Past Columns

Soundtrax: Episode 2014-8
December 5th 2014

By Randall D. Larson


1: Bringing the Silent Era Back to Life - Symphonically
A conversation with Brian Satterwhite

2: Gaming Music: ALIEN: ISOLATION
Interview with The Flight (Joe Henson & Alexis Smith)

3: Soundtrack reviews
ALLIES (Jakko), ATLAS SHRUGGED: WHO IS JOHN GALT? (Elia Cmiral), AUTOMATA (Zacharias de la Rivas), BATMAN: TAS Vol 3, DRACULA UNTOLD (Djawadi), EXODUS: GODS & KINGS (Iglesias), FOOD CHAINS (Talmi), FURY (Price), INTERSTELLAR (Zimmer), JESSABELLE (Sanko), NO GOD, NO MASTER (Malo), MERCY(Safinia), LA MALEDICTION DU TITANIC (Mathevon), NORTHMEN (Trumpp), ORGASMO NERO (Cipriani), POLLYANNA (Gunning), [REC] 4 (Bataller), RECLAIM (Zur), REDLINE (Derian), SAY IT IN RUSSIAN (Toprak), TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Jablonsky).

4: Book Reviews
Jerry Goldsmith - Music Scoring for American Movies by Mauricio Dupuis
John Williams’s Film Music by Emilio Audissino

“I am a film composer who feeds my passion for cinema by any means necessary,” reads the bio info on Brian Satterwhite’s twitter page.  Brian has been immersing himself in this passion since 2000, finding increasing opportunities through a variety of short films, feature documentaries, web series, and concert works that have included three seasons of live performances of newly-composed silent film scores with the Dallas Chamber Symphony.  Brian latest score, for SWITCH – a documentary about changing the way we use energy, to realize the many economic and environmental benefits of efficiency – will be released shortly by Lakeshore.  View the SWITCH trailer (and hear some of Brian’s music) at http://vimeo.com/40489581.

Q: You’ve been scoring films, shorts, and documentaries since about the turn of the century.  What started you off in film scoring and getting your initial assignments?

Brian Satterwhite:   It was what I wanted to do from a very early age.  The love of movies and the love of music were fostered in me from the earliest days.  Of course, STAR WARS was a big part of that; I remember listening to my parents’ album over and over again back in the days before VHS.  But the film that I credit with making me want to be a film composer is EDWARD SCISSORHANDS.  That was when my love of movies and my love of music intersected and a light bulb went off – I realized that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I’ve pretty much never looked back.   I got a degree from Berklee College of Music and ending up getting jobs scoring films.

Q: You’ve got almost fifty short films since 2000 – what have you learned from scoring shorts and how has that helped with what you are doing today?

Brian Satterwhite:  Other than the sheer workload, I don’t necessarily treat short films too much differently than larger scaled projects. It’s a great way to learn the craft, and I think that is always the most important thing. It’s not just about writing music for movies.  I’ve respected film music for so long, and have come to understand that it is its own art form, its own unique craft.  Short films are really a great way to do that, not just early on in a career but also throughout.  I adore shorts; it’s a good way to keep honing your craft.

Q: You’ve described yourself as a filmmaker, not a musician.  How would you elaborate on that?

Brian Satterwhite:  It goes back to this idea of film scoring being a unique craft.   I’ve always believed that film music has more to do with the craft of filmmaking than it does with the craft of music making.  Being well-versed in music or having a doctorate in music composition doesn’t automatically qualify you to become a good film composer, because film composing requires knowledge and an understanding of the mechanics of film and of storytelling, and that’s truly where I come from.  I do what I do because I love music so much, and I am a movie fanatic. I like to think I am a student of the filmmaking process.  Music is just my way of being involved with it.

Q: One of the first scores of yours that I heard was for the documentary, MAN ON A MISSION.  How did you get that assignment and how would you describe your approach to scoring this story about Richard Garriott, a successful game developer who wanted to become an astronaut?

Brian Satterwhite:  It was a local project here in Austin (TX). I had worked with the producer several times before, and he brought me on board.  A friend of the director’s, a guy who’d never scored a film before, had come in and started to write original temp music, early in the process before I was ever brought in.  They liked some of what he did, but the decided they still wanted somebody with my expertise in the field to really tell the story. What ended up happening was they kept about ten or twelve minutes of his music and wanted me to score everything else around it.  So the approach was already set in stone for me and I had to write a score based on what he had already been doing.  There was definitely an electronic approach to it, but I infused another acoustical element to that.  I’d never been asked to come into a project and gel with somebody else’s music, and there was an inherent challenge to that, but in the end it was a lot of fun and it allowed me to do things that I’m not sure I would have done if I were just brought on board cold and was the only composer on the picture.  It was cool to explore these ideas that were presented to me and I just ran with them.  It’s a project I’m very proud of.

Q: How did you get involved with rescoring silent films for local theatrical release?

Brian Satterwhite:  About five or six years ago I was working on a musical, doing arrangements and orchestrations; we had hired a local conducting student named Richard McKay to conduct the show, and we’d became close friends during that period.  He went on to continue his conducting studies and I didn’t hear from him for several years.  Then a couple of years ago he called me up and said “I’m returning to Dallas an I’m starting a new ensemble called the Dallas Chamber Symphony, and I want roughly 25% of our season program music to be devoted to film music.”  And said he wasn’t really sure how to fulfill that goal, so he asked me to get involved as an advisory board member, to consult with him.  One of the angles we’d talked about was live performances of silent films with newly written music, but because this were a new start-up ensemble in an art city that is pretty competitive, he thought that was probably a little too ambitious, so we shelved that idea. Then about a month later he called me back and said he’d reconsidered and wanted to go with the idea and do it for the first season.  He wanted a concert in November and a concert in February, and of course I was drooling at the opportunity of doing it myself, so I offered that up and he said “I’d love to have you do it!”  So he commissioned me right then and there to do both films for those concerts.  The ball was pretty much in my court the whole time. I got to choose the films; the only thing that was stipulated was the ensemble, because it was based on the ensemble make-up of other pieces that were scheduled for the same concert.  So the SAILOR-MADE MAN [1921] ensemble was the same ensemble as the John Adams Chamber Symphony.  Knowing that helped me choose the film, too.  The one in February [2013] was going to be strings only, which is one of the reasons I went with CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI [1920] because that ensemble lent itself well to a film like that.  For the second season we went a little different and got some other composers involved.  I proposed the idea of splitting it up into three shorts – each one would feature a big comedian, Lloyd, Chaplin, and Keaton – and have a different composer score each one.  I did the Buster Keaton short, THE SCARECROW [1920], Alain Mayrand did ASK FATHER [1919], the Harold Lloyd short, and Penka Kouneva did the Chaplin short, BY THE SEA [1915].  And that went over really well, too. It was such a treat to see the three different comedy shorts scored by three different composers.  In our current season, we performed a new score for Hitchcock’s THE LODGER this past October, composed by Douglas Pipes.  I think it was one of our best scores to date. He did an absolutely amazing job with it.

[Read a review of the 2013 show featuring scores by three different composers for three silent comedy shorts, with photos: http://www.nuancemusic.com/blog/index.php?/archives/1552-Lloyd,-Chaplin,-and-Keaton-Conquer-Dallas.html ]

And then this past year, just a couple weeks ago [Feb 14, 2014], we had our fourth concert – we commissioned Craig Marks to score the Buster Keaton film called SHERLOCK JR [1924].

Q: So when you’re starting one of these, let’s take SAILOR-MADE MAN for example, when you’ve obtained the film, how do you process scoring that film?

Brian Satterwhite:  Every film is different and I think I approach every film differently. Sometimes I’ll start at the beginning and work my way through to the end, in order; sometimes I’ll just dive into the middle. It’s whatever speaks to me.  With THE SAILOR-MADE MAN, I was looking at the film and at one point as I was watching it I just stopped it and starting messing around with the piano, and boom, it came together and that was the first cue that I did.  The score went out in all directions from there.  I don’t really think about my approach very much, I let the film just tell me, and once that comes to me I just go ahead with it. 

Watch A SAILOR-MADE MAN (1921) with Brian’s score cut into the picture at: http://vimeo.com/70443632

Q: I felt your music for both of those silent films was very fresh.  It had the sense of “traditional” silent film music as we’ve come to understand it now, but you’re also engaging with character interactions and personality in a modern way.

Brian Satterwhite:  The way that I’ve explained what I was looking for to the other composers we brought in, was that I wanted a fresh experience rooted in nostalgia.  I mean, these are live concerts and I want the film to be the star of the show – I want Buster Keaton to be the star or Harold Lloyd to be the star, not necessarily the music. I wanted digestible music; music that would be rooted in nostalgia but at the same time not just hashing out time period music either.  I feel that I’ve been competent and successful in doing that.  I was definitely thinking of that time period but within those constrains I felt very free and felt I could do all sorts of cool, crazy, and fun things. 

Q: How did that process work in CALIGARI?  This classic German horror film is a different type of film and thus has a different palette, which you’ve accomplished with the string orchestra. You’ve given it a wonderful sense of compelling mystery that really fits the picture.

Brian Satterwhite:  One of the biggest differences that I recall about that concert is just the time factor.  When I came off of SAILOR-MADE MAN, I’d written 45 minutes of music in about five and a half weeks; it was a pretty good clip but nothing that major.  I always meant to start CALIGARI before Christmas but I wasn’t able to; I had to start CALIGARI after the New Year and it would be premiering at the concert in February. So that was about 70-minutes of music I ended up writing in about four and a half weeks.  So where in SAILOR-MADE MAN I had the luxury of experimenting a little and playing around with ideas, I didn’t have that luxury with CALIGARI. It was just go-go-go!  That brings a different set of challenges and a different set of rules to play by.  It was tight and hard work but at the end I was very happy with it.

Watch THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI with Brian’s score cut into the picture at

Q: This whole concept of taking silent films, providing new scores, and having them become a concert experience, is something we’re seeing a lot of these days.  But unlike a modern film score, which is preserved on a DVD or Blu-Ray or a soundtrack album, these silent film performances don’t usually seem to be preserved or performed outside the local venue.  Do you see this as the kind of thing that might become available either via soundtrack release or home video?

Brian Satterwhite:  That’s a good question!  There are no plans for that now; we’re still taking small steps.  This has been an extremely ambitious endeavor, especially for a brand new start-up ensemble in Dallas.  There’s the commission/composition aspect of it, there’s the performance aspect of it, and there’s the whole technical aspect of the film, so this has been a pretty big undertaking, and so far they’ve been doing a really great job.  I do remember thinking that I’d worked so hard on SAILOR-MADE MAN and then CALIGARI and then after an hour and a half/two hour concert, it was done.  It was forever in everybody’s memory, but that was it.  I come from a classical background and concert music composing, and I’ve actually missed that a great deal; I’ve had so much film music work that I’ve kind of neglected my concert writing work, so that’s kind of filled the best of both worlds for me; it got the live performance itch scratched a little bit, and it was great.  But I would like an opportunity to find a way to get it out there so that other audiences can enjoy it; whether that means future performances in Dallas or elsewhere, or perhaps a concert recording, it’s on my mind for sure, for the time being we’re just working on creating more future concerts.

These silent film projects are among the nearest and dearest to my heart, because I love the silent film era so much.  But I’ll admit that putting on a DVD or putting it on Netflix is not the same, it’s not completely realizing the full potential of the genius behind a silent film, but to see them in a theater with live music performed is really the ideal way to experience it.  With SAILOR-MADE MAN, to have the audience erupting into laughter at just the right moments, it’s such a joy for that I’ve never really gotten to experience in genres of film that I’ve worked on.

Q: In SAILOR-MADE MAN, you’re actually able to actually emphasize the comedy in your music as opposed to needing to play it straight like we’re used to in modern comedy films, and in CALIGARI you’re able to be very melodramatic, very menacing, with a style and tone that might be considered overdoing it in a talking film.  How did you see the role of the music in SAILOR-MADE MAN in being part of the comedy as opposed to, in modern films, where you’ve really got to stand back?

Brian Satterwhite:  From a composer’s standpoint that’s what made it so much fun, too, because I was able to do a lot more, and the music had a lot more responsibility. I think it’s just part of the appeal of the whole process.  You still need a balance – you can still overdo it but just because it’s a silent film doesn’t mean you have free reign to do whatever, it just takes on more responsibility for the music.  You can take a few steps further than you normally would.  Again, it goes back to what I said earlier, film is still the star of the show.  I think I always had that in mind, I could push the comedy and the music a little bit more, but Harold Lloyd was always the star, and I didn’t ever want the music to detract from that. That was the whole philosophy of moving throughout that project.

