Past Columns

SOUNDTRAX Special Edition
Episode 2012-4a April 29, 2012

Remembering Joel Goldsmith
By Randall D. Larson

Film and television composer Joel Goldsmith has passed away.   Son of iconic film composer Jerry Goldsmith, Joel died on April 29, 2012 at the age of 54, less than eight years after his famous father passed away in 2004.  He had been suffering from cancer for some time.

Joel Goldsmith was the eldest of Jerry’s six children, and the only one to follow his father into film composition.  Among Joel’s earliest efforts in films were serving as electronic music programmer for the sci-fi thriller, END OF THE WORLD (1977; scored by Andrew Belling, with composer Richard Band acting as an associate producer for his brother Charles Band, who produced) and as electronic orchestrator for Cannon’s DR. HECKYL AND MR. HYPE (1980), which Richard Band had composed.  The association with Band led to the feature film debut for both composers on the science fiction thriller, LASERBLAST (1978), produced by Charles Band.   That film was about a teenage loner who discovers a laser cannon left behind by an alien visitor and uses it to go on a murderous rampage against those he feels have wronged him.  LASERBLAST was one of the first low-budget science fiction films to exploit the new wave of sci-fi popularity spawned by the release of STAR WARS the previous year.  The musical score was necessarily entirely electronic, built around layered patterns and orchestral melodies simulated on synthesizers. 

Joel went on to find a comfortable and creative niche scoring low budget and television thrillers, scoring more than five dozen films and television series throughout a career spanning four decades.  He became a wizard on synthesizers, although when budgets would permit an orchestra Joel could rouse the instruments to powerful crescendos and he was no slouch when it came to big band jazz, either. During the ‘80s and ‘90s Joel became adept at scoring low-budget and independent features, giving even the most forgettable films stalwart and sensitive musical accompaniment.  He composed Carl Reiner’s sci-fi comedy, THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS (1983), and the horror film WATCHERS (1988), based on the Dean Koontz novel.  He scored Roland Emmerich’s early science fiction thriller, MOON 44 (1990), for which he provided his first large orchestral score to convey a pulsating action-oriented score.  The film is a kind of DIRTY DOZEN in space, about a group of violent criminals being trained as a defense force to protect a mining operation on a distant moon.  To supplement the prowess of the Graunke Symphony Orchestra, which performed the lively score, Joel wrote a high-toned synth line that soars above a lot of the aggressive material, lending a sense of grace, purpose, and unity to the heroic group.  Some of the action material is reminiscent of his father’s writing, especially in the low horn phrases over snare drum and contrapuntal violin figures, but for the most part the score revealed the junior Goldsmith as a talented film-scorer emerging in his own right.

In 1994 Joel explored the North American frontiers when he scored the Canadian TV series, HAWKEYE, and he engaged his sensitive side again in 1996 with his music for the family film about a boy and his dog, SHILOH (he would also score its sequel in 1999).   He tried his hand at scoring video games in 1996 when the sturdy music for 1996’s TOM CLANCY’s SSN, a simulation game about a nuclear hunter/killer submarine (he’d earlier contributed additional music to the brutal 1994 war sim game, CORPSE KILLER, and would later compose the popular CALL OF DUTY 3 game in 2006.  Joel connected with intrepid B-movie director Jim Wynorski on VAMPIRELLA (1996), a feature film dressing of the popular alien vampiress created by Forrest J Ackerman for the 1969 Warren comic magazine of the same title.  With emphasis on aggressive electronics, exploding percussions, and a sympathetic synth love theme, Joel’s score characterized the vampiress in both her seductive and her sardonic nuances, while a heavy intonation of chorus adds the weight of the vampire legend to the ongoing story.

The same year, Goldsmith was called in to assist his father Jerry on completing the score to STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT when production delays in Jerry’s previous film (THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS) brought him into the TREK movie with only three weeks to complete the music.  Joel wound up scoring 22 minutes of the film’s score, mostly action material, adopting his father’s style.  “I played everything to Jerry beforehand, he had looked at my sketches before it went to the orchestrator,” Goldsmith told me in our first interview.  “It was nerve-wracking, but it was fun.”  Joel’s musical responsibilities centered around the Borg and Flight of the Phoenix segment, as well as the 6-minute climactic sequence where they break the warp drive and Data turns on the Borg queen.

After scoring three episodes of the revived OUTER LIMITS television series in 1997, Joel began work on his biggest feature film, Universal’s renewed foray into sword and sorcery, KULL THE CONQUEROR (1997), based on another one of Robert E. Howard’s pulp magazine barbarian heroes.  Thinking he would get to write something CONAN-esque, Joel was surprised when director John Nicolella insisted that Joel’s big-budget orchestral music be combined with hard-driving heavy metal rock and roll.  “The director said he thought that we should handle the fight scenes with heavy metal music, and I thought he was kidding, so I just kind of let it go,” Joel said.  “And then in a phone conversation later in the day I realized that he wasn’t kidding, and he was serious!  And I had to make the choice whether or not I was going to continue on the project or not, and I decided to continue on the project and just do the best job I could!”

While David Arnold had scored the big-budget sci-fi spectacle, STARGATE (1994), when it was spun off into a TV series called STARGATE SG-1 (1997-2007), Joel came on board to score the new series.  “They wanted to use David Arnold’s STARGATE theme a lot,” Joel explained.  “It was very important to them that people could relate to the film musically so the series would have the signature of the film, which was fine.  So I adapted David Arnold’s theme, added a few of my own themes, and I did a new end title to the show.”   

Joel was joined by Kevin Kiner, Richard Band, and Dennis McCarthy on scoring the episodes on the first series. Once the series began to carry its own weight and had spun off into STARGATE: ATLANTIS (2004-09) and, later, the 2009 series, STARGATE UNIVERSE (aka SGU), use of David Arnold’s motion picture theme gradually faded away, and Joel became sole primary composer.  “As SG-1 developed and I composed themes for the different characters, I became less reliant on David’s original themes for the film as I compiled a library of my own,” Joel said.  “As the series progressed, obviously, the music became more stylized.  Then when ATLANTIS came, that added a number of new themes as well, and I didn’t have to rely on David’s at all.  I had all new themes for ATLANTIS.  But I’ll still come back to that original SG-1 theme from time to time.  There’s something warm and fuzzy when you hear it, because it brings you back to the foundation of the entire series.” 

Joel also scored the short-run series, WITCHBLADE (2001-02), including its 2000 made-for-TV movie pilot.   Assisted by Neal Acree (who would also assist Joel with STARGATE beginning in 2004), Joel’s music for WITCHBLADE is a grittier and much more contemporary, urban-based score.  Joel and Neal had also jointly composed a series of suites entitled “Symphonie Por Un Monde Etrange” (“Symphony for a Strange World”), which they were asked to adapt into the main and end title music for the Canadian supernatural series, SANCTUARY (2008-09), about an organization charged with protecting the various inhuman monsters that exist within the world. 

While his work on the STARGATE franchise during the ‘90s and 2000s focused the larger part of his energy, Joel also found opportunities to write music of a more sensitive style.  He provided a pulsating, action-oriented score for the 1998 disaster TV-movie, INFERNO, and the same year provided a suspenseful score for Randal Kleiser’s SHADOW OF A DOUBT (no relation to the Hitchcock film of the same name). He contributed music to the mystery TV series DIAGNOSIS MURDER (1998-99).  His music for the remade TV series, THE UNTOUCHABLES (1993-94), contained a splendid theme very much in his father’s vogue, and plenty of sizzling noir for the show’s episodes.  Joel provided a fine score for Jim Wynorski’s poignant holiday comedy, LITTLE MISS MILLIONS (1993; aka HOME FOR CHRISTMAS), which featured Jennifer Love Hewitt in her first major role.  In the comic 1999 mystery, DIAMONDS, Joel had composed a wonderfully fragrant score with a sweet melodic sensibility and not a few moments of enthusiastic, big band jazz – I think it’s one of Joel’s best scores.  Another one of them was found in the rich mixture of ethnic musical textures and large orchestral forces to the 2003 TV-movie HELEN OF TROY

His final score, composed in collaboration with Neal Acree, was a return to the more macabre roots of LASER BLAST – WAR OF THE DEAD (2010), a zombie thriller for Finnish writer/director Marko Mäkilaakso. 

BSX Records had worked with Joel on several projects, releasing on CD his scores to LASERBLAST and MOON 44, which we released just last week), and our staff produced previous releases of Joel’s STARGATE scores on other labels.  I had the opportunity to interview Joel several times over the years for my column and my book on sf & horror film music.  Joel was an unassuming, humble, and very funny guy; an engaging storyteller whose gusto for life came through in his personality and his music. 

The latter remains with us, and through it we toast the former and bid a fond, if much too soon, farewell to Joel Goldsmith. 


