Past Columns

Soundtrax: Episode 2012-3 
March 19th, 2012

By Randall D. Larson

Joel Soisson, after two PROPHECY and two PULSE sequels, helmed this latest entry into the long-running franchise, latest in sequels to the 1984 based-on-a-Stephen-King novel horror film (not its 2009 SyFy Channel remake) about the influence of a demonic entity in the cornfield and its influence over a towns’ children . It’s a pretty good chiller with plenty of creepy moments.  Writer/director/producer Soisson said (in his DVD interview) that he tried to invest some new elements-of-the-unknown into the franchise, which has become so well known among fans through its 7 previous films that he couldn’t just rework familiar elements.  So instead he focused on the entity itself, as embodied in one of the children, and its needs for a new host.  The film is well directed with very good production values despite its low budget and rushed schedule, supported by an excellent cast (all newcomers, plus veteran villain Billy Drago).  A taut script and high production value makes this a superior thriller and much more than a simple new episode in a tired series.  The spooky, textural score by composer/saxophonist Jacob Yoffee intrigued me, as I felt it amped up the film’s spooky/scary quite a bit.   Contacting Yoffee through his web site, I interviewed him about his score for the latest cinematic walk through the cornstalks.

Q: How did you get the assignment to score CoTC?

Jacob Yoffee: The director was looking for something a little different than the composers he already knew and was interested in using someone with a jazz background.  A friend of his knows Greg Osby, the president of the jazz record label on which I am an artist and asked for recommendations.  Greg recommended me because he knew I had a background in orchestral writing and had been scoring films already.  

Q: What was your initial brief from the director as far as what kind of music he wanted, and how did you develop that into your score?

Jacob Yoffee: Joel (the director) was most concerned with finding the right sound for the music box theme.  Before the spotting session he mentioned that the entire score would have to revolve around this child's music box that was featured in the opening credits.  So I spent a few days creating themes.  It was a challenge because, once you start exploring music box melodies in minor keys, you realize how quickly it can sound derivative of either Danny Elfman's early work or the Davy Jones theme from the Pirates of the Caribbean films.  

I spent quite some time revising my final theme, making sure that it sounded child-like, disturbing and avoided references to any familiar melodies of other films.  In addition, the tempo had to match the pacing of a real music box and sound realistic.  The final audio recording was pitch-bended to help re-recreate the slight pitch changes of a wind-up music box.  In the end, the theme was approved the very first time I played it for Joel and the producers. 

Q: Did the musical tradition from any of the previous CHILDREN OF THE CORN (CoTC) films affect your approach or pose a challenge?

Jacob Yoffee: This film doesn't deal with Children of the Corn so much as it does a CHILD of the Corn.  So the director wanted to avoid some of the sound worlds that were used in previous films – most notably a children's choir.  It needed to feel more isolated – more like a single threat.  Of course there are still moments where the choir was appropriate and helped flesh out the texture, but he didn't want a score that was focused around the choir.

Q: What was your process of blending samples, electronics, and live instruments to create a score that breathes with texture and depth?

Jacob Yoffee: As is the case with many, many films there was an extremely tight budget for the score and any live instrumentation would be minimal.  I called in some favors and was able to record a handful of fantastic string players and a 9 ft. Steinway grand.  

After recording, I created a sound library for the score and worked with the audio as I would notes on the page.  I'd lay the groundwork with synths and layer in any live recordings that I could apply.  I also utilized pitch shifting throughout the score, which really helps to unlock the 'sheen' of synth libraries.  For any given cue I always made it my goal to make it sound as real and textured as possible, and if you can bend pitches or slightly alter the tuning of a particular line/melody it creates a more visceral score.      

Q: Your music box theme becomes a recurring figure for the children as well as the object of their worship.  Would you describe your use of theme-and-variation in the score?

Jacob Yoffee: The director was really keen on only using one theme throughout the film.  This is the case for many horror film scores and (in my opinion) has been used to great effect – HALLOWEEN, for instance.  This score still had several themes but I kept coming back to the music box theme to help give a sense of inevitability.  My goal was to leave the viewer feeling as if all the players were merely acting out exactly what the demon had been planning all along (which, of course, is what the director wanted as well) 

The challenge was then to portray the theme in as many different settings as possible: different keys, different meters, re-harmonization, etc...  In many cues the theme was only hinted at but if there was a direct reference to Gatlin, or the children, I would bring the theme out clearly.    

It worked out well that the music box theme opens with a leaping interval, which made it easy to reference without having to reiterate an entire phrase.  The first three notes also loosely outline a kind of minor 'Amen' phrase, so I used that chord progression for scenes that needed motion, and built ostinato phrases from the theme to create a pulse.  

In the end the opening three notes became the most important figure and is the microcosm of the score, tying everything together.  

Q: What is the score’s most unusual instrumental texture?

Jacob Yoffee: A friend of mine was doing some studio recording in Pittsburgh at the same time I was scoring CotC and came across a severely broken Hammond B3 organ in the back of the studio.  He sampled it and sent it my way.  I was shocked when I heard it because it sounded like a large animal was growling.  It's now placed throughout the score and acts as a signature of the demonic presence. 

Q: How conscious were you when scoring COTC of creating a score that would underline the film's sense of scary mood?

Jacob Yoffee: The temp score for the film was mostly low, sustained tones that gave a sense of continuous foreboding.  Although that approach was definitely an option, I tried my best to avoid it and was striving for a much more orchestral sound.  In particular I went for textures that had a 'wood-y', acoustic and grainy sound – almost tactile and tangible.   I wanted lots of high end string harmonics, bells, and celeste – as if it was being carried on the wind.  My thinking was that this threat was spiritual or psychokinetic, not a large monster hiding in the Earth.  So it didn't need to be represented by deep, low undertones. 

The pitch center throughout the film also changed by moving in major thirds as opposed to minor thirds.  Transposing an idea in minor thirds is a very common compositional device when you need to extend a section and it's used constantly in film scores.  By moving in major thirds I felt it gave a slightly off-kilter feeling to the theme when transposed like this. 

In addition, the theme itself has a few 'wrong' notes in the inner voices.  It tugs at different pitch centers and never really settles, using some minor 9ths and also major thirds in minor chords.  I took that same approach for all the cues, making sure there some 'wrong' notes in any given chord, melody, or passage.  As I mentioned before there was also some pitch-bending in the theme and I used that in several cues too.  If there was a sustained pad or cello/violin note I would often double it and pitch bend one of the voices.  Pitch bending really pulls at you and can feel like nails on a chalkboard.  It's so easy to do with computers now and it's not utilized that often.  

Ultimately using 'wrong' notes and pitch-bending really help a horror score to remain present -- never fully fading to background; always alive and changing.  ---and ups the creepy factor.

Q: As an acclaimed saxophonist, I presume you played the saxophone on this score?

Jacob Yoffee: Actually didn't get to play any saxophone. Unfortunately it cuts through almost any texture and directors always feel it gives a 'jazz' or 'bluesy' sound.  Basically with any genre film I feel that I'm kind of boxed in a sound world that has been communally developed from film to film – if you stray too far it just sounds 'wrong.'  So saxophone is out of question most of the time – although I'm always trying to work it in!

