbor, including Bataan and Corregidor campaigns. Surviving cues from three other previously unreleased scores fill out the album.
See: http://store.intrada.com/s.nl?it=A&id=10211&whence=

Intrada has also released a special edition of all three TRANCERS movie scores, each composed by Richard Band (1984, 1991, 1992). A well-attended pre-release cast & crew reunion and signing took place last weekend (May 21) at Creature Features in Burbank.

Dubois Records in cooperation with BBC Music has digitally released the soundtrack to The Weinstein Company’s new miniseries rendition of WAR AND PEACE on May 13th. The album features the limited series’ original score by multi-BAFTA and Ivor Novello award winning composer Martin Phipps (WOMAN IN GOLD, EUREKA STREET, THE KEEPING ROOM). “I wanted to do a very Russian choral sound mixed with Rachmaninoff meets Vangelis and see if we could mix those elements together,” Phipps said. “They give a size and a scale to the piece and add a real human voice to highlight these personal stories told in a huge context,” he says in an interview with Billboard Magazine.

Lakeshore Records has released Clinton Shorter’s score to the science fiction TV series THE EXPANSE digitally. No word yet on a physical release.
Watch the trailer for THE EXPANSE on YouTube here

Lakeshore Records has also announced the release of a two volume soundtrack for the Golden Globe and Peabody Award-Winning USA Network series MR. ROBOT digitally on June 3, and on CD June 24.  The label will also release a special vinyl package in July.  The albums feature original music by Emmy nominated composer Mac Quayle (THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, SCREAM QUEENS). The series tells the saga of rogue computer hacker Elliot (Rami Malek) and his uneasy involvement with an underground hacker group and its enigmatic leader (Christian Slater). “Elliot uses programming and social engineering techniques to seek and exploit weakness in computer networks, and I use programming and sonic engineering techniques to help enhance the emotional content of each scene,” said Quayle.  “Armed with our computers and an arsenal of software tools, we both attempt to create and discover the right combination of notes (code) and sounds (keystrokes) that help tell the story (access the network).”

Quayle used an almost all-electronic palette for the show, adding only one organic instrument – a piano. “A signature sound in the show is created from what I call ‘Paul Stretch Textures’: audio that has been manipulated by a time stretching program is converted into a sampler instrument making it playable on a keyboard,” he said.

Varèse Sarabande, in partnership with Tomek Productions, will release a very special Blu-ray marking the first anniversary of the passing of Academy Award®-winning composer James Horner. HOLLYWOOD IN VIENNA: THE WORLD OF JAMES HORNER was recorded in Vienna, Austria, as a part of a celebration of his life and music. The ORF Vienna Radio-Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Newman, paid tribute to Horner on October 3 and 4, 2013, with two concerts at the Vienna Konzerthaus. It was the first time in his career that Horner was an audience member at an orchestral concert of the beloved themes that he wrote. This setting reinvigorated Horner's love of concert music and opened the composer up to exploring this new frontier in the years before his passing. At that film music gala, celebrating the world’s leading film composers and produced by Sandra Tomek, Horner was awarded by the City of Vienna with the Max Steiner Film Music Achievement Award. “I am very glad that our concert celebration in Vienna was so special for James - and it’s lovely that we can share this special evening with many more thanks to this Blu-ray release by Varèse Sarabande,” said Tomek. Varèse Sarabande will release the HOLLYWOOD IN VIENNA: THE WORLD OF JAMES HORNER on June 2016.

Additionally, Varèse Sarabande has released a special collection featuring music from Krakow Film Music Festival 2016 on May 23, 2016.  Also on May 23, the label will release the CD of the 2015 Krakow Film Music Festival for the first time outside of Poland. The Krakow Film Music Festival is now the biggest film music festival in the world and has just celebrated its 9th edition this week (May 24-30). Continuing their association with this remarkable event, Varèse Sarabande has again produced the official Krakow Film Music Festival CD 2016. Featuring over 75 minutes of music by the composers who will be part of this year's concerts, it is an eclectic sample of film music's incredible variety in 2016. These CDs are not live CDs taken from festival concerts, but collections of music intended to be played at the festival, allowing attendees to have a souvenir that can be signed at the festival or played back at home as a memory of the music heard at the festival concert, or an appreciation for those unable to attend.