Soundtrax: Episode 2012-4 
April 24, 2012

By Randall D. Larson


LAST BREATH, a 2010 thriller written, directed and starring Ty Jones, is an independent thriller which, at first, appears to be just another routine horror movie about a torture killer as a couple, struggling in their marriage, are trapped in a run-down warehouse and stalked by a shadowy figure who delights in tormenting them.  The film shares the complicated array of intricate set-ups that defy reality and logic as the stalker traps and tortures the couple in separate areas of the warehouse.  But near the end comes a major twist that completely changes the film and successfully brings it into the realm of metaphor; the twist is artfully executed and satisfyingly potent.  Jones’ movie takes the form of a horror film but ultimately is a persuasive exercise in misperception. While its twist also defies a degree of internal logic, its structure and form, and the earnestness of its climactic revelation, permits that further departure from the literate and the linear without damaging its precepts as a storytelling treatment. The poignancy of the message and its purposeful yet eloquent interworking throughout the storyline (once it has been revealed and we recognize it as such) elevates the story beyond its genre trappings into a work of art that fulfills the passion of its makers without detracting from the filmgoing experience of seeing its story unspool.  Vincent Gillioz supplies a sublime musical score that supports the film’s creepier and grislier moments while at its heart underlines the film’s metaphoric poetry. He focuses much more on the human drama being played out within the story while also providing an unsettling atmosphere once the Dark Figure begins his mistreatment of the couple.

Gillioz’s original soundtrack to LAST BREATH has just been released by Howlin’ Wolf Records (www.howlinwolfrecords.com)

Q: How did you become involved in Ty Jones’ LAST BREATH?

Vincent Gillioz: I saw on IMDb Pro that LAST BREATH was in post-production and gave a call to the production company, as they were still taking submissions regarding the composer position. So I sent a demo package.  I remember that the producer, Aaron Laue, was driving when he heard my CD and he called the director to say that he should really check it out.

Q: What were your first inclinations for the film’s music?  What kind of discussions did you and Ty have concerning the form and function of the score?

Vincent Gillioz: Ty Jones, the director, loves film music and is very knowledgeable about it.  During our first discussion we mostly shared our passion for soundtracks. He selected temporary music from commercially released soundtracks for a temp score, and we discussed scene by scene what he was trying to convey, what the overall structure was, and development he was expecting the score to give. Ty made a good example of a great use of the temp score, because he never asked me to copy or stay close to it.  I watched the movie once with the temp score, which allowed me to understand the approach, sensitivity and colors that the director was looking for. After that first screening I turned the temporary score off and would never play it again, as I always do.

Q: While the film is conveyed in the torture-killer mode, your score is far from the kind of the industrial/sound design technique currently known for the genre.  Would you describe your use of piano as the score’s primary voice, and how it contrasts against your orchestral material?

Vincent Gillioz: The piano appears every time the values of the family are suggested because of its specific qualities that we can associate with what family represents, such as stability, strength, warmth and solidity. At the same time, the movie is working with two dimensions, one is the reality and the other one is the allegory. It was an obvious choice to pick acoustic instruments to constitute reality and sonic textures for the allegory. While the two dimensions are merging, developing and becoming intertwined, the acoustic instruments and the sonic textures merge as well. The piano is taken over by the orchestra, because its wide palette of colors and boundless flexibility allows for a greater range and more complex displays of emotion to reflect the inner struggles of the characters, and also because the piano is transformed into a prepared piano to metaphor another character of the family – but I won't say more about it in order not to spoil anything about the movie.

Q: How large of an ensemble did you have – and was it live acoustic or did you also use samples/electronics?

Vincent Gillioz: LAST BREATH was a mix of machines and live players. We recorded live players for the piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet, violins and celli, and the rest was machines.

Q: There is a dark subtext running throughout the film which isn’t revealed until just about the end.  Without giving away any spoilers, how did you approach the music for that pivotal revelation, and how did the score develop up to that moment?

Vincent Gillioz: It's very difficult to speak about it without revealing anything. The idea was to give a unique dimension/sound to the subtext without being on the nose. That is why a wide palette of sounds can be heard in the movie. Using an abundance of musical options can backfire; for example, having too many different colors, sounds, or thematic elements can be confusing and work against the understanding of the story. Therefore the difficulty was to find the coherence between all the different musical elements that I wanted to use. It's like a sauce – all the different elements must blend and give a specific flavor.  That it is what I was trying to do throughout the movie. The different elements were at first played separately, and little by little I blended them. Hopefully the audience feels coherence when the revelation is reached. The music had three main roles: first, outlining the structure of the movie; second, supporting the action; and third, giving some insight into the characters' emotional struggles.

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

Vincent Gillioz: It was a dream project, artistically, as I had as much freedom as a composer can have and as the director and I were totally on the same wavelength. Therefore the biggest challenge was to choose the musical concept and then decide how to execute it. The story could have been scored from so many different points of view: the main character, the family, the dark figure, the meaning of life…  we could have just enhanced the thrills, we could have "commented" on what was happening on the screen, etc. This movie allows a lot of different options, and as it is the case with abundance, it is then very hard to choose one option, or even several of them. In the end we'll never know what was best.  You have to make a decision on an approach and live with it. Our concept was to help outline the structure of the movie, to enhance the action, and to give some insight into the characters' emotional struggles that they're going through as the movie develops..

Q: What did you find most special about working on this project?

Vincent Gillioz: I try to have a different approach on every movie that I work for. The difference can be either in the color (harmonic language), in the instrumentation (such as orchestral vs. electronic), in the approach (atmospheric vs. thematic/melodic), in the manner of expressing the emotions (such as being in the perception level or on the nose), or supporting directly the story vs. providing another layer to it, etc. What was special in LAST BREATH is that I had to outline musically different "dimensions" in a subtle and unassertive way.

Q: Aside from feature films, you continue to score a number of short films.  Do you find it harder to develop a score over the compacted length of a short film than a feature, and how does the short form affect your overall scoring approach?

Vincent Gillioz: Scoring a short film is very different from scoring a feature film, and very interesting. On a short movie you usually don't want to have too many different thematic elements because you wouldn't have time to expose all of them and then develop each of them without overwhelming the audience with too much information – it depends on the length of the movie. Also a short movie allows for more experiments. The director doesn't have to ask herself too many questions about pleasing the producer or the audience because there is no money to be made with a short movie; also because the director usually makes it to showcase her unique voice, therefore it actually requires risks to be taken.

I am currently working on a short called SPADE where we use music as an extra layer to tell the story. None of the music supports the action or the mood directly, even though there is a correlation between the scene and the music, which "comments" on the movie. For instance, we open the movie with circus music whereas the whole movie is showing a policeman interrogating a suspect in one room with cameras and a tainted window. We decided to start with some circus music for the reason that we go to the circus to be entertained, what we see there is between real and unreal, truth and lies, it's real in front of our eyes, but they use tricks to play with us, they exaggerate emotions and sometimes they really suffer, etc. The movie is about that ambiguity, what is real and what is not, is this truth or lie? Hence the title SPADE, as in "Spades were trumps."

Q: What can you tell me about your score for COLLAPSE, a zombie movie about a little town suddenly overrun by undead monsters.  How did you emphasize its sense of suspense and shock?

Vincent Gillioz: COLLAPSE is also a score I am very proud of. It is so different from LAST BREATH. In LAST BREATH the score is from the point of view of the heart and it is highly emotional, whereas in COLLAPSE it is completely at the guts level. Another difference from LAST BREATH is that COLLAPSE required the score to create a post-apocalyptic atmosphere – cold, deserted, morbid, and unwelcoming. It is an electronic score where I tweaked sounds.  I played with filters in order to manipulate the shape of the sounds. The problem with the electronic world is that it has no end. The number of sounds is endless, connected to the fact that every electronic sound can be endlessly manipulated; the combination of those two parameters gives you millions of options to play with, and you have to create a musical world from A to Z. Also since the nature of the sound is electronic, the way to put sounds together is not outlined by any conventional music system (chords, modes, scales, etc.), you have to invent a new grammar. That is where writing for orchestra is much easier because it has a limited number of instruments, and also with musical notes you already have systems that relate one note to the other.  With electronics, as I said, there is no end – but that doesn't mean that you can do whatever you want and that it will sound great.  The opposite is quite often the case!

The COLLAPSE score also relies on musical instruments, such as distorted and acoustic guitars, drums, piano and an orchestra, all mostly used in a violent way. In LAST BREATH the inner struggles of the characters were underscored; it was about what was inside them.  In COLLAPSE, the aggressive/mad nature of the post-apocalyptic atmosphere is musically conveyed; it was about the outside, about the violent nature of the environment that the characters evolve in.

Q: Several of your scores have been for horror films, which are especially prevalent in the independent film circuit.   How do you generally approach the genre while striving to let your own musical voice be heard?

Vincent Gillioz: The indie world allows more room for experimentation, as there are fewer worries about being a crowd pleaser and less cooks in the kitchen. An indie movie usually doesn't have producers, executive producers, and test screening audiences that you have to please. It's usually a collaboration between the composer and the director, and sometimes the producer. So it is a real pleasure where the composer can really try to breathe a unique voice to the movie.

Regarding how I approach the genre, the first time I watch the movie, I have a "reaction" to it, I hear musical colors and an instrumentation. It is the result of an instinctive reaction, so it is "dangerous" to follow that reaction without thinking about it first, because, since it's a reaction, it could be what is the most associated with the genre. So at that point my rational part analyzes my instinctive reaction and lets me know if I fell into the stereotypes of the genre. If it is the case, I force myself into a different direction by choosing to work with a specific and unique instrumentation and/or harmonic color. The "original" factor could also be in the approach and not in the harmonic color/instrumentation of the music. If that is the case, I try to stay more straightforward regarding the music itself, because I don't want to confuse the audience. The audience must be able to grab onto something that they understand without any effort. Therefore only one element between the music itself, or the approach of the music, should be unique.
In a more personal goal, I try to tread new (to me) territories with each movie that I am scoring. That is why I have so many "different" scores in different genres, some written for full orchestra, some for electronics only, one was written for in an "avant-garde/English Baroque" style, another one  was written for bagpipes, bodhran, penny whistle, fiddle, zither, gadulka (Bulgarian string instrument), etc.
It is a privilege artistically to be able to work in such diverse ways, because we don't like to repeat ourselves.

