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Past Columns
20072008

Soundtrax: Episode 2008-12

June 6, 2008
By Randall D. Larson

Music Built for Speed
Winifred Phillips scores the Speed Racer Videogame 

This week we focus on video game music with an interview with composer Winifred Phillips whose new score for Speed Racer: The Videogame is a powerful rush of speed and rhythm.  Winifred explains the intricacies of game music and describes her approach to Speed Racer, Shrek the Third, and other game scores.  We review Oliviere Deriviere’s gamescore for Alone in the Dark (one of the most impressively and dramatically textured game scores I’ve heard in quite some time) and also take a close listen to James Newton Howard’s score for The Happening (“solidly atmospheric and scary/spooky”), the latest Zimmer/Powell epic tunefest for Kung Fu Panda (“cool mix of Chicken Run/Madagascar with a touch of Mulan and Balls of Fury”), Digitmovies expanded release of the complete score from Mario Bava’s Hatchet For The Honeymoon (Il Rosso Segno Della Follia) (“the new tracks really emphasize the striking use to which Romitelli has put the electric guitar as a significant element of his musical pallet here”), Morricone’s complete score from Escalation  (“very diverse and experimental… throughout the score Morricone overlaps instruments, with each smooth layer jutting up against the other as if the composer was conducting an ode to continental drift”), FSM’s new release of a Goldsmith classic, Under Fire, Clint Mansell’s attractive score for the romantic comedy, Definitely, Maybe (“contemporary, breezy, tuneful, wonderfully romantic and richly enhances through melody and tonality the relationship between dad and daughter”), MSM’s release of Lauri Rossi’s horror-comedy score for The Cottage (“an entertaining comic-opera of small proportions that manages to sound quite grand at times”), and Vincent Gillioz’s score for The Irish Vampire Goes West (“a fascinating score with a rich sound design and a very compelling musical structure, nicely conceived and executed”).  Plus the latest news on the soundtrack front.

Winifred Phillips

Interview: The Sensation of Speed
Winifred Phillips and SPEED RACER: THE VIDEOGAME

Winifred Phillips is an Interactive Achievement Award winning composer, producer and vocalist who writes and produces epic choral and orchestral music for video games, radio, and television.  As the composer for Radio Tales, the acclaimed music drama series broadcast via National Public Radio and XM Satellite Radio, Winifred has composed original musical scores for NPR’s radio adaptations of all manner of classic fantasy tales, including War of the Worlds, Arabian Nights, The Time Machine, The Phantom of the Opera, Gulliver’s Travels, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  She gained acclaim in 2005 with her soundtrack for the videogame God of War, Sony’s highly acclaimed game for PlayStation 2, and has since composed provocative scores for the video games of Shrek the Third, The DaVinci Code, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Winifred’s latest gamescore is for Speed Racer: The Videogame, for which Winifred has composed a high-octane, fast-moving, rollercoaster of a score that keeps the adrenalin pumping and the accelerator charging.  I recently interviewed Winifred about her Speed Racer gamescore as well as discussing the differences between composing for games and for films, and her approach to composing music for a variety of media.

For more information on Winifred, please see: www.winifredphillips.com

 

Q: Clearly the title and nature of the Speed Racer: The Videogame suggests a fast-moving gaming challenge – and your energetic, fast-paced score really propels the game at high speed.  Coming into this assignment, what were your initial impressions of the musical needs to give the game the proper sonic edge to enhance its playability and overall environment?

Winifred Phillips: When I was hired to score Speed Racer: The Videogame, I knew that this project would be unlike any I’d worked on before.  The game would be imbued with the epic scope and wild pop-art aesthetic of the Wachowski brothers’ film.  At the same time, the game would focus on a pure racing experience, without incorporating a strong storyline in the way most other movie-based games would.  Also, as a futuristic racer, the pacing and energy of the game would be drastically different than that of both the Wachowski brothers’ movie and any other movie-based games of its kind.  Yet, the game would have a visual style that would set it apart from other racing games as well, and the inherent originality of the film’s art design would dominate every race that was played.  Bearing all this in mind, I knew that the music for Speed Racer: The Videogame could not sound like a cinematic epic or a futuristic racer.  The music could incorporate elements of both styles, but would have to remain balanced between them, without favoring one or the other. 

To address these issues, I used the traditional rhythmic underpinnings of futuristic racing games as my starting point, but wrote in a contrapuntal style rather than the more streamlined approach typical of such racing music.  For Speed Racer: The Videogame I worked with award-winning music producer Winnie Waldron, and during this project she suggested that I use both synthetic and orchestral composition in tandem throughout, while also incorporating the staple instruments of contemporary rock.  I think the combination proved to be very effective.  I also experimented with the fusion of musical genres that are usually not combined, such as funk and grunge… metal and symphonic… electronica and ragtime.  It was my intention to give the music a vibrant character that resembled the vivid colors of the Wachowski brothers’ film, while also maintaining the driving momentum that supported the kinetics of a racing game.

Q: How did you begin to compose the game’s score?   What elements of the game served to form your musical starting point?

Winifred Phillips: The kinetics of the game were always my first consideration.  The races in this game exceed 350 mph.  My top priority at all times was to enhance and support the sensation of speed in the game.  Winnie Waldron made sure all the music production milestones were met and that the music maintained a high standard of quality throughout the game.  When we first started work, Sidhe Interactive (the developers of the game) sent us a video file that they’d received from the filmmakers, entitled “Speed Racer Conceptual Previz.”  It was a five minute video that the Wachowski brothers had made to convince the movie studio to green light the film.  The video showed a single race.  It was an amazing video to watch, and we’ve learned that some of the images from that previz video were actually incorporated into the final film.  While I was working on the score for the game, Winnie made sure that I watched the previz with the sound removed, so that I could focus on the visuals while listening to the score I was creating.  I watched it constantly while I was composing. 

Q: How would you describe the game’s music – and how you have developed its thematic, motific, and textural elements to support the musical needs of the game?

