Past Columns

Soundtrax: Episode 2012-7 
July 31st, 2012

By Randall D. Larson


I recently had the occasion to do a new interview with Alan Howarth, best known for his collaborative work with John Carpenter in the 1980s, in connection with a new recording he’d done of Carpenter’s music for DARK STAR and ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 – the director’s first two films as director. Not all of our discussion made it into the album notes I wrote for that BSX Records release, and since we’d also covered his experiences working on his more recent solo scores, I present the hitherto unseen portions of our June 15th interview, in which Alan describes his approach at interpreting John Carpenter’s two earliest film scores and how he’s applied his experience working with Carpenter on scores like ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, HALLOWEEN II, CHRISTINE, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, and others into the solo scores he’s now being asked to do.

Q: What was the genesis of this album, and what was your intent with your revisitation of John's music from DARK STAR and ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13?

Alan Howarth: I was approached by Ford Thaxton and Mark Banning of BSX Records.  I had just done a new recording for them of THE THING back in October, and that was very successful.  They said, “Alan, you know everything to do with John Carpenter, how would you like to go back and do a couple of scores from before you worked with John, rerecord them, and put your own mark on them?”  I said that would be great, and we got started.

Q: How faithful were you trying to be to the original performances, and how much of your own voice did you want to leave room for in the new recording?

Alan Howarth: I was trying to be very faithful to the original performances. On ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 I did go off into my own voice on the extended end credits, were I added some orchestral samples on top of the synthesizer material.

Q: Both of these scores, of course, predated your association with John.  How did your working with him in the 1980s give you the insight to adapt these two older scores in a way that would be appropriate to capturing the essence of John Carpenter's music?

Alan Howarth: John Carpenter has his very specific music talent in which everything is minimal.  The amount of musicality then is pretty simple to listen to and figure out a way to play it. The arrangements were fairly thin; there might have been about eight tracks of overdub but more likely it was two or three. So once I analyzed what was the essence was that made the arrangement work I would go into my equipment with the software synths and get something going that was very similar.

Q: What synths and electronic equipment were used in your new performances? 

Alan Howarth: The favorite synth that I used with John was the Prophet V; for me that's what gave John Carpenter his signature sound.  I mocked up all the synthesizer sounds, in a software sense, using the Native Instruments Pro 53, which is a modern Prophet V in software.  It's interesting that now the instrument is in stereo [the original scores were all in mono], and it has huge polyphony – but I would still go back to sounds that were familiar to me from my work with John.  I would do the best I could to imitate the ones he used in the earlier stuff, which I believe were before the Prophet V and probably were early Moogs and ARPs.  But it was close enough [to the Prophet V] and I layered it up a little bit more, so my stuff is richer in the number of tracks and the variety of sounds that are stacked together.

Q: How did electronic music in films, and in John Carpenter films in particular, develop from these initial scores he did?  What do you think John learned as he developed his musical craft over subsequent films? 

Alan Howarth: That's very interesting.  When I came on the scene I was a techno gear nut.  I had to have the latest, coolest whatever it was!  Often I'd be running into the studio with literally the paint drying on some new instrument that just came off the shelf and had Serial Number four or six or something like that!  So that's what I would bring to the party through all those scores starting with ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and through to THEY LIVE. ASSAULT for this album, is that I could hear the emergence of what was going to be the core to HALLOWEEN – not necessarily in notes but in choices of how to make movie music: things like the one note sustain that goes the whole time with then something else coming in over the top of it.  He was beginning to find the John Carpenter voice, and you're really hearing it in ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13.  In DARK STAR, I just tried to sound cheesy, and that's fine for that score. ASSAULT was his first really serious outing where he began to define the choices he made and his use of rhythms and minimalism.   I remember seeing an interview about the theme from ASSAULT and he referred that back to another composer’s score which was THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN; that was the inspiration for what came out to be the “bom-bom ba da-dom… bom-bom ba da-domASSAULT theme.

Musically, he was educated on violin and keyboards when he was young, because his father was a professor of music.  He was actually given a choice to go down a musical path but his passion was film; but since he had the education and some basic knowledge he elected to do his own film scores. He used to make excuses like he was the cheapest composer he could hire, but I think in combination with that he also knew what he wanted.  I think he found it satisfying to do these very simple film scores, technically and musically, and they worked.  That was his contribution to electronic film music: don't get too complicated, keep it simple, let it sit in the background and make sure it doesn't draw attention to itself while you are watching the movie.  It can be as repetitive as you want it to be, it doesn't matter; you don't have to get all excited about how clever the music is.

Q: How would you contrast what was being done in those days with 100% electronic scores with what you were seeing today which is a mixture of orchestral and samples and electronics?

Alan Howarth: In those days it was an either/or so scenario.  You sat down in the studio and you did it

with synths and some keyboards and that was it because that's all you had budget for. Or you went ahead and used acoustic musicians and players and wrote it out on paper and charted it and recorded it at a scoring session.  John Carpenter’s sort of do-it-yourself score did map out an alternate path in film scoring.  When I joined the team on ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK in 1980, I had all my stuff set up in the dining room at the house – it was nothing super formal but it was elaborate for the day.  I had the latest, coolest stuff – there were ARPs, there were Prophets, there were Oberheims. I didn't have any Moogs as it turned out except maybe a vocoder, and then I also added a cutting-edge instrument called a Lynn-drum, and that was the first drum machine that had actual digital samples of drums, so instead of a synthesizer boink it would actually have the sounds of a kick drum and a snare and a cymbal.  So I glued all those things together with rudimentary monophonic sequencers (nothing was polyphonic then), but the add-on at that time were the programmable synthesizers – ones that had computers in them and remembered the settings of all the knobs and switches. That was the other challenge with the earlier machines that just had knobs and patch cables –getting back to the exact same sound from yesterday meant that you couldn’t touch the machine, because if you kept going and changed the sound to something else, you could never get back to what you had if you wanted to use it again.  The fact that you now have a machine that can remember its own settings was significant because now all you had to do was to go back to Program 22 or something and it would be the same sound every time, whether was a synth pass or a string or a bass line or something like that. You could then score the whole movie and use the same sound throughout the movie. That was a bit of an upgrade. And then because I was bringing in a lot more complex synthesis over time, thee scores also got more complex. I think the apex of complexity for us was BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA – that was the first time we had all the samplers and all the analog synths, and with the MIDI [Musical Instrument Digital Interface] sequencers we could push one key down and fire up all nine synths across the room and record them all down to one track.

So how does that reflect on today? Well, today you look back at those synth scores, and you go, “well that's a sound, doing it with all electronics.”  And if you wanted to sound like that you either need the original analog machines or you need these software synths that emulate those sounds and will get you about 95% there. And then you just do super simple stuff, whereas a Hans Zimmer or a James Horner doing the big orchestral things with 100 instruments whether it's electronics or overdubs or real live players, they are these big thick, rich orchestral scores.  Each score choice gives the movie a different sound, a different vibe. In horror movies, especially, you don't want a big orchestral soundtrack. John Carpenter, not him alone but him as a focal point, established these very minimalistic, simplistic synthesizer scores going underneath these horror movies. So, at a certain point, you as an audience began to expect that that is going to be the sound that goes with this movie you’re watching. And now a lot of people are going back and revisiting the retro world, and in order to do that you imitate those scores from those times. In fact one time, I think it was on HALLOWEEN H2O, a guy did an orchestral version of HALLOWEEN, trying to take it to the next level, and it didn't work. There was nothing musically wrong with it but marrying that musical sound with those images didn't work; the final decision was to stay with the synths.