Special thanks to Benjamin Chee of Howlin’ Wolf Records for his assistance, and to Vincent Gillioz for taking the time to discuss his latest scores with me.

For more information on Vincent Gillioz, see his web site at http://www.vincentgillioz.com/


New Soundtracks Releases of Note

THE AVENGERS/Alan Silvestri/Hollywood Records/Intrada
Alan Silvestri is back in full force with a stalwart orchestral score for Marvel’s long-awaited assembled super hero team-up.  THE AVENGERS songtrack album will be out on May 1st from Hollywood Records for those who want to rock and roll, but Intrada provides the real soundtrack on the same day (www.intrada.com).  With a main theme comprised of muscle and determination, Silvestri fires up the score with a large-scale ensemble of 80 musicians with the same kind of engaging orchestral might with which he scored 2011’s CAPTAIN AMERICA.  Silvestri reprises his theme from that score, and while it would have been fun to hear the character themes for IRON MAN, HULK, and THOR from their movies similarly reintroduced here, the composer sticks to his own material, weaving in Cap’s theme along with new motifs for the other characters.  But all are subordinate to the overall Avengers theme, which draws from nuances of the characters to formulate a new entity – the sum of the parts coalesced into a powerful heroic fighting team, which is by far the predominant motif of the score (or at least the album).  “Alan has provided a score that is so specific, so narrative-based, but still has the undeniable power and fluidity of those more diffuse accompaniments,” asserts director Joss Whedon. “You can hear the themes, the moments... and just bathe in the greatness.”   In “Avengers Assemble,” Silvestri takes his motific elements and draws them together into a rolling, rhythmic wave as independent heroes join forces to battle the attack of Loki and his army; percussively driven and bridged by quick moments of mercato string figures, until the gathering together of various independent statements assemble into a progressive, anthemic presentation of the main theme.  There are plenty of percussive slams throughout the score, those heavy, muscular blows suggestive of the brawny heroes who assemble to join forces, and while we’re hearing a lot of these kind of metallic, industrial percussion-doubled-by-severe-orchestral strikes in these types of movies, they work tremendously well and give the score much of its might.  Quieter moments abide with a sad violin melody (“Don’t Take My Stuff”), reflective moments in “One Way Trip,” and a lonely motif for Black Widow, plucked from acoustic guitar that reflects the character’s European origin (“The Promise”).
With 19 tracks and 75 minutes of music, this is a completely satisfactory release.

Hear the score now at http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/MarvelFreshman/news/?a=58409

BEL AMI/Lakshman Joseph De Saram & Rachel Portman/Varese Sarabande
In an era when so much film music is built around massive drum beats, string-stroked rhythms, and recirculating musical progressions, it’s nice to encounter a traditional, melodic and classically structured work every once in a while.  Academy Award winner Rachel Portman, working here with Sri Lankan musician Lakshman Joseph De Saram, contributes a spirited score to this erotically charged tale of ambition, power, and seduction, based on the based on the novel by Guy de Maupassant.  BEL AMI chronicles the rise of penniless ex-soldier Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) from poverty up through the echelons of the 1890s Parisian “beau monde” elite.  Also starring Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci and Colm Meaney, BEL AMI has been described as a historical epic with a modern twist — kind of a DANGEROUS LIAISONS for a new generation.  The score is wonderfully melodic, from the infectious classicism of its violin-infused opening track through its subordinate themes and melodies.  The musical style fits the film’s period although [I believe] it’s not strictly late 19th Century French classical; it captures the feeling of bygone days but the music remains timeless and place-less, reflecting the emotional realities evoked by the story.  The sensitive melodic style of Portman is nicely infused with the South Asian sensitivity of De Saram, both of them capturing the story’s sense of shared emotionalism in a seamless blend of musical expression.  The music’s roots may be found in Western classical music but it expresses the soul of a shared humanity, allowing audiences and listeners alike to identify with Duroy in his struggles and his victories despite his different circumstances and environment.  Portman and De Saram wrote cues separately, dividing the score almost equally in half, and the album identifies who wrote what (thank you).  The main thematic and most dynamic melodies are the work of Portman; De Saram’s compositions include the very fine themes for Clotilde and Madeleine, and much of the “source” party music heard in the Parison ballrooms; each of them accommodate similar stylistic tendencies, allowing for both composers’ work to blend nicely into a singular whole.  On album, the score is a delight: a panorama of enchanting melodies and heartfelt musical countenances that is very nicely played out.

BROKE SKY/McCuistion-Ritmanis-Carter/La-La Land
While most of us recognize composers Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis, and Kristopher Carter as the terrific triumvirate of animation composers known as Dynamic Music Partners (see my interview with them in Soundtrax 11/15/10), the trio has occasionally stepped out from their duties scoring the animated adventures of Batman, Superman, Spiderman and the like to take on other projects.  BROKE SKY is one of them.  A 2007 “southern noir” about a pair of road workers who keep the country highways clear of roadkill, until they find something far more disturbing than a possum Frisbee and open up a decades-old secret, its score mixes orchestral instrumentation with southern guitar soloing and electronics, providing a sound pattern that reflects the sizzling asphalt, southern skies, and personal isolation while also investing the film with its growing sense of unsettling trepidation, mystery, and confrontation.  It’s a subtle score that underlies the storyline with graceful atmosphere and southern twang (and cool percussion effects like maraca rattlesnake rattles, echoing sticks, and buzzing fluted sonorities), yet harbors a psychological intensity that pierces to the soul of these characters as their backstory is unfurled like a rolled-up snakeskin. And, with separate cues composed individually by each composer, the fact that the overall score retains such a sense of coherency and purposeful direction is a tribute to these composers’ instinctive partnership.  Kudos to La-La Land for bringing this aspect of these dynamic composers in to soundtrack release.  The informative album notes are compiled from interviews with each of them along with the filmmakers and music supervisor Alison Freebairn-Smith, who brought the composers into the project.

THE CONFORMATION/Austin Wintory/T65b Records
This is the music from a 2010 radio play directed by Paul Solet, for whom Austin scored the horror feature GRACE the year before; it’s part of the digital radio play series TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE.  The TWILIGHT ZONE-ish story has to do with a plastic surgeon obsessed with creating the perfect form who falls for a patient obsessed with becoming it, with “the inevitable resultant synchronistic psychosis culminating in a reality more grotesque” than either could have imagined.  Wintory’s score is a wash of overlapping tones, mostly closely-miked violins and reflective synths punctuated by severely whapped drum beats and resonating synth vibrato, immersing the audio play in an atmosphere of progressively unsettling Gothic menace, a kind of musical opener of the way that anticipates and finally embraces the successful achievement of surgeon’s and patient’s longings… to their horror. There is a disturbing serenity about the music, a sheen of beauty perhaps reflective of the imagined goal of the procedure, yet it is layered with an oppressive undercurrent of unhappy resolution, best realized in the final track, the very melancholy (and unfulfilled) “Perfection.”  The 4-track, 13-minute album is available on iTunes and amazon; the radio play can be heard at:

CONQUEST 1453/Benjamin Wallfisch/ MovieScore Media
The most successful film in Turkey, Faruk Aksoy's CONQUEST 1453 is a Turkish national epic, delineating the exciting story of the siege of Constantinople in 1453.  The film is made internationally accessible through its spectacular Hollywood-inspired cinematic style and a first-rate international orchestral score by British composer/conductor Benjamin Wallfisch.  The score is in the big, bold tradition of modern historical battle epics, with strongly stated themes and a rich orchestral palette embellished by synth programming and fragile vocalise.  The album’s opener, “Mehmet’s theme,” introduces the score’s anchoring thematic component, a thoroughly proud and striking theme, very inspiring and heroic; while “The Prophecy” embodies a rich array of delicate electronic interaction before segueing into a gorgeous statement of the main theme from strings (a motif lightly reprised in an epiphany of winds and strings in “The Stone of Eyüp”).  “Era & Hassan” proffers a lovely romantic melody, very nicely accomplished.  Despite the score’s occupying a familiar musical/instrumental landscape for these kinds of films, Wallfisch gives it an earnest emotive heart, and it comes across on the album as a very likable historical score, the clashing of armies and warring technologies of past centuries, yet with a heart of humanity and the inherited struggle for survival that is instantly recognizable.  
MSM reports that the first edition of the CD is limited to 1000 copies.
For music and video samples gallop over to http://www.moviescoremedia.com/conquest1453.html

DARK CORNERS/Andrew Pearce/Promotional
British composer Andrew Pearce, noted for his 2009 classical composition, Cinema Symphony, had earlier scored the 2006 horror film DARK CORNERS, which is available as a promotional CD from the good folks at CDBaby.  The movie stars Thora Birch as a troubled young woman who wakes up one day as a different person – someone who is stalked by threatening creatures.  Pearce’s orchestral score offset a very pretty melody for the woman and her husband against a severe set of brassy cadences, echoed by a moaning men’s chorus, that reflect the creatures who threaten her; meanwhile the ascending melody of Susan’s pretty theme is shaped into the descending melody belonging to her frightened alter-ego, Karen, the directional melodic contrast a purposeful and effective device.  Pearce’s orchestrations tacitly comment on the film’s psychological drive as well as its more overt visual action.  Moments of introspective melody elbow up against onrushing rhythms for full orchestra and choir; haunting character themes become immersed beneath heavy layers of brutal aggression; the music explores a myriad of dark corners as it accompanies Susan on her journey through Karen’s psyche.  It’s a fine score well worth checking out.
The promotional release (a real CD!) is available from CDBaby at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/andrewpearce
For more about the composer, see http://www.andrew-pearce.com/

