Past Columns

Soundtrax: Episode 2015-3
November 23rd 2015

By Randall D. Larson



  • Alan Silvestri on THE WALK
  • Brian Tyler on FURIOUS 7 and NOW YOU SEE ME 2
  • Tom Holkenborg on BLACK MASS & MAD MAX FURY ROAD

Soundtrack Reviews

THE 33 (Horner), AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (McCreary), THE BABY (Fried), A BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS: LEVIATHAN (Velasco), BROKEN HORSES (Debney), CRIMSON PEAK (Velázquez), EN MAI FAIS CE QU'IL TE PLAIT( Morricone), Film Fest Gent (Silvestri),THE FLASH S1 & ARROW S3 (Neely), FUEGO (Villodas), A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT (Various), GOOSEBUMPS/Elfman/Sony-Madison Gate, HE NAMED ME MALALA/Thomas Newman), PETIT DÉJEUNER COMPRIS etc (Cosma), PRESSURE (Wallfisch), REBECCA (Gunning), SAN ANDREAS (Lockington/), SECRETS OF A PSYCHOPATH (Glasgow), SPECTR (Thomas Newman), SWORD COAST LEGENDS (Zur), UNNATURAL (Wendler), WAR DEVILS (Cipriani), YANN TIERSEN: ‘Pour Amelie’ Piano Music (Van Veen).

While interviewing Alan Silvestri last June for another project, we spoke briefly about his score for THE WALK and what the film meant to him.

Q: Your latest work is a return to Robert Zemeckis, with a film that I’m really excited to see, knowing its subject matter, THE WALK.

Alan Silvestri: This was a very, very interesting project. We finished it about two months ago. This is a project that Bob has been working on for… I will say seven years. I think this was number eighteen for us, and as he said it, eighteen in a row! Every one of Bob’s films is incredibly personal. No matter what it is and no matter what you perceive to be the overall image of it, in its very fabric is a very personal story being told by Bob. And so this one is quite amazing, and it has turned out beautifully. It is a story of an artist up against the impossible who is driven by forces that they don’t understand themselves but the one thing they do understand is that they must do this, at all costs. And so it becomes an interesting metaphor for any kind of creative artistic endeavor. It’s so much bigger than just the story. Philippe Petit was the artist, he did this when he was 24 years old, and it was against all odds. One of the amazing dimensions of the story is that it was the World Trade Center towers, and as we know they are no longer with us. In a very interesting way, Philippe had a personal relationship, for lack of a better way to put it, with the towers, so it was part of how he saw his performance art. They were not just these things made of steel and glass and stone, these things had a life for him, they would breathe, they moved, and he had to consider all of this in planning this relationship with them, because if the living aspects of these towers were not considered, he would have died immediately. And so, you go through this entire experience with him where the towers are living and then he accomplished his goal, and then you know that the towers are no more… it’s an amazing thing to be back up there. The photography, the way Bob has brought the towers back, is just exquisite. I think it’s just an extraordinary effort, and the telling of an extraordinary story.

Q: How would you describe your score?

Alan Silvestri: The score – as I always aspire to have the score work and participate – follows the story. Some of the score has to do with street music in Europe, some of it has to do with out-and-out caper music, because for parts of what he called it the “coup” in the story, Philippe is dressed up in disguise with his camera and his sunglasses and he’s got a notepad and he’s taking pictures and plotting his caper. It was back in the early ‘70s so we tip our hat a bit to what we were all doing back then in terms of that genre. But then we move into the heart of the story and there was something kind of otherworldly about it, and so I wanted the score to reflect a bit of that. When he is out there on this wire, he is alone.  He’s in the elements, and there is no help to be had. In an interesting way, there’s some reminiscent sensibility with CASTAWAY, the idea of someone alone and just having to rely on themselves in order to survive. So the score really had a lot of range in terms of the places it has to go to tell this story.

            - Thanks to Matt Osborne, Sandra Silvestri, and David Bifano

Follow this link to watch Alan Silvestri conducting a performance of his music from THE WALK at the World Sound Track Awards in Belgium last month:


A brief chat with Brian Tyler on scoring FURIOUS 7 and NOW YOU SEE ME 2.

Q: After scoring FAST & FURIOUS four and five, you missed the sixth movie, but returned to score the seventh. I’d imagine that was a little bittersweet due to what happened to Paul Walker….

Brian Tyler: Yeah, it certainly was. I was brought on FURIOUS 7 a long time ago; it was actually not too long after FURIOUS 6, back in 2013. Paul was on the film, playing Brian, and James Wan was brought on as a new director for the franchise. Sometimes there are tax situations as far as hiring composers from certain countries or whatever, but the seventh film wasn’t that way.

Q: Is that why you didn’t score FURIOUS 6?

Brian Tyler: Yeah. Number 6 was a Spanish film…

Q: And Lucas Vidal did the score.

Brian Tyler: Right, and he’s great. Justin and I did want to work on that one together but it just was not possible. They used my theme, and there’s a credit in the film for that. But it turned out great and I Ioved the movie. In FURIOUS 7 we felt we’d expand on the family element, Brian was going to be a central character again, a new character played by Jason Statham was coming in, and we wanted to hearken back to the original Hobbs Theme because Dwayne Johnson, The Rock, was coming back. Back in 2013, I’d already started on the film, and was making my way through it. The film was about half done or maybe 60% done. I was in Atlanta on set and then two days later I get a text message that Paul had died in a crash and I just couldn’t believe it. I’d known Paul for years, before FAST & FURIOUS. I’d met him way back on TIMELINE, and we were kind of the same age and had similar interests in sports and cars and all sorts of things. So I really took to him, and I did a few other movies with him; he was doing a small film called THE LAZARUS PROJECT that I scored; it was a kind of personal project, and I really felt it was one of his best roles. Anyway, it was pretty devastating for everyone when Paul passed away. It changed the perspective of the film, which of course has come out a year later than it was originally going to come out. We had to need to figure out what to do, and what it ended up being was really a love letter to Paul. It’s a tribute and the music that accompanies it had to be a celebration of his life. We were not just saying goodbye to Brian O’Connor, the character, but we were saying goodbye to Paul, the actor, because he’s so connected to that character. His career is known mostly for that character. We decided, for that last scene, to morph into a song, “See You Again.” We went all the way back to the scene that seemed to make the most sense, with Paul’s theme and Mia’s theme, it’s a melancholy melody of their romance, of them growing as a family that I started on FAST & FURIOUS 4, and that’s been their theme since. Then, ending with that theme on 7, combining it with Dom’s theme (Vin Diesel’s theme) in the last five or so minutes of the film as we’re saying goodbye, I realized as I was conducting the strings for that and for the song, “See You Again,” I realized it would be the last time there was going to be score ever recorded for Paul Walker, and Brian, as a character, and it made me sad and yet honored to be able to make a tribute to really a great guy at the same time.

Q: I think it ended the film on a poignant note for both him and his character and I think it affected a lot of people as they were leaving the theater.

Brian Tyler: Yeah.

Q: You’ve also worked with Tony Morales on scoring the TV series SCORPION. What can you say about your music for this show and did you and Tony trade-off episodes or work together to maintain a consistent musical approach?

Brian Tyler: I think the origins of that was my relationship with working with Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci, who produced the show.  I’ve worked with them on SLEEPY HOLLOW and HAWAII 5-0, EAGLE EYE, and NOW YOU SEE ME. Tony and I have known each other for years and have been wanting to do a full-on collaboration and when it came time to do the pilot the crazy thing was that Alex is one of my very dear friends and Bob, but one of my best friends Justin Lin, from the FAST & FURIOUS films was directing the pilot, so I got the call and they said “do you want to do the show,” and I said “well it’d be really cool if I did it with Tony,” he’s a rising star, he did HATFIELDS & McCOYS with Debney which was fantastic, so before I knew it, we were set  for it. The first thing I was tasked with was writing the theme, which I’ve done on all the TV shows I’ve worked on with the exception of HAWAII 5-0, which of course had a pre-existing theme and just needed my writing the character themes. But with SCORPION we really needed something new and fresh. It’s a modern kind of thing but they’re a young team of brilliant minds which kind of makes them old souls in a way, so we needed something that was new and old at the same time. It was making sure that we had a balance of live instrumentation and old world themes done in a new school way. Being that we both play a lot of instruments – I’m the drummer and play bass and guitar and all of that, and Tony plays keyboards and is also a fantastic guitarist – we’re able to mold this sound that we wanted to be more breezy than technical. On the one hand, these guys have techno tools, they’re hackers and they use computers, so the knee-jerk tendency would be to go with a real techy, very exact, quantized type of sound. But we went the opposite way and made it really loose and groovy. We loved the show, but we had no idea what people would think – we all hoped they’d love the quirkiness of these characters and they’d watch the show for them, and the fact that they’re saving the world every week, thwarting some new impending threat, would be secondary to the idea of loving the characters. So we’ve really tried to emphasize that through the episodes.

Q: And now you’re slated to be scoring the  sequel to NOW YOU SEE ME. Have you begun on this yet, and do you know yet where you’ll be taking it, musically?

Brian Tyler: NOW YOU SEE ME 2 is going to be crazy and awesome!  Adding to the cast is Daniel Radcliffe, who’s great, and Jon Chu is a fantastic director and just a great guy, and what we’re going to be doing is up the ante. It’s the Second Act, you know!  It’s interesting because you’re talking about a movie about illusions and trickery and misdirect, and to me the music that always conveys that more than anything was music from back in the day that was for Hitchcock films or Hitchcock era films such as CHARADE. It will be my tribute to Henry Mancini and also the kind of groovy, heisty stuff by Lalo Schifrin – that kind of vibe. So it will certainly have that, but combined with a mythological streak, almost like a CHARADE mixed with THE DA VINCI CODE and that kind of thing. It’s a really fun sandbox to play in and I think people are really going to love the movie. I loved doing the first one.

I am doing this movie right know called TRUTH, that’s pretty interesting. It’s a political drama true story – Robert Redford plays Dan Rather, Cate Blanchett plays Mary Mapes, who’s the journalist and the show producer who broke the Abu Ghraib story. When they were at CBS News they went after some information that ended up implicating George W. Bush in a scandal, and they broke the story and it’s about how some of the witnesses started to turn and it becomes this sort of corkscrew of a thriller of trying to plug the dam as things start to go wrong in the world of journalism and politics in Washington D.C. So I’m literally writing that right now, today!  It’s going to be fun. And there’s nothing exploding in it!

More on TRUTH: Varèse Sarabande released the TRUTH soundtrack digitally on November 6 and will release it on CD December 4, 2015. “The music strives to explore the tones of the newsroom, the politics of war, power, and the personal side of these elements,” Tyler said in the Varese Sarabande press release. “I wanted to make some connection with the essence of journalism. For instance, the sound of journalistic investigation is often the piano ostinato combined with harp since these instruments most closely resemble the act of typing. It has a metric, deliberate sound. And the plaintiff trumpet represents the militaristic and political narrative of the film. The horns have a noble, LION IN WINTER quality for Dan Rather. And the strings tie everyone together emotionally.”  

- Thanks to Aidan Rowe for assistance in facilitating this interview.


Formerly known by his moniker JunkieXL, Dutch multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and engineer Tom Holkenborg began his career in electronica in the late 1990s, and his first film score was for the Dutch film SIBERIA in 1997. His work came to the attention of Hans Zimmer in 2003, who suggested he should try out film scoring. “I was already getting my feet wet in film scoring since 2002, and I did a bunch of alternative films on my own and I worked with Harry Gregson-William and Klaus Badelt on a bunch of movies as an assistant,” Holkenborg said. “Then Hans said, hey do you want to work with me on this and on that? So we did three or so films as collaborators. On every movie I learned more and my amount of work increased. So we did that for a couple years until my own career really started taking off.”  He continued his collaborations with Zimmer on THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, MAN OF STEEL, and the forthcoming BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE; he was also a member of Zimmer’s “Magnificent Six” who created the score for THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. On his own and under his real name. Holkenborg scored 2014’s DIVERGENT, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, and the new Johnny Depp gangster movie, BLACK MASS. I chatted with him last September about the most recent of these scores:

Q: What brought you into BLACK MASS?

Tom Holkenborg: The director, Scott Cooper, was looking for a unique approach for the film. He didn’t want standard film music, so to speak, but he wanted something with a twist. It needed to be experimental at times and that’s exactly the area where I feel very comfortable. Before MAD MAX FURY ROAD came out, he had seen a couple of scenes from the movie with the music in it, and even though he was not looking for a score like MAD MAX, he did like the original approach to the music there and he said to Warner Bros that he’d love to talk to me.