La-La Land, SCEA, and Naughty Dog present the original score soundtrack to the all-new Sony PlayStation 4 videogame UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END. This fourth installment of the hit game series concludes the adventures of swashbuckling treasure hunter Nathan Drake in thrilling and dramatic fashion.
See: www.lalalandrecords.com/Site/Uncharted4.html

In addition, La-La Land will release premiere CD debut of two notable sci-fi dramas on the same disc: 1965’s disaster adventure CRACK IN THE WORLD, with composer John Douglas (TV’s TRANSFORMERS and G.I. JOE) fashioning a traditionally rousing and richly dramatic orchestral ride, and the 1974 sci-fi, insect cult shocker PHASE IV, with Brian Gascoigne’s (THE EMERALD FOREST) score heading in another, but no less compelling direction, with pioneering electronic and acoustic sonics creating a soundscape for the striking imagery in renowned graphic artist Saul Bass’ experimental directorial debut.
See: www.lalalandrecords.com/Site/CITW.html

Disney’s ambitious new fantasy film, ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, is scored by Danny Elfman who also composed the music for its predecessor, Tim Burton’s ALICE. The new film is directed by James Bobin and depicts Alice returning to the whimsical world of Wonderland and traveling back in time to save the Mad Hatter. Disney will release the soundtrack album on May 27.

Los Angeles-based composer Dan Redfeld announces the recent release of Across the Stars: The Music of John Williams For Solo Piano from BSX Records. “The music can translate to pretty much anything and it will still communicate an incredibly emotional, powerful idea,” said Redfeld of John Williams’ work. “We hope the public hears that John isn’t just a one-note, blockbuster composer. His skills are much more multi-faceted and he has a created a body of work which is complex but always memorable and melodic. He’s definitely the greatest American composer since Bernstein or Copland and in a class all by himself.” Distilling the orchestrations down for solo piano allows the listener to hear the purist form of Williams’ melodies. “Williams’s music tends to have a dense texture, both harmonically and contrapuntally,” Redfeld explained. “It’s difficult to translate the counterpoint on the piano and also captured all that color on one instrument. So it’s distilling it down to the basic melody we hear as an audience, and then filling in to get some approximation of the counter-line or harmonies.”
See: http://buysoundtrax.stores.yahoo.net/acstfimuofjo.html

Kronos Records has released Federico Jusid’s music for Christian Molina's I WANT TO BE A SOLDIER from 2010. Jusid’s score supports, punctuates, and enhances wonderfully the storyline without being overpowering and gives the film and its storyline soul and a greater emotional depth. Also new from Kronos is Joris Hermy’s music for the hit Belgium sci-fi/mystery TV series KATTENOOG. “The score is filled with a musical atmosphere and sound that is thrilling and heroic plus there is a menacing air of apprehension and tension which is perfect for the various scenarios and characters within the series,” wrote Kronos’ Godwin Borg. Both CDs are limited to 300 copies.
See: www.kronosrecords.com

Film composer Heitor Pereira (ANGRY BIRDS, MINIONS, DESPICABLE ME) has scored the documentary SONIC SEA, premiering on the Discovery Channel May 19th at 9/8c. Narrated by Rachel McAdams, the film sheds light on how ocean noise levels are negatively affecting marine life. The Grammy winning producer, guitarist, and composer is also a devoted environmentalist. SONIC SEA inspired Pereira to create a deeply profound and moving score for the documentary. He combined his diverse musical ability with his passion for wildlife to create the score. Pereira incorporated acoustic instruments (guitar, strings, percussion) along with sound design, including sonar, for a musical tapestry resulting in a virtual underwater concert.

Watch Sonic Sea trailer:

Preview the complete soundtrack score on Soundcloud:

Academy Award winning composer Atticus Ross (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) has composed the score to the Steve Hoover directed and the Terrence Malick-produced documentary, ALMOST HOLY. The film follows tough-love Ukranian minister Gennadiy Mokhnenko who seeks to rehabilitate and assists young street children. Ross’s score has been given an EP-styled, 3-track soundtrack release from Sacred Bones Records

Sumthing Else Music Works, Warner Bros., and DC Entertainment announce the original motion picture scores to BATMAN UNLIMITED: ANIMAL INSTINCTS and BATMAN UNLIMITED: MONSTER MAYHEM composed by Kevin Riepl. The films are made-for-home entertainment animated movies that bring dimension to Mattel's action figures and playsets. “Writing for these Batman animated features has been an enormous amount of fun,” said Riepl. “Given the opportunity to write for iconic characters such as Batman, The Joker, The Penguin and other classic DC Comics Super Heroes and Super-Villains was met with elated excitement. I was able to start with a fresh palette for these characters and apply my own take on who they were musically by creating new themes and motifs. We wanted to steer away from the seriousness and darkness of previous Batman storylines and keep it light, engaging and exciting.” Currently available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, the original movie soundtracks are available for streaming and digital download through Sumthing Else Music Works www.sumthing.com.

