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Soundtrax: Episode 2021-6
July-August 2021

Feature Interviews:

  • The Fertile Musical Worldbuilding of
    Game Composer Gareth Coker
  •  Atli Örvarsson: The HITMAN’S WIFE’S Composer

   Interviews by Randall D. Larson

Overviews: Soundtrack Reviews:

ALWAYS Expanded Edition/Williams (La-La Land), ENDANGERED SPECIES/Shields (Filmtrax), JAKOB’S WIFE/Busch (Lakeshore), JOLT/Lewis (Millennium Music), LOKI Vol. 1 & 2/Holt (Marvel), MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVELATION Vol. 1/McCreary (Mattel & Arts Music), THE MATRIX Complete/Davis (Varèse Sarabande), OXYGEN/ROB (Sony), THE REASON WHY I JUMP/Desai (Mercury), THE WATER MAN/Baert (Lakeshore)

Plus Film & TV Music, Documentary, Vinyl Soundtracks & Game Music News

Gareth Coker is a British composer and producer working out of Los Angeles. He is known for his melodically driven scores, unique soundscapes, and attention to detail and execution in the application of how music emotionally relates to the gamer as they are playing. His scores have garnered numerous awards, including the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Award for Outstanding Music Composition, the SXSW Award for Excellence in Musical Score, multiple Game Audio Network Guild awards. He has received nominations from BAFTA, GDC, and IFMCA, amongst others. His recent works include the videogame scores to ORI AND THE WILL OF THE WISPS (2020), DARKSIDERS GENESIS (2019), ongoing work on ARK SURVIVAL EVOLVED (2017-). He has also written multiple soundtrack albums for various MINECRAFT expansions (2016-2019), and contributed to Insomniac Games’ VR title THE UNSPOKEN (2017).
- bio from the composer’s website

“You’ve watched probably many films where the music just exists, maybe as wallpaper, and it does its job, but then there are those special films where the music feels inseparable from the film. The same is happening in games right now.”

Q: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in scoring video game music since you started scoring games with MINECRAFT in 2009?

Gareth Coker: That is a loaded question, especially since the game industry is constantly evolving and changing on a yearly basis – sometimes it appears that something new is coming up on a monthly basis! I think the biggest challenge now, moving into 2021 and 2022 and beyond – something I’ve noticed in the last two or three years – I think the vast majority of game soundtracks now have generally very well-produced music. I’m talking about live recordings with orchestra where the music is just very well-made: good melody, good use of harmony, etcetera. I feel that’s now the minimum standard, so the challenge now is how can we use that great music and make sure that it plays back in the game correctly. What I mean by that is that I think a lot of games have really good music in them, but far less games have great game music, and there’s a subtle distinction between that. When I say “great game music,” I mean that the music has been written with the idea that the players are at the center of the experience – as opposed to just existing in the background. You’ve watched probably many films where the music just exists, maybe as wallpaper, and it does its job, but then there are those special films where the music feels inseparable from the film. The same is happening in games right now – lots of games have great music which functions in the background, but the truly special ones are where you just cannot separate the two. It’s something that I feel is much harder to achieve in games, because you’re having to deal with the fact that the player controls the experience – as opposed to a film or TV show where it’s entirely linear. So that, I think, is going to be the biggest challenge, moving forward, for composers. It’s not enough, now, to just deliver a great sounding piece of music, it’s absolutely got to be so closely defined to what the player is experiencing in the game at any moment.

Q: When you’re approaching a game score, whether a new game or a sequel game, what are the first elements you consider when you are starting out?

Gareth Coker: I think this largely depends on the game, but if it’s a narrative game there are three things that I look for. I feel that every game has a tempo. Much like when you watch films for the first time and each theme that you score has a tempo, I believe games have a tempo too. So a lot of my initial experiments are playing through an early version of the game to find out what the general speed of the game play experience is. The second aspect is, what does it look like? A lot of people don’t know that the visuals are something that happens later on in a game. Often when you start working on a game, the actual game play will exist but there won’t be any artwork in it. You’ll still be able to play the game, but everything will just look very grey. And then the visuals come in and that starts to inform what instruments I use and the orchestration, any instruments from around the world, any synths. Then the last element that I think about – though it could also happen early on in the process, it just depends on the game – are the thematic elements. I try to find this as soon as I possibly can, and that just requires getting ahold of the script and talking to the game directors about what they want to try and achieve with each character in the game. It’s kind of like a three-pronged attack on the approach of how to begin a game, regardless of whether it’s an original idea or a sequel.

Q: You’ve scored all of the ARK video games – do you recall your initial thoughts coming into this game for the first time – and then how you’ve developed your scores around the subsequent iterations of the game?

Gareth Coker: The funny thing about ARK is when I first started on it I really didn’t know what to expect, or that it would balloon into this thing that I think has shipped 60-million units now. The first thing I saw with regard to the game was big dinosaurs in a big world and humans can ride dinosaurs. That’s the very, very basic thing that I saw from it. And the only direction that the developers gave me was that they didn’t want JURASSIC PARK – they said not because there was anything wrong with JURASSIC PARK, it was just that they wanted it to have its own identity. And besides, if I tried to write like JURASSIC PARK, no matter how hard I studied John Williams, it would still just sound like John Williams lite. I was actually kind of relieved that they wanted me to do my own thing!

The thing about ARK and the reason why it’s so popular is that it’s a multiplayer game. You play it with your friends, and the game has an incredible sense of adventure to it, and that was really what I wanted to capture with the game’s main theme. Fun story: the main theme for the game was actually my pitch to the project. I think they heard my pitch and were like, ‘Well, this is pretty good! We’re going to use it as the main theme!’ and that main theme has lasted through several iterations over the last six years. That main theme stuck with them because it felt adventurous, with a little bit of danger but not too much, as opposed to the kind of joyous nature of the JURASSIC PARK music. The ARK theme has a combination of adventure and danger to it, and it’s been fun going through all of the different expansion packs, reworking the main theme to fit the new settings of each new addition to the game.

Q: How have you treated the music in the latest iteration, ARK: GENESIS 2?

Gareth Coker: ARK: GENESIS 2 takes place, for the most part, in space. Initially, I’m looking and I’m going, “OK, we’ve really gone that far. We’ve gone to dinosaurs in space at this point!” It’s a little bit more complex than that, and I would try and explain the story to you but we probably don’t have enough time because it’s so rich. The recent FAST AND THE FURIOUS movies, I feel like it’s a matter of time before they go into space, as well! ARK has gone into space, for reasons that are actually deeply tied into the stories, so I thought, “OK, it’s time to combine a really strong synth element and orchestra into the soundtrack, but I didn’t just want to do what I feel a lot of scores do, just do some synthetic sounds and then slap a big orchestra on top. I felt that would have been a cheap way of doing it, so I really worked hard to make the orchestra blend with the synthetic elements, rather than just being two different things smashed together. I think the best example of this is in the track “Rockwell’s Garden I” [track 4] on the album. Rockwell is the main antagonist of ARK: GENESIS 2 and he’s a Victorian scientist who has ended up doing one too many experiments with all of the creatures that are available to him in the Ark, and that has corrupted him as a result. And I thought it would be interesting to combine music that is from the Victorian era and put some synthetic elements to that as well, and then you get this interesting classical sound merged with very fast bubbling synths in the background. I sent it off to the developers and they liked it too, and that spawned the [direction of] the rest of the soundtrack. ARK: GENESIS 2 is probably the most unique out of all the expansion packs that we’ve done, because of this synthetic direction, and it was just really cool to have a chance to record the orchestral elements at Abbey Road and then combine it with synths and have it be a nice sendoff to ARK 1, because it is the final expansion pack of ARK 1.

Q: How does scoring ARK: THE ANIMATED SERIES provide a somewhat different visual environment, and can you say anything, sans spoilers, about taking your ARK music into this new format?

Gareth Coker: First of all, I’m just glad I get to do it, because the number of game composers who end up getting to work on the TV shows that tied to the game is very, very small. I’ve never understood that. It’s a complete mystery to me that there’s this stereotype that game composers can’t do linear music, which is nonsense because there is tons of linear music in games. So I’m very grateful to have been given the chance to do it. One of the cool things about the TV show is being able to revisit music that I wrote six years ago and get that convergence between music from the game and then applying it into the TV show, because I have to be honest, I thought I’d never get to use some of these themes again. Now I get to realize them in a completely different format, and in a more digestible format with the TV show. That’s one of the things I’m most excited about with the TV show – if you play the game you basically have to spend several hundred hours to experience the story, as opposed to the TV series, where we can give that story in a much more accessible format. I’m right in the middle of working on it now, and it’s like a new challenge to work in that limited time frame that you have, because everything is linear, but also it really helps me focus on carving these themes out so they don’t just match what’s happening on screen but also present them in a new light.

Then the last thing, I think with this being an animated series and being a show about dinosaurs – and, yes, there is a strong science fiction element to it as well – I think it allows the animators to do things that would probably be almost impossible to do in live action, unless you had something like a $300 million budget. So visually the show has a really nice style. If you’ve seen the cast list for the show, it’s an absolutely ridiculous cast list! I still have no idea how they secured all that talent, but I’m very glad that they did. It’s kind of surreal for me – I’m writing music under Russell Crowe and all of these other really big actors. So I’m enjoying taking aspects of the game music and trying to weave it into the TV show, which – and I have to be honest, because I basically helped create the IP – I’m not sure that any other composer knows the music and all its themes as well as I do, because I wrote it all! So I’m really thrilled that they gave me the opportunity to do it.

Q: How has ORI AND THE WILL OF THE WISPS given you the opportunity to further develop the music you wrote for ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST [2020], and what new elements or challenges has the sequel game brought to you?

Gareth Coker: ORI AND THE WILL OF THE WISPS was the first true sequel that I’ve really ever done. The thing about the first game is that the studio was unknown, I was unknown, I was a nobody at the time, every one was unknown, and it was a smash, breakout indie hit. So of course one of the things that was generated by the success of the first game was a sequel, and when you announce a sequel, there are expectations and that was a little bit daunting. I remember at the beginning when we decided what we wanted to do – should we just do the same thing as we did before or do we really want to go all-out and make this a true sequel; and what I mean by that is instead of making ORI 1.5, we truly made ORI 2. And I think ORI 1.5 would have sold really well but it wouldn’t have made a big splash. We really worked on the sequel game from the ground up in ORI 2. The biggest difference between the first game and the second game is that there are far more characters that you get to interact with in the second game, which of course presents opportunities to write more themes. In the first game you’re really just playing as Ori, and while you have limited interaction with a couple of other characters, they’re just not on screen for very long, so you don’t really have a chance to use another character theme. Whereas in ORI 2 there’s a whole storyline with the character Kwolok, who is a giant toad. There’s a whole segment of the game which features a spider stalking you throughout the environment, and then you have to end up facing her in combat, so there’s an opportunity to write music for the spider character, Mora. Then of course there’s the new antagonist, Shriek, who appears at various points throughout the game. So it’s a really nice opportunity to do something that has lots of different themes and weave them into the gameplay experience.

Those kinds of changes take place dozens and dozens of times throughout the game, and that means the player always feels a sense of progression as they do something new in the game… the music is always changing to reflect exactly what the player is doing.

The only main difference is that, with ORI 2, we had a much bigger budget, which was nice, and there are a number of different benefits with that – the first being the most obvious is that we got to record the score in London at AIR Lyndhurst with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Pinewood Voices. We did not have a live choir on the first game due to budget reasons, and we certainly could not record in London either. I’d always wanted to record in London and felt that AIR Lyndhurst was the perfect studio for a game like ORI. The second thing was actually more down to the implementation – I sort of did this in the first game but there were just some technical limitations that didn’t allow us to have the music really closely follow the action that Ori is doing in the game.

I’ll give a couple of simple examples: probably my favorite is quite near the beginning, Ori wakes up in a new land and he’s just been flying with his new adopted sibling, Ku, an owl, and they become separated while flying through a storm. Ori wakes up in this new environment and the music is pretty sad as he’s progressing through the environment because he’s trying to find Ku. It’s also a hostile environment, and Ori doesn’t have any weapons at this point, he just has a torch. As he works his way through the environment, this sad melody plays and then eventually he gets to an area where he picks up the sword made of light, called the Spirit Edge, and we use the same sad melody but it’s less sad now because the accompaniment has changed to be more exciting because this is the first time for the player that Ori had a sword. That’s just one tiny aspect of the game where we use the same melody in a different arrangement to present it in a different way emotionally for the player. Those kinds of changes take place dozens and dozens of times throughout the game, and that means the player always feels a sense of progression as they do something new in the game, whether they receive a new ability, whether they open a new secret passageway, whether they defeat a significant character in the game – the music is always changing to reflect exactly what the player is doing. That’s not something I could do to such an extent in the first game because it requires immense technical support. In a video game, a person can do something in a completely different order than what you planned. When you watch a film, everything happens in the same order every time; in a video game, it doesn’t, so you need a very large technical framework to be able to track all of that, and that was something we were able to do in ORI 2 versus ORI 1.