Winifred Phillips: The music I wrote for the Speed Racer videogame has some unique characteristics.  A lot of the music was written in song form.  Many tracks are over four minutes long.  None of the music was written to loop, except for the music on the menu screens.  That means that nearly everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  I had the opportunity with the score to develop musical ideas, create variations, and explore themes and motifs.  I was also able to let those musical ideas build to culmination, which was a rare treat for me.  It was a very exciting process.  Since most of the tracks were to be written as “all-purpose” music that could make appearances anywhere in the game, I concentrated on universal emotions that would be applicable to any of the game’s many races.  I used large brass sections and broad, sweeping string lines to evoke the boldness of being a race car driver.  I sprinkled funk and rock liberally into the score to lend the tracks extra attitude.  Jazz made several appearances, adding wicked humor to the mix.  Simply put, the music was meant to express how much fun it is to race, and how good it feels to win.

Q: What challenges did the potential conflict between music and the game’s inherent sound effects (revving engines, screeching tires, and the like) pose for you?

Winifred Phillips: As a game composer, I am a part of an audio team that includes sound designers, programmers, and other implementation developers.  For a game like Speed Racer, Winnie and I can try to anticipate what other aural activity will be taking place while the music is playing, but we know that we can never reliably predict what those aural combinations will be in the final game.  We put our trust and faith in the audio team to bring all the elements together so that the mix feels satisfying to the player.

Q: Since the video game includes character voices appearing in the new movie, was there any intention to tie in the game music or sound design with that of the corresponding feature film?

Winifred Phillips: As has been the case with all the movie tie-in games I’ve worked on, I didn’t have the opportunity to listen to the music from the film.  I’ve worked on four movie tie-in games so far – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Da Vinci Code, Shrek the Third, and now Speed Racer.  For all these projects, I completed the music for the game before the movie music was written.  In my experience, the music for a game has to be complete much earlier than the film music.  It’s just the nature of game development.  So I’ve never had the opportunity to hear any of the film music prior to creating the scores for the tie-in games.  This has given me the freedom to create my own musical approach, and it is something I enjoy doing.  Of course, I’m always happy when the film company is pleased with the work I’ve done, and it was a tremendous thrill during the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory project when my music was personally approved by Tim Burton! 

Q: What about the past history of the Speed Racer animated series?  Have you referred to that music at all in your gamescore?

Winifred Phillips: There is a lot of nostalgia firmly tied to the original Speed Racer theme, but the rights to that theme were not available for this videogame.  However, I was able to write my own theme for Speed Racer, and I had a lot of fun doing that.  I wrote it in the style of a retro cartoon theme song, while incorporating both orchestral and contemporary elements to help the theme mesh with the rest of the game’s musical score.  An instrumental version of the song plays at the beginning of the game, and then a vocal version (featuring a lead singer and backup choir) plays during the end credits.

Q: What kind of instrumentation did the Speed Racer gamescore permit - or led you toward?

Winifred Phillips: With this game, I could pretty much use any instrumental grouping I wanted.  The musical style was so eclectic that I could mix jazz horns with distortion guitars, vocoder, and symphonic strings, and the final combination would fit right in with the rest of the score.  It was a liberating experience, and provided me with very fertile ground in which to plant musical ideas.

Q: What was the sort of interaction you had with the game designer(s) and/or Sidhe Interactive in formulating the kind of music they wanted/needed for the game?

Winifred Phillips: I was fortunate to work with Andy Satterthwaite at Sidhe Interactive.  Andy is a very accomplished game producer.  His past credits include WipeoutXL, Quantum Redshift, and Gripshift, so he has a firm rooting in the racing game genre.  Andy was able to give me a great perspective on the musical traditions associated with futuristic racing games.  At the beginning of the music development process, Andy and I wrote a music design document together, trading a Word file back and forth via e-mail.  Sidhe Interactive is located in New Zealand, but I never noticed the distance, because we were in constant communication via e-mail.  It was a very satisfying working relationship.

Q: You also scored the Shrek the Third videogame.  How did you retain the musical spirit of the film while providing a musical environment that would serve the open-ended logistical needs of gameplay?

Winifred Phillips: The Shrek the Third videogame posed its own unique challenges.  Clearly, the Shrek franchise has a musical tradition with which everyone is familiar.  Yet, that tradition was not particularly applicable to an action videogame that focused on battling lots of fairytale enemies.  The action sequences from the Shrek films constitute a small percentage of the films themselves – you’ll notice this if you listen to the film score soundtracks.  But the Shrek the Third videogame was an adventure in which the action never really let up.  I couldn’t evoke the sweet fairy tale aesthetic of the film scores, because that would have clashed with the constant action in the game.  I listened to the original film scores from Shrek and Shrek 2, and I noticed that the music owed a debt to several classical composers.  With that in mind, I immersed myself in that classical music and attempted to focus on how those composers evoked action and peril.  Merging many different influences and styles from a classic musical language, I developed an approach to the Shrek the Third score that could support the constant action while still reflecting the franchise’s ultra-sweet, fairy-tale world.

Q: What are some of your first considerations when composing music for a video game drawn from a popular movie? 

Winifred Phillips: The first thing that my music producer Winnie Waldron and I do when we’re brought in on a project is begin our research.  With a movie tie-in, the research becomes even more important.  For The Da Vinci Code and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we were able to dig deep into the original books, looking for subtext and thematic material that could help create a distinctive sound for the musical score.  For Shrek the Third, it was more about researching musical traditions that could help the game score touch upon the fairy-tale sound of the movies while still supporting the action-oriented game.

Q: Do these projects tend to be more difficult than, say, a video game score for an original game environment, like God of War?  Are you usually required to refer to the music from the movie in your gamescore, or is that not always the case?

Winifred Phillips: I find that the work is fundamentally the same, regardless of whether it is for a movie tie-in or an original property.  Since I’ve never had access to the film score when creating the music for the tie-in game, I’ve treated all the games I’ve worked on as if they were stand-alone properties.  For God of War, I began with research, just as I did with the other projects.  There was a wealth of mythological material for me to explore, and the development team had used certain quotes from the plays of Euripides in early trailers for the game, so I read from his works for further inspiration. 

Q: Perhaps even more than movie scores, video game music embraces a fusion of symphonic, rock (including classic, retro, modern, and metal genres thereof), jazz and world beat to intensity the interactive gaming experience.  How do you feel music for games differs from motion picture music, and in what areas do they share similar attributes? 