Watch THE SCARECROW with Brian’s score cut into the picture at

Q: I want to ask about a couple of web series you’ve done, THE CELL and SUPER KNOCKED-UP.  How did those come about what sort of musical challenges did they pose?

Brian Satterwhite: Web series are a relatively new thing for me.  Those two series are the only ones I have done so far.  CELL was the first one; it was shot here locally in Austin.  The star of the series had known me and recommended me to the director, and that’s how I got aboard that one.  The second one came about the same way, the lead actress from CELL was in the latter series and she recommended me I got that one as well.  We’d talked earlier about the benefits of scoring short films as opposed to feature films; scoring a web series is analogous to scoring a television series, but instead of 30 minutes or hour-long episodes, you have to score five- to –eight- to maybe twelve-minutes of show, at the most. It allows you to hone your craft on episodic scoring, but in a more compressed time frame.  I found it to be a lot of fun. I don’t get to do episodic scoring very often, so to create musical ideas and then take them on journeys from episode to episode is just so much fun.  I’d definitely love to do more of that.

Q: Two of your cues from the short 2008 film, COWBOY SMOKE, were licensed for use on the soundtrack of THE LONE RANGER, which Hans Zimmer scored.  How did this come about and how do you feel about having these pieces used in a major Hollywood film like this?

Brian Satterwhite: It’s a year and a half after I first got the call from Disney, and it’s still very surreal to me. Last June I received a voice mail from Disney saying they’d like to license two of my pieces in an upcoming film and if I would call them back as soon as possible. The first thing I did was Google the phone number (I’ve got some very mischievous friends!) Sure enough, Walt Disney Studios came up. So I called them back. I had been thinking perhaps they wanted it for a straight-to-DVD western they were making or something like that but then they told me they wanted to license the two pieces for THE LONER RANGER. I was pretty gobsmacked to say the least. We did the deal that afternoon and two months later I saw music I wrote for a small independent western end up in a big-budget Disney film. Again, it’s extremely surreal. I didn’t do anything other than say “yes” but it does help when folks ask me if they’ve heard my music anywhere. I do a lot of independent movies so even though it was super short, it’s cool to have my name appear twice in the closing credits of a huge film like that. 

Q: Where do you want to go from here in your musical adventures?  Where do you see yourself in another five to ten years?

Brian Satterwhite:  I actually think about that a lot.  I’m very, very proud of where I am right now. I think, just to make a living from this business is not an easy thing to do, and I don’t take that for granted, at all. I’m very aware of how difficult it is and the challenges I’ve overcome just to get where I am – especially not being L.A.-based.  I’m in Austin, Texas, and however difficult it is to make it in the bigger markets like New York and L.A., there’s a whole new set of challenges [here] that nobody really knows about!  I would like to see myself doing more of what I’m doing. I’m not seeking to be famous or rich, but I’d like to be relevant; I’d like to be in the conversation.  I think the work that I do and the goals that I set for myself have put me down a path toward that.  But for the most part it’s about being happy, which I am. I have a family that I’m raising here in Austin and continue to provide for them while doing what I love to do.  I told myself when I was a student at Berklee and I was graduating, I had a serious heart-to-heart conversation with myself, and I said if I can make a living writing music for film, I won’t ask anything more.  That’s it. I think I would be truly happy if I can manage that for myself, and I feel like I’m at that point, where, yeah, that’s what I’m doing in my life.  So from here it’s a matter of improving upon my craft, doing better work, pushing myself, accepting new challenges. 

For more information about the Dallas Symphony and its concert series, click link here.


Joe Henson and Alexis Smith began collaborating in 2005 when they co-produced an album for Joe’s band Seventhsun. After realizing they had a similar approach to life and wildly divergent musical tastes, they formed a creative partnership under the name The Flight that quickly encompassed song writing, production, and composition. The duo have worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry including Lana Del Rey and newcomer Chlöe Howl as well as composing major soundtracks for some of the game industry’s biggest titles including Alien Isolation and Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag.

Q: How did you become involved in scoring ALIEN: ISOLATION?

The Flight:
The guys at The Creative Assembly came to us and asked us to pitch. After Alastair Hope (the game’s creative lead) showed us an early demo we jumped at the chance.

Q: What was your brief for this project and what was your starting point in jumping into the score?

The Flight:
CA had licensed the key themes from the original Jerry Goldsmith score, so we had that as a jumping off point. From there we were given a wide brief and lots of room to experiment.

Q: Jerry Goldsmith’s music from the first ALIEN music is a significant component of this game’s musical design – what was your objective (or directive) in using the Goldsmith material and how did you integrate it into your original scoring material?

The Flight: There are very iconic sounds in the original ALIEN score and some of these aren’t thematic. The delayed col legno pizzicato strings snaps, the famous ‘Alien Whale,’ for example.  We spent a lot of time working out what was important to the overall sound, and would always reference back to that. Sometimes a subtle touch from these would be enough to link a new direction with the original.

Q: What challenges did you find in composing a score that was true to the world of ALIEN while flexible enough to fit the interactive options of the gameplay?

The Flight: No matter how complicated the interactive system is, you still have to write a piece of music first. We tried to put the tech aspects to the back of our minds initially, so that we could concentrate on writing music that was right for the overall feel of where it would be used. Once we were happy with this, we would then tackle how it would be used interactively.

Q: How would you describe the workflow between the two of you on this project?

The Flight:
There were actually three of us working together on this project. We teamed up with film composer, and brother of Joe, Christian Henson. One of the first things he did was write a fantastic suite where he expanded on the Jerry Goldsmith sound. We then all worked very closely together, sometimes on the same piece, sometimes in parallel.

Q: What was your technique to create an immersive musical environment of tension, suspense, shock, and panic-driven action to fit the gameplay?

The Flight:
We worked very closely with the developer on the music system. This was based on many factors – the environment, the state of play, the proximity of the Alien, its ‘state’ – whether it knows you are there, is facing you etc. They had an idea of what they wanted the music to do in this game, and we had to find a way to make it happen, whilst still feeling like music and not just effects.

Q: How did you create the depth/breadth of sound between your instrumental palette (acoustic/samples/electronics) to achieve the final sound mix you were looking for?

The Flight: We tried to avoid modern plug-ins as much as possible. We have a good collection of analogue synths and vintage effects. We were also lucky enough to have the budget for orchestral and choir sessions. One of the first things we did in the initial sessions was to build up a custom orchestral and percussion library of sounds for A:I.

Q: How was the orchestra assembled for the recording session at Air Studios?  Was it serendipity or planning that brought in some of the musicians who had played on the original ALIEN score into those sessions? 

The Flight:
We have worked with the Chamber Orchestra of London on various projects. It was simply luck that some of the original players were available, but it was a great way to start. They gave us some insider details about techniques and processes that we would never have been able to work out without their input.

Q: What did you learn when studying the Goldsmith ALIEN score that you found especially useful in preparing for this assignment?  Was there something interesting you learned about Jerry’s original score and its performance that people may not know? 

The Flight: We had access to the original music themes and sound design recordings. It was invaluable in getting to the bottom of a lot of the more unusual sounds, and very interesting to understand the blend of ‘score’ and ‘effects.’  One example was the ‘Alien Whale’ sound; we had been trying various techniques to replicate this, from bowed drums to rubbing superballs on the underside of a piano. One of the original players told us they thought it was a conch shell. We used all three of the techniques throughout the game!

Q: In a developer’s conference for ALIEN: ISOLATION, one of the producers mentioned there was a need for 120 minutes of score for the game. How does this take into account variations that might be necessary to reflect choices the player might make in the game?

The Flight:
We composed and recorded a lot more than that in the end! All of the music was delivered in various kits for the music system to play back in the game. Some of the music is in loopable form, and some is triggered by events. Needless to say, with a game that can last up to 20 hours depending on the player, everything has to be very flexible and interactive.

Q: How would you compare your preparation for this project to your previous game project, ASSASSIN’S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG MULTIPLAYER?

The Flight: On Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag we played everything apart ourselves, save from the flamenco guitar and fiddle. So to begin with we were basically jamming. Ubisoft gave us a lot of background info on the locations and characters, and we went on from there.

Q: On ACBF, was there a need to reference any of the previous music of the AC franchise into this new score – and how was your music, along with that of a couple other composers, integrated into a cohesive and unified game score? 

The Flight:
No, we didn’t need to reference any of the previous music. While Brian Tyler was doing the single player score, we worked in parallel on our score so we did not hear any of each other’s output until the final product came out. Luckily it all seems to work really well together.

Q: How is your work process different for a game like ALIEN: ISOLATION versus scoring for television, on a project like RIPPER STREET?

The Flight: Dominik Scherrer is the composer on RIPPER STREET, we work with him, playing a lot of instruments and programming and producing cues. The main difference with TV is that you are working on a version of the show that is pretty close to the finished article. A game is still being made right up until release so can change quite drastically throughout the time you are working on it.

For more information on The Flight, see: http://www.theflightmusicofficial.com/

Special thanks to Greg O’Connor Read for facilitating this interview via email, and to Joe Henson & Alexis Smith for taking the time to answer our questions together.


New Soundtrax in Review

ALLIES/Philippe Jakko/MovieScore Media
French-born/London-based composer Philippe Jakko (KAUFMAN’S GAME, Valérie Donzelli QUE D’AMOUR!) has laid in a fine BAND OF BROTHERS sensibility at the heart of his score for this European World War II drama, focusing the story on the integrated characters and their brotherhood as they face tough odds when dropped behind enemy lines in France in August 1944, on a secret mission that could shorten the war.  Jakko accompanies military maneuvers with snare-inflected cadences informed by shrill and uneasy string tonalities, reminding us that nothing is routine in wartime, while his heavy artillery is brought out to aggressive propulsion during the battle scenes.  “Forest Battle” is a mélange of mercato strings and repeated feints from the brasses, moving into a stalwart advance from the entire assembly amidst worried string figures and heart phrasings of brass roiling and rising higher until the battle dissolves into high, airy strings and choir, intoning sorrowfully for the dead.  “German Camp” echoes with a grimy strangitude for low synths, strings, and less defined sonic structures that impose an idea of hellishness upon the enemy war camp, the dark antithesis of more sublime moments of camaraderie found in “Brothers” and “Dakota Flight,” which celebrate with a solemn composure the connecting humanity of brothers at war, with “Harry and Catherine” conveying a less brotherly but equally strong bond.  Jakko merges his various elements in the final track, “Traitor + Hero” which resolves the score nicely in the midst of rapid fire mercado strings, growing horn peals, martial drums, and choir.
For more information on the composer, see: www.jakko.fr

Elia Cmiral (WICKED BLOOD, PIRANHA 3DD) returns to the world of Ayn Rand to score the final segment of the ATLAS SHRUGGED trilogy.  He scored ATLAS SHRUGGED PART 1 in 2011 but didn’t score 2012’s ATLAS SHRUGGED II: THE STRIKE in 2012; while all three had the same producers, the second film had a different director who apparently insisted on bringing in his own composer he had worked with before (Chris Bacon).  With the third and final film returning to director James Manera, who did the first movie, Elia was brought back on board.  Embodying the political philosophy of the 1957 Ayn Rand novel, the film is set in a dystopian United States where John Galt leads innovators, from industrialists to artists, in a capital strike in order to reassert the importance of the free use of one’s mind and of laissez-faire capitalism.  Cmiral’s work for the third film is an elegant orchestral work, recapturing the melodic/orchestral style of the first film, which favored massed strings, solo piano, and supporting winds and brass, with punctuation from drums as the score reaches its climax.  The score was recorded in Los Angeles with Hollywood’s finest studio musicians and has a fine, vibrant sound quality.  “At the time that I came on board, the editing of the movie was still in progress, so I had time to revisit thematic material from Part 1 as well as opportunities to discuss the new musical approach for Part 3 with producers,”  Cmiral wrote in the CD’s booklet.  “We wanted to connect the first part and the last part of the trilogy to create a sense of continuity throughout the whole story… I tried to rewrite and adapt the themes and motifs from Part 1, but I soon realized that the overall character of the music in Part 1 is very different than what was needed in the third installment. Part 3 is much more dramatic.”  With Aglialoro’s suggestion that he frequently use his “John Galt Theme” from PART 1 in the new score, which serves to bolster the third segment with the musical design of the first.  “When I began to write sketches, I used fragments of this theme in a number of cues, including the love scene,” noted Cmiral.  “John deserves credit for making this bold suggestion. I love way in which Parts 1 and 3 ended up connecting.”  Regardless of one’s impression of the film or its underlying political viewpoint, Elia Cmiral’s music for both segments of the trilogy are very impressive works, with WHO IS JOHN GALT serving up an assertive symphonic orchestration that suits the picture’s dramatic sensibility, while the gently homespun John Galt Theme, heard from strings as well as a very intimate piano arrangement in “Project F.”  Both of Elia Cmiral’s ATLAS scores are splendidly glorious pieces of music in their own right, and make for a fine listening experience.  Their melodic themes seem to be carved out of stone, articulately interjected into a large but not overpowering dramatic arc, impressively conveyed with passion and might. 