Q: One thing that games need to do very well is world-building, so in the case of composing music, how would you describe your musical world-building in the enchanted world of ORI or some of the other games?

Gareth Coker: I think it really just comes from spending a lot of time with the game itself. I tend to have a very hands-on approach when I’m working on games. I like to see and play as much of the game as possible – I guess one can say it’s a holistic approach. The more time I spend with it – and being a very avid video gamer myself, that gives me the best idea of what I would expect the player to feel when they’re going through an environment. This alludes to what I was talking about earlier – it’s not just about supplying music for each world that you’re working in, but what you want the player to feel when they’re going through that part of the environment. Even if you’re using disparate instrumentation and orchestration, if it’s all the same emotionally then the player actually starts to become less immersed, and one of the keys to the very best games is that the immersion level is never broken because the player is always engaged with the experience. In the case of ORI, there are all of these different environments: you’ve got the Mouldwood Forest, which is the one I mentioned earlier that features Mora the spider, that’s by far the darkest environment in either of the ORI games, but you can contrast that with the Luma Pools area which is incredibly bright and vibrant, and the first thing I decided was, OK it’s bright and vibrant in the visuals and so it needs to be bright and vibrant in the music. But the other reasons, which are a little bit deeper and aren’t really reflected on the screen, is that the Luma Pools is one of the few moments where things kind of lighten up in WILL OF THE WISPS. It’s generally speaking a very dark game, and so emotionally when you arrive at the Luma Pools it feels like a total tension release, and that’s what I’m focusing on in each area of the game. It’s world-building but it’s beyond just what you see on the screen. Music in film or TV or games should also be commenting on the things that you don’t see.

Q: With IMMORTALS: FENYX RISING you’ve employed a number of authentic ancient Greek instruments – how did your sonic palette for this game develop and what instrumental opportunities and challenges has it posed?

Gareth Coker: This one was a really fun and interesting project to do, because, if you’ve seen how the game looks, it’s got this fun, cartoony style – I like to say it looks like a DreamWorks film, only in a video game. When I saw that, I was like, “Ok, well, I can’t do the serious, authentic Greek soundtrack, because that’s just not going to work, and also, if they wanted a serious authentic Greek soundtrack, they probably wouldn’t have hired me! So, after talking with Ubisoft, who made the game, we came on this hybrid approach of: what if we used the magical elements of my own soundtracks, which are present in a lot of things I work on, combined with something of a Disney Fantasia feel, but then have a flavor of authentic Greece. That was an approach that we all agreed upon, and then I tried it out. I had three Greek lyres commissioned from a Greek luthier. I had a very nervous wait while they were being shipped across the Atlantic, because they are incredibly delicate instruments, but thankfully they were well packaged! I performed all of them on the score, and I also sampled them so I could manipulate them digitally afterwards, which gave me a little bit more flexibility, because they’re not exactly the most flexible instruments in the world, if you want to use an exotic scale, for example. But featuring those Greek lyres throughout, and using largely, what I would say were Greek sounding scales, helped make it feel like it was a little bit from ancient Greece.

The other instrument that I used on the score, I had my woodwind collaborator purchase an aulos, which is a Greek reed wind instrument, and the first time I heard it – I have to be honest – I thought it sounded horrendous! It’s not an instrument I would want to listen to for any length of time! But it truly sounded like an authentic Greek sound, so I decided to find a way to make the aulos work. I had Kristin Naigus, my collaborator on woodwinds – she plays woodwind for me on pretty much every game I work on now, because she owns three hundred instruments – and she recorded several lines that I had written out for her, and then I put a massive, cavernous reverb on those melodic fragments and phrases, giving them some echo, and I felt that was the sound of the Underworld in this game. IMMORTALS: FENYX RISING had a bunch of what we call the Tartaros Vaults, which are like these puzzle areas that are set in the Underworld of the game, and I knew we needed something to make the entire Underworld area sound unique, and if you listen to the track, “Aulos of Tartaros” [Track 9], you’ll hear this in action – you’ll hear the aulos come in and out, but it’s never too prominent, which means it’s not distracting because if it was too prominent I think the player would get tired of it very quickly. But it’s a deeply fascinating instrument because you can play two notes at the same time, and you can also bend the pitch in quite an extreme way on those two notes, and it makes this incredibly haunting sound. The way I produced it ended up like what the mission statement was: “let’s take these ancient instruments and produce them in a 21st Century way to make sure it fits the overall experience of this game.” IMMORTALS is an incredibly accessible game so we wanted to make the soundtrack feel Greek enough but not too Greek that it would put people off playing it, because the music can never take itself too seriously.

Q: How does that contrast with scoring the game’s Chinese setting in IMMORTALS: MYTHS OF THE EASTERN REALM, and what differences besides your instrumental choices did this iteration of the game require?

Gareth Coker: About three months after finishing the Greek version of the game, they came back to me and said: “Yep, we’re doing a little Chinese expansion!” – and by little I mean it’s another ten hours of game! I was like, “Ok, well I’m definitely interested in doing that too; sounds really fun.” We wanted to keep the magical elements – it is fundamentally the same game, it’s just got a different setting, but the big difference is in choosing the instruments. One of the things that Hollywood does a lot, whenever they do a film set in China it seems like they always use the same instruments, regardless of when in China it is. How many films have you seen where the featured Chinese instrument, if the film is set in China, is always the erhu, the Chinese violin? It’s always the same! So one of the very, very wonderful things that came out of this project was getting an education from the Ubisoft Chinese Studio, which made the Chinese expansion, because they told me that this game is set in a certain dynasty where various instruments didn’t exist. A good comparison is my MINECRAFT Chinese Mythology pack: that expansion pack was set in the Tang dynasty, which runs from the year 618 to the year 907 AD. The MYTHS OF THE EAST REALM is set in the Qin dynasty, which is between the years 221 to 207 BC – almost a thousand year difference. So many of the instruments that are in the Tang dynasty did not exist or were not very prominent in the Qin dynasty. They gave me this incredible list of instruments that I could or couldn’t use, and from this list of instruments I determined which authentic Chinese instruments we could use, producing them in a modern way, and we know that they’re appropriate for this era in the game. That was a real interesting thing to explore because I think the vast majority of people are not getting that level of education when they work on a game, so it’s really nice to work with a studio, even though it’s an animated game with a very fun and colorful look, that still wanted it to have a level of authenticity that was appropriate.

Q: What’s coming next for you that you can mention?

Gareth Coker: I’m working on the ARK animated series, as we discussed, and all I can say about that now is it’s slated to come out in 2022, but I can’t really say when. Probably when it’s done! And more closely, the release of the new HALO game, HALO INFINITE, is going to be out at the end of this year.

Special thanks to Greg O’Connor-Read of Top Dollar PR for facilitating this interview!


Raised in the small town of Akureyri in the north of Iceland, Atli Örvarsson relocated to Los Angeles early on to pursue a career in composition. There, Atli worked extensively alongside prolific TV veteran Mike Post and Hollywood legend Hans Zimmer, which launched his career leading him to score over 40 films and countless TV shows. He recently scored the Apple TV+ limited series DEFENDING JACOB and the Netflix comedy EUROVISION. His latest project is the action-comedy follow up film THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD released last June.

Atli’s accolades include winning the HARPA Nordic Film Composer Award for his acclaimed score to Rams, several ASCAP and BMI Film and TV Music Awards, a “Breakthrough of the Year” nomination with the IFMCA Awards in 2009, plus he was nominated for the prestigious World Soundtrack Academy’s “Discovery of the Year Award” for his score for BABYLON A.D in 2009 and his score for PLOEY: YOU NEVER FLY ALONE was nominated for a “Public Choice Award” in 2018.

Q: I’d like to start with the first HITMAN’s BODYGUARD movie in 2017. How did you get this assignment and what were your initial conversations with director Patrick Hughes about the kind of music he wanted for the film?

Atli Örvarsson: I’d done a movie for Millennium a while back called THE CODE [2009], also known as THICK AS THIEVES, so I had a relationship there and they were looking for a composer to work with Patrick on THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD, so I think my name came into that orbit, through the previous relationship. Patrick came over to my studio in Santa Monica and we basically listened to old blues records and drank a bottle of wine for about two hours – and that was the beginning of this journey! Patrick is a real lover of music, especially fond of roots-y music like blues and that kind of thing. His words to me were that he didn’t want the typical kind of Hollywood action score, he wanted something a bit more roots-y – that word really describes it. That was our point of departure, if you will.

Q: As you were going into the film and taking that roots concept in mind, what inspired the musical style as you developed it through the film’s dramatic landscape?

Atli Örvarsson: I think the story worked well with blues, really, which obviously has been a starting point for rock and roll from the beginning, and it led me down this road. There are parts of the movie that needed more of an action type of music, so there is another element of a more traditional orchestral or hybrid action scoring world, but the feeling was always that there needed to be, at least when it comes to the main characters, something that somehow calls back to the origin of the score. The first movie had a Belarusian bad guy, and the bad guy in the new movie is Greek, so there’s also a sort of East/West component, back and forth. I had to come up with themes for these bad guy characters as well, so it’s a bit all over the place, in that regard!

Q: How would you describe your overall thematic architecture for this film and how your themes and palettes played off one another in the arc of the story in the first movie?

Atli Örvarsson: There’s the main theme, which to me possibly speaks more to Bryce’s bodyguard character, who is quite OCD and a perfectionist. He’s also quite slick and has a bit of swagger, which then deteriorates a bit as the movie goes on. He had a kind of James Bond/spy attitude, though he’s not a spy, of course, but I was trying to convey a bit of that within this slightly rock and roll/bluesy landscape. Samuel Jackson’s character of Kincaid is completely different, obviously, very matter-of-fact and bad-ass, so the approach for him was even more towards blues – less slick and more earthy, real, and streetwise. And as I mentioned, the bad guy, Dukovich, is from Belarus and so there’s an Eastern European scale incorporated in that, and then there’s also the element of Interpol, which is very much in this international police/detective vibe… You begin by finding your colors and your palette and then start the process of putting it all together into some sort of a collage.

Q: In addition to your motif for Bryce & Kincaid, you also have a sensitive theme for Kincaid and Sonia, while also playing off and against Bryce & Amelia. How did these character themes come into play and develop across the storyline? 

Atli Örvarsson: Patrick was very interested in underlining the weaknesses, if you will, or the fragility of Bryce’s character, I think it’s almost funny that this badass bodyguard really is incredibly insecure and sensitive. It’s almost like a comedic device in the filmmaking aspect of it, so the idea was to write something incredibly honest and vulnerable. That was the idea with Bryce’s theme, to underscore his vulnerability. It’s represented in his relationship with Amelia. Then Sonia, she’s a totally different kettle of fish, she’s obviously Kincaid’s wife, but she’s also this mad, hardass woman, but she then becomes a bit of a mother figure almost for Bryce and at least a therapist as well. All in all, it all revolved around Bryce’s insecurities and his lack of a mother figure. What I love about Patrick is, among other things, how clever this idea is, which is to go into the psychology of this guy who is almost masking his insecurities by being this tough guy.

Q: With THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD, what kind of discussions did you and Patrick have about the scoring needs of the sequel?

Atli Örvarsson: We decided to build on the original, obviously, and use the themes that had been established for the characters, including the main theme, but then new characters are involved and without giving too much away there’s a new bad guy, family members of Bryce’s come along, and they all needed themes and new material. The make up of the film is slightly different from the first one; it’s not quite as much about the back and forth bickering between the main characters – there’s a bit more story-driven action. I think it was finding a balance between honoring the themes from the first film and coming up with new material that was appropriate to the new one.

Q: I like how you’ve treated your themes from the first film into their semblance in the new movie.  “Broken Wing,” for example, a cue from the first movie, is reprised in the poignant track “Bryce’s Father” in the new film, which then concludes with a bit of the organ from your main theme to tie it off.

