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Soundtrack Picks: ‘YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES‘ is one of the top soundtracks to own for April, 2014
Also worth picking up BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLIDER, COMMUNION, CREEPSHOW, DRAFT DAY, INFAMOUS: SECOND SON, THE RAID 2, RIO 2 and more!
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover
THE TOP PICKS
What is it?: A tale as old as time, and the movies, gets a fantastical, live action French reboot from Christophe Gans, a director who knows something about fearsome animals after making “Brotherhood of the Wolf.” Beyond its stylized snowscape, a standout spell for this relatively faithful version is its gorgeous score by Pierre Adenot, whose lavishly melodic and utterly enchanting score conjures the light and darkness of fairy tale imagination in any musical language, sans the singing teapots.
Why should you buy it?: Having scored numerous films in his native land (with his contribution to “Paris je t’aime” likely being most familiar to American audiences), “Beauty and the Beast” announces Adenot’s major symphonic talent with an internationally minded roar. At first, there’s a shivery anticipation to approaching the beast’s lair, with foreboding, lurching brash, tense strings and dulcimers that evoke the Baroque setting. As exceptionally played by a lush orchestra, Adenot captures the feeling of innocence stepping into the big bad wolf’s den, only to melodically find that kindness lurks behind the spell-woven fur. And sure enough with the help of pixie dust bell percussion, a spectral chorus and darkness that becomes ever more playful, the musical thaw comes quickly to this “Beast,” whom will turn into a romantically gruff pussycat by the score’s end. Yet there’s a melodic intelligence and outright splendor to Adenot’s strongly thematic work, his densely orchestrated music a gorgeous tapestry on which Gans can hang his stylized imagery. For whether the composer is George Auric or Alan Menken, there’s a romantically enchanted cloth that any “Beauty and the Beast” score is cut from, an exceptional tapestry of bad first impressions growing into thematic full bloom for piano, lush strings and waltzes both humorous and romantic, while here also paying off Gans’ more adventurous demands (including a giant). Like the best fantasy scores, “Beast” beautifully captures the kind of sumptuously melodic, magical emotion that draws child and adult to forbidden realms where one’s darkest fears, and most hopeful desires await, often in same fanged package.
Extra Special: Belting out the romantic “How Can You Love Me” with far more desperation than Angela Lansbury applied to “Beauty and the Beast,” Yoann Freget’s song provides a stirring, pained power ballad sung in both English and French, turning one woman’s ability to see the man beneath the fur into a universal plea for acceptance, a message that bonds well with Adenot’s more musically complex approach to this back-to-magical basics “Beast” its soundtrack well worth buying for any fan of the story, and all-encompassing spell of musical fantasy at its best.
2) CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
What is it?: Where most Marvel movie scores have been sure to couch their metal musical exosuits in warmly approachable orchestral flesh, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is the first comic book score from the studio to truly do a Terminator number on its listeners for a significant chunk of time, going for hammering, stripped-down percussion and nail-on-chalkboard effects, a cold, troubling sound even crazier than the kind of ultra-beat scoring you’d normally get for scores featuring such assassin-turned-heroes as Jason Bourne. However, we’re talking about a hero-turned-assassin in “The Winter Soldier,” which is more than justification for Henry Jackman to come up with a score that’s overall far removed from the symphonically nostalgic glow that Alan Silvestri gave to the Cap’s enjoyably goofy initial adventure. Going for a real-world espionage approach (or as much as one can get in a comic book movie), the first Avenger’s latest adventure is a major cinematic improvement with a score that makes absolute, uncompromisingly suspenseful sense given the circumstances. For those willing to get with this new school action approach, “The Winter Soldier” is a pretty great score that embodies the blue-eyed representative of mom and apple pie getting thrown into a world where the simple morality of good versus evil has gone Hydra’s way.
Why you should buy it?: “The Winter Soldier” marks Henry Jackman’s second issue in the Marvel universe after this terrific, more mainstream superhero score for “X-Men First Class.” But if this “Captain” has two ancestors in the composer’s repertoire, then it’s the steely action of the underappreciated “G.I. Joe Retaliation” and the terrifying adrenalin beat of “Captain Phillips.” Though Jackman brings in a noble, patriotic orchestra at the start with a trip to “The Smithsonian,” along with more typical fusions of orchestral excitement and action-pop percussion (“Project Insight”), he really lets out the WTF whoopass in the pulsating, near melody free car chase of “Fury” before the minimal, screaming, cyborg-ish introduction of “The Winter Soldier,” dehumanizing music as strange and threatening as anything in Hans Zimmer’s “The Dark Knight.” It’s at this point that more typical superhero score fans are going to bolt, or stand up at attention. It’s the sheer mercilessness of this stuff that makes the music actually threatening, with the kind of icy, killer sample-driven beats that give “The Winter Soldier” a razor’s edge in Marvel’s cinematic universe. Jackman’s score veers well between this balance of musical flesh and blood with a merciless, Nine Inch Nails sound, using strings to get across Steve Roger’s betrayal, as well as his inexhaustible hope as he’s thrown against purposefully ugly, industrial suspense. Oftentimes the music barely seems to be doing anything with a few pulses and an electronic voice, which only ratchets up the “realistic” stakes as it were. Yet “The Winter Solider” is as powerful in its construction as its killer Bucky, rhythmically slamming together orchestral, electronic and industrial elements to exhilarating chase effect (“The Causeway”), and even the proud, symphonic reaffirmation that this is a superhero score after all (“Time To Suit Up”). And as with his “X-Men” score that breathlessly came to a military countdown Cuban Missile crisis, Jackman creates a terrifically rhythmic climax for “Winter Soldier,” even bringing in a Bond-like theme for The Falcon to create an exhilarating, all-out flying slugfest between melody and atonality (“Into the Fray,” “Countdown”). That we end with a proud, if darkly patriotic flag-waving theme for “Captain America” that’s possessed of both sampled, and orchestral qualities says much about how well Jackman has helped place Marvel’s most potentially innocent Avenger into a dangerous new percussive-rock world, one he’s here to stay in. Given how gripping Jackman makes it, there’s no reason to fight the musical future of superhero scoring.
Extra Special: Intrada once again gives physical CD muscle to Marvel (let alone Disney) with a generous 75-minute presentation of “Winter Soldier,” capped off with the big band standard “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” of Henry James & His Orchestra (which plays most effectively in shielding a wounded Nick Fury in Steve Roger’s pad) and Marvin Gaye’s funk noir “Trouble Man” title song, embodying The Falcon’s cool taste in listening as the tune that sums up everything Rogers needs to know about undercover cool in our current, conspiracy-crazed times.
3) CREEPSHOW (3,000 edition)
What Is It?: From the time when the denizens of “Night of the Living Dead” shambled through its farmhouse field to the tune of creature feature stock music, George Romero’s horror films have had a pulp throwback feel to them that recalled the graphic, moral comeuppance of such E.C. comics as “Tales From the Crypt” and “Vault of Horror.” So it was only natural that the filmmaker would unleash his own cinematic, blood-colored anthology with 1982s “Creepshow,” authored by no less than Stephen King. It’s a film that for many remains the director’s most unhinged and pleasurable effort, especially with its seamless combination of stock score and the throwback stylings of composer John Harrison, both of which immeasurably abetted the film’s tone of camp dread.
Why You Should Buy It?: Most recognizable to Romero fans for having a screwdriver stuck into his head in “Dawn of the Dead,” John Harrison went behind the scenes for Romero on “Creepshow,” first as an assistant director, and then as the keyboard composer of note. But where synths were the horror scoring rage at the time, it was the ghoulishly fun dexterity of “Creepshow” and its old-fashioned, “player piano” approach that made its music so strikingly unique, especially in their seamless joining with its eerie electronic vibrations. Each of the film’s five chapters would have distinctive themes that made for a gleefully morbid whole, with a wraparound story that set the tone with its memorable melody, haunted chorus and cackling laughter, all driven with Harrison’s energetically played ivories that effortlessly switch between the organic and synthetic. Indeed, there’s a freshness, and energy to his acoustical approach that far more suggests an unhinged silent movie accompanist than someone trying to match the stylism of a 50s-era monster movie, an improv-like quality that really gets to shine on this La La Land disc that finally frees his music from the “suite” presentation that fans have heard in “Creepshow’s” many previous soundtrack editions, allowing each musical segment’s personality to come screaming forth. A comic, Baroque quality of the moldering rich inflects the pastry-crazed corpse of “Father’s Day,” while quivering synths take on a Theremin-like strangeness of green weeds taking over King’s white trash farmer in “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.” Far more serious is the way in which Harrison uses a steadily pounding piano and unnerving, wave-like synths to play the inexorable downing death engineered for the illicit lovers of “Something To Tide You Over.” Harrison uses the piano to dizzyingly effective montage effect in creating a dread-filled, classical sound and piercing creature call as two milquetoast professors are astonished to find a man (and bitch)-eating Yeti within “The Crate,” creating a feel of Hitchcockian suspense in a monster being used as a pawn for murder. But it’s the cockroach infestation of “They’re Creeping Up On You” that brings out Harrison’s queasiest use of electronics, mimicking the disgust of the creatures that flood over a heartlessly rich slumlord, piercing effects that unnervingly build to a sonically skittering, gut-spilling climax that remains film scoring’s most unnerving embodiment of insect horror. It’s emblematic of Harrison’s distinctive voice as a composer (one that would get even crazier when applying a Calypso beat to Romero’s “Day of the Dead”) before moving onto his own directing career with the likes of “Dune” and “Leverage.” This truly unleashed presentation of “Creepshow” remains not only one of the 80s most fun horror soundtracks, but one that truly captured the feeling of comic book ghastliness with its mixture of old-fangled horror and now retro electronic eeriness.
Extra Special: Where Romero’s use of stock music went from “Night’s” budgetary necessity (as in no money for a new score) to being intrusive amidst Goblin’s work for “Dawn of the Dead” (mandated by its Italian co-producer Dario Argento) “Creepshow” allowed the director a pitch-perfect blend between the new and the old, namely scoring that was trying to sound antiquated alongside orchestral music that was purposefully cobwebbed in regards to the kind of melodramatic haminess that screamed 50s-era horror. Beyond the delightfully groovy disco tune “Don’t Let Go,” the inclusion of Ole George Music’s “library” tunes that helped make “Creepshow’s” soundtrack so memorable is another reason to celebrate this release. The harpsichords and poking brass of Ib Glinermann’s “Spy Fingers” and “Danger Tension,” along with the ghostly voice of Philip Green’s “Dramatic Eerie” and ominous strings of “Mystery Hour” are music at their most exclamatorily titled effect, and darn if you can’t shake the clammy feeling that you’ve heard this stuff on the TV on the creature features that defined your childhood, which is a testament to Romero’s good, campy taste in music. Along with the progressive synths of Roger Webb’s “Eternal Light,” Neil Amsterdam’s pokey “Vaudeville” and the pomp and circumstance of Gaudeaemus Igitur’s “Graduation Day” give spice to the chills. All seamlessly add up for an arch sensibility that blended perfectly with Harrison’s work for the glorious, four-colored grand guignol of “Creepshow” – whose excellent booklet is supplemented by Jeff Bond’s chilling liner notes and humorously warm reminiscences by John Harrison and George Romero, ellucidating on their bloody good mutual admiration society.
4) THE RAID 2
What is it?: While its exhausting running time and sadistic body count certainly isn’t expanded on to “The Raid 2’s” benefit, one returning factor that this sequel makes bigger, better and more bad-ass is the in the punishingly exciting score by Joseph Trapanese and two composers given their shot at redemption.
Why You Should Buy It?: Teamed with Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda for the first apartment-by-apartment Armageddon of “The Raid.” Trapanese is now accompanied by Aria Prayogi and Fajar Yuskemai – the Indonesian dudes who actually scored “Redemption” before Trapanese and Shinoda kicked them to the curb. But there’s anything but hard feelings here beyond meting out even more effective punishment. With the movie’s setting opened way mowing down drug lords to the city’s crime gangs, the tone turns from 80s-style synth salutes to something far nastier and modern, scoring akin to the growl before the berserker rage takes the amplification to 11. It’s palpably dark and powerful stuff that seethes with menace, with barely any niceties like human emotion to power it along – which are the charm for fans of these movies’ brutally kinetic appeal. There’s almost a trance-like appeal to the merciless energy that these take-no-prisoners musical cops put into “The Raid 2,” at times expanding on their unplugged anger with rock and techno elements, with the standout, ever-accelerating “Motor Chase” recalling Trapanese’s terrific drone chase from “Oblivion.” Cooler yet is the sense of the mythic at play in accommodating filmmaker Gareth Edwards’ reach for John Woo-like greatness in the film’s bloody betrayals and lethally fated bromance. Though often minimal in its brute rhythmic force, Trapanese, Prayogi and Yuskemai make their sometimes-ethnic beat approach far more interesting than other action composers who might let their rhythm library have at it as they take a coffee break. Sure this trio isn’t insane enough to try to hit every move of the light speed action, but their relentlessly intense tone impresses even more in showing percussion as a blunt force instrument.