Winifred Phillips: Video game music is an entirely different field from film music.  While the video game composer must have all the skills that film music composition requires, he or she must also be able to create music that can adapt to many different scenarios.  The video game composer must be familiar with many technologies and techniques specific to the game industry, in addition to those that are required when creating music for film.  A video game typically features a great deal more music than a film, because video games take many hours for a player to complete.  In regards to musical styles, a video game score can explore any and all of the musical genres that have been explored in film.  However, a video game score carries a greater responsibility to develop its musical ideas, because video game music is typically more exposed in the mix.  Breaks in the action can occur at any time, creating a situation in which the music can suddenly become the central focus of attention.  When I’m creating music for a video game, I keep in mind the special role that music plays in a game.  It is a privilege to be a composer in this medium.

Q: How do you feel game music will continue to diversify and develop, especially as gamescores continue to grow into their own distinct form of entertainment/art?

Winifred Phillips: Video games, in sheer dollar figures alone, have risen to become one of the most dominant forms of media entertainment.  I think that it’s only a matter of time before the public perception of video games catches up with the reality of their world-wide popularity, and then video game music will occupy the same position as film music in the public consciousness.  From what I’ve heard, the art of video game music has certainly reached a point where its achievements are comparable to those of the film score world.  Video games are offering up a wide range of experiences, from sophisticated adult fare that addresses serious issues, to escapist entertainment that dazzles and delights.  The musical scores for those games are as varied as the music for films exploring the same subject matter.  I think that people are simply unaware of the music that is being created for today’s games, and I’m very grateful to journalists like yourself for shedding light on the subject.

Q: You’ve also scored a number of radio plays based on classic literature for NPR radio – War of the Worlds, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Masque of the Red Death, Arabian Nights, and so on.  How much music did these mini audio movies require, and what can you tell us about your approach to scoring them? 

Winifred Phillips: The series is called Radio Tales, and each hour-long program in the series required a full hour of music.  I created over fifty hours of music for the series.  Winnie Waldron and I formed our production company, Generations Productions LLC, to produce the Radio Tales series for National Public Radio, and the series now airs on XM Satellite Radio’s Sonic Theater.  The series was my first job as a composer, and it was a very different experience than composing for games… although in many ways it prepared me for the work I do now.  The series adapted classic works of world literature for the radio, and it was my job as a composer to create a musical underpinning that would substitute for the missing visual elements.  I had to be very conscious of the mental pictures that music can stir up in the mind of the listener.  Those images had to complement the story being told in the radio program.  I also had to support the action, including character movements, fight sequences, chases and any physical violence.  Since the listener couldn’t see these things, it was my responsibility to help the listener to feel it happening.  These projects served as great training for my work in video games, where the sensation of movement and action plays such a pivotal role.  I also learned to consider the mental images that music creates, which is something I still take seriously in my work on video game projects.  Whether the player is aware of it or not, the music can create a subconscious chain of mental pictures.  Those images must complement the gameplay.  When they don’t, the music ceases to work in the game, and starts becoming distracting.  But when everything meshes perfectly, the music can become like a companion to the player, commenting on the gameplay, and cheering the player on to victory.

 

New Soundtrax in Review

Milan Records has released the soundtrack to the action survival video game Alone in the Dark, a new version of the original horror game classic which itself was made into a feature film in 2005.  The evocative score was composed by Olivier Deriviere (Obscure) and performed by world-famous, Grammy Award-winning choir The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices, which lend a unique and very interesting vocal quality (based on Bulgarian folk singing) to the game’s sonic texture, which mixes sampled orchestration with the refreshing tonality of the chorus.  The composer’s use of children’s choir on both of his Obscure gamescores was mesmerizing and lent a provocative aural quality to the score; his use of choir in Alone in the Dark is equally inventive and powerful.  The game follows paranormal investigator Edward Carnby as over the course of one apocalyptic night he must fight to survive and uncover the earth-shattering secret menacing New York’s Central Park.  Deriviere’s score is thoroughly cinematic, and wholly fascinating.  His use of the Bulgarian Voices was a brilliant choice, giving the score an exceptional sound, and his ferocious orchestral music is potent and well conceived.  The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices intones with mesmerizing complexity a chanting made up of rapidly sung verses, in effect sounding more like wordless voicings than sung lyrics, which drive the action in some cues (“Prelude To An End,” “Edward Carnby,” Who Am I”, etc) or intone dark apprehension in others (“The Humanz”).  In “No More Humans” the chorus conveys attributes of diabolical resolution, sounding almost like something out of The Omen.  In “Truth” the voices become a spiritual chorus from on high, validating the genuine reality.  In “Niamam” they become a reflective instrument of a kind of worship.  In “The Light Carrier Test” the choir drones what could be an eloquent paean for a doomed humanity, paired with the commanding timbre of a cathedral organ.  Deriviere’s sampled orchestral material, which is convincingly effective and powerfully fluid in its melodic and tonal intensity, is wonderfully matched with the performance of the choir.   “The Façade,” for example, is a terrific action cue that never collapses into dissonance, but maintains its purpose and direction from the start, through a variety of changes, segues, and shifts in tone.  In “Killing the Fissure,” the orchestra builds up a tremendous surging power, winds and brass piping severe action figures, accentuated by heroic measures of French horn, then joined by the Bulgarian Voices in a magnificent fusion of orchestra and chorus.  “The Choice” contrasts the choir’s harsh voicings with the brutal voice of French horns, driven by the fast strokes of hurrying violins.  “An End For a Prelude” reprises the score’s opening cue, bumping it up several notches with a fast-paced orchestral drive, sharing the choir’s lyric orchestrally in a splendid musical finale.

I’ve found Olivier Deriviere to definitely be a composer to watch – and listen to carefully.  Milan’s CD (the label’s first game score release) includes liner notes with lyrics to the choir’s singing in both Bulgarian(?) and English.  