Atli Örvarsson: Part of that, too, is when you do a sequel, inevitably the editor has temped in some of the music from the original movie. There were a couple of moments where they’d done something that I thought was really good and we decided to keep the thematic idea they had brought in at those points in the film. And it is a luxury to start a movie and have all this material to work from, and then finding new ways to treat it and add new material on top of it. That was really a fun process.

Q: How did visiting the set influence where you were going with the music?

Atli Örvarsson: There’s something to be said for going on set and being in the atmosphere of the making of the film, with the actors and understanding what the director is trying to do. One of the sets we went to was a Mediterranean castle in Italy, and I think you can’t help becoming more in-tune with the setting and what he was trying to convey. Geographically, it was nice to be able to visit these places and get into the spirit.

Q: What new themes have you deployed in the new film, and how have you fit them together with the themes from the first film?

Atli Örvarsson: I used the main theme, Bryce’s “Broken Wing” theme, some of the thematic material for Kincaid from the first movie, and the new characters that come in are basically Papdopolous, the bad Greek guy, he needed a theme and Sonia and Kincaid needed a new theme for their honeymoon, and Bryce’s dad, he comes with a fanfare that I came up with because he’s supposedly in the Hall of Fame of bodyguards, and I felt like he should have a noble, grand fanfare theme. It’s like building blocks; you add these to the old building blocks and build the house.

Q: Both of these films are also full of needle-drops - how did you navigate around those songs while keeping a compatible tempo and key in your scores?

Atli Örvarsson: Patrick is extremely hands-on with those things. He had, especially for the first film, special songs in place right from the start, as well on the second one. To be honest, unless I have a cue that bumps right up against a needle-drop I don’t worry too much about key or melody, I look at them as separate things, because they’re supposed to be a break up from the rhythm of a film. Oftentimes they are set pieces. I think Patrick has a real gift for finding funny ways to use needle-drops, and so they kind of have their own life. I didn’t find that I needed to navigate too much around them, rather just honoring the contrast between having a score that’s underscoring the action and then having spots where these songs break up the film.

Q: How do you plan out the music for the big chase scenes, finding room for energetic music and even thematic bits in the midst of roaring engines, screeching tires, and dialogue? How do all the sonic components fit together in these films?

Atli Örvarsson: Generally speaking I didn’t really have much of a sound design when I was writing the music, so I had to imagine what it might need. Some of it was quite obvious – when a big helicopter flies by you know you’re going to hear the helicopter and there’s a lot of gunshots… it’s really just instinct, trying to figure out what the action is and use your instinct to come up with a plan for it. I focus on the music, and there are certain points where you certainly realize there are background and foreground moments, so maybe this is a music moment, maybe that’s a sound moment. COVID also made this all a bit complicated because I wasn’t able to be there for the final dub, because of the pandemic. So there were certain moments where I wish I could have been a bit more hands-on with the sound department, carving out things for each other. But, in general, I just write the best cue I can and figure that if I get lucky it won’t all get drowned out by gunshots!

Q: What was most different for you in scoring the second movie?

Atli Örvarsson: I think it was just in revisiting old material as opposed to having to come up with all new themes. I’ve never scored a sequel where I’d written the music for the first film, so that was a really fun process to come back to the old themes and start pulling them in different directions and playing around with them. The evolution, perhaps, is that there is more score in the second film and fewer songs, and it’s probably a bit more orchestral-action heavy than the first one as well. But I would say the film tells you what it wants and that was my reaction to what this film is. All in all it was just a very cool thing to revisit these old friends and get reacquainted with them.

Special thanks to Adrianna Perez and Kyrie Hood of White Bear PR for facilitating this interview.


Overviews: Recently Released Soundtracks

ALWAYS Expanded Edition/John Williams/La-La Land – CD
La-La Land Records offers a remastered and expanded CD reissue of John Williams’ original score to the 1989 feature film ALWAYS, a remake of the 1943 Spencer Tracy film A GUY NAMED JOE, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman, offering 21 tracks of original score over the 1990 MCA soundtrack’s 12 score tracks (7 previously unreleased and 2 alternate takes containing previously unreleased music). Williams’ score is largely subdued and wistful in its intimate focus on three main characters more than the forest firefighting job they are responsible for, which is appropriate for this delicate story of a recently deceased firefighting pilot whose spirit mentors a newer pilot while watching him fall in love with the girlfriend that he left behind. “For the first time [in the Spielberg-Williams collaboration], underscoring would be withheld for the first 20 minutes of the movie, and they settled on a sound that would be ethereal, dreamy, flowing as if carried on the wind in a realm with no time restraints, that contemplated relationships in all their tenuousness and occasional bliss,” wrote Mike Matessino in his in-depth liner notes. “While the score is subtle in its uses of melodic material, Williams did compose a central motif for Pete and Dorinda, romantic yet uncertain, its intervals rising toward an unattainable goal.” This generally calm, sometimes serene mood embraces the score in most instances; even the composer’s theme for Dorinda and Ted, the new pilot, and his motif for firefighting, remain fairly docile in their description of what’s happening between the three characters. The film’s central action track, “The Rescue Operation,” has elements of heroic danger but still remains rather gentle in its construction, with brief references to the airy heavenly motif that is introduced in the new track “Premonitions,” and given a fuller rendering in “Pete in Heaven.” This motif is frequently reprised, and finds its summation in the 8-minute “Among the Clouds” (moved from MCA’s opening score track to its proper placement near the end of the film in La-La Land’s tracklist; in fact La-La Land’s track order follows the storyline much better than MCA’s version, which also included six songs heard mostly as source tracks. In “Dorinda Solo Flight” Williams unleashes the score’s fullest emotional/heroic music, as Pete is able to make a final ghostly goodbye to his true love and release her to happiness in life with the young pilot. The “End Credits,” new to the La-La Land edition, recaps the poignant piano performance from the contemplative opening track, “Intimate Conversation,” and gives it a properly thoughtful and satisfactorily conclusive delivery. This album is a far more compelling listening experience in every way, produced and mastered from studio vault elements by Mike Matessino, approved by the composer and the director. The expanded CD is limited to 3500 Units and includes in depth liner notes also written by Matessino. The album art design is by Jim Titus.

ENDANGERED SPECIES/Scott Shields/Filmtrax - digital
Starring Rebecca Romijn, Philip Winchester, and Jerry O’Connell, this survival adventure received mostly poor reviews and ratings, but I quite liked it for its ecological perspectives, performances, character interactions, and amazing location photography, and gave its predictable plot and necessary use of CGI animals a pass. Directed by MJ Bassett (DEATHWATCH, SOLOMON KANE, ROGUE [2020]), the film has to do with a flawed, careless family who take a dream vacation in Kenya. But when they decide to venture off alone into a wilderness park, their safari van is flipped over by an angry rhino, leaving them injured and desperate and at the mercy of leopards, hyenas – and poachers. The score by Glasgow-based composer Scott Shields (also scored Bassett’s ROGUE) nicely supported both the majestic African scenery, the Kenyan musical traditions, and the dangers inherent within the film’s storyline. It’s a very well-structured score, each cue is very nicely layered with multiple elements that really enliven its dynamic. The indigenous vocals and instruments are both intriguing and very likable sonically while representing the atmospheric sounds and culture of Kenya (“Checkpoint: Into Amboseli,” “In Memory,” “Endangered”); dramatic music reflects the increasingly dangerous situation the family finds itself in (“No Water,”). Shields also elegantly captures the magnificence of the country’s landscape (“Look At That View”), the ferocity of the country’s wildlife (“Leopard Attack,” “Something Took Him,” “Hyenas Attack”), as well as dangerous human perils (“Poetic Justice,” “Drive That Jeep,” “I See Headlights”), and the various attitudes of the characters as their predicament becomes more and more despairing (“Billy and Noah,” “Billy’s Long Walk,” “She’s Going To Die”). Yet there is a sonic beauty to nearly all of the tracks which makes the score a delicious treat for the ears. The tracks are not in film order but provide a satisfying and immersive listening experience.
For more information on the composer, see
Listen to the opening track, “Billy and Noah” via Scott Shield’s YouTube page:

JAKOB’S WIFE/Tara Busch/Lakeshore – digital
This striking vampire movie revolves around a minister’s wife (Barbara Crampton in a superlative performance) who – after an encounter with ‘The Master’ – discovers a new sense of power and an appetite for living bolder – and drinking blood. The musical score is by Tara Busch, an American producer/musician/remixer who has been influenced by the rich, complex harmonies of Brian Wilson, the spellbinding sounds of BBC Radiophonic Workshop diva Delia Derbyshire, and the innovations and futurist attitude of electronic music pioneer, Bob Moog. This is her first film soundtrack; she’s also written and performed the very cool song featured in the film, “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” which is performed by her band, I Speak Machine (Busch & Maf Lewis). “I wanted the score to have a feminine quality to it to mirror Anne’s voice,” said director Travis Stevens in an interview with slashfilm. “I wanted the score to reflect Anne’s internal dialogue. I reached out to Tara Busch and I said ‘Tara, I know you’ve never… done movie music before, would you consider doing the score for this film, because I think your music is super cinematic.’ And she said ‘Yes, absolutely, I would love to do that, that’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. Let’s do it’. So then through the writing stage, through production, through post production, she was writing music and sending it to me. It made the movie better, and it also gave her a chance to do something that she already wanted to do, and nobody had asked her before.”
Aside from that song, the score is comprised of 49 mostly short tracks, largely performed on piano, voice, bells, and a variety of synths and musical sound design which combine together to create a mesmerizing spookiness and unease that augments the story of Anne Fedder’s journey into vampirism, and plays wholly against the humorous elements that contrast the film’s more oppressive horror sensibilities. Aside from thematic cues for Anne, a jangly, percussive, raspy, twisty, shuffling motif for The Master, a theremin-styled cue associated with Anne’s pastor husband Jakob, who also faces off against a gradually decelerating motif for “How Do You Know, Husband, Whether You Will Save Your Wife?,” and the splendid vocalise opener, “Amelia’s Walk,” Busch provides a quantity of varied ambient, dissonant, and jolting sonic material that gives the film much of its shock value. Tracks like “I Won’t Bite” and “Rat Swarm” are brutally vicious and sonically disturbing, while use of keyboard tinkling and bell tones create more delicate modes of anxiety (“Behind Her,” “Hello Tom,” the latter adding frightening, treated voices), the reverberant eerie synth footsteps of “Who Are You And What Do You Want?” and “I Want the Blood,” along with the low, slack guitar phrasing and echoing fx of “You Mistake Me For A Priest” and treated grunginess of “Red Meat & Red Wine” all builds some very effective spookiness. And that’s not even half of the cues that conspire to make JAKOB’S WIFE an effective and potent scare score both within and without it’s associated film. There are only a few recurring motifs, with the bulk of the score comprising new and quite varied sonic material, which makes for a fun and captivating listen. The movie and its soundtrack are both well worth checking out.
Listen to the track “Amelia’s Walk:”

JOLT/Dominic Lewis/Millennium Music – digital
Dominic Lewis (MY SPY, PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY, MONSTERS AT WORK) has scored the new action thriller from Tanya Wexler, JOLT, now streaming on Amazon Prime. Kate Beckinsale plays a bouncer with a slightly murderous anger-management problem that she controls with the help of an electrode-lined vest she uses to shock herself back to normalcy whenever she gets homicidal. After the first guy she’s ever fallen for is murdered, she goes on a revenge-fueled rampage to find the killer while the cops pursue her as their chief suspect. A digital soundtrack has been issued by Millennium Music. This may be as far from his recent animated film scores as he can come. The score is a necessarily modern rock-based action score heavy on guitars, pulsating synths, reverbed and treated club-styled voicings, and percussion that augments the amped-up fight scenes quite well, referencing the abilities of the heroine and her self shock-treatment; although it may not make the most provocative listening experience by itself it can be a lot of fun if you’re in the right mood; if you’re not it may amount to an abundance of excessive noise. Lewis also provides a pair of very nice sympathetic themes for Beckinsale’s character, “Pretty Face,” and “Apartment 9.”  Have a listen to one of them below:

LOKI Vol. 1 & 2/Natalie Holt/Marvel – digital
After stealing the Tesseract during the events of AVENGERS: ENDGAME, an alternate version of Loki is brought to the mysterious Time Variance Authority (TVA), a bureaucratic organization that exists outside of time and space and monitors the timeline. They give Loki a choice: face being erased from existence due to being a "time variant", or help fix the timeline and stop a greater threat. Loki ends up trapped in his own crime thriller, traveling through time.
As was done with the previous two MCI television series, Marvel Studios has offered thorough soundtrack albums of the music from this series, with Volume 1 containing a generous 25 tracks from episodes 1-3, and Volume 2 containing 23 tracks from episodes 4-6. Coming seemingly out of nowhere to land the composing job of the third Marvel TV series, LOKI, composer Natalie Holt in reality has been busy as a classically-trained touring violinist and a composer scoring British shorts, documentaries, television series, and feature films since 2007. Her pitch to LOKI’s director and producers was convincing, and she won the assignment. “I enjoyed the feeling of not having to be a slave to what Marvel had done before,” Holt told Clovis McEvoy in an interview for musictech. “We wanted to really push it and do things that were unexpected.” This is exactly what the composer has done, resulting in one of the freshest and most interesting and varied scores in the MCU. The music is a variety of bold gravitas, uniquely textured sound design merged with classical orchestral instrumentations, wiry synth patterns, and a judicious use of that classic, manually-controlled electronic instrument best known for its use in 1950s science fiction classics: the Theremin, an instrument suggested by director Kate Herron. Its use in LOKI, performed by Theremin wizard Charlie Draper, adds an eerie resonant tonality to the score, often when you might least expect it.
Holt composed about 40 minutes of music for each 50-minute episode of the 6-episode series. The central theme for the TVA (Time Variance Authority) came out of Holt’s original pitch. The theme features the ticking of various types of clocks, purposely left in their lo-fi/sans orchestra demo version, tying into the time concept so important to the TVA, with otherworldly-sounding and massive chords forcing their way out of the echoey clockwork rhythm of the cue’s opening. It’s an intriguing and delightful blend which erupts into an epic orchestral idea. Other motifs and treatments features synthesizers (Roland Juno-60 and Moog Mother-32), various drums, guitars, and symphonic performances of the Budapest Film Orchestra. In the composing process, Holt fed a variety of sounds  (including those clocks) into a Revox G36 analog tape machine and then manipulated those sounds until they were fairly unrecognizable and “dirty,” and those became some of the more unusual textural designs that are a part of the score.
Holt’s main theme for Loki is introduced in Vol. 1’s “Gobi 2012” but given its first full rendition in “Loki Green Theme.” This sturdy motif is omnipresent throughout many of the tracks on both volumes, and builds on Loki’s Machiavellian/Shakespearean and cheeky/self-serving character aspects. It’s a rising, assertive motif of three notes punctuated by a heavier low, descending fourth note, which will circulate throughout the entire series, predominantly in very declarative statements. The sound is rich in gravity and portrays Loki’s personality, hubris, and penchant toward cruel mischief: it is especially moving in the shocking and emotional scene where Loki watches as his TVA friend Mobius (Owen Wilson) is “Pruned” (Vol. 2, track 15), while Holt arranges a samba version of the theme for the scene where Loki is revealed to have been D.B. Cooper. The music for the TVA’s Mobius and Ravonna are connected; Holt’s theme for Mobius, a kind of ‘90s rock anthem-styled cue, is adapted into an organ version with a number of string tremolandos for Ravonna, acknowledging her power within the TVA as well as recognizing the friendship between the two characters, at least in the beginning. Hunter B-15’s theme is kind of a drum rhythm with Holt’s own voice sampled as a rhythmic element beneath it. The music for both Frigga (Rene Russo) and Loki variant Sylvie (Sophia di Martino) are performed on Norwegian (Hardanger fiddle) and Swedish (nyckelharpa) folk instruments played by the Lodestar Trio, gently blended in with synths to provide a faux-Asgardian texture to their themes (track 20, “Roxxcart”). The delightfully cartoony Miss Minutes theme, which segues into a soaring Theremin treatment soon joined by a jaunty, plodding footsteps-arrangement in brass over rolling tympani and piano, ends in an elegant flourish. The drinking song Loki sings while in the bar car of the train in Episode 3 was written for the show by Benedicte Maurseth and Erlend Nødtvedt, but arranged by Holt (“Very Full,” Vol. 1 track 24). It was originally planned to be sung acapella but at Holt’s suggestion a musical accompaniment, along with additional drinkers joining in, resulted in Herron reshooting the sequence, giving it a better energy.
As the fifth episode approaches its huge climax, Holt amps up the sonic energy with “Living Storm,” a massive cloud-like creature called Alioth which blocks their way until, with Classic Loki’s aid and strengthened by a touch of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkeries” (appropriate enough for an Asgardian!) on horns in “Classic Builds,” Loki and Sylvie successfully bypass the creature and access the citadel beyond the Void. This brings us to episode six, wherein Holt’s music for “He Who Remains” advances into a massive mixture of 32-person choir, huge orchestral maneuvers powerfully blasting the TVA theme, led by the soaring tonality of Draper’s Theremin in a gigantic sonic resolution; when it reaches its end we are left with a pulsating series of brass notes and the mechanical ping of the TVA’s clockwork elements, still working despite the cataclysmic conclusion of the story. Musically, we have come full circle. With the entire series concluded and its music available on these two discs, there’s a discernable progression in the music, scattered elements introduced in the first episode that develop into a purposeful coalescence in the final conclusive moments of the final episode. Revisiting the soundtracks and listening closely to this motivic advancement will expose the fascinating journey Holt’s music takes in her carefully cultivated musical design.
For more information on the composer, see
Listen to the track “Pruned” from LOKI Vol. 2, via the composer’s YouTube page:

Mattel & Arts Music – CD + digital
The new Netflix animated series is developed by Kevin Smith and produced by Powerhouse Animation Studios. A sequel to the 1983–1985 Filmation series HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVELATION focuses on the unresolved storylines of the original 1983 TV series, picking up many of the characters’ journeys where they left off. The series benefits greatly from a rousing adventure score by Bear McCreary, of whom Rob Bricken of accurately quipped “Bear McCreary was born to score MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVELATION.” The music is both a sequel to the kid-friendly Filmation series but, especially after the first couple of episodes, it definitely becomes its own entity and serves as a more grown-up sword-and-sorcery adventure, with a splendid voice cast (Chris Wood, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lena Headey, Mark Hamill, Liam Cunningham). The music is fun (“Orko’s Bubble”), dark (“Skeletor, Lord of Destruction”), heroic (“He-Man Transforms,” “The Power of Greyskull”), poignant (“Finding Duncan”), active and exotic (“Teela Joins the Wild Hunt”), gently wistful (“Into Preternia”), quite thrilling (“Roboto Reforges”), and dynamically resolute (“From Man to God”), and is richly powerful in its thematic construction and variation. It’s a exhilarating listening experience on its own, and Bear’s treatment of large gestures, a vibrant choir, and massive orchestral forces is really a rousing and inspiring experience, leaving us eager for more! If you hear some sonic references to the music of Basil Poledouris (such as CONAN THE BARBARIAN) you’re not mistaken – Bear intentionally meant some of the music to serve as a sort of homage to Poledouris’ wonderful music (for example, listen to “The Power of Grayskull” on Bear’s YouTube Page, here).
Listen to Bear’s recording session video of the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVELATION Main Theme, via his YouTube page:

THE MATRIX The Complete Edition/Don Davis/Varèse Sarabande CD
Arguably, the most powerful and influential electro-acoustic score of the 1990s was Don Davis’s music for THE MATRIX trilogy (1999-2003). His music for the first film in the trilogy defined the tone, texture, and treatment that would arc through each of the three films, but most significantly in its first. THE MATRIX soundtrack was released by Varèse Sarabande at the time of the film, and then in a Deluxe Edition that fit as much of the score as possible on one CD. By popular demand, this new 2CD set, (also released as a 3LP set on July 17th for Record Store Day – also see Amazon), now presents the complete film score in all its magnificence, in a limited collector’s edition of 2,000 copies. Liner notes feature an extensive new interview with Don Davis conducted by Kaya Savas. “The film pushed action filmmaking into a new era,” writes Savas, “it re-defined the idea that you could have both style and substance, and it told a story with memorable characters and big ideas.” Added the blurb writer on the label’s website: “From the clashing-brass ‘reflections’ to the racing strings, pounding percussion and flittering, repeating musical ‘cells,’ the MATRIX score fits hand-in-glove with the film’s concept of a computer-controlled reality – and offers a unique musical thumbprint that is recognizable sometimes only from a single note or chord. It is the rare commercial triumph that is also an artistic landmark.”
Davis’ early involvement with THE MATRIX allowed him to design a score that would mirror the developing production’s unique style and visual orchestration, and provide an ideal merger of orchestral and electronic music. From the digital descent of the matrix code that opened the film, like drops of bleeding emerald rain, through the hornlike blaring figure that heralded the “bullet time” visual effects, the music bristled like wild scurrying insects. A style used by the directors a lot in THE MATRIX has to do with reflective imagery, which ties in with the film’s concept of alternate realities – reflections of whatever reality may be real at any given moment. Davis accommodated this visual style and allowed his score to take on much of the same reflective semblance – as is, er, reflected in his opening track “Logos/The Matrix Main Title” and much of the following score will produce similar sonic designs in a kind of echoing effect that reflects the visual reflection into the music. Davis’ treatment of orchestral, choral, and electronic layers, the pacing of the music which alternately rages and then brakes into slow motion, and his inventive morphing of unearthly sonic mysteriosos, blaring dissonances, and crashing percussive pulses was simply extraordinary. Hearing the full score of THE MATRIX reminds one of the time before it became a trilogy, when the first film was an entity unto itself and a brilliant cinematic electro-acoustic experience.
Davis composed 100 minutes of music for THE MATRIX – and it’s all here on this album, one hour and 40 minutes of masterful MATRIX music. The score was orchestrated for a fairly standard orchestra enhanced by synthesizers and two pianos. His score had to contend with the apportionment of rock and pop songs inserted into the film, but in this case the songs tended to enhance the question-reality concept of the film itself (While in the first MATRIX, tracks were gathered from various artists and edited so that they fit the picture, in RELOADED and REVOLUTIONS those tracks were instead created specifically for the movie and Davis worked closely with musicians like Juno Reactor’s Ben Watkins to achieve a finer merging compatibility of the different music). Prior soundtrack albums of Davis’ game-changing film score were satisfactory, but with this complete edition the score’s full measure can be appreciated and preserved.
For more details on The Complete Edition CD and to hear sample tracks, see Varèse Sarabande here.
(In addition to the 2-disc CD edition, Varèse has also produced a Super Audio CD version. These Hybrid SA-CD’s contain a CD layer that can be played on any CD player, as well as a hi-resolution SA-CD layer that contains DSD audio in stereo and surround versions. The audio on the SA-CD layer has been upsampled from 48 thousand samples per second 24bit PCM audio to 2.8 million samples per second 1 bit DSD audio. When these disks are inserted into an SA-CD player or a Blu-Ray player that can play SA-CD’s, you will hear up-converted hi-resolution DSD audio in stereo or surround and realize the sonic enhancement that comes from the up-conversion. For details, see Varèse Sarabande here.)