Extra Special: After so much exhilarating underscore punishment, perhaps the biggest kick in the head is to end the album with Arti Dewi delivering a 40s-style torch song (complete with sultry sax) with “Hush.” But then considering that “Only God Forgives” ended with the equally wacky song choice of “You’re My Dream,” perhaps there’s something going on with Asian ultra violence operas giving way to of tuneful retro irony.
5) YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES
What is it: The 80s were the glory days when it came to the Amblin pictures that truly imparted company head Steven Spielberg’s handprint of thrillingly humanistic fantasy and chills to any number of movies that stand as classics for a certain generation – among them “Back to the Future,” “Gremlins” and “The Goonies.” Also uniting these movies were their sweeping orchestral scores by the likes of Alan Silvestri, Jerry Goldsmith and Dave Grusin, which also resonated with a topical pop sound. But if there was one Amblin composer who stood as the answer to equaling the thrillingly lush, symphonic quality of John Williams, then it was Bruce Broughton, who’d not only give a touching heart to a Sasquatch for “Harry and the Hendersons,” but also created what arguably stands as Amblin’s best score for 1985s “Young Sherlock Holmes,” a sumptuous orchestral soundtrack that embodied the English, can-do deductive spirit of the world’s most famous detective, but also the pure, cliffhanging magic of Spielberg’s brand name – as brilliantly practiced here by director Barry Levinson for an Amblin underachiever that stands for many as the best movie, and soundtrack produced during that company’s golden age.
Why you should buy it?: Having mainly worked on television on such shows as “Dallas,” “Buck Rogers” and “Gunsmoke,” Broughton made a thundering, seemingly come-from-nowhere big screen impression with “Silverado,” a score that single-handedly brought the symphonic, Americana stampeding sound of the classic Hollywood west back to the multiplex. Thrown into the far more refined era of Victorian England (albeit one hipped up with state-of-the-art effects), Broughton brought Sherlock” a wonderfully adventurous sense of sophistication and mystery. Masterfully deduced through a wealth of strikingly memorable themes (especially its intellectually galloping main melody), Broughton helped take what could have been Hardy Boys wish fulfillment stuff and turned it into a musically mature class act, yet one awash with wonder at the very act of investigation. While he might be a kid as such, Broughton’s score gives Sherlock a buoyant sense of self-assurance, while his tender, budding romance contrasts with chilling villainy and truly frightening dissonance befitting their victims’ bad special effects trips. While perhaps justifiably blasted for having the reveal as too close to Spielberg’s own competing (and far more vicious) “Temple of Doom,” Broughton patterns his Egyptian thuggees chants far more in the fashion of “Carmina Burana” than demonic voices that could actually summon Kali. “Sherlock” culminates in truly magnificent action music that’s easily the equal of anything Williams conjured, giving the swashbuckling, fiery danger a real sense of emotional jeopardy, as these are kids after all. With themes parrying, pulling and giving the film a true tragic gravitas, Broughton’s score is full of sweeping peril, neatly wrapping up his brilliant motivic construction, like a detective has tying all of the improbable, impossible clues together into a rapturous melodic whole. Not only does “Young Sherlock Holmes” stand as arguably that company’s best score, but one of the best modern film scores written at that, capturing all the thrills afforded by a symphony orchestra at its most exuberant.
Extra Special: After several releases as Moriarty-manufactured bootlegs and a highly prized composer promo, the game is finally, officially afoot with Intrada’s dazzling two-CD set, not only offering Broughton’s complete score, but also alternates (splitting off the wax ceremony’s chorus and orchestra), source cues and a glossy booklet offering John Takis’ deductive liner notes and label head Douglas Fake’s interview with Broughton. There’s nothing elementary about this long-awaited release of a “Holmes” that will likely go down as the detective’s best musically traditional case, as created for an audience weaned on Spielberg magic.
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
. DRAFT DAY
As the second “sports” movie after “Moneyball” to deal with the behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing that makes for a league roster, “Draft Day” takes on the far more physical world of football with a decidedly less musically cerebral approach. But that doesn’t mean that John Debney is all rhythmic brawn and no brain as he helps make heated phone conversations, chalkboard stats and Machiavellian negotiations into electrifying listening. Re-teaming with Ivan Reitman after helping the director move up a more youth-oriented yard line with the relationship dramedy “No Strings Attached,” Debney deftly plays between alt, pop rhythm and orchestral emotion in creating a hip score for a movie about a smart, if sometimes underhanded executive player, making “Draft Day” a nice hand-off from his powerful score to the flawed “Jobs.” Debney is constantly on the move here with a rhythmically intensive approach that makes one think the world’s at stake in crafting the NFL roster, music that gives the football-heavy jargon exciting impact, even if it might fly over the head of non-sports fans who are just out to see a Kevin Costner flick. On that count, Debney grounds his score with a string-driven sense of nobility that befits the actor’s Americana appeal, creating a melodic sense of humanity that’s at stake with the crushed, or inflated egos of management and the athletic talent they bait and switch with. Sure this might be a dialogue-driven movie with barely any on-the-field action in it. But darned if Debney’s propulsive, ever-intensifying score doesn’t make you think that you’re listening to the music for the be-all end-all game, right down to the big pitch, sustained anticipation, and winning play of a soaring orchestra –here passed to the tune of millions of dollars. Yet in the end, it’s Americana nobility that this score is really about, its rhythmic moves made on the football green as opposed to the spreadsheet.
. INFAMOUS: SECOND SON
Sucker Punch’s grunge -powered game makes an electrifying leap to next-gen with “Second Son,” the new “Infamous” game that throws its slacker superheroes into Seattle environs to be pursued by nefarious government forces. It’s “X-Men” meets Kurt Cobain if you will, which makes composers the decision of composers Marc Canham (“Far Cry 2”), Nathan Johnson (“Looper”) and Infamous 2’s Brain to go for a Pearl Jam-charged action score right on the beanie-wearing, spray-painting money. Where other video game soundtracks might achieve their adrenalin through pure, and sometimes dull electro-beats, this trio employs thrashing guitars, echoed hollering and sweat-flying drum solos to hear super feats as a combination of exhilaration and rage against the machine – neon, smoke and video bolts as bursts of virtuoso acoustical attitude. Angry guitar solos, percussive heavy metal, reversed samples and more eerily meditative pianos that not only get across grunge punks kicking ass against the powers that be, but also a futuristic science fiction atmosphere that befits a Space Needle city patrolled by lightning bolt jackboots. But best of all, “Second Son’s” surprisingly thematic music feels truly authentic to a hero capable of blue good and red evil, its captivating grooves at once full of dissatisfaction and the exhilarating charge that comes from flying through the air and kicking government ass. Its music full of unplugged production value that sends “Second Son” into the PS4 realm with a bang for Sucker Punch’s super team, who can front for any Nirvana tribute band they’d like after this.
. LAST PASSENGER
Liam Bates dynamically wants us to know that he’s moving up from conductor to solely taking over the driver’s seat for this Brit train-to-hell thriller, which has a few passengers doing their damnedest to stop a madman from taking their once-normal ride to a flaming last stop. And right along with Bates on the pedal are the gleeful ghosts of Michael Kamen and Jerry Goldsmith, with the smashing, brassy action touch and John Williams-esque swirling strings pressed right to the floor (along with that composer’s electric piano way with emotion). While it’s soon apparent that Bates doesn’t quite have their way of putting melodic fuel into this 80s-centric type of action-suspense, that doesn’t stop him from having energy to make the listener take notice that there’s genuine talent here – especially in how he uses high-impact rhythm and gnarly metallic samples to musically embody the train and its maniac at the wheel, often times with the chug-a-chug rhythm of a steel white shark given roid rage. Uneasily balanced between rough shod sampled orchestra and the real impressive deal, “Last Passenger” is an often exciting, all-over-the-place score for a musician to watch, especially when he finds his own voice totally in control of his next action vehicle. I’ll be eagerly awaiting at that stop.
. RIO 2
From having elephants hear whos to training dragons and teaching penguins tap dance, John Powell rules the animated animal kingdom when it comes to scores that fly on wings of energetic exuberance. Now he once again takes flight to Brazil with a return to the world of “Rio,” whose new trip up the Amazon gives him even more opportunities to bring on exotic South American percussion and winds, courtesy of such indigenous guest artists as UAKTI, Milton Nascimento and Carlinhos Brown. They’re peppy, pop-py birds of a feather in giving Powell a wonderfully manic, yet affectionately energetic sound depicting a neurotic parrot distinctively out of his element. Powered with more musical changes than Carl Stalling on uppers while somehow maintaining a symphonic sense of continuity with his infinitely dexterous “Rio” theme, the score’s thoroughly fun sense of whimsy captures the frenetic feel of a hapless blue macaw being thrown right on top of a Carnival float, dodging the joyful drummers and flute players piling on him. Yet for all of his colorfully percussive music’s high fructose energy, “Rio 2” also knows when to calm itself with nice emotional down time that gives the score its heart. As with Powell’s best cartoon work, “Rio 2” positively sings with hybrid panache, showing just well a pop-driven, infinitely stylistic orchestra can do the samba along with chorus, villainous harpsichords, cliffhanging action and every other seemingly impossible maneuver, showing once again with “Rio 2” that musical ADD can be a wonderful bird of paradise.
. ROSWELL / COMMUNION
After respectably re-performing John Carpenter and Ennio Morricone’s “The Thing,” Buysoundtrax now breaks the ice on two lesser-known “true life” alien scores, one involving the human probing done on some accidental visitors to “Roswell,” then playing a writer’s metaphysical close encounter for “Communion.” Yet despite the role-reversals, both scores are tried together by a lyrical approach steeped in mystery, and a sense for peaceful understanding, even if that might not be the government’s aim for the first 1994 Showtime movie, which continued composer Elliot Goldenthal’s streak of memorable genre scores following “Pet Semetary,” “Alien 3” and “Demolition Man.” While taking the viewpoint of an army major seeking to find the truth out there, “Roswell” isn’t quite as strange as you’d expect from a composer who was impressing Hollywood with his Avant garde flourishes, though such trademarks as brassily churning rhythmic progression, mournful melody and eerie string passages are in abundance for a score that could easily work on an “X-Files” episode. Intriguing and mostly low-key in conveying what still stands as the UFO conspiracy nut cause celebre, “Roswell” has a creepy pace to it, even if the string emulations here are a bit too synthy-sounding for what was mostly a budgetarily-necessitated electronic soundtrack – though the very real voice of Nadani Sinha makes a torchy impression with the cleverly extended “I’m Still Here.” A pseudo Eric Clapton is the shining star of “Communion,” Philippe Mora’s provocative adaptation of Whitley Streiber’s “true” experience of being kidnapped by aliens (given a run for weirdness by star Christopher Walken). Helping to make the film both convincing, and intelligent whether one believed its premise or not was a beautiful, meditative score, whose improvised licks by rock guitar God Eric Clapton were given eerie backing by regular Mora composer Allan Zavod (“The Howling III”). Given a psychedelic treatment that left Streiber’s experiences open to interpretation, Clapton’s electric, acoustical licks took on a mesmerizing, acid rock power, especially with nearly every cue centered around its beautiful, drifting theme. Like the best alien encounter scores, of which the brief, relatively unsung “Communion” stands, Clapton helped communicate a sense of wonder of touching the great, cosmic unknown, with a trippy vibe as much about inner space as it is the outer limits. Though Clapton might not be playing here, Dominik Hauser does an exceptional job of emulating his raw, improvisational licks, with Steve Bartek doing a fine job of bringing out a peaceful, Zen groove for the score’s poetic end title. At the least, once can believe in this spot-on close encounter of “Communion’s” score.
. THE RUNNER STUMBLES
Funnily enough, the eleven film collaboration between Stanley Kramer and Ernest Gold will likely be most popularly remembered for their one-shot laugh fest “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” as opposed to the far more serious music that was otherwise conjured by the likes of “The Defiant Ones,” “On the Beach” and “Inherit the Wind.” But even among these sweepingly somber scores, the one film, and soundtrack that’s completely flown under the radar is Kramer’s 1979 swan song “The Runner Stumbles,” which had the audacity to dramatically cast the ever-loveable Dick Van Dyke as a priest accused of murdering the nun he’s forbiddingly fallen in love with. While the movie still remains unavailable beyond its collector coveted VHS release, we can give thanks to Buysoundtrax for releasing Gold’s beautiful score, certainly one of his best in service of the auteur of American cinematic seriousness. As based on a real-life criminal case from 1919, Gold ingeniously bases his theme on “My Rumble Seat Gal,” a jazz age song of the composer’s own devising. But as opposed to some floozy from the big city, the melody it ironically springs from accompanies the arrival of Kathleen Quinlan’s nun to a small mining town. Gold treats the melody for all of its poetically tormented worth, on one hand going with the bliss of a woman of the cloth who sees romance as part of God’s unknowable plan, while countering it with a Father who sees his life being ripped apart. So dexterous is Gold’s orchestration that his memorable theme also takes on a rural quality as well in creating a dark, stifling town of the moral judgment that awaits – an anguish and accusing religiosity weaves its way about the score with a hymnal quality. The “Runner” might falter, but Gold’s music is a major discovery, a work of heartbreaking beauty that stands as one of his finest score, the history of its creation and a terrific sum total of a serious collaboration illuminated nicely by Randall D. Larson’s liner notes that nicely quotes his own interview with Gold.