DARK SHADOWS/Danny Elfman/US: WaterTower Music, UK: Sony Classical
Danny Elfman’s latest collaboration with director Tim Burton, set for release on May 8th, festers with trembling misterioso and powerful Gothic statements. The composer journeys into Collinwood with an enthusiastic orchestral vitality, impassioned with choral-enhanced crescendos, vigorous flights across the moonlit dark, and onrushing percussive rhythmatics.  DARK SHADOWS is the kind of score that fits Elfman like a shroud, or vice versa, and he renders it in splendid musical shadings and textures and layers of darkness that alternately flit airily or else weigh heavily across the film’s aural soundscape.  Eschewing the quirky yet delightful nuances of Elfman’s darker scores for films like BEETLEJUICE or NIGHT BREED, DARK SHADOWS perhaps comes closest to SLEEPY HOLLOW in terms of sheer seething orchestral command, if a comparison must be made.  Enhanced variously by church organ, airy choir, and percussive acoustics and electronics, Elfman’s main theme is as fluidly romantic as that of John William’s for 1979’s DRACULA (a semblance especially vivid in the solo violin measures at the beginning of “Barnabas Comes Home”), a glorious evocation of the pride, passion, power, and pain of the genre’s original sensitive vamp, Barnabas Collins.  The nearly 8-minute “Prologue” grows from wispy tendrils of delicate menace into a ferocious, howling aggression of relentless arrogance; at album’s end, “We Will End You” reprises the Prologue’s aggressive portrait of vampiric power, the music embodying every bit the confident and malignant statement in the track’s title while retaining a coherent sensibility of the Gothic romantic; the score thus bookended in a splendidly fitting musical portrait of Barnabas Collins, J. Depp by way of J. Frid.  With this main theme as his score’s focal point, Elfman explores the shadowy corridors of Collinwood with earnest curiosity and not a little threat, gradually escalating his aural ensemble and creating some mesmerizingly spooky textures, while those serpentine string melodies constantly entwine and constrict throughout.  The sonic mélange of “Resurrection” is stitched together from various aural components to eventually emerge with a fully formed if tentative materialization of his main theme, resonations of misty flutes embellished by soprano voice.  From these measures come much of the score’s apprehensive suspense music, as in the floating chords of “Vicki Enters Collinwood” or the congealing clusters of tremolo violins and timpani rumbles of “Deadly Handshake,” growing into the propulsive reprise of the main theme in “Shadows Reprise,” with its howling synths and drum-beaten bat’s wings flapping through Collinwood’s dim-litten hallways and foggy graveyards.  Here, Elfman’s synths are not the modern computerized instruments of contemporary technology, but retain a very definite sound of early Moogs, likely a period reference to the original 1966 show and its score, as in the strident synth lines that open “Shadow Reprise” and the pure electronica of “Hypno Music.”  Despite the controversy over Burton’s reportedly comedic interpretation of DARK SHADOWS, there is none of that in Elfman’s score, which plays it entirely straight without any of the fang-in-cheek elements that the composer has been known for.  DARK SHADOWS is a grim, alluring, and pervasive romantic horror score, malevolent and empowering from start to finish. In “More The End” Elfman hints at Robert Cobert’s exquisitely eerie theme from Dan Collins’ original DARK SHADOWS soap opera without actually quoting the actual melody; the reference offers an effective and likeable correlation between Collins and Elfman that concludes the film with a satisfying epilogue.
Hear the score now at http://www.watertower-music.com/releases_spotlight.php?search=WTM39283

With this release, MovieScore Media launches a new compilation series showcasing talented film composers.  Danish composer Søren Hyldgaard is featured in this first 'Spotlight Series' release.  Hyldgaard emerged in the late 90s as a fresh voice in film music, writing many acclaimed orchestral scores for films such as EYE OF THE EAGLE, ANGEL OF THE NIGHT and TOMMY AND THE WILDCAT. This compilation features suites and themes from 18 of Hyldgaard's projects.  The music is a varied but pleasing array, favoring adventure scores but also including romance (THE ONE AND ONLY, SOMETHING IN THE AIR), animation (JESTER TILL, HELP I'M A FISH, action thrillers(the 2008 Hollywood thriller, RED – no relation to the better-known 2010 Bruce Willis starrer), and horror (ISLE OF DARKNESS, ANGEL OF THE NIGHT), plus selections from his many scores for Danish film and television.  It’s a very likable compilation and a valuable introduction to Hyldgaard’s work, most of which has gone unreleased until this collection.  Available digitally and in a CD limited to 500 copies.

GALAXY QUEST/David Newman/La-La Land
Shamelessly unreleased until now, except for a very limited composer’s promotional release via Super Tracks in 2000, David Newman’s score for 1999 comedic sci-fi adventure finally comes to a full release courtesy of La-La land.  For this affectionate and nostalgic film in which the aging cast of a STAR TREK-like cult TV series must play their roles for real to save an alien race, Newman first composed an original theme for the fictional TV series, a wonderful imitation of Alexander Courage’s STAR TREK fanfare recorded with the kind of thin orchestra used on TV during the 1960s; he then extrapolated that into the film score once the actors find themselves transported to a distant galaxy and immersed in a genocidal conflict.  As the show’s actors become immersed in a real alien war, the theme becomes larger, eventually performed by an orchestra of 100 players plus choir, a sonic equivalent of moving from full screen black and white to full color Cinemascope.  Newman’s approach is very much theme-and-variation, and the music assumes a broad orchestral dynamic very much in the STAR WARS/STAR TREK sensibility of space opera.  Bolstered by its graceful and heroic main theme, Newman evokes not only the nostalgic sense that GALAXY QUEST emulates in its storyline, but as the story plays out invests its cynical, over-the-hill actors with the proper dignity and heroism that redeems them through their galactic adventure.  Nicely mastered by Doug Schwartz, with Dan Goldwasser (who it turns out had almost become a visual effect production assistant on this film back in the day) serving as exec producer, the album contains a lavishly illustrated 24-page booklet with thorough background notes on the film and its music by Tim Greiving.  There is also a fun hidden track collecting rock-and-synth variants on the “TV show” theme assimilated, into Track 22.

With this intriguing compilation, England’s Harkit Records resurrects some fifteen 7” single recordings made by John Barry and his orchestra in the early-to-mid 1960s.  These are from Barry’s pop/rock days, and most of the tunes are in the electric guitar instrumental vogue backed by rhythm section and drum kit.  Of particular interest is Barry’s surf guitar theme from the BBC TV panel show, HIT & MISS, a couple from his first film score, BEAT GIRL, Barry’s dark theme from the 1960 Peter Sellers drama, NEVER LET GO, Barry’s comedic orchestral theme from 1962’s THE AMOROUS PRAWN, and a curious 1958 instrumental called “Bees Knees” which, compared to Barry’s orchestration of the Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme,” would seem to set to rest the argument over exactly who gave 007 his famous twang.  The collection consists mostly of Barry’s own compositions, with a few exceptions, such as an electric guitar version of Elmer Bernstein’s theme from THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (guitarist not identified; possibly Vic Flick?), Nino Rota’s ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS, and Bernard Ebbinghouse’s Peter Gunn-esque theme from THE HUMAN JUNGLE, filled out with a dozen tracks culled from four of Barry’s lesser-heard soundtracks, THE WRONG BOX, FOLLOW ME, BOOM!, and THE DOVE.  The latter are stylistically quite divergent from the pop-rock of the 7” recordings, but the collection nonetheless makes for an interesting look at Barry’s output, especially the rarities from his early years. Harkit’s Michael S. Fishberg supplies informative notes about the what, where, and why of most of the tracks.  Sound bytes available at http://www.harkitrecords.com/john_barry.html

KRONOS/THE COSMIC MAN/Paul Sawtell & Bert Shefter/Monstrous Movie Music
Monstrous Movie Music’s new batch of classic ‘50s horror & sf scores includes this pair of vintage sci-fi flicks from the decade’s most prolific b-movie scoring team.  While Sawtell had kept busy in the ‘40s scoring all manner of programmers, including several of Universal’s Sherlock Holmes movies and many of RKO’s Tarzan features, he really seemed to click when he joined up with Shefter, and the two of them scored some of the most iconic monster movies of the ‘50s and on into the ‘60s (IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE, THE FLY series, etc.).  1957’s KRONOS, about a faceless alien robot invading the earth, is representative of their style: lots of advancing-footsteps chords, plenty of very Theremin-like science fictionesque tonalities achieved by electric violin and electric organ, much dreamy harp glissandi in evidence, and frequent use of brass ostinato to denote the giant robot’s threat and power. In KRONOS, the Sawtell & Shefter created “a consistent permeating musical accompaniment that is one of the most important ingredients in the movie,” writes David Schecter in the accompanying booklet.  “As the picture involved an unstoppable mechanical monster, the composers took a minimalist approach for many sequences, using ostinatos (repeated musical phrases) that seem to mimic the sounds of machinery.”  The score is further associated with the metallic invader by dispensing with the string section, accompanying the robotic onslaught purely with brass, winds, and percussion.  1959’s THE COSMIC MAN proffered an invader of a different sort, kind of a second-rate Klaatu warning humanity about the misuse of atomic energy.  The score is a minor work in the Sawtell/Shefter filmography (and in fact, only 30 minutes of original score was written and recorded; the rest of the film’s score made do with cues reused from prior Sawtell/Shefter scores), but an interesting one nonetheless.  Eschewing KRONOS’ brass-heavy mechanistic patterns, COSMIC MAN favors more subdued misteriosos, conveyed by a miniscule string section and handfuls of brass and wind players (and, of course, the obligatory singing of the Theremin).  But it heavily mirrors the film’s humanistic focus: there is no monster, no invasion, no attacking hordes, but rather a dialog between John Carradine’s Cosmic Entity and an annoyingly precocious boy who holds the salvation of mankind in his crippled limbs.  The score is more an exercise in cool tension (since, as Schecter notes, virtually nothing happens in this tranquilizer of a movie); but in that regard it offers an interesting contrast against the burgeoning bombast of KRONOS’s flying ostinati.  The double CD set contains separate booklets for each film with thorough and authoritative notes by David Schecter.  KRONOS earlier appeared on an LP from “Cacaphonic Records” in 1984, this is the premiere release of COSMIC MAN in any format.   See also ROCKETSHIP X-M below.