AUTOMATA / Zacarías M. de la Riva/MovieScore Media
Zacarías M. de la Riva has composed a mesmerizing and eloquent musical soundscape for Spanish director Gabe Ibáñez’s noir-ish dystopian sci-fi thriller, AUTOMATA.  The film stars Antonio Banderas as Jacq Vaucan, a disillusioned insurance agent of ROC robotics corporation whose job involves the investigation of manipulated robots. Although it seems like another routine case at first, Vaucan soon realizes that his latest mission will have more profound effects on the future of humanity.  While the film contains numerous nuances from previous sci-fi films from BLADE RUNNER and CHERRY 2000 to I, ROBOT dealing with the topic of artificial intelligent robots becoming “self-aware” persons, Ibáñez’s film is impressively executed, high on production values, and paints a tragic portrait for the future of the human race.  The future of AUTOMATA is overrun with worn-out robots, whose bright future to save the Earth and its populace from ecological disaster has failed, the dust-enshrouded robots left to rust or serve in menial service roles for a self-absorbed human population.  De la Riva’s score, not unlike Zimmer’s INTERSTELLAR in its way of functioning in contrast with the visuals, does not correlate to specific actions in the film but generates what may be described as an epitaph for humanity, a lingering atmosphere that hangs like a slowly-closing curtain above the visuals that comprise the film, laying down a morose ambient impression as consuming as the radioactive dust and poisoned rain that circulates around much of the world’s environment.  De la Riva echoes the film’s epic, albeit disheartened, perspective with haunting refrains and elaborate choral and instrumental orchestrations that reflects the film’s lamentation.  “The movie moves constantly between two different worlds,” the composer said.  “The world of the sci-fi thriller and the world of the philosophical and metaphysical. The first one deals with Jacq Vaucan’s investigation of malfunctioning robots, the second one deals with the essence of the being and his reality, human or robotic. Music had to resolve this dichotomy, make the coexistence of this two different worlds possible.”  Featuring the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra (the movie was filmed in Bulgaria), and the Swedish choir Johannebergs Vokalensemble, the score is absolutely gorgeous – entrancing, poignantly affecting, and serenely beautiful.  “A Night Out Dancing” perhaps sums up the score’s focus, as it generates a melancholy reflection of the film’s thesis – the passing of the baton from the human race to the automaton race, and is one of the composer’s finest works.   The album properly focuses on de la Riva’s score specifically – thus the film’s festive use of Handel’s “Music For Royal Fireworks - Overture” as a recurring commercial motif for the ROC corporation, and the clever music box jingle that plays 1892’s “Daisy Bell” (the song sung by the AI computer HAL in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY) at the close of the end credits) do not appear here.
See my review of de la Riva’s “darkly beautiful, Gothic horror score” for IMAGO MORTIS in my July 2009 column

BATMAN The Animated Series Vol 3/Shirley Walker et al/La-La Land
La-La Land presents a third volume of music from Warner Animation’s animated BATMAN series, this time expanded the previous volumes’ double discs a walloping five hours of music spanning four CDs, with thorough suites from two dozen episodes over the series’ original 65-episode season (1993-93), featuring the work of Shirley Walker, Lolita Ritmanis, Carlos Rodriguez, Michael McCuistion and others.  The music retains continuity with Danny Elfman’s music for the first two Tim Burton BATMAN movies (1989, 1992), and established that music for an animated super hero series that took itself seriously could be just as effective and dynamic as that for the big screen.  Shirley, having conducted Elfman’s music from the first BATMAN movie and orchestrated much of his work in those days, knew the character of the Burton BATMAN movies intimately, and carried it faithfully into the animated show.  Bringing in additional composers, Walker oversaw the scoring process and ensured musical cohesiveness within the animated series as well as with the feature film series.  Some of the most energetic and complex action scoring for television was being heard in these shows (which debuted on weekday afternoons but for a while was also broadcast during prime time), which generated old-school orchestral film scoring with Gothic tendencies and techniques and ferociously orchestrated interactions.  This third volume preserves some of the best show scores yet; like the previous pair of releases, these are not just excerpt compilations but have preserved extended, multiple-track segments of the episode scores – 24 mini-movies rich in fluid musical action, eloquent sensitivity, and thematic unity that defines the Batman character.  I generally don’t care for source music added to soundtrack albums, as it’s generally so far afield from the musical sensibility of the score that I find it distracting, and, well, it’s usually just not music I like.  But Lolita Ritmanis’ “Video Source” and “Spa Source” from the “Eternal Youth” episode in Disc 3 are such delicious evocations of cheesy TV and trendy tan-to-this-spa’s-pop-tune that I find both intoxicatingly appealing; ditto for Shirley’s quirky electronica “Nostromo Source” from “Prophecy of Doom” and “Movie Source” (essentially a symphonic movie score in a minute and a quarter) from “Mudslide” (also Disc 3) and Tamara Kline’s brimful-of-baroque “Futuristic Muzak” from “Heart of Steel” on Disc 4.  Produced by John Takis and Neil S. Bulk (Takis also wrote the in-depth, analytical album notes), and mastered by James Nelson, this is a limited edition of 3000 units.

DRACULA UNTOLD/Ramin Djawadi/Back Lot Music
This latest off-told story of Dracula’s origin as Romanian warlord Vlad the Impaler dispenses with the Bram Stoker part of the story and reimagines the story of Vlad as a hero who sacrificed his life to vampirehood in order to save his country, so in that sense it proffers a fresh story without the traditional participation of Renfield, the Harkers, or Prof. Van Helsing.  This noble bloodsucker is given an earthy and aggressive underscore by Ramin Djawadi with plenty of percussion and male choir to support the story’s darker and earthier elements.  The propulsive drum-based action moments of “The Brood” and “Vlad vs. 1000,” driven further by choir and slashing strings doubling the drums, is a simple but effective treatment, albeit a little repetitive and banal on an album listen, particularly in their use of the now-overly familiar epic-styled drumming.  It does kick up the ground beneath the hooves, though.  There are some very interesting sonic elements, such as the parrying between chanting male/female choir and solo female melisma which emanates out of a reflecting synth squeal in “Son of the Dragon,” and which culminates in a strong chordal statement from the brass.  But most effective, musically, are the more expressive melodic swaths that convey the passion that lies within the non-beating heart of the vampire’d Vlad.  “Eternal Love” and portions of “This Life and the Next” submerge the listener in the sacrificial love which this Vlad has demonstrated by accepting the vampire’s curse, it resolves powerfully in “I Will Come Again” and, which a little more of a pronounced rhythm, in “Epiloque.”  These passages are quite musically satisfying whereas the heavier action material is less inventive and structurally interesting.  The album as a whole lacks the kind of solid thematic unity that made Djawadi’s scores for PACIFIC RIM or the vast canvas of GAME OF THRONES so engaging, but there are moments here to be treasured, that earnestly convey the emotive, romantic, horrific passion that evokes the many-chambered heart of the vampire.

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS/Alberto Iglesias/Sony Classical
Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias has been best known for writing intimate, melodic scores for the perceptive romantic dramas of arthouse directors like Pedro Almodóvar (VOLVER, THE SKIN I LIVE IN) and Julio Medem (LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, SEX AND LUCIA), although since gaining interest in Hollywood and scoring thrillers like THE CONSTANT GARDENER, THE KITE RUNNER, and the remake of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (all three of which gained Iglesias Oscar nominations) he’s had the opportunity to embrace a wider range of subject matter.  His latest work, for Ridley Scott’s interpretation of the biblical epic EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS, starring Christian Bale as Moses) finds Iglesias with possibly his largest and most active score to date.  Sony Classical will release the score digitally on December 9, CD on December 16. The movie opens Dec. 12th from 20th Century Fox.  And it’s a marvelous work.  While breaking no new ground and fitting into the current pattern of large-scaled, drum- and choral-driven orchestral scores for massive, effects-laden historical films, Iglesias proves completely capable to the genre and the score is a richly textured and affecting large-scale work.  There’s plenty of powerful orchestra bombast when there needs to be, and the biblical story was full of such moments – massive battles, charging armies, deadly plagues – but the most affecting moments of Iglesias’ monumental score are the passionate melodies that skillfully convey the epic drama at the heart of the film’s momentous clash between gods and kings.  “Journey to the Village,” “We Cross the Mountains,” “Climbing Mount Sinai,” “Moses’ Camp,” “Into the Water” and the concluding purpose of “The Ten Commandments’ are among the score’s finest parts. Throughout the score, though, Iglesias captures the range of this meaningful tale with tremendous sensitivity and eloquence, from the intense wrath of a God defied and a people defiled to the gentlest strain of solo viola as it captures the joyful tears of an unshackled slave.  With a few exceptions, each track takes its own journey, moving through a segmented variety elements and structural nuances to arrive at a new place, making the score an especially intriguing one to listen to on its own.  A variety of ethnic instruments flavor the sonic environment with intrinsic sounds of the film’s time and space, while the heavily beaten drums speak of brawn and blood, sweat and skin; the impassioned fragrances of choir and solo voicings humanize the heart and soul of the faithful and misled alike, and the musical journey taken has its own aggression, impassioned yearnings, and rewards of melodic intensity and heartfelt resolution.  One of the year’s best.

FOOD CHAINS/Gil Talmi/Konsonant Records
Gil Talmi (NOVA, SAVANNAH, FORGOTTEN ELLIS ISLAND) has composed an sunny and brightly energizing musical accompaniment for director Sanjay Rawal’s provocative and eye-opening feature documentary about the abuse of farmworkers within the United States and the complicity of the multibillion dollar supermarket and fast food industries.  The plucking, drumming fingers of guitars and hand drums that create Talmi’s acoustic-flavored score reflect the labor and positive spirit of the farmworkers (mostly Hispanic, previously mostly black) shown in the film, their devotion to eking out a living in an increasingly exploitative industry.  “It is a very unique score, unlike anything I’ve done so far,” said Talmi, who has been regularly scoring documentaries and other films since the mid-1990s.  “It has an original blend of earthy Latin colors and deep electronic textures ... a whole new landscape to the ears.”  The music maintains a ringing electro-acoustic temperament that drifts over and under the visualizations, the interviews, and the narration, and helps make the film accessible and captivating.  The score works very well in the film, and the music makes a fine listening experience on its own.
Watch the film’s teaser on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkOuLGOLPXw
Sample some of the score at: www.giltalmi.bandcamp.com 

FURY/Steven Price/Varèse  Sarabande
Following in the wake of GRAVITY, Steven Price’s music for FURY, a war film focuses on a heroic tank crew as they make the final push into Berlin near the war’s end, is an unusual and modernistic take on a war score.  It shares some of the stylistic approach Price displayed in GRAVITY but it’s very much its own entity.  The music is very minimalist and cerebral, crafting itself around the psychological viewpoint of the members of the tank crew.  Price wrote parts of the score with cellos and a small, intimate choir, reflecting the mindset of the crew and their claustrophobic perspective on tank warfare, while embodying the action of warfare through discordant rhythmic patterns and a harsh intonation from Germanic male choir.  "I sought to honor the characters’ bravery; to create a score that was honest and true,” said Price. “At the same time, for a film accurately portraying mechanized warfare, the score needed to be primal and guttural. We used armory and weaponry as instruments to give a sense of a constant grinding forward whilst the orchestra carried the emotion.” The brusque chanted choral material is a bit tiresome on disc, but Price’s initial motif, a somber and languidly swaying atmosphere built essentially out of a two-note Zimmeresque parry of strings introduced midway through the first track, “April, 1945” and recurs throughout, provides a sense of sympathy for the crew while conveying their own solidarity in the midst of their unease that links them as brothers at war; is recurs notably in “Still in the Fight,” sparring against the heavy martial trudging of percussion and eloquently heroic statements from horns and culminating in the calm quietude of violins and cello, piano, and fading choir. 