. VICTOR YOUNG AT PARAMOUNT
Kritzerland continues to mine for golden age soundtracks in the Paramount peak, doing impressive sonic excavations on many gems well past five decades old (practically pre-history in soundtrack terms nowadays), no more so than in their compilations celebrating fairly obscure work by composers during their tenure with the studio. Now Kritzerland follows up their “Franz Waxman at Paramount” album with this triptych featuring Victor Young, the prolific, and manly-sounding composer of over two hundred soundtracks (“The Quiet Man” and “Around the World in 80 Days” among them) whose nevertheless best remembered tune today is the eternal song “When I Fall in Love.” We begin with the sweat inducing score to 1951s “Appointment With Danger,” which had Alan Ladd (the star of the Young-scored “Shane”) as an intrepid postal inspector protecting a woman of the cloth who witnessed a fellow official’s murder. While there’s some pleasant ecclesiastical music at the start, Young’s pounding, and very concerned score even manages to make a Brahms excerpt seem like part of a perilous whole, with nearly every cue screaming of brassy danger from the evil likes of Jack Webb and Harry Morgan. Young finds a far more romantic film noir approach to 1949s “The Accused,” as Loretta Young’s college professor tries to cover up a self-defense killing, all while of course falling for the detective out to catch the culprit. Young’s melody for the heroine is as lovely as it is dire, engendering a moving sense of violin-topped empathy for a no-fault murderess, an emotional approach that gives this score its attractive, tragic appeal. Though the love of 1950s “September Affair” might have potentially dark roots as a star-crossed couple find they’re given new lives to pursue each other after mistakenly being pronounced dead in a plane crash, this is a score that offers Young at his most romantically sweeping – abetted by snippets of Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s “September Song.” Mandolin helps put Italian flavor into the Florence-set proceedings, with a beyond-lush orchestra sinking in the impossibly lofty romance of make-believe new lives that will undoubtedly be uncovered. Young demonstrates all of the musical beauty from an age when Hollywood wasn’t afraid of full-blown melodic passion, of which “September Affair” holds a renewed, gorgeous place thanks to this shining collection of Young’s work.
CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, Movie Score Media, Screen Archives and Varese Sarabande
Announced this week were new composer assignments for: [c.1744]Victor Reyes ([m.40849]The Atticus Institute), [c.12537]Kasper Winding ([m.40842]The Salvation and [m.40843]Posh), [c.3137]Heather McIntosh ([m.40844]Z for Zachariah), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
A total of 31 new soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2014-4-07]Click here for the full schedule.
[m.39435]Draft Day (music by [c.45]John Debney), [m.38489]Oculus (music by [c.1742]The Newton Brothers), and [m.37112]Rio 2 (music by [c.171]John Powell) are opening nationwide today.
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
Disney's recent release, [m.35923]Muppets Most Wanted, was scored by composer [c.564]Christophe Beck. Tim Davies conducted the recording at the Sony Scoring Stage with the Hollywood Studio Symphony. Our friends at [url.http://scoringsessions.com/news/269/]ScoringSessions.com have just made pictures of the event available.
[a.12649]Muppets Most Wanted - Original Score was released by Intrada digitally and on CD in April. A [a.11833]soundtrack album featuring some of Beck's score and songs by composer [c.1617]Bret McKenzie was released by Walt Disney Records in...
GAME MUSIC CONNECT 2014 EARLY-BIRD TICKETS AND FIRST SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED
International video game music conference returns to Southbank Centre, London on September 24
Electronic Arts’ Worldwide Executive of Music Steve Schnur to Keynote UK’s Premier Event Celebrating the Art of Composing Music for Video Games, Speakers include composers Garry Schyman, Jessica Curry, Olivier Derivière
LONDON, United Kingdom – Following the resounding success of the inaugural Game Music Connect conference in 2013, Game Music Connect 2014 proudly returns to The Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre, London on September 24, 2014.
Game Music Connect is for aspiring and professional composers of all backgrounds and those interested in learning about the art and craft of creating today’s cutting edge video game soundtracks. Featuring interviews, practical demonstrations and roundtable discussions with some of the world’s leading composers and audio directors, the first announced speakers for Game Music Connect 2014 include music industry luminary Steve Schnur (Worldwide Executive of Music, Electronic Arts), composers Garry Schyman (BioShock Infinite), Jessica Curry (Dear Esther) and Olivier Derivière (Remember Me). Early-bird tickets are available now at http://www.gamemusicconnect.com.
Game Music Connect is founded by BAFTA and IFMCA award winner and five-time BAFTA Original Music nominated composer James Hannigan (Transformers Universe, RuneScape, Dead Space 3, Command and Conquer series, Harry Potter series) and noted game audio director, composer (Forza Motorsport 5, X-COM, Transport Tycoon), writer (develop, Audio Media), jury chair for BAFTA’s game music and audio awards, and industry commentator John Broomhall, to celebrate and explore the music of video games.
James Hannigan: “It’s a huge thrill to be back for 2014 and a great honour to have such wonderfully talented, diverse and influential guests join us for the day. As promised last year, we will be covering the innovative indie game music scene this time around, as well as continuing our focus on blockbusters and the challenges of interactive music.”
Game Music Connect 2014 will open with a keynote from Steve Schnur, EA’s Worldwide Executive of Music. Schnur’s hands-on approach with composer selection and score production has earned EA more than 50 soundtrack nominations over the last 10 years during which he has produced in excess of 100 EA soundtrack albums. With the formation of Artwerk Music Group, EA also directly signs, develops and launches artists for publishing, master recordings, sync deals and distribution.
Game Music Connect 2014 will feature a highly distinguished and dynamic line-up of international A-list music talent including:
Garry Schyman, BAFTA award winning composer of the BioShock series, Dante’s Inferno and Destroy All Humans! Schyman was recently honored with his second “Outstanding Achievement in Original Composition Award” from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences for his intimate and experimental score to the blockbuster hit, BioShock Infinite.
Jessica Curry, BAFTA nominated composer and co-director of independent game studio, The Chinese Room. Curry’s critically acclaimed, beautifully haunting video game scores include Dear Esther, Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs and the forthcoming Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture.
Olivier Derivière, 2013 breakthrough composer of the year whose innovative scores include Assassin’s Creed IV Freedom Cry, Of Orcs and Men, and Remember Me, recently awarded “Best Original Score For a Video Game or Interactive Media Award” from the International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA).
John Broomhall reprises his role as host throughout the day’s proceedings and two-time BAFTA award-winning composer Jason Graves (Tomb Raider, Dead Space series), Ivor Novello / BAFTA nominated composer Richard Jacques (LittleBigPlanet 2, James Bond 007: Blood Stone, Mass Effect) and Game Music Connect co-founder and composer James Hannigan will return to discuss upcoming projects and participate in new presentations.
Building on the success of last year’s conference format, the day’s programming will comprise of discussions with these celebrated composers and audio directors, including insights into their diverse career paths and scoring experiences, as well as covering topics such as orchestral recording, composer representation, licensed music, indie game music and practical demonstrations of interactive music. Full details of the day’s sessions and other distinguished guest speakers, to include audio directors from leading developers and publishers, will be announced soon.
For more information and to purchase tickets for Game Music Connect 2014, visit www.gamemusicconnect.com.
Game Music Connect 2013 event website and photo gallery: www.gamemusicconnect2013.com/gallery.
For The Month of FEBRUARY 2014
- Record Label
1Black Sails OST Sparks & Shadows Bear McCreary
2Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit OST Varese Sarabande Patrick Doyle
3Legend of Hercules OST Lionsgate Patrick Doyle
4The Monuments Men OST Sony Classical Alexandre Desplat
5Gravity OST strong> WaterTower Music Steven Price
6Saving Mr. Banks OST Walt Disney Records Thomas Newman
7The Book Thief OST Sony Masterworks John Williams
8The Hunger Games: Catching Fire OST Universal Republic James Newton Howard
912 Years a Slave OST Columbia Records Hans Zimmer
1047 Ronin OST Varese Sarabande Illan Eshkari
11Chinese Zodiac OST Plaza Mayor Nathan Wang
12Thor: The Dark World OST WaterTower Music Brian Tyler
13I, Frankenstein OSR Lakeshore Records Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil
14Frozen OST Walt Disney Records Christophe Beck
15The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug WaterTower Music Howard Shore
16Reaching for the Moon OST Lakeshore Records Marcelo Zarvos
17Nebraska OST Milan Records Mark Orton
18Labor Day OST Warner Bros. Records Rolfe Kent
19Person of Interest (Season 2) OST Varese Sarabande Records Ramin Djawadi
20Philomena OST Decca Records Alexandre Desplat CineRadio is produced by CineMedia Promotions. For more information about CineRadio or CineMedia Promotions contact Beth Krakower at cinemediapromo (at) yahoo.com
The chart is composed of music played during the month of February on soundtrack music specialty shows. This month’s reporters include WPRK, WHRV, WRTU, KFJC, WQXR, KSPC, WHFR, KUHF, BBC 3 “Sounds of Cinema”, The Score, East Village Radio, Radioaktywne, Cinematic Sound, Soundtrax.fm, Radionowhere.org, Bohemia After Dark, and A Fistful of Soundtracks.
* denotes new reporters
If it can be said that a mirror captures the soul of its beholder, than “Oculus” is a repository second to none in terms of maliciousness and murder – a glasswork fit for any evil queen, or ghostly demon for that matter. Encompassed by ornately Gothic woodwork, this titular mirror has slowly, psychopathically made mincemeat out of its owners through the centuries, most recently claiming a suburban mother and father to madness – not to mention making life sheer hell for their surviving children Tim and Kaylie Russell. Now, this brother and sister are determined to pay back this malevolent antique, coming up with a plan to finally destroy the mirror and reclaim their sanity. However, their good intentions are about to stem no small amount of bad vibrations from “Oculus’” musty surface.
While bonded by music as opposed to actual blood, the work of The Newton Brothers casts a truly chilling and hypnotic spell over “Oculus.” While resonating with a pulse-motif that signals the film’s sinister glasswork, the Newton’s “Oculus” is far more about a creepily soothing thematic power that gradually sucks in its intended victims in, as opposed to the shattering shards of dissonance that comprise many horror scores of the day. Weaving a tragic sense of childhood lost that’s given birth to screwed-up adulthoods that must be vindicated at any cost, “Oculus’” resonates with creepy string lines, tragic themes, ghostly voices and subsonic musical effects that seemingly cry out from another dimension. Yet there’s a singularly elegant creepiness to this music, and movie, as befitting a chiller whose slow-burn build seems positively ornate. For filmmaker Mike Flanagan has effectively made sure that “Oculus” takes its sweet, gripping time bringing on the orchestral-jumping shocks, deliberately crafted storytelling that’s helped the Newtons make for a horror score that’s as melodically enjoyable as it is scary.
The fact that “Oculus” is positively, subtly old-school in its creepy construction is maybe the most shocking thing about the decidedly unconventional alt. score work of the non-sibling team of Andy Grush and Taylor Stewart, whose unconventional talents have risen them through the indie likes of the zom-com “Wasting Away,” the terror of Pauly Shore (“Adopted”) and surreal crime drama (“Magic Man”) to memorably play the teacher-in-hell movie “Detachment,” all before creating what’s likely the most bizarre southern score of all time with the Gothically rock-warped “Pawn Shop Chronicles.” But it will truly be “Oculus” that gives the Newton’s their biggest exposure yet for what’s sure to be another insanely advertised Blumhouse horror hit – the first of the numerous, stylistically differing projects to come for the the duo, an IMDB list that includes the Elmore Leonard adaptation “Life of Crime,” the Tourette’s-afflicted relationship drama “The Road Within” and the opportunity to become a trio with Danny Elfman for Flanagan’s next nightmarish horror film “Somnia.”
Yet whatever the subject, the Newton Brothers are catching Hollywood’s ear with influences ranging between Elmer Bernstein and Nine Inch Nails, creating a sound caught in an enticing netherworld that uniquely straddles rock, traditional and experimental film music with such instrumental choices as kazoos, wine glasses and club beats – making for a singularly unquantifiable voice that’s surprising with ever-impressive results, especially with a work of captivating, relative saneness that transmits the unnerving, yet very listenable power of “Oculus.”
Was there a point where you simultaneously decided to become musicians?
Andy: For me, I grew up around my Uncle Dennis who played piano for a living. “Star Wars” blew my mind when it came out. In the midst of taking classical piano lessons, he showed me how to play the “Star Wars” Main Titles cue on the piano. I could only sketch out the melody and chords, but that was the beginning for me.