For more information on Deriviere (and for free downloads of the composer’s Obscure scores), see www.olivierderiviere.com

 

James Newton Howard’s latest collaboration with M. Night Shyamalan, the vivid thriller about a family on the run from a natural crisis that presents a large-scale threat to humanity, The Happening, was released this week by Varese Sarabande.  Like Howard’s score for the same director’s Signs, especially, and to a lesser degree The Sixth Sense, the music for The Happening is solidly atmospheric and scary/spooky.   The score begins by emphasizing what’s happening to humanity – tracks like “Evacuating Philadelphia” and “Central Park” carry a kind of Day After Tomorrow styled disaster-movie ominousness to them, a slow cadence of vaguely melodic tonality that evokes a sense of sorrow and loss; but once the nature of what’s happening slowly begins to be revealed, the score turns darker and underlines the maliciousness of the phenomenon.  Modular layers of tonality – strings and piano mostly – draft a sonic continuum of apprehension that keeps the listener/viewer pretty much on edge throughout.  “Abandoned House” is an especially creepy cue, replete with shudder-inducing twinkles of piano amidst a cold, sustained wash of brooding strings.  Melodic passages, like sinewy strands of spiderwebs hung across a shadowy cellar, link the motific atmospheres, but the score is devoid of true melody until the reflective cello and trumpet melody appears in “Five Miles Back.”  Cello is much in evidence in this score, performed by noted cellist Maya Beiser (also featured soloist on The Great Debaters and Blood Diamond and a musician of intensely exotic beauty – guys: check out her web site at www.mayabeiser.com ).  This melody recurs in “Jess Comforts Elliot,” and offers a pleasing, humanity-affirming respite to the alarming desperation of much of the score’s pervasive apprehensivo, as does the melancholic moments of “You Eyin’ My Lemon Drink?”  “Shotgun” generates a frenzy of wild dissonance before finding its resolve with yearning strands of desperately-exclaiming violins, which beseech aid but are soon silenced by a wash of disconsolate atmospherics.  The score’s melodic material comes to the fore in “Be With You,” where Howard’s layers of melody ascend to a subtly powerful climactic resolution.  An 8:36 End Title suite revisits the score’s basic elements and construction.

(For photos of The Happening’s scoring sessions, see: www.scoringsessions.com/news/131 )

 

The score for Kung Fu Panda, by Hans Zimmer and John Powell, is exactly what you’d expect it to be, which means you’ll either love it or hate it depending on your predisposition toward the Zimmerosophy of film scoring.  I’m usually mostly in the love it camp, and I found the soundtrack, released by Dreamworks and also available on iTunes, quite an effective score.  It’s a cool mix of Zimmer/Powell Chicken Run/Madagascar with an Asian spin as is befitting the title character.   Add a touch of Mulan and Balls of Fury and you get an idea what Kung Fu Panda’s score is all about.  It’s nothing new, but it is very effective and a lot of fun.  The score is built around an appropriately grand, epic sounding heroic theme alternately played by horns and choir, with an assortment of subordinate material mostly driving the film’s action, much of them embellished by the expert er-hu playing of Karen Han (Memoirs of a Geisha, Pirates of the Caribbean).  There are a few moments of comedy threaded through the music (the woodwinds have a field day in “The Dragon Scroll,” which becomes kind of an Asian Carl Stalling routine, as does its follow-up, “Dragon Warrior Rises”), and there is nothing lacking in the epic music department either – “Sacred Pool of Tears” is a splendid track of almost 10 minutes length that goes through a number of heroic/majestic crescendos, including a powerful and poignantly expressive rendition of the main theme (love those French horns and tom toms).  “Shifu Faces Tai Lung is another massive cue, richly vibrant in large orchestrations and choir, dipping into a moment or two of expressivo at the 3-minute mark, and then back into vivid tympani-beaten action.  The score’s shifts between poignancy and potency are many as the music continually manifests an emotive mood that gives the slightly quirky anthropomorphic characters a strong grounding in reality, investing their malleable CGI visages with spirit and soul.  It’s hyper dramatic in most places, tongue-in-cheek amusing in others, and overall I found it quite an enjoyable score.  The CD concludes with yet another version of Carl Douglas’ muchly overused 1974 hit, “Kung Fu Fighting,” this one performed by hip-hoptist Cee-Lo and the voice of Panda Po, Jack Black).


Among Digitmovies May releases is an expanded release of Sante Maria Romitelli’s persuasive score for Mario Bava’s potent 1969 Euroshock thriller, Hatchet For The Honeymoon (Il Rosso Segno Della Follia).  Previously premiered on CD by RCA in 1998, where 16 stereo tracks from the score were paired up with 16 tracks of Roberto Nicolosi’s score for Bava’s Black Sabbath (I Tre Volti Della Paura).  Digitmovies new release reprises those 16 tracks and raises them by another baker’s dozen through supplemental mono material.  Romitelli’s score ranges from a sweeping classical waltz that opens the film to cacophonic riffing of electric guitar and shimmering electronics, and an intriguing fusion of melody and atonality from both acoustic and electronic instruments.  A delightfully pop-ish variation of the main waltz, “Lineamenti Di Un Assassino,” recurs several times from flutes and harpsichords, giving it a quite compelling texture.  A secondary motif, introduced by “La Luna Di Miele,” is a mix of light melody from flute over electric bass drumset, and mixed percussion that takes on a lullaby characteristic evocative of the main character’s youth; eventually, in “Il Mosaico E Completo,” it devolves into sheer droning atonality, effective enough in the film to characterize the killer’s psychological devolution but a little grating for home enjoyment.  Whereas the stereo tracks culled from the RCA release emphasized the score’s lighter side through gentle melodies, melodic waltzes, and compelling musical intimacies (only “Tessere Di Un Mosaico,” “Scavare Nella Memoria,” and the eerie, rolling ambiance of the aforementioned “Il Mosaico E Completo” really portrayed the score’s more atonal dissonance on the RCA release; plus the raucous rock and roll riffing of “Hatchet Shake,” here alternatively presented in the film’s mono mix), the new tracks included on the Digitmovies release really emphasize the striking use to which Romitelli has put the electric guitar as a significant element of his musical pallet here.  Not unlike the pervasive use of that instrument in the same year’s Once Upon A Time In The West, which forever linked the electric guitar with wild west gunfights through Morricone’s brilliantly realized score, Romitelli’s powerful profusion of solo and emphasized electric guitar in Hatchet For The Honeymoon is commanding; his score is a mesmerizing and psychedelic alteration of traditional horror scoring with a fascinating fusion of classical, early electronic, lounge/pop, and straight ahead rock and roll.  Digitmovies’ inedit material includes a stark, almost monochromatic reading of “Lineamenti Di Un Assassino” on track 24, employing stark electric guitar notes over a plodding cadence of low piano, slowing to a pensive mix of oboe and percussion in high reverb (there’s also a neat melodic variant of this cue for harpsichord and rhythm guitar on track 20); as well as a new variation on “Ricordi O Incubi?” which takes what was a pretty woodwind melody over harp (track 3)and transforms it into a harsh measurement of powerfully struck piano notes doubled by severe electric guitar notation.  There is also a motif completely neglected in the RCA tracks, the mesmerizing psychedelic claustrophobia of “Il Rosso Segno Della Follia,” the score’s title theme, which is presented in four variations of which only the first is really a pleasing listen; the other three are increasingly noisy and inharmonious.  We also are treated to an excellent if very short (1:12) variation on “Il Mosaico E Completo” on track 22 for swelling orchestra segueing into flute over harp and strings, which is very lovely.  Aside from a half dozen or so cues such as these, though, the larger quantity of the new tracks included on the Digitmovies release tend to gravitate toward variations in noisy ambiance – sustained passages of atonal dissonance and moments of overly indulgent psychedelica which while vastly effective in Bava’s film are rather unattractive to listen to on their own.  But if I program out the more disturbingly dissonant tracks I find unappealing (17-18, 21, 23, 26-27) then I’m finding the extended score an extremely compelling listen; and a portion of new tracks included on this release are nonetheless quite significant.