The score’s primary theme is first heard, very briefly, from piano in “Refugees,” where its plaintive, minimalist melody adds a more personal, intimate feel to the humanity within the war machine.  It’s essentially the two-notes from the initial motif in “April, 1945” extended into a fuller but still languid five-note melody (three ascending, two descending) that extremely striking in characterizing the humanistic nuances of the score.  “I sought to honor their bravery; to create a score that was honest and true,” said Price. “At the same time, for a film accurately portraying mechanized warfare, the score needed to be primal and guttural. We used armory and weaponry as instruments to give a sense of a constant grinding forward whilst the orchestra carried the emotion.”  The main theme recurs in similar form in “This Is My Home,” where its piano rendering is placed over a heavy, industrial-styled sonic roughage – Price utilized actual World War II weaponry, including a .50 caliber machine gun, along with a bag filled with dog tags, to create the industrial, treading percussion sounds that echo the bombast of tank warfare. Tracks like “Fury Drives Into Camp” and the adjoining “Refugees” capture a striking sonic harmonic timbre with their haunting voices, synth tonalities, and orchestral texture.

The mélange of motific elements in the 8-minute plus “Crossroads” finds multiple opportunities to contrast sonic beauty with devastating discordance in its progressively developing presentation.  The choir motif was used for high-energy battle scenes and calmer, as well as more introspective passages of the score, a humanism element in a score that seeks to portray the harrowing mechanizations of war; this is especially potent in tracks like “Emma,” in which the main theme for piano is set in counterpoint against the chanting choral motif; human connection evoked against the brutality of human conflict; and in “I’m Scared Too,” in which a soft piano figure and haunting female melisma afford a gentle blanket over which the main theme conveys its most poignant resonance via cello.  In the last track, “Norman,” the string resonance that performed the initial motif in “April 1945” continues its two-notes into the full melody of the main theme, resolving the score powerfully and linking the beginning of the journey with the end.  Throughout the score, the sentiment of human feelings offset by the mechanistic chanting of the violence of war again makes an expressive statement in the music.  “There’s a real mechanized feel to the score, the music is heavy treading,” said Price. There are very heavy rhythms in the action sequences that keep trucking along and, amongst that, you get these emotional reactions that draw you in.”  On disc, the music has the same effect, drawing the listener into the world of WW2 Germany, shoulder-to-shoulder with the intrepid crew of the tank called Fury.

THE HOMESMAN/Marco Beltrami/Varèse  Sarabande
Varèse Sarabande Records has released Marco Beltrami’s score to THE HOMESMAN digitally on November 17, with a CD release scheduled for December 9, 2014.  This score is one of a number of really exciting, innovative, and unusual scores for the composer, whose recent work has been particularly inventive and affecting, with such remarkable scores as SNOWPIERCER (reviewed in my July column), THE GIVER (reviewed in my August column), and THE NOVEMBER MAN (reviewed in my September column).  With his new score to THE HOMESMAN, a Western pioneer drama directed by Tommy Lee Jones, Beltrami has composed an unusually textured and poignantly flavored score.  For his third collaboration with Jones (after SUNSET LIMITED and THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA), Beltrami conveys the homespun simplicity of the period with a gentle, folk-styled acoustic score, recording the music not in a studio but in the open air outside of his hillside Malibu studio.  “Musically I was discussing with Buck [Sanders] how we might achieve some of this,” Beltrami said.  “We picked a day that the wind was fairly minimal in the morning and we just went right at it.”  In addition to using folk instruments of the period, Beltrami and Sanders created a massive wind harp he dubbed the Aeolian wind piano – consisting of an old upright piano connected to eight piano wires running 175 feet up the hill to catch the wind, with the resulting resonant vibrations creating a unique and appropriate sound to the score.  As the story tells of three women who have called it quits on pioneer life and who have hired an independent minded woman and a low-life drifter to transport them back across country, the music assumes an intrinsically psychological perspective, using sounds of real wind to suggest how early settlers like these three woman had to endure the constant prairie wind and lack of shelter, which is a strong subtext of the movie.  As the elements gradually wear away their psychological shelters, the music similarly reflects the mental unbalance that results.  The music thus possesses a very textured, ambient character, reflective of the harsh environment as well as the mental wellbeing that is being weathered away by that environment.  Fragile melodic structures sway in the wind, dappled by organic percussive effects and broader fronts of the string orchestra that provide more dramatic windswept harmonies.  The atmospheres convey tension, excitement, anticipation, and other perceptions the characters go through, although there is always a feeling of wonder there, embracing the magnificent landscapes and unity of the ladies even as they confront the tendrils of madness.
A bonus track, exemplifying the wider ranger of the big wind harp called “Wind Haiku” completes the album, which makes a thoroughly fascinating listen.
Sample the Main Title from THE HOMESMAN and read about the ginormous wind harp that Beltrami created for the score at npr.org
Take a closer look on video at the unique instrumentation developed or achieved for Marco Beltrami’s score for THE HOMESMAN: http://vimeo.com/110328796

INTERSTELLAR/Hans Zimmer/Water Tower
Hans Zimmer’s latest score for Christopher Nolan is a planet hanging in space, rotating with variable speeds; it’s a weightless confluence of cosmic expansion and humanity’s small but significant purpose in the vast empty bubble of the universe; an ambiance of shifting tonality seeking correlation; a physics experiment in spacial velocity, forward motion, indefinable stillness, and rotating volume.  More importantly it’s a human heart radiating connection, far-flung human DNA reaching out to the stars from whence it came.  It’s a truly breathtaking work – literally, as much of its effect is through the breath of the massive and magnificent pipe organ of London’s Temple Church and its virtuosic organist, Roger Sayer, which adds so much to the expressiveness of the score.  In the music for INTERSTELLAR, Zimmer has accreted a vast, growing, impressionistic holographic musical work painted not in melodies or motifs but in feelings – in the amassing exospheres and minimalist tonal environments that advance, rotate, reflect, and pull upon one another.  The score is in fact quite removed from its traditional duty of accompanying specific actions of characters and story; instead, the music focuses on the underlying themes and subtexts of Nolan’s film (Zimmer began writing two years ago, basing his initial musical impressions on a note Nolan had given him detailing those underlying themes that would be inherent, if implicit, within the film he would be making.  The composer had a day to turn in his immediate impressions to Nolan, without ever knowing what the film was going to be about; the full score then grew out of those original notions).  The music, then, seems to be as aloof as the cosmos, wafting in the spaces between the worlds, coloring those dark, icy distances, yet just a moment later it is rushing like lava to cascade into the listener’s ears with feelings as personal and intimate as the bond between father and child. 

So as the film’s characters travel through a wormhole in space to seek a potentially habitable planet elsewhere in the universe, Zimmer creates a poetic resonance that eloquently exposes the headspace of the main character as he heads off into space to save humanity, at the cost of leaving his daughter forever behind – because the score is not in fact reflecting the clustered and distant cosmic bodies that occupy the spaces of outer space, it is expressing a much more personal and very human notion. The music serves as the emotional tissue that links the absent family; a tone poem for conflict, duty, passion, and the unknown spaces that lay waiting.  There are moments of serene quietude, displaced or sometimes just momentarily offset by incursions of onrushing textures that ramp up their volume to become nearly overpowering; repetitive musical figures that cycle beneath reverberant drones to build up an claustrophobic sense of inexorable tension, reflection, and desultory introspection.  Zimmer’s traditional percussion-heavy style is virtually absent in this score, displaced by wafting strata of serene tonality, gravitating between various elements of underscore and counterpoint.  His primary instruments here are strings, piano, a very subdued choir, and that incredulous pipe organ (which Zimmer describes as “a huge, complicated synthesizer), all of which give the score an intriguing and renewed sonic sensibility, as well as a buoyant, spacious and organic quality that suits the feeling and the substance of the film.  INTERSTELLAR is a massive, masterful work, and continued evidence that Hans Zimmer still has new ways to surprise audiences and directors alike with his capacity for grafting intense musical semblances onto amazing works of cinema.

The regular album concludes with 15 tracks; the deluxe edition offers an additional eight tracks, totaling 23 [see the News section below for details on the different releases of the INTERSTELLAR score.]
For more information read Jon Burlingame’s interview with Hans Zimmer about the INTERSTELLAR score at The Film Music Society website.  And watch this excellent five-minute video on how the INTERSTELLAR score was made and how significant the role of the pipe organ and its player made, at slate.com

JESSABELLE/Anton Sanko/La-La Land
Anton Sanko’s score for JESSABELLE, a spooky ghost story from the producer of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and INSIDIOUS, is a migratory mélange of smooth sonorities and jagged, grotesque musical splinters and howlings that generates a potent anxiety both with and apart from its film.  In JESSABELLE, Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, the title character comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return - and has no intention of letting her escape.  Sanko, who also scored the current horror offering OUIJA as well as the 2010 drama RABBIT HOLE (both available as digital downloads only) and the National Geographic documentary series GREAT MIGRATIONS, maintains an omnipresent creep factor through fragmentary sounds run through by drifting string figures and scraps of vocalise – and lots of weird, aggressive chanting (associated with voodoo aspects of the story), and found sound processed and scraped into unusual shapes and designs, with enough moments of dour, melancholic sonority to add a sense of delicious gloom and mysterious character interaction.  The voodoo chanting reaches a miasmic level as the story goes on, with some truly horrific vocalizations that cry out from the speakers in a frantic, threatening manner.  “Kevin [Greutert, director] had requested that the score reflect the location (South Louisiana) and also reference the spiritual and voodoo aspects of our story,” Sanko explained.  “The music also had to provide the traditional eerie underpinnings necessary for Jessabelle’s journey.  I created thematic motif for the rekindled relationship of Jessabelle and Preston. I also used Sussan Deyhiem’s voice as a mnemonic for many of our voodoo/haunting scenes.  Her voice and vocalizations elevated the score to a new level. Also featured were Cajun fiddle, tiple, classical guitar, an assortment of percussion, harp and vibes.”  It’s an intensely disturbing sound design and thus a potent scare score.  Sanko’s latest score is for the horror-comedy BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS.

NO GOD, NO MASTER/Nuno Malo/Varèse  Sarabande
After exquisitely intimate scores for THE CELESTINE PROPHECY (2006; released by MovieScore Media), JULGAMENTO (2006; released by MovieScore Media), and MIEL DE NARANJAS (2012, aka Orange Honey; released by Quartet), and many others not yet preserved in an album, Portuguese composer Nuno Malo (IFMCA Breakout Composer of the Year for 2010) has composed his most powerful work yet with the score for 2013’s NO GOD, NO MASTER, released earlier this year in Varèse  Sarabande’s limited edition series.  The film is a period crime thriller based on historical events of the 1920s, about a federal investigator (David Strathairn) uncovering an alleged anarchist plot against the government.  Malo takes a characteristic classically-styled approach and gives this film a thoroughly immersive musical design, providing massive swaths of rhythmic orchestration that pit one side against the other as the story develops, while more intricate measures for solo trumpet, horn, piano, cello, and other instruments focusing on nuances of the main characters. The main theme, introduced in “Opening Titles,” is a sonically appreciable presentation, as strings, winds, and piano fold together into an increasingly tight knit gathering of poignant tonality, to surge forth as one into an instrumental chorus of persuasive influence, as if suggestion at the very start the forces that are simultaneously at work and at odds with one another, which forms the basic thrust of the motif.  A hushed rhythm at the bottom of “Bomb in the Church” generates growing tension as a pretty melody is forged innocuously by winds, then strings above it; a powerful musical construct for suspense.  In “Rockefeller Confrontation,” furtive chords from strings press forward with increasing urgency to establish a different kind of unease and a different kind of worrisome moment.  Malo will deftly mold his score throughout to subtly keep the audience off-balance, rarely letting the viewer settle into a comforting mood until story and score wrap themselves into a new kind of perilous sinew.  Malo’s orchestra is nicely layered throughout, often developing into a compelling rhythmic dynamic that is quite appealing and keeps the idea of human forces at work, for good or ill, as the story plays out.  Nearing the end, in “Catacomb Of The Flower Of Mankind,” the music paints a poignant epitaph for strings and choir over a hushed piano cadence, in a kind of sublime melancholic ode; later “Nulus Deus, Nulus Dominus, Main Theme Reprise” takes his main theme into a choral rendition that resonates with  palpable sense of grief and ends the film on a haunting note of remorse for the state of things left as the film fades to shadows.  Nuno Malo continues to be a composer to watch and listen to, and this composition is his finest overall to date.
For more information about the composer, see www.nunomalo.com