Taylor: When I was a little kid I remember watching “ET” for the first time. There was this overwhelming sensation of adventure and magic on screen. At first I wasn’t sure why I was feeling so emotional about ET dying or escaping in the chase sequence. Later I realized it was the combination of music and visuals that so impactful. That’s when I decided I wanted to be involved in film and music. But I had no idea how.
Taylor, could you talk about apprenticing with Hans Zimmer, and what “tools” the experience gave you to break out on your own?
Taylor: I wasn’t there very long. But the experience taught me a ton. The two most valuable lessons I learned had to do with the business of film scoring and finding that tune or theme. The business side of things is what ultimately allows your career to grow. Just writing music alone isn’t enough. You’re dealing with people, collaborating, sharing ideas. With themes I learned simplicity is key. It can be a very complex piece. But at the heart it’s simple and hopefully memorable. Paying attention to both of these elements at all times is not always easy, but my time at Remote Control taught me to strive for both, no matter what.
What was it like working with the alt. score duo Tomandandy on “The Mothman Prophecies” and “Rules of Attraction,” a movie that yielded the track “Later Guy?”
Andy: That was a great experience for me. Both were very involved and challenging. There were a few of us constantly working to develop themes, tones, sounds and textures. We worked for many months tracking tons of musicians and sounds to create just the right score for each of those films. Not every film calls for a standard approach to scoring. More often than not nowadays, computers and digital tools are new instruments that can be employed quite creatively in tandem with classical elements. These two films were my first taste of that.
A score of yours that first caught my ear was for Tony Kaye’s excellent, unsung high school drama “Detachment.” Could you talk about working with such a controversial director?
Taylor: Thanks! Tony is an incredibly talented individual. He’s always trying to be creative in every sense of the word. We were brought on board through the producers. At first Tony was a bit hesitant with us, but after he started hearing the music, things changed for the better and he warmed up. We had about two weeks on ”Detachment.” It was a hectic schedule. It was one film I stopped sleeping half way through the scoring process to meet the deadline. But Tony was constantly calling us giving his musical ideas, suggestions. It was great.
An especially insane score of yours was for Wayne Kramer’s “The Pawnshop Chronicles.” Could you talk about that collaboration?
Taylor: Wayne’s a sweetheart. He’s quite a connoisseur of film music. We were under an incredible time crunch on that film and we were playing a majority of the instruments ourselves so we were always up against the clock, but the score was so much fun. Wayne really pushed us to write something gritty, dark and fresh. That part I loved. We just manipulated the hell out of traditional southern instruments.
“Oculus” is your first major foray into the horror genre. Did any past scores, or films influence your approach? And what kind of music scares you to begin with?
Taylor: The original version of “The Thing” and “Poltergeist were scores that influenced us. “Jaws” scared the hell out of me growing up. I couldn’t even take a bath.
Andy: Jerry Goldsmith did such an incredible job with “Poltergeist.” That score bled fear, intrigue and haunt, everything to compliment the story of that film. I think music that scares me is music that speaks to something unseen on the screen. The mind is powerful, and music will spark anyone’s brain to visualize something that may or may not even be real. In “Oculus,” there was a steady evil building under the story. It was so much fun to spend time working out those ideas.
Do you have any frightening childhood memories? And if so, did you want to put them into the score?
Andy: I have a recurring nightmare that a wolf is on an adjacent hill chasing me. Sounds dumb, but it scares the crap out of me. I don’t know that I incorporated that into the score, but I definitely thought about that same fear as we worked through many weeks of a long scene in “Oculus” in which young Kaylie is being chased.
“Oculus” grew out the director’s short film. How did he want the music to give it a cinematic feel this time out, and what was your collaboration like?
Taylor: I think he just wanted it to be as fitting as possible. Not only is Mike an incredible director/writer, but he’s also a gifted musician and quite humble about it. We had a great time going over ideas with him. Originally he wanted the score to be more tonal. But I think once we combined the orchestra with the synths and samples it really brought it to that cinematic level and gave it it’s own identity.
Andy: The cinematic feel evolved even more as we got into writing the score. On the surface, the film was terrifying and underneath, there is a lot of great story driving all that’s happening, so we wanted to expand musically as much as we could.
How difficult is it to make a mirror musically scary?
Taylor: It’s not too difficult. I think that is the brilliance of Mike Flanagan. He filmed it in such a way that it’s mysterious and disturbing without music. Once we added the sound palette, orchestra and bass, it became quite foreboding, creating a feeling that this evil was emerging.
How did you create pulsing “mirror motif?” And how did you want to make it both sonically apparent, yet “transparent” at the same time, as if calling out from another, evil dimension?
Andy: We combined to two bass sounds and an Oscar synth and Zebra. We automated this with two types of distortion. Then it was sent through a bit of tremolo and a gate so we could control the beats per minute separately from the session. If you listen you’ll hear the bass at moments speeding up and slowing down independently of everything else.
“Oculus” is also possessed with any number of interesting samples and sound design elements. Could you talk about them?
Taylor: Without completely geeking out, I can tell you that we spent about 3 weeks recording different sounds then processing them through different effects and software. “Meta Synth” was a favorite. Sheet metal, broken glass, cymbal scrapes and ambient white noise were the bulk of it. We also pitch shifted the orchestra up and down, which was usually doubled with synths.
Andy: I will also try not to nerd out too much here as well, but it was really fun getting the orchestra and solo instruments synced up with Ableton Live, then tweaking the metal, glass, scrapes and ambient white noise. Tuning them, turning them into drones, creating rhythms. Add a quad espresso to that process and I can be left alone for weeks.
What glass-like qualities did you want the score to reflect?
Taylor: Andy and I talked about reflection early on. We tried string harmonics and actual glass being bowed and scraped. But detuned, processed cymbal and sheet metal scrapes is what we used a majority of the time to hint at the mirror’s reflection.
Could you talk about keep a balance between melody and dissonance, one that’s pointed more towards melody? And on that note, do you think there are too many horror scores now that are relying on dissonance over the subtlety, and melody that make “Oculus” stand out?
Taylor: I’m big fan of melody driven scores. I grew up on them. I like walking out of a theater humming a tune. I push for that in all our scores wherever possible. But unfortunately it’s not always appropriate and is not what’s requested, or should I say the popular vote. Luckily Mike was open to us sneaking it in. Obviously dissonance has to be present, especially in a horror film. But I think the balance was on the emotion of the characters. That’s typically where we inserted melody. That’s what we used as the gauge for the balance between dissonance and melody… emotion.
Andy: In general, yes. I wish I heard more of it. But it really depends on the film. I’ve heard plenty of horror scores devoid of melody and it was incredibly effective. I just think when everyone does it, it loses its effectiveness. Dissonance is generally uncomfortable.
Was it refreshing to use far more of an orchestral approach on “Oculus?” than your past scores?
Taylor: Definitely. It was refreshing. We have a couple films we’re doing this year that will rely even more on the use of orchestra.
“Oculus” takes an unusually slow-burn approach, fairly “classic” approach to unraveling its horror. How did that play into the development of the score?
Andy: It allowed us to establish the two opposing views of the mirror. So the audience doesn’t really know whom to believe early on. It also gave us time to establish the emotion of the characters. Kaylie is a rather strong character that has something to prove. Tim, on the other hand, just accepts the horrible tragedy and is more delicate. But they have this bond… they care about each other. These are all things we took into consideration.
Another quality that makes “Oculus” stand out is its how the horrific events of past and present blur into each with increasingly surreal effect. How does the score contribute to that?
Taylor: We tried accomplishing that in a couple ways. We wanted certain sounds to be associated with certain elements, like the dead plants. We had a sound specifically for dead plants. We also had synths and the orchestra pitch bend and gliss into the next scene, which helped make the music feel dreamlike at times.
“Oculus” has a feeling of sadness, and tragedy that’s palpable. How did you want the score to get across that empathy for Tim and Kaylie?
Taylor: Personally that’s one of the things I loved the most. I think the lush string sound with shaky pads underneath really helped accomplish that. It gave it a sweetness with a sense of instability. They had this horrible thing happen to them, and you feel for the characters
How did you want to convey the idea of children caught up in Oculus’ evil?
Taylor: We had elements of bells and piano in a few cues to hit the childlike moments when we felt it was appropriate, and of course choir towards the end.
Did you want those voices to represent the idea of a heavenly afterlife, or how the mirror is essentially lying to lure in its victims?
Taylor: It’s more about the incredible loss that the brother encounters. We really wanted to hit that emotion. He was still just a little boy and if you mess with The Mirror, bad things happen. But I like your perception of it. I think everyone will have their own take on what the chorus does.
Andy: At some point in the scoring process the idea of a lullaby came into the mix. The use of the chorus helped achieve that while also giving a very real and human sensibility to the characters.
It’s no easy task to turn a horror theme into a catchy song, but you’ve done so with Paul Oakenfold for “Oculus of Glass.” How hard was it putting an alt.-Goth beat to the melody?
Taylor: Thanks we tried. It was a little tricky. Paul did his remix that plays at the end credits. Then we kind of expanded upon his idea with “Oculus of Glass.” Greta has such amazing voice. She’s singing in Icelandic, most people don’t know what she’s saying which adds a bit of creepiness.
You’ve got another horror movie up right after this called “Proxy.” What can you tell us about its score, and how it differs from “Oculus’” approach?
Taylor: It’s completely different, much more traditional in every sense of the word. I think we only used synths for one character. The rest is primarily string and woodwind driven. I’ve never seen a film quite like it. It’s truly unpredictable.
How do you think “Oculus” fits into the “Blumhouse” brand of horror in terms of its movie, and score, yet stands outside of it?
Taylor: Well, technically it is a horror film. It’s very unique though. It focuses more on story and characters. Rather then just scares. It has layers and makes you think.
Andy: Scorewise, with many horror films you get a lot of noise, synths, drones, and creepy piano. It’s become almost predicable. Although there is a time and place for that stuff. But for “Oculus” we wanted to add as much live instrumentation as possible and combine it with the synthetic to create a hybrid score.
Can you see “Oculus” becoming a franchise? And where do you see any potential sequels going in terms of story, and scores?
Taylor: I definitely could see it becoming a franchise. It’s a solid concept and story. I think there’s room to grow. They could get into the History of Mirror. How it came about. But the score could be expanded upon as well – though it’s hard to say which way without having a script!
“Oculus” is getting the biggest release so far of any movie you’ve scored. People might be surprised to hear a relatively “conventional” score given some of your past work. Is the ability to score a film like that show how you might have an edge over other “alt.” composers who stay within that musical approach?
Taylor: It’s hard to say. I think it’s important in any profession to distinguish yourself from your peers. I think people will be more surprised as time goes by how much our scores vary.
Andy: I think our range stylistically gives us a bit of an edge over others. But then again I think it could be a downfall when trying to be known for a certain style. The collaboration between the two of us really forces us to push our ideas early on. It’s always easy to pull back on those ideas and rein them in, but we literally talk about pushing boundaries every time we start a new film. I’ll never forget a film we did where a woman was being vivisected and the director asked us to score the background of the woman being cut apart and not the act of being cut apart. We mocked up two versions, a “bloody horror” version and a version with a melancholy cello playing a sad melody. We played the solo cello version first and we were terrified that the director was going to kill us for trying this. He loved it and it made it into the final cut of the film.
How do you solve any internal creative conflicts that might come up?
Taylor: We’re both brutally honest with each other. I think we both inspire each other to write better, which always helps. If we both have different viewpoints on a theme or idea, we’ll just present multiple choices to the director. We really don’t have too many conflicts.
Andy: It’s important that we don’t stifle one another. I don’t think either one of us is afraid to throw something at the other to get feedback. You can’t make another person or an audience like or love a piece of music. It works or it doesn’t.
Would you say you’ve had a musical game plan together since the beginning? And if so, where are you hoping it will take you in Hollywood?
Taylor: I would say we’ve had game plan since we’ve been working together.
I’m a strong believer if you do something you love and can make a living off of it, you’ve already made it. I hope we continually get to work with directors we love and projects that were excited to do. That’s the focus.
Finally, what’s your advice on how to break that damn mirror?
Taylor: I’m pretty sure it won’t let you.
Andy: There’ve been a lot of earthquakes here in LA lately. Maybe they should hang the mirror there?
Visit The Newton Brothers’ website HERE
Aleph Records is proud to announce the label's first ever vinyl release, [a.12652]Bullitt--composed by legendary composer [c.193]Lalo Schifrin ([t.17306]Mission: Impossible, [m.]Rush Hour trilogy). The album will be released in conjunction with record store day on [da.2014-04-19]April 19, 2014. The album is a limited edition individually numbered vinyl release (1000 copies) and will feature newly commissioned liner notes by Jon Burlingame.
The 200-gram vinyl of the BULLITT soundtrack will feature both the record and movie version of the score--for the first time on vinyl. This limited edition also features score cues never before released on vinyl. Included in the album will be a digital download card of the album.