 

Digitmovies has also released Ennio Morricone’s score for the psychedelic 1968 comedy, Escalation.  It also is an interesting mixture of delicacy and dissonance.  Expanded from previous 12-track releases on the CAM label, Digitmovies adds five alternate tracks and presents everything in full stereo for the first time.  The film’s bizarre plot would take the rest of the column to make sense of, but it has something to do with a dysfunctional family and a wayward youth being brainwashed to properly run the family business, or something like that.  Morricone’s score is a very diverse and experimental one, ranging from the elegant bossa nova main theme, taken through a number of new variations on this release, to Dixieland jazz (“Funerale Nero,” two versions), and from discordant vocal rock and roll (“Escalation Shake”) to sustained and disturbingly atonal material for solo sitar with heavy reverb (“Senza Respiro,” “Luca, Casa Londra”).  Throughout the score Morricone overlaps instruments, with each smooth layer jutting up against the other as if the composer was conducting an ode to continental drift.  Harpsichord, oboe, sitar, celesta, guitar, harp, human voice in both solo and choral treatments, trumpet, drums, dissonant piano and organ are among the eclectic pallet with which Morricone colors this score, whose components range from mock-classical (“Collage No. 1”) to rhythmic motifs for choir, sitar, and drums(“Secondo Rito”).  There is even a psychedelic rock chorale version of the horror film standard, the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath), which Morricone tweaks perhaps more than other composers who have used it (Goldsmith, Williams, Fried, Rosenman, Gold, Sukman, Wendy Carlos, and many others).  Strangest of all is a performance by solo lip-twang (“Luca’s Sound”).  This is definitely a product of the 1960s, but it congeals very well, quakes effectively, and holds together even in the midst of its extreme variance. 

 

While a songtrack to the charming new comedy, Definitely, Maybe has been released by Phantom, Lakeshore Records will grace us with Clint Mansell’s attractive and likeable original score on June 24th to coincide with the film’s DVD release.  Former popstar Mansell has found himself quite adept as a film scorer since he made the move to Hollywood in 1998, with scores ranging from the adventurous Sahara to the spooky Abandon to the charged up sci-fi action of Doom to the stylish shoot-em-up Smokin’ Aces and the provocative The Fountain, which gained Mansell a Golden Globe nomination for best score.  Definitely Maybe is on pretty solid family film ground, with a likable Ryan Reynolds playing a 30-something Manhattan dad in the middle of a divorce who tries to explain his past relationships to his inquisitive 11-year-old daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin).  Mansell accompanies Reynolds’ trip down memory lane as he describes in PG fashion his romantic history, leaving the names out and letting Breslin guess which one of them is her mother.  It’s a cute comedy – perhaps cuter for those of us divorced dads with used-to-be young daughters – and Mansell’s score is a perfect fit.  It’s contemporary, breezy, tuneful, wonderfully romantic and richly enhances through melody and tonality the relationship between dad and daughter.   Reynolds’ occupation as a political consultant is identified through a contemporary vibe of guitars and rock band, such as the tongue-in-cheek opening track, “Will Hayes for President” (Reynolds is Will Hayes) and the anthemic instrumental, “The Candidate,” with more tender material provided for scenes between Reynolds and Maya.  Each of Maya’s prospective moms – Summer, Emily, and April – have their own theme.  “Here Comes Summer” is at first a somewhat sultry rhythm track for guitar, keyboard (or marimba), and sax which opens up orchestrally to evoke warm romance and remembrance.  “For Emily (Whoever She May Be)” (the title is a clever twist on a classic Simon & Garfunkel song) is a poignant melody for piano (then French horn) with warm strings accompaniment, its slow cadence advancing beautifully into a very compelling crescendo a third of the way in.  “April (Come She Will)” (the title is also a Simon & Garfunkel song) is a rhythmic lyric for nylon guitar over strings and electric guitar; it also progresses nicely into an evocative feel-good tone and sensibility.  One of these themes recurs a few more times, and thereby constitutes a spoiler as to who the mom is, so if you haven’t seen the film yet I’d recommend you don’t check the track titles until after you’ve done so.  Suffice it to say the score resolves itself nicely with a smile-inducing crescendo and a very satisfying reprising resolution of one of these motifs.  A variation on that same motif appears in “The Happy Ending is You,” a touching melody for piano and guitar which changes the theme’s melody just to evoke something new – becoming a motif for Maya herself.  “Brooklyn Bridge” captures a heartfelt melody of reconciliation, “An Evening at the Odeon” provides a cool rhythm track for guitars, marimba (or keyboard), and “Countdown” is a pleasing, soft reflection for solo piano.