The sixth film in Roger Corman’s classic series of Edgar Allan Poe movies and the first of two filmed in England, THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964) combined Poe’s tale of the same name with his story “Hop-Frog” in a vicious historical fantasy in which cruel ruler Prince Prospero defies death by holding a lavish costume ball even as a plague of death ravages his people.  Containing lavish sets and costume design, the film was scored by David Lee, a former English jazz musician during the 1940s who had been composing for films since 1960.  For MASQUE, which would be his last feature score, Lee strove to compose music that sounded historical without being strictly true to the time period.  Giving the music a kind of Baroque quality, Lee gave MASQUE a rich orchestral depth and dramatic musical prowess, despite a fairly modest ensemble. The music is dark and ponderously rhythmic, capturing a sense ominous foreboding and grim menace throughout.  The music ascends into a cluster of piping brass figures as we are introduced to the incarnation of the Red Death, a red-robed figure who warns of coming tribulation.  The same rhythmic pattern becomes ominous suspense material as Francesca (Jane Asher) ventures into the dungeons to free her brother and father, captives of Prospero’s cruelty.  A strident, string-driven musical montage accompanies the film’s dream sequence; the music also suggests, in turn, the various ethnic influences (Oriental, African) seen in the visualizations of the demons that menace Juliana (Hazel Court) in her nightmare.  The Dance of Death, performed at Red Death’s bidding at the height of Prospero’s ball after Hop-Toad’s blazing inflammation of Alfredo, becomes a rhythmic reprise of the main theme as Prospero (Vincent Price) and Red Death have their final confrontation, the music erupting in fierce rage as Prospero realizes Death has come, not as his master, but as his slayer.  Quartet preserves this fine score in a limited edition of 1000 copies; a 28-page booklet contains valuable informative notes by Daniel Schweiger.

RED LIGHTS/Victor Reyes/Lakeshore
Spanish composer Victor Reyes’ rejoins his frequent collaborator, director Rodrigo Cortés, on this paranormal suspense thriller, providing an edgy and understated score that builds a growing sense of unease.  RED LIGHTS follows a psychologist (Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant a physicist (Cillian Murphy) whose studies debunking paranormal activity lead them to investigate a world-renowned psychic (Robert De Niro.  Reyes favors rhythm and progressive atmosphere over melodic structure and motific development; the score generates a growing pulse that helps build a good degree of tension and gives the films more active moments plenty of musical gravitas.  Some of the score tends to bog down on the album into too much hushed rhythmic ambiance or tonal repetition (“Too Much Light,” “Lost Lonely Woman,” “He Made Me Doubt,” “Concentrate, Ben!” and “What Is It You have Come To See?”), and some listeners may object to the clichéd use of Zimmeresque mercato strings (“Come On, Come On,” “I Just Need To Know,” “Umbrellas”) but Reyes does build a capable and effective score out of it all the same; tracks like “Hello?,” “What's Going On?/Whatever It Takes,” “Stand Up!” and “Dear Margaret” shine with spirit and tenacity.

Edwin Wendler (HOME: A HORROR STORY, THE INTERIOR) has scored Cassie Jaye’s poignant documentary about equal rights and marriage equality.  THE RIGHT TO LOVE: AN AMERICAN FAMILY chronicles a married gay couple and their two adopted children who fight back against discrimination, ignorance, and hate through home videos posted on their You Tube channel. As they pursue their American Dream, the opposing political, social and religious opinions that pervade society attempts to strip it from them.   Wendler’s score is a poignant evocation of family, illustrating the hopes of the Leffew family and heartbreak following the passage of California’s Proposition 8 which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry, and their attempts to carry on.  The doleful sonority of solo cello delineates the family’s struggles and commitment to family unity.  It’s a beautiful yet melancholy work invested with much heart, and makes for a very pleasant listening experience.  Wendler’s ten score tracks are followed by a quartet songs written for the film and performed by various artists.
About the movie, see: http://www.r2lmovie.com/index.html
About the score, see: http://www.edwinwendler.com/?p=940
The score is available from: http://www.r2lmovie.com/index.html#!/page_Store

The 1950’s are known for defining the science fiction genre, and one of the films that led the way was ROCKETSHIP X-M, Lippert’s low-budget emulation of George Pal’s DESTINATION MOON.  Lippert rushed their film into production to take advantage of the publicity around Pal’s film and managed to hit theaters a few weeks before Pal did.  Despite ROCKETSHIP X-M’s limited budget and hasty production schedule in comparison with Pal’s movie, in terms of music, both were on equal footing.  While MOON featured an eloquently atmospheric musical score from Leith Stevens, who would go on to accompany Worlds Colliding and Wars of Worlds and much else, Lippert managed to assemble a budget to commission famous concert composer Ferde Grofé (best known for his famous Grand Canyon Suite) to compose their music.  Aided by Albert Glasser who orchestrated the score and made it fit the scene timings, Grofé composed a broad-minded symphonic composition, a virtual tone poem for space exploration with its shifting currents of heroism, isolation, discovery, and suspense.  Grofé developed a fine, heroic theme introduced in the Main Title fanfare, surging with a sense of accomplishment and adventure; the theme will recur later to reflect the optimism and exploration felt by the crew on their voyage to the moon, while also serving in a more romantic coloration as a love theme, far more austere chord progressions and Theremin tremolos are used when the crew explores the Martian surface and faced crazed Martian mutants. Originally issued on LP in 1977 as the inaugural release from Starlog Records, for this premiere CD release Monstrous Movie Music has expanded the track list but not the album length; while Starlog combined tracks for LP playability, MMM has provided the cues as recorded, giving them a more natural semblance, and a fine mastering job by Ray Faiola.  David Schecter’s album notes, as usual, are a wealth of information and understanding.

THE TROUBLE WITH BLISS/Daniel Alcheh/Sony Classical
Writer/director Michael Knowles wanted the music for his romantic comedy, THE TROUBLE WITH BLISS, to be derived from Greek folk music, reflecting the influence that the main character’s prematurely-deceased mother has had on his life.  Composer Daniel Alcheh, rejoining Knowles after scoring three of his short films, complied with a vivid, breezy score drawn from Greek traditions.  “I felt that it was very important to have a reason for the music,” Knowles writes in the album booklet. “It had to come from somewhere and what I came up with was it should be a metaphor for Morris’ feelings for his mother and the influence his mother’s early passing had on him. Morris’ mother was Greek so I started listening to Greek music and told our composer, Daniel Alcheh, that we should use Greek folk music as our base. It became so clear to me that every song or cue had to express what Morris was feeling. I wanted the audience to be completely in Morris’ world. It’s almost as if this Greek music is always playing in Morris’ head and we just tapped into it for the time we are watching the movie, and get to experience what he experiences every day.” 
The score is thus saturated with this perspective and the unseen but vital influence of the mother on the character’s life.  “THE TROUBLE WITH BLISS was such a pleasurable and unique project to score,” Alcheh told me of this score. “We tried to avoid formulaic, typical orchestral rom-com music and used electronics minimally. Instead, we supported this star-studded cast with a Mediterranean-infused, fresh, live band sound made up of incredible world class ethnic players and top session musicians. This not only allowed me to revisit my Greek heritage from two generations ago, but also presented an opportunity to perform as a soloist, something I do very rarely. I enjoyed composing this immensely and I am thrilled to put this music out there for the world to enjoy, as well.”
Within this idiom, Alcheh provides a pleasing score that is sweet, uplifting, and very pleasant; the Greek instrumentation gives this romantic comedy score a comparatively fresh sound, and despite this ethnic musical framework Alcheh effectively adapts the exultant Greek music to cover the story’s range of emotional highs and lows.  Even while it is derived from folk traditions the music is often used for dramatic purposes (as in the bittersweet prettiness of “The Breakup,” the melancholy clarinet playing of “Tearing The Map” as it progresses to a forceful and moving climax, the solo bouzouki of “Remembering Mother,” the provocative “Seducing Morris,” the more modern electric rhythms of “”Hot Sheet Motel” and “Black Eye,” and the coming-to-term reflectiveness of “Family History”); other tracks, which take the form of dance, classical-folk, or festival type music, have their own satisfying vitality (“The Red Thread” with its Zorba-like bouzouki interplay, the second half of “Family History,” “The Old Homeplate,” and especially the delightful “Life is Good”).  All of it is quite delightful and enchanting to listen to.  The score is presented over 18 tracks followed by four songs, sung in Greek, written by Alcheh with lyricist Maria Papadaki.  One track, “Taksimi,” is a bonus track recorded during the sessions but not used in the film.

