Siddhartha Khosla – Scoring MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS, THIS IS US, THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
Guest Editorial: BLUEPRINT (On Temp Scores)
by Penka D. Kouneva
• SNAPSHOTS: Soundtrack Reviews: AMARCORD (Rota/Quartet), ANTHEM (Schachner/EA Music), BANOVIC STRAHINJA (Kabiljo/Kronos), THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM (Beal/Lakeshore), BRIGHTBURN (T Williams/Sony), IL CASANOVA DI FEDERICO FELLINI (Rota/Music Box), CLIFFS OF FREEDOM (Kallis/Aegean), COLD PURSUIT (Fenton/ Varèse), DJINN (B C Smith/Howlin’ Wolf), A DOG’S JOURNEY (Isham/Back Lot & Quartet), GAME OF THRONES S8 (Djawadi/WaterTower), GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS (McCreary/WaterTower), GODZILLA: THE PLANET EATER (Hattori/Toho), LA GRAN PROMESA (Lopez/Kronos), THE HISTORY OF ETERNITY (Preisner/Caldera), LONERS (Antonini/Antonini), PROM NIGHT (Zaza & Zittrer/Perseverance), QUINN MARTIN COLLECTION Vol 1 (La-La Land), RED JOAN (Fenton/MovieScore Media & Quartet), THE SENTINEL/ (Melle/La-La Land), THE SON (Barr/Varèse Sarabande), SON OF THE MORNING STAR (Safan/Intrada), WICHITA TOWN (Salter/Disques Cinemusique), THE WIDOW (Scherrer/Dubois), ZOMBIELARS (Kaada/Mirakel)
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Siddhartha Khosla is an award-winning film and television composer, and singer/songwriter/producer of the critically acclaimed band, Goldspot, and is known for scoring the TV series MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS, THIS IS US, THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, and the award-winning indie thriller and mystery drama, THE SOUNDING. Khosla’s Indian-born parents came to the U.S. in the mid-seventies to make the American dream their own, where they worked night jobs while completing graduate school during the day. They had no choice but to send their toddler son back to India, where Khosla was raised by his grandparents. During this time, music became central to Khosla’s life as he listened to his mother sing to him on cassette tapes she mailed from America. Khosla’s song “Evergreen Cassette” is about this very experience, and was featured in the first season of THIS IS US. Khosla’s love of music and connection to his Indian heritage were kept alive by his parents through the old Indian movie soundtracks they played in their home once he returned to the U.S. Today, his childhood experiences and musical roots inform his scores and songs to convey a sound that is engaging and unique. Khosla is a skilled multi-instrumentalist, and uses varied instrumentation on his scores from vintage electric and acoustic guitars, rare organs, orchestras, Eastern instruments like the harmonium and the Greek bouzouki, to Flemish harpsichords and vintage analog synthesizers. In November 2013, Khosla was invited as the musical guest for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Diwali celebration at the White House, where he delivered an emotional performance of several of his original songs. -bio abridged from http://nicemgmt.com/siddharthakhosla
Q: You founded the band Goldspot around 2005, which became quite successful. How did you make the transition from recording band member to film and television composer?
Siddhartha Khosla: I’d been touring with my band for some time, and we’d put out some records. Some of my music had been licensed for television and film at that point, so songs from my band appeared in shows like THE O.C. and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, and in trailers for movies. So there was already a foot into the television/film world, just in that my music felt like it fit on some of those cooler shows on TV and film. And so there was already an introduction that way. Then a good friend of mine from college, Dan Fogelman, called me one day out of the blue and asked me to score a TV show, THE NEIGHBORS, on ABC. At the time I was just trying to figure out what my next step was going to be, so I took that job. I was really unsure of whether I could do it or not, to be honest. I’d never scored anything before except some commercials, but I seized it and I embraced it and it turned out being the best decision I’ve made.
Q: How did you become involved with Marvel’s RUNAWAYS?
Siddhartha Khosla: The showrunners of the show, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, and the music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas, they were the ones that ultimately brought me into the project, and Alex had placed my music in some of Josh and Stephanie’s shows in the past, and so there was already this connection. On a show like RUNAWAYS, clearly the direction was they wanted it to be interesting and cool and artistic, and I think the fact that I was in a band and was also a composer helped me get that gig. Again it just goes to producers sometimes wanting you to bring your artistry into your work, and that was a perfect example of that.
Q: You’ve said in earlier interviews that you chose an analog synth sound in favor over an orchestral approach to provide both a retro and a modern sound…
Siddhartha Khosla: So much of that process is trying to figure out what the sound of the show is. You have to first understand the aesthetic of the showrunners and the music supervisor; just what their interests are, irrespective of what the project is. If you understand what they like, then it’s easier to figure out the sound. For that show, I know that Stephanie and Josh and Alex have very cool, hip tastes. I remember reading the script and I kept on thinking of bands like Depeche Mode and more modern bands like Arcade Fire, especially the more synthier side of Arcade Fire on their more recent records. So I proposed to them, “what if this had more of that kind of analog synth sound?” and they said “go for it.” So I pulled out my Juno 60 and the old keyboards we played with in high school, and got a Prophet and an Oberheim!
Q: How did you create the series main theme?
Siddhartha Khosla: It was the first piece of music I wrote. I felt like this was a show about these high school kids who are rebelling against their parents, and we needed something a little aggressive and heroic, and so that music came to me instantly. I wasn’t thinking in terms of a main theme or main title, it was just the first piece of music I wrote. When Josh and Stephanie were looking for something to use for the main title, I remember Josh and Stephanie saying “how about that piece you showed us, that you first wrote? Can you make it longer?” So that’s what I did.
Listen to the RUNAWAYS Main Theme”
Q: Season 2 gave the chance to do some really amazing and strong emotional, almost epic music during the rise of Jonah’s spaceship and all of that. How did that story arc of that season work out for you, musically?
Siddhartha Khosla: Stephanie and Josh wanted to create a solid foundation for these characters, and so much of Season 1, to me, felt like we were investing in the emotional relationships between people. Season 2 all of a sudden became epic and heroic and big. Bigger fight scenes and it just became more of that superhero show. So with Jonah’s spaceship exploding, that required us to kind of go full throttle on the synths and hit everything a lot harder.
Q: Does music have a unique kind of responsibility in supporting the fantastical on top of the emotional drama of the story?
Siddhartha Khosla: I think it’s very important that the music complement what you’re seeing. You’re seeing these extraordinary scenes like the breakdown of Jonah’s ship, for example, and the music has to feel otherworldly. You’re watching something unearthly already, and then there are even moments that are heavenly in Season 2, and the music has to feel like it’s coming out of that world. The second the music doesn’t look like the picture, you lose an audience, I think. That was the most epic we got in the first two seasons. Season 1 was more grounded in the characters.
Q: What would you say has been most challenging for you in scoring RUNAWAYS – and rewarding?
Siddhartha Khosla: I guess the rewarding part of has been deepening my synth knowledge. That has been really amazing. I’ve never really had the synth knowledge that I do now, so I think there is a versatility that I now have with synths that I’ve never had before, and that’s been really educational and rewarding. Also, learning to manipulate the synths, you realize that you can always find something that is unique and original inside these instruments. Any composer working on this type of show has access to these types of synths I’m using, but we all have a very different way of using them, and I think ,with the way you can manipulate those synths, there’s an originality that can come from it. That’s been really rewarding, just finding my own voice inside of an instrument that everyone else can have access to, if they want. I think that’s been really cool. I love the emotional side of the show, I really do.
Q: You began scoring THIS IS US in 2016. The emotions of this series are a lot more expressive and integral than they might be in RUNAWAYS or other drama series. How have you treated the affecting drama and tragedy found in the series’ story arc(s)?
Siddhartha Khosla: THIS IS US is an incredibly nuanced and different type of show, as far as the score is concerned. It never gets to be enormous and big and bombastic. It’s very subtle, it’s very handmade. I make every single sound with my own fingers on that show – with the exception of cello – and the cellist who works on the show [Ginger Murphy] plays cello with her own fingers, and so everything was very handmade, organic, and very deeply personal. I’m hitting a wooden table to create all the percussive sounds you hear on the show – that’s my hand hitting a wooden table with a mic on it. I’m playing acoustic guitar and it’s actually a broken acoustic guitar – there’s a big crack on the back and I bought it for $25 and scored the entire series with that guitar. I have a piano I’m using and all sorts of analog effects that I’m using. It’s already a very deeply emotional show, and I feel like I’m a bit of a character on that show, like I’m inside that show. It’s a very different approach, almost the opposite of RUNAWAYS, where I’m plugging everything in. With THIS IS US I’m not plugging anything in.
Q: It sounds like the broken guitar, for example, and some of these other unique acoustical instruments relate very well to the characters and what they’re going through and their, perhaps, brokenness in the story arc.
Siddhartha Khosla: I actually ended up introducing that $25 guitar in the beginning of Season 2, when you start seeing Jack’s alcoholism, and how that’s affected his own life and his family’s life. Jack was deeply broken and I found it fitting that I was using a broken guitar to score Jack. That’s kind of how it started. I didn’t want something that sounded too good or pristine. My mic choices on the show are not these very pristine microphone choices, I’m sometimes using low-fi mics that are not super bright, or super-present, so yeah I think that sound is very important. There is this kind of relationship between the characters and the instruments that I’m using.
Q: Aside from the instruments that you’ve just mentioned, what is your musical palette for this series, and how does that play into the unique music that the show has required?
Siddhartha Khosla: The musical palette has evolved considerably over the last few seasons. Seasons 1 and 2 relied more on acoustic guitar, with the broken one coming in on Season 2. Season 3 became larger and more epic in different places, there were big piano pieces, there were sweeping percussive moments. In “Songbird Part 1,” which is where we find out about Nicky’s past in Vietnam, and there’s an entire story told about how he’s playing with a little Vietnamese boy on a boat, and they’re messing around with a grenade while he’s high, and the grenade explodes and kills the boy, and there’s an entire dramatic, almost DUNKIRK-level tension piece I wrote for that moment, where Nikki blows up the boat and realizes that he’s killed this kid. It’s almost like I created the sound of tinnitus by bowing a vibraphone, and so the episode had a very dark percussive, harrowing atmosphere. It was really nice to see the progression of that score to go from something as simple as an acoustic guitar playing an emotional moment between people to something that is dissonant and frightening to listen to. So the sound has evolved and developed as the characters and the storyline have as well.
Q: How would you describe your thematic architecture for THIS IS US?
Siddhartha Khosla: Every episode has its own theme. I treat each episode like its own mini movie. The show takes place in the past, present, and future: there’s a family in the present, and that same family’s in the past and the future, but everyone looks different and of course they’re different ages, so to keep things cohesive I decided to write a singular theme for each episode, and you’ll often hear a recurring theme that plays through that episode. The most important thing for me in the series is how to deal with the jumps in time. I proposed early on that, whatever sound I find, it should be timeless enough that it could live in any era. So that’s part of the reason why I got the acoustic guitar in the first place, because there were acoustic guitars in the ‘50s and there will be acoustic guitars in the future. So finding a sound that was timeless was key to it working. Otherwise it would feel very strange, all of a sudden having an ‘80s sound exploring the ‘80s and ‘90s sound exploring ‘90s, it would have been a mess. Finding a timeless sound that can live in any era was key to scoring that series.
Listen to the Closing Theme from THIS IS US:
Q: THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, on the other hand, is a sitcom – so here we’re talking about three very different shows with three very different musical approaches. How would you describe your experiences scoring this one?
Siddhartha Khosla: THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT takes place in the ‘70s, and it’s about a family in which the parents are stuck in an even earlier time. The thing that gave me the key to finding the sound of the show was going on set as they were filming the pilot. Interestingly enough they shot the pilot just two doors down from my house! I got a knock on the door one day, someone asked me to move my car from the street because they were filming a show and they needed to fill up the street with cars from the ‘70s. I had just gotten hired on this and just got the script, so I said, “Wait a minute, ‘70s cars? What show is it?” And they said the name of the show, and I said, “Oh! I’m working on that show!” I walked over to the house and I got to go on set and experience the inside of the house. When I got inside the house there was a little organ in the corner of the house, it was one of those organs that might have been in someone’s house in the ‘60s. And it hit me at that moment, okay, an organ – that’s the sound of the show. So I used all sorts of vintage organs and Fender Rhodes, and there are some elements that are kind of Doors-ish. Ray Manzarek was an influence as well for me on this score, there’s a mix of organs and Rhodes and all those types of instruments but we treat them and they’re mixed in a way that feels like they’re coming out of the ‘60s and then ‘70s.
Q: How are the characters treated musically?
Siddhartha Khosla: Peggy, the mom, is the matriarch of the family – it’s Peggy, her husband, and eight boys. So in many ways, for me, the series revolves around her, because she has a central role in raising the family. So Peggy’s got her own little theme that I go back to often, and then the other main character who has a big role in the show is Timmy, and he’s the narrator of the show. It’s done from his perspective as he looks back on childhood. There’s almost something Morricone-esque about my approach to him, and I was encouraged by the director, Randall Einhorn, to think of it that way. There are also some weird horns and weird organs and weird little instruments that score his stuff. It’s such a fun show, it’s a brilliantly written show, very smart, characters are great, the acting is wonderful, direction is beautiful. It’s a joy to work on that show.
Q: Do the specific musical needs of a comedy-oriented show differ from that of an emotive drama like THIS IS US, or a supernatural drama about super heroes?
Siddhartha Khosla: Ultimately, they’re a lot more similar than you would think. The only differences really are the sonic palettes, and the fact that one is a comedy and the others are dramas. In a drama you treat the dramatic moments with a certain kind of weight that you wouldn’t use on a comedy, but the central idea is the same: is that it’s about the relationships between these characters and of you finding the link between them all. Whether I’m using analogs synths or whether I’m using a vintage organ or a $25 guitar, the approach is still the same – it’s about what I can write for this scene that’s going to connect these characters. That’s really what it is, and that’s the kind of guiding principal for me and my work.
Q: I see your next production is a film called BEATS – where are you on that project?
Siddhartha Khosla: I just finished working on BEATS – I’m pretty sure it will be released some point this year. BEATS is a hip-hop psychological drama that takes place in Chicago. It’s a really interesting and cool concept, musically. The score is not hip-hop-based at all. The movie is about a boy who experiences tragedy and how he copes with it, and he has trouble leaving his house, and so there’s a lot of internal struggle in the score; it feels very inside-your-head, if that makes any sort of sense! I’m using a lot of organic instruments; there is a slight kind of jazz inspiration in the score with some of the saxophones and trumpets, but there’s a very atmospheric level layered to it as well which helps underscore the internal struggle that this boy feels. I think it’s a really special score, very interesting. That was definitely a labor of love.
Special thanks to Jana Davidoff, Grecco Bray, and Alix Becq of Rhapsody PR for facilitating and supporting this interview.
Reprinted, with some edits, from a posting on the Facebook “Perspective: A Forum for Film, TV, and Media Composers” page with kind permission of the author.
I’m married to a music editor whose day job for 30 years has been creating “temp tracks.” He works with directors, producers and studios day in and day out, creating the blueprint for style, tone, instrumentation, and breathing life into a film, way before (and in many cases, months earlier) before the actual composer gets hired.