Soundtrack Magazine called...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for: [c.1480]Henry Jackman ([m.35579]Big Hero 6), [c.64]George Fenton ([m.40781]Jimmy's Hall), [c.1749]Lucas Vidal ([m.40780]Kidnapping Freddy Heineken), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
A total of 42 new soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2014-3-31]Click here for the full schedule.
[m.33892]Captain America: The Winter Soldier (music by [c.1480]Henry Jackman) is the only film open nationwide today.
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.33892]Captain America: The Winter Soldier (3 songs)
- [m.38006]Dom Hemingway (13 songs)
Director Thor Freudenthal's film, [m.32628]Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters was scored by composer [c.1265]Andrew Lockington. Nicholas Dudd conducted the recording at Fox's Newman Scoring Stage with the Hollywood Studio Symphony. Our friends at [url.http://scoringsessions.com/news/268/]ScoringSessions.com have just made pictures of the event available.
[a.10779]Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, was released by Sony Classical and is available on CD and...
Whether it be battling robots or lustful murderers, film music often supportively speaks for characters, and situations that have no problem making a direct impression on their own. Far harder is scoring people who cry out to let music help communicate their emotions – especially when they are musicians. Such is the subtly anguished, and poetically realized assistance that Dustin O’Halloran provides to the exercise of “Breathe In,” one that allows the players’ melody to flow freely, if not their words, or the physical touch they so desperately yearn for. Told through beautifully poetic chamber melodies for piano, strings and alternative, acoustic atmospheres, O’Halloran gradually brings out the muted passion between Keith (Guy Pearce), an artistically frustrated teacher-cum-violinist and Sophie (Felicity Jones), the beyond-mature high school exchange student from England, a girl whose beauty and intelligence is destined to disrupt his family’s seemingly blissful suburban conformity.
While this kind of impending affair and the damage it wreaks on Keith’s teen daughter and complacent wife have the makings of far more explicit musical, and visual heavy breathing, it’s a credit to O’Halloran and director Drake Doremus that they’ve taken the high, restrained road, one that still doesn’t lack for raw emotion. Reteaming with the filmmaker after elegantly, and more emotively playing the obsessive relationship of “Like Crazy,” (in tone with Jones’ far more free-spirited love object in that film). O’Halloran finds a tender, pained lyricism in his score’s intimacy, seamlessly segueing from classical performances and piano duets in a way that’s just as much scoring as it is desperate, helplessly checked emotion – a feeling that helps make “Breathe In” a descendent of “Brief Encounter,” albeit in classroom, and concert hall circumstances.
Given a love story about gifted, intelligent people who should know better, even if it’s the honest thing to do, Dustin O’Halloran’s softly spoken approach to “Breath In” resonates with smart, transcendent choices that gracefully walk the line between modern classical music and alternative scoring. A classically trained musician gifted with the ability to see melody in color, O’Halloran has a vibrant career outside of film’s orbit in dance, art and rock work with the Devics, while his own Hollywood path has seen him progress from creating sound effects for the likes of “The Master of Disguise” and “The Wild Thornberrys” to composing additional music for “Marie Antoinette” His solo work has often dealt with youthful angst, from high school in “Remember the Daze” to a young man enraptured with a pawn in the Kennedy assassination for “An American Affair” and a girl’s last romance in “Now is Good.” With the inspiration of impossible love as portrayed in “Like Crazy” and “Breathe In,” O’Halloran continues to impress as a smart, subtle voice that now transfixes with the power of film scoring emotion at its most lyrically subtle,
Do you think you were influenced more by classical, or film composers in your musical appreciation? And was being a composer always one of your goals?
Classical was my first experience with music when I was learning to play the piano and its always stayed with me. But my years writing and performing with my band Devics was my first real experience as a working/touring musician I would say, and it had a big effect on me as well. Even though we were a kind of rock band there were always elements of classical and film music in there. So in some ways I was always composing, but I never thought its something I would end up doing. But it found me.
You might be one of the few composers who started in Hollywood as a foley walker. What was that experience like, and did it lead at all to your composing breakthroughs?
Yeah that was a funny time in my life. It didn’t really have any effect on me composing wise, except that I got used to working with picture. I was doing this in the beginning of working with my band …and basically I just needed a good job that I could support my band with!
Could you talk about working as one of the composers on “Marie Antoinette?”
After I released my first solo piano album, I was contact by Brian Reitzell the music supervisor for Sofia Coppola, who asked if I could write a few pieces for her film. I had never really worked in film at that time…and I really loved her work, so it was a pretty natural. I started working on music before they filmed and edited, which was nice, as they could edit to the music. I felt pretty inspired by the whole story and feel and sent them a lot of music. Some made it into the film and the rest became my second album “ Piano Solos Vol.2.”
How did you first come to work with Drake Doremus on “Like Crazy,” and what do you think worked about that experience that made you his first “repeat” composer?
Drake contacted me when he was editing “Like Crazy” and I guess had always had me in mind for the film. The story is a personal one to him and I think my music was something he played a lot. So it was natural for him to reach out to me. I connected with the story also on a personal level as I have had almost the same experience with a long distance relationship. Working on the film was a very cathartic experience. Drake and I have always had a good connection musically and I really love how he uses music in his films. There is rarely underscore, and the music is always featured strongly.
Did you collaboration with Drake differ on “Breathe In?”
This was a much different story that was more dramatic and had more layers, and it’s also a film about music as well. I was involved from an early stage helping decided what music was played by the actors Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones. The score has a lot more layers and intensity to it, I think. But it was great that we had the chance to work together before, which create a musical language between us. I think this helped the process a lot.
With your self-description as a “post-classical” composer, was a movie like “Breathe In” made for you?
Drake has said my music was an inspiration for the story as well, so it really was a perfect fit.
Do you remember any teachers who seemed like they wanted to be somewhere else, perhaps because they felt they were wasting their dreams? And were there any kids who didn’t want to play because they were too talented? If so, how did you want to capture that quality in your score?
The film is about longing, and both the characters feel a sense of longing for something beyond their reach. This was what I tried to bring to the music. It’s a bittersweet emotion for them both as they have good things in their life, but are somehow unfulfilled.
Were you brought onto the film why they were shooting to work with Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones? And on that note, is there anything that catches your attention when you have non-musician actors playing musicians on screen?
I was not there for the filming, but I think both Guy and Felicity did a great job acting their instruments. This can be really tricky, and when done poorly, completely takes you out of the story. With a little editing magic I think they pulled it off pretty well!
As a musician, did you identity more with Keith or Sophie, and why?
I’m not sure I identify with either of them really. I love what I do and feel extremely lucky. I always try to choose my own path, even if it’s the harder one. But I understand longing for things. It’s a universal emotion.
How did you want the scores interplay between piano and cello to capture the relationship between Keith and Sophie?
There is obviously both piano and cello in the score, but this was only to echo the characters. I wanted the score to feel like its own world apart from the music in the film – the inner world of both characters.
Was it always obvious that the score would have a sort of “alt. classical” approach?
Of course it felt natural to have piano and strings, but I used them in a lot of different ways, with droning cellos and electronics as well. There is a lot of subtle soundscapes in there. Gyda Valtisdottiir from MUM played a lot of the cello parts, and also was my writing partner from my project. Adam Wiltzie from “A Winged Victory For The Sullen” played some guitar as well, so maybe its more “ alt” than classical?
With so much of Keith and Sophie’s building romance played with silence and longing looks, how important was it for the score to speak for them?
This was a very important part, and Drake left a lot of space for this in the editing room. And I think “silence” really became the 5th character in the film. It’s always speaking for them.
Would you consider “Breathe In” to be a traditional “music” movie?
Not really. The music is always evolving and there are no themes in the traditional sense. It was kind of like making an album, so the film has a musical sense to it. The dialogue is intersected with moments of just music.
Do you think there’s a “daydreaming” quality to “Breathe In,” especially as these characters wish they were somewhere else?
For sure. They both wish they were at some other point in their lives and they are seeking to find a way to reach it. They see it in each other, and this is the catalyst for the film
“Breathe In” takes an upscale, but “real world” look at the kind of plot that could have been fat exploitative in another filmmaker’s hands. How important was the music to conveying that naturalistic, elegant approach?
It was always important that the music didn’t over dramatize the reality of what was happening, so it’s restrained. Sure real life can feel dramatic, but there are never big drums pounding! I wanted to try to capture the emotions in an honest way, which is what I suppose I always search for.
How did you want the score to develop as the film takes on a darker quality?
The film starts with a very innocent piece and slowly the score develops to a darker tone as the story unfolds, and the outcome of the characters’ decisions effect those around them. The score follow this.
Could you talk about the subtle, sample “rock” element to the score?
I didn’t want the score to sound too classical or traditional and I wanted to mix other elements in to help separate the classical music played in the film from the score. I wanted it to sound contemporary since the film is in present times.
How does your non-score “post-classical” career intersect with your scoring one?
They both intersect in a way since a lot of the musicians whom I work with for soundtracks will also record and tour with me. I try to take projects that interest me and I feel I’m right for, and that somehow continues what I am interested in doing musically for myself as well.
When it seems there are more composers than ever doing “indie-alt.” scores, what’s the trick to being distinctive?
Finding your voice is an endless journey. I try not to be influenced by other film composers, but follow where I want to go. This is why working on my own music is so vital. It gives me time to explore ideas. A lot of times you just don’t have the luxury of time to do this when working on a film.
You have the ability of “synaesthesia.” Could you describe how you “see” music, and how does that come in handy as a film composer?
For me music is all colors, and I always see colors with music. Sometimes the colors in the picture are there the way I see it. But sometimes it’s so different that I need to get used to it. Sometimes it’s better for me to listen to the film when working on the music and not be too informed with the picture until later.
How do you think having studied art contributes as well to your musical work?
I think I have always thought of music in a visual sense, with light, shades and colors. So it’s been a natural progression to work this way in music. Composing is like creating a painting in some many ways, adding parts and taking them away. When I work on my own music I take a lot of time to finish the arrangement so I’ll be able to step back and look at it from a distance, and then continue working.
As a musician who does everything from dance performances to solo records, do you find the “restrictions” of film scoring to be both challenging and liberating?
This is a good question. I just recently scored a dance piece ATOMOS for the choreographer Wayne McGregor and it was an entirely different experience than film. I began working on the music very early on and the choreography was done more or less after the score, which allowed the music to breathe in a much more natural way, not being restricted by time cuts. Film work always has some constraints due to the editing process, and I suppose the best case is editing to the music. But I do enjoy the collaboration with film. When it works, it’s extremely powerful because it’s such a mix of so many art forms. It can bring things out of you that you can’t do without the collaborative process.
There’s a significant amount of additional music on the “Breathe In” soundtrack. How did you want to make the soundtrack work as its own listening experience? And what feelings do you hope it conjures in the listener?
We decided to keep the score release mostly just score, but it also features music from my other musical project ‘ A Winged Victory For The Sullen” a collaboration with Adam Wiltzie of Stars Of The Lid, which works pretty seamlessly with the score since it’s still me. I wanted the score record to feel like an album, something you could put on and listen to the whole thing and stay in the mood of the film.
What kind of musical relaxation techniques do you use?
Breathe! And sometimes a single malt scotch helps too.
“Breathe In” opens in theaters on April 4, with its soundtrack available on Milan Records HERE.
Buy the “Like Crazy” Soundtrack HERE
Visit Dustin O’Halloran’s website HERE
Every once in a while, some clever people come up with a solution to an issue that the DAW developers simply have not addressed. Such is the case with those DAWs that support the Audio Unit (AU) format. Audio Units is a format developed by Apple as part of Core Audio. Apple’s goal was to provide plug-ins with a standard of greater stability than sometimes was prevalent with Steinberg’s VST format, which allowed for more freelancing in a plug-ins implementation. Among the Macintosh apps that support the AU format are Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Garage Band, and Presonus Studio One. After a rocky transition period, the AU was firmly established and most plugin developers provided AU versions of their plug-ins.
The only problem is that when you go to open a list of your FX plugins or software instrument, they are organized by folders listed by the names of the developers with no way to customize the list into a more readable and searchable base.. What is you want to look for only compressors or EQs or synthesizers? Personally, I have 202 FX plug-ins alone. What can I do to make my searching them out more efficient?? The answer is “Deal with it, you are out of luck, buddy.”
Until now! http://auganizer.com
I don’t know who these people are as this is apparently their first software release but they have come to my rescue and those of you AU users like me with a non-destructive solution that will set you back a whopping $34.99 US. Finally I can customize my audio units putting them in folders and then even in sub folders. (Ableton Live does not support sub folders.)
I don’t usually include screen captures in this column but I will have to do so for this column in order to do this product justice.
In Pic 1, here is Auganizer open and displaying my plug-ins. There are too many to see at once so I in the right hand column I have selected Universal Audio to filter out all of the others, as they are my most numerous. Auganizer also allows you to Show All of show only Genertors, Instruments, Effects, and MIDI Controlled Effects
Let us say I want to see all my compressors and limiters in a single folder called Dynamics. Or better yet, since I have so many UAD compressors, maybe a subfolder just called Compressors.