TITANIC: AN EPIC MUSICAL VOYAGE/Dan Redfeld, White Star Chamber Orchestra & Chorus/BSX
In BSX Records’ most ambitious new recording to date, arranger/conductor Dan Redfeld has taken a dozen pieces of music from different films about the Titanic, re-arranged them for chamber orchestra, and created this wonderfully performed and respectfully conveyed musical journey, which tells the story of the Titanic tragedy through film music, and a trio of songs from Maury Yeston’s 1997 Titanic Musical.  While the James Horner score from James Cameron’s TITANIC movie of 1997 receives the largest share of the tracks, we also have a lovely recording of Howard Blake’s theme from S.O.S. TITANIC (1979), John Williams’ tuneful “Titanic Trot” from the premiere episode of TV’s THE TIME TUNNEL (1966), and a beautiful performance of John Barry’s magnificent theme from RAISE THE TITANIC (1980).  Very fine arrangements of source music includes the Third Class Steerage music from Cameron’s TITANIC (arranged by pianist Joohyun Park) and an arrangement of three versions of the hymn “Nearer My God To Thee,” heard in both A NIGHT TO REMEMBER and Cameron’s TITANIC and other Titanic films, arranged by Steve Ganci.  Of particular note is a tremendous vocal performance by singer Zoë Poledouris Roché, daughter of film composer Basil Poledouris, of Horner’s “My Heart Will Go On;” I find the deeper register with which she brings to the TITANIC song is far more powerful and resonant than that of Celine Dion. Redfeld also provides a new vocalise arrangement of the song, performed by Kristi Holden, which is extremely compelling.  It’s a powerful and singularly expressive tribute to the Titanic tragedy; the arrangements are faithful to their original sources while accommodating some unique interpretations.  “I’m hoping our listening audience will connect emotionally with all the music on the album, even in its new guise, and get an overall sense of Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage,” Redfeld said, adding that he also hopes listeners “recognize the dramatic similarity between each piece of music. I find it amazing how each composer has responded to this story with his own voice, and yet there’s a common thread present among every cue – a sense of nostalgia tinged with optimistic yearning.”  I had the pleasure of being asked to write the notes for this project, and I can attest to the heartfelt sincerity that everyone brought to this recording; the result is certainly among the most personally rewarding projects I’ve been associated with, while remaining a very satisfying, unique, and evocative listening experience.

Watch a video of Zoe Poledouris' version of "My Heart WIll Go On:

VISIT TO A CHIEF’S SON/Francis Lai/Music Box
Music Box Records of France is the latest player in the growing field of archival soundtrack releases, and the label’s latest offering is the premiere release of this pleasing soundtrack by Francis Lai.  Directed by Lamont Johnson right after he made THE LAST AMERICAN HERO, 1974’s VISIT TO A CHIEF’S SON is a heartwarming drama about an American anthropologist and his son who forge an unexpected friendship with an East African Masai tribe.  Scored by Lai between assignments like LE PETIT POUCET (Tom Thumb) and LOVE IN THE RAIN, the music adopts a modern approach despite the film’s African/tribal setting.  Lai partners his orchestra with lush synths along with an eclectic combo of organ, electric guitar, and percussion, giving the score a vibrant texture that reflects the story’s convergence of cultures and its underlying theme of change.  Both its Main Theme and “Friendship Theme” are somewhat more abstract in comparison with Lai’s famous melodies for A MAN AND A WOMAN, LIVE FOR LIFE, and LOVE STORY, but he encapsulates the companionship between scientist and tribal chief in a warm embrace of string-driven sonority.  More spritely tunes can be found in his music for encounters with animals like “Elephant Family” and “Lion Hunt,” and in “Two Boys in Savannah.” Strikingly, Lai’s most modern piece of music is created for the film’s most ancient of characters, “The Masai,” whose adaptability is characterized by strident synth lines over strummed electric guitar and arpeggios of electronic organ. It’s an earnest and heartfelt score.  Daniel Schweiger examines the film and score in detail in his commentary notes in the album’s 8-page booklet.
See: http://www.musicbox-records.com/en/

WRATH OF THE TITANS/Javier Navarrete/WaterTower Music
(digital only)

Spanish composer Javier Navarrete finds in WRATH OF THE TITANS the opportunity to score a major Hollywood blockbuster after a decade and a half scoring films in Spain (among them Alexandre Aja’s MIRRORS, Guillermo Del Toro’s PAN’S LABYRINTH, and Sngmoo Lee’s Western martial arts-fantasy, THE WARRIOR’S WAY).  Those pictures gave the composer opportunities within fantastical subject matter.  WRATH OF THE TITANS, a sequel of sorts to 2010’s CLASH OF THE TITANS, shows Navarrete in fine form.  His main theme is an engaging, anthemic composition, a melody very much on par with that of any of the blockbuster heroic fantasy films of recent years; it graces the film with an eloquent heroism while his orchestration and choral accompaniment give the score a solid grain that supports its mythological storyline quite well.   The music paints a compelling picture of Olympian power struggles, of ancient, mighty beings set in battle against one another; the score’s sonic hugeness, thundering power, and intricate textures of orchestration (enhanced by exotic instruments like the shenai [north Indian oboe], electric cello, and an Indian reed) breathe life into the mythic tale and infuse it with a terrific excitement and energy.  Even though the score is set into the familiar structure of marcato strings and heavy, taiko rhythms that are so much in vogue these days (and evidently insisted on by producers), it’s a likable and stirring score within that pedigree, made all the more pleasing by Navarrete’s winning main theme that bolsters every bit of its construction.  Navarrete intentionally avoided referring to Ramin Djawadi’s score for CLASH OF THE TITANS, favoring a slightly darker approach that accommodated the film’s dramatic resonance more than its status as an action film (see Daniel Schweiger’s interview with Navarrete at:

http://www.assignmentx.com/2012/interview-wrath-of-the-titans-composer-javier-navarrete-fights-for-gods-and-men/). The result is a powerful fantasy-action score that harbors enough unusual instrumental timbres to stand apart from much similar work. With the exception of the indelicate and inevitable “Kronos Megalos Remix,” Navarrete’s score is as bombastic and loud as the cry of Zeus and as darklyshaded as the maliciousness of Hades; it serves both masters quite well.


In Memorium

Composer Ralph Ferraro, known as an orchestrator as well as a composer since the 1960s, died on April 3rd at the age of 82.  Best known as an orchestrator – for Leonard Rosenman (BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, A MAN CALLED HORSE, Bakshi’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS), Randy Edelman (GETTYSBURG, DRAGONHEART), and Bill Conti (MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE), Ferraro was also a composer of a couple fistfuls of low-budget films, beginning with Michael Reeves’ directorial debut, REVENGE OF THE BLOOD BEAST (1966; aka THE SHE-BEAST).  The film’s original Italian release had a score by British composer Paul Ferris (who also did Reeves’ WITCHFINDER GENERAL), but Ferraro was brought in to provide music for the film’s American release. Ferraro’s score was a mostly non-melodic one dominated by organ, hypertensive strings, and tubular bells, achieving a very striking and unusual sound that emphasizes the menace of the witch and other perverse inhabitants of the Transylvanian village in which the film occurs.  The picture develops inconsistently, ranging between gory horror and slapstick comedy, with Ferraro’s score following along, but there is one splendid moment early in the film when the innkeeper is menaced by the witch as he creeps along the shadowy interior of his hotel.  Bells, echoed by heavy brass chords and punctuated by piano twinkles and sharp, distorted plucks of zither, set up a grim suspense pulse; tremolo violins, more striking bells, and dirge like intonations of horns maintain an attitude of weirdness and suspense – erupting into pounding dissonance as the witch leaps in and guts him with a scythe.

Ferraro went on to compose a splendid score for 1974’s soft-core sci-fi comedy, FLESH GORDON.  With a marvelous dramatic main theme for orchestra, very melodramatic and very much in line with the musical styles of the B-movies that inspired this film and its broad satire, Ferraro mimicked the thin orchestration and purposeful, melodramatic orchestral chords of the 1930s FLASH GORDON serials – lots of surging horns over swirling and fast-bowed strings.  This straight-ahead dramatic music gave the film a supporting power that contrasts with the music’s frequent sidesteps into broad comedy. 

Early in his career, in Rome, Ferraro played percussion on numerous classic scores, including Nino Rota’s LA DOLCE VITA, 8½, and JULIET OF THE SPIRITS, Morricone’s BATTLE OF ALGIERS, Ortolani’s MONDO CANE, Trovaioli’s TWO WOMEN, and Rosenman’s scores for the COMBAT! TV series.  -thanks to Jon Burlingame/Variety

Italian composer Gianni Marchetti died after a long illness on April 10, aged 78. He had begun composing for films in 1964 and was noted for scoring four Euro-westerns THE TASTE OF VENGEANCE (1968) co-written with Manuel Parada, $20,000 FOR EVERY CORPSE (1969), THE REBELS OF ARIZONA (1970), and ZORRO OF MONTEREY (1971).  One of his early scores was for THE WILD EYE (1967), a ruthless send-up of Italian “mondo” documentary films; he also scored grindhouse exploitation films for directors like Joe D’Amato and Bruno Mattei.  Marchetti may have been best known for his frequent collaborations with the Italian songwriter Piero Ciampi; the close relationship between the two talented composers resulted in some very popular compositions. Marchetti had recently described this artistic journey in the book My Piero Ciampi (2010) and was currently working on a documentary film on Ciampi.