The popular video game franchise ASSASSIN’s CREED is coming to the big screen in a new movie starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. The Australian film is directed by Justin Kurzel and scored by his brother, Jed Kurzel (THE SNOWTOWN MURDERS, THE BABADOOK), who is also the guitarist and vocalist for Australian rock band The Mess Hall. Watch the film’s trailer here.

Composer Graham Plowman (ARTHUR & MERLIN) has composed music for a number of H. P. Lovecraft-related projects, including audio books such as the recent Fungi From Yuggoth reading by Will Hart from Fedogan & Bremer. Noted for his penchant for crafting atmospheres of eldritch horror and strangeness, Plowman has released The Music of H. P. Lovecraft, a full collection of Plowman’s Lovecraft music that isn't tied to other projects.  “With 15 tracks and 77 minutes it's a combined collection of previous releases and the first time nine of the tracks have been released to all the major distributors,” Plowman said. The album will be available on iTunes, Spotify and the like on May 31st, or from the composer’s bandcamp page now.
See also: http://www.grahamplowman.com/

Naxos has released on DVD the classic 1935 Mexican film, REDES, with a newly recorded soundtrack by composer Silvestre Revueltas (1899–1940), performed by the PostClassical Ensemble, conducted by Angel Gil-Ordóñez. The Azteca Films documentary production, directed by Paul Strand, is a story of burgeoning labor rights amongst poor fishermen in a small village in Mexico, made in 1935, and released in the US in 1937 as THE WAVE. REDES (which means “nets”) was the first of seven films that Revueltas would score prior to his death in 1940. It was co-directed by Emilio Gomez Muriel and an Austrian émigré: Fred Zinnemann, later the Hollywood director of HIGH NOON, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, and A MAN FOR ALL SEASONs. The cinematographer was an American: Paul Strand, called by Susan Sontag “the biggest, widest, most commanding talent in the history of American photography.” The DVD features the world premiere recording of Revueltas’s full, hour-long score, and includes a number of special features about the composer and the film and its influence on Mexican cinema.

Sony Classical and Madison Gate Records have released the soundtrack to Jodie Foster’s crime thriller MONEY MONSTER, featuring music by Dominic Lewis, produced by Henry Jackman. “Working on this movie has been such a blast, and to be given free rein to push the envelope on this film was so exciting,” said Lewis. “The soundtrack is a melting pot of textures inspired primarily by the British electronic artists of the 90s. Jodie wanted it to sound homemade and glitchy, but have an emotional strand that really helps solidify the bond between our protagonists. So, as well as using electronics, it was important to incorporate strings to invoke emotion and really help the audience feel the emotions of the story.”

Quartet Records and Studio Canal presents the original motion picture score to OUR KIND OF TRAITOR, composed by Marcelo Zarvos (THE AFFAIR, BROOKLYN’S FINEST, THE FACE OF LOVE) for the adaptation of the popular novel by John Le Carré, directed by Susanna White (NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS). The plot is about a couple who find themselves lured into a Russian oligarch's plans to defect are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust. “Marcelo Zarvos provides a very classy and highly vigorous score with thicker orchestral colors, lyrical, dark, and rhythmic, as a perfect complement to this exciting film,” noted the label. The score is performed by The London Metropolitan Orchestra.

Also announced from Quartet is an expanded, two-disc edition of the classic score composed and conducted by Riz Ortolani for the Gothic horror film LA VERGINE DI NORIMBERGA (aka HORROR CASTLE), directed by Antonio Margheriti in 1963. This new release includes, for the first time, the entire score presented in dynamic stereo sound. The first disc contains the remastered original album program, and the second disc features the complete score, all mastered by Claudio Fuiano from first-generation master tapes courtesy of Gruppo Sugar.

Italian composer Marco Werba (GIALLO) reports that he will score the science fiction film ASTRO, forthcoming from director Asif Akbar (SMOKE FILLED LUNGS).