Q: Now I also want to ask you about some of your subsequent solo horror scores in the 90s and the 2000s.  What can you tell me about your continued work in a horror and how you approach that genre with today's technology?

Alan Howarth: I had all the analog synths up until about 2008 and used them over MIDI, so I had all the bells and whistles of the old days along with me – but more often people began asking me to approach the new sounds using orchestral samples and so on, so eventually I went to a pure software instrument that just lives within the computer.  I did that for two reasons: first, the convenience of it was superior, because if you start using all these external machines then that particular wiring set up and software hookup and all the channels talking to each other get pretty complicated and you can’t easily change it round.  You leave it set up just the way it is until you're done with the project; whereas in the world of software now, you don’t have those wiring issues, it sounds so good and the orchestral samples are phenomenal.  The little software synths are 95% of the originals, there's no restrictions in polyphony, and all the sound processes are in there. So the musical pallet that's available in today's instruments is fantastic and the fidelity is much wider.  Like any artist I want to use the latest technology.

In my current scores I certainly still use a lot of the lessons I learned from John Carpenter, as far as what goes with what, sonically.  I'm asked to do horror movies and these people are sometimes doing homages back to Carpenter and that's why they come to me, asking “can you give a little more that stuff you used to do with Carpenter?”  And I'm glad to do it. I still enjoy the music and the fact that it still holds up and it’s cool that young people still go back to it and refer to it.  Now young electronic musicians are looking back at what was done back then and they see some value to it and are extracting whatever they want from it and applying it to their own music.  That's pretty cool.

Q: Something that John Carpenter did a lot which we've seen in many horror films since, is what I call the John Carpenter sting… What is your technique on creating that kind of a shock moment like that as opposed to a building sense of dread or horror?

Alan Howarth: Whether John Carpenter just elected to do that intuitively or saw somebody else do it, that was the technique. In a horror movie, rather than an action adventure movie, there's pretty much a lot of sneaking around and things are dark and there's an unseen monster or bad guy, somewhere, so as we wander around we want to keep it quiet.  You don't announce the bad guys or when the moment is going to happen; you lay low and you kind of lull people and then BOOM you do it! That's why it's shocking, whereas, if a composer elects to forebode in advance that this bad thing is about to occur, it takes down the impact of the event. It's the same in the world the sound design: Ben Burt, who did the sound design on the STAR WARS films, somebody asked him “How do you get those fantastically big explosions?”  He said “you just got a make sure it's really quiet just before it happens, so that the track has a chance to jump!”  The same is true for the stinger. It’s a technique of audio: if everything is already at 100%, how you go to 110%? You don't.  It's over. So you have to play your dynamics and let things quiet down. I’ve noticed this even in BRUTAL, the film I just scored, it's pretty much a wall-to-wall score because there's not a lot of dialogue, and every now and then I just had to stop and just let it go silent for a while, because otherwise the music is always there and it loses its impact. One of the basic definitions of what is music is that it is the alternation of sound and silence. You got to remember to keep your silence as one of its components.

Q: What can you tell me about HOUSE AT THE END OF THE DRIVE, which you did for David Worth, who you worked with on Headless Horseman?  What kind of music did he ask for and how did you accomplish that?

Alan Howarth: HOUSE AT THE END OF THE DRIVE was an interesting scenario. David Worth and a fellow named David Oman, the writer/producer, made this movie about four years ago.  My director from HEADLESS HORSEMAN, Anthony C. Ferrante, knew David Worth and he told me I ought to check this movie out. So I went out to look at the movie and the particular score that it had on it wasn’t too effective; I felt I could do better.  So I mentioned that to David Oman, and I said if he wanted to I could do another score, and he said he was open to whatever was going to make his movie better.  He went back to his original investors because there was a re-editing that he wanted to do and some upgrading in the special effects and got the okay.  At this point David Worth wasn't around, so they literally dropped it off of my front door and said do your thing, and so I did.

The exciting thing about HOUSE AT THE END OF THE DRIVE is that it's loosely based on the Sharon Tate murders. The main character who actually in real life is David Oman, the producer, built the house on Cielo Drive, very near the Sharon Tate murder house, and he claims that his house is now haunted. So they created a script around it. In the first two thirds of the movie, we’re in the house that's actually on Cielo Drive getting haunted with ghosts and apparitions and stuff like that, and then on the anniversary of the Tate murders they decide to go up to the house wind up time warping back to 1969.  That's the part that excited me. It was really a lot of fun to do the time warp and then I did a whole rock 'n roll job, sounding like I remembered 1969 was.  Since I was a child of 1969, I knew how to do that. So it was a lot of fun doing guitars and drums and having a rock vibe to the score. And then we zoomed back to present time and I got back to modern score, so it's actually got a dated score and modern score the same movie.

Q: IMDB lists Dylan Berry also with music, was he the guy that did the first score?

Alan Howarth: Yeah he did the first score.

Q: Is any of this stuff still in the movie?

Alan Howarth: I replaced pretty much everything, I think there might be one or two source cues he did for them that remain in the score that works as background music. But for the dramatic score it's all mine.

Q: You also did a couple other notable independent low-budget horror things, EVILUTION, FLU BIRD HORROR, BASEMENT JACK.  What you can tell me about doing those scores?

Alan Howarth: On EVILUTION, one of the producers was Brian O’Toole, who I had known from doing BOO.  He liked what I done there – BOO was another patch up job, taking the score that was in there and integrating and writing new music for various areas where it wasn’t working. So I'd met Brian on that film and he invited me for EVILUTION. It was a great experience because they did exactly what I wanted them to do, which was to just let me do my thing. “We trust you, here's the movie, go away and call us when you want to show us something.” And so he and Eric Peter-Kaiser, who was the main producer and also the lead of the movie, just let me go for it. That was, again, the sort of hybrid orchestral/synth score, all of it came out of the machines, there were no live players except I think I played lead guitar on it myself. I wanted it to be original but there is still an essence or little threads that are a little HALLOWEEN-y because we've got a guy with a knife walking around in the dark. That was a particular tool I learned from working with John Carpenter, and I bring it out every so often – with all new music, of course, but still it’s that same kind of vibe, thin and scary, things jump out, and so on. Musically EVILUTION was very successful for me – I actually got an award for best score from the Terror Music Festival in Philadelphia, and that was really cool to have it be recognized. After that we did BASEMENT JACK; I had done HEADLESS HORSEMEN for the same producer, and then I got invited back to do GHOULS and FLU BIRD HORROR for him.  I was kind of the same thing: they were different directors, each director drops the film off of my doorstep, I did my thing, I give it to him and they were very happy with it.