He attends lots of composer panels; often the composers get asked the inflammatory question “How do you deal with temp tracks”? Instead of offering constructive ideas about how to deconstruct the temp track as a means of reliable short-hand communication, they start talking down about the temp track. With this post, I would like to encourage composers to be thoughtful when they answer this question, and to also suggest that panel moderators do not ask this outdated question. Or to frame it differently, “How are temp tracks or style guides useful as a communication tool”?
Temp tracks are vital. They are indispensable. They are a reliable communication tool between a director and composer. Of course, I agree there is downside to “temp love,” but temp tracks have become the way we score films.
Directors don’t talk about flats and C major scales. They have no idea what “counterpoint” means, and why should they? (Do composers know what “rotoscoping” is?) Most directors don’t have evolved, trained ears. Directors think in terms of concepts, character motivation, and past soundtracks that have resonated with them. The temp track is an indispensable, vital, useful and practical tool for communication about the most abstract element of filmmaking - its score.
Let’s face it, the picture editors and the music editors “score” the film. They do this during the months of editing while the temp track is being added and tested to see how it makes the picture feel, flow and become a story.
Here is how I learned to deconstruct the temp track:
Is it the style / overall tone / genre that most resonates with the director? (of course.)
Is it the tempo that the director likes? (The tempo is one of the most defining parameters for every cue in film scoring.)
Is it the density of the texture / degree of intensity? (usually is.)
Is it the transparency of the sound? (absolutely.)
Is it the driving patterns and a lack of melody? (for sure.)
Is it how the melody is spaced out, with long pauses for breathing in between the motives?
Without a temp track, what happens is this: the composer tries one thing, the director may dig it or not (probably not); then the composer tries another thing, and before you know it, you have scored the same scene seven times. Or you have re-composed your Main Theme 12 times. I know of studio features where the composer scored the entire film three times, in its entirety! One time - orchestral score, 2nd time - rock score, the 3rd time - hybrid orchestra, etc. On a studio feature where your composer fee is 300k this is OK, you still make some bucks. But what about an indie feature with 10k budget from which you have to pay your assistant, your engineer, and a handful of musicians who record your score? If you have to re-score the movie seven times with “different approaches” aka “let’s try and see what sticks” you would be making 5 cents per hour. I personally would not score an indie movie with 10-15k composer fee that does not have temp score that the director digs already. (If the indie movie does not have temp score, I craft one myself, by picking soundtracks I think are a match, and have the director approve my choices. Then I write the actual score. I like direction and clear vision.)
Of course the temp score is never ideal. When scoring a feature, I still have conceptual conversations, ask about the characters’ backstory, character arc, motivation, unspoken thoughts, how the director wants each scene to be anchored emotionally. Character arc / character development are especially relevant for my score and it’s something the temp score cannot do at all. I still ask all the right questions before I crack open a blank sequence file. My role is to embody the emotional arc of the scene and find the perfect “sound.” The director still attends weekly playbacks of the score in my studio.
Scoring a feature is a long, arduous, and very involved process. Over the years I’ve trained myself to work with the temp score without whining. In games it’s even harder because we receive “style guides” yet the demand is always to compose in “wholly unique sound and style.” (Because music in games is used for branding of the product, it needs to be unique.) I deconstruct the temp score and “style guides” in a thoughtful and analytical way. My creativity comes into play with the tune (it must be memorable!), with the themes, arrangement, and shaping of the scenes emotionally.
There are so many things to be deconstructed in a temp score. The questions I posed above (how to deconstruct the temp score) are only the beginning. The temp score is my best friend. The picture editor and the music editor have already scored the film for me. I have the blueprint. Of course I also ask the director, “what about your temp score you do NOT like? What should I avoid?” By dis-ambiguity I learn much from my collaborator.
PS: I am definitely not against innovation, experimentation, and trying out things. All my friends know that I’ve been doing this for many years now, in my artist albums. I am very much FOR experimentation and FOR trying out ideas. But I still want to have temp score in the projects I do. And often we throw out much of it as irrelevant. But it’s better to have some direction than nebulous ideas and lack of direction.
Penka Kouneva is a Bulgarian-American composer, orchestrator, and soundtrack producer. In 1999, she began working in film & television (PRIMROSE LANE, THE THIRD NAIL, MIDNIGHT MOVIE, TV’s FORENSIC FILES, MODERN MARVELS)and in 2009 began to score for videogames (PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE FORGOTTEN SANDS and TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, both with themes by Steve Jablonsky). She has also released the concept albums The Woman Astronaut, A Warrior's Odyssey, ReBirth of ID, and Invisible Lifeline.
AMARCORD/Nino Rota/Quartet Records – cd
Quartet Records latest expanded Fellini-Rota soundtrack release, following on the similar double-CD expansions of the composer’s carnivalistic music for LA DOLCE VITA, 8½, and THE LEOPARD, is a most welcome presentation. 1973’s AMARCORD, which gathered together a series of comedic and nostalgic vignettes set in a 1930s Italian coastal town, features a splendid score, as festive and varied as any of his others for the Italian director, with an especially nice theme. On their 2-CD release, Quartet has nearly doubled the length of CAMs oft-reissued 30-minute 1973 edition of the film score, presenting on CD1 Rota’s entire 50-minute score for the film, while CD2 presents more than 30 minutes of previous unreleased alternate and unused music the composer wrote for the film, as well as a remastered version of the original CAM album for those with a hankering for the original LP version, for completeness’ or nostalgia’s sake. This is a thoroughly lovely score and the opportunity to hear Rota’s many different variations of his themes makes for a highly rewarding album, one which will sit nicely beside the label’s other expanded Fellini-Rota collaborations. The album booklet features notes on the making of both film and music by writer Gergely Hubai, in a very handsome presentation art directed by Nacho B. Govantes.
For details, see quartetrecords
ANTHEM/Sarah Schachner/EA Music – digital
For several years now, Sarah Schachner has composed excellent music for video games, including Assassins Creed: Unity, The Lazarus Effect, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Her most recent score, Anthem, an online multiplayer role-playing action video game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts, is jaw-dropping astonishing. I’m not a gamer [well, the last video game I owned was Zaxxon, which probably dates me pretty succinctly, maybe even archeologically!] but I definitely appreciate the epic cadences and powerful sonic gestures of video game music, and Sarah has really done an amazing job on crafting a superlative game score. Her musical palette is emotive and grand, given an immensely powerful musical design through the use a synthetic voice modulator, which adds a robust sense of authority to the music but is never overused to the point of becoming redundant. The use of didgeridoo also lends a unique and wondrous musical texture to the score. “The sound and instrument choices are definitely unique to Anthem and its story,” she told interviewer Alex Gibson for twinfinte.net. “While it’s a sci-fi world on an alien planet, it has a very primal and jungle-y look and feel so I wanted to reflect that musically by using primitive tribal instruments like the didgeridoo and a Slovakian overtone flute called the Fujara. I also used a modular synth and vocoder to enhance the technological side of the lore. Bioware knew they wanted the music to feel somewhere between Avengers and Middle Earth so that told me right away we’d be using an orchestral foundation, but there was plenty of room to experiment with other sounds and give it my own voice.”
The soundtrack album makes for a persuasive and quite immersive listen, from its astonishing opening (“Legion of Dawn”), powerful brassy anthems (“The Titan”), poignant layering of sensitive strings (“Old Friends”), massively powerful sound structures (“The Anthem of Creation”), heroic melodies (“The Freelancers,” “Strong Alone, Stronger Together”), to its emotively resonant conclusion (“Reflections”) – and much more. Each track houses a depth of texture and orchestration that is finely crafted and completely absorbing.
Have a listen to some music samples at amazon.
BANOVIC STRAHINJA (THE FALCON)/Alfons (Alfi) Kabiljo/Kronos Records - cd
In the late 14th century, medieval Serbia becomes the target of Ottoman invaders. One of their renegade gangs burns the castle and takes the young wife of Banovic Strahinja, respected Serbian noble. Strahinja begins a long and almost futile quest for his wife despite everyone’s doubts about her fidelity. The 1981 film starred the Italian actor Franco Nero (DJANGO), and its music was composed, orchestrated, and conducted by Croatian composer Alfons (Alfi) Kabiljo (SKYBANDITS, SCISSORS, TESLA); the score won the Golden Arena award for best music at the festival of Yugoslav films in 1981. The score is thickly orchestrated in a representative medieval style with a striking poignant main theme performed by woodwind and strings, which embodies Strahinja’s love for his wife which drives him to affect her rescue in the midst of warfare. The choral ensemble, Universitas Studiorum Zagrabiensis, adds both to the historical authenticity of the musical texture but also offers an impassioned interpretation of Kabiljo’s main theme. Elsewhere, Kabiljo crafts Oriental dances and motives representing the Serbs and the Ottomans as they clash against one another. Both the ethnic musical pieces and the more dramatically orchestrated cues combine to create a very interesting and emotive historically-structured score which is very nicely presented in this world premiere release. The CD album, as is usual for Kronos, is limited to 300 copies. (Incidentally, on June 15, Kronos is releasing another Kabiljo soundtrack 1978’s WW2 film OKUPACIJA U 26 SLIKA (Occupation in 26 Pictures) – see below in News.)
For more details, sample tracks, or to order, see Kronos.
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM/Jeff Beal/Lakeshore Records –digital + cd (due June 21)
Jeff Beal saturates this engrossing documentary film with a pleasant, acoustic sonority that fits the story like a warm pair of overalls. From Emmy Award winning director and documentarian John Chester, the film profiles Chester and his wife Molly as they acquire and work to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres outside of Los Angeles. From an impossible dream sitting on land that was utterly depleted of nutrients and suffering from a brutal drought, the film chronicles eight years of daunting work and idealism as they attempt to create their utopia, planting 10,000 orchard trees and over 200 different crops and ground cover, and bringing in dozens of barnyard animals, learning from their mistakes and succeeding in spite of the many obstacles in their way. Beal’s music is the perfect accompaniment to this often emotional cinematic landscape as we accompany the Chesters on their journey into farming. Written for a largely folk-styled acoustic ensemble and recorded in the intimacy of Beal’s own home studio, the score follows the story’s multiple ups and downs, enhancing the drama and the emotional textures of the film, while crafting a splendidly compelling musical palette that is refreshing in its seeming simplicity and attractiveness. Despite the darker moments of the endeavor – evoked in Beal’s musical portraits of “Wildfires,” “Not Much Life,” “Overwhelming,” “Coyote Attack,” “Death Of Idealism” and “Drought And Wind,” there remains a palpable joy in listening to this music, as the positivity of such cues as “A Life That Would Change Ours,” the festive “The Animals Arrive,” “Becoming A Paradise,” “The Rain Arrives,” “Purpose Driven Life” with its pleasingly resonant choir, and the conclusive “It’s Paradise” are richly expressive and wonderfully performed. This is an exceptional score, and the musical journey it takes provides a pleasing treat for the ears and a happy experience for the heart.
Watch the film’s trailer at youtube
and learn more at https://www.biggestlittlefarmmovie.com/. Note: my next Soundtrax column will feature a detailed interview with Jeff Beal about scoring this, and other documentary films.
BRIGHTBURN/Timothy Williams/Sony Music Masterworks – digital
The first film to mash-up the super-hero film with the horror film, Dave Yarovesky’s BRIGHTBURN (co-produced by James Gunn) postulates a child from another world crash-landing on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to humankind, he proves to be something far more sinister. Found and adopted, SUPERBOY-style, by a childless couple (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman), they attempt to raise the boy (Jackson A. Dunn) to use his powers for good, but an evil begins to grow inside that will eventually be unleashed. Timothy Williams emphasizes the child’s darker side with a score that has no room for noble superhero anthems, but follows the deadly feats of the costumed super-predator with a score that cloaks the boy, Brandon, in an aura of dark villainy. “Being able to merge two genres which have never been combined before, superhero and horror, was an amazing experience,” said composer Timothy Williams in Sony’s press release for the soundtrack. “I was thankful for a close collaborative relationship with the director Dave Yarovesky. We worked on the idea of a main theme at the beginning that would be simple and reflect the emotional investment of hope in the story. You hear this in a three note piano solo theme. As Brandon's power increases, we begin to feel the weight and power of a large orchestra which then bends and distorts with Brandon's descent into evil. The low strings and low brass mutate the theme and processed percussion pumps up the tension. Because Brandon is this kid from another world, I got to develop some unique sounds using a bespoke library for the ROLI which bends and pitches sound as well. Overall it was a dream come true to create this sound for a new genre film.” The music is thus fairly brusque, often percussive, and maintaining a dour personality throughout the film, with menacing tendrils of sustained tonalities seething quietly, expectantly. It’s essential a horror score, fittingly enough, once the behavior evoked by Brandon is revealed. Prior to that revelation, Williams gives the alien child some benefit of the doubt: “There is a scene in which Brandon asks his mother ‘Who Am I?’ This for me was where I felt we needed that ‘super hero potential’ motif,” Williams told interviewer Daniel Schweiger in Film Music Magazine. “[We] always had this vision of taking this innocent and potentially uplifting theme and twisting it so it becomes dark evil and horrific. So I took that simple theme and mutated and twisted it to reflect the distortion and terror.”
The soundtrack makes for an interesting listen, a horror score with a subtle superhero guise – or perhaps vice-versa. A unique take on the mash-up, in any case, and a unique side of the composer we’ve not previously heard.
IL CASANOVA DI FEDERICO FELLINI/Nino Rota/Music Box Records – CD
Music Box Records got a share in the 2-CD expanded Fellini-Rota soundtrack market with this release of 1976’s IL CASANOVA DI FEDERICO FELLINI (aka FELLINI’S CASANOVA). With Donald Sutherland in the title role, the film is an adaptation of the autobiography of Giacomo Casanova, the 18th-century adventurer and writer, which portrays Casanova’s life as a journey into trivial sexual abandonment, with Fellini largely inventing his own interpretation of the character. As the narrative presents Casanova's adventures in a detached, methodical fashion, Rota’s score is likewise much more mechanistic and melancholic than romantic or alluring, and it’s this quality which makes it most unique and intriguing, sonically. A dominant characteristic of Rota’s CASANOVA score is the use of a glass harmonica with its uniquely glistening, ringing sound, as well as an oboe d’amore which offers an unusual resonance on the more familiar oboe sound. A harpsichord is also featured prominently, as is the playfully systematic keyboard motif for the “magic bird” that rises to chirp happily during Casanova’s many creative carnal conquests. Rota fell ill with pneumonia during the composing of the CASANOVA score, and brought in colleague Carlo Savina to assist with orchestrations and help get it done in time for the recording deadline (Rota would write only one more score for Fellini, 1978’s PROVA D'ORCHESTRA [Orchestra Rehearsal]; he passed away in 1979). There are also several songs and vocal bits which enhance the score’s diversity.
Music Box’s first CD contains the original 13-track soundtrack album as released by CAM in 1976, while the second CD features nearly an hour of bonus tracks and variations, alternate mixes, and extra takes; at least 45-minutes of them previously unreleased. Writer Gergely Hubai documents the creation of the film and its score in excellent detail in the album booklet. A limited edition of 1000 units. For details, see musicbox.
