Past Columns

Soundtrax: Episode 2014-2
April 24, 2014

By Randall D. Larson


Van Damme Film Music!


  • Tony Morales scores JCVD’s ENEMIES CLOSERS
  • Karl Preusser scores JCVD’s WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
  • and: Matt Gates scores the sci-fi web-series STARPOCALYPSE
Reviews: BAD WORDS (Kent), BROKEN AGE (McConnell gamescore), DEMONS OF ST. PETERSBURG (Morricone), KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM (McCreary), OCULUS (Newton Bros), PROXY (Newton Bros), RIO 2 (Powell), SECRET SHARER/TSOTSI (Farley), SHADOWBUILDER/TO THE ENDS OF TIME (Seeber), SHE-DEVIL (Shore),STANDING UP (Tyler), WALK OF SHAME (Debney) and more!

Lakeshore Records has released the original soundtrack to Peter Hyams’ action thriller ENEMIES CLOSER digitally and through Amazon-On-Demand.  The music is by Emmy-nominated Tony Morales, who after spending time in the commercial music division of Hans Zimmer’s Media Ventures, went on to compose numerous scores for film and television.  Morales and co-composer John Debney shared an Emmy in 2012 for jointly scoring the TV miniseries, HATFIELDS & MCCOYS (see interviews in my August 2012 column).  In addition to working with Debney, providing orchestrations and additional music, Morales has also worked with Harry Gregson-Williams and Brian Tyler, contributing to the scores of IRON MAN 3, NOW YOU SEE ME, UNSTOPPABLE, and THE CHANGE-UP.  Morales has also contributed music to several hit television series including JUST SHOOT ME, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, THE RICHES, and Syfy’s WAREHOUSE 13

Interviewed in early March, Morales discussed his work for ENEMIES CLOSER, THE BAG MAN (also released from Lakeshore), and Dreamworks’ forthcoming animated short, ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE.

Q: ENEMIES CLOSER is a pretty big action film with Jean-Claude Van Damme, directed by Peter Hyams.  How did you get involved in that?

Tony Morales: ENEMIES CLOSER came about through John Debney.  He’s been my best supporter recently!  John and Peter have done many projects together over the years and had a good working collaboration going, and Peter approached John with ENEMIES CLOSER at a time when John was just swamped.  John was gracious enough to recommend me; he thought I’d be a good fit to work with Peter on the project. 

Q: In addition, your work on THE EXPENDABLES series with Brian Tyler must have put you in a good position to step into this kind of picture.

Tony Morales: Absolutely. I’m glad you mentioned that, because I’ve had so much fun working on those kinds of action movies.  Since I had some recent experience doing some of that, I was really excited about taking one on myself and seeing what I could do with it.

Q: What were your first ideas concerning what the music should be, and what was Peter Hyams’ perspective?

Tony Morales: Meeting with Peter, I must say, was a little intimidating, because the guy’s legendary!  When we screened the movie together, and on the first rough pass Peter really wanted the score to work more in the vein of a thriller as opposed to a full-on action film.  Now, when you think of Van Damme and his work you’re going to envision fighting and action-oriented stuff, so that was an interesting thing to hear, but it made a lot of sense.  I don’t want to give plot lines away but as the story unfolds, there is some development to be had there, emotionally, and that ended up being the take that we went with, musically.

Q: What kind of orchestral/electronic palette did you use on this score?

Tony Morales: We went with an orchestral and electronic hybrid.  What drove the score was heavy strings and percussion, which is certainly something Peter really vibed with; he wanted it to feel strong.  With the electronics, he was also very conscious of wanting to have something that feels contemporary as far as the signature sound goes.  So utilizing some of my past experiences, it was exciting putting together a kind of hybrid mix.

Q: How would you describe your technique of merging the orchestra and the electronics to create the kind of vibe you wanted? 

Tony Morales: My take on that for this particular project was that the hybrid sounds are really going to be felt and heard through the percussion and the rhythmic elements of the score.   It’s not the kind of sound where we’re going to go too far left or right on extremes with one or the other.  I think the percussion, rhythmically, is keeping the intensity up, but it’s not just traditional tympani, bass drum, and snare – it’s that combined with large taikos and some big, synthetic punchy hits and rhythms, along with electronic elements serving as a glue to give on the underlying propulsion of the score a different twist.  The orchestra on its own is pretty traditional – was mostly strings and then heavy on the brass. 

Q: How would you describe the thematic/motif elements of your music here?

Tony Morales: The score was definitely more motif-based as opposed to using full-on themes, which wasn’t the kind of approach we wanted to take.  We wanted to keep audiences on the edge of their seats most of the time, so the approach was more about ramping up the suspense.  There are a couple of thematic ideas I used with Van Damme’s character that were treated with low celli and bass, which was a bit of a motif that we played with whenever his character came and went.  Other than that, though, it was mostly about making sure we keep the mood tense throughout.

Tony with Music Editor Joe Lisanti

Q: What was most challenging for you about this project?

Tony Morales: The schedule.  I know this seems to be the common theme, but the schedule was tough.  I think from when we spotted till they mixed the film we had a little less than four weeks, and the score is roughly around 60 minutes, maybe a little under that.  But the challenge to that was getting to know Peter, Peter getting to know me, and accomplishing what we were trying to get with the score in the same time frame.  That can be a bit of the battle, but I can say that, after the first playback with Peter, things really felt good and natural, and the work flow seemed to go from there.

Q: Somewhere around the same time you were scoring a reality show called ALASKA: THE LAST FRONTIER.  What kind of musical approach did this type of show require?

Tony Morales: This show is on the Discovery Channel, and this was to be their third season.  Prior to me coming on board their music came from an internal library called “Discovery Music Source.”  All of their shows went to this bed of music, and that’s how they derive their scores.  A friend of mine, Pat Weaver, a music supervisor at Discovery – we’ve been friends for many, many years – brought me on board with a pitch that Discovery do original music for this show, and give it its own signature sound.  This would mean that the editors were not using different pieces of music that were not as cohesive as they could be.  So this became a situation where I would write music in a similar style and the editors would cut the show to that rather than the music library.  One of the characters on the show wrote the main theme – he’s a singer-songwriter and actually is the father of the singer Jewel.  His theme is a really catchy tune, it’s very acoustic and it has this kind of roots music feel.  I took his theme as a jumping-off point and created a sound that was rootsy, totally acoustic and really organic – with a lot of guitars, fiddles, banjos and all that stuff – and gave it a contemporary spin.  I wrote hours of music – they had 12 shows and two or three holiday specials and then a best-of show; the series just wrapped up last January. It was a fun project – I’d never been a part of something like that before, where it was a bunch of pre-score music.  There were a few times throughout the process where there was time for me to actually do some scoring, but for the most part they were cutting to the music I had already written.

Q: Was the approach mainly to create a dramatic vibe for the reality sequences, or did you have chance to build any moods?

Tony Morales:  There were a few themes I wrote that were inspired by the main title or by some other musical reference that came up between me and the music supervisor.  Once these themes were presented and signed off on and everyone felt good about them, they became the source of some other moods and styles that we would give them.  They were going to need a range of things to cut to, some things with high-energy, some things that are low, some things that might be a little quieter, things that are loud and epic, just because of the different story lines that are happening.

Q: What is the musical story with David Grovic’s THE BAG MAN which you’ve just scored in conjunction with Edward Rogers?

Tony Morales: Edward and I are good friends from college and we were also both in the USC scoring program. He’s had a career starting to work for Mike Post and has gone to do some television shows, most recently a show called WAREHOUSE 13 on SciFi.

Q: I believe you worked on that, too.

Tony Morales: Yes, I did some help there, through Ed.  We did a movie about three years ago called HIDEAWAY, and the same filmmakers have since been very loyal to us and have called us back on a few other things; in fact the last time you and I talked I had just finished a film called THE FIRSTLING, and that was our next movie we did together, me and Ed.  And just a side note, that movie’s now called BREAKING AT THE EDGE, and it should be released later on this year.

THE BAG MAN was the third film in line with these same filmmakers.  It was a blast.  The director really wanted a sound that felt dark and swampy.  The film is a thriller set in Louisiana and it takes place mostly in the nighttime, so it’s a dark film, in many ways.  David certainly did not want a traditional, orchestral sound.  Ed and I are both guitar players, and we thought let’s try something different and put together a small band to perform the score.  We brought in an acoustic bass player, Mike Valerio, a laptop guitar player named Joshua Grange - he actually ended up playing this really neat instrument called a frying pan guitar, which is a Rickenbacker guitar from the 1930s, and it literally looks like a frying pan with a long neck on it!  But you play it like a lap guitar or almost like a dobro, but it’s electric.  Joshua Grange is a touring guitar player, in fact right now I think he’s touring with Sheryl Crow.  So he’s fantastic.  Then we called up our buddy Joe Pusatari to play drums and percussion.  So with our guitar, bass, drums, we wrote a few thematic ideas and some vibes, brought them in and we did a pre-score session with our musicians, to get them to expand on our music, and once we heard them playing what we wrote we’d try some other things. Then we took that pre-score session and from those elements we started to build the score.  So it was fun, and we got to work with elements that felt organic and real and were actually performed as opposed to trying to make a synthesizer do something that’s just impossible. 

Tony with Film Editor Devin Maurer and Co-Composer Ed Rogers

Q: Once you’d put together that sonic palette, how did you develop the pattern of the music against character and situation in the film?

Tony Morales: We had fun playing in the sandbox with all those musicians.  Then I took all the elements home and essentially built a library, which gave us the tools to then build the score with. We’d tackle each scene with whatever was appropriate to use from that grab bag, along with writing traditionally at our respective set-ups and recording our own guitar work at home.  We’d process a lot of that, run them through effects and other things to make them sound different, add reverb and things to give it a little bit more of that dark, swampy, almost ethereal feel.  It was just like having a brand new, custom set of tools to work with.

Q: You’ve just finished scoring IN YOUR EYES, a romantic science fiction story written by Joss Whedon and directed by Brin Hill.  What kind of music have you given this production?

Tony Morales: Brin Hill directed the first feature I ever scored, a little film called BALL DON’T LIE [2008], so we go way back.  He was approached by Joss to direct his script, which was co-produced with another company, Night and Day Pictures, which had done BALL DON’T LIE.  So with our previous relationship, Brin wanted to bring me in, and after some initial discussions, I came on board.  It’s a supernatural romance, as you’ve said, and the score needed to be romantic but have a bit of a haunting, supernatural quality. 

Q: Would you describe your musical palette/thematic vibe of the score?

Tony Morales: It’s sort of a hybrid orchestral-electronic sound but not like what I had done on ENEMIES CLOSER.  It’s not a thriller/action sound, this was more strings-based.  It’s definitely more melodic.  We recorded with a local union string group, with about twelve string players and piano.  It sounded fantastic.  There’s also solo vocal on this, which I utilized for some of the supernatural elements in the film, and some processed electronic sounds.  I’m really proud of this one, it’s a little different.

Q: You also recently scored Gary Trousdale’s short animated film for Dreamworks featuring everyone’s favorite moose and squirrel, ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE… How did you step into the musical footsteps of that franchise?

Tony Morales: That was really tough, but super exciting.  The ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE short is about 6-8 minutes.  The film itself was paying homage to the original Jay Ward style, with all the humor and all the quick jokes.  With the music, Gary from the beginning wanted to pay homage to the original style that Frank Comstock and Fred Steiner had done, so I went home and started watching all the episodes, and it’s interesting – there’s not a lot of score in the episodes. There’s themes and theme songs – FRACTURED FAIRY TALES and all that – the show had a sound, but there’s no score, as such.  So that was a tricky thing to figure out.  I ended up doing a score that feels classic but has some contemporary beats as far as how we played the cartoony aspects of it.  There were also a few moments where we actually rerecorded some of the original music by Frank Comstock for certain sections.  Dreamworks was very happy with it, so they’re a new client and we’ll see what comes next!

For more information on Tony Morales, see his web site at

Thanks to Beth Krakower of CineMedia Promotions for facilitating this interview.



MovieScore Media/Kronos Records has released the music to Rob Meltzer’ action comedy WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme in a comedic send-up of his former roles. The film takes place on a tropical island, where a company retreat is meant to be a routine teambuilding exercise for a group of office workers, where Van Damme’s character takes command, but not everything goes according to plan.  The comic, tribal-flavored score is provided by composer Karl Preusser who had previously worked with Meltzer on the director’s meta-comedy I AM STAMOS. “The true challenge was riding the delicate balance between the comedic moments and the darker, more dramatic ones,” Preusser explained about scoring WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.  “This film can have you buckled over with laughter and then suddenly twist to a moment that feels ‘uncomfortably real;’ it definitely kept me on my toes.”  In addition to composing and orchestrating, Karl also takes pride in conducting most of his works; he is currently writing lyrics and music for an animated feature film. The composer’s concert works include the piano piece ‘Sudoku,’ which was premiered live on NBC’s ELLEN.

Interviewed in early March, Preusser discusses his approach to JCVD and his new film, as well as his music for the animated epic DRAGONLANCE: DRAGONS OF AUTUMN TWILIGHT, the web series SPACE GUY IN SPACE, and his upcoming feature, BIGGER THAN THE BEATLES.


Q: You have scored nearly four-dozen shorts, documentaries, television shows and feature films since you began in this industry in the late 1990s.   What lessons have you learned over those fourteen years’ experience that have served you the best in where you are today as a film composer?

Karl Preusser: I think if I had to hang my hat on just one piece of advice, both artistically and career-wise, it would be to have an open mind.  Life and art rarely play out as you expect them to.  More often than not, both opportunity and the creative spark can come from unexpected places, so be a good listener and ‘connect the dots’ not only for yourself, but also for others.