MERCY/Reza Safinia/Back Lot Music
Based on the Stephen King short story, MERCY tells a harrowing tale of two young boys (THE WALKING DEAD’s Chandler Riggs and SUPER 8’s Joel Courtney) who move with their mother to take care of their dying grandmother at her decrepit farmhouse.  When they suspect that the elderly woman they love has encountered a dark spirit, they fear she might not be the only one who won’t make it through the summer alive.  Horrors ensue.  The film is directed by Peter Cornwell (A HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT) and co-produced by Jason Blum (JESSABELLE [see above], INSIDIOUS, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY). British-raised/L.A.-based composer Reza Safinia is a former Universal Music songwriter and record producer/engineer; his textured approach to MERCY is a far cry from his production work with Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears, and reflects more of an Industrial influence, with rough-edged ambience and electronica joining forced with orchestra.  Safinia worked with Cornwell on the fan-film BATMAN: EVOLUTION where he riffed quite well on Nelson Riddle and Hans Zimmer doing Batman; here he assembles an effective sound design score that gives MERCY a thoroughly discomforting musical vibe.
Sound bytes can be heard on iTunes.  For more information on the composer, see http://musicandtexture.com/

LA MALEDICTION DU TITANIC/ Maximilien Mathevon/ Plaza Mayor Company
This 2004 French documentary (shown in English on the Discovery Channel as TITANIC: BEYOND THE CURSE, shorn of about 40 minutes of its original 90-minute length) chronicles all the strange, disturbing and supposed supernatural events in connection with the fateful voyage of the Titanic in 1912.  This premiere release of the documentary’s score, composed by French composer Maximilien Mathevon, is from the longer French version and runs nearly 68 minutes.  The music is a mixture of melodic, contemplative, nostalgic moments accompanying scenes of the ocean liner in its glory and passengers relaxing in the gaiety and ostentatiousness of the mighty ship; but there are also severely disturbing and ominous passages associated with the legends and myths surrounding the vessel and its ill-fated maiden voyage.  Four distinct themes occupy the score and interact as the documentary progresses.  The main theme (“La malédiction du Titanic: Thème”) is a very pretty and nostalgic melody, almost a music box rhythm, that is associated with the fate of the ship’s passengers, both those who became victims and those who survived.  A secondary theme portrays the fate of the ship itself; a dismal sonority for low strings and a percussion beat that reflects the distant sound of the ship’s great engines, before they were silenced; it occurs frequently but resolves in its most complete version in the final track, “Au-delà de la malediction.”  A third theme, suggestive of time and of memory, is introduced in “Passé recompose” as a reflective interaction of fast-paced piano arpeggios, a slow string melody, and a pulsation of synth tonalities. It recurs among those ship-engine percussion beats, in “La fin du voyage” and paints a fatalistic memory portrait of the great ship’s sinking.  A final motive is associated with the iceberg itself, which is treated almost as a prowling ghost, lying in wait to rend and tear a gaping hole in the vessel’s skin; first heard in “Etrange prologue,” where a menacing, low synth line carries a variety of reflective textures and vibes that create a tense and frightening atmosphere; the motif recurs in “Une mer de glace” where it soberly summarizes the sea of ice into which Titanic would find its final moments.  These themes and motifs recur and are interlaced to enhance the legends and memories recalled by Titanic survivors, precursors, and speculators, but the omnipresent mood is one of apprehension and fatalism for the inevitable end of the graceful ship, and the haunting legends surrounding it. A particularly potent standalone cue is found in “Souvenirs du naufrage,” a haunting and creepy mélange of ghostly, wailing voices gathering to an unsettling upsurge, over a doom-saying percussion beat and a sustained, splayed-out synth chord.  “This is probably the closest I’ve ever come to composing horror music,” said Mathevon.  “A previous album, released in 2006, contained 43 tracks for 53 minutes of music.  This album has never really satisfied me, so I decided to create this new version designed for listening experience, re-sequenced, edited and comprising previously unreleased tracks. This is my final vision of this music that mattered to me enormously.”
The digital album is available for download on amazon and other places.
The English version of the documentary can be viewed here: https://plus.google.com/110905054031176979396/posts/KhcQwUXuB5v

NORTHMEN (A VIKING SAGA)/Marcus Trumpp/Editions Milan
Released (so far just) digitally on amazon US but also on CD from amazon UK, this is a thunderous symphonic score that works quite well in establishing a grand, organic sound for this new European historical action film.  German-born composer Marcus Trump (HOLLOW MAN II, THE BREED, GRIZZLY remake), for many years an orchestrator/additional music composer for Marco Beltrami and James Newton Howard, has given the score an engaging thematic base and a pleasing rhythmic appearance.  The album presents the score nicely with an hour’s worth of music – eleven of which are vocals: a properly growling 8-minute Viking metal song by Amon Amarth (the band’s front man Johan Hegg plays a role in the film), a short and cute Viking folk-ditty sung in the film by actor Darrell D’Silva (“Gunnar’s Song”), and a spoken-word accompaniment to Trumpp’s “Prologue” intoned by actor Ken Duken. But the focus is on the score which, while breaking no new ground, is pleasingly large-scale and wide-ranging in its symphonic scope and rough-hewn dynamic.  The music is carved mostly from the low registers – lots of timpani and tom-toms, horns, oboes, cellos – and is unsurprisingly well orchestrated, especially in the very active and complex interaction of players in the frantic battle scenes.  Trumpp finds himself equally suited to more reflective moments which find their way into the score.  NORTHMEN is a first-rate composition and performance that nicely displays its composer’s abilities – and potential for the future.
For more information on the composer, see www.marcustrumpp.com

ORGASMO NERO/Stelvio Cipriani/Chris’ Soundtrack Corner
Stelvio Cipriani has composed a mix of light jazz, lounge, and pleasing pop for this 1981 tropical horror offering from Italian director Joe D’Amato, which achieves its first ever soundtrack release courtesy of this German label.  Released in the US as SEX AND BLACK MAGIC and elsewhere known as VOODOO MAGIC and BLACK ORGASM, the score is another example of Italian mondo-exotica/erotica film music of the ‘70s, of which Cipriani was a prime contributor.  The film, in a plot line barely dissimilar from D’Amato’s 1978 film PAPAYA, LOVE GODDESS OF THE CANNIBALS (also scored by Cipriani), tells of a couple visiting an exotic island where the man intends to research a strange tribe that lives there, who both they fall under the influence of an exotic woman from the tribe.  In characteristic fashion, Cipriani eschewed the use of discordant horrific music to punctuate the menacing influence the girl has.  Instead he permeated the film with a rich, melodic ambience, from smooth European jazz to Bossa-influences in a fusion of dreamy styles that, as the label writes, is a satisfying “mix that seamlessly blends, morphs and contrasts sensuality, glamour, and passion with vibrant primitivism and evocative suspense.”  Flutes, saxophone, Fender Rhodes, bongos, and prominent electric bass guitar abound throughout the score, as does a bit of catchy funk, via jangly guitar and electric organ. The result is an irresistible mix of sensual flavors – with traditional guitar and sax arrangements associated with the husband and wife, while the influence of the native girl Haini receives more ethereal musical treatment, which in some cues becomes slightly ominous.  A motif for flute and organ figures over continuous, primitive hand drumming serves to represent the landscape of the mystical island and the rituals of its mysterious tribal population.  It’s a lovely score well deserving of the thorough treatment the label has given it in this premiere release. The film, its director, and its score are thoroughly examined in album notes from John Bender.
For more details, and to sample portions of the score, see:

POLLYANNA/Christopher Gunning/Caldera Records
Caldera Records of German has released an enchanting score from British composer Christopher Gunning (the BAFTA-award winning score for LA VIE EN ROSE, WHEN THE WHALES CAME, and much earlier, the esteemed Hammer score for HANDS OF THE RIPPER).  Shown in British television in 2003 and based on Eleanor H. Porter’s eternally optimistic series of children’s books, POLLYANNA has been given a delightfully energetic score written for chamber orchestra.  Built around a lovely main theme voiced frequently with simple harmonies that permeates the score in multiple musical guises, Gunning’s POLLYANNA is a delight, capturing the sense of innocence possessed by the title character without shirking the need for honest tension the story needs during moments of peril and injury (the dour “Nocturne,” the down-hearted “Pray that She May Walk Again”).  Alternate themes include a wistful romantic melodic for spinster Aunt Polly, whose stern attitude softens when she finds love (“She Said Yes,” middle part of “Aunt Polly Softens” and second half of “Preparing for the Wedding”), and a general motif capturing the spirit of Pollyanna’s optimistic nature (“Polyanna Goes Visiting,” “Treatment for Pollyanna”).  The score is designed for a standard orchestra, with flutes and oboes favored amidst a wash of flavorful strings, all of which makes up a thoroughly enjoyable, fanciful presentation.  This sixth Caldera CD release features detailed booklet notes and, as usual, an extended audio commentary by the composer who talks about his career and the concept of this score.

[REC] 4: APOCALYPSE / Arnau Bataller/Screamworks
This third sequel closes the book on the popular haunted house/zombie/demonology franchise from Spain with this hybrid score from Arnau Bataller (LA HERENCIA VALDEMAR, LA HERMANDAD] .  The first two [REC] films had no music credit (they were largely, but very effectively, found footage films, following the adventures of Ángela, a television reporter who accidentally comes across a groundbreaking story about an infection that turns people into zombies); the prequel [REC] 3: GENESIS had been composed by Mikel Salas.  The fourth and final film brings the series to a close with the final chapter on Ángela’s battle against the raging viral outbreak.  Though he originally worked on [REC] 3 as an orchestrator, Bataller’s score for the fourth film builds upon elements of the story that transpired in the second installment. The key suspense theme is reserved for moments of great revelations about the infection and Ángela’s transformation into a real heroine; it’s heard in tracks like “The Medeiros Girl” and “Inside the House,” featuring a kind of ostinato made of a repeated low violin vibrato set against slow, stepping synth chords).  Maintaining a primarily symphonic pallet (recorded by orchestra in Bratislava) mixed with electronic elements, Bataller crafts an eerie, suspenseful score mixing tonal and textural elements; sustained creepy tonalities echo through empty rooms, pin-prick of high-register piano noted pierce the darkness, menacing sonic shapes comprised of synth white noise prowl the shadowy soundscape, hushed passages for echoing tones and rhythms from percussion beats, and every now and then a respite of melody will resonate reassuringly (but not for long), climbing with vivid clusters of electronica.  It’s a fine suspense/horror score.

RECLAIM/Inon Zur/Silva Screen
Inon Zur (best known for his game scores like Crysis, Men of Valor, and Dragon Age: Origins) has crafted an expressive acoustic score for RECLAIM, a suspense-thriller inspired by real-life events about a couple trying to rescue the young girl they were adopting in Puerto Rico. Zur’s original score, performed by the Macedonia Radio Symphonic Orchestra, ranges from delicate, reflective poignancy to propulsive action orchestrations.  Unlike the need to accommodate the interactive gameplay of video games, RECLAIM afforded Zur the chance to compose a subtler, more nuanced score; the result is a provocatively progressive score that is rich in emotive writing, from delicate piano, strings, and acoustic guitar for moments of poignancy to fully-throttled orchestral propulsion for the action scenes, while a number of unusual string techniques played on a bowed guitar occasioned some unusual patterns creating tension in the score, while purposeful piano playing over violins and strummed acoustic guitar provided a striking sound for Nina, the orphaned girl they have chosen to adopt.  Some unusual electronic techniques are put to good use in the middle of “The Big, Big Escape.”  “First and foremost I related to the story as a parent,” said Zur. “Your instinct is to protect your child whatever the circumstances, so I wanted the music to reflect the couple’s desperate struggle to get Nina back, no matter the danger or cost.”  The song featured in the movie “Fighting the World,” was originally written and performed by 11 year-old Maddie White. The song is inspired by children struggling to make sense of the world and is an anthem for all the disenfranchised kids, encouraging them to stand up for what they believe in. Inon saw Maddie’s video and instantly knew this was the perfect song for the movie. Bringing on board Singer/guitarist Mike Harris and producer/keyboards Alex Ruger, the team recorded the song at Inon Zur’s Encino studio with Maddie singing backing vocals.  A pleasingly flavored and provocative film score.