Film Music Events

Film Music Panel at Newport Beach Film Festival
Sunday, April 29 at 3:00-4:00 pm at The Port Theater, Newport Beach, CA
WHAT: Leading Hollywood film composers will reveal the process of creating the right music to capture a genre, create a story’s heart and reveal the intent of a film.
Chris Bacon (Gnomeo & Juliet, Source Code, Smash)
Jane Antonia Cornish (Fireflies in the Garden, Five Children and It, Solstice)
Steffan Fantini (The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone, Criminal Minds, Army Wives)
Trevor Morris (Immortals, The Borgias, The Tudors)
Ed Shearmur (Diary of A Wimpy Kid (1&2), Abduction, Miss Congeniality)
Curt Sobel (Ray, Joyful Noise, The Bourne Ultimatum)
Mark Anthony Yaeger (Yoko, Shanghai Calling, 72 Hours: A Love Story)

Moderated by Anthony D’Alessandro –Managing Editor Deadline Hollywood’s Awardsline, formerly w/Variety

Admission to attend this panel is free. For more info on the Newport Beach Film Festival, please visit: http://www.newportbeachfilmfest.com/

An Evening of Music from Dexter Series' Composer Daniel Licht, featuring Rolf Kent with special guest introduction by Michael C. Hall
The night will be a celebration of the macabre when film composer Daniel Licht performs selections from his original music for DEXTER using a musical palette of classical orchestrations combined with unusual sound elements. This will be a two night special performance on June 10th & June 11th at Largos on the Coronet located at 366 N. La Cienega Blvd Los Angeles, CA. The show will begin at 8:00PM both nights. The concert will be introduced by award winning actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter); also featured will be DEXTER main title composer Rolfe Kent with performances of his iconic main title theme and other scores. Tickets may be purchased for Largos at the Coronet at http://www.largo-la.com/ticketinfo/

Soundtrack & Music News

Pino Donaggio has been selected as the 12th recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award at the the closing-night gala of the World Soundtrack Awards at the Ghent Film Fest on October 20, 2012.  Among the composers who were previously honored with the award are John Barry, Marvin Hamlisch, Giorgio Moroder and Angelo Badalamenti. In addition, the music of James Newton Howard will also be celebrated at the 12th World Soundtrack Awards gala.  - Variety (via filmmusicreporter.com)

BMI will present the Richard Kirk Award for outstanding career achievement to prolific composer Rolfe Kent at the organization’s 2012 Film & Television Awards. Held Wednesday, May 16 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, the private event also honors the composers of the past year’s top-grossing films, top-rated primetime network television series and highest-ranking cable network programs. 

BMI bestows the Richard Kirk Award on composers who have made significant contributions to the realm of film and television music. As the 2012 honoree, Rolfe Kent joins a prestigious list that includes David Arnold, Rachel Portman, Alan Silvestri, David Newman, Thomas Newman, Christopher Young, George S. Clinton, Harry Gregson-Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Michael Kamen, Mark Mothersbaugh, Danny Elfman, Alan Menken, Mike Post, Lalo Schifrin, John Barry and John Williams.  “It's such an honor to get the Richard Kirk Award,” Kent said. “It is humbling and a bit bewildering to be recognized alongside people who inspired me to compose in the first place like John Barry and Jerry Goldsmith.”
For more information on BMI’s film and television composers and events, see: www.bmi.com/filmtv.

Mark Isham has scored the Warner Bros. drama THE LUCKY ONE.  Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, THE LUCKY ONE tells the story of a Marine who, after serving in Iraq, searches for the unknown woman he believes was his good luck charm during the war; Isham has created a score that evokes a wide spectrum of emotion, and he welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with director Scott Hicks: “I’ve always wanted to work with Scott Hicks,” Isham said. “I feel we have similar sensibilities and it was a pleasure to work with him.” The composer described his scoring process: “It was important to me to show the two extremes, the horror of war and the beauty of a blooming love affair. Using different musical elements, the score ranges from intimate solo piano and guitar to a full 80 piece orchestra- a very wide scope.”  Isham’s popular score for the television series ONCE UPON A TIME, will be released by Intrada on May 1st with five different cover options.  For more details, see http://isham.com or www.intrada.com

GNP Crescendo Records has released a long-sought limited-edition collector’s CD of STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT (1996) featuring the complete score by Jerry Goldsmith (with additional music by Joel Goldsmith), newly remastered by recording engineer Bruce Botnick.  GNP Crescendo released the original soundtrack album to STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT in 1996, featuring 45 minutes of score highlights. Since then, fans have clamored for both Goldsmiths’ complete work—particularly the thrilling “Flight of the Phoenix.” This expanded release (nearly 80 minutes) presents exactly that—including three alternate tracks—in sterling sound quality. The accompanying 16-page booklet includes informative notes by Jeff Bond and John Takis and is lavishly illustrated with film stills.

Christopher Lennertz has reunited with his HORRIBLE BOSSES director Seth Gordon for the new comedy, IDENTITY THEFT. Melissa McCartney and Jason Bateman star in a story about a guy whose identity is stolen by another guy. Most recently Lennertz scored Tim Story's THINK LIKE MAN which opens April 20th. His music can also be heard in the just released videogame hit Mass Effect 3.

Max Steiner’s classic Golden Age score for the poignant Hollywood home-front wartime drama, SINCE YOU WENT AWAY, will be issued as a 2-CD set from Brigham Young University Film Music Archives, available through screen archives (all proceeds from this limited edition compact disc go towards the acquisition, preservation of film music elements and public future releases).  Produced by David O. Selznick in 1944, SINCE YOU WENT AWAY is one of the signature films made during the Second World War. The story of an American family struggling to make do while their husband and father is in the service, the picture is an epic story with dramatic, comedic and searing patriotic moments. Max Steiner’s score, for which he won his third Academy Award, is filled with lovely motifs and powerful dramatic climaxes. His development of the material and deft interpolations of patriotic melodies results in a musical fabric that speaks to the heart of the American character. This 2-CD set presents the complete thematic score taken from the composer’s personal acetates which are preserved in the Max Steiner Collection at Brigham Young University. Recorded at Samuel Goldwyn Studios under optimum conditions, the audio quality is superb. The 2-CD set concludes with a special suite of themes from the score recorded by studio musical director Lou Forbes for distribution to radio stations. 70 page book with notes by James V. D'Arc, Nathan Platte and Ray Faiola. Discs mastering by Ray Faiola, Chelsea Rialto Studios. Package design by Jim Titus.  See http://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/17580/SINCE-YOU-WENT-AWAY-2CD/

A splendid new 3-CD set from Toho Records presents the expanded soundtracks to Toho’s three paranormal sci-fi films: 1959’s THE H-MAN (Masaru Sato), 1960’s SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN (Sei Ikeno), and 1964’s THE HUMAN VAPOR (Kunio Miyauchi) – each previously available singly from Soundtrack Listeners Club in 1995. The album is available exclusively via Arksquare.net.

Theodore Shapiro’s very fine score for the affectionate comedy about bird watchers (birders), THE BIG YEAR, is available only through i-Tunes as an MP3 download – and an incomplete one at that, missing Track 15.  Even more infuriating it is set up only to buy per-track, no option to purchase the album, meaning you need to plunk down 99 cents for all 18 tracks, or $17.82 for a downloaded album.  This maddening rip off, mandated either by iTunes or likely by Fox Music, who provided the score to iTunes, is currently the only way to get Shapiro’s excellent score.

Howlin’ Wolf Records will reissue Tim Krog’s long-sold-out electronic score from the horror movie, THE BOOGEY MAN, originally issued on a limited promotional LP on “Synthe-Sound-Trax” in 1980.  Krog’s main theme is a powerful, plodding, ominous melody, strong­ly performed by the lower end of the keyboard.  It pounds in a weird, ghostlike way, and possesses a kind of awesome power unique to synthesizer music.  Krog also provides a tinkling “music box” motif representing the maniac’s youthful background, as well as a variety of swirling chords, bell sounds, shock chords, Thereminlike wails over deep, oozing, hesitating tones, and other effects which integrate well with the primary themes.  Krog’s music is the vein of HALLOWEEN, especially in the tinkling, music box riff, but is more than a simple imitation.  Krog provides a strong, omnipresent atmosphere, and a sense of direction, musical­ly, which results in a superior synthesizer score. 

Varese Sarabande has issued a third season’s worth of music from the popular paranormal investigation show, FRINGE.  Coming on May 1st is David Julyan’s score for the horror hit, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS and a 2-record set from Ralph Fiennes’ dramatization of Shakespeare’s CORIOLANUS; composer Ilan Eshkeri’s dramatic score will be presented on one disc and will be mixed with dialogue highlights from Shakespeare’s play on the second.  Coming on May 8th will be Steve Jablonsky’s score for Peter Berg’s blockbuster action-adventure film, BATTLESHIP and, on May 29th, Ramin Djawadi’s GAME OF THRONES Season 2.