Q: When you came on board what kind of direction did you give you as far as the type of musical approach & design he was looking for?

Tom Holkenborg: He didn’t give me directions at all! I saw the film and we just talked about things that were important to him. There were two things that he said to me. One was “when people see this movie Friday or Saturday night, I still want them to feel it Monday morning.” The other thing he said was “It’s not a movie about criminals that happen to be human, it’s a movie about humans and these humans are capable of doing really terrible things.”

Q: How did you apply your musical approach to that kind of concept?

Tom Holkenborg: The most important thing for me was to really think about it for a little bit. I’m not the type of composer who starts at the beginning of the movie, like “ok, let’s start writing!” I love to think about it and let it sink in. Usually I don’t write to picture the first piece that I write. So I said to him, after I’d seen the movie, “I really want to think about this, and before you hire me, let me make a piece of music and send it to you, and if you recognize your movie in it, I’d love to work with you and do this movie.” So I saw the movie and I went home and I thought about it, and I had all these things playing in my head. I started writing some melodies and harmonies, and before I knew it I ended up with a piece of music that was 45 minutes long! That was not my intention! I just wanted to write a theme of five minutes or something, but I kept going. I sent it to Scott and he was blown away not only by the amount of music but also how he was able to travel through the music and see his own movie again, in his head. From that point on, it felt like a lot of stress was gone, and it was really like an open collaboration to get it done. We started talking about “how should we start the movie?” and “how shall we end the movie?” and “what are the pivotal anchors in the storyline that we need to underscore with music, where do we need to shift?” and all these things became very important.

Q You’ve been known for your background in electronics but you’re actually a well-versed multi-instrumentalist. Is this the first score in which you’ve focused on orchestral instrumentation, and how did that play out in your development of the score?

Tom Holkenborg: This is not the first but it is one of the first where I’m not relying so heavily on some of the elements that come to me by nature, which are electronic sounds, drum rhythms, or pulsating scores. Most of the colors in this score are derived from a big string section and a woodwind section. There is sound design in the movie and there are pulses in the movie but primarily it comes from those groups of instruments – and an organ. It’s refreshing every time you work with a different set of instrumentation to see, okay, how can I get interesting colors with this group of players?

Q: How did you musically delineate the emotion and psychology of Johnny Depp’s multi-faceted Whitey Bulgar?

Tom Holkenborg: He’s a very interesting character for me. Even though it’s so tempting to put this guy down as a Lord Voldemort or something – who’s name we shall not speak! – but it was clear to me that I needed to humanize this character right away, from the start, and from there we can go to the place where he is a real strictly criminal person, capable of doing really terrible things, and that he is a person that does not value any life whatsoever.

Q: How did his music change over the course of the storyline? Was it a challenge to create some sympathy for such a vile character?

Tom Holkenborg: I wasn’t trying to really sympathize with him. Where he’s part of the scenes when music becomes emotional, it’s mainly underscoring the fallout of his actions. When the movie starts, we’re introduced to a group of people and it’s clear that Bolger is leading the pack, but they’re all equal in their badness. They come across as small time guys. At the same time we meet John Connolly, the FBI guy Bolger grew up with, but he became an FBI agent, and Bolger’s brother who became the state Senator. So these characters grew up as young boys in a somewhat rough neighborhood, and the underlying storyline of this movie is the blood relationship, the honor and the loyalty that these characters have for one another because they grew up together in that area of Boston. Therefore, when Connolly makes the deal with Bolger to help each other out, it feels very believable, and it’s like, yeah, these are guys who grew up together and they want to help each other out. Then Bolger starts to separate himself from the pack, he becomes more violent, more cruel, he gets paranoid and he takes everybody out of the way that he feels could threaten his situation or his position. Musically, when the movie starts, it somewhat has the same tone and we’re just setting things up; as the movie progresses it musically takes a turn where the character of Bolger gets darker and more sinister, whereas the other characters get more emotional music. These other characters are still bad, still low-life people, but in the scheme of things, throughout the film, we want to feel sympathy toward that group of people who have been so misused by Bolger and so misplaced in their environment. Then there are all the victims of Bolger’s actions, so where music becomes emotional in the film, especially towards the end, is really underscoring what a terrible person Bolger really was.

Q: How would you describe your use of electronic textures such as the darker elements of the score, with your orchestral material?

Tom Holkenborg: I just really love to combine these things together, so I create a palette that is not 100% orchestral and it’s not 100% electronic or sound design. I love to merge them together where at some point you lose track what is what. That’s the world that I feel most comfortable in, and it did wonders for me because I was able to record piano and organ and strings and woodwinds, but then with the sound design that I did I was able to create twisted versions of real instruments. That worked really well to create the twisted reality of Whitey Bolger and how other people were affected by it.

Q:  When you came on board MAX MAD FURY ROAD, what was George Miller’s brief to you, as far as kind of music he was looking for?

Tom Holkenborg: Another movie where we met up and we ended up by talking about the character – then after 10-15 minutes he said “well, it was really nice to meet you and I like the music that has been sent to me by Warner Bros, but I don’t have a lot of time today. Why don’t you go back to the hotel and get some rest, come back tomorrow morning at 9AM and tell me what you think and what you’d love to do.”  So I saw the movie and I went back to the hotel and I was really pumped with adrenaline from what I saw and I came up with this whole musical concept. And the next day I came in and saw George; beside the fact that he’s a really talented talker, even moreso he’s a very talented listener, and he can just sit back and take what you’re saying all in. And he just let me talk for two hours about what I wanted to do with the score and what I wanted to do with certain characters. I wanted to create a rock opera and I had ideas how to repurpose sounds of certain instruments into something else, pretty much what the MAD MAX world is anyway – all these objects that you see are built from objects that were actually designed for a different use, but now they’re repurposed for something else. I did the same thing with musical instruments. I explained it to him and I said I want the choir to suggest the apocalypse is coming, and I wanted to get really emotional on the human interaction scenes, and I told him that I wanted to bring back elements that I have a fascination with, from late ‘40s and ‘50s film scoring. I was talking for two hours straight and then I was done and I was sitting down in my chair with a cup of coffee that was cold at that point, and I said to him, “What do you think?”  And he stood up and he shook my hand, and he said “I want you to be my composer for this film!”

Q: What was your approach as far as organizing and mapping the score to fit the film, and creating this kind of operatic approach to the score?

Tom Holkenborg: The most important thing I would say is that it’s somewhat similar to the approach to BLACK MASS, where I started with broad strokes first. It’s not like you can tackle a chase scene of 35 minutes with just one piece of music, where you just keep writing and writing. You really need to take a step back and look at what’s at hand here: yes it’s a chase of 35 minutes but what are the story angles in those 35 minutes and when do we need to shift and emphasize something else in the action, where we pan out and do something else?  George really liked the idea of having emotional music that was very much rooted in the ’50s and the reason why we liked it was because it would emphasize the normal human reactions that occur within the film, and that would even feel so out of place amidst all that madness that is going on. We always wanted to create an atmosphere of: this is how people used to communicate a hundred fifty years or maybe fifty years ago, and therefore we wanted to start from a time period that really feels like it was the past – whereas a modern way to underscore that music would be a modern version of what that emotional music is in film scoring. But that would be so close to home that it would almost clutter up what you’re trying to say in those specific scenes.

Q: What specific musical ideas from the ‘50s and 60’s did you want to emulate?

Tom Holkenborg: For me it’s primarily Bernard Herrmann and his film scores, and what he did in the Hitchcock movies, which is really fantastic. But it’s also about his sense of picture and how he followed it; to a certain extent he would be very on the nose and sometimes he would be a little half and half, which is very much what ‘50s film scoring was all about – and to a certain extent into the ’60s. A good example would be: the first shot where a woman walks into the room, the love theme starts full on. He’s not hinting with it, it’s not like “oh maybe this could be the girlfriend or the lover of---“, no, the moment the door opens it’s “laaaa-da-da-daaaa…”

Q: Yeh – Natalie Wood, VERTIGO right there!

Tom Holkenborg: Yeh, exactly!  I love that!  That’s why the emotional music in that reel is somewhat on the nose and somewhat half and half. George and I felt if we do it like that, it’s really going to remind the audience, “oh, that’s what they did in the ‘50s and that’s good, because the way the people talk there. That’s what we did 40 or 50 years ago, but we don’t do that now. Now we shoot each other, we take each other’s guns, we take each other’s objects and we leave you for dead. That is the norm. So that’s why it was great to add a flavor of an earlier period into the music.

Q: In addition to Verdi’s Requiem/Dies Irae the soundtrack includes a couple of classical pieces by Eleni Karaindrou – where were they used and meant to represent?

Tom Holkenborg: The Verdi choir piece is used as an overlay over the score. There was score going full on, but we wanted to do something really crazy with choir, so we overlaid the Verdi piece on top of it. The two other pieces are not used in the film at all, I just cited them – it’s like the modern form of the classical way of sampling. I basically quoted a few melody lines for just five or eight seconds – direct musical quotes of this composer, and George really liked that idea. Therefore from a legal standpoint we have to license that piece of music for those few seconds. In the early days people would see that as an honor – composers in the 19th and 20th centuries would quote certain things from the older composers as an honor, but that doesn’t work like that anymore.

- Thanks to Azalea Mendoza at Costa Communications for facilitating this interview


Snapshots: New Soundtracks in Review

THE 33/James Horner/Water Tower Music digital
James Horner’s final completed film score, for THE 33, the true saga of Chilean miners trapped underground in a mine collapse, has been released, but apparently only digitally or via a CDR mp3 dub from WaterTower Music (at least in the US; European listings in Amazon don’t specify if the CD is pressed or CDR). While the prospect of Horner’s composed but as-yet unrecorded music for Antoine Fuqua’s remake of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN remains on the horizon for next September, we have THE 33 as the last full score recorded in Horner’s lifetime (it was recorded on the 20th Century Fox Scoring stage with “a small string section, no woodwind, brass, or percussion… with pipe solos by Tony Hinnigan and guitar solos by George Goering,” according to  an article at  The ensemble was conducted by J.A.C. Redford, in October 2014).  As such, it is a fitting epitaph of James Horner’s musical sensitivity, emotional articulation, and melodic expressiveness. The score develops between two very different tonalities. The first is the use of Andean-styled folk music that not only establishes the story’s milieu but serves to represent the spirit and hope of the trapped miners; Horner will set this festive music off to emphasize apparent breakthroughs in the rescue and the subsequent hopeful joy as the entrapped men anticipate their freedom (“Drilling, the Sweetest Sound!”), or the renewed hope and faith after a quiet moment of solemn supplication (“Prayer – Camp Hope”), as well as the reaction of the rescuers at their first sign that the miners are all still alive (“We Are All Well in the Refuge, the 33”). The film starts with this music embedded into its opening score track, “The Atacama Desert,” as Horner introduces the locale, laced into a very somber and moving folk-tune which more significantly sets the mood for the harrowing 69-day entrapment that will follow. An additional two tracks feature performances by the noted Chilean band Los Bunkers, and the Chilean actress and singer Cote de Pablo, who has a role in the film).

Offset against this is the dour and reflective orchestral music that imposes the emotional weight of the event upon the soundtrack. Beginning in “To the Heart of the Mountain,” a prominent metallic-percussion heartbeat drives a mix of strings and Andean pan flutes, nicely conveying the size, depth, and danger of the gold and copper mine that will soon entomb the workers. That metallic-percussion becomes a frequent sonic texture for the score, first bringing us out of the mesmerizing rhythm of the opening track into the harsh light of August 5, 2010, and elsewhere as a severe musical figure, reflective of the 2300-foot deep entrapment that gets the story going and serving as the pulse of the victims as they desperately wait for rescue. It’s the heart of the men trapped beneath the mine collapse who remain the emotional focus of Horner’s score; even in “The Collapse,” Horner avoids crashing dissonance in favor of increasingly progressive string figures over a quickening beat of heavy percussion, rhythmic instead of discordant, cohesive (like the miners being trapped) rather than fragmented and crashing. The sad, hollow sound of pan pipes also resonates through the score, reflective of the South American setting but moreover of the sturdy spirit of the men of that land; if the percussion beat becomes a kind of ostinato for their collective and hopeful heart, the pan pipes becomes their soul and their resolve. On top of this a string-like synth figure occasionally winds its way in tracks like “Buried Alive,” its sharp electronic timbre adding a strident resonance on top of the real strings – the mixture an effective combination of acoustic sound and a similar but recognizably different electronic tonality that adds a slight intensity to the overall resonance.