For more information on Jacob Yoffee, see www.jacobyoffeemusic.com

Direct link to sample tracks from COTC and other film scores, see http://www.jacobyoffeemusic.com/video.html


Notes on YOR: The Extended Edition

Last year, when I wrote my commentary notes for BSX Records’ reissue of the soundtrack to the 1983 Italian sci-fi film YOR: HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE, combining together the two scores by John Scott and Guido & Maurizio De Angeles, I was conscious of the controversy surrounding the film and its uneven mixture of scores, and I sought to convey an honest and accurate accounting of the creation of the film and its musical soundtrack.  Recognizing that the notes had to be approved by the studio that currently owns the film and its soundtrack, as a condition of its licensing of the score for CD release, I tried to remain objective and give both scores their respectful due in my commentary; although I expected the studio’s notes to insist on some changes in my coverage; after all YOR was their property and they certainly would not permit a critical tonality to surround our coverage of the picture.  What I didn’t expect was the thorough evisceration of an entire third of my analysis, eliminating such things as references to cast’s prior filmography and other things that had little to do with positive or negative references to the film’s quality.  I felt that the final result became a less than honest appraisal of the history and scoring of the film and the reaction of audiences to its release.  It resulted in a mendacious examination of the nature of its mashed-up soundtrack that lacked the integrity I felt my audience deserved.  With the understanding of the record label, I removed my byline from the album notes (as I had no album commentary notes version of Alan Smithee to fall back on!).

So here, with the label’s consent, I offer the Author’s Cut – my complete and unedited notes on YOR: HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE: The Whole Story.

Il Music Di YOR
By Randall D. Larson

“I’m Yor, the Hunter.  I come from the high mountain…  Help me cut the choice meats.”
Yor, to Ka-Laa after killing the voracious Stego-Ceratops


As eclectic as the film it accompanies, the musical score for the 1983 Italian sci-fi movie YOR: HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE, filmed as IL MONDO DI YOR (“Yor’s World”) ranges from broad symphonic measures for heroic adventure to quirky electronica, eloquent romantic melodies to a raucous rock and roll anthem that shouts “Yor’s World!” as the blonde-haired hero from the future bounds in to save the day.  The music combines the work of classically-trained, veteran British film composer John Scott with that of the Italian pop musical duo Guido & Maurizio de Angelis, resulting in an uneven musical tone for YOR that turned out to be as campy as the film’s ambitious mélange of genre conventions. 


Yor’s World

IL MONDO DI YOR was an ambitious mash up of sword and sorcery, prehistoric fantasy, and post-apocalyptic science fiction – a kind of fusion of STAR WARS and MAD MAX embellished with elements from CONAN THE BARBARIAN, and ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.   It was directed by prolific Italian B-movie director Antonio Margheriti (1930-2002), whose work spanned as many genres as YOR itself celebrated.  Margheriti is better known in the US under the pseudonym Anthony M. Dawson, which he adopted for his American-released films after learning that the English translation of his name turned out to be “Anthony Daisies,” hardly the kind of appellate he wanted on his kind of muscular action dramas.   Active primarily during the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, Margheriti directed films both revered and reviled, in many genres but most often within the realms of fantasy and the macabre: sword-and-sandal peplum (HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN), Westerns (TAKE A HARD RIDE, VENGEANCE), adventure fantasy (HUNTERS OF THE GOLDEN COBRA, ARK OF THE SUN GOD), war films (THE LAST HUNTER, CODE NAME: WILD GEESE), cult sci-fi (SPACE MEN, WILD, WILD PLANET, WAR OF THE PLANETS), Eurospy movies (LIGHTING BOLT), early ‘60s horror (THE VIRGIN OF NUREMBERG, THE LONG HAIR OF DEATH), mid ‘70s giallo (SEVEN DEAD IN THE CAT’S EYE), and mid ‘80s gore-intensive horror (CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE).   Margheriti also worked as a special effects technician, specializing in optical effects and model work, on films for other directors, including Sergio Leone’s DUCK, YOU SUCKER.

With nearly 60 films in almost 40 years, Margheriti was a varied stylist, but his films are noted for their vivid sense of action and adventure.  When asked by the authors of Spaghetti Nightmares what type of film he felt he was best suited for, Margheriti replied “Definitely adventure films made with a slightly ‘comic strip’ approach.  I like to let my imagination run wild, as cartoonists and artists do; they know no limits and can invent whatever they like.”

I MONDO DI YOR perhaps represents the culmination of Margheriti’s campy imagination better than any of his other films.  The movie was based on an Italian graphic novel called Henga, el cazador (Yor, the Hunter) by Italian writer Eugenio Zappietro (as “Ray Collins”) and Argentine illustrator Juan Zanotto.  Opening in what appears to be prehistoric times, Margheriti eventually reveals that the story is in fact set in the distant future, after some undetermined apocalypse has reduced mankind to a virtual prehistoric existence in which a powerful ruling class exerts its power via iron fist and laser beam.  Into this setting appears Yor, a self-described Hunter who wears a mysterious golden medallion and exhibits amnesia about where he came from.  Yor comes to the rescue of a primitive tribe and begins a quest to conquer the overlords while seeking answers to the mystery of his past.

“It’s a prehistoric story, but set in the future in that it depicts a new dawn for humanity, with men starting again with their clubs over the shoulders,” Margheriti is quoted in Spaghetti Nightmares

By this time during the early 1980s, post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy was enjoying a renaissance in world cinema, largely in response to 1979’s MAD MAX, and Italian filmmakers were eager to join the revved-up bandwagon.  With films like 2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS, 1990: BRONX WARRIORS, EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 3000, THE NEW BARBARIANS, and WARRIORS OF THE LOST WORLD ravaging their way through Italian cinemas, Margheriti’s adaptation of Henga, el cazador was timely.

The film was an Italian-Turkish co-production, filmed in the ancient Cappadocian mountains of Central Anatolia and on the Mediterranean coasts of Antalya in southwestern Turkey.   With cinematography by Marcello Masciocchi, who had also lensed Margheriti’s SPACE MEN and BATTLE OF THE WORLDS in the early 1960s, the rocky hills afforded an appropriate landscape across with the film’s future-prehistoric action and low-budget special effects took place.

Former football player Reb Brown starred in the title role, playing Yor as an agreeably bushy-haired blonde muscleman.  Brown had debuted in the 1973 serpentine horror film SSSSSSS, then guested on numerous TV episodes and films (including John Milius’ ode to surfing, BIG WEDNESDAY) throughout the 1970s until he starred as CAPTAIN AMERICA in a pair of TV movies released in 1979.  Brown went on to play similar muscleman roles until a compelling performance in the 1986 Australian film DEATH OF A SOLDIER demonstrated a serious dramatic turn than earned him an Australian Film Institute Award nomination as best actor.  Ka-Laa, Brown’s love interest in YOR, was played by French actress and model Corinne Cléry, who had gained stardom when she appeared in 1975’s controversial erotic film, HISTOIRE d'O.  Cléry was a Bond girl in 1979’s MOONRAKER and appeared in the Italian sci-fi film L’UMANOIDE, for which Antonio Margheriti served as special effects supervisor.  Frequent Margheriti performer Luciano Pigozzi (aka Alan Collins) played the aging archer Pag, who accompanies Yor with Ka-Laa on his quest.   Cast as Yor’s nemesis, the Overlord, was British character actor John Steiner, then specializing in over-the-top villainous roles.  Steiner had visited Italy to play a part in the Western film TEPEPA in 1969 and, finding himself in demand among Roman studios, stayed there until his retirement from acting in 1991.  The Vader -styled costumes worn by Overlord and his minions were left over from L’UMANOID; Margheriti along with his son Edoardo, supplied the special effects and the stiff dinosaur models which Yor fights throughout the film.