 

Jerry Goldsmith’s music for Under Fire, Roger Spottiswoode’s 1983 political thriller about three journalists in a romantic triangle who are involved in political intrigue during the last days of the corrupt Somozoa regime in Nicaragua, is given new life in this month’s Silver Age Classics release from FSM.  Originally released on LP by Warner Bros and only ever released on CD in Japan in 1993 and in Germany in 2000, the score is nicely polished for FSM’s straight reissue of one of Goldsmith’s nicest scores of the 80s.  Like 1992’s Medicine Man, the score is mainly drawn from Latin rhythms, and Under Fire includes guitarist Pat Metheny as featured soloist on the main theme, a fast-paced rhythmic motif which takes the characteristic Goldsmith orchestral action motif and reassembles it for Metheny’s acoustic guitar over orchestra.  And, like Papillon and a few other scores, Goldsmith is virtually silent for the first 23 minutes of the movie, choosing to introduce his orchestral material only when the action starts and the Sandinista rebels begin their operation.  After that, the music becomes prominent and terrifically effective.  In addition to guitar, the score features prominent use of pan flute, piano (the wistful theme for Gene Hackman’s character of Alex, whose early demise at the hands of the rebels becomes a recurring motif for the film), and a prominent use of synthesizers which often double or substitute for the orchestral instruments in various moments of the score.   It’s a beautifully integrated score, in the early days where Goldsmith was first experimenting with the incorporation of synths with his orchestra (as opposed to keeping the electronics separate and distinct as most other composers were doing at the time), with a captivating musical texture and an emotional intensity felt even through its most aggressive rhythms.  It’s been too long an elusive member of Goldsmith’s discography, and this nicely preserved release is very much welcome.  FSM’s album also benefits from thorough liner notes by Jeff Bond and Alexander Kaplan which describe film, score, and each track in encyclopedic detail.

 

MovieScore Media has released Laura Rossi’s spooky score for Paul Andrew Williams’ horror/comedy, The Cottage.  Rossi’s score is an entertaining comic-opera of small proportions that manages to sound quite grand at times.  The Main Title, for example, opens with a subdued rhythmic motif that lounges fairly languidly but soon pushes forward into massive melee of orchestral vigor, a riot of classical measures embellished by (sampled?) choir, finally punching the listener with repeated propulsions of brass.  Much of the score has a very thin sound (it’s performed by the Chamber Orchestra of London), but Rossi (whose earlier score, Shooting Shona, was also issued by MSM) is able to embellish it with sampled voices and inventive orchestration and some moments become quite sonically impressive.  “Getting Tracey,” for example, bursts forth from the very austere and furtive “Peter Outside” with a vibrant array of generous sound, assaulting poor Tracey with a cyclonic scherzo of classical energy.  This Elfman-ish tongue-in-cheek classical motif swirls and seethes across the soundtrack – driven by bells in “The Drive,” where it takes on an almost Herrmannesque/Psycho/Janet Leigh Behind The Wheel in The Rainstorm rhythmatic; driven by a profusion of more Herrmannesque horns in “Tracey Freaks/The Key”) – and becomes a refreshingly delightful motif, full of eager enthusiasm, giving the film a splendid exuberance.  In “Locals/In the Woods” Rossi’s main theme is splintered apart by apprehension and caution, resounding from pizzicato strings over distant woodblock as local denizens exhibit menace.  “Lights Go Out / Into the Woods / Stephen Dies” (oops. sorry for the spoiler in the track title.) is a very effective cue in which the orchestra churns with powerful undulations, punctuated by bells.  “Moth Attack” (yes. moths do attack.) generates a fairly palpable eeriness through progressive chords of violins, which grow into a frantic assaultive staccato driven by repeated intones of low winds.  In “The Woods” and “Tracey’s Killed” (sorry. another spoiler.), Rossi’s music becomes almost Gothic in its dark ferocity, snarling forward with a rage of persuasive orchestra and choir, really heightening the drama of the moment and offering a really fine orchestral crescendo.   “Peter’s Epic Journey” develops a nice progressive cadence, driven my martial snare drums, propelling Peter purposefully forward into an array of heavenly choral enchantment, bolstered by a triumph of trumpets and a self-assurance of strings.  The 5:50 “Finale” proffers another dance between the furtive suspense music and Rossi’s stormy main theme, bridged by a cadenced measure driven by pizzicato strings, percussion, Philip Glassian violin figures, and snarls of low brass, increasing in force and rhythm until a severe chill of violins dissolves the measured rhythm and the music segues into a reprise of the heavenly choral material discovered by Peter in his epic journey.  A compelling new piece, “Under the Stars,” and a short reprisal of the Main Theme bring the album to a close.  For more info on Rossi, see: www.laurarossi.com

Vincent Gillioz has crafted a delicate score for director/producer/editor/actress Pegarty Long’s absorbing horror fantasy, The Irish Vampire Goes West.  About an Irish vampire who, well, goes west (to Hollywood, as it turns out), the score has been preserved on Gillioz’ Sphere Records label.   Pegarty stars as Mara who journeys from L.A. to Ireland to rescue her sister, a poet named Manananaan (played by Pegarty’s twin sister, Philomene Long, renowned poet laureate of Venice, CA, who tragically died shortly after the film was completed), who was kidnapped by the Irish Vampire, Vanquo.  The music is suitably based around Irish musicality, with plenty of uilleann pipes, soprano voice, what sounds like cimbalom, and a very soothing melodic structure.  The score progresses through a series of motifs, some recurring, some not; building a growing atmosphere of melodic phrasing and smoothly textured tonality that accompanies Mara on her journey.  It’s a refreshingly accessible approach to horror and fantasy in the midst of so many horror scores built on sheer dissonance and atonality.  An ominous melodic tonality is introduced in “The Abduction” – oppressive, sustained, layered tones from the pipes and strings and piano, emanating a wicked chord rippling with evil, the perfect introduction to our vampire, Vanquo, and which will represent his menace throughout the score.  Punctuated here by drums and raps on cymbal, the music enlivens the stealing of Manananaan by the vampire, while cries of uilleann pipes and low timpani underline his Gaelic origins.  A soprano voice lightens the sound design of “The Curse Hits,” supported by the lamenting bending sounds achieved from low drones of bagpipes reverberating over an ominous sustainment of synth tonalities.   Delicate fingering of cimbalom over flutes lends a disturbing texture as the vampire’s curse is made known.  A neat rhythm runs through “Haunting the Cemetery,” as pipes driven by drums over the score’s ubiquitous harp fingering and plaintive violin announce the arrival of Vanquo, as distant bells – another effective intrusion of sound effects into the musical texture – toll quietly.  Low woodwinds growl like fog, and the vampire’s cruel chordal tonality drifts relentlessly across the soggy ground.  Gillioz provides a beautiful “Requiem for Aunt Margaret” for soprano and church organ, a lovely ode that is every bit the counterpart to the vampire’s pitiless music.  The 9-minute “Running through the Emerald Isle” is an intriguing progressive track that takes the score’s major motifs and runs them through their paces, driven by cimbalom and drum, pipes and violin, rhythm and reflection.  The vampire’s motif runs throughout “Ode to Immortality,” eventually giving way to a subdued melody from flute and then violin over a languorously plucked harp, echoing throughout castle walls.   The melody becomes progressively more agitated, less controlled, the harp more pronounced and alarming, the music finally running to a full and abrupt stop.  “In The Dark Maze of the Castle,” which follows, the composer reprises the wafting texture of plaintive flute over harp, allowing it to drift in shadowlike whispers across the edifice’s stone walls.  A stark solo violin assumes the forefront, performing a plaintive melody, intruded upon by the echoed strumming of piano strings, which resonate menacingly and ongoingly.  The sustained piano tones are joined by aleatoric lines played in the higher range of the bagpipe, replicating the sound of the solo violin, in cruel mockery, growing loud and stark, bolstered by the increasing cadence of the reverberating pianistic chords; it’s a brilliant cue that resonates with tragic intensity: the journey of a soul going to her doom.   Scrapes of cymbals, rumbles of low-end piano strings, and the violin has been dispatched, the whisper silenced, the shadow dissolving into absolute darkness.  In “Through the Heart,” Gillioz’s layered textures from “Ode to Immortality” meet their inevitable comeuppance, as the flute motif recurs amid the crackling of flames (Gillioz also uses some found sound in “The Abduction” to give the music a neat sonic reality) and batlike squeaking of percussion as Vanquo is vanquished.  The Irish Vampire Goes West is a fascinating score with a rich sound design and a very compelling musical structure, nicely conceived and executed.  For more info on Gillioz, see www.vincentgillioz.com