Q: You’d scored a couple of films for director Rob Meltzer in previous years. What kind of working relationship have you developed with him in your previous projects and how did that make for a smoother dialogue/rapport when you came in to score WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE?

Karl Preusser: Rob and I have been good friends and working together for years, I’m lucky to get to work with such a talented filmmaker.  I’ve learned to trust his instincts, but at the same time he is very open to new ideas and approaches and his projects always truly feel like a ‘team effort’.

Q: What kind of music did he ask for?  How did you discuss the elements of music the film should have, as far as the style of music and its sonic palette?

Karl Preusser: I was involved very early on with the project and Rob and I were talking music even before the shoot.  Instinctually, I think we both knew that the job of the score would be to play the island itself as the ‘ominous straight man’ to the insanity and humor of the characters and story.  As far as the sonic palette, we first decided that this island would be a fictional island, which meant it was anything goes as far as using various ethnic instruments and musical styles.   From that starting point, the film’s story and setting was just begging for tons of percussion and I’m really happy with that aspect of the score.  We wanted ‘epic’ and ‘exotic,’ so we went with a string and brass orchestra complimented by various soloists that specialize in ethnic instruments and styles. 

Q: You’ve mentioned the challenge of writing music that was flexible enough to turn on a dime as the film shifts from heavy action to high drama to side-splitting comedy.  How did you balance these elements of the film and keep the score cohesive?

Karl Preusser: We stayed fairly true to our sonic palette throughout the film, which I think helped with the score’s cohesiveness.  It was a bit of a challenge though to score the scenes in the office before the characters even get to the island, because while we still had to be true to the overall sound of the score, a big city advertising agency isn’t exactly a jungle setting.  In binding the two sections of the film together musically, rather than go with the stereotypical ‘boardroom jungle’ approach that one might use in that situation, we had the ‘jungle music’ in the office section of the film play more the lead character Chris’ ‘inner animal’ which has yet to come out.  Really that is what this story is all about, Chris not being in touch with his inner strength but then finding his courage when he’s put in an extreme situation and setting.

Q: Obviously, action movie icon Jean Claude Van Damme’s character is at the heart of this film – how did you treat his character, musically, as the story progresses throughout the film?

Karl Preusser: I’ve always been a big JCVD fan and he delivered a fantastic, hilarious performance in this film.  This score isn’t really driven by character themes, but JCVD’s character does have a theme that appears first when we meet his character Storm Rothchild and then again later on when Storm has his climatic moment in the story.  It was interesting to me, because although the musical presentation of the theme is quite similar in both scenes, it plays completely differently because of the growth and change that the character has gone through.  On the fun side of things… I got to score a JCVD slow-motion kick! How awesome is that?

Q: How would you describe the film’s thematic structure? 

Karl Preusser: Both Chris and Phil (the protagonist and antagonist) have themes that appear here and there throughout the film as their character’s stories progress, but as I said, we primarily centered the score around the island itself as the ominous ‘straight man’ to the hilarity happening with the group.  This film blurs the line between farce and reality and we needed the score to be the centerline in between those two extremes, occasionally poking fun at the absurdity of the group, while still never letting us forget that they are in a perilous situation.

Q: How were the score’s tribal aspects – which seem to range from aboriginal percussion to mysterious exotica to elements of throat-singing – developed to create an atmosphere of an environment that was almost a character in itself?

Karl Preusser: When you score a film entitled WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, you can bet there is going to be some percussion involved and we really went for it.  Most of the percussion in the score was recorded live and we added a few other soloists as well… exotic string instruments and woodwinds.  The vocals were a key part of this score, because in the first section of the film when the characters are still in an urban environment, we needed a musical element that would tie our entire ‘jungle score’ together.  The funnier tribal vocals kind of represent the group as a whole, not really being able to work together at first, but then as the film progresses they find their footing and come together.  The throat singing was a representation of Chris’ inner strength that he has always kept buried inside.

Q: I’m also interested in your score for the animated feature, DRAGONLANCE: DRAGONS OF AUTUMN TWILIGHT.  What musical opportunities did this animated fantasy adventure provide for you – and what challenges?

Karl Preusser: I always wanted to score a sweeping, orchestral ‘epic’ and DRAGONLANCE was my first, I put all of my heart into it.  I was a huge fan of the books in my younger days and I still am.  In addition to the orchestra, I recorded the Mila Vocal Ensemble and the Musica Antiqua medieval ensemble in my hometown of Minneapolis and that was a great thrill.  One of the best things about working on that film is my continuing friendship with the authors Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis. The primary challenge of that score was undoubtedly delivering ninety minutes of orchestral score on a shoestring budget… it all came down to a whole lot of ‘elbow grease’.

Q: What challenges did scoring the sci-fi/comedy web series SPACE GUYS IN SPACE pose for you? How did you bring some life to this saga of two guys trapped in a failing escape pod, while leaving room for the comedy to work?

Karl Preusser: I had a blast scoring SPACE GUYS IN SPACE!  I’m particularly proud of the main title.  It was basically Laurel and Hardy In Space and, musically, I just tried to keep up with the insanity!  It’s a very funny show and most of the comedy played just fine without music, so I had to pick my moments carefully.  In a lot of ways it was similar to WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, because the score often played the ‘straight man’ to nutty characters stranded in a life or death situation.

10. You’re scheduled to rejoin director Vaughn Juares to score BIGGER THAN THE BEATLES, a drama about the friendship between The Beach Boy’s Dennis Wilson and Charles Manson.  Have you begun work on this score yet? Anything you can say about the musical direction you’ll be taking on this project?

Karl Preusser: I’m very excited about this project, this film’s story line doesn’t play out as you might expect it to and we’ll definitely be breaking some ‘new musical ground’ with it to say the least.  I’ve worked with Vaughn Juares on several films, he is incredibly talented and musically he has always been a very ‘experimentation friendly’ director.  This project is still kind of in ‘top secret mode’ but the one thing I can say about our approach to the music, given the subject matter and the characters, is that we will definitely not be ‘playing it safe’ and that suits me just fine.

More information on Karl Preusser may be found on his web site at .

Special thanks to MSM/Kronos Records for assistance in facilitating this interview



STARPOCALYPSE is a space opera web series that debuted on SMBC Theater on Christmas day, 2013.  Accessible via youtube and on its own website, STARPOCALYPSE is the first higher-budgeted web series presented by SMBC.  Subversive, satirical, farcical, with a unique commentary on social events, STARPOCALYPSE takes place 10,000 years after the last religious human flees earth.  Threatened with unemployment, the final professor of literature, philosophy, and theology struggles against desperate odds to keep his job. The music for the series is a terrific amalgamation of broad, sci-fi maneuvers, faux religious chorales, rolling percussive suspense music, and the occasional STAR WARS and STAR TREK homage or satires.  It’s a thoroughly effective orchestral-sounding work by Matt Gates, who I interviewed recently about his work for this amusing pastiche of space opera and religious criticism.

Q: You’ve been regularly scoring fantasy, action, documentary, and other films since the mid-1990s. How did you get started and what have you learned in your first ten years as a film composer?

Matt Gates: I got started in film music for two main reasons. First, I always loved film music, both as music and for the emotion it imparts to films. Second, I have been captivated by creating my own music and the instant gratification of hearing it performed by a computer or synthesizer since I was young. It is the one thing that has never failed to put me in “the zone.” 

When I was in my senior year of college at the University of Arkansas studying composition I realized maybe academic music wasn’t the best place for me. A friend of mine, Jeremy Doss, told me about a summer course on film music given by Hummie Mann.  I attended that and got my feet wet with the ideas of what it is to be a film composer and have a production studio. I went home and built my first digital audio workstation. I still had a long way to go though, both in terms of basic knowledge about how to write and produce film music, and how to get work as a film composer. I had heard USC was the place to go for all that so I applied and was lucky enough to get in. I scored a bunch of shorts at USC and we got to record with a live orchestra of various sizes about half a dozen times. In the end I had a presentable if not amazing demo reel to start looking for work. I still didn’t really know where to begin so I just started emailing directors my demo reel and eventually I started getting some calls back.  

I’ve learned a massive amount since I started. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to work with directors and producers; how to understand what they are really saying and how to not get too attached to any one idea. Music is sometimes really hard to discuss in non-musical language and the ability to interpret what something as simple as “up-beat” means is vital if you don’t want to be rewriting constantly.

Q: How did you become involved with the STARPOCALYPSE webseries?

Matt Gates: Mainly through my cousin Timothy Ciancio, who does a lot of work with 5 Second Films and through that he worked with SMBC Theatre and James Ashby (writer/producer). I also happen to love SMBC Theater and have been watching their youtube videos from the very beginning. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them.

Q: When you came on board what was your brief as far as the kind of music the filmmakers wanted for the show?

Matt Gates: The show is space opera farce so my main brief was that music would be playing the straight man. That is to say the music was to be traditional sci-fi type scoring in the vein of STAR TREK. In the end there was a lot of that but also a lot of super fun and wacky music.

Q: What would you say is central to your STARPOCALYPSE music?

Matt Gates: I always started with my director’s (Jason Axinn) amazing notes about what he envisioned for the score. It was incredible to work with someone who was so adroit about how score can enhance comedy and the timings involved in that. The show is episodic and the music plays a functional role so there really isn’t a big theme that’s developed in the score. It was a blast however, to explore a variety of flavors of the sci-fi sounds I have always loved and if anything, I think the album is a pastiche that celebrates all my favorite space themed shows and movies.

Q: How have you worked to support the show’s humor and parody in your score? Aside from playing it mostly straight, there are times when the music calls attention to the humor (i.e., the funky R&B of “Taunting Jessex” and the festively provocative “Princess Pleasure Planet”). What’s been your approach to these contrasting elements?

Matt Gates: For the most part that direction came from Jason and I embraced the diversity of the score and didn’t try to force things to be cohesive. There is nothing restrained about SMBC Theatre – so I knew I should just embrace going all out when it was called for.

Q: How have you treated the show’s satirical religious element, which seems to be quite a change from some of the more inspirational, biblical-based documentaries you’ve scored.

Matt Gates: Yes, that is very ironic. I’ve scored more faith-based films than anything else and, having been brought up very devout, I am very familiar with that sound and what creates feelings of reverence. However, mostly what I did in STARPOCALPYSE was a parody of “God Music” and that isn’t all that similar to what I actually do on religious films.

Q: I’m assuming you’re using a digital orchestra and sampled instruments for the score. Would you describe how you’ve configured that to provide the many different kinds of textures and instruments that give the STARPOCALYPSE score its quirky potency?

Matt Gates: Yes, this was all done my computer with no live instruments. On most projects you would use a template with all your favorite sounds loaded and ready to use. That makes things much quicker and gives you some consistency in your color pallet. I didn’t use a template at all on STARPOCALYPSE. I loaded new sounds for every single cue. What that results in is a score that is all over the place in terms of color. It doesn’t necessarily make for a cohesive score but I think it works for the show – and you can be the judge if it works as an interesting listening experience.

Q: Your score accommodates both the show’s classic symphonic sci-fi energy and sweep while also supporting some of the unique characters and environments they pass through. Would you describe how you’ve developed the score and how various themes and instruments and choirs are used to reflect aspects of the story and its characters?

Matt Gates: This isn’t LORD OF THE RINGS and I am not Howard Shore so there isn’t exactly a book to be written about how this score functions! I wish I could say the boys’ choir was used to portray the irony of this version of God’s complete lack of holiness and innocence or that the French horn is used to represent Leba and Niac’s hope or something cool like that but for me writing the music was a much simpler process. Those things may be true but I just wrote everything on gut instinct and from talking with Jason about what kind of music he thought would work for each story element.

Q: What’s been most challenging for you in scoring STARPOCALYPSE?

Matt Gates: The most challenging part was getting all the timings of everything perfect. In comedy, more than any other genre, the timing of where music lands is vital and luckily Jason was extremely good about helping me find the ideal timings for certain hits and stings. I would say the variety of music demanded was challenging except that I loved that aspect of this show.

Q: What’s been most unique about scoring this webseries, compared to the other scoring work you’ve done?

Matt Gates: A few things really. First, this is a crowd-funded project and I am very excited to see and hear what the response is to this. I hope people love it. Second, I’ve worked with great directors in the past but working with Jason Axinn was pretty unique - he has a great way of explaining what he wants and it was really interesting working with him. Third, I don’t think I’ve ever done such a huge variety of music – some genres I never thought I would touch and unless it was for SMBC theatre I would probably never do such a unique score with so much diversity again.

Matt Gates’ soundtrack album from STARPOCALYPSE is available for download from amazon, iTunes, and other digital music sources.  Thanks to Matt Gates and James Ashby for their time and assistance in setting up this interview.



New Soundtrax in Review

BAD WORDS/Rolfe Kent/Back Lot Music
Jason Bateman (IDENTITY THIEF) makes his feature directorial debut with the subversive comedy BAD WORDS. He stars as Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of The Golden Quill national spelling bee and decides to cause trouble by hijacking the competition.  Composer Rolfe Kent’s score, on the one hand, runs true to the kind of underscore that most comedies like to have these days – breezy, percussive Thomas Newmanesque orchestrations and the like, but true to form Kent offers plenty of surprises within that formula.   Kent relies primarily on woodwinds throughout the score, giving the score a quirky tonality that fits the storyline and its attitude quite well.  “The tone of BAD WORDS feels as if it has its own rules,” said Rolfe Kent. “Jason and I spoke before BAD WORDS was even shot, about how clarinet might be great for the score. I took it further and suggested doing just woodwind – no strings and no brass. We got the flavor we wanted.”  There are, in fact, some strings added for counterpoint in several tracks, but the winds do indeed take the dominant force of the music.  Kent’s penchant for crafting unexpected textures and sonic treasures out of familiar instruments really gives the score a favorable pleasure. An accordion pops up here, a beautifully raucous swing-jazz number erupts out of nowhere (“It's Not A Sundae”) followed by an equally delightful funky romp (“Chai Gets An Education”).  Most cues are fairly short, between 1-2 minutes, giving the soundtrack album a running length of 41 minutes and some change, but it maintains a consistently interesting vibe. 