YOR was originally designed as an Italian television series, comprised of four hour-long episodes, from which the 98-minute feature film version was culled.  Columbia Pictures, which was then having some success with its own post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventures SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE and KRULL, took an interest in YOR and came aboard during production as the film’s American distributor.  The version released by Columbia in American theaters and on home video was further edited to 88-minutes.

Critically lambasted on its release, YOR nonetheless enjoyed a wide release in theatres and was a minor success on home video (albeit still lacking a Region 1 DVD release), largely due to its comical camp quotient.  Despite being nominated for three Golden Raspberry Awards, YOR is listed as one of the “100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made” in Golden Raspberry founder John Wilson’s book The Official Razzie Movie Guide and has a following among undemanding moviegoers to this day.  “It was a fun project made with almost no budget,” Margheriti told writer Peter Blumenstock in a 1994 interview for Video Watchdog.  “It was a party film and I sometimes enjoy looking at it again.

Yor’s Score

The inconsistent patchwork of music that is heard in YOR’s final soundtrack mix, music that was one of those Golden Raspberry nominations the film acquired in 1984, was reportedly the result of last minute alterations in the film’s tone and sound.  Originally, British composer John Scott was brought on board to score the film, evidently on the suggestion of YOR’s American distributors.  Scott had emerged in England in the late 1960s, scoring films like A STUDY IN TERROR, ROCKET TO THE MOON, and THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT with a strong dramatic orchestral propensity.   By the mid 1970s, Scott had relocated to Los Angeles and was scoring films both in Hollywood as well as in Europe; one of his finest scores at this time was the patriotic time travel thriller, THE FINAL COUNTDOWN in 1980, which likely may have been what attracted the studio to recommend him to Margheriti. 

Scott said that he became involved in YOR through his agents, who ate at the same restaurant as YOR’s Columbia producers.  “The producers wanted a composer who was in Europe, so my agents recommended me,” Scott told Richard and David Kraft in a 1986 interview for Soundtrack magazine.  “I enjoyed YOR.  I felt I could make it into a better film.  I’m proud of the score I did, but perhaps it could have been performed better by the musicians in Italy.” 

In an interview with Sergio Gorjón for the BSOSpirit web site, Scott elaborated: “I was told that because the orchestra was a large orchestra the musicians union insisted on some students being booked for the sessions. I warned the musicians that they should look at a couple of cues which were a little more difficult. When we came to record them the orchestra was technically inadequate and I refused to conduct until they were ready. I sat in the control room and waited until the orchestral manager called me. They played much better after that.”

Scott provided the film with a broad thematic-based orchestral score, highlighted by a soaring motif for Yor, eloquently stated in long violin lines punctuated by piping brasses; a nefarious and pompous march for the Overlord that would have worked as well for Darth Vader; and gentle love themes for Yor’s involvement with Ka-Laa and his short-lived attraction toward Roa, the desert Queen who wears a medallion like his own.  He also provided the primitive ethic dance music that Ka-Laa dances to when she first meets Yor at the beginning of the film.  Scott’s action cues were propulsive and energetic, built from elaborate clashes between brass, flailing tremolo strings, piping winds, and vivid percussion, giving the film an articulate, large-scaled symphonic vigor that augmented the storyline and gave life to its various altercations.   The wildly swirling string figures of “Aerial Assault,” heard in the film when Yor is attacked by the white-garbed fire people, is a tremendously exhilarating cue, while “Ambushed,” used when the hairy mountain people attack Ka-Laa’s village propels the scene even behind the loudly dubbed sound effects.  But much of Scott’s efforts would never be heard on the film soundtrack.

“After it had been finished and everybody was happy, they decided to go with an Italian pop song score,” Scott told Gorjón.  “A lot of my music was left in but it made no sense to me.”  Rather than switching the music out completely, replacing all of Scott’s music with the tuneful approach that was now felt to be more fashionable, the final soundtrack mix is an odd grafting together of the two scores.

Guido and Maurizio De Angelis were among Italy’s most prolific film scorers during the 1970s, then best known for providing bouncy, campy music for humorous Italian pop-Westerns.   “I believe the De Angelis brothers sold Columbia pictures on the idea of adding ‘heavy metal’ and since Columbia didn’t really know where they were going with this film, they went with them,” Scott told Richard and David Kraft.  The De Angelis’ had already scored Margheriti’s 1976 revenge thriller, BLOOD RAGE and his 1979 piranha horror film, KILLER FISH, which may also have swayed him in their favor.

The brothers proposed an approach mixing pop tunes, rhythms, and gentle orchestral melodies, along with an anthemic theme song in the style of the song “Flash” which rocker Brian May of the band Queen had written for the 1980 movie FLASH GORDON.  De Angelis’ “Yor’s World” gave the film its flash, sung by the brothers using their performing moniker of Oliver Onions, heard in clamorous Queen fashion over YOR’s main titles and reprised several times during heroic moments as the story unfolds, such as when Yor rescues Ka-Laa from the hairy mountain people who have kidnapped her.  The De Angelis’ provided an array of modernistic electronics and drum-set rhythms that wound up supplanting most of Scott’s carefully orchestrated symphonic music, leaving behind only a handful of cues, many edited to fit shorter timings.  One recurring motif, consisting of strident synthesizer notes over a fast-moving bass line, creates a somewhat compelling anticipatory mood.  In some cases, cues were combined; when Yor coasts in on the floating Pterodactyl to rescue Ka-Laa, for example, his arrival is heralded with Oliver Onion’s chanted “Yor’s World” until he lands, when it gives way to a portion of Scott’s “Yor’s Theme.”  The music Scott actually wrote for this sequence, “Aerial Assault,” is not used here at all but moved to a later fight scene.  The grafting of the two approaches tended to interrupt the coherent flow of dramatic support for the film; at the same time the grindhouse pop of the De Angelis’ emphasized the film’s camp sensibility while Scott’s music provided a rich dramatic underscore that accentuated the film’s adventurous drama and action.  It was combination, however, which was regarded as incongruous by many listeners – and Scott himself.

“I think my score lifted the film into something more than was otherwise there,” Scott concluded in the Soundtrack magazine interview.  “The final score, which ended up being seven-tenths De Angelis and three-tenths my score, let the film down.”


Yor’s Soundtrack

This recording provides the best of both worlds on record.  Tracks 1-16 consist of all the music recorded by John Scott for the film, of which, as noted, only portions were used in the released film.  These tracks are presented in the order of the scenes they were intended to accompany.  Track 17, “Ka-Laa’s Dance” (which is split in two in the film, bridged by a scene of the mountain people infiltrating the camp), was written by Scott as the source music to which Yor’s maiden was dancing.  Tracks 18-29 consists of the music recorded by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis for the film; much of it, too, was modified, cropped, and moved around in the film’s final mix.  Apart from the uneven mélange of music apportioned into the film, we hope that the approach of each composer can he heard here and evaluated on its own merits, as music.