Q: Your most recent film is BRUTAL…

Alan Howarth: That was for a first-time filmmaker named Michael Patrick Stevens.  He is a big fan of all this stuff and he came to meet me a couple years ago and he said “Hey if I ever do a movie would you be willing to work with me on it?” and I said sure. So he made this movie BRUTAL on a very low budget, and I scored it.  It's a simple movie, simple in that it didn’t cost a lot to make – basically two thirds of the movie is just two guys in a basement. Because of that, I did the score fairly quickly.  If a movie goes to a lot of different places you need a lot of different kinds of music, but because this one was in the same location for most of the movie, it was a matter of coming up with a theme and then working it through textures for the various things that occur. But it was definitely a film that has a lot of shocks in it.  I’ll probably be working with this director on some more projects in the future.

For more information on Alan Howarth,
see his web site at http://www.alanhowarth.com/


New Soundtracks Releases of Note

I quite enjoyed this strenuous cinematic adaptation of the Seth Graham-Smith novel.  Once you give into the anomaly of the film’s fantastic historical conceit, it works very well as a unique historical vampire fiction, and is a superior example of the current pop vogue of monsterizing classic literature and historical figures that Graham-Smith inaugurated with his book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Henry Jackman supplies a complementary score that bolsters the film’s epic action sequences and more intimate moments alike.  The vampires are represented by low chorale intonations and a galloping martial synth riff that energizes their onscreen aggression while evoking their Gothic/mythic wickedness.  Lincoln is personified by a noble theme and an equal amount of relentless propulsion, the music first venerating his character and then embodying the forward motion of his thrusting, slicing axe with a rapid, percussion-driven cadence of marcato strings; it’s rather typical of modern action scores but it remains effective and likable in this context. Jackman’s noble horn theme for the 16th President contrasts very nicely with the President’s musical action figures.  His wife, Mary Todd, is given a serene violin theme that characterizes her screen persona nicely; Jackman also provides eloquent variations of Lincoln’s theme for significant historical moments of the film, including Lincoln’s “Inauguration,” “Emancipation,” “The Gettysburg Address,” and the poignant denouement, “Late For the Theater.”  The score is altogether fitting and proper for the film, treating its subject with respect while letting the musical cannonades fire during the many action sequences.  It’s a well-constructed and engaging score.  An electronica-heavy remix of the film’s main themes called “The Rampant Hunter,” concludes the album.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN/James Horner/Sony Classical
James Horner has done a splendid job with this score, his first true super-hero score since ROCKETEER (or perhaps ZORRO if you include him among the pantheon of costumed heroes).  For this reboot story of Marvel’s witty web slinger, Horner constructs an excellent score built around fine trumpet theme that evokes humanity and heroism, and thus is associated with both sides of Peter Parker.  The score is saturated with Horner’s lyrical sensitivity and melodic grace, even in its more surreptitious moments like “Hunting for Information,” continually reinforcing director Marc Webb’s contrast of grandeur and intimacy in retelling the story of Peter Parker anew.   Peter’s reflective moments are characterized by a cycle of faint piano arpeggios (“The Briefcase,” “The Equation”) that suggest his thought patterns – the cerebral Peter Parker, while elsewhere a soft arrangement of the hero theme for woodwinds and strings (“Peter’s Suspicions”) evoke the young man’s inner struggles – the sensitive Peter Parker.  But all of that is subservient to Horner’s engaging main theme – the heroic Peter Parker.  Horner uses these motifs separately and together to intensity character interaction and underscore the intimacy of the story being lived out beneath the awesome conflicts that erupt across the cityscape.  Peter’s awakening realization of love in “Rooftop Kiss,” for example, derives from the cerebral and sensitive motifs to embody a sincere romantic epiphany; its shadow coursed through the sacrifice of loss in “I Can't See You Anymore.”  Horner’s hero theme soars and ripples with vitality; it also suggests in its melody and cadence the web-swinging forward motion of the arachnid-powered hero.  Tracks like “The Ganali Device” resonate with the kind of emotive assurance that Horner does so well, while the heartbreak and guilt of “Ben’s Death” is conveyed through percussive thrumming, slices of violins, and a resolute lament of choir over Peter’s piano motif.  A jaunty scherzo, “Playing Basketball,” provides a happy recess from the power and responsibility of Parker’s alter-ego.  Horner’s action writing is quite potent, embodying the percussion drive of most modern action scores without ever losing the sense of melody and thematic orientation that plays above the rhythmic beat.  “The Bridge” seethes with driving percussion and a rapidly plucked electric guitar underbelly, with shouting trumpets emphasizing danger and destruction until the heroic theme swings into action, accompanied by a haunting vocal line; again the emotional component is very much a part of the activity.  “Lizard At School” maintains an underlying rushing industrial beat but it’s the winds and strings that do most of the work, a powerful cycle of surging, uprising horn steps augmented by slow string lines, very muscular and aggressive, yet fluidly controlled, into which the main theme emerges and engages.  “Saving New York” and “Oscorp Tower” add a bit of choir to the mix for the film’s culminating battle between Spidey and The Lizard.  “Promises – End Titles” concludes score and film with a rousing recapitulation of the main theme in its proudest form over an applause of triumphant drumming.  A fine score in all respects.

BROTHER’S KEEPER/Bill Brown/MovieScore Media
Bill Brown’s music for the indie drama BROTHER’S KEEPER is a nicely textured and tonally layered score.  Set in the 1950's in the south, one of a pair of identical twins is framed and jailed for murder, setting off a drama that explores justice, revenge, and forgiveness.  Brown’s music is more of an atmospheric score than a thematic one, investing the setting and the psychologies of the characters with ambient and rhythmic motifs that settle over the story like a discomforting autumn haze, coloring the developing story and character interactions with a palpable grimness.  The rural setting is emphasized briefly by guitar and banjo in the opening of “Race Ya,” but otherwise Brown steers clear of environmental material, focusing in musical textures and modes that reflect underlying tensions, agendas, and the loyalty of the two brothers to set things right.   “BROTHER'S KEEPERis just an incredible musical opportunity,” said Brown. “The direction, sets, costumes, cinematography, editing, acting and more have all combined to create something honest and poetic.”  The score is written for orchestra with elements of subtle electronic sound design and solo instruments such as cello, performed by the acclaimed Tina Guo who contributed stylistic elements to the score underlining the film’s setting.  Guo’s fluid bowing rises above the usual baritone register of the instrument to imply higher violin timbres, but with a sound that is offset just enough to add an unusual and therefore slightly discomforting texture, much to the score’s benefit.  “We were able to create a classic ’old west’ vibe in a contemporary musical setting using glissando cello lines which mimicked that raw ‘fiddle’ sound you've heard in westerns so many times, but with a darker, bigger emotion to them,” Brown said.  One of the score’s most striking tracks is “Baptism,” a growing alignment of strings dappled by keyboard that rises to an eloquent crescendo with just a touch of Americana in its rising string evocation.  Brown’s piano writing is sometimes reminiscent of Thomas Newman in its percussive performance, rendering light arpeggios that strike the heart in their ability to intimate emotional persuasions of characters; their high tonalities set in articulate contrast to the darkness of the score’s overall musical wash. 
For more about the film, and to watch its trailer, see: http://brotherskeeperfilm.com/
For more on composer Bill Brown, see: http://billbrownmusic.com/