CLIFFS OF FREEDOM/George Kallis/Aegean Entertainment – digital & cd
George Kallis, recipient of the 2018 Breakthrough Composer of the Year with the IFMCA, has composed a thoroughly engaging and lovely score for CLIFFS OF FREEDOM, a romantic story of bravery and faith between a Greek village girl and a Turkish Ottoman Colonel during the dawn of the Greek War for Independence (1821-1830). Composer Kallis, of Greek-origin himself, was able to bring his heritage musically to the screen by returning to his roots using Greek instruments and rhythms with the orchestra and choral template, yet the vibrant music remains dominated by a splendorous orchestral timbre. The score captures the historicity of the story and the impassioned love story that circulates within the overall drama. Kallis’ melodies are developed within a layered orchestration of orchestral and choral prowess, with the ethnic Greek instruments serving as touchstones for the setting and period in which the film takes place. It’s a magnificent sounding work. The soundtrack concludes with a sweet end title song “I’ll Wait for You,” written by Kallis and producer Marianne Metropoulos, performed by Ariana George. The album is available from the usual sources, while CDBaby is also offering a CD version.
For more information on the composer and his music, see: http://georgekallis.com/
Listen to highlights of the score from youtube:
COLD PURSUIT/George Fenton/Varese Sarabande – cd
In this action/revenge film, director Hans Petter Moland’s close adaptation of his original 2016 Norwegian thriller IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE, Liam Neeson stars as Nels, a snowplow driver in the fictional Colorado ski resort of Kehoe, who seeks revenge against the drug dealers who’ve set up and killed his son. In this version, Moland captures something of the spirit or attitude of the Coen Brothers’ FARGO, and Fenton seems to have conveyed a bit of Carter Burwell in his choice of scoring Moland’s movie. The music is something of a departure, tonally and instrumentally, from the orchestral work that Fenton is best known for, but it’s a fine action score by any means. The music conveys Nel’s homespun gentility, his introverted personality, and the repetitious and unchallenging job he favors through a folksy tune for a balalaika. Against this plucky instrument Fenton sets up a variety of electronic flavors and other tension-building textures that are associated with the drug dealers in nearby urban Denver and various other story components that Moland sets in the path of Nel’s revenge (there’s even a quasi-disco tune for synth & drum machine aptly applied to the drug dealer named Speedo). It’s a likable score; Fenton successfully reinvents himself to the sonic landscape of this picture and turns up a multi-flavored and multifaceted score that works well and makes for an interesting listen apart from its movie.
DJINN/B C Smith/Howlin’ Wolf Records – cd
This 2013 horror film was Tobe Hooper’s last movie (he died in 2017), and while holding much promise (it was the first supernatural thriller filmed in both English and Arabic languages, and was produced by the United Arab Emirates, which hand-picked Hooper to direct their maiden voyage into cinematic horror), DJINN received unfavorable critical consensus although fan reviews have been much more positive. Composer BC Smith (SMOKE SIGNALS, 1999'S THE MOD SQUAD, OUTSOURCED, SKINS) provides a ferocious, textured horror score that was largely created via a custom-built monophonic synthesizer. Wielding all manner of creepy sonic palettes that maintain and augment the film’s otherworldly resonance, Smith’s sound design-ish musical patterns are pretty scary all on their own. But there’s a thematic base to his aural arrangements: firstly being a haunting ethnic vocalise sung by Azam Ali that contrasts one of the characters’ grief with the malevolence of the Djinn mother. The latter character has her own theme, a “churning whirlwind of mourning and fury,” as Smith puts it in his liner notes, often reflected via a layering of both ethereal and growling synths. The third motif is a brooding albeit confident “Homecoming” theme that contrasts against the cruel darkness prevalent throughout most of the score. Smith details his approach to scoring DJINN and its various sonic components in a 5-page commentary in the album booklet. Howlin’ Wolf Records continues their dedication to preserving and celebrating “dynamic film scores composed for horror and suspense,” of which this fine release is especially, and wickedly, rewarding.
A short interview with Tobe Hooper about making DJINN, circa 2012, has been archived here. For more information on the composer, see http://bcsmithmusic.com/
For details, sample tracks, and to order, see howlin’wolf.com.
A DOG’S JOURNEY/Mark Isham/Back Lot Records – digital/Quartet Records - cd
A DOG’S JOURNEY is the sequel to 2017’s A DOG’S PURPOSE, scored by Rachel Portman. Isham draws musical inspiration from Portman’s score for the earlier film and incorporates some of her themes while creating a unique score for this new chapter. “Dogs have a very similar relationship within our family as the one that unfolds in this story,” Isham said. “Our dog Lucy is an important member of our family and I could relate.” The film’s director Gail Mancuso’s and Isham’s working relationship was akin to a director and actor, as the composer explains: “She would talk about marks, and what to deliver in the first part of a scene vs. the middle and the end of it. Direction like this is priceless for a composer, as it helps to shape the form of the composition.” A challenge for Isham was creating a rich, thematic score for a main character who is a musician herself. “This is Ethan’s grand-daughter’s story, who is a musician trying to battle her demons and bring her music to the public.” To further reflect this, Isham brought in 17-year-old piano virtuoso/composer/ songwriter Emily Bear to be the principal voice of the piano-featured score. Isham’s music is compatible with Portman’s through a similar musical palette and retains a similar breezy, spirited joy that was also possessed by its predecessor (hints of Portman’s theme can be heard here and there, and the concluding track, “A Dog’s Journey/A Dog’s Purpose” merges his score with Portman’s in a delightful kind of motivic duet). This isn’t – and shouldn’t – be a complicated score; it serves its purpose with a light touch and just the right tone for the journey while gently tugging on the heart strings, laying bare the emotional connection between the granddaughter and the dog (and, ultimately, the viewer and the dog). Tracks supporting the storyline’s more dramatic moments are necessarily tense and somewhat darker, but in most respects this is an admirable and sentimental feel-good score, just as any film score for a movie about a dog’s purposeful journey ought to be. (Along with this digital release, Quartet has released a CD edition of A DOG’S JOURNEY to go with it – see news brief below).
Join composer Mark Isham at the Fox Studios scoring stage for a behind the scenes featurette from the recording session:
GAME OF THRONES Season 8/Djawadi/WaterTower – digital (cd due in July)
WaterTower Music released the music from GAME OF THRONES Season 8, the soundtrack from the final season of the award-winning HBO series, the same night the series concluded. The soundtrack is available digitally and for streaming via the usual sources, with a double CD scheduled for release on July 19 with a vinyl release to come later this year. Djawadi’s score for the series’ concluding season is an apt finale; epic, dark, and ultimately a fond farewell to the characters we’ve followed since 2011. Those who know the show and its score pretty well know what you’re getting here: the timbres and the themes are familiar but they are developed into larger and more resolute orchestral gestures. “The music for season eight concludes the story arc of GAME OF THRONES,” explained Djawadi in a press release from HBO. “Though it’s tough to say goodbye to the series, I hope this soundtrack transports the listener back to the world of Westeros. It’s been such an honor to be a part of this incredible show for the past eight years.”
The nature of the final season also keeps the score’s tone fairly dark, although there are very dynamic cues to accompany the season’s major battle scenes – episode 3’s “The Long Night” in which the decisive battle against the Night King and his white walkers at Westeros is determined (the 9-minute opus “The Night King”), and season 5’s brutal “The Bells,” in which Westeros is destroyed through dragonfire – but the somber strains that accompany the tying up of loose ends before and after these battles have their own reverberant textures. Aside from the recurring Main Title and three tracks not heard in the series, the 29 tracks used during this season’s episodes offer a compelling and memorable resonance from the season’s six episodes:
1. “Winterfell” – 3 tracks
2. “A Night of the Seven Kingdoms” – 2 tracks
3. “The Long Night” – 7 tracks
4. “The Last of the Starks” – 2 tracks
5. “The Bells” – 5 tracks
6. “The Iron Throne” – 9 tracks.
The three album-exclusive tracks include the hushed chorale piece, “Not Today,” presumably composed for the episode 3 or 4 but not used; “Stay a Thousand Years,” unused but possibly referencing a scene in “Winterfell” with Daenerys and Jon by the waterfall in which Dany says “We could stay a thousand years, no one would find us;” and a fervent rendition of “The Rains of Castamere” beautifully sung by Serj Tankian of System of a Down (In 2017, Serj did a guest appearance at the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience performing this arrangement).
The album includes the instrumental version of the emotional ballad “Jenny of Oldstones,” sung by Podrick in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms;” the wistful end title version, performed by Florence and the Machine, is not on this album, but is available as a single from iTunes and can be heard in a lyric video on youtube here. All of the tracks can be listened to on WaterTower’s playlist on youtube.
Related: Read my look back at Djawadi’s scoring of the series at musiquefantastique.
Here is the concluding track, the last music from GAME OF THRONES, which concludes the season and the series:
GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS/Bear McCreary/WaterTower Music –
digital [cd to follow]
With that opening surging salvo of six gargantuan horn notes, there’s no mistake what movie you’re listening to. Bear McCreary bows deeply to the legend of Akira Kurosawa and his original GOJIRA music, elements of which are sewn into the fabric of his colossal score for Michael Dougherty’s GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, along with a substantial layering of large orchestra, taiko drums, gruff male chanting, ethnic soloists, and an 80-voice choir that is truly worthy of the gigantic reptile of Japanese cinematic legend. The film features an immense score which McCreary has described as the most massive he’s ever written. “I did not want this to be a retro score,” he told me in a recent interview.* “I wanted it very much to be what I think a blockbuster score should sound like in 2019. It just so happens that some of the thematic material for our most important characters has a legacy that comes from the past.” McCreary’s use of chanting taiko choir in the score is pervasive, giving the music an organic, operatic weight intermixed with frenetic, aggressively muscular orchestrations. With two of Ifukube’s original themes used for Godzilla (enhanced by chanting tribal choir) and Yuji Koseki’s reverent “Mothra Song” performed by an ethereal female choir (the end of both “The Larva,” and “A Mass Awakening;” “Queen of the Monsters,” “Mothra’s Song”), McCreary’s own delicious kaiju compositions accompany Rodan (“Rodan,” howling horns, earth-shattering drumming, wing-beating string cadences, male choir chanting) and Ghidorah (“Ghidorah Theme,” “Rise of Ghidorah,” with beastly brasses, flailing strings, and rhythmic, rapid, reverent chanting), the score’s thematic architecture is filled out with a heroic action motif for Monarch, the crypto-zoological agency that faces off against the monsters (introduced in 2017’s KONG: SKULL ISLAND, the second film in Legendary’s shared cinematic MonsterVerse), and a few motifs for the most significant human characters. There’s also what sounds like a touch of throat singing in the midst of McCreary’s brass and choir in a couple of cues (opening of “Rise of Ghidorah,” middle of “The One Who Is Many” – or perhaps it’s just a growling synth. But it’s very cool). The scorer is not all roar and thunder, however. McCreary’s score includes emotive moments, such as the poignant middle ground of “A Mass Awakening” (the closest the score comes to referencing Ifukube’s “Requiem” from GOJIRA), the poignant “For Andrew,” the reflective “The One Who Is Many,” the bright hope of relief in “The Key to Coexistence,” and the liberating glory of the conclusive “Redemption.”
But it’s the thick, multiple layers of orchestration imbued into the score that dominate; that give the music an inescapable sense of space, size, and weight, which is a constant subliminal reminder that the movie is dealing with huge, ancient beings with little regard for we tiny humans. . In a word, the score for GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS is cataclysmic. It’s a huge clash of musical ideas compressed into multiple layers that convey an inexorable concert of massive movement, as these ancient creatures tear civilization apart with their battle (sadly the layered textures of the score are mixed low against the sound effects in the movie, so to really appreciate it, you’ll want the soundtrack). The music incessantly clarifies this sensibility with its powerful sonic presence and drive, and its malleable proportion of ancientness, which is also shrewdly bolstered by McCreary’s use of the ancient Babylonian language that makes up much of the choral chanting, almost imperceptibly underlining the antediluvian age of these godlike creatures (of which the aptly titled “The First Gods” is an expressive example). In reverent Japanese terms, Bear McCreary has bestowed honor upon what Akira Ifukube designed decades ago when he created the music for GOJIRA in 1954. It’s a supremely impressive musical conception rich in agitato gestures and textured in dark, flaring colors; a magnificent work that will stay in memory for a long time. Welcome to the A-list, Bear!
* Read my interview with Bear about scoring GODZILLA KOTM posted at musiquefantastique.
Listen to Bear’s “monstrously operatic” Main Title, which also includes Akira Ifukube’s Godzilla theme on youtube
Watch Bear’s “Making of GODZILLA” recording session video:
GODZILLA: THE PLANET EATER/Takayuki Hattori/Toho - cd
Takayuki Hattori’s third and final score in Toho’s animated kaiju trilogy, which began with GODZILLA PLANET OF THE MONSTERS (2017) and GODZILLA: CITY ON THE EDGE OF BATTLE (2018, reviewed in my Aug 2018 column) continues with the style necessitated by the storytelling, which is a quiet, menacing, and talky first half, erupting into ferocious battle in second half. Thus the first portion of the score, while interesting, proceeds at a fairly slow pace; Hattori uses a rather incidental harp-like keyboard sound that lingers behind much of the dialogue and quiet business before the monsters show up, which may prompt some listeners to advance ahead to the more muscular action-oriented material, which is pretty terrific in its size and scope. In this third film, the entity hinted at during the end of the second film is revealed as expected, when tri- headed Ghidorah manifests as a shadow, its fiery tendrils emerging in the skies above from an alternate dimension to attack Godzilla, who is unable to harm the incorporeal three-headed extra-dimensional monster. Hattori’s music for Ghidorah is a sinewy convection of high strings and descending horn figures, layered against winds, electronic tonalities, and fatalistic blows from heavy drums; quite a thrilling fusillade of sound during the monsters’ main battle. Throughout “Awakening,” the short “Atomic Breath Attack,” “Ghidorah's Threat,” “Eye,” “Attack that Consumes the Earth,” most of “The Final Stage” and the first half of “Ruin and Salvation,” Hattori is at his furious orchestral best. The composer, who also scored Toho’s GODZILLA VS. SPACE GODZILLA and GODZILLA 2000 MILLENIUM back in the mid-to-late ‘90s, maintains a steady hand on his large orchestral and synth forces, and his battle music is thoroughly engaging, while “Mind Control” has more of a fluid, melodic treatment with synth-strings and voices. After a final orchestral battle cry, the end of “Ruin and Salvation” returns to that keyboard motif from the film’s first half, though treated with more of a percussion beat and strings counterpoint, while the track ends in a surging, victorious exclamation of strings and brass. “Farewell” and “The Last One” resolve the film, and the trilogy, in a secure melody of salvation.