BROKEN AGE/ Peter McConnell/ BandCamp
Peter McConnell has crafted a highly original orchestral score for the highly anticipated graphic adventure game Broken Age, created by visionary designer/writer Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions.  The game tells the story of two teenagers in strangely similar situations but radically different worlds; players can freely switch between their stories, helping them take control of their own lives and facing the unexpected adventures that follow.  With this narrative, the game called for a highly personable musical accompaniment.  McConnell's sublime, frequently playful, score is brightly colored in a variety of acoustic textures, integrating live recordings with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and small ensemble performances recorded with wind and string instruments.  Unlike heavy sci-fi action games, Broken Age possesses a flavorful and bright melodic treatment which is both intriguing and quite enchanting its musical evocation.   The score reflects the curiosity of the characters as they explore their environments, while creating plenty of honest suspense as they fall prey to various perils along the way (the progressive rhythmic steps punctuated by cycles of writhing, tendrilous filigrees of piping flutes and tremolo strings give “Maidens Feast” a splendid sound texture, culminating in an affronted series of very low blasts from horns, a sensibility carried into the following track (“Mog Chothra”) where McConnell takes each of the previous sonic elements and sets them upon each other for a delightful aural skirmish.  “Hero” provides a light and jaunty march and high register horn peals swept along by rhythmic violins.   McConnell’s orchestrations are lively and inventive throughout, such as the inclusion of toy piano, ticking clock, and serpentine ethnic winds and strings in “Shay's Secret Mission,” which captures a very pleasing sound.  In these and many other moments, the soundtrack to Broken Age sparkles.  It’s a thoroughly invigorating confection.
McConnell previously composed the acclaimed musical scores for Double Fine's Brutal Legend and Psychonauts as well as several classic adventure game soundtracks for LucasArts including Grim Fandangoand Monkey Island. In addition to being a composer, Peter McConnell has been involved in the technology of music and digital media, and is co-inventor of LucasArts' patented iMUSE interactive music system. For more information on Peter McConnell visit
For more information on Broken Age visit
(Through May 1st, Broken Age is offered through the Game Music Bundle – see info below under Games Music from Austin Wintory.)

THE DARK VALLEY (Das finstere Tal)/Matthias Weber/MovieScore Media
Nominated for nine German Film Awards (the Lolas), this Austrian/German vengeance thriller features an ominous score by Matthias Weber.  The movie tells the story of a mysterious horseman who approaches a lone village in the Alps in the late 19th century with revenge on his mind. This film might be described as a “Matterhorn Western,” if I may coin a new phrase, in that it is made like a Western but is set in the Alps.  German composer Matthias Weber studied in the USA and started out working on American television, scoring episodes of including BAYWATCH and THE SHIELD, and as a programmer working with Hans Zimmer and Trevor Jones.  His music, like the film, is an unusual hybrid, blending moments of classical beauty with an unsettling array of electronic textures and rhythms, enhanced by manipulated orchestral elements and rare solo instruments including guitar viol, alpine horn, and ronroco (a kind of baritone or tenor charango). A recurring motif is a provocative doom-laden imposition of gradually descending lament from the alphorn which creates a probing sonic ambiance, often set against reprocessed sound elements merged into very troubling textures (“Passacaglia Vindicta”). In “Wedding,” this same motif creates the most morose music for nuptials I’ve ever heard, inset into a bed of cello, heavy, echoing frame drums, and flighty punctuation from violins.  In “Surprise” it exudes like a sonic blob oozing out into the movie theater, driven by a rumbling vibe of actual and processed percussion.  In contrast to the motif’s impenetrable disconsolation, the “Dark Valley Polka” is jaunty but just somehow feels slightly pensive, kind of like the festive Cajun music in SOUTHERN COMFORT that contradicted every visual cue displayed by the celebrants. I’m especially pleased with the presence of the massively blown bass howl of the alphorn in this score; it has a remarkable vibrato presence and its low sound lends a striking, even bone-shaking reverberation to the score which very much adds to its alluring abnormality. The climactic cue, “Smith Fight” is a pretty demonstrative amalgamation of discordant sound as Weber gathers together a strange and strident sound design, full of echoes, throbbing industrial beats, and stretching tonalities – and probably the weirdest fight music of any Western to date; it is followed by the fresh clarity of “Revenge Done,” which, as its title suggests, allows the stranger to ride out of the valley, seemingly redeemed by his actions; but a heavy performance from cello and violins resume to weigh upon the music as if not all is totally settled.  Performed by the Skopje Film Orchestra, aided by such notable soloists as Tina Guo (cello), Lisbeth Scott (ronroco), and Eliana Burki (alpine horn), the score deservedly earned one of those German Lola nominations – it’s one of the most fascinatingly unusual and absorbing musical configurations I’ve come across in recent years.  In addition to Weber’s score, the soundtrack also includes three songs used in the film – two versions of the folk spiritual “Sinnerman” (Nina Simone, The Weavers) become a kind of anthemic representation of the dark rider; one is song in an angular, alt-folk style by Clara Luzia, the other with more of an alt rock vibe by One Two Three Cheers and a Tiger which concludes the album (and presumably the film); the third song is an original by Steaming Satellites, “How Dare You!”

THE DEMONS OF ST. PETERSBURG/Ennio Morricone/Keep Moving Records
In a limited edition of only 500 copies, Keep Moving Records of Russia has issued the premiere soundtrack recording of this 2008 Italian film, Giuliano Montaldo’s ambitious telling of the life of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  Morricone has scored a dozen films with Montaldo, starting with Pontecorvo’s BATTLE OF ALGIERS in 1966 (Montaldo was second unit director), and some of the composer’s most celebrated dramatic films have been for this director, including GRAND SLAM, MACHINE GUN McCAIN, SACCO & VANZETTI, MARCO POLO, and the Leone-influenced Western THE GENIUS.  For their latest collaboration, Morricone has composed an elaborate psychological portrait of the haunted novelist, constructing the score around a layered interaction of string-based orchestrations.  The score was recorded by the Rome Sinfoniette, featuring notable soloists on violin, viola, cello, and trumpet; with sparing vocal melisma from Paola Cecchi.  It’s a frequently beautiful but also very unsettling work – and thoroughly mesmerizing as a result.  Warm, fluid melodies interact with angular, strident piano and guitar notes, like some Kafkaesque obstruction that bars the music from flowing purely, and thus the composer suggests the struggles the novelist had to endure most of his life.   The album includes several tracks that were not included in the film, but were chosen for the album by the composer.

THE FILM MUSIC OF MIKLÓS RÓZSA/BBC Philharmonic, Rumon Gamba/Chandos
The latest release in the UK label’s series of “The Film Music of…” presentations contains suites from four film scores by Miklós Rózsa, splendidly performed by the BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Chandos regular Rumon Gamba.  The previous prior two dozen or so releases have favored European composers such as Georges Auric, Richard Addinsell, Ron Goodwin, Richard Rodney Bennett, Malcolm Arnold, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Mischa Spolianski and so on, and it’s nice to see them including a composer associated with Hollywood’s Golden Age (albeit one born in Hungary who began scoring in London) added to their roster.  Location aside, this is a very good gallery of Rózsa’s work, but most film music aficionados will already have all of this music, likely in multiple forms – extended suites from THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, THE JUNGLE BOOK, SAHARA, and BEN-HUR; however these recordings are aimed at the classical market rather than the film music market and as such the selections are appropriate to entice the classical aficionado, and the generous length of the suites (19:46, 31:12, 7:46, and 21:17 respectively), each one divided into individual tracks for listening but joined into a continuous presentation of each score, affords ample time for musical development – this is in no way a “movie themes” album.  Gamba takes the orchestra through very fluid rendition of Rózsa, the digital presentation of which accommodates a fine dimensionality of the music when played loud on a superior audio system – and more than satisfactory on smaller units.  The musical range of the films chosen – a broad fantasy, an exotic musical saga in the leitmotif-friendly manner of PETER AND THE WOLF, a cynical and desolate struggle of survival in World War II Libya, and a religiously-tinged historical epic – each carrying a very different musical style with perhaps THIEF OF BAGDAD and JUNGLE BOOK, already frequent companions on joint recordings, the closest in similarity.  Even if you have the composer’s touchstone scores in your collection, this striking concert performance makes for a fine listen on its own, although it’s primary value is likely to be found among those newly-discovering the riches of maestro Rózsa.  Chandos’ package includes a thorough set of notes by Andrew Knowles, who covers the composer’s brief bio and speaks at length about the films, their music, and their musical content gathered together in this presentation.

KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM/Bear McCreary/Sparks & Shadows
Bear McCreary embraces his inner rock-and-roll animal in the score to this horror-comedy from director Joe Lynch (WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END).  Described as a “metal horror film,” the movie has to do with a group of cosplay nerds who accidentally release a real-life Heavy Metal demon into the world.  Infested with a compelling, bleeding cornucopia of “soaring bagpipes, drop-tuned distorted guitars, double kick drums, blaring horns, dulcimers and ethereal vocals” (as Bear put it), the score is a massive conflagration of heavy metal and hard rock influences, as well as McCreary’s own dramatic instinct for grasping character and story nuances in musical texture and sensitivity.  “I think of it as a ‘heavy metal fantasy concept album,’” he said.  “The cues are presented in narrative order, for the most part, with some slight restructuring and occasional new material to facilitate a smooth musical flow.”  Its components and truly legion – elements of evocative scoring, such as the ethnic-inflected “The Game Master” (home of those soaring bagpipes), shoulder up against heavy metal vocals provided by Bear’s brother Brandon (and others), while a power ballad straight out of arena rock provided a glorious anthem in, well, “Joe's Power Ballad.”  The pipes of “The Game Master” is reprised for guitars and heavy drums in “Slightly Badass” while Bear gives his bagpipers a terrific workout in “Demon Apes,” a furiously exciting and compelling piece growing into a striking dual between shredding guitars and soaring horns; in “Gwen’s Theme” the melody becomes a soft and silky flute melody for the lovely maiden, but here too it morphs into a metal-inflected anthem for solo guitar and drum kit.   Wailing shrieks of choir inform “The Hell Lord Abominog” with a growing sense of demonic doom, exuding a dark riffing of heavy guitars and drums that seem to suggest the imminence of His Eminence.  With “Earn Our Valor,” Bear takes a moment to recognize the honor and boldness of his heroic assembly, although at the end, with a shout, they are off to the miasmic accompaniment of electric guitars that encourage the heroes onward.  This is really a terrific album – it’s great progressive metal and its great electric film music in both its more eloquent, dramatic maneuvers as well as in its straight-ahead, rock this kingdom vibe. Nobody’s combined metal and movie music quite as well as this.
See more about the score at:

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES/Tuomas Kantelinen/Lionsgate Records
Finland-born composer Tuomas Kantelinen seems to have an affinity for investing these films with an organic earthiness, as such scores as MONGOL: THE RISE OF GENHIS KHAN, ARN: THE KNIGHT TEMPLAR and ARN: THE KINGDOM AT THE ROAD’S END might suggest.  His score for Renny Harlin’s retelling of the origin of the mythical Greek hero, half-god/half-man – one of two Hercules films to hit theaters this year (Brett Rattner’s HERCULES coming up in July) – is definitely a strenuous composition while also capturing a sensitive romantic sensibility.   “I was ecstatic to get to tackle the score of a movie that plays on such a grand scale,” said Kantelinen. “The film has both huge action scenes - where one can go crazy with brass and percussion - and a beautiful love story, with opportunities for a softer musical approach.  From the get-go Renny wanted a more 'old-fashioned' score in the vein of classic swords and sandals movies, and as a big fan of orchestral music I was more than happy to go with his idea.”  Kantelinen had previously scored Harlin’s MINDHUNTERS, a contemporary crime thriller; because of their previous association, Kantelinen’s involvement with the new project began unusually early. “I read many versions of the script and visited Bulgaria when the movie was being shot, so I got to be on set and meet the cast and crew,” he explained.  “I had already started writing some themes back then and was lucky to be in Sofia when they played my piece on the set the whole day while shooting that particular scene. The cue is in the completed movie as well, so the actors were really hearing the same music on set as the audience hears in the theaters, which rarely happens.”  With a sturdy melodic hero theme at its center that drives the depth and character of the music, the score builds a sense of muscular force through charging runs of orchestra and choir, musically personifying the strength and stamina of the Hercules character, while emphasizing his human sensitivity and vulnerability with a softer melody for strings which entwine into a poignant love theme once he has fallen for the delectable Hebe, Princess of Crete.  Kantelinen pairs the Hercules theme with the love theme in “Hercules and Hebe,” softening the rough grounding of the former to accommodate the silky strings and flutes that reveal growing yet forbidden love; after which Hercules’ theme, refreshed, literally takes flight, driven by a pair of musical bird calls that give the hero’s reprised theme a new vigor for life.  The score is bookended by two tracks that form the two ends of the story arc – “The Fall of Argo” during which battle a hero is promised (“The Intervention of the Gods” with its interactive vocal chants and orchestral misterioso) who will aid the vanquished to regain their kingdom.  That hero, of course, is Hercules, who will endure banishment and exile for his love of Hebe but who returns victorious, “Taking Back Argo” and winning his right to the princess’ love.  The score’s essential elements, save for the love theme, are introduced in the former track but fulfilled, and expressed in their fullest, in the latter.  In between, the musical journey built around the character proffers a variety of instrumental nuances, vigorous reworkings of the main theme, and splendidly orchestrated and aggressive battle music, dappled here and there by various blasts of ethnic woodwinds, choir, solo voice.  It’s an accomplished score and a thoroughly satisfying album.