OXYGEN/ROB/Sony Soundtracks VEVO - digital
OXYGEN (French: Oxygène) is a 2021 French-language science fiction psychological survival film directed and produced by Alexandre Aja, from a screenplay by Christie LeBlanc. As part of an American-French co-production, it stars Mélanie Laurent, Mathieu Amalric, and Malik Zidi. The film was released by Netflix last May. The film is about a woman who wakes in a cryogenic chamber with no recollection of how she got there. An A.I. that oversees the chamber speaks to her via com link but is unable to open the cryo unit without an administrator code. As she’s running out of oxygen, she must rebuild her memory to find a way out of her nightmare. The film features an amazing performance from Laurent, with other cast members seen briefly in flashback or heard via comm link. The film features a tense and sympathetic score by French composer ROB (aka Robin Coudert; MANIAC, GRETEL & HANSEL, TROY: FALL OF A CITY, PLANETARIUM, AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING); he rejoins Aja after having scored the director’s fantasy thriller HORNS in 2014. With the story essentially contained to the confines of that cryo chamber, Rob’s score does a fantastic job of maintaining the mood, mystery, and trepidation of the story as it plays out and various clues are discovered until the ending reveals all. The score is largely one of synthetic and acoustic tonalities, augmented by a reverbed mixed choir; but rather than follow the film order, which would place all the suspenseful material at the start and leave the more energetic and climactic revealing and culminating apotheosis until the end, the album nicely mingles the music for the best listening experience. The spirited end title is therefore found midway through, and there’s an effective ordering of tracks that I think works very well, giving the album a mix of highs and lows. It fits best having seen the film, but also works as a very interesting tone poem all on its own.
Listen to the opening track, “Samara,” from the Sony Soundtracks VEVO YouTube page:

THE REASON I JUMP/Nainita Desai/Mercury – cd + vinyl
Directed by Jerry Rothwell (noted for the 2015 Greenpeace documentary HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD), the documentary THE REASON I JUMP explores the experiences of five nonspeaking autistic people and their families on four continents. The movie is based on the bestselling book of the same name, an immersive examination of neurodiversity written by Naoki Higashida, who as a young Japanese boy gradually discovers what his autism means to him, how his perception of the world differs from others, and why he acts the way he does. As the film shares its stories, Higashida’s narrative voice distills their elements of communication into a sensually rich tapestry that leads us to his core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say. The original music is composed by acclaimed British composer Nainita Desai, whose score is emotive and vividly meaningful, creating a fluid sonic dimension that puts the listener into the perspective of these young people.
“The film adaptation… is at once a supplement and an effort to find a cinematic analogue [to Higashida’s book],” wrote Ben Kenigsberg in a review of the film for The New York Times. “Employing excerpts from Higashida’s writing as narration, it shares the stories… while intermittently using the tools of moviemaking to approximate sensory experiences similar to those discussed. The soundtrack emphasizes the creak of trampoline springs and the creeping footsteps of caterpillars.”
With violin, cello, piano, and voices as her featured instruments, Desai incorporates a variety of found sound into the mix which gives us a representative expression of the real world as these people experience it; the music also reflects the ability that some of these autistic nonspeakers have of recognizing words and communicating via spelling out words using a letter board instead of vocally. The track “Floating Into Focus,” for example, resonates with forward movement through female speak-singing over a rolling percussive pulse and various musical elements and bits of sonic material, elevating in the end to a rich and wonderful apex as Amrit, the autistic Indian girl, draws amazing pen-and-ink portraits of the world around her. “Shaking The Ropes Loose” provides a fascinating and delicate sonic collage of music and sound; as does “Memories and Images.” “Outside The Flow Of Time” brings back the clusters of singing from “Floating Into Focus” in a uniquely processed mixture of absorbing vocalise, heard as the young Japanese boy, representing Naoki, eagerly trots through a field. “Drowning In A Sea Of Words” is a mesmerizing cluster of reverbed, close-miked violin bowing which suggests the frustration of these nonspeaking autistic youths who have something to say but no means to speak it, as we follow Joss, an older autistic boy from England. The conclusive title track (coming in as track 9, the tracks not being in film order), offers a serene mix of intricate violin notes and filigrees mixed with harmonic adult voices singing lyrical phrases suggestive of the autistic persons’ sense of wonder and discovery; a notion also presented sans lyrics in the following track, “Green Boxes.”
In an early interview with, the composer explained in detail her approach to scoring the documentary: “Jerry the director wanted me to create a cinematic immersive aural experience to represent the world of Naoki and his writings. We wanted to blur the lines between music and sound design where they work hand in hand, illustrating and amplifying what it actually felt like to be autistic for the contributors in the film. Every element of the score mirrored the characters’ experiences of being autistic. For example, Naoki perceives the detail in objects before seeing the whole picture unfold. So, I created pieces formed of seemingly random broken musical elements that then formed a whole coming together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Another perception of their world is the use of repetition, so I worked with found sound elements from the location sound recordings to create these circular oscillations in the score. [These] sound elements from the location create a rhythmic foundation out of which grew a musical piece to evoke the sense of cathartic release.”
There’s a sense of magic to this score as we experience through this music the awakening mind of these children of various ages and how they have been able to overcome the limitations of verbal communications and express themselves. The album presentation offers the opportunity to relish Desai’s fascinating musical designs apart from the film’s narration and dialog from family interviewees and at their full length, richer volume, and in a sequence meant to offer an engaging listening experience.
“Don’t judge me from the outside only. Spare a little time to listen to what I have to say, and have a nice trip through my world.” - Naoki Higashida
The soundtrack is available at these links
“It’s a mesmerizing intertwining of music and sound design” - read an intriguing interview with Desai on scoring this film at outtakemag.
Listen to the track “Beauty Is In The Detail” from the composer’s website:

THE WATER MAN/ Peter Baert/Lakeshore - digital
The RLJE Films family adventure film THE WATER MAN is acclaimed actor David Oyelowo’s directorial debut. The story tells of a boy, Gunner (Lonnie Chavis), who sets out on a quest to save his ill mother (Rosario Dawson) by searching for a mythic figure who possesses the secret to immortality, the Water Man. After enlisting the help of a mysterious local girl, Jo (Amiah Miller), they journey together into the remote Wild Horse forest – but the deeper they venture, the stranger and more dangerous the forest becomes. Their only hope for rescue is Gunner’s father (David Oyelowo), who will stop at nothing to find them and in the process will discover who his son really is.
The musical score, a provocative mix of classical orchestra, piano, percussion, and electronics, is the work of Belgian composer Peter Baert (FACADES, BREATHLESS) who makes a debut here with his first composition for a major Hollywood feature. The soundtrack also features two original songs written and performed by Jessica Oyelowo, including the end credits song “My Son.” Peter felt the score should follow the journey of the main character, Gunner, going on a quest into the woods to save his ill mother. He processed the Water Man’s screams and sighs through long delays, modular tools, and tape echoes to create “The Water Man Synth.” When David proposed a motherly energy to be present in the music, Peter worked with a vocalist, who has a similar timbre of the mother (Rosario Dawson), and created “The Mother Synth.” Of his musical inspirations, Baert says: “The heartfelt story of THE WATER MAN took me back to two periods in my life. The first reminded me of being in my early teens, always playing in the neighborhood with my friends and going on adventures in a nearby forest. The second transported me back to a day in 2008 when my mom and I found out the diagnosis of her pancreatic cancer. She would be gone in 6 months. At some moment during the composing process the music found me, and it glued to the screen. This beautiful story reflects what I experienced in real life – that it is sometimes better to let go and cherish the time we have, than to hold on at all costs.” Baert’s score possesses a subtly powerful attraction, its delicate musical maneuvers and compelling mix of instruments are gently played with compassion and an integrity toward the film’s story and characterizations. On disc, the album offers a powerful sonic journey of its own, with an intriguing and stimulating musical palette. The score’s assortment of musical textures are stirring, with often the most interesting performances coming from clusters of acoustic instruments that set the landscape and environment through which the story flows, while the sustained tonality of synth pads and ringing electronics suggest the mystical search for the titular healer, and then elegant runs of powerful full orchestra engage and open up the moment into a rich anthemic gesture. This is a thoroughly engaging and likable score that gives the film a very effective emotive power, and makes for a very highly recommended listening experience.
THE WATER MAN soundtrack is available digitally from these links.
Listen to “Gunner’s Theme” from THE WATER MAN, via the Lakeshore Records YouTube page:


New Soundtracks & Film Music News

Available now from Walt Disney Records, the JUNGLE CRUISE Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features score by Oscar®-nominated, Emmy® and Grammy®-winning composer James Newton Howard (RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON, NEWS OF THE WORLD, A HIDDEN LIFE). Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE also released in theaters today and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Howard describes his collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra as “seamless.” “Jaume is very mellow, relaxed and confident,” he said. “He is very consistent in his approach as a director, which is what every composer hopes for.” He continues, “It was very clear what I needed to do. It wanted to be big orchestral writing, big on adventure, with a touch of the mystical. The score is also quite emotional in places, so there needed to be themes that could work in lots of different styles.” Howard used a traditional 100-piece orchestra to record the music, with electronics hidden within the orchestra to provide textures for some of the darker elements in the film. Howard comments, “We bang on brake drums, we blow through conches, and make lots of exotic sounds, but ultimately, it’s all about the storytelling and what instruments do that the best. The orchestra gives the movie scale, excitement, and all the emotional resonance it wants to have.” The digital soundtrack also includes the song “Nothing Else Matters,” which was especially reimagined for “Jungle Cruise” by Metallica and Howard.  The track, which was written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, includes featured performances by Hetfield, Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo.
Listen to a suite of Howard’s film score via Disney’s YouTube page:

French composer Alexis Maingaud has released the soundtrack to British filmmaker Andrew Desmond’s horror film, THE SONATA. The movie features Freya Tingley, Simon Abkarian, and Rutger Hauer in a story about a young violinist prodigy in search of her past who inherits a mansion after her long lost father dies under mysterious circumstances. She discovers his last musical masterpiece riddled with cryptic symbols that unravels an evil secret. Maingaud’s score, recorded in late June 2018 by the National Orchestra of Ile-de-France with the composer conducting – and at the same time inaugurating the orchestra’s brand-new recording studio – is a richly engaging one merging gentle melodies with dramatic and frightening orchestral elements: evocative, haunting violin measures counterpointed by bowing techniques both severe and discomfiting, eerie tonalities and thick, ghostly textures and frightening, dramatic tonalities that built powerful tension and maintain an ongoing, creepy resonance. The French independent label AOC Production has released the digital soundtrack, which is available here.
For more information on the composer, see here.

Already sold out at the label, Varèse Sarabande’s latest iteration of Jerry Goldsmith’s magnificent score to Franklin Schaffner’s LIONHEART (1987) features one of the composer’s finest, most noble main themes. Originally released on a pair of vinyl LPs and matching CDs in 1987, a single CD compilation was issued in 1994, and is now followed by this 2CD Deluxe Club Edition which presents the complete contents of both LPs, this time in film sequence, and adds two additional, previously unreleased cues. Because the new cues are sourced from reference material, they are labeled as “bonus tracks” at the end of a shorter-than-expected disc one, so as to remain in chronological order. New liner notes are by Tim Greiving. For details see Varèse Sarabande.

Intrada’s latest releases include the premiere CD release of John Powell’s rousing score for the 2020 filming of the Jack London canine classic, CALL OF THE WILD. Harrison Ford leads cast, Omar Sy, Dan Stevens, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford support, Chris Sanders directs. Powell scores with nods to an expansive outdoor locations courtesy of a 90-piece orchestra, augmented by a 60-voice choir. Results are vivid and colorful! See Intrada. Next in line is a 2-CD expanded, complete and fully remastered edition of Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Walter Hill’s EXTREME PREJUDICE, from 1987. Nick Note, Powers Boothe, Maria Conchita Alonso, Michael Ironside, Rip Torn, Clancy Brown, William Forsythe star in a story about a Texas Ranger and a ruthless narcotics kingpin – once childhood friends, now bitter adversaries. See Intrada. Finally we have a greatly expanded reissue of Danny Elfman’s score to the 1999 horror film SLEEPY HOLLOW, presented on no less than 4 CDs. Johnny Depp is Ichabod Crane, working outside New York City in 1799 and bringing new forensic technology to solve the mystery of numerous beheadings. Elfman fashions arguably his biggest, most vividly terrifying score, written for massive orchestra, chorus plus boys choir and soloists, with a pipe organ in tow. Elfman melds a haunting lyricism with dynamic power and dense intensity. See Intrada.

Brian Tyler has revealed during a recent composer panel at this year’s virtual Comic-Con that he is composing the score for the upcoming Disney+ original movie CHIP ‘N DALE: RESCUE RANGERS. The live-action/animated hybrid film is based on the classic TV series of the same title created by Tad Stones & Alan Zaslove. The film is set to premiere in early 2022 exclusively on Disney+. -via filmmusicreporter

Shout Factory has released a sparkling new blu-ray edition of David Cronenberg’s THE DEAD ZONE, one of the best Stephen King adaptations, with a wealth of special features, including an audio commentary by Daniel Schweiger about Michael Kamen’s brilliantly chilling score, with isolated score selections.