Horner merges the score’s primary elements frequently, either forming a very clear counterpoint or, more often, creating a unity of folk instruments and the orchestra in a shared sensibility. The happy folk tune as the miners hear the approaching drill sadly sinks into futility as “The Drill Misses (And Dreams Fade...),” and Horner’s string choir intones a lament as the miners must reevaluate their predicament; the music here is spot-on, conveying the ominous tonality of a held-breath, a realization of hope dashed; but midway through that folk tune, softly from the pipes, re-emerges, the spirit or the faith of the trapped men. “Always Brothers” is a poignant melody for pan pipes and acoustic guitar, embellished by bells, which underlines a quiet moment of reflection within the mine by using the folk music instruments in the manner of score, lending an emotive bond between the men; “Family Is All We have” follows the same approach. The tension of “First Ascent” is clarified by a mixture of the percussive pulse, occasionally doubled by a ragged-edged synth pulse, growing strings, and bits of pan pipes to reflect both sides of the endeavor; “Celebrations” mixes orchestra and folk instruments, along with cheerful intonations from choir and a lovely melodic line from strings to herald the successful attempt and the prospect that the others may also be rescued. When that is, against all odds, achieved, “The 33” reprises the festivity of the folk tune as the story resolves happily; “Hope Is Love” concludes the score with a very touching variation of the score’s primary melody for strings and acoustic guitar. A very fine score – a bittersweet listening experience as we remember the immense talent of James Horner, stilled so suddenly – but a treasure among the last musical legacies he has left with us.

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D./Bear McCreary/Hollywood Records CD + digital
A marvelous (no pun intended) score and a terrific album. Bear McCreary has composed a thrilling heroic theme for Phil Coulson and his band of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, opening the album with “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Overture.” This stirring anthem (which McCreary has said is, essentially, “Coulson’s Theme”) reappears frequently throughout the album tracks; it successfully incorporates the show and its heroes into the pantheon of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and carries much of the same power inherent within Marvel’s feature film hero themes. “The first season of Marvel’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. was the most ambitious season of television I have ever been involved in,” said McCreary. “The sheer scope of this project was daunting: to score 22 episodes in 22 unique orchestral sessions, with orchestras ranging from 55 to 95 players, at the best sound stages in Los Angeles, with each episode requiring minimally 30 minutes of score!” The music delineates the team’s exploits, both mundane and superheroic, without compromising the opportunity for reflective moments (i.e., the poignant “Rocket Launch” and “The Aftermath of the Uprising,” both of which exhibit a guitar and snare drum-driven motif which is quite compelling [“The Big Bang” ends with this motif as well; and the emotive, string-dominated “Willing to Sacrifice”). Also present is the “Cello Concerto” used in the Season 1 episode “The Only Light in the Darkness,” in which Coulson secretly protects an old flame (Amy Acker) in which the ex-girlfriend performs a cello concerto that morphs into score when the villain arrives. “Alien DNA” gives us a very eloquent wash of creepy synthetics, eerie voicings, and shivery, vibrato strings, while the 9-minute “0-8-04” provokes a massive display of orchestral and synth interplay, counterpoint, and energy over its extended duration, with a touch of ethnic instruments befitting its South American location. McCreary’s thunderous salute, “Hail Hydra,” affords room for an arrogant, drum-driven march, while “Helicopter Rescue” gathers various melodic strains together into a glorious final crescendo. “The Obelisk,” one of the few tracks included from Season 2, carries an air of mystery and danger for the strange object, as does “Gravitonium,” another strange object recovered by Coulson’s agents deserving of its own musical moment. The album is a thoroughly enjoyable and expressive assembly, nicely representing McCreary’s score in all its propulsion, turmoil, heroic triumph, and quiet reflection.

ARROW S3/THE FLASH S1/Blake Neely/La-La Land Records CD
Blake Neely is becoming the go-to composer for super-hero shows on Warner Bros Television, having drawn the musical bow on ARROW in 2012, given THE FLASH its rhythmic propulsion in 2014, and now flown up, up and away with SUPERGIRL in 2015 (not to mention holding down scoring duties with BLINDSPOT at the same time). La-La Land Records has released the third volume of Neely’s music for ARROW, collecting the best cues from its third season, paired with a healthy serving from THE FLASH’s first season. Both of these are two-CD, limited edition sets of 3000 units each. As a special bonus, both releases contain music from THE FLASH VS. ARROW crossover episodes (released digitally from Water Tower Music earlier this year), with Part One appearing on THE FLASH album and Part Two appearing on the ARROW recording. Both albums will be issued digitally by Water Tower on Nov13, but the 2-CD editions from La-La Land contain around twice as much music, with numerous tracks appearing in neither the digital ARROW/FLASH albums nor the earlier FLASH VS. ARROW release; thus the CD editions are by far the better release in terms of sound quality and music quantity. Neely’s orchestral palette for both shows is a broad hybrid mixing orchestral and electronic material together, for the most part, rather than treated separately for various sequences. The score can be very atmospheric and rhythmically percussive much of the time, but Neely has also been very calculating in laying down thematic threads throughout both shows, both for the heroic characters at their heart but for his various villains. Each show’s music is grounded upon Arrow’s theme or Flash’s theme and that stays fairly consistent and progressive with the characters, even as they grow and mature across the seasonal arcs, while the show’s parade of villains give him opportunities to do very different things from episode to episode, as the crossover FLASH VS. ARROW episodes allowed him to interact with each character’s separate theme in interesting ways for their two-part showdown. Neely’s music for the action scenes and superhero/villain fights is exciting, well-orchestrated, and quite engaging. The generous amount of music for these series collected into this pair of double albums is striking and makes for a fine listening experience at loud volume.

THE BABY/Gerald Fried/Private Issue CD
Among the latest culls produced from composer Gerald Fried’s personal archives is this excellent score for a very offbeat film from 1973. Directed by prolific journeyman film helmsman Ted Post (BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, THE HARRAD EXPERIMENT, MAGNUM FORCE) and improperly marketed as a horror film, THE BABY is more of a modern Gothic tale focusing on a wildly eccentric family, whose matriarch and her two daughters impose such control over the retarded son/brother that he remains essentially a baby even though he is fully grown. His family members see to it that he remains in this infantile state, thwarting any opportunity to mature, in order to receive county funding for his upkeep. Add to this the mysterious disappearance of a previous case worker, and the film harbors many a mystery to be solved as it carries this abusive scenario into dark and dangerous territory. Fried scores the film sympathetically, with a provocative melodic main theme which is treated in diverse manners, from its initial warm sonority through representations for guitar and piano, even a thoroughly creepy and unsettlingly avant-garde rendition in “Night Approach” and “Sneak Racy/DOA.” There are a few very catchy source music cues (“Party Music,” “Dance Music,” the sax-pop-rock of “Dennis,” but most pleasing is the creatively orchestrated journey the score takes from “Wadsworth House” and “Meet the Baby” to the harsher dynamics of “Knife Job,” “Hatchet Wielders,” and “Second Hatchet” as it is driven toward an unexpected “twist ending of Hitchcockian power and impact,” as album producer David Fuller puts it in his concise but vastly informative album notes. THE BABY is a brilliantly executed and multi-layered work thankfully rescued from oblivion to be regarded as the sophisticated and firmly-anchored composition it proves to be. The Private Issue Collection CDs are produced in extremely limited quantities as promotional recordings on behalf of Gerald Fried and his family; David Fuller is offering to put up a limited number of remaining copies in order to fund further work on Fried’s behalf; to purchase, make inquiries to David L. Fuller by email here.

A BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS: LEVIATHAN/Lito Velasco/Primitivo Productions digital
Lito Velasco’s score for the documentary, A BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS: LEVIATHAN: THE STORY OF HELLRAISER AND HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II, about the making of Clive Barker’s horror masterwork and its first sequel, is now available digitally from CDBaby, iTunes, and Amazon. Composer Velasco, a huge HELLRAISER film and score fan has saturated the score with the essence of Christopher Young’s elegant HELLRAISER music but, at Young’s own suggestion, has funneled it through his own perspective. “I wanted to write something that was steeped in his sound, orchestrations, and was an obvious homage to the stunning music he wrote for the classic 1987 film... but I wanted to craft new melodies and even new harmonies that were, essentially, mine,” Velasco wrote in the Indiegogo site that funded the soundtrack album. The LEVIATHAN score is both a tribute to Young’s first magnum opus and an extension of it, partly funneled through a personal tragedy Velasco had experienced as he was beginning to compose the music. The score thus serves the documentary by filtering Young’s iconic cadences and heavy chords into an intricate interaction of deft piano notes and synthetic string choirs into his own theme, affectionately titled “Hellrisen.” Its cadence drifts throughout the score, resulting in a fine composition that definitely suggests the tone and style of Young’s first two HELLRAISER scores and yet is something that is quite its own creature. Velasco’s music for the Cenobites is especially interesting: a mix of processed sound and dark, weaving sonic shadows passing through a haunting cycle of distant rolling drums, sharp peals of tubular bell, and pin-pricks of light piano noodling, growing larger and closer and faster as it crossing the dimensions, emerging into wicked, torturous sound patterns, plodding, soggy footsteps, enveloping mists of swirling violin, rapid hand-drums, raging piano arpeggios and perhaps even the sound of thrusting, barbed chains; “The Leviathan” is a anxiety-inducing cue for close-miked and reverberant tubular bell surrounded by a mist of effective musical sound design – staggering piano notes, a chattering percussive sound pattern, and low moaning synth choirs of the distant damned. Velasco resolves the score with “Resolution / A Happy Ending...?” with a gorgeous, lilting piano presentation that gives the documentary a far more pleasing conclusion that was given to the characters in either film. Also of note is “A Hellrisen Duet,” a deft and dark concerto arrangement of his main theme for two pianos, severely intoned and set against each other. The album is highly recommended and will certainly be of interest to anyone who appreciates the sonic wonders of Christopher Young’s HELLRAISER scores; it also clearly reveals that Lito Velasco is a composer to watch. Especially if there’s ever a new HELLRAISER sequel in need of a potent score…

BROKEN HORSES/John Debney/Lakeshore CD + digital
Released earlier this year, BROKEN HORSES is a reflective and mostly atmospheric score. Written, produced, and directed by Indian filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra (KAREEB, MISSION KASHMIR, 3 IDIOTS [prod.]), this Hollywood film is a crime thriller that explores the bonds of brotherhood, the laws of loyalty, and the futility of violence in the shadows of the US Mexico border gang wars. “Having been a huge fan of Mr. Chopra's work, I was absolutely thrilled when asked to do the score for BROKEN HORSES,” said Debney. ““BROKEN HORSES is a tour de force of brilliant filmmaking and stellar acting. The attention to detail and passion shown by Vinod was infectious and inspiring.”  The story is seen through the eyes of young music student Jacob whose brother has been manipulated into serving as a killer for the gang; Jacob’s only way to free his brother from gangland servitude is to go inside himself. Debney’s main theme is a warm, wistful and slightly melancholic melody for strings, associated with Jacob’s loyalty to his brother and his commitment to see him freed. In contrast with this poignant elegiac motif, Debney laces an atmosphere of low, dark, strings and sustained synth tones that convey the omnipresent danger and power of the gangs; it’s palpable presence, even making its arrogant infiltrations into the family theme, musically reflects the balance of power in the story and maintains a strong, suspenseful ambiance throughout that becomes stronger as the gang’s grip tightens around the brothers. But the beauty of Debney’s primary theme anchors the score in its humanity, despite the ubiquitous incursion of the gangland tonality, and the score becomes an engaging counterpoint between the good and the bad, the former ultimately winning the day. A fine work, well represented on disc.