REDLINE/Alan Derian/Alan Derian
An exciting, first rate 2013 thriller about a group of commuters trapped inside a subway car disabled by a terrorist bomb.  As they try to treat the injured and seek a way out, they discover a second bomb hidden onboard, and evidence that the terrorist is one of the “survivors.”  A great cast provides credible performances in this well-directed thriller, bolstered by a tense score by Alan Derian which gives it much of its vibrant sense of anxiety.  Issued digitally to iTunes and Amazon by the composer, the downloadable album presents Derian’s score in just over an hour.  The music frequently conjures up the effective sonic image of a speeding subway car, with plenty of clacking percussion and swirling strings to convey motion and metal, while pitch bends in the synths convey the Doppler effect of passenger cars rushing by. At the same time, those bending synths also suggest the twisted psyche of the bomber;  Derian will continue to offset sympathetic measures for the trapped victims with the increasing tension of their predicament, while also lacing through the score a twisting mysterioso that underlies the mistrust they hold toward each other aware that realization that one of the victims is the bomber, who intends to complete his or her plan of destruction.  With a couple tracks zooming past the ten-minute mark, Derian’s orchestrations are given the opportunity to develop some interesting harmonic progressions; the continued use of scraping, squealing, clacking textures reinforcing the sound design of the underground railcars,  the whole album makes for a very engrossing listening experience.
For more information on the composer see www.alanderian.com
Watch the film trailer at www.redlinethefilm.com

SAY IT IN RUSSIAN/Pinar Toprak/Keep Moving Records
Since her first film score in 2003, Istanbul-born composer Pinar Toprak has demonstrated a sensitivity for writing intricately passionate melodies, interpolated through affecting harmonies and appealing development.  After some early work on SyFy Channel creature features and other low-budget indies, Pinar began to attract a wider variety of films in the current decade, receiving acclaim for her work on the 2009 comedy THE LIGHTKEEPERS (reviewed in my Sep. 2010 column), the 2011 documentary THE WIND GODS, the 2011 thriller THE RIVER MURDERS (reviewed in my June column, and others.  Jeff Celentano’s 2007 comedy thriller SAY IT IN RUSSIAN was Pinar’s first symphonic score, recorded in Serbia by the 75-piece Belgrade Film Orchestra.  A darkly beautiful composition, the score maintains an undercurrent of apprehension for this story (based on the real-life experience of its main star, Agata Gotova) of a new romance endangered by former political enemies.  The counterpoint between the elation of new love and the growing threat of the past maintains a worrisome tension in the music, becoming quite stimulating as both score and story play out.  The music ranges from the passionate to the propulsive, and is continued evidence that this composer is one who will definitely keep moving.  Moscow’s KeepMoving Records presents the complete underscore from the film, only portions of which have been previously available on promotional releases.  By doing a new mix and including several short but sweet cues for the first time, this album is the definite presentation of this score. The CD comes with an 8-page booklet with commentary by Gergely Hubai and personal commentary by Pinar Toprak recalling the excitement of recording her first ever symphonic score.

For more details, and to sample tracks, see www.keepmovingrecords.com/eng/disc/58/
For more information on the composer, see www.pinartoprak.com/

I have a particular affinity and love for Steve Jablonsky’s TRANSFORMERS scores; the scores tend to be in that low baritone register that is my personal musical sweet spot (which is why cello, French horns, oboes, and tom toms tend to be my favorite instruments), and there’s just something about the mixture of slow, low orchestral rhythmic motifs over a bed of fast mercato strings that makes up the musical sensibility of most of these scores that really gets to me (I could say the same thing about Harald Kloser and Thomas Wander’s scores, and of course a fair amount of Hans Zimmer too). So this latest TRANSFORMERS score quite appealed to me even as its original release only as a digital download was disappointing to many fans.  Thanks to the folks at La-La Land for remedying this with this fine CD release, which appeared just as the digital release got removed from iTunes (to find out why, click here).  The new movie is essentially a soft reboot of the TRANSFORMERS franchise, with Shia LeBeouf pleasingly absent and Mark Wahlberg starring among a set of mostly new characters who stand with (or face against) the Autobots.  The AGE OF EXTINCTION score is a mix of new themes associated with the new characters and events of this fourth film, and reprisals of primary motifs that have been with the franchise since the start.  Jablonsky collaborated with Hans Zimmer on some tracks, and (at Michael Bay’s suggestion) brought in the alternative pop band Imagine Dragons (“Radioactive”) to add some unique vocalisms and other instrumental performances onto the score as well as perform the film’s concluding theme song, “Battle Cry” (released as a separate digital single; not on the score album).

There’s still an abundance of heavy percussion for the action scenes, and the signature ratcheting industrial musical effects, and some other sonic effects that have become pretty interchangeable in big heroic sci-fi action scores in recent years, but the heart of Jablonsky’s score remains in the music that reflects the heart of the Autobots and their loyalty to humanity. The first new theme is introduced in the opening track, “Decision,” poignant anthemic material that is reprised, along with an impassioned vocalise by Imagine Dragon’s lead singer, Dan Reynolds, in Track 2, “Best Thing That Ever Happened” which introduces a motif for struggling inventor Cade (Wahlberg) and his cynical daughter Tessa.  The action material starts out slow with soft percussion that grows louder as we are introduced to the Transformers (“I Am An Autobot”) and the resurrection of their leader (“Optimus is Alive”). Another new motif is introduced in “Transformium,” reflecting the molecularly unstable metal that the Autobots are made of, and which has been synthesized by the corporate villains of this film; the music takes the essential tonality of the Autobots theme and places it over a soft guitar lick and a light rock and roll drum beat, suggesting the amped-up, rocked-out nature of the new transforming material.  The score develops from these basic elements and grows broader, wilder, louder, and more chaotic as need be as the action ramps up, taking an interesting, somewhat uneven, but ultimately rewarding journey, ending up with the splendidly anthemic hero cues, “Honor to the End” and “Leave Planet Earth Alone” (both featuring Imagine Dragons; the former includes elements of the “Battle Cry” song).  The album concludes with “The Knight Ship,” a similar kind of stepping, climbing chordal ascent that it opened with in “Decision” although growing into a rockier climax with plenty of drums.

To some, these scores may be overly simplistic or overly generic; but taken for what they are I find them pleasing to both my epic film music taste and my rock and roll instincts.  A satisfying, exciting, and frequently passionate score and a valid successor to Jablonsky’s previous three TRANSFORMER scores, each of which have taken progressive steps to transform themselves into different shapes and speeds and textures.  I’m finding this latest musical construction is appropriate and appealing.


Soundtrack & Music News

Ian Fraser, the most-honored musician in the history of television and the winner of 11 Emmys, died Oct. 31, at his L.A. home. He was 81; family members attributed the cause of death to complications from cancer.  As a musical director, Fraser was responsible for the polished, classy orchestral sound of dozens of television specials. Although he often worked for the producing team of Dwight Hemion and Gary Smith, his services were constantly sought by any producer with good taste in music.   He enjoyed long and musically stimulating associations with Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse and Julie Andrews, on Broadway, in films and on television. He conducted the Emmy Awards ceremonies in 1984, 1993 and 2002, conducted the Oscar telecast in 1984, and shared the podium with John Williams for "Liberty Weekend" in 1986. 
Full story by Jon Burlingame - http://www.filmmusicsociety.org/news_events/features/2014/103114.html

The European Space Agency made history by landing the first spacecraft, the Philae lander of the Rosetta mission, on the surface of a comet. The 10-year, 4-billion-mile journey has a properly cinematic soundtrack, too: The ESA commissioned Vangelis to compose three sweeping musical numbers for Rosetta, concluding with the just-released "Rosetta’s Waltz." To watch them in order, click on the link below then click the third image down to watch the first video, “Arrival.”  At the end you can click a link to watch the second video, “Philae’s Journey,” and at its end you can click a link to watch the third and final video, “Rosetta’s Waltz.”

Here are the original score winners at the
Hollywood Music in Media Awards last Nov. 4th”

Original Score - Feature Film: Antonio Sanchez - Birdman
Original Score - Si-Fi/Fantasy Film:
Howard Shore - The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
Original Score - Animated Film: John Powell - How To Train Your Dragon 2
Original Score – Documentary: Mark Adler - Merchants Of Doubt
Original Score - Indie Film/Short: Julia Pajot - Impulsion
Original Score - TV Show/Digital Series:
Alan Silvestri - Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey

(See also Video Game News below)
For a full list of HMMA winners, see www.hmmawards.org/2014-hmma-winners/

The Royal College of Music has awarded the first John Barry Scholarship for Film Composition to budding soundtrack composer Mitchell Tanner.  The scholarship was established by the legendary James Bond composer’s widow Laurie Barry, who presented Tanner with the award at a reception in the RCM. It was funded by a memorial concert held in honor of the Oscar-winning composer, who died in 2011 aged 77.  Tanner, 22, will be funded to spend two years on an RCM composition course,
He was also presented with a letter of support from legendary music producer George Martin, who was unable to attend. For more information see: www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-29758221?SThisFB#_=_

WaterTower Music has announced the release of the soundtrack to THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, with music composed by Howard Shore. The soundtrack will be released in two configurations: a standard 2 CD set and a Special Edition set, also with 2 CDs, and featuring extended tracks, bonus tracks, and expanded liner notes. On December 9th, both versions of the soundtrack will be available digitally and on CD, while the 2CD Special Edition will be available on December 16. THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES is Howard Shore’s final musical voyage to Middle-earth, concluding his work with director Peter Jackson on both THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT trilogies.  “It’s been such an incredible experience and I’m very pleased to be able to finally release this last HOBBIT film score. The connection to nature is very important to me and I think that was also my connection to Tolkien’s work,” Shore noted.

Hans Zimmer’s INTERSTELLAR soundtrack is being released by Watertower Music in three forms: “Star Wheel Constellation Chart Digipak”(16 tracks), “Digital Deluxe Album” (23 tracks), both available on Nov. 18th, and “The Illuminated Star Projection Edition” in special illuminated star projection packaging consisting of 28 tracks, available Dec 18th. 
For details, see: http://www.watertower-music.com/releases_spotlight.php?search=WTM39546_interstellar

Joel McNeely has completed scoring the 6th and final Tinker Bell film, THE LEGEND OF THE NEVERBEAST, for Disney.  “Composing over 6 hours of orchestral score for all the films with a stellar L.A. orchestra has truly been a gift and a pleasure,” McNeely said.  “I’m very grateful to DisneyToons, John Lasseter, Andrew Millstein, Meredith Roberts, Matt Walker and all the filmmakers for the privilege.”

Sony Classical has released the original motion picture soundtrack to THE IMITATION GAME, a biographical drama about the English code-breaker Alan Turing starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. Throughout the score, the full range of Desplat’s big orchestral sounds come into play, and the composer once again displays his ability to enhance dramatic film scenes with fine music that is worthy to be heard in its own right.

Christopher Lennertz returns to score Warner Brothers’ comedy HORRIBLE BOSSES 2, bringing a rocking edge to the highly anticipated sequel opening in theaters November 26th.  “The goal for the score for HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 was to be as rock-n’-roll as we could be. We wanted to make sure it sounded authentic so we approached it like a record as opposed to a typical scoring session. I had Pearl Jam’s Michael McCready and Dave Matthews Band’s Stefan Lessard recording while they were on tour to give us an authentic vibe that was appropriate for the movie,” explained Lennertz. He also recently collaborated with Jay Gruska, who scores every other episode of the series opposite Lennertz, to create the songs and the score featured in SUPERNATURAL’s 200th TV episode, a musical called “Fan Fiction.” One of the show’s writers Robert Thompson wrote the lyrics to accompany Lennertz’s and Gruska’s music. The milestone episode aired on November 11th, 2014. Lennertz is currently collaborating with 8x Oscar winner Alan Menken, producing songs and composing the score for ABC’s upcoming series GALAVANT, and will also be composing the music for Marvel’s AGENT CARTER TV series.
See my interview with Christopher Lennertz about scoring RIDE ALONG and the AGENT CARTER one-shot in my July column.

Jóhann Jóhannsson has scored Focus Features’ THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, the critically acclaimed Stephen Hawking biopic.  Fascinated with Hawking not only as a scientist but as a human being, Jóhannsson drew his inspiration from Hawking’s internal conflicts in love and life.   “It’s a film about an astrophysicist, but it’s in essence a love story,” explained Jóhannsson. “The music stems in a way from the tension between the Hawking the man and Hawking the scientist. Most of the score is derived from very simple elements that are announced in the first frames of the film – a four-note piano ostinato which then slowly expands into more complex forms and appears and re-appears evolved, deconstructed and re-assembled in various renderings throughout the film.” The film’s soundtrack is available on Back Lot Music. 
Listen to Jóhannsson’s “Domestic Pressures” from THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING at www.stereogum.com/1711403/johann-johannsson-domestic-pressures-from-the-theory-of-everything-soundtrack-stereogum-premiere/mp3s/

Walt Disney Records’ new collectible series The Legacy Collection, a line that celebrates the anniversaries of Disney’s most cherished and classic films that have been enchanting audiences for generations, follows up its previous expanded Legacy releases of THE LION KING, MARY POPPINS, and SLEEPING BEAUTY with a 25th Anniversary release of THE LITTLE MERMAID.  The Legacy Collection edition features the songs and score from the film by Oscar®-winning composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, work tapes and song demos, and a collectible 20-page booklet.  “The greatest thing about what we do is create something that works in the moment, but also stands the test of time,” said Menken.  “The Legacy Collection reorganizes the material and allows the listener to be able to draw more out of it and enjoy it on another level.  Technology has improved over the decades and going back to the masters results in better representations of the material on these CDs.”  The fifth release from The Legacy Collection will celebrate the 75th anniversary of FANTASIA with a 4-disc set, which includes the Original Leopold Stokowski soundtrack, the digital re-recording by Irwin Kostal, bonus tracks and more on January 13, 2015. 