In Memory

Composer and orchestrator Alexander (Sandy) Courage, composer of the original Star Trek theme and an Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated arranger for TV and movies, died May 15 at the Sunrise assisted-living facility in Pacific Palisades, Calif.  He was 88 and had been in declining health since 2005.  Courage's fanfare for the Starship Enterprise, written in 1965 for the first of two Star Trek pilots, was heard throughout the three original seasons of the show and has been reprised in all of the Trek feature films and several of the TV series, especially Star Trek: The Next Generation in the 1980s and '90s.  Courage's eight-note brass signature for the Enterprise may be the single best-known fanfare in the world.  When told that more people know it than know Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, Courage – in his typically self-deprecating fashion – said that must surely be an exaggeration.  He won a 1988 Emmy as principal arranger for the ABC special Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas, and received Oscar nominations (both shared with Lionel Newman) for his adaptation scores for The Pleasure Seekers in 1963 and Doctor Dolittle in 1967.  Courage scored a handful of films in the late 1950s, including Arthur Penn's The Left-Handed Gun and such drive-in fare as Shake, Rattle and Rock and Hot Rod Rumble, but he found his most comfortable home in television music.  He scored episodes of such shows as Wagon Train and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Untouchables, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, Land of the Giants and other series. In addition to writing the Star Trek TV theme, Courage composed the dramatic theme and over a dozen scores for the Carl Betz legal drama Judd for the Defense in 1967-68.  He scored Star Trek’s two pilots and four succeeding episodes, while composing music for more than 100 episodes of the Waltons.  In the mid 1970s, Courage returned to orchestration for old friends including John Williams (The Poseidon Adventure, Hook, Jurassic Park; he also adapted Williams' themes for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace) and Jerry Goldsmith (Basic Instinct, First Knight, The Mummy, Air Force One, Mulan and, ironically, Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection).  – via Jon Burlingame

Earle H. Hagen, Emmy-winning composer of some of the most memorable musical themes in television history, died of natural causes Monday at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 88.  Hagen wrote the popular themes for The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Danny Thomas Show, I Spy, That Girl, The Mod Squad, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, and many more. He composed original music for more than 3,000 individual television shows during his TV career, which spanned more than three decades.  He was also active in the film business, mostly as an arranger and orchestrator for 20th Century-Fox. He received a 1960 Oscar nomination (shared with Lionel Newman) as musical director for the Marilyn Monroe film Let’s Make Love and he composed the jazz standard “Harlem Nocturne” in 1939, eventually became the theme for the Mike Hammer series in 1984.  His final work for television was on the Stacy Keach “Mike Hammer” movies Murder Me, Murder You and More Than Murder, which led to the weekly series; and on the Griffith show reunion movie Return to Mayberry in 1986.  Hagen wrote three books, including Scoring for Films in 1971, which for many years was the only available textbook on how to handle the technical aspects of writing music for movies.  Hagen won BMI’s Richard Kirk Award, a lifetime achievement honor, in 1987; its President’s Award, for teaching the workshop for a decade, in 1996; and its Classic Contribution Award, for his iconic themes and lifetime of mentorship, in 2006.  In October 2007, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences presented him with a special award at an event in North Hollywood “for his pioneering work and enduring contributions to television music.”  And on April 20 of this year, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (the New York-based “other” TV Academy) inducted him into its Gold Circle for 50 years of service to the television industry.

 

Soundtrack News

Trevor Raben’s score to the big screen retake of Get Smart will be released on June 17th by Varese Sarabande.  Rabin provides a wonderfully exciting score that looks back to the era of the classic television show, cleverly incorporating Irving Szathmary’s famous original theme from the 1965 TV show into his trademark contemporary style.  Varese has announced two new major score releases due on July 1st: John Powell’s score for Hancock, a comedy-fantasy starring Will Smith as a hard-drinking, widely-disliked superhero who tries changing his ways, and John Debney’s score for the sci-fi comedy Meet Dave (originally titled Starship Dave, and co-written by Mystery Science Theater 3000's Bill Corbett), in which Eddie Murphy plays a humanoid spaceship occupied by tiny aliens (including one played by Murphy). www.varesesarabande.com

Walt Disney Records will release Thomas Newman’s latest animated film score, WALL-E, on June 24th.