CRIMSON PEAK/Fernando Velázquez/Quartet Records
With his ghost story scores such as J. A. Bayona’s poignant EL ORFANATO (2007; The Orphanage), LOS OJOS DE JULIA (2010; Julia’s Eyes), and Andrés Muschietti’s MAMA (2013’s) impressively notched onto his filmography,  Spanish film composer Fernando Velázquez joins director Guillermo del Toro (who exec produced those previous three films) on his latest elegantly conveyed ghost story, CRIMSON PEAK. Because the film is about more than just shrieks and scares, but has a healthy plot revolving around romantic entanglements and aristocratic relations, Velázquez has provided a beautifully lyrical score that establishes a hauntingly romantic atmosphere against which the supernatural aspects of the story begin their incursion. There are plenty of horrific musical moments in the score – Velázquez has created some extremely shocking musical moments of shock and horrific sonic onslaught for the ghost moments, and plenty of creepy, sinewy suspense moments in between, but the score’s overall focus is on character and social misgivings. There’s such a graceful loveliness to the score’s richly dressed ornateness, which both reflects the sophistication of the characters and the early 20th Century period in which the story takes place, and even includes an authentically sounding period waltz, “Valse sur une berceuse anglaise” (Waltz on an English Lullaby”). Strings and piano are the score’s primary tools for shaping its haunting beauty, while the lower instruments – horns and cellos – offset against ringing vibrato strings, hushed rolling tympani, and an assortment of murmuring then shrieking choral voices that quickly get under your skin and run roughshod up your shivering spinal cord. As we approach the tale’s climax, the score becomes more assertive, accompanying chases with severe strokes of violin chords set against closely miked high-register piano arpeggios, glistening like shards of glass exploding out of a broken window; a fluidity of clear cello lines, wrapping like reptilian skin across your ears, echoing percussion taps just beyond hearing but not quite beyond feeling. It’s a superlative musical sound design which Velázquez accomplishes purely through instrumental means without the need for layers of synthetic sound design, and, again, the acoustic approach works beautifully for a film in this time period. There are some wonderful harmonic crescendos that powerfully fill the soundscape in “The Gramophone” and “Finale,” as there are some rigidly horrific pieces as the story approaches its climax: the 8:15-minute “I Know Who You Are” and the 10:47-minute “Lucille and Showdown” are both massively engorged sonic battles, as multiple phalanxes of reverberating timpani, silky low strings, enormously sounding horns, variegated percussion and more, all stunningly mixed in an accelerating and thickly textured palette of musical sound that absolutely demands to be listened to through a good set of headphones to really appreciate its amazing clarity and aural dynamic. It’s all a dazzling acoustical construct, as Velázquez loosens the full forces of the London Philharmonic to unleash an enormity of interactive sound, harmonic tonality, and muscular melodies that resonate with the storyline to bring it cohesively heaving into a sprawling climax and, finally, the comfort and respite of a lyrically joyful and brightly colored End Credits, before returning to normalcy with a reprise of the “Valse sur une berceuse anglaise” for deftly-fingered piano, which brings the score to a calm and contained conclusion. Velázquez has impressed me with his articulate handling of both harmony and melody, as well as his confidence in exciting the rage of full orchestral forces in his previous scores; his work in CRIMSON PEAK, in this genre, is by far his best yet, wholly a part of the collaborative filmic experience, and creating an invigorating and stimulating work on its own.
For more information and sample tracks, see:

EN MAI FAIS CE QU'IL TE PLAIT/Ennio Morricone/Quartet Records
Translated from the French as “In May, do what you like” (aka COME WHAT MAY in the US), this 2015 film from director Christian Carion (JOYEUX NOEL), whom Morricone here works for the first time, offers the composer a new opportunity to score a sumptuous string-dominated score of remarkable loveliness, passionately performed by the Rome Sinfonietta. This is the first new score Morricone has written since 2013’s LA MEGLIORE OFFERTA (The Best Offer). The film is a drama taking place during World War II France. Residents of the small village of Pas-de-Calais decide to abandon their town upon the approach of Nazi troops, fleeing toward the coast of the English Channel. Morricone supports Caron’s intimate storytelling, focusing on a small group of people involved in a refugee undertaking of a huge scale, involving some 8 million people fleeing the invading Nazi war machine. Thus the score is vast in its emotive expressiveness, but vastly intimate, almost minimalist, in its melodic structure and flowing rhythms. Opening with “En Mai” (In May), Morricone provides a would-be march for electric keyboard, a continual progression of four notes, growing in scale, starting over, growing in instrumentation with electric bass and then a countermelody for gentle flutes, their breathy notation floating over the continuing advance of the keyboard arpeggios and thickening into a fluid gathering of strings, winds, and gentle brass chords that evokes the sense of travel and journey, trudging feet and slow-moving vehicles, always moving forward, to hope and sanctuary. The remaining nine tracks proffer an assortment of richly orchestrated music, dominated by a depth of string choir and lushly reflective, tentative, and hopeful melodies that characterize the humanity that lies at the heart of the film, and reflect the personal struggles the primary characters face during their journey; “Ils arrivent” (They Arrive) exhibits the score’s most aggressive track, with layers of violin, cello, low pizzicato, piping horns and winds parry against one another in a progression of threatening phrases and ruthless combat, charging and feinting and offsetting one another in a delicious interaction. The final track, “A la recherché de la paix” (At the desired piece), proffers a redemptive resolution, as the string players pour out their souls and a voice melisma is beautifully sung by Italian vocalist Raffaella Siniscalchi. It’s a thoroughly lovely work and a rewarding listen. The tracks were released digitally by Musica e Oltre S.r.l. on October 30th; thanks to Quartet Records for ensuring this marvelous score was preserved on the higher audio definition of the compact disc. The album contains a 12-page booklet featuring a September 2015 interview with Morricone about scoring the film, but it’s only in French with no translations. For more information and sample tracks, see:

Film Fest Ghent and Brussels Philharmonic
Present Alan Silvestri/Silva Screen CD + digital
Supported by the World Soundtrack Awards (which recently took place in Ghent [“Gent,” in French, as shown on the CD cover], Belgium), this is the second release from the series and first on Silva Screen Records. Each year a major film music composer is invited to present their work during the annual World Soundtrack Awards Ceremony & Concert closing event, the latter performed by the Brussels Philharmonic under the baton of Dirk Brossé. The guest of honor at this year’s event was Alan Silvestri, whose works are performed magnificently in this recording of the concert. Opening with a stunning rendering of POLAR EXPRESS with a full blooded orchestra and choir, Brossé carried the orchestra through outstanding suites and segments from FORREST GUMP, MOUSEHUNT, THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, BACK TO THE FUTURE, CAST AWAY, PREDATOR, COSMIC, and the main theme from THE AVENGERS, concluding with and energetic 7:38 suite from THE MUMMY RETURNS. “With their magnificent hearts, minds, voices and hands Maestro Brossé, the Flemish Radio Choir and The Brussels Philharmonic have given me the thrill of a lifetime,” Silvestri said of the performance. “Simply wonderful!!!” Magnificently mastered, the album – especially through stereo headphones – sounds fantastic and is a remarkable compendium of some of the composer’s best and most potent music.
For more information, see Silva Screen’s web site page

FUEGO/Aritz Villodas/Kronos CD
Another rising Spanish composer to keep an ear out for, Aritz Villodas has composed a serenely poignant and intimate score for this reflective revenge story. Rather than focusing on the action and violence, Villodas’s score impersonates the psychological responses of the protagonist, Carlos, the grief and regret and longing he feels for the death of his wife and severe injury of his daughter, his hatred for the perpetrator and his all-consuming desire for revenge. “The music for FUEGO often reflects the fires of revenge that are consuming Carlos from inside and are soon going to be unleashed outside,” wrote Kronos’s Godwin Borg about the score. “The music is brooding, very personal and intimate, transmitting deep sorrow and a touch of mid twentieth century thriller film.” recorded with a small string ensemble, piano, English horn, and light percussion, Villodas has orchestrated very pleasing and sensitive music which is quite eloquent and affecting. It gets a little more furtive, tense, and purposeful near the end as the drama reaches its peak, culminating in a fine resolution.  A superior score nicely preserved on disc.
See the Kronos website for music samples and the film’s trailer:

This film is a striking art-house vampire film from Iranian-American director Ana Lily Amirpour. Filmed in Southern California strikingly photographed (in an evocatively noirish b&w) to suggest a fictional town in Iran called Bad City, this is a splendidly moody piece. Persian dialogue throughout reinforces the setting. The film somewhat suggests the Swedish LET THE RIGHT ONE IN with its story about a lonely boy named falling for a lonely vampire girl, but beyond that this is a thoroughly unique approach to the vampire story. Featuring an excellent cast, including THE STONING OF SORAYA M’s Mozhan Marnò, the film is a slow burn but a thoroughly engrossing one. The music is a mix of licensed tracks – from Iranian bands such as Kiosk and Radio Tehran, whose unique meter aids in establishing both setting and contemporary time period to L.A.-based middle-eastern musicians such as DJ Bei Ru and even a song from British post-punk/indie rock band White Lies, whose 2008 epic-pop single “Death” is used very effectively, played on a record player in The Girl’s apartment, where she and the boy have a tentative, intimate moment, the music’s fast drive set in contrast to the shadowy, liquid slowness of the scene itself, a muted heartbeat imposing itself on the soundtrack as the song fades out. Especially impressive are five songs from the Portland-based Spaghetti Western-rock band Federale, whose Morriconesque eloquence results in some striking musical moments.

GOOSEBUMPS/Danny Elfman/Sony Classical CD, Madison Gate digital
Danny Elfman takes R. L. Stine’s young adult horror fiction series Goosebumps for a wild ride as frenzied actor Jack Black (playing Stine himself) unleashes all the real monsters he’s been writing about for years into Small Town USA in this entertaining film from director Rob Letterman (MONSTERS VS. ALIENS, GULLIVER’S TRAVELS). The GOOSEBUMPS score is a return to what might be termed “The Danny Elfman Sound” and indeed much of it has that exuberant orchestrational wildness that was so striking when Danny first made his voice known in film scoring, back in the days of BEETLEJUICE and PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE and AMAZING STORIES. And it’s perfect for GOOSEBUMPS with its multiple monsters and sense of enchanting enthusiasm and unrestrained entertainment, but it’s also got some of Elfman’s most poignant material and plenty of pure, potent monster music; and even those cues that are recognizably “Danny” are ratcheted up to massive levels of sonic dynamic (“They’re Here,” for example, with its immense foot-stepping percussion, flighty brass theme escorted by full choir, and occasional bits of carnival organ sound and, of course, threading sinews of Theremin adding to the texture; likewise the tornadic bluster of “Farewell”). “I’m sure when you hear the score to GOOSEBUMPS you’ll go, ‘Well sure, that’s Danny Elfman.’ I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel there,” Elfman said. “I won’t pretend that you won’t recognize my style. But I hope of, say, five pieces, at least a few of them, if my name doesn’t appear at the top, you’ll hear the music, see my name at the end, and think, ‘I had no idea that was Danny Elfman.’”  It’s a mix of what we want from a Danny Elfman score while allowing him to stretch a little bit in the broader sweep and calm a bit for the wistful moments of family sentiment, and is a most rewarding listen. A dozen bonus tracks fill out the final third of the album as well as its digital counterpart (which is kind of weird, calling them “bonus tracks” when no other release of the soundtrack was released without them…). Bottom line: any Danny Elfman score that contains such tracks as “Lawn Gnomes,” “Mantis Chase,” “Floating Poodle,” and “Werewolf” has got to be a fun ride.

HE NAMED ME MALALA/Thomas Newman/Sony Classical CD + digital
Thomas Newman has provided a wonderfully compelling accompaniment for this intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan. She miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund. Academy Award®-winning documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim gives viewers an inside glimpse into this extraordinary young woman’s life – from her close relationship with her father who encouraged her love for education, to her impassioned speeches at the UN, to her everyday life with her parents and brothers. Aside from a few darker, thoughtful moments, such as the haunting and reflective “Grievous Injury” and “Ideology,” Newman’s score is optimistic and up-beat, sparkling with effervescent piano melodies and delightful voicings as lovely and encouraging as Malala’s confident smile. The power of Newman’s “66 Million Girls,” “The Same Malala,” and “Who I Really Am,” which conclude the album, end the score on a captivating and inspirational note, expressing Malala’s spirit and enthusiasm in a very contagious manner.

This collection presents three collaborations between French composer Vladimir Cosma (THE TALL BLONDE MAN WITH ONE BLACK SHOE, DIVA) and director Michel Berny: the two TV mini-series PETIT DÉJEUNER COMPRIS (1980; Breakfast Included) and BILLET DOUX (1984; Soft Ticket) and the feature film POURQUOI PAS NOUS? (1981; Why Not Us?). Each of the scores is in Cosma’s melodic pop style, ranging from catchy and tuneful arrangements to exquisitely poignant lyricism. PETIT DÉJEUNER COMPRIS (13 tracks) has an especially compelling primary theme, a slightly acerbic melody played on a melodica – almost a rock tune but set in a breezy pop vein, supported by a sumptuous romantic melody for strings and orchestra. This score is featured via its original 1980 LP program, remastered for its CD debut here. BILLET DOUX (4 tracks) features a compelling melodica lyric over guitar and jazz combo in its main theme, nicely reduced to flute over guitar and bass for its more romantic measures; these tracks previously appeared on the 2010 box set of Cosma’s film music. POURQUOI PAS NOUS? (9 tracks) features an effervescent main theme for synthesizers over light brass, mandolin, and pop combo, which is given a very fun alternate arrangement for modern jazz titled “Cro-Magnon;” associated with the character of Marcello, it’s set in contrast to a serio-comic synth-based theme for Jacqueline, and much enjoyment is had in the evocative pairing of these two themes and their associated characters. There also a delightful quasi-classical scherzo for piping woodwinds and electric bass darting through a grassy bed of strident violin figures. This score is presented for the first time on CD in its entirety. Music Box’s release is a limited edition of 500 units, featuring an 8-page booklet with French and English commentary by Nicolas Magenham. For more information and music samples, visit the Music Box web site here.