NEED FOR SPEED/Nathan Furst/Varese Sarabande
Composer Nathan Furst has given Scott Waugh’s NEED FOR SPEED, based on the popular video game, a very effective and likable score far removed from the kind of high-octane, drum-driven momentum found in other types of game-derived auto-racing movies.  Furst’s score retains a coherent thematic base and while it serves its purpose in energizing the fast-car-chase moments of the film, it’s a far more sensitive score in its treatment of character and use of engaging melodies to build audience interaction with the story and its players.  Having worked with director Waugh for almost a decade, Furst started writing NEED FOR SPEED themes after reading the script in preproduction.  “Scott and I discussed the story, and the role the score should play in telling that story,” said Furst. “We quickly found that big, memorable themes, combining a large orchestra with big broad guitars and synths felt right."  The score attains an impressive contemporary and hybrid flavor through the fusion of electric guitars and synths with a 90-piece symphonic orchestra, which creates a magnificent sound dynamic, but it doesn’t just click into gear and become sheer musical propulsion for propulsion’s sake; Furst develops his motifs carefully and proffers far more introspective musical material; in fact even his action music tends to be orchestral driven with overlays of fairly gentle electric guitar and voice  (“California Crossing”); it’s more a blending of dreamlike guitars with synth and orchestra than a heavy, percussively-driven pallet.  “There are 3 key themes, with one being a long sweeping theme that plays throughout - sometimes in the orchestra, sometimes with a glistening ambient guitar,” said Furst.  “We purposefully stayed away from the huge percussion and drum sounds that have come to be expected from this kind of score.  Instead, we went with orchestral textures with a lot of ambient, clean guitars.”  Even the cues that climax the story, “De Leon Begins,” “Lethal Force,” and “In The Lead” are built from an honest emotional core based on character rather than mechanistic speed, and it gives the film, against all expectation, a truly lovely musical accompaniment.

OCULUS/The Newton Brothers/Varese Sarabande
Premiering at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 8, 2013, OCULUS began its theatrical release on April 11 and quickly started to generate positive feedback as a first-rate piece of cinematic horror.  “With an emphasis on dread over gore and an ending that leaves the door wide open for sequels, OCULUS could be just the first spine-tingling chapter in a new franchise for discerning horror fans,” summarized Rotten Tomatoes in their aggregate review consensus.  Director Mike Flanagan (2011’s excellent ABSENTIA) has crafted a creepy cinematic thriller about a woman who tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a malevolent supernatural force unleashed through an antique mirror in their childhood home.  The film was co-written by Flanagan with newcomer Jeff Howard and based on Flanagan’s 2006 short film, written with co-writer Jeff Seidman.  The film is aided by a spooky amalgamation of sound design and haunting tonal atmosphere by The Newton Brothers, non-siblings Andy Grush and Taylor Stewart, who have been racking up an impressive array of score credits over the last four years - including LIFE OF CRIME, DETACHMENT, AND THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES.    They are a duo of musicians who have been creating music together since childhood. On their scores, Taylor and Andy play an eclectic array of instruments to create unusual sounds for unusual films. Their work for OCULUS is potent scare material, an affecting hybrid of sound design and instrumental patterns that build a festering foundation of unease, panic, and outright visceral terror over which the story plays. “OCULUS will freak you out and take you on an emotional roller coaster,” said Taylor Stewart.  “Even our score – lullabies, distorted broken glass, a children's choir…”  The score, built of thick sound collages inhabited by all manner of orchestral tonality, found-sound, jarring counterpoint and sinewy cohesion, subtle incursions of choir that are barely recognizable but definitely felt, creates a vivid ambiance of apprehension that roams throughout the filmic environment.  “An interesting part of the scoring process was paying attention to the moments where there needed to be a void of score,” said Andy Grush.  “Specific scenes of the movie depend on you being taken by surprise surrounded by moments of chaos.  The trick was to musically land the plane gently so you feel a sense of natural calm and then to hit with textures and sounds that are jarring and discomforting.”  Out of the composers’ mélange of musical distortion, angular sound shapes, and amorphous secretion of sonic textures comes a pulsing bass motif which us the theme for the mirror, which is reflected, so to speak, throughout the score to maintain an aural milieu tangibly affected by its influence.  The motif is the one recognizable recurring form within the ambient disturbiana of the Brothers’ musical landscape, and its familiarization is not a happy one. A kind of insistent, demonic Tubular Bells – or clustering formulations of guttural, malignant whale calls pronounced by unearthly structures – these low, organic undulations become the vile moans of vague supernatural forces, undefined but undeniably present, and they provide the thematic through-line that bolsters the otherwise tumultuous soundscape as it clings to the story, inexorably playing out.  “Larger bass and celli sections were really helpful in achieving some severe chaos,” described Andy.  “At several points of the film bass, percussion and synths were playing independent of the string section.”   Near the end of the track “I've Seen The Devil And He Is ME,” a single harsh, basso piano throb heralds a series of wind-driven synth whooshes, themselves presaging frenetic movements of violin and cello in “Staring Eyes” – just one example of pulse-pounding moments that heave out of the darkness and into recognizable perception; elements that will draw together in a chaotic-seeming but largely purposeful direction as the music plays out to its end. Even the warm, flowing string epiphany in “A Mother’s Embrace” seems saturated in some kind of viscous, dripping fluid.  In “Oculus,” choral voices like unanswered cries for help across vast distances, develop into a haunting vociferation, some diabolical revelatory epiphany of unending malevolency, only to drift into unremitting isolation and dissolution by track’s end.  OCULUS is a powerful and significant horror score in a genre notable for the formulaic and familiar.  The Newton Brothers adopt the sound-design pattern of much modern horror fare, but they take it into unspeakable musical directions very much of their own making.  The album concludes with a pair of bonus tracks – Paul Oakenfold’s “Oculus Remix” which adds meter and rhythm to the score’s musical patterns to create a more accessible, even tuneful rendition of the score’s parts, and “Oculus of Glass,” a kind of trance remix with an alt-Goth beat also adapted by Oakenfold and sung in Icelandic by singer Greta.
See also review of PROXY by the Newton Brothers, a ways below.
For more information on The Newton Brothers, and to see a couple of very chilling trailers for OCULUS, saunter over to:
For more about the Brothers scoring OCULUS, see Daniel Schweiger’s interview at

THE PRIVILEGED/Jeff Toyne/Jeff Toyne (iTunes)
Jeff Toyne (DirecTV’s ROGUE) has made his score for this 2013 thriller available for download from iTunes and Amazon.  The film, directed by Leah Walker (THE THIRD EYE), explores social mores between upper and middle class as a couple spends the weekend at the lavish cottage of his workplace’s senior partner, only to become pawns in a blood feud between their hosts and another local family.  For this gripping thriller, Toyne has crafted a very apprehensive musical environment employing an assortment of illustrative figures from strings and piano that interact to establish a tense sonic environment through while the story plays out.  Toyne presages the peril of the weekend early on through dark-toned melodies and motifs, ramping up the anxiety through more strident measures once the neighborhood situation becomes clear and untenable.  The peaceful strings-and-piano melody introduced in “Prologue – Main Titles” and carried through to “Cottage Country” is slowly unraveled and deconstructed, becoming slightly worrisome in “The Woods” and eventually taken apart until its bits and pieces become scattered sounds, almost unrecognizable as they drift across the soundscape without purpose, stark, tonal shadows of what they once were, as the middle class couple begins to sense – and then come to understand with nervous clarity – that things are not well here among the privileged upper class.  “Into the Night” is a standout cue and one of the album’s more active tracks, in which a fast-paced rhythmic riff from strings over low piano and cello establishes a frantic forward motion amongst and above the elements of the atmospheric music from previous tracks; one can almost taste the cold night air as it stings your panicked cheeks; “Tara, Run!” and “The Boat Key” both reprise the semblance, its flailing strings and cyclical, stabbing figures prompting exhausted feet into action.  “I Don't Think Your Wife Is On Board” is one of the score’s most chilling cues, a soft, almost subliminal figure from violins – some playing the melody, others simply maintaining an icy sustain – both elements growing a louder and with more clarity, a moment of panic rising but eventually expelled.  “The Bones Are Good” conjures up a very bleak sound structure, as vague rising patterns from very low and very reverbed piano notes, climbing amidst high winds, finally emerging in clarity and resolution to support one of the film’s final shocks.  A final fit of circuitous strings, pulsating piano, and stepping arpeggios of violin resolves the score in “None of This Was Supposed to Happen,” finally emerging into the assuredness of hope through a final violin resolve.  The original melody returns in “The Getaway,” as a sense of normalcy – or survival – returns with the main couple’s escape.  All in all, THE PRIVILEDGED is a fine score, carefully constructed to emphasize the story’s psychological landscape and create a powerfully felt sense of apprehension (even apart from the film) as the tale plays out.  Toyne is assisted on a few cues by colleagues Aiko Fukushima, Marcus Sjowall, and Blake Ewing.

PROXY/The Newton Brothers/Screamworks
In contrast with their severely textural and discordant score for OCULUS (see review and composer background, a ways above), the non-brothers Brothers Newton have adopted a more tonal, purely orchestral style for Zack Parker’s Hitchcockian thriller.  And since “Hitchcockian” thriller generally means a Bernard Herrmann-influenced score, The Newton Brothers have embraced the challenge, although twisting the fluid, string-heavy Herrmann oeuvre with stark punctuation in the manner of, say, an insistently flicked toy piano note.  “This is our 4th collaboration with director Zack Parker,” said Newton Brother Taylor Stewart. “He really gave us complete freedom to write whatever we wanted, so we chose to go in a more classical direction and use music as a tool to mislead the audience and gain sympathy and compassion for characters. Some scenes are incredibly dark and brutal… One scene in particular was shot all in slow motion, blood everywhere but complete silence. It felt like this emotional ballet and that’s exactly how we scored it.”  It’s a highly melodic work, but the melody is a false comfort, since the score’s primary emphasis is to build suspense and keep the viewer on edge.  “Delusions of Torture” is a fine, non-comfy example.  Twisting, warped string patterns introduced an unsettling array of cello runs set against very high-register, fast string vibrato; merging into low chord progressions from strings dappled by what sounds like the bottom of a large bottle whapped by hand (a cool percussive device). These elements are restated and re-integrated to form an intoxicatingly mesmerizing soundscape for this sequence.  “The Playground” sets up an enthralling progression of lush strings beneath sampled choir and, almost subliminally, subverts their warm harmony with a cold wash of cruel insensitivity.  Even moreso, in “Anika's Anarchy,” violins that have been so sympathetic and warm are transformed into angular, twisted runs and hurtful pizzicato discordance, rising and falling, bending and stabbing, creating a perfect miasma of discomfort and duplicity.  The End Titles, swarming with a beehive of festering tremolo violins which are cut off by the same kind of harsh, descending cello phrase that culminated the shower murder in Herrmann’s PSYCHO score, opens into a haunting lullaby melody for swaying strings, solo voice, and ghostly choir, ending the score, if not with complete resolve, at least with a satisfying measure of sweet melody… well, until it’s inevitably somber return to the anarchy of pizzicato and string-crafted discord.  With Hitchcock, it’s never really over… 
“The music celebrates the Hitchcock/Herrmann and de Palma/Donaggio collaborations without aping them, adding its own spin to the formula,” aptly noted Screamworks’ producer Mikael Carlsson. “Imagine what would happen if the PSYCHOorchestra performed the score to VERTIGOand you’ll get a clear idea of what kind of music to expect.”  Indeed, the music throughout is provocative and alluring; lovely in its fluid tonality – but even in its warm melodic measures it has still managed to leave a cold grip on your shoulder and in the pit of your stomach. Also, you may never look at a toy piano the same way again.

RIO 2/John Powell/Sony
John Powell returns to the colorful works of animated films after an absence of two years (his last film score before this was 2012’s ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT.  The score to RIO 2, sequel to the successful 2011 Blue Sky Studios’ hit, is largely an extension of Powell’s first RIO score, although with a little less Carnivale in the grooves as the storyline moves from the festival-frenzy of downtown Rio to the exotic jungles of the Amazon.  Powell’s main theme from RIO is a welcome cornerstone for this new score, which serves as both a sympathetic theme for macaw hero Blue and his family, as well as serving for Blue’s individual hero theme throughout the film.  It’s such a fluid melody that it flows serenely and effortlessly over its notation like the jubilant flight of the macaw itself.  In addition to Powell’s orchestral/choral arrangements, the score closely involves a number of Brazilian artists, from whom it gains its authentic ethnic exotica.  Powell’s local flavor is provided by such artists as the instrumental group UAKTI, famous Brazilian singer-songwriter-guitarist Milton Nascimento, singer Carlinhos Brown (whose musical style blends tropicália, reggae and traditional Brazilian percussion), and the Barbatuques, leading exponents of body percussion, who make organic music using the body as an instrument.  These artists make appearances throughout the album tracks, each assuming a role within the larger scope of Powell’s score (the music begins with an inventive salsa presentation of the 20th Century Fox studio logo) and giving Powell’s signature melodies, charges, filigrees, and soaring crescendos their distinctive Brazilian flavor.  For example, Powell’s careening orchestral action cue, “Over the Falls,” which blazes with surging brass and riots of piping winds, features in its mix the Nascimento’s gentle acoustic nylon-string guitar strums, part and parcel of the cue’s overall orchestration; elsewhere the Brazilian music is given more solo focus, as in “River Boat to the Loggers,” which progresses from gentle dance music, to Carlinhos Brown’s percussion and UAKTI’s catchy group vocals and, as the boat carries the heroes deeper into the Amazon,  the sounds of the river jungle, with a splendid mix of orchestra and Brazilian exotica.  Powell’s driving symphonic measures truly sparkle in these arrangements as they soar out of the jungle into resplendent purity (the end of “Breakfast in Rio,” the middle of “Escorted to the Clan,” the epic excitement and triumph of “Battle for the Heart of the Forest”) and even the more Brazilian-heavy instruments are subtly interwoven into an overall mix that rare calls attention to itself.  Along with the main theme, there is a recurring “danger” mysterioso that is reprised with interestingly new orchestrations (laced with accordion in “Stalking the Ferry,” which also quotes Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries” in a moment of musical humor; resonating with a fluid symphonic clarity in the latter half of “Escorted to the Clan” before going into the main theme; and inverted for low, descending brass in “Up Carla's Monkey”).
Like the first film, the score is fun and very happy.  Powell invests each track with the colors of the Brazilian flora and fauna, and the result is a dazzling instrumental array of colorful, exciting, and evocative music.