M. Night Shyamalan’s last mysterious thriller is OLD, about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly… reducing their entire lives into a single day. The eerie film is scored by Trevor Gureckis (BLOODLINE, THE GOLDFINCH, VOYAGERS), who had recently composed the music for Shyamalan’s Apple- TV+ series SERVANT. A digital soundtrack has been released by Back Lot music, available from these links.
Listen to the Main Theme from OLD, via Back Lot Music’s YouTube page:

MASQUERADE is a tense 2021 American thriller, written and directed by Shane Dax Taylor (ISOLATION, BLOODWORTH, THE GREY). It stars Bella Thorne, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Austin Nichols, Mircea Monroe and Skyler Samuels. Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Casey (Lind) is home alone – until a group of intruders, led by Rose (Thorne), breaks in. They plan to steal her family’s priceless collection of artworks, but their reckless ambition is outmatched only by Rose’s opportunism. As the stakes grow even higher, Casey now finds herself in a fight for her life as the invaders prove they’ll stop at nothing to get what they want until a shocking twist ending… The film’s score has been composed by Ben Lovett (THE RITUAL, THE WIND, THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW, SYNCHRONICITY). The film was released July 30th by Shout! Studios on digital, demand, and in select theaters. Watch the gripping trailer for MASQUERADE on musiquefantastique. Lovett has also scored the psychological horror film THE NIGHT HOUSE, directed by David Bruckner (Lovett scored his 2007 film THE SIGNAL). The film premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival; shortly after, Searchlight Pictures acquired distribution rights of the film and it is being released on August 20, 2021. Synopsis: Reeling from the unexpected death of her husband, Beth (Rebecca Hall) is left alone in the lakeside home he built for her. She tries as best she can to keep it together – but then nightmares come. Disturbing visions of a presence in the house calling to her, beckoning her with a ghostly allure. Against the advice of her friends, she begins digging into her husband’s belongings, yearning for answers. What she finds are secrets both strange and disturbing – a mystery she’s determined to unravel. Watch the film’s trailer:

Quartet Records and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer present a remastered, limited-edition reissue of the electrifying funk/jazz/groove masterpiece score by David Shire for Joseph Sargent’s famous classic urban thriller THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE (1974), starring Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam and Hector Elizondo. Based on the popular novel by John Godey, the film is about  four men, dressed alike in trench coats, who take a subway car hostage and demand $1 million in ransom. In crafting his music to PELHAM, David Shire invented one of the most individual and exceptionally well-realized scores from the 1970s. Conscious that the sounds of the subway and excitement would crowd the film’s sound mix, the composer shrewdly elected to energize the frequency spectrum from below and above. This new edition contains the same music as the previous Retrograde Records edition (with around 15 minutes of music not included in the film), mostly in stereo with some cues in mono. The sound has been entirely restored and mastered by Chris Malone from tapes courtesy of the composer’s archive. The lavishly illustrated booklet includes an essay by Tim Greiving about the film and score, including a new and exclusive interview with Shire. See Quartet.

The beloved classic TURNER AND HOOCH is getting a reboot in a series format on Disney+. Jeff Cardoni (SILICON VALLEY, THE KOMINSKY METHOD) is composing the upbeat music that accompanies the fun-loving dog Hooch and his owner on their many adventures. Cardoni’s greatest challenge was shifting the tone of the score, as the mood can change on a dime throughout the series. There are real stakes in the action and chase scenes, but Hooch makes them light-hearted and comedic, so Jeff’s score had to be able to pivot to enhance both the funny and chaotic moments. The musical palette consists of rock band instruments with full orchestra. Hooch’s theme is piano-driven. The next project on slate for Cardoni is the Starz wrestling drama HEELS, starring Stephen Amell, premiering on August 15. Watch the new TURNER AND HOOCH trailer here.

NOPE is an upcoming American horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun, and is scheduled to be released by Universal Pictures next July. The plot has thus far been kept under wraps. Composer Michael Abels, who scored Peel’s GET OUT (2017) and US (2019), has rejoined the director to score NOPE.

Lakeshore Records has released a soundtrack album for the dramatic thriller PIG. The album features the film’s original music composed by Alexis Grapsas (MONDAY, TRIGONEMETRY, BIG SHOT, TEACHER) and Philip Klein (THE LAST FULL MEASURE, WISH DRAGON). The movie centers on a truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness and must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved pig after she is kidnapped. “The score reflects the mood of the lead character played by Nicolas Cage with the simple folk-like colors of the raw baritone violin and acoustic guitars creating a richly mournful tone,” writes the label, “while more modern, aggressive electric guitars, distorted colors and drums provide a strikingly ominous, propulsive backdrop to his more intense moments.” The soundtrack is now available from these links.
Watch the film’s trailer:

Lakeshore has also released the digital soundtrack to the last two seasons of the NBC TV series GOOD GIRLS, featuring the music of real-life husband-and-wife composing partners Drum & Lace and Ian Hultquist. GOOD GIRLS follows suburban moms Beth (Christina Hendricks), Ruby (Retta), and Annie (Mae Whitman) who, at a loss over how to solve their various crippling financial troubles, decide to rob a supermarket in a heist that attracts the attention of a local gang leader, Rio. The Hultquists note: “As fans of the show, we were thrilled to join GOOD GIRLS for Seasons 3 & 4. It was an amazing opportunity to bring a new musical perspective to this series, and help tell the story of Beth, Annie, and Ruby. Our co-showrunners, Jenna Bans and Bill Krebs, helped push us to discover new sounds and arrangements in our efforts to ‘never sound like a TV show.’ We are so pleased we can celebrate the end of the series with this soundtrack release, collecting themes from the past two seasons.” The soundtrack is available at these links. The composers have also been tapped to score the forthcoming streaming Amazon Prime 8-episode series I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Lois Duncan, which was (loosely) adapted into the 1997 film of the same name and subsequent film franchise. The 8-episode limited series follows a group of teenagers, in a town full of secrets, who are stalked by a mysterious killer a year after a fatal accident on their graduation night. The series will premiere on Amazon Prime this October.

Also from Lakeshore is the DR. DEATH original series soundtrack, featuring music from the Peacock Original limited series in which patients entering the operating room of Dr. Christopher Duntsch for routine spinal surgeries start leaving permanently maimed or dead, prompting two fellow surgeons and a young Assistant District Attorney set out to stop him. The score by Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer Atticus Ross (THE SOCIAL NETWORK w/Trent Reznor), Leopold Ross (THE BOOK OF ELI w/Atticus) and Nick Chuba, utilizes electronics, percussion and orchestration to provide a menacing backdrop to the horrific true story. Soundtrack available here.

Notefornote Music presents the premiere soundtrack release of Stanley Myers & Hans Zimmer’s 1986 horror score to THE WIND. Meg Foster, Wings Hauser, and David McCallum star in a story about a popular crime novelist who moves to a historic Greek village during the off-season in order to write her next book, but gets more than she bargained for when she strongly suspects a man of committing murder. The CD is a limited edition of 1,000 copies, and is available here. Also available from Notefornote Music is the 24/48khz digital soundtrack to the short film VENUS, composed by Tracie Turnbull. The film is about Iris, who is torn out of her idyllic digital world and uploaded into a stolen synthetic body by her grieving mother and must face her body’s objectification and violent potential in a dark future. “Venus possesses a striking level of intrigue and unpredictability, brought together in a visually stunning triumph of short film-making,” reports the label. It features a punchy electronic score that calls to mind many of the classic sci-fi scores from the past. Turnbull, originally from Denver, Colorado is now a Los Angeles-based composer with a wide array of credits for film and television. She has contributed additional music to projects such as: CBS’s STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and PICARD, Sci-fi’s CHANNEL ZERO, FX’s SNOWFALL, Netflix’s THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY and Mark Wahlberg’s MILE 22.  See NotefornoteMusic.

Stephanie Economou (JUPITER’S LEGACY, MANHUNT: DEADLY GAMES,  MARVEL’S 616) is the composer of the upcoming Netflix original series THE CHAIR. Starring Sandra Oh, Jay Duplass, Holland Taylor, Nana Mensah, and Bob Balaban, the dramedy follows a woman as she navigates her new role as the Chair of the English department at prestigious Pembroke University and is faced with a unique set of challenges as the first woman to chair the department, and as one of the few staff members of color at the university. – via filmmusicreporter
(see more Stephanie Economou news in Video Game News below)

La-La Land Records, Universal Pictures, and Geffen present a limited edition remastered and expanded CD reissue of John Barry’s original motion picture score to the beloved 1980 big screen romantic fantasy-drama SOMEWHERE IN TIME. Synopsis: In 1972, playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) becomes fascinated by a photo of Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), a turn-of-the-century stage actress, while staying at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan. As Richard's obsession grows, he learns from a friend that time travel may actually be possible through hypnosis. Richard travels in time to meet Elise, and the two appear destined to be together. However, Elise’s jealous manager (Christopher Plummer) attempts to keep them apart. Barry’s graceful orchestral score perfectly embodies this heartfelt and heartbreaking romantic classic, enriching it with a resonating melodic and thematic timelessness that is vital to the film’s powerful sentimental allure. The label has also released the world-premiere CD release of composers Mike Figgis, Anthony Marinelli and Brain Banks’ original motion picture score to the acclaimed 1990 Paramount Pictures big-screen thriller INTERNAL AFFAIRS, starring Richard Gere, Andy Garcia, and Nancy Travis. Teaming with sumptuous atmospherics and captivating motifs, this notable score to one of the most intriguing thrillers of the 90’s makes its long-overdue debut with this special CD presentation. Also now shipping from the label is a limited edition CD release of acclaimed composers Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders’ score to the military drama WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS, starring Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp, and Robert Pattinson.  The composers embolden this compelling drama of a colonial magistrate embroiled in a crisis of conscience at a remote military outpost with a provocative and thoughtful orchestral score; and finally the label presents the CD edition of Harry Gregson-Williams’ music to the Paramount+ action/sci-fi-thriller INFINITE, starring Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sophie Cookson, and directed by Antoine Fuqua. The composer’s powerhouse orchestral score provides a riveting and propulsive musical soundscape, captivating the listener while it provides this blockbuster past-lives saga with resonating drama and emotion.

Coming August 17th from La-La Land Records will be a newly remastered 2 CD edition of composer James Horner’s original motion picture score to STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy along with Ricardo Montalban reprising his iconic role of Khan Noonian Singh, and directed by Nicholas Meyer. Also presented herein is a second 3-CD volume of the classic Irwin Allen TV series, THE TIME TUNNEL with music by Leith Stevens, Joseph Mullendore, Paul Sawtell, Robert Drasnin and George Duning as well as featuring the Main Theme by John Williams. Featured as well is a 2-CD edition of the original soundtrack to SNAKE EYES with music composed by Martin Todsharow. Lastly, La-La Land proudly presents WOMEN WARRIORS: THE VOICES OF CHANGE, created and produced by Amy Anderson and featuring the talents of Nathalie Bonin, Miriam Cutler, Anne Katherin-Dern, Sharon Farber, Penka Kouneva, Starr Parodi and Lolita Ritmanis. Released by Higher Purpose Records.

Bear McCreary has recently scored the upcoming thriller THIS GAME’S CALLED MURDER. The film stars Ron Perlman, Vanessa Marano, Natasha Henstridge, and James Lastovic, and follows the daughter an of iconic women’s luxury footwear designer Mr. Wallendorf who sabotages her sadistic father’s business. Also coming up for McCreary is the Netflix limited series THE WITCHER: BLOOD ORIGIN, the prequel to the streamer’s hit series THE WITCHER (scored by Sonya Belousova & Giona Ostinelli). The show is set 1,200 years before Geralt of Rivia as the worlds of monsters, men and elves merge to become one – and the very first Witcher arises. The new series is expected to premiere in 2022 on Netflix. The composer’s other upcoming projects include the animated feature BLAZING SAMURAI, the second part of Netflix’s MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: REVELATION, the second season of Apple TV+’s SEE (premiering on August 27), the eleventh and final season of AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD (premiering on August 22) and the sixth season of Starz’s OUTLANDER.
- via filmmusicreporter

Brothers Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna return as composers for THE ADDAMS FAMILY 2 starring Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac & Chloë Grace Moretz. The film is scheduled for release in theaters on October 1st.

Written by multi award winning composer George Fenton, the sound-track to Andy Tennant’s recent film, THE SECRET: DARE TO DREAM is out now. The film, based on the multi million selling book by Rhonda Byrne, is about the power of attraction and the belief that thoughts can change a person’s life. “The film is very low key,” said Fenton, “about an ordinary family going through hard times and the unusual way out for them. One of the things about the score for a film is that it should always tell the truth. It should never try to blindside or hoodwink the au-dience because if the emotional heartbeat of the film is within the music or reflected in the music, the music has to be trusted by the audience.” Listen to the album here.