PRESSURE/ Benjamin Wallfisch/MovieScore Media CD + digital
In his seventh album release by Sweden’s MovieScore Media label, composer Benjamin Wallfisch explores the majesty and peril of underwater exploration in his score for this deep ocean thriller about a team of undersea oil pipeline repairmen who become separated from their ship and are left with only a small pod on the ocean floor and their wits to figure out a way to get back to the surface with no outside assistance. The score is a hybrid work, emphasizing the human characters as well as the underwater machinery they need to survive and rescue themselves. Wallfisch applies these musical tactics to an energetic score that effectively enhances the story’s inherent tension while also underlying the human drama and its own conflicts with intimate regard. “Ocean Emergency” is a deft mixture of electronically processed acoustic ambience that creates a hyperventilated claustrophobic sound pattern midway through the score, signifying the danger the repair team finds themselves in. After this point the music becomes more chaotic and fragmented – while tonal in its sensibility, tracks like “Jellyfish” are comprised of layers of sonic flotsam, purposefully and cohesively bonded but creating a musical sound design of severe apprehension and confusion. Wallfisch will restore the harmonic balance of the music in the gathering rise of strings and brass of “Descent Ascent,” a moment of renewed hope only to draft apart in grief, and the climactic resolve of the climactic “Final Swim,” which affords a return to the serenity of the opening track, “Rain,” and concludes the story on a profoundly bittersweet note. The composer’s sister, Joanna Wallfisch, wrote and performs the reflective end title song, “Satellite;” she also sings two other songs of her own during the film which are not on the soundtrack album.
For more information and soundbytes, visit MovieScore Media here.

REBECCA/Christopher Gunning/Caldera Records CD
British composer Christopher Gunning (WHEN THE WHALES CAME, LE VIE EN ROSE) composed a thoroughly beautiful and luxurious score for this 1997 MASTERPIECE THEATER remake of the Daphne du Maurier classic Gothic romantic mystery, directed by Jim O'Brien and starring Emilia Fox, Charles Dance, Faye Dunaway and Diana Rigg. The novel, so well adapted by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940, tells the tragic love story between a rich gentleman and his second wife who not only has to cope with an obsessive and evil housekeeper but also with the shadow of the first wife who had died under strange circumstances. With a thematic main theme overflowing with yearning, passion, and hidden malice, Gunning’s symphonic score is simply magnificent, capturing the impassioned love story at the story’s heart with a rich melodic beauty and exuberance while signifying its moments of tension, doubt, and malevolence through a more aggressive musical stance and some finely nuanced measures from solo cello, masterfully played by Moray Welsh. The score’s expressiveness is enthralling, especially in its opening scenes as the growing romance between Maxim deWinter (Dance) and his new love (Fox) blossoms; but their honeymoon bliss is darkened by revelations the new Mrs. deWinter learns about her predecessor in marriage, and the cold, distasteful attitude presented by deWinter’s sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Rigg) at the Manderley mansion, who remains fiercely and pathologically devoted to her dead lady. The score’s tonality changes significantly at this point as Gunning imparts a growing timbre of not-rightness which begins to absorb Maxim’s growingly uncomfortable new wife. Gunning first suggests this with a deft and worrisome cello solo in “The Second Mrs. De Winter Investigates the West Wing,” a wickedly serene track in its own right before following it more dramatically with “Conflict,” where Gunning reveals the pure menace and malignancy of Mrs. Danvers through scarily stroking violin shards and an aggression of strings over which the Main and Mrs. Danvers themes play out argumentatively. The composer will face his themes off with both vigor and heartbreak as the score develops, each track a distinct pleasure of thematic articulation, counterpoint, and release, each succeeding score raising the stakes as secrets are unraveled, misunderstood, and ultimately revealed for what they really are. The final few tracks of the score develop some marvelous dramatic intensity with vigorous drum punctuation and powerful, fervent playing; the orchestral interplay that leads up to its final resolution is splendid as the pure beauty of the love theme resumes, having shed the darkness that had crept over it in the intervening cues. Gunning himself thinks of REBECCA as one of his very best scores and it’s first ever release on album is to be treasured. The soundtrack album has a fully dynamic sound, and seems much larger than the orchestra of 30-35 players Gunning remembers having used. Equally of interest to its music is the 4:47 audio commentary (unique, so far, to Caldera releases) that concludes the CD, in which Gunning discusses his experiences and challenges scoring the film. The album also features a detailed booklet-text and elegant artwork by Luis Miguel Rojas.

SAN ANDREAS/Andrew Lockington/ Water Tower Music CD + digital
Andrew Lockington came to the effects-laden SAN ANDREAS after working with its director, Brad Peyton, on JOURNEY 2: MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, sequel to JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH which Lockington scored in 2008. For Peyton’s massive disaster movie, Lockington provides an engaging score, painted in broad melodic strokes that accentuate the film’s human drama and heroism while accentuating the swarm of earth-moving cataclysms with deeply entrenched processed resonations. Lockington has a great gift for powerful melody, and the score is richly thematic in that regard, eloquently capturing the human toll (particularly in his main title track with its sadly-flavored arrangement and floating female melisma). Lockington’s primary theme is a shared theme associated not only with Duane Johnson’s hero character but with heroic moments committed by the other characters as well; in addition there’s a very compelling thematic melody which he calls the “purity theme” which is associated with the protagonist family, the previous loss they endured and the potential loss facing them as they endure the massive earthquake swarm pivotal to the film’s plot. The action sequences are powerfully orchestrated and richly tonal; in the sound & score featurette on the film’s home video release, Lockington explained how he was inspired by Berlin programmer Micah Frank, who took data from earthquake waves and converted it into music, to do something similar, and so took recordings of the actual San Andreas fault, its ambient sound textures, and used them to create a baseline for the score’s earthquake music and lend a subliminal sonic pattern used in the film’s scenes of destruction. Lockington and his assistant also destroyed an old upright piano and then recorded sounds played on what was left of it to create an unusual sound palette that adds an interesting layer to the score’s musical texture. It’s a very likable score that is nicely preserved on disc and makes for a pleasing listen. The album’s generous 1hr 10 minutes of score concludes with a compelling version of the 1963 Mama’s & Papas song, “California Dreaming,” exotically intoned by vocalist Sia.

SECRETS OF A PSYCHOPATH/Scott Glasgow/Screamworks Records
Scott Glasglow (BONE DRY, ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES, THE DEMON LO) has composed an evocative, broadly textured score for this new psychological thriller from legendary cult filmmaker Bert I. Gordon. The film is the latest work of the 93-year-old filmmaker, who is best known for such genre classics as THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN (1957), EARTH VS THE SPIDER (1958), FOOD OF THE GODS (1976) and EMPIRE OF THE ANTS (1977). Glasgow’s score underscores the twisted relationship of an incestuous brother and sister duo who lure unsuspecting people to their house via a dating site. "There are children songs, music box music and many other innocent colors combined with orchestral ‘violence’ to accompany the descent into madness the main character finds himself in,” explained Glasgow about the music. “There is a low theme in the strings, a flute theme lullaby and the piano colors which are weaved through the whole score.” While there are moments of intense orchestral fury (such as the sound-design infused musically-miasmic tableau of “Family Tragedy,” with its repeated rolling drum fills, and the unresolved climax of “Soroicide & Finalis”), what I’ve found most interesting about the music is its sonic depth. Immersing by tonal layers into the same filtered depths that the characters’ descent into madness takes them, Glasgow’s musical design for SECRETS OF A PSYCHOPATH is continually reinvented. Its thematic/motivic structure is defined early on, but Glasgow will twist and turn them inside out, reprising them through feverish reverberation, counterpoint, using a languid cadence that remains essentially the same – as if representing the fatalistic, unstoppable descent of the psychotic siblings and their unrelenting and unredeemable inclinations. “In the end, there is no real redemption, only the secrets inside the psychopath’s head that seem to pull the audience through the story," Glasgow said. What we have in the midst of that is degrees of sublime musical beauty tinged by growing misterioso, transmuted into wavelike patterns of progressive reiteration and transformation, the simple, emotive beauty of Glasgow’s musical layers, melodies, harmonies, and even his more tumultuous treatments making for a very pleasing and engrossing listening experience.

SPECTRE/Thomas Newman/Decca CD + digital
Thomas Newman’s second James Bond score for director Sam Mendes shares much in common with the style and substance that he developed in his first, 2012’s SKYFALL. Opening with “Los Muertes Vivos Estan” featuring the Mexican percussion group Tambuco, over which Newman softly lays the furtive melody of the Monty Norman/John Barry James Bond Theme played on a flute, punctuated by electric guitar strums and the rhythm part resonated by the strings – all very John Barryish, and quite appealing (a second Tambuco track is included later on the album, the “Day of the Dead” festival which opens the film). It fits the Mexican locale of the pre-title sequence while also clearly stating we’re in 007 territory. The less said about Sam Smith’s impotent title song, “Writing’s On The Wall,” the better. I’m not at all fond of Smith’s whiny falsetto which to my taste is counterproductive to the kind of incendiary yet alluring, powerful yet soulful song that has characterized the series since FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Reportedly it was written in less than half an hour, and the resulting demo recording was felt satisfactory enough to serve as the version we hear in the film. The song does not appear on the soundtrack album, although an instrumental version arranged by Newman does (it’s also quoted briefly in the middle of the “End Title”) and in that orchestral format it works well as a sinewy melody for the movie devoid of whining voice. The first post-title track emerges with a pleasing wash of layered rhythm for the scene at “Vauxhall Bridge” – guitars, running keyboard arpeggios, and light Barryesque brass intonations in a cue that drives a brisk forward motion. As in SKYFALL, much of Newman’s action music is fairly generic – quite effective without necessarily falling into the category of what we’ve come to define as “James Bond” music (“Snow Plane” and “Careless” are examples), but there are enough other tracks where Newman conveys intensive action laced with the airy James Bond Theme sounding from flute (“Backfire”), counterpointed by its riff sounding from strings (the end of “Detonation’), or erupting from sparkling bass (“Westminster Bridge”) to please 007philes. In much of the action music, Newman’s signature percussive fast-moving piano or strings serve up a strident action riff that is propulsive enough while also bringing in Newman’s own musical voice. They open up “The Eternal City,” for example, which is also adorned with an impressively intoned large choir. “Cows Klinik” is a nicely expansive cue when it opens up with a broad melody, a motif which is reprised after a softer moment in “Secret Room.”  Newman’s “End Title” reprises his orchestral rendition of “Writing’s On The Wall,” bracketed by a brooding percussion rhythm piece featuring a provocative female melisma wafting through its first half and final moments.

Sword Coast Legends (game score) /Inon Zur/n-Space digital
Inon Zur’s vibrant and vividly seagoing score for this new role playing game is a thoroughly compelling work that instantly engrosses the listener from its first track with an engaging and infectious orchestral sensibility, powerfully performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic. Available for purchase on Steam and other digital distribution platforms, Sword Coast Legends immerses players to the lush and vibrant world of the Forgotten Realms universe (a campaign setting of Dungeons & Dragons). Known for his powerful and harmonically orchestrated melodies, Zur's critically acclaimed scores have been heard in such well-regarded video games, including Dragon Age: OriginsEverQuestFallout 3 and 4Prince of Persia, and many others. “In music, it's all about feeling, describing something you cannot really describe in words," said Zur. “You try to be open to a world that has no explanation, just feeling, just emotion. Sword Coast Legends has a lot of that emotion. The story, the visuals, the whole set-up was very inspirational for me because I came from this world. My first few games were mainly RPGs, and composing the soundtrack for Sword Coast Legends felt like a natural return to form.” Whether you’re a game player or not, the vast sonic structures and marvelous melodies Zur has created and orchestrated for this game score are expansive and fully flowing. Much of the score’s design suggests the grand, seagoing, folk-driven melodies of swashbuckling movies, which seems to fit the coastal milieu of this new game, but there are tenderer moments. The beauty of Zur’s melodies (“City of Sails” and The High Road” are excellent examples) are pure and affecting, while the elements for movement and motion focus on low, baritone tonalities and purposeful rhythms. Active gameplay is energized in tracks like “Holding the Line,” a variation of the main theme for orchestra and choir amidst a counterpoint of jagged violin shards, jutting across the rhythm and then gathering with the primary motif’s relentless forward progress into a powerful, interactive unity. I’m not a game player but I’m extremely enthusiastic about the musical world and thematic base Zur has carved out for this fine score; perhaps the finest compliment I can make to Zur’s music is that it really makes me want to plunge into this game itself and give it a try!