La- La Land Records had announced its final five releases for the year: expanded soundtracks for BATMAN/BATMAN RETURNS (Danny Elfman), THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (John Debney), BIG TOP PEE-WEE (Elfman), first legit release of music from the 2000 sequel to SHAFT (David Arnold), and a 4-CD set of music from TV’s STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE (Dennis McCarthy, Kevin Kiner, Jay Chattaway, David Bell, Paul Baillargeon, Velton Ray Bunch, Mark McKenzie, John Frizzell and Brian Tyler).  www.lalalandrecords.com

Howlin’ Wolf Records has released COLLAPSE by composer Vincent Gillioz, a modern fable of psychological horror, pushed to the edge in order to protect himself and his family from a zombie apocalypse, as well as Imran Ahmed’s score for THE DEAD 2, sequel to the stylish 2010 zombie film THE DEAD.  Where that film took place in Africa, the sequel shifts the story to India in another potent and realistically filmed story of survival. For details, see: www.howlinwolfrecords.com/store.html

The 1974 original soundtrack album of John Williams’ score for THE TOWERING INFERNO has been reissued by Rhino Records as a digital download.  This is the first official digital release of Williams’ original album, previously available on LP and as a bootleg CD transferred from the original vinyl. A long out-of-print edition of the complete score was released by FSM in 2001.  - via http://www.jwfan.com/

Imperativa Records, specializing in the ‘Epic Music’ genre, presents "This Is Epic Music: Volume 1", the first ever compilation album to feature top tracks from a variety of leading artists producing music in this increasingly popular musical genre. The album will be available for streaming, digital download and CD on December 2, 2014.  To date, the best of this music (much of it having been heard in trailers for Hollywood blockbusters) has never before been compiled in a single commercially available release.  “These epic, cinematic masterpieces are created by some of the most passionate composers working in this extremely exciting genre of Epic Music,” enthuses Yoav Goren. Imperativa Records owner. “I dare anyone listening to this compilation to not be in awe at the majesty, beauty and emotional power of these musical gems.”  For more information see www.imperativarecords.com  

MovieScore Media ventures to the cold and desolate Arctic circle with its latest release, OPERATION ARCTIC (Operasjon Arktis) by Trond Bjerknes, a veteran of the Norwegian film scoring scene. The film follows the adventures of three children who are left alone in a winter storm on an island of the Spitsbergen. “The score is written and produced to reflect the hostile beauty of the Arctic environment and the challenges these three children experience trying to survive alone on the deserted island” Bjerknes said.  The score is a hybrid of symphonic and electronic solutions, utilizing smooth synth textures, solo voice, solo violin and cold percussive samples to paint the portrait of the Arctic circle.  For more information on MSM’s new releases, see: http://moviescoremedia.com  

Germany’s Allscore has announced two soundtrack premieres:  Martin Böttcher’s PFARRER BRAUN, soundtrack from a long-running German crime TV-series (2003-2013); see: www.allscore.de/sites/ASM_038_Pfarrer-Braun.htm, and Rolf Kühn’s music for PERRAK, a 1970 German crime movie; see: www.allscore.de/sites/ASM_040_Perrak.htm

Lalo Schifrin’s Aleph Records has released an extended edition of the soundtrack to ENTER THE DRAGON.The album features 56 minutes of Lalo Schifrin’s 1973 score, much of it previously unavailable in any format.  ENTER THE DRAGON was the first martial arts film produced by Americans and would be actor Bruce Lee’s final film.  “It was a challenge to take music from the Orient – not the stereotypical Fu Manchu ideas that Hollywood had about Chinese music, but something more authentic – and do it bigger than life, as Ennio Morricone had in the spaghetti westerns,” said Schifrin.   To a certain generation, Schifrin’s score for ENTER THE DRAGON  set the standard; kung fu culture has proven to be a major influence on the development of hip-hop culture, movies and music – and both the film and Lalo’s score are still recognized as major influencers.  “Lee told me that there was a 2,000-year tradition in martial arts,” Schifrin described his first meeting with the film’s star Bruce Lee. “He had to learn all of the rules in order to break them. Right away, I found we had that in common: I studied classical music, centuries of European classical tradition, rules and regulations, things that you can and cannot do. And then we break all the rules.”

Lorne Balfe has composed the score for PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, which has been released on CD by Relativity Music Group on November 24, 2014.  “Working on the score for PENGUINS was a tremendous adventure,” said Balfe.  “Every day I spent writing the score was filled with laughing fits over the penguins’ antics and the mischief they get up to in this film.”

Silva Screen’s latest DOCTOR WHO soundtrack release if for Murray Gold’s spirited scores of Matt Smith’s final two episodes as The Doctor.  Featuring the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Crouch End Festival Chorus conducted by Ben Foster.  The first disc presents music from the 50th Anniversary episode, The Day of the Doctor, starring Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt, with a guest appearance from Tom Baker and a two second 13th Doctor incarnation of Peter Capaldi.  Disc Two contains music from the 2013 Christmas episode, The Time of the Doctor, featuring Matt Smith’s final Doctor Who performance and Peter Capaldi in his first regular appearance as The Doctor.

Sparks & Shadows has released for digital download THE C.O.W.L. SESSIONS, the audio companion to the first five issues of the hit comic book series C.O.W.L., created by Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel, with art by Rod Reis (who also contributes the cover art for the album).  The recording features original music by Joe Clark.  The gritty style and era of the comic (1962) lends itself to the bebop jazz of the era.  “Before Kyle started the book, he told me the story he had in mind and talked about the musical mood of the project,” said Clark. “Kyle is very musically savvy and had a lot of thoughtful ideas for the sound of the world -- even before he wrote the first draft!”  THE C.O.W.L. SESSIONS is the first release from Sparks & Shadows not composed by the label’s founder, Bear McCreary.  “My goal for Sparks & Shadows was to release unique soundtracks I believe in,” said McCreary.  “Joe Clark’s original score for the comic book C.O.W.L. was the perfect choice for our first release of music other than my own, because he perfectly captured the moody, sexy energy of the retro/noir stories. If the elegant painted pages of the comic were to resonate strongly enough, Clark’s music might just burst out of them.”

Intrada has released, for the first time in any format, an important, world-class film score – Leonard Bernstein's magnificent music for Elia Kazan's equally-magnificent, multi Oscar-winning film ON THE WATERFRONT.  Bernstein’s music has until now been available only as an oft-perfomed, re-arranged 19-minute "classical" suite, a brief 2-minute selection on "Leonard Bernstein's New York" album with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, plus one short segment on a 1956 Decca collection of Columbia movie themes entitled You Can't Run Away With It. The actual original soundtrack scoring session elements have been missing for ages and were presumed lost – until Sony unearthed the entire scoring sessions during their recent restoration of the film classic on Blu-ray.  Recorded at Columbia Pictures' own scoring stage at the end of April 1954, despite vintage audio and surface noise in abundance, these priceless recordings at last reveal the entire score in all of its magnificence. Intrada took pains to retain the integrity of the original recordings, avoiding attempts to engage excessive noise reduction (which would damage the upper range, string sonorities and harmonics) or otherwise sonically compromise this important piece of musical history.  Now available with 24 tracks, 50:51 mins.
See: intrada.com

Basil Poledouris’s daughter Zoë Poledouris-Roché, for many years a successful vocalist and songwriter, has collaborated with her husband Angel Roché on the score to the new animated film, THE HERO OF COLOR CITY, which has been released on soundtrack CD by Varèse Sarabande Records.  The film’s enchanting fantasy story replete with valuable life lessons has inspired a stunningly rendered and utterly unique animated world, which is flavored by a unique score. “When I was very young my father played me a recording of Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’,” explained Zoë.  “He explained to me that each instrument represented a character in the story, a fact I loved. It taught me that music could be an important part of storytelling. I could hear nuance and relationships illustrated without having to see any characters on a stage or screen.”  Influenced by Prokofiev, they decided to match each color with an instrument, resulting in a fanciful and multi-hued composition.

Varèse Sarabande announced its latest quartet of limited CD Club releases last Sunday: Double-CD extended edition soundtracks of Alan Silvestri’s PREDATOR 2 and John Barry’s PEGGY SUE GETS MARRIED are the headliners, joined by limited edition re-releases of the elusive scores for FEDORA (Miklós Rózsa) and FROM WHOM THE BELL TOLLS (Victor Young).  Also, Varèse has announced new digital media initiatives, including weekly Spotify playlists and original content on YouTube. Beginning on Halloween Friday, Varèse Sarabande Records began a Spotify playlist initiative that will continue with the label posting a new themed playlist every week.  The label will curate its playlists mining its own storied catalog as well as pulling from the world’s greatest film music scores and songs.  Varèse launched its initiative with a playlist that featured tracks from THE OMEN, PSYCHO, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and TRUE BLOOD.  Additionally, Varèse has also repositioned its YouTube channel to showcase original content the label is producing.  This content includes short-form music videos that feature select tracks from its upcoming soundtrack releases, behind the scenes making-of videos that highlight the music creation process from its soundtracks, and lyric videos from the singles released on its song soundtracks.  The most recent videos posted include a lyric video for the song “Who You Talkin’ To Man” by Ciscandra Nostalghia from the soundtrack to JOHN WICK, and exclusive music and behind the scene interview pieces from the WHIPLASH soundtrack, composers Marco Beltrami (THE HOMESMAN), and Steven Price (FURY).
www.Varèse sarabande.com

Henry Mancini’s timeless film music is celebrated in The Classic Soundtrack Collection box set from Sony Legacy: a nine-disc collection that showcases all of Mancini s soundtrack albums for the RCA, Epic and Columbia labels, including several of his most iconic and beloved scores. The collection features 18 original Mancini soundtrack albums plus rare bonus tracks, including a never-before-heard version of “Nothing To Lose” from writer-director Blake Edwards 1968 comedy The Party performed by Julie Andrews. Taken together, the albums in this collection underline the enduring popularity of Henry Mancini and his unique ability to create movie music that pop audiences could also embrace.
More details, click amazon link here.

Howe Records has released Howard Shore’s score to ROSEWATER, available digitally now and on CD on December 9.   In addition to Shore’s score, the album includes tracks from musicians Mahdyar Aghajani, 25 Band, and Leonard Cohen. "I was happy to be able to contribute to this important story which also gave me the opportunity to collaborate with Jon [Stewart, director] and this group of gifted classical musicians," said Shore.  The feature film ROSEWATER is based on The New York Times best-selling memoir Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival, written by the BBC journalist Maziar Bahari. A true story, the film marks the screenwriting and directorial debut of “The Daily Show” host and executive producer Jon Stewart, and stars Gael García Bernal, leading an international cast. 

Prometheus Records’s latest release of a Tadlow Music production is a world premiere of John Barry’ score to THE BETSY, based on the 1978 Harold Robbins novel. If, in MISTER MOSES (the previous Tadlow/Prometheus Barry re-recording), the composer chose to emphasize rhythm and color, in THE BETSY he stresses melody and harmony, with poignant melodic ideas including a wistful main theme waltz and a bittersweet love theme. Barry’s subtle music pervades the film with a patina of sadness and melancholy, while a few action passages are reminiscent of his Bond sound. The music has been reconstructed by conductor (and former John Barry orchestrator) Nic Raine, who conducts the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. See: www.tadlowmusic.com

Quartet Records, in collaboration with Cinevox Records and the Gianni Ferrio Estate, presents a remastered and expanded release in a limited edition 2-CD set of THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND OF CAPTAIN NEMO, composed by Gianni Ferrio. The 1973 Italian-French-Spanish film adaptation of Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island starred Omar Sharif as Captain Nemo. For the first time, the film’s entire score is now available thanks to the composer’s widow, who fortunately kept the complete mono sessions of the score in her husband’s private archives.  Simultaneously, Quartet has released another Italian Verne film score, Piero Piccioni’s THE LIGHT AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD (1971), from the film starring Kirk Douglas and based on the posthumously published Verne novel.  For details, see: www.quartetrecords.com

Kritzerland’s latest release is a new limited edition soundtrack to one of the most iconic science fiction films ever made, 1951’s THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, with music by Bernard Herrmann. 
The original soundtrack was first issued on CD in 1993 by Arista and is long out of print.  A complete version of the score was available briefly as an extra in the laserdisc release of the film, and that version was also included in the multi-disc and very expensive Bernard Herrmann at Fox box on Varèse  Sarabande, which sold out instantly.  “Given the limited availability of the box, we felt it was very important to make this classic score available again for the fans who missed out on it,” noted Kritzerland’s Bruce Kimmel.  “It has been given a new, fresh mastering and sounds absolutely incredible in that wonderful early Fox stereo sound that was as unique as the Herrmann score.”  Features new liner notes by Mike Matessino.  For more details, see www.kritzerland.com/day_earth_still.htm 

Intrada’s latest release pairs two previously unreleased Maurice Jarre film soundtracks on one CD. Anchoring is 44-minute score from MANDINGO, vivid adaptation of Kyle Onstott tale of Southern slavery: “Jarre tackles challenging assignment, brings melodic gifts to fore, then adds colors of banjo, dissonant strings, primitive percussion, other disturbing ideas to create unsettling feel for lurid plantation life. Contrasting styles provide considerable depth,” notes Intrada’s Douglass Fake. The second score finds Jarre in still-melodic but now breezier, jazz-like mode for Neil Simon’s PLAZA SUITE, directed by Arthur Hiller, featuring Walter Matthau, Maureen Stapleton, Lee Grant. Brief score melds both warm humor, light drama into one cohesive musical showcase of composer’s tuneful talent. John Takis provides detailed liner notes, Joe Sikoryak provides colorful graphic design.