SECRET SHARER/TSOTSI/Guy Farley/Caldera Records
New label Caldera Records has released the soundtrack to SECRET SHARER, which combines Guy Farley’s gracefully romantic and suspenseful score for Peter Fudakowski’s interpretation of the Joseph Conrad novel, with the unused score for the South African crime drama, TSOTSI.  Fudakowski was a producer on TSOTSI, which Farley was brought in to score, but his music wound up not being used; it makes a fine pairing with his music for Fudakowski’s directorial debut in SECRET SHARER and I’m glad to see his previous score rescued from oblivion and included here.  Farley has designed his SECRET SHARER music around a sublime primary waltz melody, introduced on the accordion and take by strings and winds; it captures a splendid nostalgic tonality befitting of the film’s period.  The main theme is given a number of attractive variations throughout the score, which also carries a predominant atmosphere of unsettling suspense, somewhat Herrmannesque in its use of fluidly shifting string patterns.  This brooding music shifts in and out of the main theme, which results in a pleasing contrast between the hovering ambiance of the suspense music and the more agile, melodic flavor of the theme.  Another motif frequented in the score is an urgently-advancing arrangement of string and horn notes over a busy array of pizzicato and stroked strings and drums, which makes a fine action motif (introduced somewhat calmly in “The Necklace” but given great function in “Dangerous Waters” as a driving, piercing forward-moving action motif; semblances also appear in “A Fight.”  It also swarms through the climactic cue, “Small Island” seguing into the other motifs for a compelling resolution of the main action of the story.  It’s a thoroughly engrossing score, expressing in its melodic structure and captivating in its thematic/motivic integration.  Farley’s TSOTSI score is a very beautiful work featuring a mesmerizing female melisma over an undercurrent of drums that suggest the film’s South African setting.  Set in Johanessburg’s Alexandra slum, the moving story is about a young street thug who steals a car only to discover a baby in the back seat.  Farley’s melisma theme is also taken by a soft flute; it’s a haunting, affecting melody, capturing a sad loveliness that resonates (or would have) with the film’s depiction of life in the slums and the titular character’s rising above it due to his caring for the infant entrusted to him due to his reckless crime; resolving in the soaring, redemptive arrangement of the final cue, which carries a profoundly emotional drive.   Both scores together form a serenely evocative listening experience.  The album closes with 4-minute interview with Farley, who describes how he developed the SECRET SHARER score.
This label doesn’t yet have a web page, but Facebook users can get more into from Caldera’s Facebook page.

SHADOWBUILDER/Eckart Seeber/Keep Moving Records
TO THE ENDS OF TIME/Eckart Seeber/Keep Moving Records
“When God created light, the first shadow was born.”  Thus reads the tagline for SHADOWBUILDER, a 1998 American horror film, based on a Bram Stoker story and directed by former spfx specialist James Dixon, who made his directorial debut with this film.  The powerful, Gothically-infused score is the work of Austrian-born composer Eckart Seeber, whose earlier film works were providing new scores for Hong Kong action films ISLAND OF FIRE (2001) and LEGEND OF THE RED DRAGON (1994); he also served as a music editor on SPIDER MAN 2 (2004).  In the movie, a demon is summoned to take the soul of a young boy who has the potential to become a saint; by doing this he will open a doorway to hell and destroy the world.  Seeber was brought in late in the project, after a previous score had been rejected as unsuitable, giving the new composer barely six weeks to create and record a broad replacement score for large orchestra and choir.  The music’s large scale fits the Gothic stylism of the film and its quasi-religious focus on demonic warfare.  The choir accentuates the film’s religious notions, while the orchestral material gives a great sense of size and scope to the stakes present in the demon’s earth-shattering business.  It’s a thoroughly serious work in terms of its orchestral writing and instrumentation, and the effect of the choir on top of the symphony orchestra is thrilling indeed. This is large scale, Gothic fantasy scoring at its best.
The second score, released concurrently with SHADOWBUILDER, it’s also a wonderfully large scale orchestra/choral work, but with a much lighter tone.  Directed by former Hollywood prop master Markus Rothkranz, TO THE ENDS OF TIME (1996, TV) is an elaborate indie fantasy about a mystical kingdom where an evil witch takes over the control of time, and the young lad who is forced to grow up too soon in order to break the curse.  The label’s press release for this score describes it as “one of the most beautiful, thematically conscious fantasy scores of the last two decades and it’s just a shame it isn’t better-known,” and I’m inclined to agree with this assessment.  The score is brimful with sturdy, engaging themes, each constructed out of an immediately attractive melody line; some standing alone only for one cue, others forming significant anthems that will ride out the journey of the film.  Seeber’s main theme, associated with the heroes of the saga, emerges out of bristling choir of “Morlin Ships,” surging into a sparkling, uplifting horn melody decorated by a spiraling bunting of high woodwinds; it is reprised proudly in the cheer-worthy resonance of “Knighthood and Farewell;” and it concludes the soundtrack with wonderful vocal piece sung by soprano Christine Seeber (Eckart’s wife), which rises from the quietude of soft voice and solo piano accompaniment to the fully charged voice backed by full orchestra.  A secondary theme, an eloquently rousing assembly of horns and winds with muted timpani, is associated with the element of time in its various measures, and featured in “The Discovery of Time” and “The Fortune Told.”  
Seeber’s understanding of large symphonic form and classical orchestration is well in evidence on this score, like SHADOWBUILDER, is often reaches massive heights of striking drama and elegance, as in “The Clock is Ticking,” wherein the might of the choir is particularly affecting); the proud, galloping trumpet melody of “Through the Desert,” imbued with multiple snare drums, gathers to a wonderful crescendo midway through, followed by subdued and reflective comments by winds and horns; the stirring heraldic anthem of “Climbing the Clock” for choir and orchestra. There’s even a bit of comedic fun in “Loffo Rescues Stephanie.”  Much of the music hearkens intentionally back to the classic Golden Age style of Korngold, Steiner, and Rózsa (the latter, especially in the surging march “Gamarah,” which recalls that composer’s historical scores).   Seeber’s solo string writing is quite sublime, especially evidenced by a sumptuous “Love Theme” and the delicious fragility of “Stephanie’s Gift,” while his vibrant, paired trumpet arrangements in “Turning Back of Time” are dazzling.   
Both scores were recorded by the Ukrainian State Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of conductor Vladimir Sirenko, and have an impressive, large scale sonic dynamic that is well mastered in this album.  While the choir in SHADOWBUILDER was of the heavily chanted Orff variety, the choir here takes on a more victorious, elegant and heraldic nature.  Originally issued in part by Seeber’s own Sonovide label as promotional items, these new releases by KeepMoving Records contain the complete scores with about 20 minutes of previously unreleased music on each disc (newly mastered and mixed). Both CDs come in a handsome packaging with 12-page booklet featuring liner notes by Hungarian writer Gergely Hubai, discussing the creation of the films and the scores based on interviews with the directors and the composer.
For more information on the composer, please see:

SHE-DEVIL/Howard Shore/Music Box Records
Howard Shore scored this malicious revenge comedy in 1989, midway between Cronenberg’s THE FLY and DEAD RINGERS and Jonathan Demme’s SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and Tim Burton’s ED WOOD.  It’s a period that still found a degree of quirkiness in Shore’s music (particularly in a Cronenberg mileau), and if there’s any comedic thriller that would deserve a quirky score it’s this macabre potboiler, in which Roseanne Barr sets up an elaborate revenge against husband Ed Begley Jr. after he begins dallying with romance novelist Meryl Streep.  The energetic score matches the forked-tongue-in-cheek humor of the film with its references a-plenty to pop standards, familiar classics, and other musical allusions.  Shore’s beautifully overblown dramatic function centers around two primary themes – one for each of the women ruining Begley’s life – and the result is kind of a gruesome 1812 Overture interaction between two very assertive, aggressive and anthemic themes each vying for victory.  Each theme works just as well to accompany the various antics each lady engages to outsmart the other, and each rises to a boiling point of uncompromising ferociousness that is quite delicious.  Shore also cheerfully engages in some clever references to Bernard Herrmann – adding a slight touch of PSYCHO in the fast, windshield-wiper pace of tracks like “Pill Exchange” and “Bob Gets Arrested;” a trio of slashing chords punctuating “Juliet Dies.” while “Mary in the Mirror” also gives in to some enjoyable Herrmannesque chordal phrasing.  But it’s Shore’s main themes, one of which captures an almost Elmer Bernstein styled bombast to its heavily arpeggiated structure, that carries on a wonderful musical duel that resolves quite smashingly.  It’s all furious fun – and thanks to French label Music Box Records for presenting Shore’s score in its entirely for the first time (the previous soundtrack release contained nothing but songs “from and inspired by”).   

STANDING UP/Brian Tyler/Varese Sarabande
Brian Tyler took time off from his heavy action scores THE EXPENDABLES 2 and IRON MAN 3 to rejoin D.J. Caruso, his director on 2008’s EAGLE EYE, for this cool coming-of-age film based on the y/a novel The Goats, written by Brock Cole. It’s about two young teens (or just pre-teens) who “are left stranded together on an island as victims of a vicious summer camp prank. But rather than returning to camp to face the humiliation, they decide to take off, on the run together. What follows is a three day odyssey of recovery and self-discovery.”  It’s a charming film that plays out its anti-bullying message very nicely, given credibility by fine performances by both of the youngsters (Chandler Canterbury and particularly Annalise Basso).  Tyler characteristically provides a thoroughly engaging main theme, which plays out through various arrangements and subordinate motifs to capture the story both sympathetically and victoriously as the kids run afoul of their bullying schoolmates and then stand up to their circumstances, forging a bond through their experiences in the wild.  This is not to say the score is devoid of energetic material, however: “Adventure through the Woods” is quite a nice propulsive action cue for flailing strings driven by a strident percussive rhythm with commentary from brass; and “Officer Not So Friendly” ventures into potent scare territory with heavy strings and low horns, dappled by reflective glimmers of sharp-edged synth as the runaways confront a deputy who turns out to harbor a hidden agenda of his own.  The overall scope of the score, however, is found in its empathetic melody and the poignant variations that play out through the kids’ journey.  In fact one of the most heartfelt cues is “Empathy,” a beautiful variant of the main theme for piano, strings, and acoustic+electric guitar that really reaches a soothing emotional core in the listener.  The Main Title introduces the main theme with piano and strings, sweeping up into an expressive finale for full orchestra, a dynamic which is reprised fully over the End Titles, completely encapsulating the exhilarating summation of the story’s emotional journey in a powerful melodic restatement.  STANDING UP is a great example of Brian Tyler’s gift for nailing an affecting melodic hook is just as potent in a massive super hero action-fest as it is in a gentle, homespun story of two bullied kids finding a connection of character and personality that, together, overcomes their initial hardship.

SUPERSHARK/Jeff Walton/Screamworks
Among the latest in the affectionately quirky over-the-top exploitation subgenre of MEGA-this and GIANT-that, DINO-whatsis and CROCO-whosit, and this-NADO and that –OPUS is Fred Olen Ray’s saga of a SUPERSHARK, a giant primordial shark freed from the ocean’s subsurface during an offshore drilling accident.  Unlike a lot of the films of this questionable but fun ilk, SUPERSHARK is Grade-A cheese – a solid, campy B-monster movie that worked.  Ray co-wrote and directed this tale of a prehistoric shark awakened from its slumber to terrorize a beach community; due to its size it is able to fin-walk across the sand and also leap a hundred feet into the air to bite helicopters.  It’s still hokey as hell, its science and animal behavior quotient is preposterous, but it’s fun and entertaining.  There’s a consistent internal logic to the story and the characters actually behave like human beings (mostly).  The music is the work of Texan film composer Jeff Walton, no stranger in these cinematic parts, having scored Ray’s ATTACK OF THE 60-FOOTCENTERFOLDS (1995) and CURSE OF THE PUPPET MASTER (1998) and David DeCoteau’s THE BROTHERHOOD (2001) and its sequel, not to mention several additional fistfuls of obscure indie productions.  Walton’s music for SUPER SHARK is terrifically straightforward action music, playing the story absolutely straight and lending the film’s outrageous imagery and camp dialog a dramatic honesty that suits the story’s quieter moments as well as providing the necessary aggression for the shark’s frequent attacks, as well as plenty of potent suspense music in anticipation of the ferocious fish’s arrival. Walton makes the best of his digital samples, which sound pretty credible, gathering together to form a potent orchestral force, such as “On The Radar,” heard when the monster shark attacks and destroys a Navy sub.  Walton’s interaction of blasting horns and storming percussion, growing steadily stronger in velocity and impact, serves up a very potent musical surge that really energizes the scene.  In other moments, when the film’s CGI fails to truly capture the moment, Walton’s score gives it the extra charge it needs to remain dramatically sound.  Low piano string scrapes often portend the hungry shark’s appearance, as in the opening of “1 Shark, 2 Girls,” reaching a climax of exuded horns when the shark makes his appearance.  A rhythmic pulse of low horns and metallic percussion serves as Walton’s own “shark ostinato,” propelling the fish into view with an orchestral snarl and a cruelly beating black heart (“What Is That?”).  A kind of quasi-echoplex effect accompanies the military onto the beach in an attempt to eradicate the shark with a special weapon (“On The Beach”), only to have the colossal Carcharodon fin-walk across the sand and gobble them up like popcorn, while gentler moments such as a soldier’s remembrance of a shark attack (“Something Big Came Out of the Sea”) is fraught with tentative gestures and empathetic tonalities.  Walton’s orchestration includes enough interesting nuances and textured patterns to make the score attractive as well as functional, and the score’s climactic moments (“Special Prototype” and “Engage the Enemy”) are furiously wrangled, the robust orchestral attacks controlled and strenuous.  It’s an articulate and accomplished score that serves both film and album quite well.