On June 24th, Silva Screen Records will release Music From the Hunger Games Saga. Composed by James Newton-Howard and performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic, this 15-track collection gives an organic overview of the understated yet lush soundtrack to the dystopian world of Panem. From the haunting and rustic melody of The Hunger Games theme, pomp and circumstance of Horn of Plenty, the quasi-religious Arena Crumbles and spine-tingling centerpiece The Hanging Tree, to the wonderful Air Raid Drill driven by throbbing string ostinatos and soaring voices and ironic and non-triumphant Victory, this is a score that utilizes strings, guitar, dobro, choirs and solo voices to create a singular sound world in counterpoint to images. 

Available in June from Music Box Records is the Philippe Rombi’s score for Christophe Barratier’s latest film, L’OUTSIDER (The Underdog).

Nippon Columbia announced a world premiere concert recording of Barry Gray’s original score (which was found recently) for Gerry Anderson's THUNDERBIRDS. Jun-ichi Hirokami conducts Tokyo Garden Orchestra. Recorded on December 28, 2015 at Suginami Public Hall.
Available from http://www.arksquare.net/

French composer Bruno Alexiu (HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT'S INFERNO, THE EXTRAORDINARY VOYAGE) has been involved in creating a new kind of digital orchestra which is called the Virtual Orchestra as an alternative to existing sample libraries when a live orchestra can’t be used for budgetary or other reasons. “As documentary composer, I am often struck me the problem of time that we devote to music in the making of a documentary, and the very low budget,” said Alexiu. “Tired of making fast, and cheap to make, I decided to develop a virtual orchestra to be fully synchronized in time with image editing, an elaborate symphony orchestra, flexible, extremely realistic. I totally control the color, dynamics, instruments played.”
The Virtual Orchestra is a complex package of features delivers a flawless fully coherent space – including calculation of dimensions, sound reverberation of the front wall, simulation of various microphone setups, realistic instrument interactions and distance calculation. “Each instrument is in its rightful place at the heart of the orchestra, at a volume suited to its nature and the development of its sound,” Alexiu described. “The dynamic processes are fully operational as well as the specialization systems: and so the composition begins.”
For more information, see Bruno’s web page http://www.bruno-alexiu.com/virtualOrchestra-en.html and scroll down to the English language video

Worth Checking Out: Matt Osborne, the artist/designer behind Facebook’s “Documenting the Score” page, has announced a new Soundcloud page dedicated to providing a gallery for documentary film music.  “This will be an exclusive place for sampling music that's been crafted for this unique area of film composition,” said Osborne. “If you're a composer, please come explore and stay awhile.” Most of the cover graphics that accompany the streaming music samples have been designed by Osborne himself, who is available to create custom-made images to “spice up your Soundcloud or soundtrack needs.”



Film Music on Vinyl

Silva Screen announces the vinyl debut of Wojciech Kilar’s haunting soundtrack to Polanski’s disturbing film THE NINTH GATE (1999). The score features at its core the vocals of Korean born soprano, Sumi Jo. Kilar established himself as a horror score composer with BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA and his work here on Polanski’s film achieves a creeping sense of menace worthy of Polanski’s dark tale of Satanic worship.

Waxwork Records reports their next release will be Lalo Schifrin’s unused score to THE EXORCIST. He composed and recorded music for film, including an advance trailer, at William Friedkin’s request, and would have composed the films score were it not for audience reaction to the disturbing images on Friedkin’s trailer coupled with Schifrin’s disturbing music. Friedkin and the studio execs tossed Schifrin’s score out the window (literally) and replaced it with a concoction of records album tracks, including Mike Oldfield’s opening movement from Tubular Bells. (Read the story behind the score-that-wasn’t here). A, 11-mnute suite from Schifrin’s unused score, plus the 1:10 trailer music, was included on a limited CD re-release of the film’s music included in special edition VHS and Laserdisc sets from Warner Bros in 1998. No word yet on how much music will be included on the Waxwork LP, or its release date.
Also from Waxwork is a gorgeous double vinyl reissue of Bernard Herrmann’s iconic score to the Martin Scorsese’s classic thriller TAXI DRIVER. While the original soundtrack was of course released on vinyl (and reissued relatively recently), this appears to be the first time the “complete,” expanded version will be available on wax. This edition includes an expanded version of the score, liner notes by Martin Scorsese, and an epic version of ‘Diary of a Taxi Driver’, which features Robert De Niro’s voice-over taken directly from the film.