LA GRAN PROMESA/Rodrigo Flores Lopez/Kronos - cd
Kronos Records presents the soundtrack to 2017 drama LA GRAN PROMESA (“The Great Promise”), directed by Jorge Ramírez-Suárez (RABBIT ON THE MOON). The film tells of a Mexican war photographer who as a last resort must kidnap his own newborn daughter to prevent her from falling into the wrong hands. Outrunning the authorities, he sacrifices his American citizenship and career by retreating to Europe after leaving his child in the care of his close friends in Mexico. Decades later, he must find a way home to keep the promise he made over 20 years ago – whatever the cost. Mexican composer Rodrigo Flores López has infused his score with emotional depth suitable to this impassioned story, providing a richly melodic, orchestral score which is also flavored with the urgency and tension of the protagonist’s predicament. The soundtrack is both enjoyable and highly listenable on its own, and enthusiastically recommended. The composer provides the foreword and notes for the CD booklet. Kronos has issued the CD in a limited edition of 300 copies. See Kronos
THE HISTORY OF ETERNITY/ Zbigniew Preisner/Caldera - cd
Caldera Records presents the score for the 2014 Brazilian romantic drama THE HISTORY OF ETERNITY, featuring music by Zbigniew Preisner (Kieslowski's THREE COLORS, THE SECRET GARDEN, THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONICA), whose score was awarded the Cinema Brazil Grand Prize (Brazilian Oscar). The film tells of not one, but three love stories, which happen simultaneously and intertwine. Highlighting piano, solo violin, and acoustic guitar, the score’s main theme is very delicate but also very hesitant in its presentation. It’s a reflective and indecisive score, pretty but sparse, evocative but melancholy. Preisner’s use of the guitar ties all three of the romances together, while also configured in with the director’s use of songs in the narrative. Two of the three characters in the story play musicians, so music is also an integral part of the film story, but its use as score remains reserved. Midway through a few tracks such as “The Hunt,” “Re-Discover,” “Rain 1,” “Rain 2,” “Arrival Song,” “The Sea,” and “Main Titles Version 2,” grow a little livelier and poised, allowing the piano, violin, and guitar to imbue a heartier tone, and by the “End Credits” the melody, if not fully impassioned, emerges confidently in its most enriched resolve. It’s a very interesting score, harboring intimate beauty in its austerity.
For more information, see caldera
Listen to a suite from Preisner’s score to THE HISTORY OF ETERNITY via Soundcloud.
LONERS/Marco Valerio Antonini/ Marco Valerio Antonini – digital
Composer Marco Valerio Antonini has composed a persuasive orchestral score for director Eryc Tramonn’s politics-centered fantasy/comedy orbiting around a fictional evil government’s plan to enforce social relationships on people who prefer to spend time alone. If you’re an introvert, you are a threat to your society in the Loners universe. “With this preamble, the movie presents itself as a comedy, but one carrying a deeper meaning,” Antonini told Soundtrax. “In addition, it screamed for the need of over-the-top tones nodding to parody, to a spy movie, and to a military centric movie. At the same time, friendship and affections are present as a warm counterpoint to this edgy irony throughout the film. Producer Tyson Turrou and I immediately agreed that the symphonic orchestra, with its immense variety of sizes, colors, and moods, was the perfect instrument to play this story. Eryc likes to describe his style for LONERS as ‘live-action animation,’ using fast paced rhythm and strong contrasts which provide a naturally unique canvas for music. We extended on the orchestral tradition using all sorts of tools, from a pendulum clock accompanying the orchestra to a Theremin being accompanied by it.”
The score makes for a fine listen on its own; Antonini’s ensemble creates an intimate sonority which is quite appealing, with very effective orchestration – and when that soaring Theremin suddenly sings out from the orchestra in tracks like “Jeremy - Ears in the Walls and Eyes in the Sky” and “Disassociation,” it’s a striking moment; although Antonini’s use of the instrument is more subtle that what we might expect from its heavy handed use in science fiction movies – rather than the scream of terror in the face of alien invasion, this is the softer peal of an imperfect society existing beneath the thumb of a threatening regime. The score captures the multiple nuances and meaningful undertones of the story quite effectively, and with a large variety of individual moments that don’t necessarily rely on a handful of recurring themes – the score doesn’t need that kind of connective tissue. Nearly each track is, therefore, a surprise and a new presentation on first listen, with unique colorations and textures to be had around each corner. A very pleasing score in all respects.
The score is available digitally from the usual download and streaming services.
For more information about the composer, see https://www.marcovalerioantonini.com
Sample the score’s End Title Suite:
PROM NIGHT/Paul Zaza and Carl Zittrer/Perseverance - cd
After 39 years, the first official and legitimate soundtrack album of the 1980 Canadian slasher film PROM NIGHT is finally available on Perseverance Records. The label worked closely with composers Zaza and Zittrer to locate and unearth the original masters and all music recorded for the film including unreleased songs and score not used in the final production. Back in the day, the composers opted to score PROM NIGHT orchestrally, as they felt the electronic technology was not sufficient to give the film the kind of music it needed. What we have, then, is primarily an orchestral score with some electronic elements added to the texture; and it evenly filled the soundtrack with score and songs, the latter filling in as source cues during the Prom celebration which covers most of its final business. The soundtrack first recreates the score as it appears in the film – or as close to it as it could be assembled from the elements they uncovered (first 8 tracks, approx. 15 mins.). Score music that wasn’t used in the picture follows (14 tracks, approx. 12 mins.). Then come the disco songs in approximate order of use (6 tracks, approx. 20 mins.), but omitting the Blue Bazaar songs that were not used in the movie and were just incorporated as filler for the 1980 Japanese bootleg LP. Finally, we have songs intended for the movie but not used (6 tracks, approx. 15 mins.). The score is string-heavy with sustained measures conveying suspenseful timbres over rhythmic chords from cello that evoke growing tension, while a soft flute melody provides a wistful accompaniment for a flashback scene and a piano plays distantly. The brevity of most of the score cues evoke subtle moody moments, if not developed configurations, and the disco songs are fun in a retro sort of way; the score’s rarity as an orchestral accompaniment to a slasher film in an era that would find increased use of electronic music makes it especially intriguing, and Perseverance is to be commended for putting this comprehensive package together.
For more details on the PROM NIGHT score, see this interview with Paul Zaza in my March 2009 column.
To listen to sample tracks or to order, see perseverance
THE QUINN MARTIN COLLECTION – VOLUME 1: COP AND DETECTIVE SERIES
La-La Land - cd
TV music expert Jon Burlingame has put together a fine collection of rare, never-before released scores from episodes of eight Quinn Martin-produced police and detective shows from the 1970s, featuring music from BARNABY JONES, MOST WANTED, CANNON, DAN AUGUST and more – composed by Jerry Goldsmith, Bruce Broughton, Dave Grusin, Lalo Schifrin, John Parker, Duane Tatro, Nelson Riddle, Patrick Williams and David Shire, in their TV scoring heydays. The scores are all jazz-oriented but benefit from the creative stylisms of the composers. I’ve found John Parker’s scores to CANNON to be the most generically-sounding jazz material, whereas the music of Goldsmith and Broughton for BARNABY JONES, especially, Schifrin’s MOST WANTED, and Grusin’s DAN AUGUST to be exceptionally stylistic and filled with unique countermelodies, impressive textures, and striking instrumental mixes. In addition to the detective shows, there are also two tracks by David Shire from the 1977 science fiction/mystery series TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED (not the 1979-88 British Roald Dahl series of the same name) and one cue each from THE MANHUNTER (Duane Tatro), CARIBE (Nelson Riddle), and BERT ANGELO/SUPERSTAR (Patrick Williams) which are quite intriguing as well. La-La Land’s 2-CD set is limited to 2000 units and features in-depth liner notes by producer Burlingame, with appealing art direction by Dan Goldwasser. The label’s (and Burlingame’s) commitment to salvaging episodic television scores is a continual benefit, offering rediscovery (or, for some, first discovery) of these marvelous televised scores. This is Volume 1- so we can happily get ready for more in the near future.
The 2-CD package is presented in a limited edition of 200 units. For more details, sample tracks, and to purchase, see la-laland.
RED JOAN/George Fenton/MovieScore Media – digital / Quartet Records - cd
Starring Academy Award-winner Dame Judi Dench, director Trevor Nunn’s RED JOAN tells the story of Joan Stanley (Dench), who was exposed as the KGB’s longest-serving British spy. Flashbacks to her younger days (where she is played by Sophie Cookson) slowly reveal how she got involved in espionage and what made her turn against her own country. “My aim was to find a tonal language that sat well with the story of Joan in the 1930s but which never lost the sense of the story being told and remembered by the older Joan,” Fenton explained. The score is therefore a reflective one, favoring strings and piano in a variety of arrangements, with an especially moody treatment as the primary theme for Joan; in one cue (“Back to Cambridge”) an oboe provides its unique reedy resonance in taking the piano’s melody. Throughout, there is an almost Hitchcockian allure to the music that perhaps captures the tone of the melodrama in which Joan’s life encapsulates, and which perhaps contrasts her character against the world around her, but the focus always returns to Joan herself, through whose eyes the story is conveyed. The character of Max (Stephen Campbell Moore), who will be instrumental in Joan’s journey into espionage, is given a strident, self-assured motif that introduces itself with militaristic formality before settling into a cooler personality with elegant strings and winds over an assertive tune on the piano. The score becomes a little more complex as Joan, unwittingly or not, follows Max’s guidance into the welcome hands of the KGB, until, at age 87, her world is undone, and the tonal confidence that Fenton has built up begins to waver, some subtle electronics enter Joan’s musical world, confidence is dashed and all pretense is shattered with her arrest in 1999. The score makes an enthralling listen on its own, creating an intense emotional structure that takes advantage of very effective orchestration and the mixing thereof. Definitely a classy and very thoughtfully-composed score.
For more details and sample tracks, see moviescoremedia.com
and/or quartetrecords. Watch a video featuring a suite from the score:
THE SENTINEL/Gil Mellé /La-La Land – cd
The fourth title in the acclaimed Universal Pictures Film Music Heritage Collection (following Colombier’s COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT, Mancini’s THE PRISONER OF ZENDA, and Cacavas’ AIRPORT '77/'79) is this world premiere official release of the long sought-after science fiction score by groundbreaking electronic and jazz composer Gil Mellé (THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR, EMBRYO, STARSHIP INVASIONS). The 1977 horror chiller was directed by Michael Winner (DEATH WISH, THE MECHANIC, LAWMAN) and starred Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith and Martin Balsam. Conceived in the wake of ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE EXORCIST, this film has to do with Alison (Raines), a fashion model who moves into an unbelievably cheap Brooklyn Heights apartment, which oddly enough hadn’t been advertised as being a doorway to hell. The titular Sentinel lives in the top floor apartment to make sure the demons of hell stay where they belong; but before long, the building is crawling with them. Melle’s score mixes a large symphony orchestra with then state-of-the-art electronic music, of which the composer was both an innovator and inventor. The score is centered on a pair of themes, a bright motif for winds associated with Alison, and a far darker orchestral/choral resonance tied to the Sentinel and the unearthly conspiracy that made his job necessary. “Mellé’s cutting-edge experimentation and the sophistication of his compositional language made for a score… that was as unnerving as Michael Winner’s twisted vision, all the while suggesting an ancient, religious underpinning for the horror as well as the tragedy of a lost soul ultimately sacrificing herself for the good of mankind,” wrote Jeff Bond in his notes for the album booklet. Added writer James Phillips in supplementary notes, which incorporate his vintage interviews with Mellé about this score: “Mellé utilized an Oberheim synthesizer to create an artificial choir effect. He also employed other synthesizers and electronic instruments of his own design, including the Tuba Continuum, the world’s largest string instrument… Mellé also used something he called the Digital Modulator, which was used in the [quoting Mellé] ‘most important moments in the SENTINEL score… I created, I believe, a new concept… the CoSolo… a soloist plays and as he plays, the electronically converted signal from his instrument is transmitted directly to [the Digital Modulator] which is literally ‘played’ as a second musical instrument to restructure the content of the sound source.’” The result was a uniquely effective and unsettling harmonic score for the film, which, some 42 years since, we can finally hear and appreciate on its own; a score that “has earned its place as one of the great ’70s genre scores,” as the label put it in their listing for the album. “Unnerving and horrific, tragic, yet somehow beautiful, Mellé’s work deepens the film with astounding dimensionality.”
For details, etc., see la-laland
THE SON/Nathan Barr/Varèse Sarabande - cd
Nathan Barr has followed up last year’s delightful music to THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS with a coarsely textured score for this AMC original series. Starring Pierce Brosnan, THE SON (2017, 2019) is a multi-generational Western epic telling the story of America's birth as a superpower through the bloody rise and fall of one Texas oil empire, focusing on the family patriarch, Eli McCullough (Brosnan) and his transformation from hard-working family man to paranoid, calculating killer. Barr’s unique blend of abrasive instrumentation gives this score an immediate appeal, demarcating character arcs and carrying us through decades of McCullough family life; the score’s repertoire includes such unusual instruments as a guitariphone (a fretless zither played with buttons) and a nyckelharpa (a Swedish instrument dating back to the Vikings). “It’s as if a hurdy-gurdy and a violin had a child,” Barr described the instrument to writer Marj Galas for a story in Variety. “It creates a beautiful, open sound.” Barr’s music is especially reflective, using scratchy fiddles, voices, keyboards, guitars, layered strings, reverbed piano, and the like, all of which nicely capture the mood of the characters as they ultimately fall from grace, ranging from quiet reflections to garrulous agitato. The album also features three original vocal performances, including one from Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top.
For details, sample tracks, and to order, see varesesarabande.
SON OF THE MORNING STAR/Craig Safan/Intrada cd “We Cheyenne called him, Hi-Es-Tsie, Long Hair. The Arikara called him, Creeping Panther, who comes in the night. The Crow called him, Son of the Morning Star, who attacks at dawn. I remember him. I saw him die.” –Kate Bighead.
Plainly put, SON OF THE MORNING STAR is Craig Safan’s DANCES WITH WOLVES: a magnificent and meaningful orchestral score that surely contests with THE LAST STARFIGHTER as Safan’s best score work for film. The two-part TV miniseries told the story of George Armstrong Custer’s campaign against large numbers of Native American Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, culminating in the Natives’ victory over Custer and his Army at Little Big Horn in 1876. Uniquely, the film tells the story from both the viewpoint of Custer’s wife Libby (Rosanna Arquette), and that of Kate Bighead (Buffy Sainte-Marie), a young Cheyenne woman who encountered Custer on several occasions and witnessed his death. The film came out in 1991, closely following 1990’s DANCES WITH WOLVES, a film whose style and sensibility it clearly evoked. In fact, DANCES’ Kevin Costner was initially sought to play Custer, but the role ultimately went to Gary Cole. The film has only ever been released on VHS and Laserdisc, and begs for a major HD Blu-ray restoration.
Originally issued on a 16-track CD by Intrada in 1992, the label’s search for the full tracks finally paid off and the result is this 72-track, 101-minute 2-CD edition of the complete score, which allows for Safan’s eloquent magnificence to be heard in all its variation and passion for its subject. “SON OF THE MORNING STAR was just such a beautiful film, and it had such huge opportunities for music,” Safan told me in a 1998 interview. “I think it had at least 2 hours of music in it, for a 4-hour miniseries, and that’s a lot of music. I wanted it to be sort of like an elegy, played against the action. Occasionally I’d play with the action, but during a lot of the film I just played against with very slow music. A lot of the score is just strings and solo trumpet, or strings with one trumpet and one horn.”
Safan’s score is based on four motifs, three of which are introduced in the Main Title in this order: a tonal motif of three chords for strings that sets the mood of the film and segues into Custer’s theme featuring trumpet, and a dominant emotional melody for weaving strings. The fourth theme is for Libby, which is alternately performed on brass, solo oboe, and strings. Safan’s music for the Native Americans is kept separate from that of European Americans, and consists largely of a Native American flute player performing pre-selected tunes and a variety of Native American percussion, both of which Safan enhanced by synth drones and sustains. The Irish quick-step tune “Garryowen,” which the real Custer used as the marching tune of his 7th Cavalry, is also used here to accompany training sequences of the cavalrymen. Additional folk music, based by Safan on Irish folk tunes and the hymn “Nearer My God to Thee,” are used in the score to flavor specific moments and groups of characters. Writer Frank de Wald provides thorough notes exploring the creation of the film and examining its score in detail in the album booklet. SON OF THE MORNING STAR is a complex and thoroughly engaging work, beautifully orchestrated and captivatingly presented. Most highly recommended.