New Soundtracks Releases of Note

BRAKE/Brian Tyler/Varese Sarabande
In the crime thriller BRAKE, a Secret Service Agent is held captive in the trunk of a car and endures high-speed mental and physical torture as terrorists attempt to extract needed information for their sinister plot.  Brian Tyler shifts from his usual large symphonic form to envelope BRAKE’s confined space with an electronic-acoustic minimalist pattern largely based on gritty percussiveness.  To give his score the scent and feel of moving machinery and greasy automotive technology, Tyler’s sound pallet includes such unorthodox sounds as automobile parts, vintage synthesizers and drum machines, prepared pianos, guitars, percussion, and ambient soundscapes, which gives the music a dark, textured intensity that is quite affecting. Much of the score attains a sonic sensibility of flaking paint and punctured metal, the scent of old motor oil and greasy tools, the feel of gouging edges and torn steel – and of painful entrapment.  To evoke the latter, Tyler provides a very melancholy tonality generated mostly by piano that runs through most of the score; but even this lyrical instrument is treated percussively, generating its music primarily through plunks and soft depressions of the keys.   The approach builds a riveting atmosphere for the agent’s predicament as well as his restricted surroundings, providing a kind of immersive sound design often found in horror scores but here rooted to that throbbing pianistic pulse of melancholy that serves to reflect both sympathy and apprehension as the story plays out.  It’s a somber and gritty score on disc but evokes a cool dramatic vibe in its machinistic patterns that is rather compelling.

CASINO ROYALE/Burt Bacharach/Quartet Records
A treasure of 1960s kitsch, this comedic interpretation of James Bond featured a swinging pop/lounge score by Burt Bacharach, in 1967 at the height of his film scoring career before moving to focus on popular songwriting.  On top of its superlative main theme (played on the soundtrack by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, which gained a hit single out of the tune) and the song, “The Look of Love,” sung by Dusty Springfield, the score featured a wealth of tuneful pop instrumentals, culminating in a frenzied musical tour-de-force for the film’s climactic big fight scene.  Produced by record industry legend Phil Ramone for Colgems Records, the original 1967 soundtrack LP offered selected highlights of the program, expertly edited to showcase the best parts of the entire score, and was noted in the industry for its splendid, near audiophile sound.  Subsequent CD reissues replicated that same album presentation – but those editions of the music contained unsatisfactory sound quality because the master tapes had become damaged and corrupted during the production process. Kritzerland’s (sold out) 2011 CD release did the best they could to rectify this by carefully remastered to improve on the imperfections in the tapes and supplementing that with a transfer of the original 1967 album from a mint condition vinyl copy in order to present as close as possible the pristine sound quality of that original release. Quartet’s new album – provided in a 2-CD box set housing a lavish, beautifully illustrated 64-page booklet with excellent and authoritative commentary notes by Gergely Hubai – marks the film’s 45th Anniversary by releasing every note of Bacharach’s complete original soundtrack, taken from monophonic music stems discovered in MGM’s vaults and carefully edited for maximum listenability – supplemented with a second disc containing the album version of Bacharach’s score taken from a newly-discovered stereo copy of the album master preserved in the vaults of Sony Music Spain and untouched since 1967.  Through intricate mastering, equalization, and editing, we now have a restored release of both the original soundtrack music and its album presentation; while it still isn’t first generation (thanks to the corruption of those masters years ago), it sounds fantastic and, with 33 tracks of original soundtrack music coupled with the 13-track album edition, this is likely the best quality preservation of Bacharach’s wonderful score as we’re likely to hear on compact disc.  “When listened to chronologically and completely,” notes Quartet’s Jose M. Benitez in his producer’s note, “the full score takes on a very different meaning from the wonderful 34-minutes of easy-listening music contained in the album.”  Although all 1500 copies are sold out at the label’s web site, copies can be found at various online soundtrack markets.

THE DEAD/Imran Ahmad/Indelible Music (digital download)
The music from independent zombie road hit movie THE DEAD is now available as a digital album for download via iTunes and Amazon. Written by London-based composer Imran Ahmad, the score is an eerie and mesmerizing listening experience that effectively complements director Howard J. Ford and Jon Ford’s inventive imagery. Adding a unique timbre to the soundtrack is featured Eritrean vocalist Saba Tewelde and kora performances by Gambian virtuoso Jally Kebba Susso. The movie is an excellent exercise in a familiar topic.  The Ford Brothers set their living dead apocalypse in Africa, just as American military and government aides working in the unnamed African nation evacuate as a zombie infestation grows to uncontrollable proportions. The audience views the zombie pandemic through the eyes of an American Army engineer who survived the crash of the last flight out and through an African soldier on a personal mission to locate his son, rescued by the local military forces from a zombie attack on his village.  The film is thus a straightforward, unwavering, and brutally serious delineation of what these two encounter as they join forces to escape the zombie herds shambling through the savannah and survive the onslaught.  It’s kind of like a 30 DAYS LATER or THE HORDE set on the plains of Africa, with their own unique politics and challenges to survival.  Imran Ahmad supplies a non-intrusive score made up mostly of percussive slams, whooshing synth clusters, and the occasional African tribal rhythm.  “The music intends to reflect the beauty of the natural world turning into a twisted and distorted reality,” the composer said. The music is percussively driven, detailing along with the environment with its reference to tribal drums and grassy, windbrushed savannah, while the zombie incursion is made flesh through eerie sonic patterns of whispered voicings, moans and dry cries, and those spooky rushing synth breezes. In his score, Imram evokes the tangible texture of the desolate environment and the desolate situation, even while, through a recurring ethnic vocalise, evoking the hope that remains at the heart of the human spirit.  The score, a convergence of atmospheres and dissonances, is essentially one of sound design, yet one that is primarily acoustically driven, written of earth, voice, and wind.  And of undead fire.

For a mini documentary on the making of the music for The Dead, See below...

THE GAUNTLET/Jerry Fielding/Perseverance Records
In the second release (following Morricone’s EXORCIST II) in its new reissue series, Robin Esterhammer’s Perseverance Records offers Jerry Fielding’s score to Clint Eastwood’s crime thriller THE GAUNTLET in its first US release on CD, and thankfully preserves the gorgeous Frank Frazetta poster painting that graced the original 1978 Warner Bros LP soundtrack rather than that awful miscolored photo montage that was slapped onto Warner’s 2001 French CD reissue.  The music is a thoroughgoingly jazz score (director/star Clint Eastwood is a huge jazz fan), much of it recorded in long form for album use and then edited into the film as necessary.  As Nick Redman explains in his informative (and difficult to read in a very small and thin typeface) album notes, only the main and end title music were used in their entirety in the film, other cues were dialed in and out as suited Eastwood and his editor to provide a nonetheless effective soundtrack.  Redman helpfully explains how the score was used in the film and how the cues appear (or don’t) in the finished cut.  The soundtrack album preserves all of Fielding’ music from the movie, rendering it into a fine jazz album boasting performances by acclaimed jazz musicians Art Pepper (sax) and Jon Faddis (trumpet).  Central to the score is a strident trumpet take on the hymn, “Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” while the cue “The Gauntlet” includes a clever and affectionate homage to Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain, properly blown by trumpeter Faddis.  A limited release of 3000 copies.  Esterhammer promises that further releases in the reissue series will contain 8 page notes with more easily readable typeface.  We old farts thank him for that!