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES/Hans Zimmer/Water Tower Music
As it begins, Hans Zimmer’s score for Christopher Nolan’s climactic conclusion of his Dark Knight Trilogy rises out of emotionally desolate territory.  Batman has come out of 2008’s THE DARK KNIGHT a torn heroic figure, accepting his place in the shadows of society while trying to keep his honor and integrity intact, a misunderstood hero painted in darker shades of pale.  THE DARK KNIGHT RISES begins with music that reflects the cynicism and anguish with which the character was last seen.   Launched with a muted thundercrack and with track titles like “A Storm is Coming,” “On Thin Ice,” and “Gotham’s Reckoning,” Zimmer starts out with dark and disconsolate atmosphere dimmed by morose chord progressions.  The grim filigrees of strings and voice that sculpt the Batman theme out of the beginning of “On Thin Ice” resonate unhappily and soon morph into a melancholy string reflection that weighs heavily upon the soundscape.  Little melody exists in the musical landscape of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS; it’s a tone poem for brooding gloom as reclusive Batman and Bruce Wayne alike confront inner demons.  As the chant (“Deshi Basara" – Moroccan for “He Rises”) associated with the film’s masked villain Bane is introduced in “Gotham’s Reckoning,” the score’s contrapuntal motif is established. Vocally rendered, its indistinct chanting was vocalized by a confluence of voices crowdsourced from online audio recordings Zimmer had received online from fans in order to create a “worldwide chant” for the score.  The massed voices rise out of sonic darkness, a cheering section from hell.  Batman’s opponent emerges and his music is just as dark, somber, and resolute as that of The Dark Knight.  The bridge between the two ambient motifs is the music for cat burglar Selina Kyle, first heard in “Mind If I Cut In?” – a sinewy and purring figure for solo violin and then piano over strings and the light tapping of a tambourine. As the agent that indirectly brings Batman out of retirement, Selina’s theme recurs briefly but is overcome by the more aggressive patterns of the Batman and Bane motifs, which plow into an aggressive, unrelenting rhythmic tide driven by clusters of strings gliding like flapping batwings.  Even as the motifs gather velocity, the score maintains its omnipresent bleakness.  Zimmer reprises elements of both BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT (mostly in “Despair”) to reflect the climaxing storyline, reaching its apotheosis in “Imagine the Fire,” a propulsive riff for tribal percussion and marching orchestral chords over a fuzzy electric bass bottom, circulating with the Bane chant into a miasma of irresolute rhythmic prolongation.  All of this makes THE DARK KNIGHT RISES a somewhat dispiriting listen on its own, as its pervasive fatalism is so emotionally despairing.   In the end, however, the acceptance of “Necessary Evil” proffers an emotive release through the first high-register melody the score has heard, wafting like a spiritual understanding out of the strident conflict music, as strings, synth, and choir rest in a sustained harmonic acquiescence.  The album’s closing track, “Rise,” allows the dark clouds over Gotham City to part and a boy soprano introduces a stirring array of airy strings and choir that uplift the score and offer the Dark Knight a welcome sense of redemption. 
The multiple formats that Zimmer’s score to THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is being released in by Water Tower Music may frustrate buyers seeking to secure all of the available music in one place.  The 15-track CD version of the soundtrack contains an exclusive link to unlock three bonus tracks (“No Stone Unturned,” “Risen from Darkness,” “Bombers Over Ibiza Junkie XL Remix”) on Water Tower’s web site; while a deluxe version of the soundtrack with two other additional tracks (purchasable individually, the tracks are “The Shadows Betray You” and “The End,” along with the same remix track) is available digitally on iTunes and elsewhere.  These bonus tracks are all further variations and progressions of the CD’s action tracks except “The End,” which carries on the satisfying triumph of “Rise” to its final resolution.  All are well worth acquiring.  A limited edition vinyl configuration with 14 tracks is set for release on September 4. In addition, four suites (totaling 21 tracks) are available for download only onto an IPhone or iPad in the app store; it’s unclear what if any cues, unreleased elsewhere, may be included here.  I remember when it used to be simple to go down to the store and buy the CD and have all the music released in one shiny disc!

FEMME FATALES/Joe Kraemer/MovieScore Media
A richly variegated score for the Cinemax anthology series FEMME FATALES is provided by Joe Kraemer, now available digitally and on CD (ltd. Edition of 1000 copies) from Sweden’s MovieScore Media.  The show focuses on tales of powerful, sexy and dangerous women, styled in the tradition of pulp stories (one reviewer described it as “a sexy version of The Twilight Zone mashing up different genres with a sultry host and cool characters”).  Kraemer’s score is a kind of modern noir, interpreting the sensibility of pulp stories through today’s edgy texture of digital music.  The tonality is dark, brooding, threatening, and yet irrepressibly alluring.  The music is awash with diversified textures and styles to fit the various flavorings of each episode, while retaining a consistent atmospheric tone running between them, and is quite striking in its many guises.  Central to the score is “Lilith's Theme,” representing the show’s mysterious and enigmatic host, Lilith (Tanit Phoenix) – and equally represents the good and the wicked women whose sagas follow in each 30-minute episode; Lilith’s music is a percussive, rhythmic riff that sets a sultry, tempting mood which is introduced over the series’ Main Title and reprised in similar although abbreviated fashion over its End Credits.  There is a haunting lullaby that opens “Bad Medicine” before being accosted by daggers of dissonance and then wafting into a mysterious semblance of layered synth and strings in delicious reverb, the lullaby tune replayed in ominous patterns of serene menace.   “Lilith’s Theme” recurs in a variety of guises in many of the standalone episodes (notably in menacing assertiveness in “Girls Gone Dead,” “16 Minutes of Fame,” “Killer Instinct,” and elsewhere) reinforcing the universality of the powerful yet sensual female icon the show represents.  Subordinate themes are both harsher in aggression or lighter in femininity, as the need arises - a beautifully stated melodic theme emerges in “Something Like Murder” and reoccurs elsewhere, the mysterious flavorings of “The White Flower,” “Help Me Rhonda” rushes forward with a severe propulsion of marcato strings, while lighter melodic strains set a pleasing charm in “Crazy Mary.”  There are some ominous chord progressions in “Trophy Wife” that exude Hitchcock and Herrmann, driving into a reprisal of the onslaught of marcato strings from “Help Me Rhonda;” “Extracurricular Activities” is primed with a progression of advancing chords that grow into a powerful stride.  “Bad Science” also features a splendid and evocative growing crescendo.  A couple of tracks (notably “One Man’s Death” and “Hell Hath No Furies”) suddenly uncover a modern synth drum beat mixed so close in the foreground that it tends to be more distracting than complementary.  Overall, however, an impressive and effective series of scores, nicely assembled by MSM. The album features over 66 minutes of music (one selection from each of the 24 episodes comprising the show’s first two seasons).
For more information, see: http://moviescoremedia.com/femme-fatales-joe-kraemer/

HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN/Javier Navarrete/Varese Sarabande
Philip Kaufman directed this HBO historical drama about the passionate love affair and tumultuous marriage of literary master Ernest Hemingway and the beautiful, trailblazing war correspondent Martha Gellhorn (who inspired “For Whom the Bell Tolls”) through the Spanish Civil War and beyond.  Academy Award nominee Javier Navarrete, working with Kaufman for the first time, provides an exquisite romantic/adventure score for the film.  The score reflects the various environments in which the film takes place (Spain, Finland, China, Normandy, Dachau) with subtle references to ethnic or associative music (i.e., wailing chorus for Dachau, patriotic march for Normandy, etc.), but its overall focus is on the lovers of the title.  The composer’s lyrical melodies are sincere and impassioned; most are conveyed with strings or piano, and the score is uniformly lovely.  The primary love theme is evoked throughout in various guises, reaching its apex in the rapturous “Life Shouldn’t Be This Perfect” while “Not Dead Yet” reprises the main theme in full elegance as the story ends.  “Pages” is a tremendous dramatic cue that begins with a passionate solo violin melody before erupting with a chilling cluster of discordant strings siphoning far overhead, then crashing down to resume the earlier melody but with a far more desperate tonality.  The album features two versions of the song “Ay Carmela,” performed by Voces Del Pueblo and Alarcon respectively, as it is heard in the film, mixed in amongst the score tracks, along with several other songs, that would likely have been better served by putting them at the end so as not to interfere with the flow of Navarrete’s score.

IRON SKY/Laibach/Mute Artists Ltd
IRON SKY is a 2012 sci-fi comedy and broad political farce.  Coming on the heels of The Asylum’s NAZIS AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, this independently financed Finnish-German-Australian co-production describes a 2018 mission to the dark side of moon that discovers, not Transformers, but a fully functional Nazi weapons production plant.  Seems that in 1945 a bunch of forward-thinking Nazi’s escaped from Berlin before the Allied victory and set up shop on the moon, constructing a huge war arsenal in the ensuing 70 years intending on conquering the earth for the Fourth Reich.  The film exploits everything that’s silly about that notion, embodied within an entertainingly formulaic science fiction storyline, while poking plenty of fun at Nazi’s and conservative Americans alike.  It’s wittily written and nicely performed, clearly enjoying its farcical excesses.  Slovenian industrial music group Laibach’s soundtrack music is an effective mix of metal-styled rhythms, sampled orchestral dramatics, and gentle lyricism, not to mention a few enthusiastically patriotic Nazi marches and Wagnerian quotations.  It’s an accomplished that retains a basic orchestral sensibility, but is eager to grab other idioms and bring them to bear on the enjoyably preposterous storyline.  The music retains the hyper-dramatic forward thrust of video-game music, or the orchestral interludes often heard on progressive metal albums, and works splendidly in the film and on the soundtrack CD as quite engaging with its dramatic if simplistic bombast, and it definitely gave the film exactly the kind of musical blitzkrieg it needed.  The tracks contain very brief dialog excerpts, but they don’t get in the way too much of enjoying the music on its own terms.

MAD DOG/Francesco De Masi/Kronos Records
Fabrizio De Angelis’s 1974 modern-day Western (originally called CANE ARRABBIATO, aka THE MANHUNT) had to do with a young man falsely accused and imprisoned for stealing horses who escapes and seeks revenge upon the man who set him up. John Ethan Wayne (The Duke’s son), Ernest Borgnine, Bo Svenson, and Henry Silva starred.   Like De Masi’s other mid 1980s actioners, notably LONE WOLF McQUADE and THUNDER, the score draws from the composer’s melodic Italian Western styles while maintaining a fairly standard orchestration, plus the inclusion of electric guitar.  It’s a likable action music score; a prominent and heroic trumpet theme is associated with the hero, while variations for strings and harmonica are also present.  That theme, along with a breezy country-styled theme for harmonica, are the score’s main elements, and are treated effectively in their various arrangements; the concluding track, “Saddles, Horses, and Prairies” is one of the nicest arrangements of the main theme, suggestive of widescreen vistas and Western American landscapes.   A fairly gentle and homespun action score.  The harmonica is played by the legendary Franco De Gemini (ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST), while the trumpet soloist is Nello Salso, one of De Masi’s students who made his debut on this score; he later played trumpet on the Oscar-winning 1997 film LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.  Beat Records issued the score on LP in 1985; this is its first reissue on CD.

NOTRE DAME DE PARIS/The Music of Maurice Jarre/Tadlow Music
Tadlow’s latest recording is a two-disc collection of both rare and popular film music by Maurice Jarre, including the World Premiere Recording of “Symphonic Dances from Notre Dame De Paris,” the 1965 Roland Petit ballet.  Powerfully performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus, conducted by Nic Raine.  The Symphonic Dances, offering a rarely heard example of the composer’s classical composition, is very modern in style, although shows clear evidence of Jarre’s dramatic musical voice, while the ballet’s love theme, “Le Belle et la Bete, is as lyrical as any of the composer’s serene romantic melodies from films.  A spectacular stage ballet based on Victor Hugo’s novel best known as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the music came after Jarre had completed LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, and may be considered the culmination of the more than 25 major scores he had composed for the concert hall early in his career.  Added to Symphonic Dances is another classical piece, “Giubelio – Cantata for Orchestra & Chorus.”  To extend the presentation to full length, producer James Fitzpatrick has added a CD and a half’s worth of newly recorded pieces from Jarre’s cinema repertoire – some relatively familiar (A PASSAGE TO INDIA, THE BRIDE, THE MESSAGE), some lesser known (POPE JOAN, THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS, CROSSED SWORDS, BEHOLD A PALE HORSE, A WALK IN THE CLOUDS, the French documentary TO DIE IN MADRID, and world premiere recordings of cues or concert suites from 1980’s THE BLACK MARBLE,  1993’s TWO BITS [unused score], 1965’s THE COLLECTOR and 2001’s UPRISING). An “Orient Suite” comprises music from SHOGUN and TAI PAN, along with a rarity, the 1987 Chinese film THE PALANQUIN OF TEARS. These renderings of Jarre’s film work are developed as full symphonic suites and don’t necessarily try to retain the precise nuances of their film arrangements.  What they provide is a powerful and immersive concert presentation which is powerfully performed and thoroughly pleasing.  This is assertive music meant to be played loud and heard live, yet with enough filigrees of poignancy and passion to give it plenty of expressive peaks and valleys.  James Fitzpatrick provides extensive liner notes describing each track and its arrangement here in detail.