WICHITA TOWN/Hans J. Salter/Disques Cinemusique – digital
Hans J. Salter’s music for the 1959-60 NBC television Western series, WICHITA TOWN, has had an interesting soundtrack release history, as it’s one of the few full TV scores of Salter’s that’s been available. It was first issued on a 23-track LP by Tony Thomas’ Citadel Records in 1978; ten of those tracks were included on an awkward compilation CD called “Adventures in Hollywood” by Citadel in 1996, long after Thomas had sold the label to Varèse Sarabande in 1979. Canadian label Disques Cinemusique now offers the full 23-track soundtrack in its digital reissue series. “The music for WICHITA TOWN differs from the standard practices in scoring in that it was written before filming began,” Tony Thomas wrote in his liner notes for the original LP. “Salter was able to read a few of the scripts that were completed and was given outlines of other segments. It then became his job to provide himself with a library of themes and cues, to meet the possible requirements of the series.” Thus the album tracks do not confirm to specific sequences other than they were story situations composed to the inspiration of reading the script. The score is an exciting and traditional ‘50s-styled Western soundtrack – cheery and sentimental, poignant and vivid, carefully crafted in timbre and temperament to fit a number of stock set-ups, with only its jaunty main theme, “Prelude – The Town,” recurring as a theme throughout several cues (it can be heard in “Desert Landscape,” “The Same Old Story,” “The Mayor,” “Stage Coach Arrives and Departs,” “The New Sheriff,” and the like). Tracks such as “Desert Landscape,” “Square Dance,” “Chase,” “Cruelty,” “Under Western Skies”, “Emotion,” “Lone Rider,” and “Heavies” were generic cues that could fit a number of standard Western show situations, whereas “Jody’s Death,” “Gunfight & Pursuit,” “Pancho,” and “Mary’s Farm” were likely intended to fit more specific circumstances written in the scripts, but could also be used for a variety of other stock sequences. It’s a very nice score, traditional Hollywood Western music well deserving of reissue; it may not be on physical CD but this label’s inventory of lost soundtracks offered inexpensively in digital format remains comprehensive and beneficial to keeping these scores from falling into oblivion.
See https://www.disquescinemusique.com/ for more information and catalog choices.
WICHITA TOWN is available for streaming on Apple Music or purchase in iTunes.
THE WIDOW/Dominik Scherrer/Dubois Records – digital
Dominik Scherrer has composed a striking musical design for THE WIDOW, a new thriller series created by the team behind THE MISSING and starring Kate Beckinsale, which is currently available to watch on ITV in the UK and on Amazon Prime worldwide. “The series needed a musical score that would start from the sorrow and melancholy of the title character and develop it into a tense and epic thriller score,” Scherrer remarked about the sound of the series. “I have previously worked with the creators of the show, brothers Jack and Harry Williams, on THE MISSING, and they are both keen on ballsy, streetwise, modern sounding scores, and that’s what I set out to do. At the same time, I felt the series was going to be a big international thriller, with amazing cast, locations, and cinematography, and the score needed to reflect its scale. That's why an orchestra component was built into it right from the start.” The series is an eight-episode thriller which follows Georgia Wells (Beckinsale), whose husband has died in a plane crash on a trip to Africa. Three years later, she sees a man resembling her husband on a news story and begins seeking answers, concerned with the reason why her husband – she believes – faked his own death.
The show is set in Wales, in Holland, and for the majority, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While fulfilling its duty as a tense and emotional thriller score, Dominik was keen for the music to reflect the series’ Central African setting and has drawn from the continent’s amazing musical heritage: “I had long been a fan of different African musical styles,” he explained. “But rather than adding African instruments as a mere embellishment, I wanted to build the score from African structures, and have it played also by orchestra. If you look at Congolese music, the general line-up is simply guitar, bass, drums, vocals. Those brilliant Congo guitar riffs became an inspiration; they incorporate the essential polyrhythm all in one element. I translated some of this into our larger thriller-orchestration.” The music ranges from rhythmic dynamics (“Back to the Crash Site”) to ethnic treatments (“Welcome to Kisima”), beautiful African vocal pieces (“Adidja,” “Nobody is Safe”), to panic-inducing apprehension (“In a Mad World Only the Mad Are Sane”), and poignancy (“The Survivors”) to outright bellicosity (“The Spider and the Web”). In addition to using ethnic instruments for the Congolese music, Scherrer uses the piano as a major component of his suspense motifs, the fluid keyboard performances adding a sense of reflection and concern even in the midst of quite aggressive interactive material. It’s a fascinating listen on its own; its myriad sonic structures pleasing and absorbing.
Watch a behind-the-scenes video about the recording process of Scherrer’s THE WIDOW music:
ZOMBIELARS/Kaada/Mirakel Recordings - digital
Earlier this year, Norwegian composer/singer-songwriter Kaada (aka John Erik Kaada) scored the Norwegian TV series ZOMBIELARS, about an eleven-year-old half-zombie (or “living unliving”) named Lars who is estranged by his townsfolk – until he befriends a group of other “different” kids, including a ninja, a witch, a troll, and a changeling. Together, they explore their true nature in a conformist and deeply prejudiced society. The score, which is now available on the composer’s Bandcamp page, is pure synth based electronica, featuring a number of propulsive rhythm tracks; a 1980’s soundtrack vibe runs rampant throughout the score, as Kaada serves up an infectious variety of sonic timbres and provocative moods which makes for a very intriguing listen. In addition to his rhythmic vibes, three cues in particular are standouts for running against the rampant cadence of the other tracks: “Usynlig” is a hesitant array of keyboard arpeggios echoing in the midst of further reverbed synth tonalities, while “Doktor” provides a plaintive synth-flute melody over which harsh, gravely jabs of synth chord beat like an impatient man wielding a heavy cane; “Ulevende” captures a bit of the spirit of both the previous tracks in a morose shuffle of scratchy synth echoes – all three tracks capture the dizzy personality of the “living unliving” at their roaming best.
“Composing for films was something that I took up rather coincidentally,” Kaada told interviewer Kelly Tucker for musix.mxdwn.com. “I had not intended to pursue that direction and had no formal training, but at some point, writing film scores was what I did. In the beginning it was quite stressful and made me nervous, but now I’m enjoying the work much more, thinking of it as a compositional playground. Orchestration and sonorous experimentation are the fields that I really enjoy delving into these days. Working on film scores enables me to create unconventional instrument ensembles. I’m also doing music for documentaries and television scores in between film scores. TV gigs are a great composers’ workshop, because you have the opportunity to experiment with small ensembles and develop composing and arranging skills.” I quite like this score – it’s fun, catchy, engaging and unusual. Best paired with juicy brain salad.
The official soundtrack has been released to Kaada’s Bandcamp page, here. Listen to Kaada’s ZOMBIELARS soundtrack on Soundcloud.
“Make yourself aware of the film industry, take initiative, and love what you're doing.” Those were some of the expert tips shared at the speaker series panel hosted by the Women in Film (WIF) advocacy group. WIF hosted their “Female Composers in Film: Balancing the Scales” panel on March 27, which featured an all-women panel of some of the leading industry experts: Miriam Cutler (RBG, LOVE GILDA), Starr Parodi (THE STARTER WIFE, CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHER WOMEN), Kathryn Bostic (CLEMENCY, TONI MORRISON - THE PIECES I AM), Laura Karpman (SET IT UP, PARIS CAN WAIT), Heather McIntosh (COMPLIANCE, Z FOR ZACHARIAH), Amie Doherty (HERE & NOW, MAROONED). Music supervisor Tracy McKnight (FREE SOLO, A WRINKLE IN TIME) moderated the panel and guided a conversation about the current state of the field, while acknowledging the gender inequality gap in the industry as well as ways to increase the inclusion of more women in film scoring.
Read the full story at Billboard.
Hollywood in Vienna CEO & Founder Sandra Tomek is happy to announce that Gabriel Yared will be recognized by the City of Vienna with this year’s Max Steiner Film Music Achievement Award. Yared’s career encompasses over 90 film scores, most notably is his collaboration with the late Anthony Minghella, including the 9-time Oscar winning THE ENGLISH PATIENT, as well as the critically acclaimed COLD MOUNTAIN and THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY. “Gabriel Yared is one of the most outstanding composers of our time. His melodious, elegant, refined and beautifully orchestrated film scores lend a deep emotional layer to the stories and we are very honored to pay our respect to him and his artistry at Hollywood in Vienna,” says Sandra Tomek. The 12th Annual Hollywood in Vienna gala will take place on Saturday, October 19th at the Vienna Concert Hall (Wiener Konzerthaus) and will be broadcast via TV, internationally to over 35 countries.
For more information, see: http://www.hollywoodinvienna.com/
(Gabriel Yared photo by Laurent Koffel)
The cult classic-sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest in Concert arrives at Jacobs Music Center - Copley Symphony Hall on July 19, just in time for San Diego Comic-Con! Academy Award® nominated composer David Newman conducts the San Diego Symphony performing his hilarious, fun-loving and, ultimately heroic score. This concert is part of the popular “Bayside Summer Nights” Season. See here for ticket information.
Held on October 18th, the World Soundtrack Awards will welcome Marco Beltrami, two-time Oscar nominated composer, known for his unique collaborations with some of the world’s most respected and iconic filmmakers. “It is truly humbling to be recognized by Film Fest Ghent and its World Soundtrack Awards for my body of work. I am so thrilled to follow such iconic composers who have been honored in Ghent in previous years, including Carter Burwell, Alan Silvestri, Angelo Badalamenti, Craig Armstrong and many more.” Within the framework of the upcoming World Soundtrack Awards Gala, Film Fest Ghent will host a full concert dedicated to Marco Beltrami’s film work. Brussels Philharmonic, conducted by Dirk Brossé, will perform the original scores composed by Marco Beltrami & Tamar-kali accompanied by film clips on the big screen.
For more information and to order tickets, see: www.worldsoundtrackawards.com
Brian Tyler has been hired to score the upcoming thriller READY OR NOT. The film is directed by Tyler Gillett & Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (DEVIL’S DUE) and stars Samara Weaving, Andie MacDowell, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien and Henry Czerny. The movie centers on a young bride as she joins her new husband’s rich, eccentric family in a time-honored tradition that turns into a lethal game with everyone fighting for their survival.
- via filmmusicreporter Tyler has also signed on to score the upcoming action comedy CHARLIE’S ANGELS, which is based on the classic 70s TV series. This new version is directed by Elizabeth Banks (PITCH PERFECT 2) and stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott & Ella Balinska in the title roles. The film is set to be released on November 15, 2019 by Sony Pictures. In other Tyler news, Brian has completed scoring YELLOWSTONE Season 2, which arrives on June 19 on the Paramount Network (read a new interview with Tyler about scoring this series at indiewire.com).
Sony has released a number of intriguing soundtracks in recent months: Anne Dudley’s score to THE HUSTLE is out both digitally and on CD. “THE HUSTLE is based on one of my favorite films, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS and, in a nod to this, my score takes as its starting point the music of The Hot Club of France,” Dudley explained. “I’ve always found this sound both irrepressibly happy and somehow a bit louche. The driving energy of the guitar rhythms coupled with some sophisticated harmonies represent the contrasting characters of Penny (Rebel Wilson) and Josephine (Anne Hathaway), without the score having to be overbearingly ‘comic.’ Henry Jackman’s music for the first-ever live-action Pokémon adventure POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU is also out in both formats. “Writing the music for POKÉMON Detective Pikachu was immense fun,” Jackman said. The movie itself was a unique invitation to create a new musical world representing all the wonderful and colorful characters of the Pokémon universe. I really enjoyed using many different sonic colors so, if you listen carefully, you can hear everything from the full symphony orchestra to analog vintage synths.”
Thomas Newman has scored the biopic TOLKIEN, which explores the formative years of the renowned author’s life as he finds friendship, courage and inspiration among a fellow group of writers and artists at school. “Because J.R.R. Tolkien is embedded in popular culture, and because his work and outlook have been the subjects of much interpretation, I wanted to write music for Tolkien that would honor his ethos, his individualism, without being slavish to it,” Newman explained. “The musical vocabulary draws from a wide swath of instrumental and vocal colors, from winds with string accompaniment to solo voice in hushed pianissimo. There is Swedish kantélé, mandolin and monochord intersecting bell rhythms and piano-derived ambiences. The object is to give musical identity to the nascent feelings of the young storyteller from Birmingham, only just beginning to stretch his wings. And because much of the story is seen through the prism of his time spent in the trenches of World War I, there is that parallel experience of epic conflict that deepens my feeling for his language and, I hope, lets sound, noise, and melody rise up and sing.”
And finally we have Cinema Morricone - An Intimate Celebration, featuring flautist Sara Andon and pianist Simone Pedroni celebrating the music of Ennio Morricone in a beautiful distillation of his finest melodies in haunting, intimate arrangements for flute and piano. Including pieces from THE MISSION, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, CINEMA PARADISO, DAYS OF HEAVEN, THE UNTOUCHABLES, A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, and many others.
Composer Jeff Beal (HOUSE OF CARDS) reports that Node Records has released his score to LIGHT FALLS: SPACE, TIME, AND AN OBSESSION OF EINSTEIN, an immersive theatrical experience originally presented in 2017. Brian Greene and an ensemble cast trace Albert Einstein’s journey to uncover the General Theory of Relativity with state-of-the-art animation, innovative projection techniques, and Jeff Beal’s original orchestral score. The theatrical special premiered on Masterpiece PBS on May 29th.
The digital soundtrack is available here
TOO OLD TO DIE YOUNG is the 10-episode original series directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (DRIVE, ONLY GOD FORGIVES, THE NEON DEMON) and written by Refn with Ed Brubaker. The series will premiere worldwide on June 14th, 2019 on Amazon Prime Video, and Milan Records will be releasing the soundtrack featuring Cliff Martinez’s score on vinyl in July, preceded by a digital release on June 14th. The series explores the criminal underbelly of Los Angeles, following characters’ existential journeys from killers to samurais. Since DRIVE, Cliff Martinez has become the go-to composer for Nicolas Winding Refn. It is no surprise that both are reuniting for TOO OLD TO DIE YOUNG, as music is a constant presence throughout the series. The music mixes electronic beats and soundscapes with well-chosen live instrumentations. Perhaps inspired by his time in the punk scene, Martinez’s approach to scoring is nontraditional. His scores tend towards being stark and sparse, utilizing a modern tonal palette to paint the backdrop for films that are often dark, psychological stories. Still the drummer at heart, Martinez’s use of audio manipulations, particularly for percussive sounds, has continued to evolve through the years. The TOO OLD TO DIE YOUNG vinyl release features the best of Martinez’s score and a selection of needle-drops used in the film pressed on a pair of colored vinyl and housed in a gorgeous gatefold jacket.