IT’S ALIVE/Bernard Herrmann/FSM
Bernard Herrmann’s third-to-last film score was for director Larry Cohen, in the film that propelled the B-movie auteur’s directorial career.  IT’S ALIVE (1974), a low-budget hor­ror thriller about a mutated, killer infant, seemed to be beneath the great composer’s stature even in these lean days, but there was something about the movie, and its director’s enthusiasm, that pleased the irascible composer.  Herrmann signed onto the project, providing an intense score largely derived from his previous genre scores – especially his dependable, two-note fantasy/suspense motif, although with a greater emphasis on electronics that intensified the picture’s grotesque horror.  FSM presents the soundtrack music for the first time – finally closing a 38-year gap in Herrmann’s filmography. (Cohen’s 1978 sequel, IT’S ALIVE 2, was made after Herrmann’s death, so composer Laurie Johnson faithfully recreated the Herrmann sound from the first film, and composed additional music; Cohen’s third and last film in this series, 1987’s ISLAND OF THE ALIVE, was scored by Johnson, referring to Herrmann’s main theme in the midst of his own music.  IT’S ALIVE 2 received an LP soundtrack in 1978 from Starlog, and was reissued on CD by Silva in 1990.)  Thus the pristine Herrmannism of the original IT’S ALIVE score (mastered from Warner Bros’ monaural tapes as the stereo masters are no longer extant) is very welcome, supported by an informative 16-page booklet featuring a thorough analysis by Jeff Bond and Frank K. DeWald.  The score is dark and moody, sparked with plenty of sudden musical jolts and shocks; even Herrmann’s familiar 2-note pattern works well and sounds vibrant in this movie’s context, and while the inclusion of electronics adds an intriguing touch to the composer’s style (as it did in Brian De Palma’s SISTERS), it’s a great example of Herrmann embracing new styles without forsaking the old ones.  As might be said: this isn’t your father’s Bernard Herrmann score; yet the hand of the master is clearly recognizable throughout, like the bloody handprints of a scurrying, mutated infant.  Herrmann avoids any temptation to reflect the monster’s infancy with infantile music, instead giving the film an unrelenting musical tonality of tension and terror.  He scored the savage creature with a straightforward mix of uneasy suspense music and aggressive, oncoming dissonance that fit the film well (Johnson would be the one, in the later films, to give the grotesque mutant child a degree of musical sympathy).

THE LORAX/John Powell/Varese Sarabande
Rejoining the makers of HORTON HEARS A WHO (2008), John Powell scores their second CGI-created Dr. Seuss fable, the environmentally conscious THE LORAX, based on the 1971 book.  Powell’s current supremacy in the realm of scoring hit animated films (HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, RIO, MARS NEEDS MOMS, ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, and KUNG FU PANDA 2 being only those within the last two years) continues with his enchanting music for THE LORAX (a separate songtrack album has been released by Interscope).  The quieter nature of this story has resulted in a more subdued score that, on disc, may lack a portion of the exciting sparkle of his DRAGON, HORTON, RIO, and other scores, but it still a stimulating and evocative score that suits its film well.  Powell provides an effervescent cycle of strings and brass that open the score in “Ted, Audrey and the Trees,” with choir representing the fragile environmental of Thneed-Ville, the land wherein the tale occurs.  Lacking a truly engaging thematic melody, this choral motif serves as the score’s recurring conscience, as in “The Wasteland” where its dour intonations suggest an epitaph for environmental desolation, and in “Valley Exodus,” where a choral lament sadly accompanies the community’s departure from their beloved valley; the music ultimately swells into a splendid if still reverent crescendo for orchestral and full chorus.  “Granny to the Edge” introduces a jaunty melody for woodwinds, but dispenses with it in order to accommodate the exciting orchestral chase across Thneed-Ville heard in the cue’s second half.  “Onceler and Lorax Meet” opens with a warm motif for mandolin over strings and low clarinets (nicely reprised in “Houseguests”), segueing into a festive square dance rhythm; this cue is one of the album’s most progressively interesting tracks.  The dance tune seems to be made up of portions of the introductory “Trees” theme from the first track and is reprised in “The Last Seed” after a beautifully eloquent string and horn melody. The first part of “Truffula Valley Fantasy” contains a provocative, soaring vocal which is quickly submerged beneath a Chipmunks-like chorus of “Lorax Humming Fish,” a comical trio of singing characters who vocally cavort throughout the track, until the end where it blossoms into a grandiloquent denouement of the opening theme, complete with concerto-styled piano and a nice flute-led waltz.  “Thneedville Chase” goes into high voltage rock-and-rhythm section although its frequent starts and stops and slowings, to accommodate changes in the visual action, make it somewhat awkward to hear apart from the film.  The score concludes with the sad “Funeral for a Tree,” a piano led melody of loss that is able to muster its forces and resolve in a swell of continuance and hope for the future. 

SHERLOCK Season One/
David Arnold and Michael Price/Silva Screen

SHERLOCK Season Two/
David Arnold and Michael Price/Silva Screen
The BBC’s contemporary incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, SHERLOCK, premiered in England with three delightful episodes in 2010.  A second series of three episodes was first broadcast in January 2012 in the UK and is scheduled to air on BBC America in May; a third series has been commissioned and will reportedly air in 2013.  I found the show to be a splendid new interpretation of Holmes and Watson, bringing the adventurous mystery of Conan Doyle to the modern era, transplanting 221-B Baker Street from the foggy mists of Victorian London to the hustle and bustle of the modern day UK, without substantially changing the essence of the character.  Wittily written, wonderfully performed, the show was supported by an excellent musical score by David Arnold and Michael Price that perfectly characterized the intelligence, enthusiasm, arrogance, and joy of Holmes when the game is afoot, while capturing the menace and mystery inherent in his exploits in its dark tonalities.  With a jangly main theme characterized by plucked autoharp, guitars, and strings heard over a main title filmed in the quirky miniature-like tilt-shift photography technique, the sonic dimension of the new millennium Holmes is firmly established, and that musical sensibility is drawn into the episode scoring.  Series 1 tends more often than Series 2 to capture in the episode music the essence of that main theme as a reflection of the enigmatic Holmes at work.  “Each of the three episodes here has individual character themes, but the thread running throughout is Sherlock’s speed of thought,” the composers wrote in the Series 1 soundtrack booklet.  “We tried to find ways to be with him musically as he deduced, so we could all enjoy feeling, even for a moment, what it might like to be him in real life.  And to balance that with the genuine integrity and warmth of John Watson.”  Series 2, on the other hand, more often submerges the Holmes and Watson themes beneath unique tonalities for each of its three episodes, where if it is heard at all its in very subdued fragments or in hushed tonalities for cello, violin, piano – in tracks like “Potential Clients,” “Status Symbols,” “Prepared To Do Anything,” and the closer, “One More Miracle,” where after a languid solo piano the album (and season) concludes with a return to the familiar, darky festive attitude of the original signature sound. The Series 2 soundtrack does not include the main theme as a separate track (after all, it’s duly present and intact on the first album); instead the album opens with “Irene’s Theme” from the episode “Scandal in Belgravia.” This cue is, in fact, the tune composed in that episode by Holmes for that exotic lady, expanded to represent the mysterious femme fatale throughout the episode (which reaches its fullest musical embrace in “The Woman”), while in “The Reichenbach Fall” the themes for Holmes and Watson are woven together to anticipate and  confront their climactic encounter with Moriarty.  “Hound of the Baskervilles” cues, “The Village” and “Double Room,” follow Holmes and his partner to the Baskerville estate with the plucked autoharp that plays the signature theme, although here the same instrument is playing a different tune; the texture of the familiar instrument nonetheless capturing the musical attitude of Holmes.  “With the difficult second album/season/whatever there’s always a balance between trying to keep the good things from before, and moving on,” the composers note in the Series 2 booklet.  “In this case, each of the new episodes in season 2 of SHERLOCK was so strong, distinctive, and dramatic, that the only thing to do was to try to rise to that higher level.”  Thus the music for Series 2 relies not on the familiar thematic structure of Series 1, but with separate and unique scores for each of the episodes, while remaining within a harmonic and tonal world of SHERLOCK.  Both albums, therefore, comprise a splendid whole, with little repetition aside from some thematic development, painting a compelling portrait of the enigmatic consulting detective of 221-B Baker Street and his erstwhile if occasionally naive companion.
See my December 2010 column for an interview with Michael Price on scoring SHERLOCK and others.
See here for an interview with David Arnold and Michael Price on scoring SHERLOCK.