The first thing I need to do in Auganizer is to unlock some of the plug-ins by clicking on the lock icons. In Pic 2, notice that I have unlocked a bunch of them.
Clicking on any one of them now gives me a chance to name either the top folder or subfolder or both. See Pic 3.
For my first attempt I decide to name the subfolder Compressors. The result is what you see in Pic 4.
Now if I open my DAW, which in my case is Logic Pro X, and go to open an Audio FX plug-in, in my UAD plugins list, at the top is a Compressors folder, as you see in Pic 5.
What if I decide that actually a subfolder was the wrong way to go? Maybe I want a top folder for all developers’ compressors. Or maybe I want a Favorites folder.
No problem. I quit Logic Pro and back in Auganizer and under the Presets menu, I can return to the original settings, as you see I am doing in Pic 6.
These guys/gals have made me very happy. It will take me a good hour or so to customize this exactly the way I want, but it is going to make my plug-in selection a lot easier. I cannot wait to see what they come up with next.
Varèse Sarabande Records will release [a.12322]Shameless - Music From The Television Series available digitally and on CD [da.2014-04-15]April 15, 2014. Included on the soundtrack is the opening song from season four, "Written Down" by David E. Sugar, making its first U.S. release.
The music featured on the critically acclaimed SHOWTIME series [t.32732]Shameless tries to capture the individual, non-conformist nature of the Gallagher world. Most often the music isn't playing as a piece that a character puts on the stereo to listen to, rather it plays more as score, as the soundtrack to a Gallagher life. The first four seasons of the show have used over 750 songs. Series Music Supervisor [c.12438]Ann Kline distilled that down to 14 tracks that are most representative of...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for: [c.2349]Andrew Feltenstein and [c.2350]John Nau ([m.40734]King Dork), [c.1748]Fernando Velazquez ([m.39381]Hercules), [c.861]Klaus Badelt ([m.40718]The Monk), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
24 new soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2014-3-24]Click here for the full schedule.
[m.38617]Cesar Chavez (music by [c.1258]Michael Brook), [m.33999]Noah (music by [c.658]Clint Mansell), and [m.39403]Sabotage (music by [c.1582]David Sardy) open nationwide today. [m.37638]Bad Words (music by [c.401]Rolfe Kent) is expanding nationwide from a limited release two weeks...
Madison Gate Records and SpaceLab9 announced today the worldwide release of [m.12383]The Raid 2 - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. The album hit digital retailers on [da.2014-03-25]March 25, with the CD format coming [da.2014-04-29]April 29, 2014, followed by a [a.12563]deluxe vinyl LP edition early summer 2014. [m.36904]The Raid 2 will arrive in U.S. theaters this [dt.2014-03-28]Friday, March 28, and is distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.
Composer [c.2507]Joseph Trapanese ([m.32636]Oblivion) returns along with [c.2506]Aria Prayogi and [c.2508]Fajar Yuskemal to provide a score equal parts electronic and orchestral, deeply layered and breathtaking, all while perfectly complimenting the frenetic on-screen action of [m.36904]The Raid 2. The 24-track...
Varèse Sarabande Records will release the [a.12321]Oculus - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack available digitally on [da.2014-04-08]April 8, and on CD [da.2014-04-15]April 15, 2014. The film, directed by Mike Flanagan, features an original score by [c.1742]The Newton Brothers ([m.31529]Detachment, [m.31577]Setup).
"[m.38489]Oculus will freak you out and take you on an emotional roller coaster. Even our score--lullabies, distorted broken glass, a children's choir," said Newton Brother Taylor.
"An interesting part of the scoring process was paying attention to the moments where there needed to be a void of score. Specific scenes of the movie depend on you being taken by surprise surrounded by moments of chaos," explained Andy. "The trick was to musically land...
‘COSMOS: A SPACE TIME ODYSSEY‘ is one of the top soundtracks to own for March, 2014
Also worth picking up AFTER THE DARK, ATLANTIS: THE LAST DAYS OF KAPTARA, THE BLUE MAX, CASTLEVANIA: LORDS OF SHADOW 2, ELMER BERNSTEIN: THE AVA COLLECTION, JOSEPH ANDREWS, POMPEII, SECRET SHARER and more!
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover
THE TOP PICKS
1) THE BLUE MAX / THE LIST OF ADRIAN MESSENGER
What Is It?: Jerry Goldsmith came roaring out of the gate in the mid-60s to impress Hollywood with his seemingly boundless talent to play any number of genres. And two of his best scores from this furiously creative period couldn’t be more apart, or more in demand from Goldsmith collectors than 1966s “The Blue Max” and 1963s “The List of Adrian Messenger,” one a soaringly romantic exercise in the nobility of battle, and the other a playfully insane game of all-star masquerading murder suspects that at last get the releases they’ve long-deserved on special editions from La La Land and Varese Sarabande Records.
Why You Should Buy It?: Many scores have tried to capture the magnificence of flight, but few have captured the physical, and emotional rush better than “The Blue Max.” While it’s doubtful Hollywood was going to make a movie like this about a Luftwaffe air ace during WW2, the supposed chivalry of WWI gave allied funding to this blazing spectacle about a vainglorious pilot’s pursuit of the illustrious titular medal. Given the dashing son of a bitch embodied by George Peppard in his best role, Goldsmith uses a Teutonic flavor for his lofty themes, music that positively rings with the bells of the Valkyries, while the register is lowered considerably for the pounding trench warfare below, inexorably building in tandem as the tide of battle is turned against the Germans. It’s ominous, marching militarism versus the purity of knightly combat, music so palpably joyous at its heights that wind machines make the listener positively feel the air blowing in their face while spinning cartwheels above the enemy. Yet there’s a brooding sense of the inevitable fate that turns war heroes into the stuff of state-sponsored myth, from a beautiful melancholy love theme to the neo-Wagnerian strings and brass that bring the a flawed hero to the finality of earth. “The Blue Max” still rings as one of Goldsmith’s most symphonically sumptuous and mythic scores, a masterwork that shows the power of a fully unleashed symphony, a quality no doubt responsible for the many issues this score has received from LP to CD, each seeking to be a notch above the other in sonic quality and newly revealed music. But this two-CD edition is truly the be-all end-all “Blue Max,” offering the complete score, its original complete album presentation, plus alternates and jaunty Germanic source music, with its photo-filled booklet that offers both Julie Kirgo’s liner notes and Jeff Bond’s track-by-track analysis, which does a yeoman’s job of detailing where a score astonishingly unused for the most part in the film itself ended up on record.
Extra Special: While Goldsmith certainly had lofty aspirations with “The Blue Max,” “The List of Adrian Messenger” is the composer at his most humorously macabre, in this case taking on the multiple, masked identities of a master villain out to murder his way up to an inheritance. The names on his hit list offer a wealth of droll thrills that plays like the Hitchcock comedy Goldsmith never got to score – though “Messenger’s” director John Houston was no doubt pleased with this soundtrack’s clever twists and turns. If anything, “Messenger’s” origin stems from the composer’s black-humored work on such TV shows as “Twilight Zone” and “Thriller,” especially given episodes awash in twisted psychology and moral reckoning, ideas that Goldsmith took an elegant approach with for the Oscar-nominated psychoanalysis of 1962s “Freud.” But here the gloves are off, as Goldsmith fills “Adrian’s” score with with leering, jazz-meets-Baroque creepiness, conveying the murderous confidence of a trickster villain who’s very sure of his abilities (perhaps the only psychological characteristic this score might share with “The Blue Max”). Delightful horror tropes like the Theremin’s wavering electronic voice mixes with ghoulish harpsichords, malefic fiddling and lurching strings for a goose bump-inducing score that could play equally well as one goes creeping about a haunted house – as led by a catchy, devilish tango theme. But “Adrian Messenger” is far from a one-note collection of gleeful chills, as Goldsmith brings the score, and murders to a dashing fox hunt climax that trumpets with the glory of the English blood scent, as the theme takes full, bounding flight with brass blaring, orchestral rhythms galloping and symphony stabbing a la Herrmann – the kind of rollicking pursuit the composer would engage in far later to truly satanic effect for his “Omen” scores’ “Final Conflict.” With just about every Goldsmith “bottle cap” now released, Varese’s crossing of f of this “List” is perhaps the last great uncorking of the maestro, and this decades-old score comes across as psychotically fun, fine wine for producer and impassioned liner note writer Robert Townson. Indeed, hearing the composer cap off the ghoulishness that’s come before with a star unmasking parade for French accordion, circus music and soft shoe percussion reveals Goldsmith as a murderous merry prankster par excellence.
2) COSMOS: A SPACE TIME ODYSSEY
What is it: Few composers have conjectured about weird science with Alan Silvestri’s sense of cosmic wonder, whether it’s been seeking alien life inhabiting our inner space in “The Abyss,” time travelling “Back to the Future” or talking with an intergalactic craft voiced by Pee-Wee Herman for “Flight of the Navigator.” So it’s only natural that Silvestri now gets to board a spaceship of the imagination first piloted on TV 24 years ago by Carl Sagan, whose film adaptation of “Contact” ranks as one of the composer’s most awe-inspiring scores. It’s that music’s touching quality of intergalactic hope that now infuses “Cosmos’” pretty terrific reboot, which places Sagan’s acolyte Neil deGrasse Tyson aboard a significantly souped-up spaceship OTM, whose new model’s cinematic aspirations are achieved by Silvestri’s music at all of its symphonically sweeping, big screen sci-fact majesty.
Why you should buy it?: For the original “Cosmos,” Sagan innovatively chose such artists as Vangelis, Vivaldi and Goro Yamaguchi, a mix tape that mirrored the recordings for an album that’s still spinning somewhere in the great unknown with Voyager. Truly scoring this “Cosmos” is the right decision, especially given a composer of Alan Silvestri’s caliber. Sure “nature” documentaries have had lavish orchestral scores done for them, though most seem to have come from BBC’s shores. So even more astonishing than having “Cosmos” appear on the inquisition thinking Fox network is hearing Tyson take off with all the power, and grace of “Contact” (let alone carrying aboard the touching innocence of Silvestri’s Oscar-nominated “Forrest Gump”). It’s that measure of the commitment on every creative count here that makes “Cosmos” new again. Given that the rapidly switching factoids of these documentaries are likely even more hard to hit than scoring a movie, it’s truly amazing how well Silvestri captures the narration-driven “Cosmos” in a melodically seamless way that hits all of its salient facts and imagery. It’s music that gives us the feeling of a budding, adolescent scientist as he’s filled with the imagination that will change his life, much like we can imagine a youthful Tysons’ career path being guided as he read, and watched Sagan’s revelatory work. It’s a universe alive with gee-whiz enchantment, as well as danger, as a rapturous, orchestra powers through nebulas and strands of DNA, along with Silvestri’s distinctive use of electronic percussion. As always, there’s nothing better than bell-percussion to signal that stargazing kid within all of us, or the composer’s love of deep brass to become a big bang. With “Cosmos” seemingly walking a fine Fox line so as not to inflame Rupert’s right-wing religious core audience, there’s certainly a gossamer, spiritual quality to the soundtrack as well, whether it’s heard through a heavenly chorus or a poignant violin. But in the end, it’s Silvestri’s noble, thematic ability to make “Cosmos” as enthrallingly dramatic as Jodie Foster’s quest for alien life, let alone Michael J. Fox’s quantum-spanning efforts to retrieve a sports almanac, that make for a touching, emotionally-powered sound that make us forget we’re watching, or listening to a TV show as Silvestri’s transports us to the biggest screen of all.
Extra Special: The musical future might be digital, but here’s hoping some of Silvestri’s finest work will be landing on hard copy. And given how each episode gets treated with the power of a film score, there are plenty of more musical stars yet to be explored for future “Cosmos” soundtrack editions.
3) ELMER BERNSTEIN: THE AVA COLLECTION
What is it?: Though taken for granted by today’s collectors, being able to get the actual, original tracks for a film score has only been a relatively recent development. What most fans received for decades were performances done after the fact by the likes of Henry Mancini, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams, who took the most melodically accessible tracks from a given film, then lushly arranged them for albums that barely topped the half hour mark. Before Elmer Bernstein specifically marketed these types of re-performances specifically for the soundtrack appreciator market with his “Film Music Collection” label (whose Film Score Monthly box set is still available), the composer performed his scores for the Ava label from 1961 to 1965 – mostly under 30 minute releases that are best known for their fairly miserable-sounding reissues through Mainstream Records. But now after at 20-year search, Intrada Records has finally gotten hold of Ava’s original three-channel masters and collected their six Bernstein albums into one reasonably priced release, with the original releases’ spectacular-sounding results.