Jerome Leroy’s score KILLERS WITHIN, a thriller/fantasy/action film from late 2017, has been released digitally by Milan Records
. The soundtrack features lush orchestral pieces contrasting with brooding, dark and textural synth-heavy tracks. Sprinkle all of that with a touch of mighty percussive electronic interludes. The album can also be heard, with exclusive liner notes, on Leroy’s website. Leroy is currently scoring two new animated short films directed by students from the School of Visual Arts in New York: PAPITO, which centers on a father/son relationship, and UNSURPASSED TEAM, which follows two witches competing in a Magic & Broom tournament. The first film features an intimate score and written for two solo guitars, while the second one will feature a bombastic adventure score written for a 60-piece orchestra performed by FAME’s Symphonic Orchestra in Macedonia. “I’ve scored many SVA shorts over the years, and I’m always impressed by what their students are creating!” Leroy said.
Laura Karpman (UNDERGROUND, PARIS CAN WAIT, TAKEN, BLACK NATIVITY) is scoring the upcoming 6-part Discovery docu-series WHY WE HATE. The show is directed by Geeta Gandbhir & Sam Pollard and investigates the human capacity for hatred and how we can overcome it. WHY WE HATE will premiere later this year on Discovery.
- via filmmusicreporter
John Debney recently scored the fantasy rom-comedy ISN’T IT ROMANTIC, in which a young woman disenchanted with love mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy. The film is directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson (THE FINAL GIRLS, ZOMBIES & CHEERLEADERS, A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR CHRISTMAS) and stars Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, and Adam Devine. The movie premiered last February; WaterTower music has released a digital soundtrack of Debney’s score along with a few of the pop songs featured in the movie, which is available from the usual download and streaming sources.
Film composer Kristian Senzini, based in Italy, has launched an Indiegogo campaign for his latest personal project, KuartetS - an album composed of 17 string quartets, to be released in vinyl and compact disc. “Over the years I have been following ideas and images, and now I’ve collected the best inspirations into a series of music for string quartets, with some exceptions where, in the standard lineup, the flute replaces the first violin,” Senzini explained. “I chose the string quartet formula because I've always been fascinated by four-part writing and the endless creative possibilities that this kind of ensemble gives.”
For more details and/or to support the project, see indiegogo
Nainita Desai’s original score for Tom Barton-Humphries’ documentary UNTAMED ROMANIA (2018) will be released via Silva Screen Records. After its world premiere at the prestigious Transylvania Film Festival, UNTAMED ROMANIA quickly turned into Romania’s most successful non-fiction film in 2018. From the Danube Delta to the Carpathian forests, this is the first feature length documentary of its kind that explores Romania’s incredibly rich wildlife and diverse landscapes, perfectly illustrated by Nainita Desai’s music. “The brief was to write a thematic score that was lyrical with the use of melodic themes to pull the film together, – something that is not so common these days in contemporary film and TV scoring,” said Desai. “It had to evoke the magical fairytale mysterious feel of Transylvania and its mystical forests and folklore. I wanted to take the viewer on an emotional journey throughout the film.”
Watch the film’s trailer (in Romanian) on youtube here
Watch a behind-the-score video (in English) below:
The soundtrack to JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM, by composers Tyler Bates and Joel Richard, is now available digitally from Varèse Sarabande with a CD release following on June 7th. In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, skilled assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail. “While his fight, stunt, and weapon work is second to none, Chad [Stahelski, director] embraces original music with equal passion – setting the table for Joel Richard and I to experiment and create a distinct ‘sound’ for the John Wick world,” said Bates. “Five years ago, we cranked ‘Killing Strangers’ at concert volume in my studio. And now John Wick is a trilogy. Working with Chad has been a truly amazing experience.”
Quartet Records, Backlot Music and Focus Features present the premiere CD edition of the haunting, moving score composed by Academy Award winner Michael Giacchino for Colin Trevorrow’s drama THE BOOK OF HENRY (2017). The film is about a single mother (Naomi Watts) who sets out to rescue a young girl from the hands of her abusive stepfather, helped with instructions from her genius son's carefully crafted notebook. Giacchino wrote an intense, emotionally powerful, highly inspired score, including a main theme which is among his best. The album includes the original song “Your Hand I Will Never Let It Go,” performed by Stevie Nicks. This CD is a limited edition of 1500 units. For details, see quartetrecords
Quartet also presents a new, cool soundtrack composed by Fernando Velázquez with 70 BINLADENS, the composer’s third collaboration with director Koldo Serra after THE BACKWOODS and GERNIKA. For this comedy-action-drama about a woman who, while trying to raise money to ransom her kidnapped daughter, is trapped in a bank assault, Velázquez provides a non-stop, surprising score. The music is infected by groove and funky sounds, colored by electrifying reminiscences of Lalo Schifrin, Quincy Jones and Jerry Fielding, and influenced by Ennio Morricone and Michael Small. It is an explosive cocktail that represents a new step in the career of this talented young maestro. The CD is a limited edition of 500 units. For more information see quartet.
Quartet has also released on CD Rachel Portman’s score to A DOG’S PURPOSE (digital release from Back Lot), which nicely coincides with their release of Mark Isham’s sequel score, A DOG’s JOURNEY (digital release also from Back Lot – see review above). See quartet
Lakeshore Records has released the first ever collaboration between brothers Rupert Gregson-Williams and Harry Gregson-Williams for CATCH-22, the new original series on Hulu. The digital soundtrack is available from iTunes
Howlin’ Wolf Records presents the soundtrack to SWAY by Hong Kong-born composer Pakk Hui (INNER FEAR, UMBILICAL, A TRUE STORY). SWAY is a deeply emotional film written and directed by Rooth Tang, chronicling the hopes and dreams of three couples from three different countries, the USA, France, and Thailand. The score is elegant and understated, prominently featuring piano and strings. Hui allows the score to evolve emotionally rather than thematically, using the score's graceful melodies to mirror the sense of loneliness in the film's storylines. The insert booklet for SWAY features liner notes written by Zach Tow, with insights and reflections from the composer. Warm and lush packaging designs by the masterful Luis Miguel Rojas match the elegant tone of the score. See: howlinwolf.
BATMAN: HUSH is an upcoming direct-to-video animated superhero film based on the comic book story arc of the same name and will be the 14th installment of the DC Animated Movie Universe (and the 35th overall film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line). Frequent DC animated film composer Frederik Wiedmann will score the film, which is about the mysterious villain known as Hush attempting to destroy both the crime-fighting career and personal life of Batman, which has already been complicated by a relationship with Catwoman. Release date is uncertain – Amazon’s pre-order gives Blu-ray a release date of August 13th, while IMDB shoes it releasing on July 20th. As most of Wiedmann’s DC animated superhero scores have been issued on CD or digital, it’s likely an album will be forthcoming with the film’s release.
Accorder Music Publishing recently released the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the HBO documentary LEAVING NEVERLAND, written by composer Chad Hobson (ADULTHOOD, THE PAEDOPHILLE HUNTER). The album is available now on all digital platforms. The film is a two-part documentary exploring the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys who were befriended by Michael Jackson. Through gut-wrenching interviews, the film crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had young sons of their own. “The scoring approach to LEAVING NEVERLAND was to imagine a walk through a beautiful magical forest, but as one travels deeper into the forest, it becomes darker, more distorted, and the limbs of the trees become more twisted and sinister,” said Hobson.
Deutsche Grammophon celebrates the life and work of the late Jóhann Jóhannsson with a two-volume retrospective collection. RETROSPECTIVE - CAPTURING THE ESSENCE Volume 1 is now available
, and features Jóhannsson’s early works as well as the unreleased soundtrack of the Danish documentary film WHITE BLACK BOY. RETROSPECTIVE II will follow in 2020, and will include, among other works, his more recent soundtracks for the films ARRIVAL and The Mercy and the 2016 studio album Orphée. In addition to the CD edition, both albums will also be available digitally through the usual platforms.
Deutsche Grammophon also presents “a magical collaboration between two celebrated artists - John Williams and Anne-Sophie Mutter” with their digital release of “Hedwig’s Theme” from the HARRY POTTER films, adapted and conducted by Williams and recorded with Mutter and the Los Angeles Arts Orchestra. The digital single is available to purchase from Deutsche Grammophon and can be streamed or downloaded from these sites
. Listen to the theme here from youtube:
Dan Pritzker’s docudrama BOLDEN, which tells the story of jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden, is now in theaters. Mark Isham’s score “compliments new pieces by Wynton Marsalis, perfectly weaving in and out of the life of this mysterious and complex man.” (IndieWire). For details on the BOLDEN score, see my interview with Mark Isham in my November 2018 column.
Award winning composer Atli Örvarsson released his new album, Reykjavík Stories, a collection of pieces he scored for the Scandinavian indie films IN FRONT OF OTHERS and THE HOMECOMING. The touching and moving music tells stories of love, relationships, betrayal, human fallacy and the human condition in general, which happen to take place in Reykjavík. “There’s something uniquely Icelandic about the music, with a tinge of a Mediterranean sound thrown in for good measure. Which is quite fitting as the Icelandic nation, deprived of warmth and sunshine, has always set its gaze towards the exotic south in search of a sunny Utopia,” said Örvarsson. The digital album can be heard on Spotify or downloaded from iTunes or Amazon.
Intrada has released the soundtrack for the psychological horror thriller MA, directed for Blumhouse by Tate Taylor (THE HELP, GIRL ON THE TRAIN). The film stars Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Luke Evans, and is about a lonely woman who befriends a group of teenagers and decides to let them party at her house. Just when the kids think their luck couldn’t get any better, things start happening that make them question the intention of their host.
The score is by Gregory Tripi (MANHUNT: UNABOMBER, DARK PLACES, REMEMORY). “Electronics dominate unusual score but Tripi includes additional colors from bassoon, Halo drum, ukulele, piano, cello, voice. Unique!” Intrada describes. For details, see: intrada.
Intrada has also released the music from direct-to-video sequel BACKDRAFT II, which brings back two stars, William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland, from the 1991 Ron Howard-directed firefighter mystery-thriller. Hans Zimmer scored the original film, but the new sequel features a score by composer Randy Edelman (GETTYSBURG, LAST OF THE MOHICANS, DRAGONHEART). “Edelman sets the tone for such serious proceedings with a long, lean cello solo in the minor, which leads to a brief, energetic rhythmic idea that follows in the footsteps of what Zimmer established in the first film,” writes Intrada. “Subsequently, Edelman introduces an even wider variety of material, ranging from piano against strings to lively rhythms for percussion with synthesized orchestra. Known for his broad, lyrical melodies, Edelman here displays an intense musical vernacular rare for the composer. Back Lot Music has issued a digital version of the soundtrack. See: intrada
Sparks & Shadows, distributed by La-La Land Records, has released Bear McCreary’s score for the historical drama THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN. The movie is based on the book The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester and tells the true story of Professor James Murray, who began compiling the Oxford English Dictionary in 1857 and Dr. William Chester Minor, who submitted more than 10,000 entries while he was an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane. “Writing and conducting THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN was an absolute joy,” McCreary posted on his Facebook page. “This is why I love making music, and I am very fortunate that I get to do it. Bravo to all the musicians, especially Eric Byers for his gripping cello solos!”
In other Bear McCreary news, he has scored the science fiction adventure, RIM OF THE WORLD. Directed by McG, the film is about four misfit teenagers who become unlikely allies when their summer camp experience is cut short by an alien invasion. Lynn Collins, Annabeth Gish, Michael Beach, Jack Gore, Miya Cech, Benjamin Flores Jr., and Punam Patel star. The film is currently showing on Netflix, and a digital soundtrack album has been released by BMG, available on Amazon, Spotify, and other download/streaming sources.
Marco Werba’s latest orchestral score, POP BLACK POSTA, performed by the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra, has been released by Plaza Mayor. The film is an evocative Italian action thriller directed by Marco Pollini and starring Antonia Truppo, Annalisa Favetti, and Denny Mendez. The digital soundtrack is available on CD from CDbaby and digitally via iTunes.
Watch a video about the score:
DC Animation music specialist Kevin Riepl’s latest adventure in the DC animated superhero film is BATMAN vs. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. The movie is based on the six-issue intercompany crossover comic book miniseries, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by James Tynion IV and Freddie Williams II. In the film, Batman, Batgirl, and Robin team up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to save Gotham City from the Shredder and Ra’s al Ghul. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, Nickelodeon and DC, the film arrived from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on digital starting May 14, 2019, and is scheduled for release on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack on June 4, 2019.
Japanese composers Naruyoshi Kikuchi (MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM THUNDERBOLT: BANDIT FLOWER) and newcomer Tomomi Oda are scoring the cannibalistic TOKYO GHOUL S, the sequel to Kentarô Hagiwara’s 2017 manga/anime-based live-action horror film TOKYO GHOUL (which was scored stateside by Don Davis; interviewed about it here). The film is directed by Kazuhiko Hiramaki and Takuya Kawasaki (both first-time directors), and features some of the cast from the first movie returning in the same roles. It is slated for wide release in Japan on July 19.
The long-time purveyor of Japanese soundtracks (and American & European for the Asian market) ArkSquare has launched a freshly redesigned website which is very user-friendly. Check it out at https://arksquare.net/
King Records of Japan has issued the Monsters Sci-Fi Film Music Best, latest edition from the King Best Select Library 2019, featuring Akira Ifukube’s three Symphonic Fantasia and Symphonic Fantasy concert suites, performed by Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. For tracklist see ArkSquare.com. Additional new releases of Japanese soundtracks include Taro Iwashiro’sAIRCRAFT CARRIER IBUKI from VAP, as well as Yasushi Akutagawa’s historical drama HAKKODASAN, (Mount Hakkoda), Kan Ishii’s kaiju score GORATH, and Isao Tomita’sLAST DAYS OF PLANET EARTH from Cinema-KAN
Danish composer Nicklas Schmidt’s score to BECOMING ASTRID is now available in France via Sony Music Entertainment. the film tells the story of Astrid Lindgren who became a young single mother, a combination of both miracle and calamity that transformed her into one of the most inspiring women of our age and the storyteller a whole world would come to love. Watch a detailed interview with the composer about BECOMING ASTRID and other scores, on youtube.
Alexandre Desplat’s score for THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 has been released digitally via Back Lot music. The album contains 25 tracks of which three are pop. Desplat also wrote the music for the first film.
Kronos Records announces three new CD soundtracks for June: URSUS E LA RAGAZZA TARTARA (1961, TARTAR INVASION) by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, a world premiere of this previously unreleased epic adventure/peplum score. The CD contains all the music Maestro Lavagnino composed for the film presented in film order, including various unused cues that were replaced by stock music. Also releasing for the first time is LE LUNGHE OMBRE (“Long Shades”), a WW2 drama by Egisto Macchi (BANDIDOS, SALOMÈ, LA CODA DEL IAVOLO); Macchi wrote a very dramatic score, ranging from small string ensembles with piano and synthesizers to bigger orchestral pieces, most of which echoing drama and impending doom, but also lighter pieces evoking tenderness, innocence and love. The third soundtrack is Alfi Kabiljo’s score to the 1978 WW2 drama, OKUPACIJA U 26 SLIKA (Occupation In 26 Pictures), for which the composer Kabiljo penned an eclectic score, ranging from the highly dramatic touching moments to surreal pieces evoking some of the bizarre scenes of the film. All three titles are limited to 300 copies, and will release on June 15. For more details, to hear sample tracks, or to pre-order, see http://kronosrecords.com/
Brussels based producer & beatmaker Le Motel releases his original score to BINTI. In her first feature-length fiction Binti, director Frederike Migom manages to perfectly show children’s eagerness to live and dream in a world they understand being complicated. “The movie itself was the trigger point for my inspiration,” said Le Motel, whose score captured the world of innocence, childhood and nostalgia, linked to urbanism, hip-hop, Internet and its technologies. “I created several themes, for each one of the characters. For Elias’ theme, I decided to work with Youri Botterman, who specializes in Congolese Rumba, and added the African mood even more thanks to guitar sounds. I was [also] able to collaborate with other artists I admire for the composition of the film's score: Brice Thieffry, guitar player, and Martha Da’ro and Miss Angel, both solo vocalists.”