The Golden Age of Hollywood 2 brings back conductor José Serebrier and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with a new helping of orchestral film themes very nicely performed – although technically the “Golden Age” designation is a misnomer, as more than half of the films included come from the late 1950s, ‘60s, and early ‘70s – well into the Silver Age and beyond.  Not that that should dissuade listening – semantics aside this is a fine collection of classic Hollywood film music, well performed by a powerful orchestra.  Selections include three tracks each from VERTIGO and THE GODFATHER, Rózsa’s 10:41 violin concerto (second movement) from THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, an 8:04 suite from Elmer Bernstein’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, a score that defines poignancy, Tiomkin’s theme from DIAL M FOR MURDER, as well as true Golden Age score moments from THE CAINE MUTINY, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, and SUNSET BOULEVARD.  Available on amazon. See also: www.rpo.co.uk

Matthan Harris, creator of the independent horror flick THE INFLICTION, has announced that Italian composer Marco Werba will be writing the score for the film. Werba, whose credits include Timo Rose's BEAST, FEARMAKERS, and BRAINCELL won the Fantasy Horror Award in 2010 for his score in Dario Argento's GIALLO (see my interview with Werba).
The Infliction stars genre favorites Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, Doug Bradley and Giovanni Lombardo Radice alongside Matthan Harris, Lindsay Hightower, Charles Duran, Gerardo Davila and Amy Erin Amory. The flick also marks the first time Bill Moseley and Doug Bradley have acted together (as Mr. O'Hara and Agent Wilson, respectively).

Italy’s Digitmovies has announced its next four archival releases: Carlo Rustichelli’s SEDUCED AND ABANDONED, Stelvio Cipriani’s thriller score from L’ASSASSINO E ‘AL TELEFONO (The Killer Is On The Telephone) complete and in full stereo for the first time, Carlo Savina’s music from VENERI AL SOLE (Venus in the Sun) and several other comedies, and Mario Nasicimbene’s score for the peplum LA BACCANTI (The Bacchantes).  All four will be released on May 3.  www.digitmovies.com 

Meanwhile Italy’s GDM has announced Cipriani’s 1971 Western score, NEVADA (EL MAS FABULOSO GOLPE DEL FAR-WEST), no date given, and on April 30 Beat Records will issue an expanded version Francesco de Masi’s Western score for QUELLA SPORCA STORIA NEL WEST (aka JOHNNY HAMLET); Directed by Enzo G. Castellari in 1968 it's a western movie based on the Shakespearian Hamlet transported in a western setting. This release featured all of the material available in CAM and the composer archive, 51:18 minutes of music, much more than previous releases.
www.gdmmusic.com   www.beatrecords.it

Popstar Moby has signed on to score the upcoming romance THE NECESSARY DEATH OF CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN. The film is directed by Frederik Bond and stars Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Melissa Leo and Til Schweiger. The project marks Moby’s highest profile scoring assignment to date; he has previously scored several shorts and documentaries, including the Academy Award-nominated WASTELANDand THE TSUNAMI AND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM. He has previously worked with director Bond who helmed the music video of his song Bodyrock. In other rock star film music news, Jack White of the band The White Stripes has signed on to write, produce and perform the score for Walt Disney Pictures’ and Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ upcoming western THE LONE RANGER. The film is directed by Gore Verbinski and stars Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter, and Tom Wilkinson, and is an adaptation of the popular 1950s TV series and tells the story of a masked crime fighter and his Native American sidekick. The project marks White’s first feature film scoring assignment. – via www.filmmusicreporter.com  

On May 1, Disques Cinemusique of Canada will reissue a pair of classic Victor Young adventure/drama soundtracks, formerly issued only on LP, combined on a single disc: 1956’s THE BRAVE ONE and 1957’s RUN OF THE ARROW.  The label has also announced that they will release Alessandro Cicognini’s score to INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE and THE BLACK ORCHID. For the former, the composer “provided all the sweeping lyricism required to highlight this intimate and rather static duet. The beautiful melodies that blossom in every selection are mainly carried by the violins, whose fervor nearly makes us forget the age of the recording,” and for the latter score, “besides a few dramatic passages spiced with occasional jazz elements, the 30-min soundtrack notably offers a recurrent delightful love theme arranged for flute, clarinet and strings, complemented with a lighter “Hurdy Gurdy Song,” which is actually played on the piano organ and then the accordion with full orchestral accompaniment.”

Finders Keepers Records in England is issuing a series of previously unreleased full soundtracks from the films of the late Jean Rollin, beginning with REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE (Pierre Raph) and FASCINATION (Philippe’Aram).  Both scores are available on single 10” vinyl LPs, and combined on specially packaged blue and yellow cassette tape limited to 200 copies, and on a compact disc.  All versions include a healthy page of notes about the films by Daniel Bird, although strangely he says almost nothing about the music. 

Additionally, Andzrej Korzynski’s music from Andrzej Zulawski's surrealist 1981 horror classic POSSESSION has been issued on cassette tape, in a handsome VHS-styled snapper case; it sold out almost immediately and reportedly a CD version is due soon. Korzynski wrote these 25 cues were written and recorded exclusively for the film, but due to the raw, stark and modernist nature of the film less than half of them made it to the actual director’s cut leaving many of the tracks on this package totally unheard outside of Korzynski's studio. The intended POSSESSION score in its entirety marks an important axis in Korzynski's career. See www.finderskeepersrecords.com

Another English label called Death Waltz Recording Company is also delivering high quality vinyl recordings of vintage soundtracks.  Coming on May 28th is Fabio Frizzi’s wicked electronica soundtrack for Lucio Fulci’s influential Euroshock video nasty, ZOMBI 2.  This soundtrack is one of the holy grails of Italian cinema and the red and clear splatter vinyl release comes with exclusive sleeve notes from Frizzi and renowned Italian horror expert Stephen Thrower as well as an A2 poster and a 12 x 12 double sided lithograph print by artist Graham Humphreys.

Set for June 8th release in both colored and black vinyl is John Carpenter’s ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, newly re-mastered and including 6 tracks that never made it into the original film. The album features exclusive cover art by Jay Shaw (aka Iron Jaiden) one of the most in demand poster artists working today, and sleeve notes from by Carpenter’s associate, Alan Howarth.  The colored vinyl version comes with an A2 poster and an exclusive lithograph of the cover art by Jay Shaw.

Also announced is Jeff Grace’s score for Ti West’s HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, which captures the mood of 1980s horror scores with lots of sparse eerie piano compositions and light orchestral melodies that grow more intense as the film shifts gears from a subtle mood piece into full out satanic panic. This release will feature the original 80 synth pop-inspired opening title music by Mike Armstrong that was missing from the original cd release and is exclusive to DWRC’s vinyl release, with sleeve notes by the composer.

Also promised is a colored vinyl release with composer’s notes for Johan Söderqvist score for the influential Swedish vampire film, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.


Film Music Books

In Torn Music (which takes its title from the film TORN CURTAIN, whose famous score replacement put an end to the long and fruitful collaboration between director Alfred Hitchcock and composer Bernard Herrmann), film historian Gergely Hubai recounts the often strange and surprising stories behind 300 rejected and replaced scores dating from the 1930s through the 2000s. In these behind-the-scenes tales, dedication collides with miscommunication, musical geniuses clash with the tone-deaf, commercialism brawls with artistic purity, and a lot of hard work goes unrewarded. The movies discussed in Torn Music range from the most popular to the all-but-forgotten, and from high art to lowbrow fare; they even include a handful of TV shows and a videogame.  Hubai has carefully done his research and has compiled a deftly written and comprehensive analysis of rejected film scores; it’s a unique book about a sad reality of the film making business.  Hubai’s approach is to recognize scores that have been “torn out” and replaced, examining each of the 300 scores in chronological order.  In commentaries that run from 1-2 pages or longer (Goldsmith’s LEGEND, for example, runs 4 pages, as does 2001: A SPACE ODDYSEY and THE EXORCIST) Hubai describes the how and why these scores have been rejected and/or replaced (he also includes imported foreign films which had their original scores replaced for their American releases).  At 476 pages, Torn Music is a fascinating examination of a very fresh and relevant topic, which Hubai covers in detail and authority.


Games Music News

It’s been reported that the number one soundtrack album in the world is Austin Wintory's score for the video game Journey, from thatgamecompany and Sony. Journey is the most downloaded game in PlayStation history. Every review has acknowledged the music as a major part to the game’s success. In the first days of release, the Journey score album was number one in numerous countries including Japan, Sweden, France, and Spain (in fact, the score album is the number one album overall in Japan). The album features an 80 piece orchestra, choir and world- class vocalists including Lisbeth Scott, and is available on iTunes. 
Wintory’s music for the 2007 video game, Flow, his first major game score, has also just been made available on iTunes, and he is now scoring a new historical fantasy game called The Banner Saga (see http://stoicstudio.com/index.html)  “It's an incredibly beautiful looking game, with an artwork style and emotional sense that instantly spoke to me,” Wintory said of this new project.
See: http://austinwintory.com/



Randall D. Larson was for many years senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine.  A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: A Survey of Film Music in the Fantastic Cinema and Music From the House of Hammer.  He now writes for CinefantastiqueOnline and has written liner notes for more than 70 soundtrack CDs for such labels as La-La Land, Percepto, Perseverance, Harkit, and BSX Records.  For more information, see: www.myspace.com/larsonrdl  A massively re-written and expanded Second Edition of Musique Fantastique will be published this Spring, see: www.creaturefeatures.com/products/books/musique-fantastique/

Randall can be contacted at soundtraxrdl@gmail.com

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