Death Waltz Recording Company presents Alan Howarth’s intoxicating electronic music for the 1983 Jim Wynorski classic THE LOST EMPIRE - a thrilling adventure that spans multiple countries and pits a trio of ass-kicking ladies against a mysterious villain and his plan to create an army of female terrorists. The film stars cult actress Raven De La Croix (Russ Meyer’s UP!) and the late, great Angus Scrimm (PHANTASM). Pressed on 180 Gram Translucent Yellow Vinyl. Limited to 500 copies.

On June 3rd Stylotone will release a 2-disc vinyl soundtrack of Frank Cordell’s music to the 1966 MGM historical epic, KHARTOUM.  The package includes over 60 minutes of music across three formats: “Sandstorm”-colored 180gm Heavyweight 12" Vinyl LPs cut at 45rpm, Vinyl Replica CD & Download - High-resolution WAV + MP3, plus a 30” x 40” British Quad Film Poster, and certificate of authenticity personally signed by Mrs. Anja Cordell, the composer’s widow.
US buyers: http://lightintheattic.net/releases/2437-khartoum-original-soundtrack-deluxe-edition


Film Music Books

CAMION BLANC: SYMPHONIES FANTASTIQUES Musiques de films fantastiques et de science-fiction
By Sylvain Ménard 
525 pages, French language

A new book, in French language, focusing on music for fantasy films, this guide aims to identify important works in the musical heritage as they extend into the content and form, the art of so-called classical composition.

See: http://www.camionblanc.com/detail-livre-symphonies-fantastiques-musiques-de-films-fantastiques-et-de-science-fiction-721.php


Games Music News

Austin Wintory has published The Banner Saga 2 soundtrack album through Bandcamp. A vinyl release by iam8bit is scheduled to ship in Quarter 3 of 2016. “I was very lucky to have two new major additions to our Banner this time out,” reads the musician's liner notes. “The orchestra itself came in the form of the Colorado Symphony, my hometown orchestra, recorded in their native Boettcher Concert Hall in downtown Denver.”
Sample tracks or purchase the album here:

Doom (originally known as Doom 4) is a reboot of the popular first-person shooter video game and is the first major installment in the series since the release of Doom 3 in 2004. Doom has been released on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and features music by Mick Gordon (The Last Airbender, Wolfenstein: The New Blood, Wolfenstein: The Old Order). “This main theme includes several hints to previous classic Doom themes,” Gordon explained. “The dynamic track, arranged here for the multiplayer main menu, represents the brutal, ever-changing gameplay in Doom 2016. We move through tension, focus, spurts of graphic violence, madness and horror."
Sample some of Mick Gordon’s DOOM-full music from the game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJI8JDnLH3Y

Sumthing Else Music Works presents the original soundtrack album for the free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing game, WildStar. The game's soundtrack will be released in multiple volumes - Volume One will available for digital download and streaming on May 31. Composer Jeff Kurtenacker (Pirates of the Burning Sea) fuses musical elements together that bring space adventure to life. Using synthesizers, a wide array of guitars, and a 75-piece Los Angeles orchestra, Kurtenacker's approach to the WildStar universe is highly thematic, creating memorable and exciting music that engages players throughout their MMO experience.
For more details, see: www.wildstar-online.com

Square-Enix® and Eidos®-Montréal have announced that, in addition to Michael McCann returning to compose music for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, award-winning artist Sascha Dikiciyan (aka Sonic Mayhem) will also bring his talent to the game's soundtrack. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided's original soundtrack will be available worldwide this fall. Overseen by Executive Audio Director Steve Szczepkowski, the music direction of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided represents an evolution of the score created for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The world of Deus Ex has dramatically changed since the final events of Human Revolution, which culminated with the Aug Incident. The golden age of augmentations is now over, and mechanically augmented humans have been segregated from the rest of society. Mankind Divided deals with heavier subjects and, as a result, the music has been adapted to reflect the new state of the world. It plays a key role in immersing players within the more mature and darker atmosphere of the game, while still staying true to Deus Ex's distinctive and signature style.
Hear Sascha Dikiciyan's work in action in both the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided 101 trailer and the Adam Jensen 2.0 trailer.


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

Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe for copy editing assistance.

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

Randall can be contacted via soundtraxrdl@gmail.com

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