Listen to the album via this link.
As Hollywood gears up for a reboot of SHAFT this June, the original film’s enduring legacy still remains. Craft Recordings announces a new deluxe reissue of Isaac Hayes’ Grammy® Award–winning album SHAFT. Set for a June 14th street date and limited to 5,000 copies worldwide, the two-CD collection will offer the newly remastered, classic soundtrack—as originally released in 1971—plus all of the original music from the film which did not appear on the LP. A single-disc version consisting of only the remastered soundtrack will also be available. For more details, and to pre-order, see staxrecords.
Filmmaker Walter Hill, well-known for his westerns (THE LONG RIDERS, GERONIMO: AN AMERICAN LEGEND, WILD BILL, DEADWOOD, BROKEN TRAIL – Hill also served as a co-writer and co-producer on the first three ALIEN films), will be heard on The Cowboy Iliad, a spoken word album where Hill himself tells the story of a deadly shootout that occurred in Newton, Kansas in 1871 and its legendary aftermath of violence and controversy. For the first time, at the age of 77, Hill’s writing will be presented using his own voice. “The Cowboy Iliad reaches back to the spoken tradition of storytelling – designed to have no simple resolution, but a mix of history, nostalgia and speculation. And, of course, we wanted to honor the tradition of the Western,” said Hill. The album is produced by Bobby Woods with music performed by Les Deux Love Orchestra. The album was released by Heart Times Coffee Cup Studios and available on Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, and other CD and streaming services.
French composer Anne-Sophie Versnaeyen composed the original score to Nicolas Bedos’ LA BELLE ÉPOQUE, selected for this year's Cannes Film Festival (out of competition). The film follows Victor, a disillusioned sexagenarian, who decides to relive the greatest moment of his life, his encounter with what he has called his True Love. “Before shooting, Nicolas invited me to visit the set, so I could soak up the '70 atmosphere he imagined,” explained Versnaeyen, who has been working with director Bedos since 2016. “The hotel room, the bistro, the streets: we were able to do our first meeting right in the heart of the film and feel what could be the tones and musical atmosphere. For Nicolas it was necessary to start editing the film with samples of our original score, rather working with temp music.” The score contrasts two kinds of musical families: the first one revolves around an ostinato motif for bassoons and bass clarinets in the bass line, with melodies from brass instruments and a small string ensemble; the second kind of music is centered around a ballad theme with drums, bass instruments, clarinets, guitars and bass guitar, as a reference to independent American cinema.
MovieScore Media’s has released Swedish composer Jon Ekstrand’s score, co-written by May el-Toukhy, for the family drama QUEEN OF HEARTS. The film, which has already won major awards at the Sundance and Göteborg film festivals, concerns a woman named Anne who jeopardizes both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson. “I wanted to create a feeling of being inside a bubble and slowly falling down the rabbit hole and finally reaching the bottom with no way getting back up,” explained Ekstrand. “My directions for the musical accompaniment was that there could not be any melodies in the music for the first 2/3 of the movie and that we wanted to work with the looping voices as rhythmic element and tonal pads.”
Watch a video featuring a suite from the score:
Dynamic Music Partners – Kristopher Carter, Lolita Ritmanis, and Michael McCuistion, the outstanding purveyors of music for multiple animated super hero universes, which most recently have included JUSTICE LEAGUE VS THE FATAL FIVE, the MARVEL RISING and AVENGERS ASSEMBLE TV series, BATMAN VS. TWO-FACE, and BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN – have composed the music for Bruce Timm’s SGT. ROCK, the first of the five new DC Showcase short animated films, and are scheduled to score THE PHANTOM STRANGER as well. For more details, see musiquefantastique.com.
Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson (THE BLACK PANTHER, VENOM, CREED), will score Christopher Nolan’s in-production action epic film TENET, The movie, which has been described as being an “event film,” is currently set for release in July, 2020 by Warner Bros.
Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir (SICARIO 2: DAY OF THE SOLDATO, MARY MAGDALENE, JOURNEY’S END, THE JOKER [forthcoming]) composed a chilling score or HBO’s haunting mini-series CHERNOBYL, which depicts the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 1986 and the unprecedented cleanup efforts that followed, revealing how and why it happened, and telling the stories of those people, who help and died in tackling the disaster, and the Russian cover up. In coming up with her musical approach, Hildur and her music team recorded sounds at the Ignalina power plant in Lithuana, and those sounds, digitally sampled and treated tonally as her musical palette, became the sonic basis for her resultant score. In an excerpt of a recent edition of On Score: The Podcast, posted to youtube, Guðnadóttir describes how the Chernobyl score was developed. Watch an excerpt from On Score’s interview on youtube here.
Maximilien Mathevon has recently scored the French documentary PEPLUM: MUSCLES, GLAIUVES ET FANTASMES, which is now available from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Deezer. “The film deals with the peplum genre from the silent movie area to more modern movies. Among other aspects, it explores the fantasmatic aspect of those films,” Mathevon told Soundtrax. “I choose to give the music a modern spin, merging cliché instrumentation of the different eras (fanfares, choirs, duduk) with electronic music. The album showcases the documentary music as well as unused cues.”
For more on the composer, see http://www.maximilienmathevon.com
The soundtrack to the Youtube animated original series SHERWOOD has been released digitally by 6th Man productions and is available on Amazon and iTunes. The music is composed by Roahn Hylton & Jacob Yoffee; it is a mix of three instrumental film music tracks (“Fighting for Sherwood,” “Drobo Fight,” and “The Sheriff Lies”) and nine contemporary pop songs, the latter featuring singer Mickey Shiloh and Nitzan. The futuristic adventure series has to do with teen hacker Robin of Sherwood who joins forces with a group of renegades to battle the mad Sheriff of Nottingham through the flooded storm-lashed streets of 23rd century London. Sample one of the score tracks here, it will link to the others. Speaking of Jacob Yoffee (CHILDREN OF THE CORN: GENESIS, FINDING CARTER, ANDY MACK), he was recently announced as the composer behind the global release of the anime series INGRESS: THE ANIMATION, which premiered on Netflix on April 30th. The show was first released in Japan with a different score, but has been introduced to the global audience with a reinvented score by Yoffee. For more information on the composer, see his website http://jacobyoffeemusic.com/
Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Ross became a member of the band in 2016 after working with Reznor on several film scores) have scored HBO’s forthcoming superhero drama series, WATCHMEN. The ten-episode series is based on the famed graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Read more details and watch the teaser trailer featuring Reznor’s & Ross’s score at musiquefantastique.com.
Sean Callery has scored the National Geographic limited dramatic series THE HOT ZONE, based on the book of the same name by Richard Preston. The film examines “the terrifying true story of the origins of the Ebola virus, a highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest and its first arrival on U.S. soil,” and the search for a cure. The film stars Julianna Margulies, Noah Emmerich, Liam Cunningham, and Topher Grace. A companion documentary special, GOING VIRAL, will premiere alongside the series. Watch THE HOT ZONE trailer on youtube.
Notefornote Music has reissued Richard Stone’s memorable score for PUMPKINHEAD, the 1988 directorial debut for Stan Winston, creature maker & special effects master extraordinaire. The score by Richard Stone is melodic and authentic, a mix of acoustic instruments and country rhythms. Originally released for the first time as part of Varèse Sarabande’s Little Box of Horrors 12-CD set, Notefornote music has reissued this with a unique graphic design, featuring notes by composer Edwin Wendler, and in jewel case packaging for those who missed out on the box set or decided to wait for a separate release. For more information, and to hear audio samples, see notefornotemusic https://notefornotemusic.com/products/pumpkinhead-original-mgm-motion-picture-soundtrack-by-richard-stone-cd
Also new from the label is Brian Ralston’s poignant score for BEING ROSE, an affecting drama starring Cybill Shepherd and James Brolin. Ralston delivers a beautiful score replete with acoustic guitars, mandolins, and flutes, which imbue the narrative with moods that range from melancholy to hopeful, from meditative to ethereal. For details see here.
And, just announced, is notefornote’s CD+digital release of Alexander Bornstein’s score for FIRST TO THE MOON, a documentary film about the second manned spaceflight mission in the US Apollo space program, which launched on December 21, 1968. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reach and orbit the Moon, and return safely to Earth in preparation for the Apollo 11 moon landing. Bornstein has been an associate of Christopher Lennertz and Bear McCreary on many scores, and has also composed scores for the feature thriller DEADLY SWITCH (2019) and the comedy webseries SPOOKED (2014) and VICE FORCE ACTION SQUAD (2017). See Notefornote Music here.
Via the Alliance for Women Film Composers on Facebook, Lisbeth Scott is set to score AMERICAN SON, a feature film for Netflix starring Kerry Washington and based on the hugely successful Broadway play. Production began in New York last February.
Geoff Zanelli is reteaming with director Joachim Rønning (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES) on the upcoming fantasy adventure sequel MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL. The film starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, and Michelle Pfeiffer, picks up several years after the original 2014 film and explores the complex relationship between the horned fairy and the soon to be Queen as they form new alliances and face new adversaries in their struggle to protect the moors and the magical creatures that reside within. - via filmmusicreporter.
Varèse Sarabande will reissue Dave Grusin’s score for THE GOONIES with a wide release on June 21st. This beloved score, back by popular demand, was originally released in 2010 as a five-thousand-unit limited edition CD but promptly sold out. This release will feature a full 71 minutes (30 tracks) of Grusin’s hit score. From the imagination of Steven Spielberg and propelled by David Grusin’s score, THE GOONIES plunges a band of small heroes into a swashbuckling surprise-around-every corner quest for a long-lost pirate ship full of golden doubloons. See varesesarabande.
John Murphy is best known for his iconic film scores in Danny Boyle’s 28 DAYS LATER and SUNSHINE. After taking an 8-year career hiatus to dedicate time to his family and other musical projects, John has returned to the world of scoring to picture with an unexpected project: Andrew Davies’ non-musical television adaptation of Victor Hugo’s LES MISÉRABLES, which premiered on PBS last April 14th and on BBC in the U.K. John described his scoring process on this project as an “experimental journey.” Initially, Tom (director) wanted a gritty, folk-oriented score, but as they began the process he and John quickly realized that the story would need a broader musical palette. John ended up incorporating less obvious elements such as bowed electric guitar, analog synths, experimental viola, and backwards loops, with a nod to the classic French romantic scoring of the 60s.
Deborah Lurie (AN UNFINISHED LIFE, SAFE HAVEN, 9) has recently scored the comedy POMS. The film is directed by Zara Hayes (THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES) and stars Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Celia Weston and Rhea Perlman. The movie follows a woman who moves into a retirement community and starts a cheerleading squad with her fellow residents, proving that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
– via filmmusicreporter
BSX Records has released The Jerry Goldsmith Songbook, a fascinating compilation of new recordings of songs the composer has been involved with during his lengthy career (most of which were never heard in their intended films, having been added later in the hopes of promotional radio airplay). Goldsmith could craft a melody with the best of his colleagues, as the twenty tracks on The Jerry Goldsmith Songbook demonstrably prove. The newly-recorded tracks are culled from nearly every genre Goldsmith worked. The album represents five decades worth of Goldsmith’s music spread over forty years, and features the vocal performances of some amazing singers, including Katie Campbell, Raya Yarbrough, Karen Hogle Brown, Brian ‘Hacksaw’ Williams, and others. The release features exclusive notes by Jon Burlingame who discusses the background of each song. For more details, sample tracks, or to order, see bsx.
Here is a video with samples of the songs on the album:
Also from BSX is a Lost and Found: The Music of Ennio Morricone, a digital EP produced and performed by synth wizard/film, composer Chuck Cirino (CHOPPING MALL, NOT OF THIS EARTH, RETURN OF SWAMP THING) and mixed by Matt LaPoint. The 6-track EP is now available for order from the BSX site (and will be sent on order); it will be on sale via iTunes by mid-June.
Dominik Scherrer recently received an Ivor Novello nomination for his music to the Netflix/BBC One supernatural thriller series REQUIEM, which he co-composed with Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan. “It was an exciting, entertaining script, with an off-beat tone,” Scherrer said of scoring REQUIEM. “I loved that the central character, Matilda, is a concert cellist. The cello immediately unlocked the door into the score and justified an element of virtuoso solo cello. The cello often plays in unusually spooky registers, as if it was part of a mysterious Welsh landscape. Just as the production started principal photography, Natasha Khan and I spent some weeks in my studio in Brick Lane, coming up with themes and recording outlandish vocals and terrifying sounds. There is a cheeky element to the show, as well as a genuinely scary one. Giving a stylistic nod to 1970s lo-fi soundtracks from BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop or 1970s horror soundtracks, together with a pastoral spookiness of the cello and strings themes, started to give REQUIEM its own unique atmosphere.” The REQUIEM soundtrack is available from these sources.
Grammy-winning film composer David Arnold has scored GOOD OMENS, the forthcoming comical horror series forthcoming from Amazon Prime and the BBC. The six-episode series is based on the 1990 novel Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. All six episodes of the serial are set to be released on May 31, 2019 on Amazon Prime, and later broadcast weekly on BBC Two. In an interview with the British website inews.
Arnold described the challenging job of creating a coherent theme for a six-hour TV series that expands across continents and historical eras: “The story is labyrinthine and the cast is so massive, the trick is to find something which pulls it all together… It’s almost three and a half hours of new music.
Read more details and watch the teaser trailer at musiquefantastique.
DEADWOOD: THE MOVIE premiered on May 31 on HBO as a continuation of the television series of the same name, which ran for three seasons from 2004 to 2006. Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek have composed the score; WaterTower Music has released the digital soundtrack, available here.
The soundtrack to MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL, by Danny Elfman and Chris Bacon, will be released on CD by Sony on June 14.
Ava DuVernay’s Netflix Series WHEN THEY SEE US, which chronicles the notorious case of five teenagers of color, labeled the Central Park Five, who were convicted of a rape they did not commit. The four-part series debuted on Netflix on May 31st. The fact-based drama has been scored by Kris Bowers (GREEN BOOK, DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, MONSTERS AND MEN). In his score, Bowers “experimented for the first time with unusual musical sounds to depict the horrific injustice for the five Harlem youths,” wrote Bill Desowitz preluding an interview with Bowers posted May 28 on IndieWire. Bowers told him that “WHEN THEY SEE US pushed me to be more experimental with sounds as my medium more than the use of melodies or orchestration that I’m used to. It was such an interesting process and integral in making the music for this sound so specific. I can’t see using those precise sounds ever again because they are so specific to this series.”
Rupert Gregson-Williams has scored ABOMINABLE, a new computer-animated adventure film produced by DreamWorks Animation and Pearl Studio. The film features the voices of Albert Tsai, Chloe Bennet, Sarah Paulson, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Tsai Chin and Michelle Wong in a story about a teenage girl who discovers a young Yeti on the roof of her apartment building in Shanghai, so she and her mischievous friends name him “Everest” and embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family at the highest point on Earth – while avoiding a wealthy man intent on capturing the Yeti for himself. The film is scheduled for release on September 27, 2019 in the United States (October 11 in the United Kingdom) by Universal Pictures.