Lakeshore Records will release the soundtrack to the latest Mike Myers laughtrack, The Love Guru, on June 17th, although the music has already hit iTunes for digital download.  It’s essentially a songtrack, with 16 tracks of songs and Myersbytes, and one track from George S. Clinton’s score.  No word yet on whether a score album will follow, as it did for Clinton’s Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.  For more info, Lakeshore has even launched a myspace page devoted to the album:
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=373903384

This week’s new releases from Intrada include a trio of world-premiere soundtracks: Leonard Rosenman’s complete Oscar-nominated score for Cross Creek, Martin Ritt’s sensitive drama with Mary Steenburgen, Peter Coyote, Alfre Woodard.  “Rosenman anchors the score with a warm, rock-solid Americana theme, then surrounds it with intricate motifs and signature harmonic complexities.”  Intrada offers the complete score plus alternates & cues not used in final film.  And, combined on a single disc is Maurice Jarre’s epic score for the 1961 Richard Fleischer Africa ivory-hunt adventure, The Big Gamble.  “Jarre creates stirring outdoor theme, balances with lilting motif, imbues both with signature harmonies.”   The CD fills out with premiere of nearly complete Sol Kaplan soundtrack for Delmer Daves 1953 costume adventure Treasure Of The Golden Condor, a swashbuckling actioner with Cornel Wilde and Fay Wray. “Kaplan creates exciting score with emphasis on swashbuckling action, exotic locales. Dynamic major-key motif for treasure is rich highlight.”  The Rosenman score is limited to 1500 copies while the Jarre/Kaplan has a print ru9n of 1200 copies.
 
Forthcoming from Hillside Productions and GDM are new Italian Western soundtrack CDs from Carlo Savina (Joko Invoca Dio… E Muori, aka Vengeance), Carlo Rustichelli (Buffalo Bill… L’Eroe del Far West, aka Buffalo Bill Hero of the Far West), and Michele Laceranza (1000 Dollari Sul Nero, aka Blood At Sundown), each in limited releases of 500 copies.  www.hillsidecd.co.uk

La-La Land Records has announced a 3-CD set of Dominic Frontiere’s astounding orchestral score to the classic 1960’s sci-fi television series The Outer Limits. Digitally remastered from the master tapes in the composer’s personal archive, this release contains music from 11 episodes from the series’ 1st season (the second season brought in One Step Beyond composer Harry Lubin, who replicated his music for that show on The Outer Limits with less effectiveness than Frontiere had accomplished on the first) and features over 90 minutes of previously unreleased music, in addition to all music previously available on the 1993 GNP Crescendo release – fully remastered.  I had the pleasure of being asked to write the notes for this release so I had a good chance to really study the music on its own and to video, and these scores are just wonderful – evocative, awe-inspiring, spooky, and very very impressive.  La-La Land’s release is a limited edition of 3000 units.  The label has also released David Hirschfelder’s score to Aquamarine, a 2006 mermaid adventure for the adolescent crowd, and their third volume of Farscape Classics, featuring Guy Gross’s eloquent scores for the episodes “The Choice” and “The Locket,” both of which were significant episodes in the multi-season arc of Claudia Black’s Aeryn Sun character.  Gross’s music for this science fiction series remains among the most compelling television sci-fi scores, powerful in its emotive depth of feeling, and these episodes gave the composer plenty of room for heartfelt and eloquent scoring. www.lalalandrecords.com

Silva Screen’s has released Music From The Films Of Tim Burton, a new compilation disc that gathers together the music from a director who has created some of the most original and distinctive films in contemporary cinema.  His long working relationship with the musical genius of Danny Elfman is the main subject of this collection of the very best music from his films; highlights include segments from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Mars Attacks!, The Corpse Bride – as well as lush orchestral versions of four cues from Sweeney Todd.  The music is performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic and The London Music Works

Also out from Silva is Sex And The Cinema: 16 Sensual Classics from the Silver Screen, tying in with the release of the movie version of Sex In The City, whose TV theme closes the Silva compilation.  The single-disc release includes the usual fairly faithful renditions of orchestral themes from Lolita, Emmanuelle, Body Heat, Farewell My Concubine, Last Tango In Paris, Fatal Attraction and other intensely romantic cinematic liaisons.  The album’s open-minded thematic variety is suggested by the inclusion of themes from Brokeback Mountain, Eyes Wide Shut, and The Hunger, among others.  Performances are by the City of Prague Philharmonic, London Music Works, and Mark Ayers, who performs a nice rendition of Gabriel Yared’s Betty Blue.   www.silvascreenmusic.com

My hosts here at Buysoundtrax have announced two new limited edition CDs (1000 discs) ready to order: the score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth for They Live, Carpenter’s 1988 cult-classic satirical sci-fi thriller about an ordinary man who discovers aliens living among us.  The film's score was originally released on LP and CD by Enigma records, but the new edition from AHI, a new label being distributed by BSX, included nearly 75 minutes of music, more than double the amount on the Enigma release.  Also available is BSX’s latest release, the score by Mervyn Warren (Steel, The Wedding Planner) from the recent TV remake of Lorraine Hansberry's classic play A RAISIN IN THE SUN.

Koji Endo’s versatile and evocative score for Takashi Miike’s amazing new film, Sukiyaki Western Django, has been released by Crown in Japan.  The film is an exuberant and amazing fusion of Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars and Django, set in a hybrid Wild West that once existed in Japan amidst a fascinating mix of wild, dusty hills and painted backdrops, cowboy hats and Japanese period costume, windswept graveyards and snowy sword/gunfights.  I hope to have this on hand to review in the next column.  I saw the film, courtesy of the Japanese DVD release, last night and it’s indescribably incredible.  A crazy but deliriously entertaining film.  The Morriconesque score is wonderful, and culminates with a spectacular hard rock version of Luis Bacalov’s beloved DJANGO theme sung in Japanese by Sabuto Kitajima.

The Harry Gregson-Williams and Nobuo Toda soundtrack for the latest video game in the “Metal Gear” series, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has been released as a 2-CD set in Japan from Konami.  First issue release comes in a DVD styled case.

VAP Records of Japan has released a soundtrack from the third season of Gokusen 2008 starring Yukie Nakama, with music by Michiru Oshima.

Bruce Broughton’s “Silverado Overture,” performed by the UNLV (Univ Nevada Las Vegas) Wind Orchestra, conducted by Thomas G. Leslie, is included on The Quest, a new classical release from  Klavier Records, distributed by Naxos.  The CD also includes William Walton’s title composition and classical tracks composed by Masao Yabe, Fisher Tull, Frank Ticheli, and Tchaikovsky’s “The Maid of Dreams.”  www.naxos.com


Randall 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 from the Fantastic Cinema and Music From the House of Hammer.  He now reviews soundtracks for Music from the Movies, Cemetery Dance magazine, and writes for Film Music Magazine and others. For more information, see: www.myspace.com/larsonrdl
Randall can be contacted at soundtraxrdl@aol.com

 

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