UNNATURAL/Edwin Wendler/Varese Sarabande CD (ltd ed) + digital
In this new independent horror movie, global climate change prompts a scientific corporation with only the best of intentions to genetically modify Alaskan polar bears with only the most horrific and deadly of results. It’s an intense hybrid score composed by Edwin Wendler (I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE III: VENGEANCE IS MINE, TALES OF HALLOWEEN) that increasingly builds up the tension and the horror while also referencing the challenging isolation of the environment, and maintaining an interesting musical statement throughout.  “I wanted the music for UNNATURAL to be as cold and unforgiving as the location of the movie: the Alaskan wilderness,” Wendler said. In order to do so, he selected sounds that felt like they fit in the environment such as wooden percussion instruments, odd vocals, a banged-up piano, and icy-cold electronics. Wendler’s main theme, in his words, is “quietly relentless” and “designed to express loneliness and isolation,” and his treatment of it is as another character in the story, as orchestral whooshes of sound suggest perilous, blinding blizzards or the roars of the distant animal, harsh textures of winds and percussion gathering together form a sound image of the onrushing hybrid bear tearing through the dim Alaskan atmosphere, and the constant atmosphere is isolation, of coldness, and of something being out there, hunting you. The setting itself becomes an inescapable and claustrophobic malevolency whose indifference to the plight of the protagonists – a photographer and his friends who trek to Alaska to experience the land’s incredible vistas inadvertently caught in the creature’s territory – creates a harsh and dangerous ecosystem almost as deadly as the legendary “maneater” itself. Wendler used electronically filtered brass inflections to create a motif or ostinato for the polar bear itself; “The idea was to take a natural, familiar sound and make it unnatural [just as the creature was] the result of an ambitious bur misguided experiment,” Wendler explained. The music captures the excitement and terror of the animal attacks through raging percussion, dissonant riffs, and ferocious, amassing textures of sound that, despite their aggression, retain their musical cohesiveness as Wendler inserts fragments of the main theme into the thundering action and terror music that binds and marshals together the potentially chaotic elements that explode as the creature attacks. “The score is a chilling trip to some dark, musical places, with the most aggressive music I have ever written,” said Wendler. It’s a potent horror score that is both creepy and often vividly scary, and it’s to Wendler’s credit that it never shrapnels out of control but retains its cohesive form and thematic base.

WAR DEVILS/Stelvio Cipriani/Kronos
For this 1969 Italian war film (aka DIAVOLI DELLA GUERRA), prolific composer Stelvio Cipriani puts aside the easy-listening pop and lounge melodies that he is perhaps most known for in favor of a strong, dramatic score that is thick with orchestral action, martial flair, and majestic sweep. The film is about opposing Captains in World War 2, one German, and American, who help each other survive the North African desert, only to meet again under very different circumstances a year later during combat operations in France. The CD contains all the music CIPRIANI wrote for the film in film order, followed by nearly 30 tracks of music that did not make it into the film (it was replaced by music from other films). Much of the unused material includes generic “suspense,” “action,” “sabotage,” “romance,” and the like, but in Cipriani’s hands these pieces are totally compelling and intriguing. The score itself is held together by a few melodically-structured motifs, such as the lovely violin melody that rises out of the percussive tension music of “Desert March” (presented in two versions), one of the score’s finest moments. The same melody is reprised in “Enemies Rise as One” and “The Quick and the Dead,” a very interesting track that could have been written for a Western film, with its prominent bugle call, snare drum rolls, and provocative rhythmic melody for horns and electric bass. A fine moment of battle action is resonant within “Tanks vs Tanks,” while a hearty chorus of la-la’s conclude “The War Devil’s March” concludes a vivid and active score, one of the composer’s most strident and dramatic works.
See the Kronos website for music samples:

YANN TIERSEN: ‘Pour Amelie’ Piano Music/
Jeroen Van Veen/Brilliant Classics
French minimalist pianist Jeroen Van Veen proves to be an ideal performer of the work of composer Yann Tiersen, best known outside his native France for the soundtrack to Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s delightful movie AMÉLIE (2001). Tiersen’s music helped to make the movie a hit, capturing its bittersweet mix of humor and dejection, and many of the best-known pieces from the soundtrack are included on this new album, such as the Satie-tinged ‘Waltz of Amélie’ and the gorgeous, lilting melody “Comptine d'Un Autre Eté: L'Apres Midi.”  This 2-CD album (also available on double vinyl) is a soothing compendium of gentle melodies and sublime solo piano performances; the first CD contains performances and arrangements of music from AMELIE while the second contains music and diverse arrangements from Tiersen’s GOODBYE LENIN (2003). The music is lovely; Tiersen can often be melancholy but there’s plenty of lively material here, and even in its more reflective moments Tiersen’s music has the capability to bring the listener inevitable joy in its serene lyricism. Van Vleet performs the pieces with articulate precision and emphasis; this is a wonderful album for listening to while rain drizzles beneath cloudy skies outside your windows.

For more information, see,-piano-music/


Awards & Honors

Michael Giacchino has won top prize, Composer of the Year, at the 15th Annual World Soundtrack Awards, held in Ghent, Belgium on October 24th – ten years ago he received is first WSA Award as “Discovery of the Year.” Other winners included Antonio Sanchez for best Original Film Score of the Year for BIRDMAN as well as “Discovery of the Year,” and Patrick Doyle received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in film music.  Peer Kleinschmidt won the Sabam Award for best young composer, while John Paesano's work took home the public choice award for THE MAZE RUNNER. The WSA event was held in conjunction with a number of concerts of film music held the same weekend, including a musical tribute to Alan Silvestri, which included performances of his scores to FORREST GUMP, MUMMY RETURNS, THE WALK and a celebration of the 30th anniversary of BACK TO THE FUTURE. All honorees were in attendance except Giacchino who was in France for a concert performance of RATATOUILLE
For more details, see:

In additional Alan Silvestri news, he was also honored at the Cinemagic festival in Belfast, Ireland last month, where he was Guest of Honor. The tribute showreel that Tim Burden put together for the Belfast audience has been archived onto YouTube, and it’s a masterful and marvelous 12:28 retrospective medley featuring some of Alan Silvestri's best loved scores.

The 10th Annual Jerry Goldsmith Awards, presented annually by the BSO Spirit organization, were announced (except for the Best Composer Award) on Oct 1st, and celebrated on October 14th (with the Best Composer award presented at that time) during the tribute concert to the late James Horner at the Spanish Film Festival of Malaga. Winners included Maximilien Mathevon (best score, documentary, for L’AUTRE BONAPARTE)*, Philippe Jakko (Best score for TV/Web series for WHAT D’AMOUR!), Gareth Coker (best score, game, for ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST). Alexander Cimini won both for best score, feature film for RED KROKODIL** and for best composer. For a full list of winners, click here. The Jerry Goldsmith Awards are intended to support and recognize the work of composers in the audiovisual medium – especially the young, novice, or those who are starting to be experienced in the media, but who have not obtained a high degree of recognition yet. In that sense, the awards recognize the work of these composers in the creation of musical works of all kinds and characteristics. Making room for all composers regardless of whatever field and musical style in which they have developed their work or the scores presented.
* Sample a track from Mathevon’s wonderful score on youtube here.
**  Sample tracks from Cimini’s masterful score at Kronos Records here.

October was a busy month for film music recognition. In addition to the World Soundtrack and BSO Spirit’s Jerry Goldsmith Awards and the Cinemagic event, a tribute to James Newton Howard was held in Vienna, Austria on October 19th, conducted by Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops Orchestra and performed by the prestigious ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra. World premieres of several of James Newton Howard's pieces were performed live, including "The Hanging Tree" from THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 1, which touched the composer and brought him not only to tears but also up on his feet for a standing ovation. In addition, selections from MALEFICENT and BLOOD DIAMOND had their concert debut. Afterwards, Howard received the "Max Steiner Film Music Achievement Award" from Norbert Kettner, Managing Director of the Vienna Tourism Board. The award is meant to be a symbol of recognition for exceptional achievements in the art of film music, by the City of Vienna. In his acceptance speech James Newton Howard thanked Hollywood in Vienna and the City of Vienna, the music capital of the world and a place he's always dreamed of, for this distinct honor and furthermore expressed his gratitude for this meaningful award.
Photo © Katharina Schiffl

For a detailed article on the concert, see the story at filmmusic media.

Composers John Debney and Conrad Pope were both honored with a Golden Score Award from The American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers’ at a ceremony featuring famed songwriter Richard M. Sherman  in Los Angeles on September 17th. “[The] ASMAC organization has been around for a long, long time it was always in my mind the sort of grandfather of all those organizations — it’s been around for 76 years,” said Debney. “So I always considered this award, when I was a younger composer, as something you get as a career achievement when you’re 80. But nonetheless it’s very prestigious and I know a lot of very successful people who have gotten this award, and it’s just really cool to be getting it with my friend Conrad Pope who’s one of the most amazing guys that I know, and we sort of came up in the same era. It’s your colleagues voting on your body of work and it’s rather humbling to be at that point where they’re giving me something like that.”
Learn more from this interview with Debney, held just prior to the ceremony, at

The original score winners of the 2015 Hollywood Music in Media Awards were announced on Nov 11th:

  • Original Score – Feature Film – Dan Romer (Beasts of No Nation)
  • Original Score – Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film – Tom Holkenborg (Mad Max: Fury Road)
  • Original Score – Independent Film – Isaias Garcia (The Moment I Was Alone)
  • Original Score - Animated Film – Christophe Beck (Peanuts)
  • Original Score – Documentary – Miriam Cutler (The Hunting Ground)
  • Original Score – Short – Josue Vergara (Superheroes)
  • Main Title – TV Show / Digital Series – Jeff Danna & Mychael Danna (Tyrant)
  • Original Score – TV Show / Digital Series – Jeff Beal (House of Cards)
  • Original Score – Video Game – Austin Wintory (Assassin’s Creed Syndicate)

See the full list of HMMA winners, including original song, at


Soundtrack & Music News

Gene Norman of GNP Crescendo Records passed away on Nov 4th. GNP was one of the first labels to specialize in sci-f movie music, but Gene's legacy in jazz, 60s pop, and other pop cultural musical icons goes back even further. RIP to a guy who made a big difference in keeping this music out of obscurity and bringing a lot of television sci-fi music out on vinyl and CD for the first time. Read Gene’s bio at GNP Crescendo Records (photo of Gene via GNP Crescendo); for more information on the label and its offerings, see their store page at

The Alliance for Women Film Composers (“The AWFC”) has launched an online directory of female film, television, video game and media composers on their official website “We at the Alliance are so proud to be able to share this incredible list of women composer's that will grow and grow. We are here, we are diverse, we are capable and we have major credits,” states Laura Karpman, President of The AWFC. From earlier experiences, Karpman was often told by studio and network executives that they did not know of any women composers, they thought only a few existed – thus the directory was born. Through the determination of Karpman and the founding members of The AWFC, they were able to build the organization, alert supporters and launch the directory which receives new entries of women composers from well-established professionals like Nan Schwartz, Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman and Kathryn Bostic to newcomers fresh out of school. 