Additionally, Rupert and his brother Harry Gregson-Williams have collaborated for the first time on the score to the Netflix’s original series CATCH-22, based on Joseph Heller’s WW2 satirical dark comedy novel. Sample the opening cue:
Belgian composer Simon Fransquet won the Magritte (Belgium’s Academy Award) for Best Original Music for Jawad Rhalib's documentary film WHEN ARABS DANCED. “When I started composing I naturally found a very gentle and melancholic sound, inspired by the beautiful, poetic images of the film,” Fransquet said. “The difficulty and challenge consisted of composing the theme for the dancers, understanding their body movements and rhythm while giving them enough space. It was necessary to create a melancholic score and make it evolve in order to protest against those who condemn all forms of artistic expression. This is one of the reasons I chose classical piano as the main instrument, so that all the repetitive patterns become notes of hope, still attached to a certain melancholy.”
Access the soundtrack here
Colombian-born composer Nicolas Alvarez is scoring SKY SHARKS, a new science fiction drama in which a team of geologists uncover an old Nazi laboratory under the ice of the Antarctic, where members of the Third Reich created modified sharks who were able to fly… and still do. “I immediately loved the concept of the film,” said Alvarez. “I called the production studio in Germany and luckily the director, Marc Fehse, answered. We had a very nice chat and we kept in contact for about a year before I was asked to score a scene to see if my style fit with what he and the producers were looking for. Fortunately the sound was right on the money.” The movie, finishing up post-production, is slated to premiere later this year. For more information on the film and its score, see
Digitmovies of Italy has re-released on CD their long sold-out soundtrack to Ennio Morricone’s RUBA AL PROSSIMO TUO BOR , better known as A FINE PAIR, a 1968 heist comedy film starring Rock Hudson, Claudia Cardinale, and Tomas Milian. For this film, Morricone wrote a monothematic score including several orchestral variations of the main theme, a brilliant and very romantic motif with an engaging lounge flavor, vocalized by I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni.
For details see digitmovies
Mondo Music in partnership with Hollywood Records and Marvel Music, will release on May 31st the first in a series of MCU vinyl soundtracks with ANT-MAN AND THE WASP. Christophe Beck re-teamed with the Marvel Cinematic Universe to score this sequel to 2015’s ANT-MAN, one of the most kinetic and musically inventive chapters in the on-going series (and which Beck had also scored). The closing credits theme, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Wasp Lady Stings,” is sequenced at the beginning of the album to properly prepare you for the brilliant work of what Beck is doing in this film and for these characters. This is one of the MCU’s most dynamic and entertaining soundtracks. Mono’s vinyl edition features original artwork by Phantom City Creative and includes 14 previously unreleased tracks that were not included on the digital soundtrack, pressed on 2X 180 Gram Split Colored vinyl (limited to 1,000 copies) or 2X 180 Gram Solid Colored vinyl. It is also available on Black vinyl.
See: mondo or see full track list at amazon.
Mondo also offers a 2XLP vinyl edition of Jerry Goldsmith’s classic score to 1968’s PLANET OF THE APES, featuring original artwork by Matthew Woodson, and pressed on 180 Gram Vinyl. It comes in an “Event Edition” pressed on black and yellow half and half vinyl. Housed in a vinyl jacket with sound effects chip. Limited to 1,000 copies; and an “Online Exclusive” version: pressed on purple and black half and half vinyl (Disc 1) and Green and Black Half and Half Vinyl (Disc 2)
Following its critically acclaimed digital and CD album release, The Music Of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, written, composed, performed and recorded by GRAMMY and Ivor Novello Award-winner Imogen Heap, a vinyl album of music from the internationally acclaimed stage production will be released as a limited edition, 2-LP deluxe vinyl set on Friday, June 21 from Sony Music Masterworks. Newly pressed on 180-gram vinyl for maximum audio fidelity, the set arrives within a gatefold jacket featuring gold foil artwork and embossed lettering. Also included in the deluxe vinyl edition is an 8-page, large-format booklet containing production shots and commentary from Imogen Heap and key members of the production’s creative team. Presented as four contemporary musical suites, each showcasing one of the play’s theatrical acts, the unique new album format chronologically features the music heard in the stage production, further reworked to transport listeners on a sonic journey through the world of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Pre-Order the vinyl, or stream/download the digital edition, here
Varèse Sarabande Records announces PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE LP in its first wide release in 30 years. Danny Elfman’s score to the classic 80’s film is back after a limited release last year. For this 1985 film, Tim Burton and Paul Reubens invited Elfman to write the score for their first feature film, which became Elfman’s first score for film, kicking off his award-winning career. For PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE he turned to Oingo Boingo guitarist and arranger Steve Bartek for orchestration assistance. With this iconic score Elfman achieved his goal of emulating the mood of such composers as Nino Rota and Bernard Hermann. The LP is pressed on red vinyl and includes not only the score to Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure on side A, but is also accompanied by a bonus program of Danny Elfman’s score to Back to School on side B. This LP can be purchased on varesesarabande.com
and other vinyl retailers.
Varese is also releasing the first ever wide LP release of John Powell’s beautiful score for HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON on a very special Picture Disc vinyl. The album comes out on June 7 and is now available to pre-order from Varèse Sarabande or from Amazon.
Death Waltz Recording Company is proud to present the pulsating Italian synth score to director Alfonso Brescia’s 1980 sci-fi adult action film, THE BEAST IN SPACE (La Bestia nello Spazio). Borrowing heavily from Walerian Borowczyk’s THE BEAST (La Bête), most notably its sexy b-movie seductress Sirpa Lane, along with elements of STAR TREK, CALIGULA, and even STAR WARS (light saber battle, anyone?), this treasure trove of trash cinema is truly a sight to behold. Veteran Italian composer Marcello Giombini, credited in the film as Pluto Kennedy, delivers a brilliant synth and effects-heavy score that was not only fitting of the outlandish images on the screen, but also clearly influenced by Wendy Carlos' A CLOCKWORK ORANGE synth work. Strictly limited to 500 copies pressed on 180g Green, Red & Purple starburst vinyl. Housed inside a 425 gsm gatefold jacket. Artwork by Graham Humphreys. Inner gatefold definitely NSFW…
Ennio Morricone: In His Own Words By Ennio Morricone in Conversation with Alessandro De Rosa Translated from the Italian by Maurizio Corbella Oxford University Press, 2019. 341 pages, hardcover. $23.88
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Translated from the original 2016 Italian edition (Mondadori Libri S.p.A.), this is a thoroughly comprehensive examination of Ennio Morricone’s life and music as told by the composer himself in a series of in-depth conversations with composer De Rosa. He asks challenging and insightful questions, which Morricone answers in great detail. Maurizio’s Corbella’s English translation is superlative, making the volume a compelling read (far from the awkwardness of some of Morricone’s translated interviews) and an essential and intricate portrait of the composer and the man. Morricone speaks of his music, his technique, his relationships with various directors, his thoroughgoing understanding of music history, and his consummate views on creating music and composing for films versus “absolute music.” The book is exhaustively indexed, aiding its value as a research tool, but more over it’s a perceptive and enjoyable voyage through the mind of a true musical genius. He comments in various levels of detail on many of his scores. There is a 12-page insert of black and white and color photographs.
Some interesting samples from the text: On Film Music as Background: “All too often, no less today than in the past, music is not considered as a language that concurs to shape the content of a film, but as something that plays in the background. Starting from this bias, film composers have themselves underestimated their own contribution, and in so doing they have made directors and producers accustomed to very fast working times, not the least by resorting to myriads of clichés.” (p. 79)
On Music and the Visual Image: I have always sought for new ways to interweave music and the other elements of a film, principally the visual ones, and respond to the demands I‘ve perceived in them… The only certainty I have is that music must be finely written, even when it is intended for a different art, another expressive form. It must be based on internal, formal and structural parameters, solid enough to hold its own independently from the images. At the same time, musical ideas must be attuned to the elements and suggestions of the specific cinematic context.” (p.96) On Hiring Orchestrators: “I noticed a rather common trend in American cinema that I don’t approve. It would seem that entrusted this orchestration of a soundtrack to third parties is a totally usual praxis there. As it happens, famous composers sign scores when they have actually just written the themes…
It was an immense delusion for me to find o9ut about such widespread phenomenon, because I come from a background in which orchestration is an integral part of musical thinking, as much as melody, harmony, and every other musical parameter.” (p. 112) On STAR WARS: “My criticism [is] not directed to the genre or to STAR WARS in particular, which I enjoyed a lot from the very beginning of the saga, but to the scoring style with which *(especially Hollywood) composers and directors have made us used to. What seems hazardous to me is to associate a march, no matter how well written, to outer space… I attempted a new direction with my score for THE HUMANOID… in which I devised a six-voice double fugue based on tonal harmony… Although that production could not remotely compete with STAR WARS, to me this piece seemed to somewhat mirror the imagin[ation] of the universe, the infinite spaces and the sky, without giving in to clichés.” (p. 113). On Rejected Scores: “It is immensely painful when a director refuses my music at the recording stage… You get your recording done and someone tells you they don’t like any of it… In my first experiences I was anguished, I still am in a way, by the desire to do my job well, to serve the film and satisfy the director’s expectations and personal taste… but without giving up mine and those of the public. (p. 130, 131). On Communications: “Also troubling is when directors are too shy to tell you that they are not convinced. To that I must add my own shyness, which inhibits me from asking ‘Do you like it or not?’… Sometimes directors don’t have a clear idea after the first round of listening and need more time. Their role entitles them to imagine a certain kind of music for their film; for this reason they may expect the composer to go in the same direction they have in mind… When directors speak out about their skepticism in time, they give me a chance to understand what new directions to take, though at times I’ve refused to do so.” (p. 131).
On The Future of Music: “The attention to sound is fundamental for me; the counterpoint of timbres is crucial. I don’t conceive of music’s future devoid of intervals – a music merely made of ambient sounds and electronics… We must never forget that we not only have rhythm, harmony, and melody at our disposal, but countless other parameters that have been neglected for centuries, even if rightly so… How can I answer your question if not by saving that we shouldn’t prevent ourselves from being as open and curious to all of the sound resources and possibilities available to us?” (p. 255).
Life Notes By Ennio Morricone (Translator not credited) Musica e Oltre srl., 2019 Hardcover, 128 pages. £30.00
This book makes a nice and more informal companion to In His Own Words (above). Take a walk with Ennio Morricone through this a first person account of key childhood memories, anecdotes from his career and reflections on music and family life. Through seven short-ish chapters, the maestro takes the reader through his childhood (“I believe I was born to be a musician.”), how he learned to compose music (“I was fixated on studying under [Goffredo] Petrassi. I refused to attend at all unless I was put under his tutelage and from September to Christmas I did not go to composition classes. Finally they relented and added me into Petrassi’s class.”), his early career in writing music and arranging songs for the record industry (“I never told Petrassi about this as I was sure he would judge it a waste of time and a corruption of my learning process. However, when he did find out he was not cross at all but simply reassured me he was confident I could make up for the time I was wasting on it at a later stage.”), the Cinema Years (“I need trust to work well with a film director. It is essential if I am to work with a director more than once. I am fortunate in having had a number of trusting and, therefore, successful professional partnerships in this area of my work.”), his ongoing passion for absolute music (“Absolute music, or pure concert music, is my great passion. Composing absolute music is private and a personal endeavor just as it is a personal experience for the one listening.”), the family life he shared with his wife and four children (“The joys and frustrations of a large family are wonderful but I reject totally the idea that composers put their very private suffering or happiness into their music. Music is a talent not an expression of personal feelings.”), and a final glimpse into the present and future (“I like to keep moving forward in life. In my Oscar ceremony acceptance speech I said that receiving the honor from the Academy was a point to progress from, a starting point and not a destination. I do not like to look back. A constant search for self-awareness avoids passivity.”) A pair of appendices provide summary discographies of both film music recordings and absolute music releases (citing only first releases). The volume is full of photos, black & white and color. While not as thoroughly comprehensive as the De Rosa book, it’s nonetheless a compelling, informal, and
compact autobiography of the composer’s life and experiences, and is a welcome addition to any proper library of film music studies or composer bios.
Big names from the games industry will appear at SoundTrack Cologne 16: Jack Wall (CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS II-IIII), Wilbert Roget II (CALL OF DUTY: WWII, MORTAL KOMBAT 11) and Michael McCann (DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION). As every year, the conference is divided in the three different themed days “Music for Games” (August 29th), “Music for Film” (August 30th) and “Music for TV Series” (August 31st). Within the scope of the Theme Day “Music in Games”, the composers speak about their upcoming projects, challenges of video game composing, personal experiences and will be available for questions from the audience. Founded in 2004, SoundTrack_Cologne is the German festival of music and sound in film and media. Since its inception, with its congress as well as festival programme, SoundTrack_Cologne has developed into the leading European platform for music in film and the media.
For more information, see https://www.soundtrackcologne.de/
On April 6th video game composer Winifred Phillips delivered a lecture at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington DC. She’d been invited to speak by the Music Division of the LoC to deliver the concluding presentation during their premiere event celebrating popular video game music. Phillips’ lecture was the very first video game music composition lecture ever given at the LoC. Subsequently, Phillips was written up a partial transcript of the lecture’s Q&A session, including in a feature article published in the online game-making magazine Gamasutra. Read the article here
iam8bit has announced the release of a massive vinyl project with developer IO Interactive and composer Jesper Kyd: Hitman: The Critical Collection is unlike any videogame soundtrack you’ve listened to – it’s a cathartic fusion of opera and electronica, weaving together timeless classics with a distinctly modern sensibility that only Kyd could conjure. For the first time ever, the scores from the original four Hitman games (Hitman: Codename 47; Hitman 2:Silent Assassin; Hitman: Contracts; and Hitman: Blood Money) have been expertly mastered exclusively for vinyl. And as a tribute to Agent 47’s distinct fashion sensibilities, they’ve tailor-fit the 4xLP in a highly custom, limited edition quad-fold package, unlike anything else in the aural arsenal. For details, track list, and much more, see iam8bit https://store.iam8bit.com/products/hitman.
Olivier Derivière’s score for A Plague Tale - Innocence is now available exclusively on Bandcamp in a Deluxe Edition containing 25 minutes of additional music with no compression. See: www.aplaguetale-ost.com. The regular edition is available on all digital platforms, but without the extra tracks.
Watch the game’s trailer:
Sony Music has released the evocative soundtrack by Nathan Whitehead to Days Gone, an open-world action game which launched exclusively on the PlayStation®4 system last April. The game is about survivors and what makes them human: desperation, loss, madness, betrayal, friendship, brotherhood, regret, love – and hope. Gamers play Deacon St. John, a bounty hunter traveling through vast and diverse landscapes in the high desert of the Pacific Northwest. “The ideas that define the score are the tenacity of the human spirit and the value of relationships,” said Whitehead. “Early in the process John Garvin, creative director at Sony’s Bend Studio, described to me how the game isn't simply about surviving, it also examines why we want to survive. When I heard that, I was instantly excited about all the places the music could go. I found it really interesting to be navigating the survival aspect and also this introspective aspect at the same time.”
Listen to Whitehead’s provocative main theme from Days Gone:
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. Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe for copyediting assistance.