THERE BE DRAGONS/Robert Folk/Varese Sarabande
Continuing his exploration of themes like betrayal, love and hatred, forgiveness, friendship, and finding a meaning of life that figured largely in his films THE KILLING FIELDS and THE MISSION, Roland Joffe’s new historical drama, THERE BE DRAGONS (the title is an allusion to the term “Here There be Dragons” often put on ancient maps to denote unexplored territories) is set against the bloody backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, in which a candidate for clerical canonization is investigated by a journalist who discovers his own estranged father had a deep, dark and devastating connection to the saint's life.  This is composer Robert Folk’s first new feature film score in several years, and it is most welcome; he has provided an exquisite score that is both intimate and epically melodic, fitting the lavish and emotive aesthetic the director captures in his sensitive cinematic storytelling.  Folk’s main theme is a majestic composition, a sparkling brass melody augmented with a vast chorus of strings and dappled with a flash of mariachi acoustic guitar and trumpets.  That theme is developed into many different guises while grounding the score in melodic elegance and emotional vulnerability.  “Battle Begins” drives it onward in a martial cadence that refuses to belie the theme’s essential sympathetic melody.  In “Romance,” the theme takes on a glorious passionate sensibility, with high choir saturating the strings; while the same music takes on a heartbreaking aura of tragedy in “Killing Priests,” punctuated by a wrenching rhythm of throbbing drums.  In “Love & War Finale,” Folk elevates his performance into one of massive passion and pain – and on the theme conveys feelings of tremendous sadness, yearning, and betrayal while flowing forward with an astonishing beauty that is high among the composer’s finest works.  This is an outstanding score rich in human emotion and spiritual longing; its melodies captivating and affecting.  The cues tend to run together without the usual between-track breaks, which makes for a tremendously engaging listening experience.   

TRANSFORMERS PRIME/Brian Tyler/Lakeshore
Lakeshore has released Brian Tyler’s eloquently thunderous music from the new TRANSFORMERS animated TV series just in time for the DVD release of the show’s first season.  Capturing music from that initial season in 25 tracks, Tyler’s fully orchestral score is muscular while capturing the same kind of baritone timbre and slow rhythmic advancement with which Steve Jablonsky defined the franchise in his feature film scores.  I love the tone and cadence of this music.  For his TV score, Tyler composed a sturdy theme which sounds massively grand, epically anthemic, immediately conveying the size, power, and heroic scope of the Autobots and the import of their mission to protect earth from the Decepticons. The fast-paced storyline allows little time for respite, so the music is pretty muscular all the time, the main theme making frequent incursions to herald the triumph of the Autobots or the renewed threat of the Decepticons and their dark energon power source. But even at its most discordant, the music remains elegant, smooth, and graceful.  Tyler scored the pilot using an 80-piece orchestra (a rarity for TV scores) and went onto compose the first five episodes as if they made up a single 2-hour movie.  To keep the budget under control, further episodes recycled much of that music, supplemented with a library of additional cues that Tyler had recorded “wild” when he did those first five scores, as well as newly recorded renditions of some of his earlier themes.  In the process he was aided by the show’s music arranger Matthew Margeson, who formulated the complete episode scores for those episodes past the fifth and provides some additional music to the scores as well.  The music, even while falling within the milieu established by the current TRANSFORMERS franchise, remains fresh and attains its own stylistic aesthetic.   Pervasively energetic and very pleasing. 

See my July 3, 2011 column for a discussion with Tyler about scoring TRANSFORMERS PRIME



Soundtrack & Music News

Alexandre Desplat has scored Wes Anderson's indie drama MOONRISE KINGDOM featuring an all-star cast.  The project marks the composer's second collaboration with the director following THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX, for which he received his third Oscar nom. Check out an interview with Desplat talking about his score here.  – via Kraft-Engel Management

An insightful report on Ennio Morricone’s recent Australia concert can be read here: http://thescreenlounge.com/blog/146

Brian Tyler has composed and recorded the new Universal Studios 100th Anniversary signature logo music, which will be heard (and seen) for all their movies made in 2012 (premiering on prints of THE LORAX).  A video featurette in which Tyler walks the viewer through the creation and recording of the score has been posted to youtube, and is recommended viewing:

Following HORRIBLE BOSSES, one of last year's highest grossing comedies, Christopher Lennertz's first movie in 2012 is Screen Gems' romantic comedy THINK LIKE A MAN, helmed by FANTASTIC FOUR and BARBERSHOP director Tim Story. – via Costa Communications

A well-worth article on Italian Western music and its influence upon popular, rock, and other film music can be found at:

Coming in early April from CAM:  The World Of Riz Ortolani is a special 4 CD collection box that traces the career of one of the greatest Italian composers who celebrated his 80th birthday last September 4th, and whose film composing career began 50 years ago, in 1962, gaining international acclaim with his first film MONDO CANE. This new album contains the greatest themes from film scores, performances of his music by legendary artists such as Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie and many other, as well as the luxurious love themes and avant-garde music that have always characterized the work of Riz Ortolani. – via CAM www.camoriginalsoundtracks.com

Johnny Depp’s company Infinitum Nihil has released The Rum Diary – More Music From the Motion Picture through Lakeshore Records.  Following up on Lakeshore’s November soundtrack release (reviewed in my December 30, 2011 column), More Music features a mix of original jazz music from the score by Christopher Young and songs heard in the film performed by Patti Smith, Dick Dale & His Del-Tones, Frankie Miller, and others.  Young, a former jazz drummer, was influenced by the large jazz bands of the 50s and 60s and found the score a delight.  "Most of the tracks on the CD were presented as thematic possibilities for the film," said Young. "This gave me a chance to pour out music that has been inside of me all these years."