Speaking of 4-time Emmy winning composer Laura Karpman, on October 21st she premiered an exclusive collaboration with Universal Music China’s multi-platinum artist Sa Dingding  at London’s Lancaster House in the presence of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they hosted the President of The People’s Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping, and his wife Madame Peng Liyuan at a British creative collaboration summit. In a unique East-meets-West performance of their new composition “Joy, Karpman and Sa Dingding married Chinese instruments and rhythms with Western choral music in a multi-cultural recital featuring Yunnan dancers. The performance is a selection of a larger musical that the two will write. Karpman also recently announced that she will co-compose the upcoming WGN series UNDERGROUND with Grammy award winner Raphael Saadiq, with John Legend as Executive Music Producer. 
Photo of Laura Karpman & Sa Dingding by Chandler Poling

After recent expanded reissues of the second, third, and fourth JAWS films, this week Intrada let the original Bruce out into the water to play, announcing “what is probably our biggest release in our 30 year history,” according to Intrada’s Roger Fiegelson on Facebook.  This week’s special release will leave your mouth agape: a 2-CD expanded deluxe soundtrack album of the one, only, and original JAWS from John Williams.  “One of cinema's most famous soundtracks finally gets the deluxe 2-CD treatment it deserves,” cheered Intrada’s Douglass Fake, and rightly so. John Williams’s Academy Award-winning 1975 scoring masterpiece,  the most terrifying shark in movie history, of which director Steven Spielberg himself properly claimed that John William’s music was responsible for at least half of the picture’s success. Anchored by an infusion of basses, cellos, and arguably the two most famous “theme” notes in history, Williams offers a score that is equal parts powerfully ferocious terror and rousing nautical adventure. “Almost the entire soundtrack as it appears in the film was presented for the first time in its actual soundtrack form for the movie's 25th anniversary in 2000 for the Decca label,” explained Fake. “For this new 2-CD release on Intrada, we have returned to the original session tapes, courtesy Universal Pictures, and created brand new mixes with state-of-the-art technology, affording genuine stereo imaging with clarity of detail and dynamic range never-before available – all under the supervision of John Williams. Included are all of the actual soundtrack sequences plus several brief but previously unreleased cues and several alternate selections, all being heard for the first time ever.”  CD 2 features a remastered presentation of the original 1975 re-recorded 35-minute MCA album, along with source music selections heard from the Amity Town Band parade and beach sequences, arranged by Stu Phillips and Hal Mooney. Mike Matessino restores and masters the audio, Scott Bettencourt authors the informative liner notes, Joe Sikoryak provides the colorful "flipper" cover artwork and booklet design. 
For more information, see

The latest issue of Maestro, The Ennio Morricone Online Magazine (#9, Nov. 2015) shares some information on Morricone’s score for Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming THE HATEFUL EIGHT. Quoting from a Dutch TV interview with Morricone, the compose explained that he did not want to repeat himself by writing the same kind of Western music he did for Sergio Leone for Tarantino’s film (even though that’s likely what Tarantino and innumerable fans expected). “Can I repeat for Tarantino what I’ve done for Leone? It’s not possible, right? It would be absurd. It would make Tarantino’s movie look hideous, because that music is old, you see. I had to write it in another way.  But I have written very important music for him… But at first it had been a shock [to him]. He had expected something completely different. But I didn’t give that to him, because I didn’t want to give him something he knew already.”  In an August 2015 interview with Vulture, when Tarantino responded to a question about Morricone's score by answering, “It's horrible. What do you expect me to say?...You'll hear it when you see it. It's absolutely abysmal,” he may simply have been sarcastic to the interviewer and not stating his true opinion of the music. In any case, one must admire Morricone for his artistic integrity, and we’ll need to wait until Christmas to hear the music in its filmic context.

Speaking of THE HATEFUL EIGHT, Decca Records will release the official soundtrack album on December 18.  In addition to Morricone’s score, he album will include the songs featured in the film, including The White Stripes’ Apple Blossom, David Hess’ Now You’re All Alone, Roy Orbison’s There Won’t Be Many Coming Home, as well as dialogue clips from the movie.  (via

Kronos Records has released the first soundtrack to Marty Stouffer’s 1982-1994 PBS nature series, WILD AMERICA, featuring the music of its primary composer, Neil Argo, along with tracks by composers John Murtaugh and Peter Kater, who were among many others hired by Stouffer to score episodes of the long-running show. Argo wrote the show’s signature theme, capturing the beauty and character of American Wildlife. “The music for WILD AMERICA is sure to appeal to fans of the show but not only,” said Kronos Records’s Godwin Borg. “The album is a beautiful listening experience and this grand, majestic score will take you on a beautiful journey.” The album includes informative liner notes by Randall D. Larson, incorporating a new interview with Neil Argo.

La-La Land Records and Paramount Pictures present the original motion picture score to the all-new feature film horror/comedy/thriller SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. Composer Matthew Margeson (KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, KICK-ASS 2) unleashes a full-throttle, action-packed orchestral score for this exhilaratingly unhinged and outrageously fun horror/comedy about three scouts, on the eve of their last camp-out, who discover the true meaning of friendship when they attempt to save their town from a zombie outbreak.

Quartet Records and Studio Canal present the ultimate 2-CD set of Jerry Goldsmith’s Academy Award® nominated  score for Paul Verhoeven’s classic erotic thriller BASIC INSTINCT (1992). Quartet’s release includes all of the music recorded for the film, including alternate takes recorded by Goldsmith for the shorter R-rated version of the film. Also included is the original Varèse Sarabande album produced by the composer, featuring some slightly shorter cues and an alternate ending. Produced by Neil S. Bulk and Bruce Botnick, the album includes in-depth liner notes from film music writer Daniel Schweiger in a lavishly designed 24-page full-color booklet.

And just newly announced from Quartet are the world premiere soundtrack releases from two Italian Maestros: Carlo Rustichelli’s complete dramatic score for the 1960 Italian black & white classic LA LUNGA NOTTE DEL’43. The second release is Riz Ortolani’s Riz Ortolani’s score for Rod Amateau’s 1971 comedy gem, THE STATUE, starring David Niven, Virna Lisi, Robert Vaughn and John Cleese. This album marks the first ever release of this short (27-min) but very catchy score, containing the album mock-up prepared by Maestro Ortolani himself in 1971, but never released. Both releases are in limited editions of only 350 copies, and contain thorough commentary notes by Gergely Hubai discussing the film and the score. More details at

Paul Leonard-Morgan is the composer for the new CBS series LIMITLESS. Leonard-Morgan, who also composed the music for the film which spawned the series, co-wrote the song "No Easy Way Out" which appeared in the first and third episodes of the series. 

New from Varèse Sarabande is the score to MOMENTUM from French composer Laurent Eyquem (COPPERHEAD, WINNIE MANDELA). “MOMENTUM is a hard-driving yet fluid, action score that is as much orchestral as it is electronic,” said Eyquem. “My goal was to create a customized sound signature for the film that used these sounds in unexpected, somewhat non-traditional ways. The soundtrack is definitely a hybrid or a fusion of sorts,, but I've stayed true to my melodic roots. The film itself is fairly intense, revolving around a woman who is a former CIA agent and who is on the run from the first frame of the film through to the end credits. The score has a definite and persistent thread of forward movement underscored, even in the long torture scene. The interplay of orchestral and electronic sounds reflects the dichotomy of the main character - feminine and beautiful yet tough, driven and ruthless.”

Varèse Sarabande Records takes a look back at 1985, a historic year for film music with the release of 1985 At The Movies – featuring some of the most enduring themes from films including WITNESS (Maurice Jarre), BRAZIL (Michael Kamen), LEGEND (Jerry Goldmith), THE COLOR PURPLE (Quincy Jones/arr. by John Williams), and AGNES OF GOD (Georges Delerue). The label has created a video EPK about the making of this special recording at
Previously only available in limited release as part of the BACK IN TIME…1985 AT THE MOVIES limited edition box set, 1985 AT THE MOVIES will be available in stores and online beginning December 4, 2015.

Varèse Sarabande and parent company CAAST are changing the way you listen to soundtracks with the release of the free SICARIO SOUNDTRACK EXPERIENCE APP, available now on iOS and Android tablet and mobile devices. The SICARIO SOUNDTRACK EXPERIENCE APP is the first of its kind immersive and interactive music listening experience, presenting film music in a groundbreaking way. Unlike other forms of music, film music is as much a visual and narrative experience as an aural experience. This app features a mixed media, audio and visual, completely interactive swipe-through format creating a new music experience for the viewer/listener. The app features select tracks from the SICARIO soundtrack album. However, instead of the standard, linear, track-by-track timed experience, the app provides a world where sight, sound, and touch allows the user to interact and engage with the soundtrack in interesting ways – featuring exclusive content curated by the composer, Jóhann Jóhannsson including behind-the-scenes footage of the actual creation of the music, liner notes, and interviews. “We have been working towards a new way of engaging the Varèse Sarabande soundtrack fan with what we see as the future of soundtracks” said Darren Blumenthal CEO of Varese Sarabande. “Jóhann Jóhannsson was the perfect creative partner to work with on this new endeavor.” For more details, see:

In other film music–related app news, British composer Simon Boswell has launched a new app designed to make listening to music an even more immersive experience. In a recent interview with Simon, he told me about it: The app is inspired by the 20th Anniversary of the movie HACKERS [1995], which has become a real cult for people, especially in America, who have been influenced by this kind of cyber fashion thing that was in the film when it came out. The app that we’re doing is based on the technology from HACKERS where you track inside computers. It’s very trippy and psychedelic. I reworked a track that I made with Timothy Leary, the ‘60s acid guru, when I was in L.A. I made a track with him and an Italian author/musician/physicist Fiorella Terenzi, who had sampled sounds of galactic spirals from outer space and had made this sort of spacey dance track. Timothy, at this point (it was shortly before he died), he decided that space was like the new drug. You didn’t need acid any more, you took a trip into space, you took a trip into yourself, it’s all the same thing. So the app is out on Android and I-Phone and it’s free. It comes out with a track called “Hack the Planet,” which I’ve written with a grungy, low-fi electronic band called Revenge of Calculon. That’s the main track on the app – but we’re trying to encourage people to write their own soundtrack as well. We’re also going to make the Timothy Leary track available to download with the app too. We’re doing this, by the way, with Google Cardboard, where you put your smartphone in this cardboard viewer. Google has supplied them and we’re going to be selling them, it’s going to be $10 or something. The app is free, the music is free. You download the app, you buy the cardboard, you put your phone in it, you can then enter a whole 360° environment, which you can turn around, like you can with an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. It’s like going on your own trip into your computer.
For details, see:
(BTW: You can read the whole interview with Simon – a follow-up to my first interview with him in 2009 – which discussed recent scores and much more, including his live film-music-based shows, see my Musique Fantastique web page here.)

To celebrate 35th anniversary of the film, Silva Screen is remastering and re-releasing the long deleted original score to THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, including selected dialogue excerpts. One of the truly great British gangster thrillers, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY rated as the 21st best British film of the 20th century in a 1999 BFI survey. The film, a 1981 British gangster piece starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren, was first shown in the UK at the London Film Festival in November 1980. Its score was composed by Francis Monkman, and has been sold out for decades.  The label has also recently released Harry Escott’s score for RIVER, a six part crime thriller that is a flagship drama for BBC TV’s autumn season. Silva has also announced the release of Stuart Hancock’s score for ATLANTIS, Season 2, on December 11th.
For more info, visit Silva Screen Records.

Cliff Martinez reports that his new score to THE KNICK, Season 2, has been released digitally by Milan Records – with CD and vinyl editions forthcoming. For an exclusive listen to one of the tracks, follow this link to The Playlist.

Back Lot Music has released the soundtrack to SUFFRAGETTEdigitally and on CD. The album features an original score from Alexandre Desplat. Directed by Sarah Gavron, the film is a British historical period drama about the early days of the British Suffrage movement of the early 20th Century, starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, and Meryl Streep. “I’d wanted to work with Alexandre Desplat for many years,” saiddirector Gavron. “I think he’s got the ability to do something that always feels new, interesting, fresh, and not sentimental. He really responded to the story of the Suffragettes. For SUFFRAGETTE, Alexandre came up with an idea of having this heartbeat, so to speak, going through it. It works on a number of levels for our themes and ideas. We had the idea of a big-scale score that gave you a sense of the drama and the action, but we also wanted to enhance the intimate moments... I was very keen that the film felt on all sorts of levels very real and visceral and connected. An important function of the music was to chart the emotional journey, but also reflect the suspense and urgency of those big set pieces where dozens of women were putting themselves in danger because of their activism.”

Coming up on December 8th is a 3-cd box set, the Georges Delerue Film Music Collection. The Italian labels Digitmovies and Beat Records, in association with Gruppo Sugar and with the supervision and assistance of Mrs. Colette Delerue, widow of the composer, proudly present a 3-CD box set featuring six original motion picture soundtracks. The CD set includes: COMME UN BOOMERANG (1976; features the same program as the original 33 rpm album but from a first generation stereo master); L'INCORRIGIBLE (1975) and VA VOIR MAMAN, PAPA TRAVAILLE (1978; Your turn, my turn) – both of these scores were previously released on limited edition CD in complete form by Music Box Records in 2011; FANTÔMAS (1980 Claude Chabrol TV miniseries; all surviving music is included including three previously-unreleased tracks). The box set also includes two rarities: LES INSULAIRES (1979 TV movie) and BANLIEUE SUD-EST (1977 TV mini-series).