POSSESSION/Andrzej Korzynski/Finders Keepers
England’s Finders Keepers Records presents Polish composer Andrzej Korzynski’s previously unreleased electro/orchestral/experimental score for Andrzej Zulawski's surrealist ‘80s horror classic about a couple violently breaking apart only to realize an unearthly connection may be responsible.   The 25 score cues were written exclusively for the 1981 award-winning film starring Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neil, but less than half of them made it on to the actual director’s cut – leaving many of the tracks unheard outside of the composer’s studio.  “The intended POSSESSION score in its entirety marks an important axis in Korzynski’s career where his various musical disciplines overlap,” write the label’s Andy Votel in his introductory notes. “In one respect it marks his first forays into to synth driven electronics and disco drum machines, while other tracks epitomize the well-honed techniques used in previous Zulawski scores, such as THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT and THE DEVIL, which rely on his inimitable orchestral arrangements and combination of clavinet, Rhodes, piano and electric guitar.”  The score is a mesmerizing and sometimes psychedelic synthesis of electronica, rock instrumentation, and Eurohorror (echoes of 1970s Goblin, Krzystof Komeda, and Guiliano Sorgini abound), reflecting the stark and modernistic nature of the film itself.  The score is a heavy, propulsive work, in places relentlessly rhythmic, in others discordantly provocative; its journey into dysfunctional relations and outré persuasion is bookended by “The Night the Screaming Stops (Opening Titles)” and “The Man With The Pink Socks,” a ‘70s styled rock instrumental for guitars and keyboard over a heavy drum beat.  “Possession Orchestral Theme” (reprised pianistically in “Helen Has Green Eyes” and via synth flute in “Mark Formulates a Plan”) regrettably shares part of its melody with one Nina Rota’s THE GODFATHER motifs, but provides a suitably haunting and dramatic overarching lyrical motif for the otherwise atonal score.  A secondary melodic motif, a waltz figure titled “Opetanie,” contrasts against the more aggressive musical textures to suggest the one-time normalcy of the couple.  It’s antithesis, the “Kruezberg” motif, occupies a hellish territory of scraped and struck percussion, sustained tonalities, and reverberated sonic echoes; the nightmare the couple’s relationship has become.   The score descends into complete atonality in “Closely Observed Anna,” made up of scraped steel guitar or piano strings, woodwind whistles, wood block, timpani bursts, chugging textures; in “What is it?” Korzynski cleverly contrasts his “Orchestra Theme” with the atonal textures of “Closely Observed Anna.”  A phrase of the scraped strings emerges out of the rock-beaten “Man with the Pink Socks” to conclude the score on a final note of nightmare.
Although it comprises 27 tracks, it’s a relatively short score, just under 30 minutes, but each track runs together making it in essence one compelling half hour journey into musical rhythm, texture, and sound.  Finders Keepers has made the album available in a variety of formats, each with the same musical content – a CD, a 12" vinyl edition, and a pair of green compact cassettes housed in spiffy miniature clamshell cases (“reminiscent of the film’s original VHS release that briefly adorned UK video shops in the early 1980s, before being banned by over excited censors as one of the unproscecuted ‘video nasties' in the infamous 1983 tape cull”).  Regrettably the cassette version quickly sold out and has thus far been elusive on secondary markets.  In all editions, the album notes provide a thorough overview of the film’s history, repression, and belated recognition, but very little about the composer and virtually no commentary on the music itself.  But, that said, the music does speak for itself well enough.
For more information, see: www.finderskeepersrecords.com/discog_fkr062.html

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD/ Rob Simonsen and Jonathan Sadoff/Lakeshore
For this humorous and intimate human drama set against the last days of Earth as a huge asteroid bears down on a direct collision course with our planet, composers Simonsen and Sadoff have created a light and quirky score that focuses on the human interface between two lonely people who come together in humanity and friendship as civilization falls apart around them.  “The movie is a comedy, but the end of the world is a real thing for our characters, and is very much a part of the cultural zeitgeist for all of us right now,” said Simonsen.  “We never could go so far with sadness or tragedy that we robbed the audience of the permission to laugh.” Sadoff added, “So there are definitely comedic moments, but there is an incredible depth to the film. The score had to ride a fine line between the two in order to provide the musical glue that the film called for.”  Sadoff is a musician in Dhani Harrison’s band Thenewno2 and Simonsen has been scoring films since 2003; the two of them collaborated together to create a musical backdrop embracing film scoring traditions and popular song styles.  “We approached things with a mind of having the production be a bit vintage,” Simonsen described. “We used vintage organ sounds that have a slightly ‘50s, sci-fi esque kind of vibe to them. We wanted to go for a pop style compressed sound for guitars and drums. We used electric bass a bit under the orchestra, which is kind of a ‘70s thing to do. We recorded with a percussionist, Frank Zummo of the Street Drum Corps, and he provided the awesome tapestry of percussion throughout the film.”  Director Lorene Scafaria, who is also a singer/songwriter, suggested pop songs from the ’60s and ’70 to guide the composers in their stylistic approach to the score.  “We had many discussions about music before any notes were even written,” Sadoff said.  “Artists that inspired her when writing the script, like Scott Walker, The Beach Boys and The Hollies, were also influential to the direction we ultimately went with the score. Especially the arrangement and recording techniques used to make those records of that era that have seemingly been lost in many modern recordings.”  A second album featuring songs that had inspired Scafaria has also been released by Lakeshore.

SEEKING JUSTICE/J. Peter Robinson/Perseverance
I’m very pleased to see a new soundtrack from J. Peter Robinson, a fine composer whose more than seven dozen scores have largely gone unreleased.  SEEKING JUSTICE is the first of two soundtrack albums by Robinson (the other is the TV series score from CHARMED, which remains yet forthcoming) that Perseverance has announced.  The film is a 2011 revenge thriller directed by Roger Donaldson (most recent of six films the composer has scored for him) and starring Nicolas Cage.  Robinson has provided a contemporary suspenseful score for orchestra bolstered by electronics that evoke both the action of the story and the moody spirit of Cage’s character (he plays a man who hires a vigilante group to settle the score against the perps who assaulted his wife, only to find the group now expects him to do them a “favor”).  The music is very textural, providing an apprehensive atmosphere and seething with instrumental nuances and furtive phrasings; this approach maintains a claustrophobic tension which is relieved only when Robinson switches into high gear and the action riffs are launched across the soundscape.  A reflective piano motif evokes Cage’s character, and nicely provides a respite at the film’s resolution (although one final phrase of the action motif kicks in at the very end to conclude the score). 
The album, a promotional release on behalf of the composer, is available in limited quantities.  Brief album notes on the film are provided by Gergely Hubai.  The album booklet featured especially provocative art design by James Wingrove, and is one of the label’s most attractive releases to date.
For more information on J. Peter Robinson, see his web site at www.jpeterrobinson.com

TOUCHBACK/THE MIGHTY MACS/William Ross/Varese Sarabande

Ross has given this reflective sports drama a beautifully poignant and heartfelt score that supplies the film with its emotive resonance and passionate vitality.  The 2011 film, third directorial effort from actor Dan Handfield, focuses on a man who looks back 15 years to the injury that ended his career as a promising high-school football player.  It’s the kind of drama that calls for an emotive score with moments of triumph and poignancy, and Ross provides them earnestly here.  The music varies from breezy melodies and gentle rhythms that establish the enthusiastic promise of the man’s high school days to eloquent melodies full of regret, longing, and acceptance.  The album, which offers 29 tracks ranging from less than one minute to more than seven, makes for a compelling listen, capturing an introspective journey of memory with exquisite sensitivity.  This is one of Ross' nicest melodic scores since TUCK EVERLASTING.  Incidentally, another 2011 (made in 2009) sports drama score by Ross, THE MIGHTY MACS, was also just released by Varese – not a club title but a limited edition under the regular label included with the new batch of club releases; the film, from first-time director Tim Chambers, is a true story of an intrepid woman coach who turns around an unfunded all-girl Catholic school’s basketball team and became a legend, contains a similarly expressive score, richly impassioned and melodically delightful.  Ross’ treatment of the school is beautifully stated: imposing and belittling while granted a sense of awe.  The 1000-unit MIGHTY MACS CD is sold out at Varese but available from secondary sources.