Why you should buy it?: There’s nothing like Bernstein’s classic jazz 60s swing, whose muscular, sexy brass vibe comprises most of the Ava re-performances – some of which remain the only way to get these titles. The gold standard of the set remains “Walk on the Wild Side,” whose lustful sax and rambunctious strings provide the cathouse strut for the movie’s 1930s New Orleans setting. Bernstein knew how to mix the uncouth, depraved lifestyle that movie jazz has usually represented with emotional heart, here becoming the melancholy, and often lyrical music for the impossible relationship between Laurence Harvey’s poor shmuck and his headfirst fall for Jane Fonda’s lady of the night. Even more swaggering attitude informs “The Carpetbaggers,” which featured George Peppard playing another charismatic SOB, this time in the womanizing, self-hating fashion of Howard Hughes. Bernstein really opens up the jazz-brass section here from the original recording (also available on Intrada), capturing a hell-raising attitude, while using more restrained, child-like percussion and winds to get across a little boy lost in a world of flesh and money, as drowned out by a hard-drinking sax. “The Caretakers” takes a bachelor pad route in its selections for a movie dealing with the mentally ill, and it must be a pretty swinging psychiatric hospital indeed with the rhumba’ing on hand, while its theme has spy-drive urgency. Even the shrieking “Electroshock” can’t help but be jazzy, while other score-centric cues on the original LP’s second side show Bernstein’s dexterity for suspenseful psychosis of piano, strings and violin. Having Steve McQueen as an ex-con band singer in “Baby, the Rain Must Fall” lets Bernstein take his jazz chops in a boisterous, pop-honky-tonk direction that positively Watusi’s for an album that’s most definitely in the pop direction, while listening to such jazzily re-orchestrated, alternately rousing and seductively re-orchestrated “Move and TV Themes” as “Rat Race,” “Ana Lucasta” and “The Sweet Smell of Success” has the smoke-filled intimacy of slinging one back as Bernstein and his big band play their set in a Manhattan bar after the witching hour. The completely odd score out here is perhaps Bernstein’s most tender one, as the loss of innocence that fills “To Kill a Mockingbird” gets a performance that’s equal parts poignancy and dramatic power, creating a “Mockingbird” unleashed if you will.
Extra Special: Not only does Intrada’s Ava collection have terrific sound, but its booklet does an impressive job of not only featuring label head Douglas Fake’s appraisal of this remarkable find, but also presents the original album’s covers and liner notes in graphically enticing fashion.
What is it?: Paul W.S. Anderson is popcorn personified when it comes to such muscular entertainments as “Event Horizon,” “Soldier,” “Resident Evil,” and “Death Race,” getting powerful scores by the likes of Michael Kamen, Joel McNeely and Paul Haslinger that have ranged from heroic strings to terrifying electronica and twisted metal. But while his latest work might have turned to ash at the box office, “Pompeii” stands for me as Anderson’s most ambitious, and purely enjoyable old-school film, a blazing mash up of “Gladiator” and “When Time Ran Out” that sought to achieve an epic dramatic quality amidst its historical disaster film arena. A major, explosive aid to Anderson in achieving his artistic goals for “Pompeii” definitely goes to the most symphonically impressive, and strongly thematic score to grace one of his multiplex-ready efforts, as delivered by composer Clinton Shorter, who ascends a new pinnacle in conjuring thrilling sound and fury – as well as humanity.
Why should you buy it?: A versatile composer who should be getting a much bigger blockbuster workout, Shorter arrived on the scene with the tribal-alien action of “District 9” before going onto impress with the stealth action of “Contraband” and the enjoyably twangy buddy cop takeoff score to “2 Guns.” Yet you might not expect the grandeur of “Pompeii” from these, as Shorter shows that he knows his way around a “Gladiator”-esque musical arena without ripping off sword-swinging Zimmer-isms. For given a revenge-lusting hero with a similarly pillaged past, a sympathetic female voice and bold, brass percussion are the only natural way to go when in “Pompeii.” Shorter attacks the challenge with the benefit of contemporary, rhythmic power and a rousingly traditional orchestra, with militaristic might becoming the imperious evil of Rome. There’s thrilling, musical testosterone to spare in Shorter’s battle music, which hits levels of fever-pitch desperation while trying to outrun Mount Vesuvius, whose pounding, impressively angry roots of its big choral-symphonic blast also go right back to Gustav Holst, but in a way that’s Shorter’s own.
Extra Special: As terrifically exciting as the composer’s bang-a-volcano music might be, what helps set “Pompeii” apart is its feeling of lovers-in-the-face-of death tragedy, not to mention the oncoming fate of city full of thousands-to-be entombed people, both good and bad. It’s a truly affecting sense of the inevitable that’s carried in Shorter’s impressively melodic approach, one that knows the best disaster films resonate because you actually care about the characters, the score reaching a quiet level of intimacy to sock in the emotion amidst the effects. It’s perhaps the biggest reason the spectacle of “Pompeii” stands out in Anderson and Shorter’s repertoire as both keep a firm, identifiable grip on the human scale amidst the exhilarating destruction, all while revealing an impressive new scale to Shorter’s abilities.
5) SECRET SHARER / TSOTSI
What is it: A Polish sea captain finds himself way underwater in desire, and danger when he takes on an adrift woman in the South China Sea for this modernization of Joseph Conrad’s short 1910 story. But perhaps the classiest passenger on board this otherwise rusting ship is English composer Guy Farley (“Modigliani”), who gives beautiful, moody elegance to this unlikely, and potentially lethal romance between burned-out hero and his potentially lethal catch.
Why you should buy it?: A musician definitely worthy of discovery on this end of the pond, Farley has impressed in both thrillers (“The Flock”) and romance (“Cashback”). Now “Secret Sharer” showcases both styles with a beyond-lush approach for strings, harp, flute and piano, and later a fully turbulent orchestra. Starting off with a Polish-song based accordion waltz that captures a countryman adrift in Chinese waters, Farley creates an intriguing, sometimes soaring approach for two lost souls being brought together, mostly bonded by a gorgeous theme, whose dexterous variations nicely bring to ear the work of John Barry. Keeping a low musical profile even as the ship gets boarded, Farley uses such Oriental instruments as the shakuhachi and taiko drums, yet as musical spice to favor a mostly western approach, much like the sea captain who’s drawn to his exotic catch, finally giving way to more overt menace for the cat and mouse game between the couple and their pursuers.
Extra Special: Far more ethnic in nature is Farley’s unused, companion score to “Tsotsi,” an Oscar-winning South African drama producer by “Secret Sharer” director Peter Fudakowski. Blending tribal rhythm with heart-rending strings, it’s hard to understand just why Farley’s score was left in the Serengeti. But this short selection is reason enough to be thankful for allowing listeners to experience this haunting score for a victim of Apartheid who kidnaps a couple’s baby, the criminal’s conscience tormented by the angelic female voice of “Cry Freedom’s” Nicola Emmanuel and anguished strings. It’s a score whose tragedy, and self-realization keep an even emotional keel, much like “Secret Sharer.” Caldera Records show much promise with this debut release, offering a well designed and written booklet by international score specialist Gergely Hubai, as well as an ending audio interview with Farley himself, who insightfully talks about taking an atypical course for “Secret Sharer” when the score threatened to veer off into familiarly menacing Asian musical waters.
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
Outside of John Powell’s “Rio” scores, you’re not likely to hear a more delightful jungle of tropical instruments than the ethnic winds and percussion spread out through these three scores on Music Box’s assemblage of the music of Michel Korb – perhaps France’s most interesting proponent of ethnomusicology outside of Maurice Jarre. But where that composer used African and Asian rhythms to dramatic effect, Korb’s work is comedic in nature, if not outrightly joyous. With “Afrika’Aioli” dealing with two layabouts who become fish out of water on the dark continent, Korb’s whistling, drum beats, antique-sounding piano and squeeze box percussion conveys a thematic, bumbling sense of energy, not to mention a Euro-African mélange of sounds that capture the enchantment of the land, and good-hearted nature of its native character, while creating a broken-down, soft-shuffle beat that seems a perfect dance for an inept clown, or mime. “Afrika’Ailo’s” prequel “Travel d’Arabe” gets rhythms that are more understandably Middle Eastern, once again showing Korb’s affinity for a strong theme that’s alive with cross-culture eccentricity, especially with such unexpected additions as a harmonica, voice and a hip-hop groove. Equally delightful on this soundtrack triple feature are the calliope circus rhythms that inflect “Les 4 saisons d’Espigoule,” which uses wistful tubas along with the musical approximations of animal cries and grasshopper chirps for its pokey enchantment. But then again, if there’s an adjective that French composers seem to specialize with in the land of “Amelie, then its “whimsy,” of which Michel Korb excels at in this ethnically jazzy three-ring circus of musical delight.
. ATLANTIS: THE LAST DAYS OF KAPTARA
If its YouTube trailer is anything to judge by, the animation for this update on the Minotaur fable is more cow than bull. But when listening to its pretty stupendous score by Peter Bateman, you’d think that Dreamworks animation was taking a stab at “300.” For if the CGI toon budget in fact went to Bateman’s score, then it’s money well spent for the unabashed, heroic splendor that resonates like an infinitely bigger production. No doubt the magic of working as an orchestrator on such lavish genre scores as “Priest,” “After Earth” and the upcoming “Maleficent” rubbed off in a big way for Bateman, who takes up musical sword with Christopher Young and James Newton Howard in knowing how to throw orchestral weight around, particularly when it comes to the big, adventurous brass balls that embody the mythic might of manly monster-slayers. “Atlantis” towers with sound and fury, but has the melodic chops to back its ambitions up, complete with chorus, ethnic instruments and rocking percussion that show Bateman knows his way around the maze of new school Greek mythology. If anything, “Atlantis” stands as a beyond-mighty calling card for movies worth this composer’s symphonic mettle, as “Kaptara” more than shows Bateman’s got the orchestral stuff of legend.
. AFTER THE DARK (THE PHILOSOPHERS)
A group of handsomely fresh-scrubbed western students gather in a Jakarta classroom to play mental doomsday games about which few of them will get to squeeze into an imaginary bunker. Heady stuff indeed for a surreal apocalypse film as it were, mind games that are given a creepily meditative, futuristic pulse by co-composers Nicholas O’Toole (“How to Be a Serial Killer”) and Jonathan Davis, here contributing his first score since 2002s “Queen of the Damned” (then done alongside Richard Gibbs). Better known among concertgoers for being front and center with the group Korn, Davis also gets additional music assistance from Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Glen Phillips for this cohesively mesmerizing score. Fitting into a musical genre that might be labeled “alt. sci-fi” (whose members include “Tron Legacy,” “Another Earth” and “Gravity”), “After the Dark” uses propulsive rock guitar, bubbling synths, computer-chatter electronics and ethereal atmospheres in an engaging, stripped-down manner to convey the emotions involved in the kids’ ultimate no-win sessions of survivor theory. O’Toole, Davis and Phillips have done a strong job of thematically constructing this academic holodeck, subtly triggering nightmare imagination with voices, melancholy chords and exotic percussion that evokes the broader Indonesian setting, as well as the mood of Hans Zimmer’s “Inception” as well as the retro-pulse of Tangerine Dream. At turns disturbing, meditative and groovy, this musically philosophizing trio create a rhythmically engaging sound for the end of the world before the class change bell rings.
. CASTLEVANIA: LORDS OF SHADOW 2
If you want proof that video game scores can scale epically dark heights, then Spanish composer Oscar Araujo’s latest sojourn into the nightmarishly heroic world of “Castlevania” is a thrilling, and resounding answer to the affirmative. Having scored an animated version of his country’s legendary knight El Cid, Araujo knows about the kind of religious fortitude necessary to wield a sword against the forces of darkness, a conviction that takes on hell-blazing power when given the armor of Dracula himself. Having musically done battle with the demonic opponents of “Lords of Shadow” and its follow-up “Mirror of Fate,” Araujo unleashes his symphonic reckoning for the lord of the undead’s battle with Satan himself. In fact, you might think that Araujo was playing Aragon himself storming into the gates of Mordor given just how nobly sweeping his score is. Perhaps it’s because as opposed to Dracula’s more horrific vein, the composer is tapping into the knightly, romantic spirit of this eternal character that’s made him equal parts swooning and sinister. Beyond bowling us over with its religious chorus and sweeping strings, it’s the more intimately thematic, romantic quality of a piano, or violin that makes this remarkably performed score (its orchestras seamlessly ranging from England to Spain and Bratislava) so impressive, and appealing for soundtrack fans way outside of “Castlevania’s” button-mashing orbit. But this is a demon-slaying soundtrack first and foremost, and Araujo brings out of the pounding, brass-crashing evil when the devil arrives to do battle, carrying all of the fiery, furious musical weight that Howard Shore bestowed to Smaug himself. Like the best game scores, “Lords of Shadow 2” carries the impact of live action, especially when wielded by the crusading power of Dracula.