Disques Cinemusique has released a limited (500 copies) CD reissue of Wojciech Kiler’s 1996 film, FANTOME AVEC CHAUFFEUR (Ghost With Driver), a fantasy comedy directed by Gérard Oury.  The composer’s purpose here was not so much to underline the comic effects of the story than to enhance its poetic dimension and the psychological development of the two main characters. His score performed by The Prague Symphony Orchestra is light and nostalgic, mostly melodic, tinged with a typical French style that the composer admired. The score was originally released on French CD in 1996; this is its first reappearance.



Film Music on Vinyl

For this year’s Record Store Day (Black Friday, Nov. 28th), Varèse Sarabande Records has released two albums on vinyl: a double album of Ramin Djawadi’s score for the first season of GAME OF THRONES, previously released by the label on CD, and a reissue of the rock album, From Genesis to Revelation, the debut album by legendary prog band, Genesis (and its first vinyl reissue since its original U.S. release in 1974.).  Both albums are issued on 180-gram vinyl.

Invada Records has released an expanded, re-mastered edition of Craig Safan’s soundtrack to WARNING SIGN.  The album features Safan’s original electronic score along with 20 minutes of unreleased music.   “I was very surprised and excited to get the call from Invada that they wanted to release the score,” said Safan. “I’ve been involved in synthesizers since my college days and it’s always been a large part of my compositional palette.  I love being able to invent new sounds and alter familiar ones.”  WARNING SIGN was one of the first all-electronic film scores, recorded using a Synclavier synthesizer – an incredibly expensive piece of kit at the time for the story of a man-made virus that is accidentally released, turning the laboratory workers into zombies.  “The Synclavier was so complex that I was literally reading the three huge loose-leaf manuals while composing,” joked Safan. “It was truly on-the-job training!  The synth cost $75,000 (in 1983!), ran on Unix, and a 10 meg (not gig) hard drive cost $10,000!” 

For those who were excited by Death Waltz‘s limited-edition vinyl LP for the Akira Ifukube original soundtrack for GODZILLA (1954) but lost out on getting a copy, you can now rejoice: Japanese label, King Records is gearing up to issue an analog release of their very own, along with the same for Ifukube’s KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962), as the “first complete limited-edition pressings” in Japan, on 180g vinyl LPs, just in time to celebrate both Ifukube’s centennial and the Big G’s 60th anniversary.
For their first release, GODZILLA (KIJS-90015; 22 tracks, 37 minutes), http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00NQC8PAG
For details, see August Ragone’s blog, The Good, The Bad and Godzilla at:

Earlier this year, Mondo released Batman: The Animated Series as a 7-inch single.  Its success prompted the new release of a 12" Die-Cut version of the single as an open edition available throughout the holiday season.  The record is housed in an incredible gatefold jacket designed by Phantom City Creative and will be pressed on Black and Black with Gray Splatter vinyl; purchasers will have the option to purchase either (or both!) versions on the site.
See: http://mondotees.com/blogs/news/18116983-batman-the-animated-series-die-cut-12-single

New vinyl releases from Death Waltz include Perry Botkin’s score to SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT, Andrew Thomas Wilson’s score for the Ozploitation thriller 1980 CHAIN REACTION, and Brian May’s score for another Australian video nasty, the 1982 film TURKEY SHOOT (aka ESCAPE 2000 in the US; aka BLOOD CAMP THATCHER in the UK).  Click on the titles for details or visit http://deathwaltzrecordingcompany.com/

Death Waltz is also releasing Ennio Morricone’s creatively unsettling score to the 1971 Lucio Fulci giallo A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN as a double album set housed inside a single pocket sleeve featuring 24 tracks clocking in at 90 minutes including a host of previously unheard cues uncovered especially for this release.  Morricone’s music is as unhinged as the film itself, mixing post-sixties funk and jazz with increasingly uncomfortable effects to provide a haunting and biting backdrop for the turn of the century thriller. As always, elements of the maestro’s music are beautiful, with ethereal vocals by regular collaborator Edda dell’Orso.  See:


Film Music Books

A couple of notable film music books recently published – both the first book-length commentaries on either composer:

Jerry Goldsmith Music Scoring for American Films
By Mauricio Dupuis
Self-published paperback, 2nd Edition, June 2014
168 pages, $16 on amazon ($9.99 for kindle)

A good general overview of Jerry Goldsmith’s work for Hollywood movies.  Originally published in Italy in 2012, the author has had it translated in English and self-published under his own imprint.  It’s a very readable work with limited b&w photos and illustrated score samples.  There’s no author’s bio in the book or one that I can find on his blogspot so I don’t know his background, but the writing is accessible for non-academics and yet perceptive in its analysis.  The author has relied on properly cited DVD commentary transcriptions and published interviews to illuminate his own essay, all of which add to the book’s depth of coverage and validate the author’s own perspective.  The book is divided into four segments: an overview of film scoring and Jerry’s career called “A Life in Movie Productions,” a chapter called “Creative Process” which goes into details on the role of the orchestrator in film scoring in general and in Goldsmith’s work in particular, and examines Goldsmith’s working relationship with directors and how that collaborative process has contributed to his work in Hollywood. The longest chapter, “Crossing Movie Genres,” examines Jerry’s work in particular film genres, wherein the author analyzes Goldsmith’s approach to scoring sci-fi and fantasy, Westerns, film noir, action, horror films, and the like.  A final chapter goes into greater detail on Jerry’s work in the STAR TREK franchise and how that developed over the years.  The book is a fairly concise assessment of Goldsmith’s film scoring career and perhaps derails into parenthetical discussions more generally related to film music than the composer directoly at hand, but Dupuis’ book houses enough insight to enhance one’s appreciation of Jerry’s style and understanding of the scope and detail of his work.  Lack of an index may be troubling for researchers looking for specifics, but its format and content it organized well enough to locate broader areas of coverage.  It’s not a definitive study of one of film music’s most recognized and respected practitioners, but it’s a very good start and serves as a fine analytical exploration of Goldsmith’s unique perspective as a composer of American film music.

John Williams Film Music
By Emilio Audissino
University of Wisconsin Press, 2014
Paperback, 320 pages, $29.95. Indexed.

With its subtitle, Jaws, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Return of the Classical Hollywood Music Style, author Emilio Audissino defines the book’s scope as well as its limitations.  A researcher at the University of Southampton and a widely published author of articles on Hollywood cinema, film style, and film music, Audissino has been studying John Williams’s music for more than twenty years, and this book is a revision of part of his PhD dissertation that centered on John Williams’s neoclassicism.  Audissino has (more or less) “de-academized” the text and removed “many hard theoretical parts,” although his narrative style still largely focused on musicological considerations.  Since his focus is on demonstrating how Williams’s film music pertains to the notion of neoclassicism, his book has a very specific correlative thesis in mind.  Thus his writing style, and the abundance of specific musical terminology, might make the book a difficult read for those eager to simply soak in further enlightenment about Williams’s film music and how it’s been made without having to read music or have an academic musical background.  That said, though, there is in fact much here – and certainly enough – that will be accessible to most all readers.  Audissino provides a very thorough examination of John Williams as a composer, and outlines what he is getting at in addressing Williams as a prime example of modern neoclassicism (essentially: an aesthetic trend against the unrestrained emotionalism and perceived formless in late 18th Century Romanticism, urging a return to aesthetic precepts associated with the order, balance, clarity, economy, and emotional restraint of "classicism,” as often embodied by Williams’s predecessor, Stravinsky).  There is also much here that applies to film music in general; in fact Audissino takes up his early chapters in analyzing what The Classical Hollywood Music Style really is, and how Williams’s music relates to it and serves as the defining style of the “Modern” Hollywood Music Style before he gets into the inspecting the neoclassical issue.  In so doing he provides thorough discussions of the STAR WARS, JAWS, and RAIDERS scores.  There’s also a fascinating chapter in which Audissino faces off against Williams’s naysayers, those highbrow critics unwilling to find anything valuable in music written for popular culture like movies, and a short chapter discussing Williams’s associated career as a conductor with the Boston Pops.  Appendices take a look at Williams’s collaborative work for Steven Spielberg and collect a comprehensive list of the composer’s film and TV music, concert pieces, and arrangements.  As the first book length evaluation of film music’s most recognizable contemporary practitioner, this book is a valuable examination from both musicological and cinematic/dramatic perspectives, and offers much revelation to interest both camps.


Game Music News

Game composer Winifred Phillips won Best Song – Video Game, at the Hollywood Music in Media Award’s on Nov 4th.  The song, “Ziggurat Theme,” is part of Phillips’ score for the LittleBigPlanet 3 game.  Phillips was a member of the composing team for LittleBigPlanet 3, and composed many tracks for the game, including the “Ziggurat Theme.”  “It’s a classically-inspired vocal fugue written for an 18-voice women’s choir,” Phillips said.  “I’ve been bursting with excitement over my involvement in LittleBigPlanet 3 — it’s going to be the best LittleBigPlanet game ever, and I’m so honored to have been a part of it!”  The game was released on Nov 18th. 
Winning for Best Original Score – Video Game were Russell Brower, Neal Acree, Clint Bajakian, Sam Cardon, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, Edo Guidotti and Eimear Noone for World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, and Isaias Garcia won Best Song/Score – Mobile Video Game for Dream Revenant.
For a full list of HMMA winners, see www.hmmawards.org/2014-hmma-winners/

A collection of Mateo Pascual’s music for the COMMANDOS series of games is now available on AmazonMP3.

Boris Salchow has scored the cinematic music for Insomniac Games’ next-generation shooter, Sunset Overdrive, published by Microsoft Studios. Reflecting the game’s over-the-top sense of humor and frenetic gameplay style, Boris Salchow’s eclectic cinematic score ranges from electro-industrial, alt-rock, spikey punk and headbangin’ metal cues to ‘60s Hollywood orchestral music, zombie horror, spaghetti western and even minstrel ballads!  For more information on the composer, see www.borissalchow.com

Rising star composer Sarah Schachner, noted for contributing to the scores of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag and Far Cry 3) returns to Ubisoft’s flagship series Assassin’s Creed to score the combat, co-op and multiplayer music for this year’s most anticipated next-gen blockbuster title, Assassin’s Creed® Unity, a new epic adventure set within Paris during the French Revolution. The soundtrack is now available digitally on iTunes:

Cliff Martinez has composed the original game soundtrack for Ubisoft’s open-world, first-person shooter Far Cry 4, the much-anticipated sequel to the top-rated shooter of 2012. “It was an honor to be asked to write the music for the Far Cry 4 game as my first full-length video game soundtrack,” said Martinez. “It was exciting for me to… take my usual minimalistic cinematic approach to the immersive game world.  Any game where you can ride on a rampaging elephant is a project you can’t turn down!”
The Far Cry 4 soundtrack digital edition is now available; a limited 2-CD edition will release on December 2 in North America and on December 9 in Europe, and the limited 3-LP edition will release in January 2015.


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 has written liner notes for more than 120 soundtrack CDs for such labels as La-La Land, FSM, Perseverance, Silva Screen, Harkit, Quartet, and BSX Records.  A largely re-written and expanded Second Edition of Musique Fantastique is being published: the first of this four-book series is now available.  See: www.musiquefantastique.com

Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe for copyediting assistance..

Randall can be contacted at soundtraxrdl@gmail.com

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