Paramount Music has released a digital soundtrack album for the action adventure film SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS, composed by Martin Todsharow (THE CAPTAIN, TATTOO, DESERT FLOWER, FRIEND REQUEST). A CD version will be released soon by La-La Land Records. The film tells the original story of the title character as he is welcomed into an ancient Japanese clan called the Arashikage after saving the life of their heir apparent and is being taught the ways of the ninja warrior while also providing something he’s been longing for: a home. – via filmusicreporter

Silva Screen Records is digitally releasing Sarah Warne’s soundtrack to BBC One’s hard hitting prison drama TIME. The soundtrack is written for a small ensemble featuring Laetitia Stott (Horns), Ed Ashby (Tuba), Eleanor Bartlett (Violin), Laurie Anderson (Viola), Peter Gregson (Cello) and Sarah Warne (Bowed harp and vocals). The three-part series stars Stephen Graham and Sean Bean. “The music for TIME explores the slow and painful road to redemption, the harrowing isolation of incarceration, and Mark and Eric’s united torment as they both strive to do what is right,” explained Warne. “Visceral yet sensitive performances from the score’s core ensemble, combined with off-kilter prepared piano and detuned ethereal textures, are designed to dig deep into the powerful questions at the center of the drama.”

Contemporary Media Recordings will release the soundtrack album for the 2018 British fantasy horror thriller TO TOKYO. The album features the film’s original music composed by Trevor Jones (THE DARK CRYSTAL, THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, EXCALIBUR, MISSISSIPPI BURNING, LABYRINTH). The thriller opened in select UK theaters in 2019 and has been released in the U.S. on VOD and Blu-ray earlier this year by Gravitas Ventures. The soundtrack will be released digitally on August 27, 2021 and is now available for pre-order on Amazon.
- via filmmusicreporter

Silva Screen UK has released two digital, two CD, and two vinyl album soundtracks of music from Gerry Anderson’s classic TV series, SPACE: 1999 YEAR ONE and SPACE: 1999 YEAR TWO. These latest releases in the series exploring the musical worlds of GERRY ANDERSON is the label’s most extensive yet. The 2 CD set contains both Year One and Year Two soundtracks, with a 28 page booklet. SPACE: 1999 ran for two series from 1975 to 1977 and depicted the occupants of Moonbase Alpha and their struggle for survival when, after the explosion of a nuclear waste dump, the Moon is hurtled into space. The series was the most expensive produced for British television at that time and the most musically diverse of all the shows made by Anderson for ITC. Gerry’s long-time musical partner in all the previous adventures was Barry Gray and SPACE: 1999 proved to be the last of their collaborations. For Series 2, Derek Wadsworth took over the reins to provide a more contemporary sound. As with all the previous releases in this series, the albums feature newly remastered sound and episode presentations.

The comedic fantasy film MAN & WITCH, from Scottish-based director Michael Hines, is being scored by Geoff Zanelli (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL, HITMAN). The film is a heartwarming homage to the lo-fi fantasy films of the 80s and a comic adventure that both fulfills and subverts the expectations of what a fantasy universe can be. It tells the story of a witch who falls in love with a shepherd who hires her to break the curse of a very evil sorcerer. – via filmmusic reporter

AMERICAN HORROR STORIES is a spin-off of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s award-winning anthology series AMERICAN HORROR STORY. The weekly anthology series will feature a different horror story each episode. Since 2011, the creators of the AHS have redefined the horror genre with various installments featuring a creepy asylum, a coven of witches, a traveling freak show, a haunted hotel and the apocalypse itself. The television series sprouted a legion of dedicated fans who anticipate what terrors the next chapter will hold. The franchise is produced by Twentieth Television. Individual episodes are created by various writers/directors, and scored by various composers, including Mac Quayle (who scored many episodes of AHS), Ariel Marx, David Klotz, and others. The same theme music from AMERICAN HORROR STORY, composed by César Dávila-Irizarry and Charlie Clouser, is used during the new series’ opening credits. The series is now showing on Hulu.

To celebrate their 50th CD release, Kronos Records offers a special limited (300 copies – of which only 100 remain at the label as of now) reissue of their soundtrack to Uberto Pasolini’s STILL LIFE, featuring music by Academy Award Winning British composer Rachel Portman (THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, EMMA, HART’S WAR). The film follows John May, a council case worker looking for the relatives of those found dead and alone. “Portman always manages to masterfully capture the feelings of the characters and the mood of the story into the most beautiful musical notes and Still Life is definitely not an exception,” writes the label. “The music for STILL LIFE is a beautiful, sober and very moving composition in true Portmanesque fashion. Every note takes us through John May’s journey that starts with him looking for others and ends up finding himself. The various ensemble combinations chosen by Portman to convey these moods help elevate the music of Pasolini’s film to new heights.” (listen to sample tracks and pre-order here). Kronos also announces two new soundtrack CDs for July: The world premiere release of Davide Caprelli’s 2020 soundtrack to EST (aka EST - Dittatura Last Minute/Adventures Italian Style), a comedy/drama about three young men from Cesena who visit Eastern Europe a few weeks before the fall of the Berlin Wall in search of adventure, and find a journey will change their life forever (listen to sample tracks and pre-order here); and Rachel Portman’s sensitive score for the 2012 war drama PRIVATE PEACEFUL, which details the gritty rural lives and loves of the two young inseparable brothers and their poor family in Devonshire from 1909 until 1916, when the outbreak of World War I destroys their country idyll. Both join up (one under age) leaving behind the beautiful Molly who is the love of both their lives. (Listen to sample tracks and pre-order here

Sony Music Masterworks’ has released the official soundtrack for ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS features original music by composers Brian Tyler (F9, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, YELLOWSTONE and the previous ESCAPE ROOM) and John Carey (an associate of Tyler’s who arranged TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, THE MUMMY and others, and co-scored the original ESCAPE ROOM) from Adam Robitel’s follow-up to his hit 2019 thriller. Of the soundtrack, Tyler says, quoted in a preview article at “Composing the score for Escape Room: Tournament of Champions was an incredible experience and a chance to create both an emotional musical experience as well as a dark and sonically rich soundscape. The score is composed from the perspective of classic thematic writing yet is embodied by industrial electronic music. The contrast of tones between emotional motifs and the stark sonic landscape of pure electronic music was one of the most interesting musical combinations I have ever endeavored to create. I was so pleased to work with the incredibly talented director Adam Robitel on this sequel as well as collaborating with the amazing John Carey. The film was a true joy to work on, and I cannot wait for people to see the film and hear the soundtrack!”
Listen, stream or download the new score here.

WaterTower Music has released the TNT Original Series Soundtrack for the Warner Bros. Television crime-drama ANIMAL KINGDOM, composed by Alexis Marsh & Samuel Jones. This 19-track album features original music selects from Seasons 1 through 4, including “Big Love,” the series main title theme from composers Atticus Ross & Claudia Sarne. Marsh & Jones comment on the show’s music: “It’s a lot of fun to translate metaphors and adjectives into music. In developing the sound of the ANIMAL KINGDOM score, the producers used words like ‘muscular,’ ‘broken glass,’ ‘jagged,’ and our collective favorite ‘bilious contempt’ – which we still laugh about five years on. Each season we’ve pushed the score into new areas of what those descriptors could sound like by using pedals, modular synths, or extreme digital manipulations to shape the sound of recorded drums, guitar, and bass.”
They continue, “The overarching direction has always been to make it unsettling. The essential tension for us is in contrasting how successful the Codys are when they work together with how self-destructive they are when they break off from the family – how they all crave independence at various points, but then make these agonizing choices that only bind them tighter to one another. We have to balance musical elements carefully to avoid sentimentality, convey the seriousness of the situations, but also allow for moments of relief and levity so the pressure doesn’t become overwhelming.”

The French comedy THE ROSE MAKER (La fine fleur) has been scored by Mathieu Lamboley (LUPIN, A MINUSCULE ADVENTURE, RETURN OF THE HERO, SISTERS IN ARMS). A digital soundtrack by Grande Ourse is now available on Amazon and other streaming/digital services. The movie stars Catherine Frot, Fatsah Bouyahmed, and Olivier Breitman and is about a childless woman who hires three lame ducks enrolled in a back-to-work program to save her business. – via filmmusicreporter

(While we’re on the topic of French comedies, Milan Records will release the official soundtrack album for the French spy comedy OSS 117: RED ALERT IN BLACK AFRICA (OSS 117: Alerte Rouge en Afrique Noire). Jean Dujardin returns as the French “James Bond” and shares his adventures with the young and promising “OSS 1001,” played by Pierre Niney. For the music of this highly anticipated 3rd installment, Nicolas Bedos pursues his fruitful collaboration with composer Anne-Sophie Versnaeyen (MY COUSIN, I STILL HIDE TO SMOKE) after LA BELLE EPOQUE in 2019. The OST album will be available from 4 Aug onwards on all digital platforms, via Milan Records & Sony Masterworks; a vinyl issue can be pre-ordered here and will be available from Aug 20 onwards.)  See MusiqueFantastique for my  interview with composer Anne-Sophie Versnaeyen about scoring this film.

Additional news from France: L’R du Trésor has released a soundtrack album for the French superhero movie HOW I BECAME A SUPERHERO (Comment je suis devenu super-héros). The album features the film’s original score composed by Nino Vella & Adrien Prévost; also included is the song “Super-bien” by Oxmo Puccino & Nemir. The movie is set in a world where humans and superheroes coexist and revolves around a lone wolf cop who teams up with a brilliant detective to dismantle a dark organization trafficking superpowers. The film premiered July 9 on Netflix, and the soundtrack is now available to stream/download here
- via filmmusicreporter

Milan Records has also released a soundtrack album for the romantic drama THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER, composed by Daniel Hart. The movie centers on the forbidden love affair between a 1960s couple that is uncovered by an ambitious present-day journalist after she finds a trove of secret love letters. Sample or purchase the digital soundtrack at Amazon and other sources. Daniel Hart’s score for THE GREEN KNIGHT, an epic fantasy adventure based on the Arthurian legend, has also come out on Milan in a 29-track digital album that straddles the divide between medieval and modern.

The 2021 martial arts action-adventure television series KUNG FU premiered on The CW last April. Produced by Warner Bros. Television, the series is an adaptation of the 1970s series of the same title, set in the present. The show stars Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen, who after a “quarter-life crisis” causes her to drop out of college and go on a life-changing journey to an isolated monastery in China. But when she returns to find her hometown overrun with crime and corruption, Nicky uses her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community and bring criminals to justice – all while searching for the assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor and is now targeting her. The series is scored by Sherri Chung, best known for her work on THE LOST HUSBAND (2020), NANCY DREW AND THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE (2019) and BATWOMAN (2019), and for having collaborated for many years with composer Blake Neely on scoring the CW Arrowverse series, ARROW, THE FLASH, SUPERGIRL and DC’s LEGENDS OF TOMORROW. The digital soundtrack has been released by WaterTower Music, and is available on Amazon and other digital/streaming retailers. For more info on the composer, see  
Listen to Chung’s main theme for KUNG FU via WaterTower’s youtube page:

RESIDENT EVIL: INFINITE DARKNESS is a Japanese horror-action CGI animated series based on the RESIDENT EVIL game franchise by Capcom. The series stars RESIDENT EVIL 2 protagonists Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Set between the events of RESIDENT EVIL 4 and RESIDENT EVIL 5, the series takes place in 2006 after a hacking incident is uncovered at the White House. Leon S. Kennedy is ordered to investigate the incident, but he encounters zombies when the White House is targeted in a mysterious attack. He later meets Claire Redfield, who’s been investigating a strange drawing made by a child refugee while working on a TerraSave-led mission to oversee construction of a welfare facility. The series has been composed by Yugo Kanno (Not to be confused with anime film composer Yoko Kanno). Yugo is a Japanese composer and musician also known for his work on many television dramas, anime series, and movies. “The music consists of a wide range of content, including a powerful and impressive main theme that enlivens the epic story of the series, and music that expresses the eerie and terrifying worldview of the series,” reported Corey Prasek at the otaquest website on July 6th. A soundtrack is said to be forthcoming, at least in Japan. “There has been no announcement if the soundtrack will be seeing an international release but [Capcom] did state that it will be on major streaming platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify at launch,” added Prasek.

The survival/revenge horror thriller THE RETREAT (no relation to the 2020 Wendigo horror film THE RETREAT nor the 2011 island survival thriller RETREAT) features an original music composed by Steph Copeland (VICIOUS FUN, THE OAK ROOM, THE HERETICS, I’LL TAKE YOUR DEAD, THE DWELLING). The soundtrack has been released by Datahead Music and is now available to stream/download on Amazon. Steph Copeland is a Toronto-based screen composer known for her work in horror and sci-fi features, series, and commercials as well as being an accomplished pop vocalist and music producer. For more information, see her website here.