THIEF/Tangerine Dream/Perseverance
Perseverance Records has released this Tangerine Dream score in its reissue series, with a limited edition run of 4,000 copies.  The 1981 film was Michael Mann’s directorial debut and the band’s second major Hollywood film score after Friedkin’s SORCERER.  It starred James Caan as a professional safecracker who takes on a job for the mafia, and soon lives to regret it.  Or not.  The soundtrack has been released in various forms on LP and CD over the years, all of them in an 8-track sequence, but wavered with what the 8th track was – either a TD dream called “Beach Scene” or a track called “Confrontation” which was written by composer Craig Safan and performed by he and synthesist Michael Boddicker when Mann needed new music for the end and TD was unavailable on tour.  Perseverance’s reissue is the first to contain both of these oddball tracks with a total of 9 tracks and a true “deluxe edition.”  One of the band’s best early scores, it essentially reflects the kind of music they had been writing for the studio albums and simply adapts it for the visual medium.  There’s little attempt to sync the music to picture in terms of dramatic interaction; what the band did best was develop a minimalist rhythm and exploit that rhythm through continual harmonic development and rhythmic, propulsive ambiance.  Thus their score for THIEF proffers a series of rock-based instrumentals performed either entirely on synths or with their synth’s backing band leader Edger Froese’s lead electric guitar, generating a progressive forward motion that would energize the active elements of the various scenes.  The closest the score comes to reflecting character mood or psychology is in “Trap Feeling,” a poignantly introspective cue for layered synths and reflective, ringing arpeggios.  In what it does, this is an excellent score and it’s provided in its full sequence very nicely on Perseverance’s reissue – the mastering is especially vibrant and clear; consider this the definitive version of the score.  James Phillips provides a fine set of album notes, describing the making of the film and the evolution of its score, including input from Craig Safan.

WALK OF SHAME/John Debney/Lakeshore
John Debney returns to score comedy after several assignments in other genres (THE CALL, ALEX CROSS, BONNIE & CLYDE, ELIZA GRAVES), and the result is a fun and breezy, if relatively undemanding, light-hearted contemporary score.  The film, which opens on May 2nd, stars Elizabeth Banks as a resourceful reporter whose one-night stand with a handsome stranger (James Marsden) leaves her stranded the next morning in downtown Los Angeles without a phone, car, ID, or money – and only 8 hours before the most important job interview of her career.  “The score for WALK OF SHAME is a fun journey with tinges of the sounds of the street,” explained Debney.  “It is an acoustic guitar-driven score with some bluesy harmonica thrown in.  It was a pleasure creating the score for this very funny film.”  The bluesy elements of the score merge nicely with its breezy elements – the urban sound of the harmonica (and the occasional bit of hip-hop and DJ scratching) reflects the cold, unfamiliar landscape of the streets that Banks’ reporter must travail, while the perky, hesitant, and somewhat bewildered nature of the bouncy guitar riffing suggests the little-girl-lost/fish-out-of-water/quasi-THE-OUT-OF-TOWNERS scenario of Banks’ predicament; yet through it all there’s a gentle comfort that surrounds Banks’ character in the music that remains very appealing, and lets us known it’s all in good fun.  Debney has chosen an intriguing style with which to score the film and it makes for a bright mixture that is quite enjoyable; and of course the music resolves on a happy mood of confidence as Banks’ reporter winds up just where she needs to be despite all the Kafka-esque obstructions that seemed to conspire to keep her from it.  It’s a fun score with a very attractive musical pallet.

THE WINDÉ/Maciek Dobrowolski/Dobrowolski
Available as a download from iTunes and amazon (a limited CD release was issued in England in December), Polish composer Maciek Dobrowolski’s music for this short British film is a striking work.  Celtically textured with a variety of ethic instrumentations, the score breathes in the air of the film’s environment and culture and exhales a compelling evocation comprised of the mist-woven colors of ancient Ireland and the organic atmospheres of its vast emerald fields and ruddy hillsides – and exudes the mysterioso of the enigmatic figure known as The Windé.  In the film directed by Gavin J. Woodward in 2012, a wolf is terrorizing a Celtic village and a father of two sends his eldest and more accomplished warrior to kill it, only to find the outcast younger brother has followed him, seeking to find his own freedom out in the Celtic moors.  “These aspects – of nature and culture – were also to become the central themes of the score,” wrote Dobrowolski.   “The idea behind the score was to use Celtic music as a starting point, and then progress towards more exotic sound, as the character`s transformation progress.”   The album thus contains music from the film and “inspired by” the film – a term generally frowned upon by soundtrack purists but here the composer has taken the opportunity to develop his music from the 15-minute film into an extended 52-minute album that represents the younger brother’s journey from oppression to self-sufficiency.  Recorded in Warsaw and London, a string ensemble (Warsaw’s Fair Play Quartet) serves as the foundation over which a variety of ethnic groupings and soloists immerse their own performances.  From soothing whistles and fiery mandolins, solo violin and the Swedish keyed fiddle, the nyckelharpa, steel-string acoustic guitar, mandolin, and octave mandola, Doborowolski’s extended work layers a sonic dynamic that is highly appealing, evoking the fateful story imparted by the film.  Above these textures float the vocals of singer Kari Amirian, whose fluid melisma and delicate, plainsong chants lend a striking dynamic to the music’s character. A thoroughly pleasing extension of his short film score, Dobrowolski’s THE WINDÉ is captivating, haunting, and a powerfully affective work.
For more about the composer, see his web site at
For more about the film, on Facebook, see:



Soundtrack & Music News

Symphony of Hope: The Haiti Project” began as a musical fundraising project designed to help the people of Haiti as they recover from the massive earthquake that decimated the island nation in 2010.  In a unique evocation of previous shared support efforts, the Hollywood film music community found a way to lend their talents in support of a country in need.  Developed and spearheaded by Christopher Lennertz, a group of 25 leading composers (including Tyler Bates, Bruce Broughton, George S. Clinton, Elia Cmiral, John Debney, Randy Edelman, Dave Grusin, Marvin Hamlisch, Brian Tyler, Christopher Young, among others) “co-wrote” a symphony that was performed by nearly 200 musicians and vocalists, and recorded at Warner Bros. Scoring Stage.
Lennertz has now taken the support project to a further level, by launching a fundraising campaign to help bring music education to Haiti.  “I've decided to continue on with the mission that we started with A Symphony of Hope and try to help the people of Haiti through music,” Lennertz said.  “We are building a music school in Port Au Prince and humbly ask for your help... by spreading the word, donating time, funds, and/or musical instruments. We've just received a matching grant that doubles all donations up to $25,000, so your donation is worth twice as much.”  Lennertz hopes that with this campaign not only can the school be built, but the project will also fund its programs for the first 3 years. “Once it is built, we will plan a trip to Haiti, hopefully joined by some of the composers and team from A Symphony of Hope to visit with the students, dedicate the school, and participate in a concert where excerpts from the piece are played by composers, performers, and students of the school.”
Please visit the fundraising site - and share the project with others.

Ifukube and Godzilla: A Musical Celebration: A successful kickstarter campaign has funded plans for an American symphonic concert dedicated to Akira Ifukube's music from the Godzilla films. It is in celebration of both the composer's 100th birthday and Godzilla's 60th anniversary and is planned to take place in Chicago on July 12.
For info and to watch a video explaining the concept, see:
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The guys behind the video interview web site Streamers & Punches have posted an excellent interview with composer/orchestrator Conrad Pope, largely discussing his orchestrations for, and the scoring process of, Howard Shore’s THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG.  Conrad appears at the 25:00 mark:

Having captured the dramatic suspense of comic book protagonists in such films as X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, KICK-ASS and G.I. JOE RETALIATION, Henry Jackman continues to capture the musical essence of superheroes in Disney's Marvel sequel CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER.  While the first Captain America touted an Americana score reflective of the World War II era, Jackman wanted to deliver a modern score that reflected the current era in which Captain America dwells. “He's a fish out of water in a more corrupt, nuanced environment with his value system inherited from the 1950s,” Jackman explained.  “The psychological credibility and modernity of what directors Anthony and Joe Russo did with Captain America has an impact on the music.”  While Jackman created a melodic motif for the character of Captain America, he incorporated a sonic-experimental sound coupled with offbeat harmonies and a choir for the superhero's foes in the film, the HYDRA organization. One of the central themes in the sequel pertained to its main antagonist, the Winter Soldier. “He’s a relentless, barbaric machine, but inside of him are the tortured remnants of a human being,” said Jackman.  “I relied upon symphonic horn for him, but mixed with a lot of damaged material. I experimented with various melodies after two or three notes and spent a good deal of time on the rhythm.” 

Intrada’s latest releases include the official CD edition of Henry Jackman’s score to CAPTAIN AMERICA, in co-branding partnership with Hollywood Records and Marvel Studios. Also released is the music to CHILD’S PLAY (NOT the first Chucky movie, but the 1972 boy’s school drama) and FIRST BORN, both scored by Michael Small and combined on a single CD.

Brian Tyler has assembled in order to write the music score to AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, set for release in 2015. 

Joel McNeely’s score to Disney’s THE PIRATE FAIRY has been released as a digital IP from iTunes US.  No word yet on a European iTunes download or a CD version.

The Gold Standard: In one of his amazing musical montages, composer Austin Wintory celebrates the genius of Jerry Goldsmith with a marvelous fusion of music from 21 of Jerry’s scores into one ravishing musical suite:

Film composer Michael J. Lewis has created a short 2-minute film, “Great Storms of Aberystwyth,” inspired by a recent spectacular storm at his home town in Wales, accompanied by his music (a choral composition and a bit from his film score to JULIUS CAESAR). The result is an amazing mix of music an image that captures both the brutal cataclysm and the magnificent splendor of nature's power. 

Alan Silvestri's score to the revived documentary series COSMOS: A SPACE TIME ODYSSEY has been released on iTunes – in four volume series of soundtracks featuring Alan's music written for the show.  The first two albums have been released as of this writing. presents the original television soundtrack recording to THE CURSE OF DRACULA, mastered by Digital Outland, with album notes by your’s truly. Written, produced and directed by television veteran Kenneth Johnson, THE CURSE OF DRACULA was one of three segments that played on the TV series CLIFFHANGERS in 1979 - the music was a joint effort with Harnell, Les Baxter, Charles R. Casey and Ira Hearshen each taking a few episodes. An early compact disc release of Joe Harnell’s music included a short suite from THE CURSE OF DRACULA but this release contains all the music composed for the anthology segment for the first time, presented on 2 CDs. This is an exclusive release, mastered by Digital Outland, factory manufactured and limited to 1000 units.

Art Farm West Records has released a soundtrack album to the documentary film THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR: SATAN CAME TO EDEN, consisting of original music written by Emmy Award winning composer Laura Karpman.  Darwin meets Hitchcock in this true-crime tale of paradise found and lost – the film is a thrilling documentary portrait of a 1930s mystery, interweaving the unsolved murder with stories of present day Galápagos pioneers.  Featuring chromatic didgeridoo, classical violin, flamenco guitar, analog sound design, orchestral strings, bamboo flute, melodia, tuned, un-tuned, and prepared piano, as well as a host of other sounds, Karpman’s score for THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR combines symphonic music with newly rendered electronic soundscapes.

BBC AMERICA’s fantasy co-production, ATLANTIS, from the creators of MERLIN and MISFITS, has begun production on Season Two. The series follows the adventures of Jason (Jack Donnelly, DANCING ON THE EDGE), Hercules (Mark Addy, GAME OF THRONES) and Pythagoras (Robert Emms, WAR HORSE) who battle against some of the most famous names of Greek legend, often in unexpected guises.  The series is scored by Rob Lane, Rohan Stevenson, and James Gosling – all musical veterans of MERLIN.
ATLANTIS Season One is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, and on all BBC Worldwide North America digital partners. For more information, see

Composer Jóhan Jóhannsson has scored Josh C. Waller’s new crime drama mystery. McCANICK. Jóhannsson has been distinguished by his ability to combine acoustic instruments and electronic soundscapes, at times creating those soundscapes by electronically manipulating orchestral instrumentation. Jóhannsson explains, “It always involves the layers of live recordings, whether it’s orchestra or a band or solo instrument, with electronics and more soundscape-y elements which can come from various sources.” The soundtrack album is now available on CD, vinyl, and digitally from Milan Records

Oscar-winning composer Steven Price will be composing the score to the upcoming feature adaptation of the Marvel comic book ANT-MAN starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. The film marks Price’s third collaboration with Edgar Wright after working with the filmmaker on THE WORLD'S END and ATTACK THE BLOCK (Wright executive produced). Price also wrote music for Alfonso (GRAVITY) Cuarón's new NBC series BELIEVE which tells the story of a gifted young girl and a man sprung from prison, who has been tasked with protecting her from evil.