Soundtrack & Music News

In response to the shooting massacre that occurred at the midnight screening of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in Aurora, Colorado, the film’s composer, Hans Zimmer, has composed and recorded a musical tribute to those who lost their lives or were affected by the tragedy.  “I recorded this song in London in the days following the tragedy as a heartfelt tribute to the victims and their families,” said Zimmer.  “Aurora” is a moving and noble piece of music – 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Aurora Victim Relief organization.
Incidentally, in my other life as an editor for a public safety communications trade webzine, I commented on the tragedy and its relation to moviegoing and emergency communications and coordination. If you are so inclined, you may read my musings here: http://www.9-1-1magazine.com/Editors-Desk-Dark-Mind-Descends

Italian composer Benedetto Ghiglia passed away at 89 years of age in Rome on July 4th.  He scored some three dozen scores from 1951 to 1997, including such significant Italian Western scores as ADIOS GRINGO and A STRANGER IN TOWN.

  • Via eurofilmscoresociety at yahoogroups.com

Michael Giacchino’s won the award for best music with his score to SUPER 8 at the 38th Annual Saturn Awards, held by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films. 
See: http://www.saturnawards.org/

Tadlow Music’s latest project is an ambitious new recording of Miklós Rózsa’s score for QUO VADIS, featuring the City of Prague Philharmonic, which will be released by Prometheus Records.  Check the Tadlow web site for a video of the recording session.

Tyler Bates’ score for William Friedkin’s comedy crime thriller, 2011’s KILLER JOE, is now available on iTunes.

Isles of Wonder, the music of the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony is available digitally (a CD is due August 7).  Apart from the songs featured in the presentation, the album includes the splendid 7:14 orchestral/choral/vocal underscore, “Caliban’s Dream,” heard during the entrance of the flame bearers during the Danny Boyle-helmed show, marvelously executed, choreographed, and performed – and now you can hear it without the infuriatingly moronic blathering of the commentators and selective edits that marred the show for many TV viewers.   For some background on “Caliban’s Dream” and an interview if its featured vocalist, Alex Trimble, frontman of Two Door Cinema Club, see: http://www.underthegunreview.net/2012/07/27/two-door-cinema-club-vocalist-alex-trimble-performs-during-olympic-opening-ceremony/

MovieScore Media has released Kurt Farquhar’s score for Aimee Lagos festival award-winning action thriller 96 MINUTES, featuring an urban, percussive and contemporary film score.  Dealing with themes such as racism and gang culture, 96 Minutes has been compared to CRASH, and Farquhar juxtaposes beautiful and shimmering melodic textures with gritty, sometimes deliberately distorted melds of electronica and industrial sound design.  “The director Aimee Lagos and I had discussions about the distinctly different worlds that these characters come from,” Farquhar said. “one being a poor inner city environment scared by violence, danger and hopelessness and the other an insulated college campus filled with all the hope in the world. I not only had to balance these two worlds….I also had to create a jarring super dark and edgy world inside the car where the crime was taking place. Another interesting point is the vocal piece that comes in during the final scene and continues over credits. I chose not to use lyrics as I did not want to make a moral choice for the audience at the end. I wanted them to leave the theater still making up their own minds.”
See: http://moviescoremedia.com/96-minutes-kurt-farquhar/

Harry Gregson-Williams’ score for the remake of TOTAL RECALL will be available on July 31st from Madison Gate Records, as a digital release. 

LSO Live, the new label devoted to presenting the London Symphony Orchestra in a series of new performances of the greatest film composers, presents The Greatest Film Scores of Dimitri Tiomkin.  Now available on CD (hybrid CD/SACD) from amazon.co.uk and available in the US on amazon by August 14.  The album contains 15 tracks of mostly familiar and oft-recorded cues, but provides a fine overview of Tiomkin’s music performed by this preeminent film orchestra.
- via mfiles.co.uk

Kevin Croxton has scored TYMPANUM, a sci-fi drama paying homage to the science fiction cinema from the 80s directed by Jason Thomas Scott, about a young suburban family that moves into a new home, only to find something strange and fantastic that eventually threatens their bond as a family.  “TYMPANUM was a delight to work on,” said Croxton, who began scoring films in 2008.  “After spotting the film with Jason, I created my sound base for the score. For certain sequences in the film, I incorporated the use of wine glass harmonics.  During other cues, I slid my finger up and down the strings of a viola, bending the pitches, to create a sense of impending danger.  To bring out a sense of obsession in one of the characters, I used long viola tones, copying the recordings and offsetting the pitch.  By layering these recordings I created some pretty creepy stuff.”  Croxton added that he hopes music aficionados will hear his intentional nods to the music scores of classic science fiction movies.  “During the climax of the film, there is a 20 minute section – a composer’s dream – where there is no dialogue, so the music really had to step up to further the scene,” Croxton said.  “During this section, I used the trumpet, French horn, and trombone for added power and excitement.   I also collaborated with a software developer and used a test iPad application that allowed me to slide from one pitch to another on all of my MIDI devices in a way keyboards cannot. This allowed me to bring more realism and life to the score, especially in the area of choir and strings.  Towards the end of the movie, I took the opportunity to compose some atonal music that added more drama. Many of the instruments in that cue were recordings I made from playing piano strings with percussion mallets.  All in all, I hope listeners find a dramatic score for a talent packed film that I’m very excited to have been a part.”
For more information on Kevin Croxton, see www.croxton-studios.com

Intrada’s latest two releases are a splendid 2-CD reissue of Jerry Goldsmith’s complete score to 1994’s THE SHADOW, and Craig Safan’s rejected score for WOLFEN, previously unreleased.  Arista Records issued THE SHADOW’s soundtrack in 1994 but only allowed 30 minutes of score.  Intrada’s reissue includes the Arista presentation as a supplement to the complete 85-minute presentation of the entire score.  Goldsmith created “one of his most involved, exciting (and longest) scores of his later career,” writes Intrada’s Douglass Fake.  “Powerful French horn main theme imposes but is mere stepping stone to ferocious action music, mysterious ideas, tender love theme. Latter melody is especially pretty on piano, amongst composer's most beautiful - and barely heard from on original 1994 album. Action cues get spotlight, particularly throughout second half of score. Perhaps standing tallest is powerhouse fight music amidst "The Mirrors". Terrific sequence was scored twice with two different approaches to violent confrontation. Neither cue was on original album! “

The BFI has recently restored the 1926 Alfred Hitchcock silent film THE LODGER, about a man who rents a room in a lodging house and is soon suspected of being the Ripper-type killer who’s been terrorizing London.  Composer Nitin Sawhney was commissioned to write a new soundtrack to accompany the restored silent film.  The recently formed Cross Artform Venue Network (CAV Network) premiered the film and its new score, played live by Sawhney and the LSO, in London on July 21st. Heather Stewart, creative director of the BFI said “Alfred Hitchcock is one of the great artists of the 20th century. His contribution to world cinema is immense and it’s important that we make his work as accessible as possible and give people the opportunity to see his early films; they are the foundation of his whole body of work. Now new audiences across the UK will be able to enjoyTHE LODGER for the first time ever in all its restored glory and with a fantastic new score.”  The score is now available on CD and download from Silva Screen.