THE GREAT YOKAI WAR: GUARDIANS is an upcoming Japanese fantasy adventure film directed by Takashi Miike. A sequel to Miike’s 2005 fantasy feature, THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, GUARDIANS is scheduled to be released in Japan on August 13, 2021 by Toho and Kadokawa Pictures. The film focuses largely on creatures from Japanese mythology known as y?kai (variously translated as “apparition,” “goblin,” “ghoul,” “spirit,” or “monster”).
Synopsis: Ancient fossils sleeping in Fossa Magna have gathered together and transformed into a giant y?kai and is heading for Tokyo. The film has been scored by Koji Endo (13 ASSASSINS, MOJIN: THE LOST LEGEND, FIRST LOVE, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL) who previously scored the original GREAT YOKAI WAR and the soundtrack album will be released digitally on August 4th.

-via filmmusicreporter and other sources.

KeepMoving Records announces two scores on one CD by Anna Drubich, a Russian-born composer often working on the projects of Marco Beltrami (SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, FEAR STREET). The soundtrack features two collaborations with writer/director Valeriy Todorovskiy. The first one is the movie HYPNOSIS, which tells the story of a teenager Misha (Sergey Giro) who receives hypnotic treatment for sleepwalking, but eventually he becomes so dependent on the therapy that he is no longer able to distinguish reality from illusion. The score’s idea of blending the border between reality and dreamscapes is a beautiful motive that disintegrates as the story progresses. The second score is ODESSA, a family dramedy based on Todorovskiy’s own personal memories about getting stuck in the Russian city in the midst of a cholera outbreak. The score has two main themes: the Childhood Theme – which supposed to be a stark memory from the childhood that stays with you all entire life – and then the second main theme of the film would be the Family/Destiny Theme which is about taking responsibilities for your doings and wishes.” The limited-edition CD comes with liner notes by Gergely Hubai discussing the films and the scores based on an original interview with the composer. For sample tracks and to order, see KeepMovingRecords.


Documentary Soundtracks

The Documenting The Score page on Facebook is now on SoundCloud. “We showcase a number of unique scores to many high profile documentary productions, many that are obscure, so please check us out, share and support our documentary scoring community,” said page manager Matt Osborne. See the SoundCloud site here.

Nainita Desai has composed the music over the last year for Sophie: A Murder In West Cork, which is now streaming on Netflix. This three-part series examines one of Ireland’s most infamous murder cases, the death of French producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier in the town of Schull, West Cork in 1996. The brutal murder, which shocked the country, triggered one of the biggest murder investigations Ireland had ever seen and became a national obsession. Desai has also composed the music for HIGH: CONFESSIONS OF AN IBIZA DRUG MULE – a slick, gripping, engrossing, dark, seductive docu/drama series showing on BBC One in the UK.
Watch the SOPHIE trailer:

National Geographic’s latest SHARKFEST, which played for two weeks starting July 12th, includes SHARK BEACH, where actor Chris Hemsworth is joined by legendary conservationist Valerie Taylor as they dive off the coast of Australia to see Grey Nurse sharks. The Grey Nurse sharks they’re hoping to see can grow up to 12 feet long and live for up to 40 years. Composer Harry Peat (LEGO FRIENDS) has composed the episode. Watch the short trailer:

Not part of Sharkfest but clearly related is SHARK GANGS, which premiered on National Geographic on July 7th and on Disney+ on July 9th. “The Great White Shark has long been seen as the lone wolf of the ocean…until now. Hammerheads, Bull Sharks and even Great Whites are being spotted in gangs across the globe, leaving experts desperate to uncover what’s driving this shark gang phenomenon,” reads the film’s brief. “While the idea of sharks being in ‘gangs’ seems a bit more tongue-in-cheek than a scientific observation,” as Documenting the Score’s Matt Osborne put it, adding: “The score by Paul Saunderson was a great compliment to the visual storytelling.”

SEASPIRACY is out now on Netflix. Directed by Ali Tabrizi, the documentary follows a filmmaker who sets out to document the harm that humans do to marine species – and uncovers alarming global corruption. Benjamin Sturley (BEYOND BORDERS, GRAFTON, LIGHTING THE PATH) has composed the score, which has been released digitally by Dubois Records. Listen to the score on Spotify, sample or purchase from Amazon.

The soundtrack to the 2018 French documentary EVEREST GREEN by composer Lætitia Pansanel-Garric has been released, The film shows how the world’s highest mountain has become the world’s highest garbage dump as it follows an expedition of experienced Sherpas who risk their lives and battle extreme conditions to clean up the mountain, littered with garbage left behind from climbers attempting to reach the summit. ?
Listen or download the soundtrack here.

Alejandro Briceno’s soundtrack for the documentary film LIVES NOT GRADES has been digitally released by the composer. The film, directed by Daniel Druhora, follows a team of USC college students who travel to Moria Camp in Greece, known as “the worst refugee camp on earth,” to design and build innovations that can improve the lives of the refugees fleeing wars and natural disasters. For more details on the film, and info on its August 2021 Southern California airdates, see PBS. The film is also available on VOD to subscribers on the PBS website. Watch the film’s moving trailer, which includes music from Briceno’s score, edited to fit, here.


Vinyl Soundtrack News

Varèse Sarabande has announced a deluxe vinyl 2 LP edition of Graeme Revell’s music to Alex Proyas’ 1994 film THE CROW. The LP set contains the original score album release plus 30 minutes of unreleased music. The movie became famous before it was even released due to the tragic death of star Brandon Lee in an on-set accident. The supernatural revenge thriller, based on a comic book, was met with critical and fan acclaim, and became a box-office hit and tribute to its fallen star, leading to a franchise of sequels and a television series. With a background in what is typically called “world music,” Revell radically reinvented the grammar of film scoring by incorporating the authentic sonorities of non-Western cultures far more extensively and adroitly than had ever been attempted. “The uses of ‘world music’ in film history had most often been direct references to location, race or culture,” writes Revell in a new introduction to this Deluxe Edition. “The opportunity instead to use all these sound sources in a fantasy setting like THE CROW could release them from these confines. I heard them as universals. The key was my love of this music—especially Middle-Eastern—and my respect for it both within and outside of its regional or ethnic context. In the same way Western music had penetrated other cultures, it was clear to me that the inverse was bound to happen.” The soundtrack is a unique mélange of synthesized, industrial, vocal, non-Western and Western elements – with everything from tribal drumming to rock guitars, children’s choir, blues riffs and bird samples, to a 50-piece string orchestra. This Deluxe Edition greatly expands the program, and includes Revell’s end title song, “It Can’t Rain All the Time,” performed by Jane Siberry. New liner notes are by Revell and Randall D. Larson. The records are housed in full color inner-sleeves with movie stills and new notes and placed along-side a fold out 16x24 movie poster within a beautiful wide-spine embossed jacket featuring new artwork. Pre-order the LP set here - product is expected to ship by street date, October 1, 2021.

In partnership with Netflix, Milan Records, and Sony Music, Waxwork Records has released FEAR STREET: PARTS 1-3 (Music from The Netflix Horror Trilogy Event). The deluxe 3xLP album features the score music composed for the three installments in the trilogy based on R. L. Stine’s best-selling horror book series. Features include 180 gram Neon Blue, Green, and Pink colored vinyl, liner notes by Fear Street writer/director Leigh Janiak, new artwork by Sam Gilbey that pays homage to the classic 1990’s Fear Street book covers, printed heavyweight inner sleeves, and a triple LP gatefold jacket! This item is a pre-order and is expected to ship Winter, 2021.
See Waxwork

Also Available To Pre-Order from Waxwork is GOOSEBUMPS Original Motion Picture Music by Danny Elfman. The long awaited re-press of the label’s fast sold out GOOSEBUMPS Official 2xLP Film Score is back and available to pre-order in TWO different vinyl variants. Take your pick of 180 gram “The Haunted Mask” or 180 gram “One Day At Horrorland.” Features deluxe packaging, classic GOOSEBUMPS logo embossed gatefold jackets, exclusive artwork by original Goosebumps book cover artist Tim Jacobus, and more.


Video Game Music

Winifred Phillips has composed the music for LINEAGE M: THE ELMOR. Developed by NCSoft, LINEAGE M is currently the highest grossing game in one of the biggest video game franchises ever. “I was incredibly honored when NCSoft approached me to create music for this game,” Winifred told Soundtrax. For the game’s fourth Anniversary, NCSoft has released THE ELMOR – a brand-new LINEAGE M game featuring a vast new territory, an empire reborn, a land of new opportunities, and a brand new hero class for players, the Reaper hero class, which affords players enormous powers and skills. For this new player class, Phillips “got to create a huge storm-and-fury track for this Grim-Reaper style character, and it was so much fun to compose,” as she said in a Facebook post. NCSoft customarily releases the music for LINEAGE M through the “LINEAGE M Official Album” playlist on its official YouTube music channel, NCSound.

Listen to the track “The Slayer of the Battlefield:”

Electronic Arts popular video game BATTLEFIELD 1943 is finally seeing its epic soundtrack released through Lakeshore Records. Ian Livingstone’s score to the 2009 game was recorded at Abbey Road. The online multiplayer World War II first-person shooter video game was developed by DICE and published by Electronic Arts for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 through digital distribution. It takes place in the Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II. The digital soundtrack is available at these links.
Listen to the game’s main theme:

Lakeshore Records has released ELDEST SOULS – Original Game Soundtrack featuring the score debut by London-based, Spanish and Italian composer and sound designer Sergio Ronchetti. The darkly melancholic orchestrated score is redolent of both Ronchetti’s classical training as well as his love of all things metal from his days touring as a heavy metal bassist.  It’s a dramatic, combative musical backdrop to the envelope-pushing pixel art, boss rush, “Souls-like” video game.  Explaining his approach to scoring the game, Ronchetti said, “ELDEST SOULS has two very distinct messages that needed conveying: the brutal, fast-paced combat and the ideas of loneliness and hope. The former was represented by each boss fight’s theme, matching personality and attitude. But since the gameplay music is limited to these combat encounters, I wanted to write a piece of music to tie the soundtrack together and give the perspective of mankind and our protagonist.” Ronchetti created the “Main Theme” track to counterbalance his more aggressive boss encounter tracks: “The ‘Main Theme’ stands out from all the rest. I love post-minimalism ideals in music and I was very happy to be able to achieve this with live vocals and cello, which made all the difference. The repeating vocal melody serves as mankind’s unfaltering, yet desperate pursuit of victory, in the face of destruction.” Developed by Fallen Flag Studio,  the Eldest Souls game was released via publishers, United Label, on July 29. The digital soundtrack is available at these links. Listen to the ethereal “Main Theme” track:

Lakeshore in partnership with Ubisoft is also set to release ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA: THE SIEGE OF PARIS—Original Game Soundtrack featuring music by Los Angeles-based composer Stephanie Economou (JUPITER’S LEGACY). The album is the companion to Ubisoft’s second major expansion of its hit game ASSASSIN’S CREED VALHALLA. Says Economou: “I wanted to root the SIEGE OF PARIS score in the sounds of ancient instruments. Because there isn’t extensive documented history on what music sounded like in Paris in the year 845, I took some liberties by incorporating instruments from later periods, like viola da gamba, vielle, hurdy gurdy, lyre, kantele, dulcimer, cello, bass, didgeridoo, woodwinds, and frame drums. Vocals also became a large part of the tapestry of the score, with layers of siren calls and chanting in Old Norse, Latin, and French (performed by vocalist Ari Mason). Though the score is entrenched in this acoustic world, I wanted to frame the music in a less traditional way, so you’ll often hear these instruments detuned, liberally sliding between notes, and unconventionally scraped or hit percussively. They are also treated with modern production, giving the raw, primitive sound palette a processed, distorted edge.”
The album will be released digitally August 12 – it can be pre-saved here. One track from the soundtrack, “Hásæti,” is available now to purchase as a single, here.
Read an in-depth interview with Economou about scoring this game, on the Ubisoft website.
Listen to “Hásæti” below, via the Ubisoft YouTube page:

Independent French studio WanadevStudio is pleased to announce that RAGNAROCK, the rock/metal-oriented single-player/multiplayer VR rhythm game is available on Oculus Quest now. In RAGNAROCK, players take on the role of Viking captains competing against each other in a frenzied longship race. Equipped with their hammers, they must strike the runes in rhythm on a soundtrack ranging from Celtic rock to power metal, in order to move their ship forward. Fun and stylized art direction inspired by Norse mythology transports players to Viking lands through six different environments. Enjoy over 30 epic tracks from Alestorm, Saltatio Mortis, Sabordage, and others. The game is available on the app lab.


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.

Randall can be contacted at

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