Sony Masterworks joins with Turner Classic Movies to present Play It Again – The Classic Sound Of Hollywood – a new 2-CD set that celebrates TCM’s 20th Anniversary with iconic movie themes and music from the Golden Age of Hollywood.  The first disc restores long-unavailable recordings made for the acclaimed Classic Film Scores series, recorded for RCA Red Seal in the early 1970s by conductor Charles Gerhardt and London’s National Philharmonic Orchestra. It includes two grand suites from scores by Erich Wolfgang Korngold – OF HUMAN BONDAGE and THE SEA HAWK, both re-edited by Gerhardt – that have been unavailable for decades. The disc also features music from SALOME, PEYTON PLACE and THE THING (FROM ANOTHER WORLD).  The second disc samples definitive moments from the greatest of all movie scores, from CASABLANCA to CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, and from Gone with the Wind to THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, KING KONG to BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S.

Christopher Young is one of the latest Hollywood composers tapped to score an Asian film.  He was asked to score the Hong Kong-made production THE MONKEY KING, which opens in September in the USA.  The film, directed by Soi Pou-cheang and starring Donnie Yen, Chow Yun-fat and Aaron Kwok, is based on selected chapters of Wu Cheng'en's classical novel Journey to the West and will tell the story of how the Monkey King rebels against the Jade Emperor of Heaven.  Most recently, Young wrote the music for Tyler Perry's MADEA CHRISTMAS and the director's upcoming March release THE SINGLE MOMS CLUB. The composer is also reuniting with SINISTER director Scott Derrickson for BEWARE THE NIGHT, set for a July 2nd release.

Dutch multi-instrumentalist and composer Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) has stepped up into film scoring, having completed 300 - RISE OF AN EMPIRE, sequel to Zach Snyder’s 2006 historical epic. He’s scored Summit Entertainment’s futuristic action-thriller DIVERGENT, set in a futuristic dystopia where society is divided into five factions, each representing a different virtue. In the score, Junkie XL incorporates pop artist Ellie Goulding’s breathy vibrato to add texture to the score. XL explains, “Ellie’s vocals allowed me to create music that would really be felt by the audience as being very close with Tris.” Junkie XL started with acoustic instrumentation, developing the music into an action-packed score befitting a futuristic dystopia. He explains, “I wanted to start with instruments that were acoustic and had a certain nostalgic quality to it, as if you’re longing back to what society originally was.” XL’s acoustic instrumentation included a dulcimer, as well as custom piano that he would play with a hammer.  XL is currently working on THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 in collaboration with Hans Zimmer as part of the Magnificent Six, which includes Pharrell Williams, Johnny Marr (The Smiths, Modest Mouse), Michael Einziger (Incubus), Andrew Kawczynski, and Steve Mazzaroritten.

Jeff Toyne's very beautiful orchestral score for the TV movie TWIST OF FAITH (starring Toni Braxton) is now available digitally from MovieScore Media. “It's an exquisite little score not to be overlooked... reminds album producer of some of Georges Delerue's most touching scores.”

The late French director Alain Resnais´ final movie AIMER, BOIRE ET CHANTER ("Life of Riley)" had its premiere at the Berlinale. It marks the fourth collaboration of Resnais and Mark Snow, who composed the music for PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES in 2007 and each Resnais movie afterwards.

Silva Screen has released the soundtrack to the innovative BBC documentary series, HIDDEN KINGDOMS, featuring the richly melodic music of Ben Foster (TORCHWOOD, DOCTOR WHO). “Ben Foster's emotional and dramatic score is the perfect accompaniment to this ground-breaking series,” wrote Mark Brownlow, Series Producer. "Ben has delivered a spell-binding score, filled with emotion packed with drama and intricate detail that has helped define the series."

On May 14th, Varese Sarabande Records will release for the first time Robert Cobert’s elegant score for Dan Curtis’ 1974 TV version of DRACULA, starring Jack Palance as the nocturnal count with the fanged overbite. This is the movie that the L.A. Times described as “The definitive Count Dracula!”  The soundtrack has never before been available on CD, and will come out in conjunction with the film's 40th anniversary and release on Blu-Ray.  Noted as the first faithful adaptation of the classic Bram Stoker novel with a screenplay by legendary mystery-horror writer Richard Matheson, Dan Curtis' Dracula was shot as a motion picture, shown on CBS-TV in the United States and released theatrically worldwide. The lush, suspenseful score, by Emmy-nominated composer Robert Cobert (Dark Shadows, The Winds of War, The Night Stalker), is one of the first to feature a romantic, love theme for the alluring, mesmeric vampire.  A week later, on May 20th, Varese will issue Chris Bacon’s moody, appropriately Herrmannesque score for the A&E TV series, BATES MOTEL, a contemporary prequel to the genre-defining film, PSYCHO, which gives viewers an intimate portrayal of how Norman Bates' psyche unravels through his teenage years.  Jeff Beal’s music for HOUSE OF CARDS, Season 2, arrived the same day.
Last month, the label released a pair of soundtracks by noted Brazilian-born composer Marcelo Zarvos (named “one of the 25 New Faces of Indie Film in 2004 by FilmMaker Magazine) – a limited edition CD (1000 units) of ENOUGH SAID, a dramatic rom-com starring Lennie Loftin and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and a regular release of THE FACE OF LOVE, a poignant romantic drama Ed Harris, Annette Bening, and Robin Williams. “The use of music is quite sophisticated and had to reflect the deep feeling of loss that Annette Bening's character feels, as well the dangerous psychological game she is playing,” said Zarvos.  “The goal of the music was to keep us guessing to the very end what was real or imaginary.”

Stephen Endelman reteamed with Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Raymond De Felitta (City Island, Bronx Cheers) on the crime thriller ROB THE MOB starring Andy Garcia, Ray Romano and Michael Pitt. Released to theaters last March and set for DVD/VD release on June 24, ROB THE MOB follows the true story of Thomas and Rosemarie Uva, two lovers who take their passion for audacious heists to another level by robbing New York City Mafia social clubs. Endelman was drawn to the film because he lived in New York City during the actual incidents in 1991. In creating the music, Endelman wasn't influenced by the gangster genre, rather the passionate romance between the film's two wild and innocent protagonists. "One of the first scenes I became inspired by is when Tommy (Pitt) visits his mother (Cathy Moriarty) after he is sprung from prison followed by a second scene where Tommy proposes to Rosy (Nina Arianda). Such emotional moments became the springboard to a cohesive, thematic score," explains Endelman. While Endelman wove a piano-string melodic score in ROB THE MOB, he also added some eclectic percussion for the action scenes, venturing to a prison cell where he recorded metallic sounds, i.e. the slamming of a cell door, the scraping of bars and the flipping of a toilet seat. The need to add percussion was driven by the action-filled robbery scenes. In addition, Endelman also wrote the end-credits song "Love and the Gun," a tune which evokes '60s and spy cinema themes and Italian pop fare. The song was recorded in English and Italian and is performed by New York jazz singer Tamela D'Amico.

La-La Land Records and Sony Computer Entertainment America present the CD premiere of John Debney's astonishing original score to the 2007 videogame LAIR. “Debney's blockbuster score to this epic-adventure-fantasy game is considered to be among the finest music ever written for the medium,” noted the label. “It's an orchestral powerhouse that reaches the same rarified heights as such beloved fantasy film scores as CONAN THE BARBARIAN, WILLOW and THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.” Now, finally, LAIR gets the deluxe treatment it has always warranted. Remastered and expanded beyond its initial download-only release, this jam-packed 2-CD presentation of LAIR, produced by John Debney and Dan Goldwasser, and mastered by Marc Senasac at Sony PlayStation, even includes the live concert suite performed by The Orchestra Filmarmonia and Ziryab Choir at the BSO Spirit Awards. Exclusive in-depth liner notes by Jeff Bond complement the adventurous art design by Dan Goldwasser. Released in a limited edition of 2000 Units.

Caldera Records has announced their second release, the music to the 2010 Norwegian production KING OF DEVIL’S ISLAND, scored by Johan Söderqvist (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, KON-TIKI). “Söderqvist wrote an ice-cold, chilly and eerie orchestral score which may be the saddest music you have ever heard,” wrote Caldera’s Stephane Eike.. With a strong main theme, which is presented in variations both for Hardanger Fiddle and piano, the composer evokes the snow-white landscape of Bastoy musically, using unusual instruments such as the Contrabass-Willow Flute, the Clayflute and the Electric Baritone Guitar. As a bonus, we included an insightful audio-commentary in form of a half hour discussion with composer Johan Söderqvist, sound-designer Tormod Ringnes and director Marius Holst who discuss both the music and the movie in detail.

Composer Cliff Martinez (DRIVE, THE COMPANY YOU KEEP) is proud to announce several upcoming projects and appearances.  Martinez is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a BMI Richard Kirk Lifetime Achievement Award-winner.  A frequent collaborator of director Steven Soderbergh, Martinez has teamed with Soderbergh again on the upcoming 10-episode series THE KNICK, which will begin airing late spring on Cinemax.  The series, starring Jeremy Bobb, Steve Garfanti and Clive Owen, is set in New York’s Knickerbocker Hospital during the early part of the twentieth century.  “The series takes place in 1900’s New York City and the score will be in Steven’s signature minimalist style,” said Martinez.  “One thing I learned from working with Steven Soderbergh through the years was to never be too obvious when expressing your opinion through music.”  Another period piece, Martinez will be composing the music for the upcoming HBO movie THE NORMAL HEART, about a gay activist attempting to raise HIV/AIDS awareness during the early 1980s.  Martinez will also be participating in Moogfest, a synthesis of Technology, Art and Music, which takes place in Asheville, NC from April 23-27.  In addition to speaking, the festival will feature screenings of SOLARIS and DRIVE.
Pictured: Cliff Martinez and the Cristal Baschet (aka Crystal Organ), a musical instrument that produces sound from oscillating glass cylinders. It is comprised of 54 chromatically-tuned glass rods which are rubbed with moistened fingers to produce vibrations. The instrument has been used on many of Cliff’s scores.

Madison Gate Records has released a digital album of Nick Glennie-Smith’s soundtrack to the film HEAVEN IS FOR REAL.

Perseverance Records is releasing the soundtrack from the Syfy Network series FLASH GORDON which aired in 2007-2008. The show ran for 22 exciting episodes and featured the music of composer Michael Picton, whose music features bold orchestral sounds mixed with a rock vibe and even brooding atmospherics. “There are moments that rock the listener where others lure them in with a nice melody,” said Perseverance’s Robin Esterhamer. “While FLASH GORDON only ran for one season, there is a lot of great music for fans and collectors of science fiction scores alike.”

To celebrate the recent anniversary of Georges Delerue’s life (12 March 1925 – 20 March 1992), Spain’s Quartet Records have announced the upcoming release of his lovely, surprising score for the 1982 Paramount movie PARTNERS.  Although the film only included about 12 minutes of Delerue music, the album includes the complete unused score by the French maestro, more than 50 minutes of original music in stunning stereo sound.   Also announced by Quartet are Mario Nascimbene’s tuneful soundtrack to the 1968 thriller SUMMIT, and Nicola Piovani’s music to Marco Bellocchio’s controversial boarding school drama NEL NOME DEL PADRE. 

French film music label Music Box Records presents the complete score for GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997) by Danny Elfman. The music for is a far cry from the usual Gothic sound of the composer who proves himself to be more than capable when it comes to scoring a deeply personal story. The music features acoustic guitar, piano, a smaller ensemble of strings and woodwinds plus a light choral effect in addition to some Irish sounding whistles that address the Boston setting of the story. From the "Main Title" to the "End Titles" (previously known as "Weepy Donuts"), Elfman’s music is mingling among minimalistic thematic variations the same way the titular Will Hunting is looking for a purpose in life… The landmark release of this Oscar-nominated gem features the complete score, supplemented with an 12-page booklet featuring expert commentary by Daniel Schweiger.

Canadian label Discques Musiques has released Vladimir Cosma’s music for the French films LA GALETTE DU ROI and PROMIS... JURÉ ! (“The King’s Cake”) in a limited edition of only 500 copies. Neither score has appeared on CD before.  Also from the label is the music of Germinal Tenas for the 1993 French film JUSTINIEN TROUVÉ (aka GOD'S BASTARD) in a very limited edition of 350 copies. 
The film takes place at the end of the 17th Century in France and tells of the misadventures of an abandoned child at the end of the 17th century in France, under the reign of Louis XIV, who as an adult is forced to become an executioner to avoid the galleys.  The score draws on sources from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as well as incorporating electronic sounds.  The lavish 20-page color booklet has liner notes in French and English.

Joris Hermy is a Belgian-based composer working for film, television, advertising and

theater, working his way up in the industry.  His first soundtrack has just released through amazon & iTunes; it’s a compilation of music he wrote for Stan Lee's animated webseries, BAD DAYS. After working with animator Junaid Chundrigar on the animated short SHEEPED AWAY , Hermy joined Chundrigar on a new project called DISASSEMBLED, an animated short animation about renowned superheroes such as Spider-Man, the Fantasic Four, and others having a bad day. “What started out as a fun and in between project, became a big hit on youtube and went viral on the internet with over 460k views,” said Hermy.  “None other than Stan Lee himself stumbled upon this funny short and decided to create with us the animated short webseries BAD DAYS. The first two seasons where really successful and gained a lot of attention on the net, so the studio wanted the music I've done officially released.”  Hermy’s BAD DAYS soundtrack contains 21 tracks and a bonustrack from the DISASSEMBLED short; it’s deliriously funny music that accommodates the wild humor of the cartoon shorts while also providing the right sense of verisimilitude through authentic-sounding super hero music.  “Every track is in fact a small suite of music I've written for each episode, in which Stan Lee makes a brief but often hilarious cameo,” said Hermy.  Season 3 is currently running.
Watch BAD DAYS on youtube.
Listen to the music on Spotify.