A label called Kind of Blue has released a variety of new recordings of various rare Italian soundtracks, credited to a synthesized ensemble called the Solisti E Orchestre del Cinema Italiano.  Releases include a double CD of "34 rare and unreleased soundtracks" by Nino Rota, a rendition of Ennio Morricone pieces used in Quentin Tarantino movies, and similar compilations.  – via eurofilmscoresociety at yahoogroups.  For more information, see http://www.kindofbluerecords.com/

Sony Classical announces both TITANIC: Anniversary Edition and TITANIC: Collector’s Anniversary Edition for release on March 26, 2012. The releases will coincide with the newly re-mastered re-release of the James Cameron movie on April 4, 2012.The theatrical re-release marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic setting sail (April 10th).  Sony Classical’s newly remastered versions of the original TITANIC soundtrack include extensive bonus material: both feature an unreleased disc of period music recorded for the movie by I Salonisti, plus 4 bonus vintage Titanic luggage stickers. I Salonisti is the 5-piece quintet that appears in the film. Director James Cameron painstakingly researched the music that was played on the ship and hired them to record authentic music from the period – specifically, the music that all bands from the White Star Line would have been required to perform when hired to play as employees of the prestigious cruise fleet.  Arranger and music historian/advisor John Altman oversaw the process and was tasked with taking the White Star Line official playlist, arranging and recording those songs for the film. Two of the marquee songs on the disc I Salonisti: Gentlemen, It Has Been a Privilege Playing with You Tonight are “Nearer My God To Thee” which is popularly believed to have been the last song played by the band as the ship went down, and “Song of Autumn” which does not appear in the movie, but is rumored to have been the actual song that the band played as the ship went down.  TITANIC: Collector’s Anniversary Edition will include two additional discs featuring the remastered Back To TITANIC soundtrack and Popular Music From The Titanic Era, which is a new compilation of songs from the early 1900’s.  Of these new releases, composer and conductor James Horner says, “I’m thrilled that Sony Classical is re-releasing the soundtrack album to TITANIC.  It is wonderful to know that the original music has retained its magic through all of these years.”

John Hunter, composer and partner at Breed Music, scored the Academy Award-winning animated short THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE, directed by William Joyce & Brandon Oldenburg of Moonbot Studios. The team also worked together on the accompanying app allows the reader to participate throughout the story by painting the sky, writing in the book or playing the piano all while reading and watching the graphics. Both the fantastically innovative short and appuse a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and MGM Technicolor musicals. John Hunter also collaborated on Moonbot Studios’ newest app, The Numberlys.  “I worked closely with the directors to musically convey their vision since the music is such a key component in the storytelling,” Hunter said.  The directors wanted to include an ornamentation of the folk song/nursery rhyme “Pop Goes the Weasel” as a theme in the original score. Hunter incorporated a 50-piece orchestra to create a powerful yet retro score that interacts with the visual, mirroring Morris Lessmore’s adventures and emotions. Hunter’s film credits include BIG STAN, AMERICAN VIRGIN, and TEKKEN.  For more information on Hunter see http://www.breed-music.com/#/home

A very interesting interview with Finnish composer Panu Aaltio, largely about his impressive score for DAWN OF THE DRAGONSLAYER (reviewed in my February column) has been posted at the Runmovies archival web site:

Mark Isham has written the music for Warner Bros.’ romantic drama THE LUCKY ONE starring Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling and Blythe Danner. The film is based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks and helmed by Oscar-nominated director Scott Hicks. The film will be released on April 20.

Disques Cinémusique has released the CD premiere of two original soundtracks by Frank Skinner, the overlooked composer of about 200 movie scores.IMITATION OF LIFE(1959) is arguably one of Skinner’s finest efforts, a forgotten gem packed with moving and atmospheric themes, in addition to the main title melody provided by Sammy Fain. INTERLUDE(1957) relies mostly on popular classical works. In both cases, Joseph Gershenson conducts the Universal International orchestra and the young Henry Mancini is said to have collaborated anonymously. The two soundtracks have been digitalized and restored from mint LP albums. The overall sound quality is fine: clean but warm and crisp. Imitation of Lifeis in true stereo and a slight reverberation has been added to the monophonic Interlude to create some depth.  – via soundtrackcollector.com
For more info and ordering, visit Disques Cinémusique

Lakeshore Records has released composer David Buckley’s score to Heitor Dhalia’s thriller, GONE, starring Amanda Seyfried.

Michael Wandmacher has returned to score the second season of Fox’s comedy TV series BREAKING IN. The show follows an eclectic team of computer geniuses who work at a high tech security firm taking extreme, and often questionable, measures to break into computer systems. Wandmacher provides both an original weekly score and theme song for the series. He also composed and performed “We Got Your Back” with lyrics by co-producer Adam F. Goldberg and Doug Robinson.  Wandmacher’s score delivers an orchestral approach with electronic undertones. Describing the television scoring process, Wandmacher has said, “Television requires a faster turnaround time to deliver the music compared to film and video games. It can be exciting and challenging.”  Best known for thrillers including MY BLOODY VALENTINE Wandmacher has now garnered success in comedy with projects such as BREAKING IN and the upcoming film, BACHERLORETTE.

Alan Menken tackles his first major live action film outside of Disney with MIRROR MIRROR, a reimagining of the classic Snow White story. The project marks Menken's first collaboration with Tarsem Singh who previously directed IMMORTALS. The Relativity Media production will be released on March 30.

Coming soon from MovieScore Media:
CONQUEST 1453/Benjamin Wallfisch.  The exciting story of the siege of Constantinople in 1453 is a Turkish national epic, and Turkish director Faruk Aksoy's film makes this piece of history accessible using a spectacular Hollywood-inspired cinematic style and a first-rate international orchestral score by Benjamin Wallfisch.

DIRK GENTLY/Daniel Pemberton. This score for BBC Four’s drama series, based on Douglas Adams’ cult classic ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,’ showcases Pemberton’s instantly catchy style: a score driven by a retro feel channeled through infectious harpsichord riffs and cimbalom melodies over a pop combo beat - as lifted right out of a 1960s detective TV show. Pemberton’s score is an ode to UK TV legends such as John Barry, Laurie Johnson and Roy Budd, but with a modern twist and it also features other quirky elements such as Wendy Carlos-inspired lo-fi electronica!

EYE OF THE EAGLE: The Film Music of Søren Hyldgaard (ltd edition 500/c CD only).  Launching a new series showcasing the versatility and impressive output of talented film composers, MovieScore Media will release a CD featuring music by Danish composer Søren Hyldgaard as the first entry in the label’s new 'Spotlight Series'.

Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music is a new book by John Caps looking at the film music of Henry Mancini. It is a comprehensive study of the composer's music, described "as a bridge between the Big Band period of World War II and the impatient eclecticism of the Baby Boomer generation, between the grand formal orchestral film scores of the past and a modern minimalist approach. Mancini's sound seemed to capture the bright, confident, welcoming voice of the middle class's new efficient life: interested in pop songs and jazz, in movie and television, in outreach politics but also in conventional stay-at-home comforts. As John Caps shows, Mancini easily combined it all in his music." A former writer for Soundtrack magazine, John Caps served as producer, writer, and host for four seasons of the National Public Radio syndicated series "The Cinema Soundtrack", featuring interviews with and music of film composers.   – via http://www.mfiles.co.uk 

Revered Parisian electronic duo AIR (Nicolas Godin and JB Dunckel) were asked to compose an original score for the restored version of the classic 1902 silent film LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE (A TRIP TO THE MOON) by Georges Méliès. This new artist album is the fully realized outcome of that collaboration. Georges Méliès is one of the central characters in Martin Scorsese's new blockbuster hit `Hugo' and his life and work (including the iconic A TRIP TO THE MOON) is attracting a whole new wave of interest as a result. AIR's musical career is entering its 15th year, during which time they have sold over 1 million albums in the US, with many memorable highlights including a seminal debut album MOON SAFARI, a film soundtrack for Sofia Coppola.   LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE is now available as a strictly limited edition CD+DVD package, which will include the new album plus a DVD of the newly restored, colorized film featuring AIR's original score.  See: http://www.astralwerks.com/air/

Monstrous Movie Music had announced three new releases: The first is the label’s first 2-CD set, combining two scores from the classic composing team of Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter – KRONOS (1957) and THE COSMIC MAN. The former is one of the great monster scores of the fifties, which MMM offers in its entirety, from its atmospheric passages highlighting the incredible sounds of the electric violin to brassy and percussion-rich cues that capture the essence of the metallic behemoth.  1959’s THE COSMIC MAN is by no means a great motion picture, and the composers obviously knew they had to be creative to give the film a musical coating to bring out all the atmosphere and mystery that the movie itself failed to generate. Although recorded with a small orchestra, the music shows the composers’ ingenuity by using all sorts of devices and orchestration to add the requisite sci-fi flavor to this movie - trills, a healthy dose of percussive tricks, tremolo strings, and electric violin.  The MMM release not only contains the full orchestral score, but also cues not used in the picture and Sawtell/Shefter musical sound effects, too. 
Also announced is classical composer Ferde Grofe’s landmark score for the 1950 science fiction film ROCKETSHIP X-M, which ranges from beautifully evocative passages heard in space to riveting action music on Mars.  This singular creation is one of the high points in the history of science fiction film music and is an essential part of soundtrack history. 
And finally two notable if non-monstrous from Ernest Gold: SHIP OF FOOLS (1965), presented in its original soundtrack recording for the first time; and THE McCULLOCHS, a 1975 loose remake of John Ford’s THE QUIET MAN.  All four albums are limited editions and contain comprehensive and fully illustrated booklets.
See: http://www.mmmrecordings.com/


Kronos Records is proud to present for the first time ever on any format the soundtrack to Walter Santesso's (Paparazzo from Fellini's La Dolce Vita) Italo-Spanish World War II film from 1966 EROE VAGABONDO, featuring music by the iconic Roman composer Francesco De Masi (1930-2005).  The soundtrack of EROE VAGABONDO boasts a main theme which we find in many different arrangements in other tracks, presenting a poignant and catchy melody. But there are also great moments of love (L'Amore di Noè) and rural Iberian flavored atmospheres (“Terra di Spagna” and “Il Circo”).
See: http://www.kronosrecords.com/

Kritzerland has announced its latest new limited edition soundtrack release, two great scores composed by Hugo Friedhofer on one CD.  John Huston’s THE BARBARIAN AND THE GEISHA (1958) is a historical drama starring John Wayne as America’s first diplomat serving in Japan; Friedhofer’s score manages to have Oriental color while remaining tonal in a completely American way. “It’s a thing of sublime beauty and one of his best scores,” noted Kritzerland’s Bruce Kimmel. “His main theme is heartbreakingly beautiful and is repeated many times throughout the score, and the rest of his music complements and enriches every scene in the film.  This is Golden Age movie music the way we remember Golden Age movie music!”
The second score is from 1955’s VIOLENT SATURDAY, a taut and suspenseful classic film about a small-town robber (the DVD was recently released by Twilight Time).  “Friedhofer’s score is only about twenty minutes long, but it’s the perfect amount of music for this film,” said Kimmel. “It does exactly what film music is supposed to do – propels the film, underscores the scenes that need it, and stays out of the way when music would serve no purpose. There are no classic Friedhofer themes to be found – just music that functions sometimes as subtext, sometimes as suspense, and sometimes as violent as the goings on in Violent Saturday.”
Both scores had previous CD releases on Intrada, both long out of print and instant sellouts. THE BARBARIAN AND THE GEISHA was a standalone CD and VIOLENT SATURDAY played second feature to WARLOCK by Leigh Harline. “It’s great to be able to couple the two Friedhofer scores together and make them available to those who may have missed out on the prior releases or who’d like to have these two scores together on one CD. This release has been newly-remastered by James Nelson and is limited to 1000 copies only.
See: http://www.kritzerland.com/

Silva Screen Records has released two more newly recorded compilation albums, featuring the prowess of the City of Prague Philharmonic.  The Complete Harry Potter Film Music Collection offers 33 tracks across two CDs, bringing together music from all eight films for the first time, while Music From The Twilight Saga (out now in England; due on CD in the US on April 24th, although the digital album is currently available).  The collection features music from all four films onto a single disc.  Both discs contain faithful, full orchestral re-recordings of the original soundtrack music.
See: http://www.silvascreen.com/



Games Music News

Daniel Licht’s music for the video game Silent Hill – Downpour has been releases to iTunes.  See: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/silent-hill-downpour-original/id505861414

BAFTA award-winning Danish composer Jesper Kyd, renowned for his iconic musical scores in the Assassin's Creed and Hitman series, has crafted a thrilling original score for Darksiders® II, the sequel to the critically acclaimed action/adventure title developed by THQ's in-house studio Vigil Games™. Kyd's emotionally dynamic score for Darksiders II combines dark ethereal themes and melodic fantasy that enrich the player's cinematic journey through each of the game's unique realms.  Darksiders II follows the exploits of Death, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, in a weaving tale that runs parallel to the events in the original Darksiders game. This epic journey propels Death through various light and dark realms as he tries to redeem his brother War, the horseman who was blamed for prematurely starting the Apocalypse in DarksidersDarksiders II is scheduled to be available for console and PC on 26th June, 2012.
For more information on the game, visit www.darksiders.com.
For more information on Jesper Kyd visit www.jesperkyd.com.

Richard Jacques' original music score for James Bond 007: Blood Stone (Bizarre Creations / Activision) has been awarded "Best Original Composition" (Video Games) at The Music and Sound Awards 2012. Internationally acclaimed by critics as "A modern classic Bond score," Jacques' original Bond score was recorded with A-list musicians at Abbey Road Studios. The Music and Sound Awards is the first and only awards ceremony to focus entirely on music and sound design in the media (see www.masawards.com).
Classically trained from a young age at the Royal Academy of Music in London with an extensive repertoire in jazz and popular music genres, Richard Jacques' previous scores include Mass Effect, Alice In Wonderland, Starship Troopers and Headhunter. Most recently, Jacques scored Little Big Planet 2: The Muppets featuring original music compositions such as "Pigs In Space" and "Big Boss Bossa Nova" as well as a new recording of The Muppets theme. For more information visit www.richardjacques.com.


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 now writes for CinefantastiqueOnline and has written liner notes for more than 70 soundtrack CDs for such labels as La-La Land, Percepto, Perseverance, Harkit, and BSX Records.  For more information, see: www.myspace.com/larsonrdl  A massively re-written and expanded Second Edition of Musique Fantastique will be published this Spring, see: www.creaturefeatures.com/products/books/musique-fantastique/

Randall can be contacted at soundtraxrdl@gmail.com

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