Varèse Sarabande will release the XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS20TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY on November 20, 2015. The limited edition set (2000 units, individually numbered) contains all 7 volumes of soundtracks from the series, composed by Joseph LoDuca (THE EVIL DEAD Trilogy, HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS). The collection is all bound together in a brown leatherette case goldfoil stamped with the show’s title treatment logo and Xena’s signature chakram. Each copy also includes a beautiful 30 x 40 inch flag depicting many favorite scenes from the series. “For me the journey was epic,” LoDuca reminisced about his experiences scoring the series. “Heroic poems one week; screwball comedies the next. Throw in an operetta and a rock musical; voyages to exotic lands. Invent musical cultures that never existed. It also marked the beginning of collaborations with colleagues and friends that continue to this day. Thank you Xena, and thank you fans for letting us entertain you.”  A Two-time EMMY® Award winner and eleven-time nominee, composer Joseph LoDuca recently scored the horror/comedy BURYING THE EX, the supernatural thriller PAY THE GHOST, and the new television series ASH VS EVIL DEAD.

Dragon’s Domain Records has reissued the long out-of-print soundtrack to the 1979 Australian horror film, THIRST, featuring music composed by the very much missed Australian composer Brian May (the original MAD MAX).  A then-unique take on the vampire as a corporately-run institution, contained a lovely melodic main theme, nicely offset against creepy suspense music and harmonic choral chanting reflecting the cult of sophisticated vampires and their rituals. The album features exclusive liner notes by your’s truly.

If there’s any doubt left that down-to-earth superstar film composer Hans Zimmer is in fact a rock star, the fact that he’s now announced his very first tour ought to clarify the fact. Zimmer’s 20-piece studio band, with whom he records most of his award-winning soundtracks, will be appearing alongside Lebo M, best known for his stunning vocals on Zimmer’s Academy Award®-winning score for Disney’s The Lion King, as well as an orchestra and choir. With over 70 musicians on stage, ‘Hans Zimmer Live On Tour’ will be an audio and visual live spectacular.
The tour will kick off in London on April 6th, 2016 and will be taking in 18 cities in total before the finale in Sofia on May 16th. See:

Atlantic Screen Group has release the soundtrack to the horror film THE DIABOLICAL,featuring the film’s original score by Ian Hultquist (ANIMALS, formerly of the band Passion Pit). When a single mother (Ali Larter) and her two young children are tormented by an increasingly strange and intense presence in their quiet suburban home, she turns to her scientist boyfriend to take on the violent forces that paranormal experts are too frightened to face. “I loved working on this project because it has so many different layers that aren't really apparent at first,” Hultquist explained. “Everyone is going to walk into the theater thinking it's another horror film, but so much more comes into play that takes us beyond just another haunted house-jaunt. It's really a hybrid of a couple different genres. The music speaks to that as well!  I probably spent a good 3-4 weeks just creating sounds for the film, sampling various instruments and creating tons of textures. One of the biggest noisemakers I used was a rusted-out old Ukelin I found at a flea market. Traditionally, these are really sweet-sounding, folk instruments played by bowing and strumming drone strings. However, mine was completely out of tune & the bow had lost all of its hairs, which produced this wonderfully horrible scraping sound. I really kind of abused that poor thing, but it was worth it!”

Brian Tyler is writing the music for EDGE, a new online series recently debuted on amazon, based on the books by George G. Gilman. The series reunited Tyler with his IRON MAN 3 director Shane Black, and gave him the chance to compose a dark and dusty western score.
Hear the main theme on Soundcloud here
Watch the series now on amazon here

Two new recordings by the Meridian Studio Ensemble have been released by BSX Records.  The first is As Good As It Gets: The Film Music Of Hans Zimmer Volume Two (1993-2004), a brand new compilation faithfully produced and arranged by Dominik Hauser and performed by the Meridian Studio Ensemble. The album follows up the label’s previous recording, Days of Thunder: The Film Music Of Hans Zimmer Volume One (1984-1994), and features selections taken from the composer's filmography produced during 1993 through 2004. Also released is SHERLOCK: Music From The Television Series, Hauser’s respectful arrangements of music from all three series of the acclaimed BBC TV series SHERLOCK, written by composers David Arnold and Michael Price as performed by Meridian Studio Ensemble.

Roque Baños has scored Warner Bros.’ riveting sea adventure film IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, based on the true events that inspired the classic tale, Moby Dick. Directed Ron Howard and set in the early 1820s, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA is an epic tale of survival undertaking harrowing lengths necessary to stay alive another day. In collaboration with the London Metropolitan Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, Baños recorded his score with an orchestra of sixty strings, ten woodwinds, sixteen brass, and four percussion over a period of nine sessions. As his biggest artistic undertaking to date, Baños combined traditional thematic elements with never-before-heard sounds and textures tailored specifically to Howard’s film.  “Music, for me, is another character in the movie,” Baños said, “that’s always sitting beside you and telling you how to feel. So it has to be noticed, and needs to be present, and needs to be colorful.” Baños co-conducted rehearsal sessions and produced the recordings, recalling of the process, “This was my first big studio movie, and the most produced, powerful music that I’ve ever composed.” The film is set to release December 11th.

In related Roque Baños news, Lakeshore Records has released his score to REGRESSION digitally, with a CD to follow later this year. Directed by Alejandro Amenábar, the film is a chilling psychological thriller starring Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson. “Alejandro Amenábar is a composer as well as director, but he wanted to leave on me all the creative aspects on this score,” Baños explained. “When I saw the movie for the first time, it was without any reference or temp music, so I literally had to start from zero. We did have a conversation about the mood of course, but these were general aspects in tones such as mysterious, magic, horror, ancestral vocals, etc. One of the main themes, the ‘Regression theme,’ is a twelve tone melody. This is [rarely] used in film [as a] way of composing. This gives it a very mysterious and dizzy feeling to when we go inside of a mind in the regression scenes. I also used it backwards – Alejandro and I thought this worked really well in the story.”

Aleph Records has released the digital soundtrack to the new TALES OF HALLOWEEN exclusively on iTunes. The film is a horror anthology featuring original music by Joseph Bishara, Michael Sean Colin, Christopher Drake, Christian Henson, Bobby Johnston, Jimmy Psycho, Sean Spillane, Edwin Wendler, and Austin Wintory – plus the new main title music by legendary composer Lalo Schifrin, whose son Ryan Schifrin directed one of the segments. Eleven directors, renowned for their contribution to the horror movie genre, have joined forces to create a series of interconnected stories, each with a unique Halloween theme. Ten short films have been woven together by a shared theme of Halloween night in an American suburb, where ghouls, imps, aliens and axe murderers appear for one night only to terrorize unsuspecting residents.

Director Brad Bird has confirmed that Michael Giacchino will reunite with him in scoring THE INCREDIBLES 2, which he is slated to direct. In addition to scoring Bird’s THE INCREDIBLES, the two worked together on the live-action films MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL and TOMORROWLAND, among other Pixar films in which Bird was involved but did not direct.
See the story at slashfilm:

Lakeshore Records will release the score for CASUAL, Jason Reitman’s original Hulu series with Lionsgate TV, digitally on November 27, 2015, and on CD in early 2016. The album features original music by Mateo Messina (JUNO, THE ANGRIEST MAN IN BROOKLYN, BUTTER) with Rolfe Kent (LABOR DAY, UP IN THE AIR). “This is such a unique series to score as it feels more like writing an emotion and seeing how it lives under a scene,” said Messina. “It has felt quite different than scoring scenes like we normally do in Hollywood. This series is driven more by digging inside of the characters than it is about anything that is happening on the surface… The most unique thing about this score is I asked, requested/demanded nobody tune their instruments before we started recording. We mic’d everyone so close you can hear the bow of the cello sliding across the coils of the strings, you can hear a thumbnail on a mandolin, you can even occasionally hear the breaths of the players. It’s all very subtle and very human. I wanted this score to sound as human as these characters feel in the series.”   

Kurt Stenzel's soundtrack to JODOROWSKY’S DUNE, a documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky's unfinished DUNE project, is now available for the first time on CD and 2LP vinyl. JODOROWSKY’S DUNE tells the tale of the cult filmmaker’s unsuccessful attempt to adapt Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel to the big screen. Composer Kurt Stenzel gives life to a retro-futuristic universe as fantastic as Jodorowsky’s own vision for his Dune – a film whose A-list cast would have included Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, and Mick Jagger in starring roles and music by psychedelic prog-rockers Pink Floyd. Building upon director Frank Pavich’s idea for a score with a “Tangerine Dream-type feel,” Stenzel lays out a cosmic arsenal of analog synthesizers that would make any collector green at the gills: among other gems are a rare Moog Source, CZ-101s, and a Roland Juno 6, as well as unorthodox instruments like a toy Concertmate organ and a Nintendo DS. “I also played guitar and did vocals,” says Stenzel, “some chanting… and some screaming, which comes naturally to me.” The score also features narration by Jodorowsky himself. As Stenzel notes, “Jodo’s voice is actually the soundtrack’s main musical instrument–listening to him was almost like hypnosis, like going to the guru every night.”
Click here for more information and ordering.

WORTH A LOOK: Behind the scenes with composer Brian Carmody on the scoring of the sommeliers (wine steward or wine professional) documentary 'SOMM' (2012).  Very interesting!:
See here to watch the fascinating film's official trailer.
- Via Matt Osborne/DOCUMENTING THE SCORE/Documentary Film Scores & Their Soundtracks on Facebook

Ian Honeyman report that his score for the German political thriller MEISTER DES TODES (Master of Death) has just been released. The film is a fictional but based-on-real-life feature film about German arms companies illegally selling guns to conflicted areas of Mexico. It premiered at the Munich Film Festival in July and will have a theatrical release in January. “The complements the ‘real’ nature of the film with an immediate, unusual sound, recorded on instruments such as rebeca, tenor violin, oud, and a variety of guitars, pianos and other traditional instruments played in non-standard ways (bowed, scraped, tapped) in various studios around Los Angeles, with some orchestral and percussive elements,” said Honeyman. The modern score is quite compelling and contains an engrossing instrumental depth and texture. It is available for download from iTunes and Amazon, but is also available with a name-your-price offer at

Jared DePasquale’s beautifully and poignant symphonic score to a radio play version of LITTLE WOMEN has been made available on iTunes here. The composer has also created a very interesting behind-the-scenes video on the score, discussing how personal events in his life dovetailed curiously with the creation of the score.  Watch it youtube here.

MovieScore Media’s first release issued for charity purposes is NINA´S CHILDREN, a film written and directed by Nina F. Grünfeld that tells the story of a Jewish orphanage in Oslo during World War II. Through interviews, archive material, and reconstructions the viewer learns about the children's destiny and how they were rescued by a brave woman and her good friends in the resistance movement. But the film is not just about the past as the director explains: “Watching and reading refugee history tells us not only what once happened, but should remind us of how history repeats and what we ought to think and feel about the current refugee situation in the world.” All revenues from sales of this release will go in full to the UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) in order to support the refugees in Europe.

MovieScore Media has also released the soundtrack to SyFy’s fantasy show OLYMPUS, scored by composer Rich Walters. Created by Nick Willing, who previously ventured into the same world in his 200 remake of JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, OLYMPUS follows an unnamed Hero on his journey as he transforms from a fresh-faced and raw young man to a ruthless leader of man who can become a match for the gods themselves. “OLYMPUS is a Greek tragedy that also skirts along the boundaries of a visceral horror piece” explains composer Rich Walters. ”Creator Nick Willing was instrumental in regards to the direction of the music and I was given the opportunity to take a contemporary approach while having the advantage of utilizing a live orchestra. I used dissonant choral layers in the styling of György Ligeti fused with deep biting sawtooth synth elements, which I augmented again with the strings section doing their best to push the envelope of what’s possible in the spectrum of tremolo orchestrations. I also found that the events also welcomed deep, dark synth tones with long, sombre orchestral chords and melodies derived from instruments such as dulcimers, harps, lyres and alto vocalists.”

Note: Film Music on Vinyl, Film Music Books, and Game Music News will return in my next column. - rdl


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

Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe for copy editing assistance.

© 2015 - the Soundtrax column is copyright by Randall D. Larson; all rights reserved.

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