Emerging film composer Matthew Llewellyn (DEAD SOULS, additional music for JOHN DIES AT THE END, FAR CRY 3) has crafted a rich, thematic orchestral score for the Chiller Network original feature film, DEEP IN THE DARKNESS, opening in select theaters April 29 and airing on Chiller TV May 23. Llewellyn's traditional orchestral score for DEEP IN THE DARKNESS was recorded with the Slovakia National Symphony Orchestra and the soundtrack will be released digitally by MovieScore Media to coincide with the film's theatrical release on April 29, followed by a CD release on Kronos Records simultaneous with the Chiller TV broadcast in May.

Kronos has also released Peter Bateman’s music for ATLANTIS-THE LAST DAYS OF KAPTARA, a retelling of the tale of Theseus and the Minotaur from Greek mythology.  Bateman has fashioned a powerful and lavish score, full of strong and infectious thematic material, noted the label on its web site.  “Fulsome and forceful brass is combined with sweeping and fervent strings that are in turn both embellished and supported by booming percussion and given the location and also the time in which the story is set, the composer employs an array of ethnic instrumentation and distinct sounding vocals which brings credence, authenticity and substance to the soundtrack.”

The joint venture of Moviescore Media and Kronos Records will release EL LADO OSCURO DE LA LUZ (THE DARK SIDE OF LIGHT) digitally and on CD on April 28th. The film is a powerful psychological thriller based on the true story of a serial killer who was sentenced to an electric chair execution and survived it. The soundtrack features the original score composed by Mexican composer Gus Reyes.  “When I received the film for the first time, I was blown away by the story,” said Reyes. “Our main character becomes a religious serial killer thru the film, so I decided to draw with the music that movement in his mind. First I had to find a subtle polyrhythm to make an ostinato that could give the music a profound sound and the movement I think the film needed. Then I create the main theme to go above it. I used a solo violin in its low register to portray the loneliness and pain of this character.”

Madison Gate Records and SpaceLab9 have announced the worldwide release of he original soundtrack to the action movie sequel, THE RAID 2 Released digitally in March, the CD format is due on April 29, followed by a deluxe vinyl LP edition early summer 2014. Composer Joseph Trapanese (THE RAID: REDEMPTION, OBLIVION, TRON: UPRISING) returns along with Aria Prayogi and Fajar Yuskemal to provide a score equal parts electronic and orchestral, deeply layered and breathtaking, all while perfectly complimenting the frenetic on-screen action of THE RAID 2.

ScreamWorks Records has released the music for THE BROTHERHOOD (La hermandad), a moody Spanish thriller written and directed by Julio Martí and featuring the music of Spanish composer Arnau Bataller (THE VALDEMAR LEGACY).  Performed by Barcelona’s Liceu Opera House Symphony and Choir in their first ever film score recording, Bataller’s music for The Brotherhood combines dark textures (orchestral effects and electronics) with a more thematic approach characterized by the evocative choral writing inspired by the story’s religious setting. As the composer explains: “Even though THE BROTHERHOOD is a horror/thriller, the director insisted on having a strong theme which I could develop in different directions as our protagonist, Sara, learns more about the disturbing secrets of The Brotherhood.” 
Also released from Screamworks Records is Jonathan Goldsmith’s music for Manuel Carballo’s THE RETURNED, a unique zombie movies  that takes place in a world where the zombie virus had already infected most of mankind, but a cure has been found. The so-called "Return Protein" can turn zombies into regular humans without any side effects – until the substance runs low, and a battle for dominance breaks out between the returned and the protesters wanting to eradicate them.  Anything but an average horror film score, THE RETURNED is an extensive and detailed audio replica of the diseased world of the story’s setting where the music is allowed to emphasize the sickness surrounding everything. Allowing for only a few moments of genuine human emotions to be displayed through more traditional instruments, Goldsmith blurs the line between zombies and humans.

Kritzerland has announced a new world premiere limited edition release of three scores on two CDs: OVERLORD and HUSTLE (music by Paul Glass), and THE DISAPPEARANCE by Robert Farnon.

Sumthing Else Music Works has released Jesper Kyd's original music score from season one of METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES, the English-language science-fiction television series based on the popular comics anthology 'Métal Hurlant,' also known internationally as 'Heavy Metal' magazine.  “I really enjoy working on multiple genres and MÉTAL HURLANT provides a unique creative opportunity to score every episode with its own sound," says Kyd. "Since each story takes place in a different time (future/past) and on different worlds, the music style is always different from episode to episode. The element that ties them together is the science-fiction/fantasy genre which is present in all the episodes."

Beat Records of Italy has announced its latest archival releases of Italian film music:
(Fabio Frizzi – 1980 - aka "City Of The Living Dead")
TI-KOYO E IL SUO PESCECANE (Francesco de Masi – 1962 - aka "Tiko And The Shark")
BIANCO ROSSO E VERDONE (Ennio Morricone – 1981 – Red White & Green) 
SUPERSEVEN CHIAMA CAIRO (Angelo F. Lavagnino – 1965 - aka
"Super Seven Calling Cairo")

New from Digitmovies of Italy:
L'AVVENTURE DI PINOCCHIO (1972 TV series - Fiorenzo Carpi, conducted by Bruno Nicolai;  2-CD set).
L'ETRUSCO UCCIDE ANCORA (1972 – Riz Ortolani – “The Dead Are Alive")  
TOTTO E PEPPINO DIVISI A BERLINO (1962 – Armando Trovajoli)
BELLE MA POVERE (1957 – Piero Piccioni – "Pretty But Poor")
TRASTEVERE (1971 – G & M Di Angelis)
MACISTE, L'UOMO PIU FORTE DEL MONDO (1961 - aka "Mole Men vs. The Son of Hercules" - Armando Trovajoli)

New from GDM Music of Italy:
PROFESSIONE FIGLIO (1979 - Ennio Morricone (aka "Venetian Lies")
7 VOLTE 7 (1968 – Armando Trovajoli - "Seven Times Seven")
IL MIO NOME E' SHANGHAI JOE (1973 – Bruno Nicolai - “My Name is Shanghai Joe” - kung-fu Western)
LE MANI SPORCHE (1978 – Ennio Morricone)

ArkSquare of Japan reports on these significant new Japanese releases:
KOREGA IFUKUBE AKIRA DA! (This Is Akira Ifukube!): Akira Ifukube 100th Anniversary & Godzilla 60th Anniversary Album
FROZEN by Christophe Beck– Japanese edition features same tracks as US album but with addition of the Japanese version of the award winning song Let It Go” sung by May J.
AIBO: THE MOVIE III (2CD) by Yoshihiro Ike – a nice symphonic score.
GHIBLI BEST STORIES – a greatest hits selection of Joe Hisaishi’s music from Studio Ghibli’s films.


Film Music on Vinyl

Settle down, it’s not what you think.  It’s a songtrack album, on vinyl only. But it does include a remix of Bear’s theme music.  From Space Lab 9 Records, distributed in Europe by One Way Static Records, is THE WALKING DEADOriginal Soundtrack Vol. 1 on black vinyl.  Released in a limited edition and packaged in a deluxe gatefold jacket & printed inner pocket sleeve; the first pressing includes a full color 18 × 24 poster. The album includes previously unreleased music by multi-platinum-selling Icelandic folk favorites Of Monsters and Men as well as an exclusive re-mix of the title track from composer Bear McCreary.
Track Listing
1. Jamie N. Commons - Lead Me Home 
2. Bear McCreary - Main Title Theme Song (UNKLE Remix) 
3. Voxhaul Broadcast - You Are the Wilderness 
4. Baby Bee - Love Bug 
5. Fink - Warm Shadow 
6. Of Monsters and Men - Sinking Man 
7. Beth & Maggie Greene - The Parting Glass 
8. Delta Spirit - Running
This item is up for pre-order and will be shipped out on April 28
Please visit to order your copy.
In US, order from from

Vinyl record specialists Death Waltz Recording Company has released, for the first time in any format, Joe Delia’s soundtrack to Abel Ferrara’s 1981 revenge flick, MS. 45.  The intrepid folks at Death Waltz  went back to the original master tapes and worked with composer Joe Delia to clean up the original elements.  “Ferrara’s pictures often tread the line between grindhouse trash and art-films with insightful social commentary – and unflinching realism – and MS. 45 is his most notorious film, with much of its power coming from Joe Delia’s grimy yet haunting music,” noted the label on their web site. “A sparse piano motif initially creates a lonely voice for the (mute) heroine but it’s overshadowed by wailing trumpet, electric guitar, and menacing synths that paint a disturbing musical picture of the world she inhabits.”  The vinyl release consists of a 180 gm Bad Habit colored vinyl (White & Black split)  housed in a gatefold heavyweight tip on casebound sleeve; the package includes a giant fold out poster and booklet featuring all new exclusive sleevenotes from composer Joe Delia.  Those who purchase direct from the label’s web store will also receive an immediate digital download of the score, including 5 cues used in the film but not on the vinyl – plus a whole 65 minutes of unused elements from the original score recording sessions direct from Joe Delia’s personal vaults!
Death Waltz has also released the early synth soundtrack by Susan Justin to Roger Corman’s fun and quirky 1982 sci-fi saga, FORBIDDEN WORLD.  Released back then on an LP by the bootleg-prone WEB Records, Susan’s cool score has been unavailable since then.  “Susan Justin mixes the electronic influences of the time with splashes of new wave, creating a score that fuses the eerie tonalities and avant-garde sensibility of ALIEN with the straight-up funk of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13,” wrote the label. “Birthed from this is a cult classic score that deserves to be held up alongside the works of Richard Band and Alan Howarth.”

Another promulgator of vinyl recording, Mondo Vinyl, has issued Jerry Goldsmith’s Oscar-winning score for THE OMEN in a special limited edition vinyl release.  The package, designed by Phantom City Creative, contains a single LP in deluxe gatefold jacket, pressed on 180 gram black vinyl – or, if the buyer is lucky, they may get one of the randomly-inserted 'Mark of the Beast' translucent Red vinyl discs.

Aleph Records has announced the label’s first ever vinyl release, Lalo Schifrin’s BULLITT.  The album will be released in conjunction with record store day on April 19, 2014.  The album is a limited edition individually numbered vinyl release (1000 copies) and will feature newly commissioned liner notes by Jon Burlingame.  The 200-gram vinyl of the BULLITT soundtrack will feature both the record and movie version of the score – for the first time on vinyl.  This limited edition also features score cues never before released on vinyl.  Included in the album will be a digital download card of the album.


Games Music News

Congrats to BioShock Infinite composer Garry Schyman on taking home top honors for Best Original Composition at the Music+Sound Awards!  Details, and other award winners, at:

Award-winning game composer Winifred Phillips has written the definitive book on scoring for video games.  A Composer’s Guide to Game Music has been published by The MIT Press and is a thoroughly comprehensive guidebook to the concept, practice, art, and technology of providing music for this growing cinematic medium.  Phillips begins with some background – why write music for games, largely based on her own awakening experience about being part of game music and how that began; the creative skillet needed by the modern composer, describing how music deepens the gameplay experience, what themes are all about, and what such things as music genres and game genres have to do with each other.  The brass tacks come out with a series of practical chapters on the process of game scoring – preparation and workflow, working with the development team, the differences between music for gameplay and linear music for story enhancement – and plenty of insight on the game composer’s technical skillset (which is a very different animal from the creative skillset), and on the business aspect of a career in gamescoring.  “Modern video games have the capacity to insure us with awe and wonder, immersing us in worlds that exist only in the developers’ imagination and letting us amass experiences that we couldn’t have in any other way,” Phillips concludes.  “As game composers, it is our privilege to create music that helps these games entertain, amuse, excite, and sometimes ever provoke conversation and stimulate ideas, much like a work of art.”  Phillips then returns to a question that has run throughout her book, which, above the creative, operational, and technical knowhow she passes on, has become kind of a thesis statement for the work as a whole: can video game music be considered “art?”  It’s a question she takes up again at the end: “If the definition of art is a work that is filled with ‘the artist’s soul, or vision’ [quoting Roger Ebert, who affirmed the answer to the question was “no”], then we as composers have a unique opportunity. Through our music, we can pour our own vision into the fabric of a video game world… we can help a video game to become art.  We can meaningfully contribute to one of the newest and most uniquely powerful forms of human expression.”  This book is a great place to start on that journey.

Composer Austin Wintory reports that "Transfiguration," the Journey piano album, is available exclusively through the 7th Game Music Bundle, where a $10 purchase gets you over 14 hours of music. In addition to "Transfiguration," this bundle also includes The Banner Saga (not to mention scores like Broken Ageand Luftrausers and a ton of other great indies!). The special bundle offer goes through May 1st. See:  Additional information on Wintory’s Banner Saga can be found here:

Michael John Mollo reports he has composed the original music for the Capcom release of STRIDER®, a digital download game title developed by Double Helix.  “The approach to the music for STRIDER was to take the style and intensity of the original games from the late 80s, and breathe new life into the arrangements,” said Mollo.  “I chose to feature old school synths and textures juxtaposed against modern sounds to both pay homage to the past but also move the sound of STRIDER into the 21st century.” 
Mollo currently serves as CEO of Q6 Studios Inc. a collective of talented composers he founded with colleagues from USC.  He continues to work on projects both large and intimate where he can explore new avenues of musical expression. “We decided early on that it would be a good idea to re-arrange some of the classic STRIDER tunes for the game,” Mollo described.  “We thought those tunes were the most iconic and best suited to accompany Strider as he enters the modern day.  The remainder of the material consists of original tracks that I composed for the game.”


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:

Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe.

Randall can be contacted at -Your Store to Buy Hard To Find Film and Television
Music Scores and Soundtrack CDs!