In September, Silva Screen will release Music From The Batman Trilogy, containing new recordings of music by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard from all three of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films.  The presentations will be performed by London Music Works.  In celebration of the completion of the film trilogy, Silva will release this summer a collectors 12” double 180g audiophile vinyl pressing of theBATMAN BEGINSsoundtrack, limited to 500 copies. See: http://www.silvascreen.com/

Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions has re-released Mark McZenzie’s poignant 2000 score to the film THE LOST CHILD for digital download on iTunes, Amazon, and Cd Baby. Originally an Intrada Records release, the CD sold out quickly years ago and has been sought after by soundtrack lovers and collectors with little success. “It's an old and tender score that I personally like very much and hope others will enjoy, especially now that you don't have to pay collector prices!” McKenzie said.  The film’s director Karen Arthur said “Mark's score is epic yet intimate, surrounding and supporting the vistas as it infuses the characters and the story with deep emotion. Lush, lyrical and intensely human...it is timeless."
For more information on Mark McKenzie, see: www.markmckenzie.org

Due for publication early in 2013, Phil Watkin’s Passionata - A Film Scoring Chronicle is a photographic chronicle about the art of film composition.  More than two years in the making, Watkins through his black and white photography aims to immerse the viewer into the world and art of film composition.  Having travelled to a variety of global film music related events including Budapest, London, Los Angeles, Prague, Ubeda, Cordoba and Tenerife the images aim to make you the viewer feel part of the process; whether that is discussions with producers, researching ideas for a score through to the composition process itself and recording sessions.
See: https://www.facebook.com/PassionataFilmScoring

Kritzerland’s new limited edition soundtrack CD combined two comedy scores on one CD: DEAR BRIGITTE composed by George Duning and MR. HOBBS TAKES A VACATION, composed by Henry ManciniDEAR BRIGITTE is making its debut on CD; MR. HOBBSwas previously released by Intrada but has been sold out and unavailable for many years. “The Intrada presentation put all the tracks in strict film order, but because there were quite a few source music tracks in a row, we felt that interrupted the actual score too much, so we’ve switched it up a bit and moved some of the source music cues to the bonus track section,” said Kritzerland’s Bruce Kimmel, who described both scores as “smilers – music that just makes you smile, makes you happy, music filled with memorable melodies in a delightful variety of guises and settings, by two great film composers”  The album is limited to 1000 copies only. 
For more details see www.kritzerland.com/brigitte_hobbs.htm

Kronos Records presents the soundtrack from Matthan Harris' horror film THE INFLICTION, featuring the music composed and arranged by Marco Werba (winner of several awards for the film score of Dario Argento's thriller GIALLO).  “A very effective, eerie score with the right melodic touch and Marco Werba's distinct sound provides a blood chilling background score,” said Kronos’ Godwin Borg. Additional music from THE INFLICTION is composed by Nicola Royston.  This CD  is limited to 500 copies.
See: http://www.kronosrecords.com/

Intrada Records recently released a long-overdue reissue of a classic 1960s John Barry score — THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM.  To celebrate the release, Stephen Woolston and Geoff Leonard, both John Barry experts, have written a thorough article containing Geoff's research into the facts and figures behind the film and score, the film itself and finally some critical appreciation of the score and a commentary on the album tracks.  Their unofficial “liner notes” have been posted on the Film Score Monthly web site at:

Quartet Records proudly presents a world premiere release of the high-powered, bittersweet score by Georges Delerue for the film adaptation of D. H. Lawrence’s classic novel WOMEN IN LOVE (1969). Directed by Ken Russell, the film starred Glenda Jackson, Oliver Reed, Alan Bates, Jennie Linden and Eleanor Bron.  A prominent aspect of this classy Delerue score is its short length (barely 35 minutes of original music in a film of 125).  Delerue “supports the plot in very specific moments; the music is neither there to fill up time nor provide a decorative background, but to infuse the film with a transcendent sense,” wrote Quartet Records.   No recording of Delerue’s original soundtrack music for WOMEN IN LOVE was ever released; Quartet’s is the first official and complete edition of the score.

Italy’s Digitmovies presents a double-CD digipack edition of Mario Nascimbene’s music for “UOMINI E LUPI” (aka “Men and Wolves”) directed by Giuseppe De Santis in 1956.  “For this double CD set we have used the master tapes in mono of the recording sessions from 1956, well preserved until today, which allowed us to use every note recorded, including alternate versions, choral pieces and pieces with solo male voice so that our double CD has a duration of 88:14,” said Digitmovies' Claudio Fujian. The label has also announced Stelvio Cipriani’s music from the ‘80s Italian comedy “Un plover rice” ( “Rich and Poor;” aka “Money Boom”) directed in 1983 by Pasquale Festal Campanile.  “For this project we have used the original album master tape and also those tracks in stereo of the original recording sessions which allowed us to print on CD the complete soundtrack” Fujian said.  “In 1983 a vinyl album had been issued which contained fifteen selections prepared by the author (duration 38:22), but with all the extra material our CD has a duration of 67:28.  Digitmovies' third release for the month is the complete score to the 1967 Western, “L'UOMO, L'ORGOGLIO, LA VENDETTA” (aka “Pride and Vengeance”) composed by Carlo Rustichelli.  With this score, Rustichelli “has written one of the strongest scores of his long career,” said Fuiano.

Creature Features reports that the first (of four) volumes of my new book, Musique Fantastique 2nd Edition: 100 Years of Film Music for Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror Film Music, will debut at the Fans of Film Music Event in Hollywood on Sept 1st. I’ll attend the event and sign copies. Attendance is limited – details can be found here. Pre-orders for the book will be ready shortly at www.creaturefeatures.com


Games Music News

Sumthing Else Music Works presents Darksiders® II featuring Jesper Kyd's highly anticipated original music score from the upcoming action/adventure video game title.  The soundtrack is scheduled for release on August 14th as a 2-CD album and for digital download.  Kyd, renowned for his iconic musical scores in the Assassin's Creed and Hitman series, has crafted a thrilling original score for Darksiders II, the sequel to the critically acclaimed action/adventure title developed by THQ's in-house studio Vigil Games. Kyd's emotionally dynamic score for Darksiders II combines dark ethereal themes and melodic fantasy that enrich the player's cinematic journey through each of the game's unique realms.  

Sumthing Else has also announced the soundtrack to Resident Evil®: Operation Raccoon City, featuring the original music score from Capcom®'s latest entry in the ground-breaking survival horror video game series. The music was composed by Shusaku Uchiyama whose previous scoring credits include Resident Evil® 2 and Resident Evil®: The Darkside Chronicles.


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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