. DIE SPIONIN (THE BEAUTIFUL SPY)
Besides his yeoman work conducting new versions of classic soundtracks (“Lawrence of Arabia,” “The Alamo”) and orchestrating (“Alexander,” “Curse of the Were-Rabbit”), Nic Raine is a more-than-accomplished composer in his own right, a talent last heard on Tadlow’s release to “Shores of Hope.” Now the English musician gives another German production a remarkable score with “The Beautiful Spy,” where a looker for sale during the Nazi’s rise gets bounced between the Axis and Allies for her espionage favors. Raine’s music is a suspenseful valentine to John Barry, a composer whose suspenseful stylings he certainly knows his way around after de-coding the orchestration for “Enigma.” As Barry did for that picture’s heroine who’s caught up in life-or-death WW2 dealings on Britain’s home front, Raine deploys silken strings amidst suspenseful piano percussion, its spy gorgeously embodied by two themes that never get tiring, one conveying her femininity, and the other the danger she’s thrown into by both sides, cleverly varying his motifs between a child’s lullaby-like voices and chilling strings. And having recently re-performed Goldsmith’s conspiratorial score for “The Salamander,” Raine brings on riveting, militaristic danger. But most unexpectedly, Raine draws even more on the silken eroticism of Goldsmith’s “Basic Instinct” to convey his character’s more sensual talents. The result as is pulse-pounding as it is romantic, a symphonically thrilling score that shows just how well Raine decoded the maestro’s orchestral secrets into his own, thematically engaging voice.
. DISTANT THUNDER
Old-school Maurice Jarre admirers might have blanched when the composer mostly left behind the orchestra that he’d made his Hollywood name on with the likes of “Dr. Zhivago” to engage in electronic pursuits during the 80s and 90s. Yet his synth explorations yielded some of the composer’s most interesting, and innovative work with the likes of “Dreamscape,” “Julia and Julia” and “The Mosquito Coast,” not to mention Oscar nominations for “Witness” and “Ghost.” Now Intrada goes deep into the Vietnam-haunted Canadian woods to discover a near-unknown, computer-fashioned Jarre score with 1988s “Distant Thunder,” an equally unsung film that brought together the unusual pairing of John Lithgow and Ralph Macchio, playing a psychologically ravaged veteran, who comes into contact with the grown son he deserted back in the day. “Thunder” is once again proof to Jarre’s synth detractors of how he used then state of the art sounds not as a way to fiddle about with technology, but as a way to find new emotional ways of expressing his characters. And given this shell-shocked hero, Jarre’s music both mines a sense of loss, and the growing hope in a bond renewed. Beginning with spectral voices and a descending melody, Jarre creates a sense of isolation and vulnerability, a tone that makes the space-lost comrades of “Enemy Mine” into “Thunder’s” closest relative from this stylistic cannon. Like his film scoring compatriots Jerry Goldsmith and John Barry who were exploring synth scores at the time, Jarre had a distinctive vibe for his electronic orchestra, emulations that truly show their range in conveying the nearly insane recesses of battle-scarred minds, and the warmer, poignant sound of humanity trying to find their way out, with insane percussion getting its work out for the war game that concludes “Distant Thunder,” while a bright wash of percussion signals redemption. Both experimental and accessible, it’s a score that uses technology in an emotionally resonant ways, with a sense of discovery that marks Jarre as a composer who always sought to expand his boundaries through whatever musical means were necessary. The album’s excellent liner notes by Tim Grieving feature new interviews with Jarre synthesists Michael Boddicker and Nyle Steiner, understandably relating how Jarre created his offbeat sound. Now if only someone would put out his “Solarbabies” on that note.
. DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS
Franz Waxman took over from Alfred Newman for this more action-oriented sequel to the smash Cinemascope hit “The Robe,” music that lavished in the widescreen opportunities for sex, slaying and that good old time Hollywood religion. Making an on-screen point that he was taking a very big spiritual cue from Newman’s original work in addition to themes from its holy melodic clothing, Waxman’s score is a colorful blend of sword-and-sandal spectacle and messianic message so particular to this genre, music that’s exciting and moving in equal measure. While not trying to ethnically capture the sounds of a Roman Empire under the mad collapse of Emperor Caligula, Waxman’s uses the full, studio system force of the orchestra to give “Demetrius” a feel that’s both sainted, and stately, movingly conveying its hero’s spiritual transformation (complete with a finale of “Gloria”) to make this score both a tribute to Steiner’s lionization of Newman’s work, as well as one that works terrifically on its biblical epic own. Previously released on Film Score Monthly, Michael Matessino’s sonorous restoration also includes percussion tracks, fanfares and “Gloria,” sans voice, making this a welcome purchase for golden age Hollywood score fans, with Kritzerland head Bruce Kimmel contributing some cattily fun liners about the Hollywood business sense that really ruled its bible stories, as well as revealing the power of Waxman’s first musical opening of the Cinemascope scripture.
. THE FACE OF LOVE
With a real talent for playing intimate orchestral emotion, Marcelo Zarvos is making a name for himself when it comes to psychological dramas from “The Beaver” to “The Words” and even the sweetly pokey scoring for “Enough Said” (now out as a Varese limited edition). It’s a feeling for the mysterious nature of human relationships that gets a Hitchcockian treatment as Annette Benning’s widow suffers a non-lethal case of vertigo after becoming enamored with a dead ringer for her husband. Going for the kind of richly emphatic, strongly theme-driven emotion that other composer’s might fear to tread in, Zarvos captures the desire, and distraughtness of a romantically bereft woman with his orchestra before settling on long, subtly suspenseful passages for strings and harp as she becomes wrapped up with Ed Harris’ unsuspecting double. As the music luxuriously spies about with soft, steady percussion, it’s hard not to flash back to Jimmy Stewart following a now red-haired Kim Novak through the streets of San Francisco in Zarvos’ effective homage to Bernard Herrmann on a nicer day. But as opposed to an operatic kissing sequence between obsessed and obsessee, Zarvos’ always-intriguing, and very listenable score keeps the music on a believably dramatic level, with a poignant, musical humanity that once again impresses.
. GIRL ON A BICYCLE
After using a groovily offbeat acoustical approach for to play the tangled LA relationships of ”Lovely & Amazing” and “Friends With Money,” American composer Craig Richey takes a trip to Paris for a more universally symphonic comedy sound for “Girl On a Bicycle,” as an Italian tour bus driver with a sex-starved German fiancée finds himself falling for a winsome French bicyclist who passes by his route. While he wittily captures its characters’ nationalities with an accordion and mandolin, this enjoyably sweet is mostly about using lushly melodic strings for the kind of perky Francophile enchantment practiced by Alexandre Desplat in “Julie & Julia.” Driven by a theme that promises sweet entanglements to come, Richey’s embodies a bicycle as driven by Venus herself, full of peddling, uptempo rhythm, bell-ringing percussion and effortlessly gliding melody that knows just how to hit its sneaky, jokey bumps in the right fashion, while also playing some hurt hearts. Not only does this “Girl” carry such pleasant passengers as whistling and Swingle Singers vocalese, but also some catchy songs that comment Greek chorus style on the continental entanglements at handlebar hand. Richey is sweetly hands on with this string-driven school of comedy as much as he might be with a folksy guitar back home, peddling about with a bright enthusiasm that makes his “Girl” a real international charmer.
. JOSEPH ANDREWS
Director Tony Richardson ushered in a new era for bawdy costume comedies with his 1963 Best Picture winner “Tom Jones,” which also nabbed its composer John Addison a Best Score Oscar for his “substantially original” music. A rollicking pastiche of 17th century stylings that treated pompous classical music clichés with all the delightful disrespect of Mozart on a drunken night out, “Tom Jones” re-invigorated the costume drama soundtrack with bawdy delight. Having released Addison’s clowning masterwork several years back to a sold-out reception, Kritzerland has now put out the director-composer’s 1977 follow-up with their adaptation of “Tom” author Henry Fielding’s “Joseph Andrews.” Though he might be a distant cousin in popularity to “Jones” (though just given a DVD re-issue on Warner Archive), there’s much fun to be had in the attempted debauchery of Fielding’s more piously devoted character. If anything, the composer takes his classical burlesque to even more cartoonish extremes. Dexterously wielding his theme to comic and romantic effect, Addison uses wily tubas, genteel cimbaloms, graceful harps and woozy French horns and a romping orchestra as one misfortune after the next befalls good Joseph. The effect is like hearing a score with one foot in the Baroque era and the other in a Klezmer-inflected slapstick bedroom farce that just happens to be taking in the 1920s, a delightfully inventive, jazzy approach that makes “Joseph” a constant gonzo delight. Yet amidst the zaniness, Addison is able to turn his thematic silliness into one of true, gentle beauty that’s full of the English countryside’s bucolic splendor. It’s a score certainly worthy of discovery as Addison unfurls more madcap elegance from “Tom Jones” as opposed to riding that score’s coattails.
. LE WEEK-END
It seems to have been a while since we’ve had a really wonderful “pure jazz” soundtrack since Mark Isham’s bluesy work on such Alan Rudolph relationship films as “Afterglow” and “The Moderns.” “Le Week-End” nicely brings back those fond memories for a wonderfully brief spell that takes listeners back to the latter score’s City of Lights, as a burned-out British couple tries to rekindle their spark on a second honeymoon. Yet given that these aren’t young lovers swinging about artist circles during the 1930s, composer Jeremy Sams takes an entrancingly cool jazz combo approach a la Chet Baker, with a whimsically thematic sense of intimacy, a vibe for sad sax, upbeat piano strolling percussion, light strings (and of course an accordion) that has an exasperated drollness to it, getting across the feel of a couple at their last, glamorous crossroads trying to get their love life back. Having done striking, serious orchestral work for director Roger Michell on “Persuasion,” “The Mother” and “Enduring Love” before easing up just a bit for “Hyde Park On Hudson,” “Le Week-End,” stands as Sams’ most entertaining musical collaboration for the filmmaker (a collaboration the composer wonderfully talks about in his liner notes), one that also works just as a well as a gracefully low-key jazz album that will bring a romantic slice of la Paris to any couple’s stereo system.
. MUPPETS MOST WANTED
The best kid’s stuff has always has a wisenheimer appeal to adults, bringing on cuteness that the tykes can enjoy, while working on a completely different satirical level that their parents get a chuckle out of. Such is the lovable balance of sweetness and sarcasm that’s made the Muppets endure through innumerable sequels, a hip factor that goes off the scale when you’ve got Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie re-invigorating a bunch of puppets. “Muppets Most Wanted” is a singular, happy celebration of self-effacing sarcasm, with songs that are perhaps even more toe-tappingly hilarious and catchy than McKenzie’s first turn on “The Muppet Movie.” After brilliantly taking down franchise-itis with “We’re Doing A Sequel,” the golden throat goes to an evil double of Kermit for a jewel heist plot that recalls “The Great Muppet Caper,” There’s a bouncy, jazzy flair in the repartee between Ricky Gervaise and dark Kermit in “I’m Number One,” while a Russian prison gives a doo-wop welcome to “The Big House.” “I’ll Get You What You Want” dips its webbed feet into adult contemporary with a nearly impossible list of love offerings, while catchy speak-singing brings a hilarious third degree for “Interrogation Song.” Of course celebrity cameos will abound, from a duet between Celine Dion and Miss Piggy in “Something So Right” to Josh Groban operatically performing amidst Muppet chorus and trademarked Kermit banjo on “Together Again.” And even if you’ve thought “Macarena’s” been done to death, leave it to Miss Piggy and the Bayside Boys to put new groove into it. “Frozen” composer Christophe Beck gets into the act with a brief, cheerful medley that bounces between manic French energy and a Russian-style choral danger, all kept within this cheeky realm. “Muppets Most Wanted” retains a high-spirited, wonderfully sarcastic energy that’s the furthest thing from a felt been-there done-that.
. WAVELENGTH: LIMITED EDITION
The same year that E.T. crash-landed on earth to gigantic global success, three boyish aliens were marooned in L.A. to a near-invisible ripple of recognition (unless you count how “Starman” copied their silver sphere mothership). Perhaps the most notable memento of this unassuming little sci-fi movie (which was actually made in 1981) would be its neo-futuristic score by Tangerine Dream, the German progressive group then truly taking off in Hollywood with their far more notorious 1982 soundtrack to “Risky Business.” Yet that film’s alternatively meditative and rhythmic sound is also very much an identifying factor to “Wavelength,” its alien vibrations given even more of an synth-acoustical drive, especially since the rescuers of these extra -terrestrials rescuers were a guitar-picking Robert Carradine and ex-Runaways singer Cherie Curie. While “Wavelength’s” more propulsive cues would definitely fit into Dream’s safe breaks for 1981s “Thief,” what distinguishes this score is how Dream’s unique sound speaks for the good vibrations of these visitors, their melodies creating a Zen-like, eerily beatific atmosphere that makes “Wavelength” as close a TD non-score album, perhaps since several pieces here are in fact mutated from pre-existing album tracks and concert performances Dream’s style also had an affinity for capturing the spirit of the American outback, whether it’s played border agents caught in the JFK assassination of “Flashpoint” to the roving southwestern vamp pack of “Near Dark,” a feeling for burnt, deserted landscapes and Native American mysticism that “Wavelength” resonates with in its simulated coyote howls and ethereal textures. It’s percolating computer music as correspondence to a higher power, with our evil, alien-snatching government getting the colder, sharper sounds with music that makes for an intriguing, offbeat exercise in suspense and spirituality. One of the earlier soundtracks to appear on the new CD format for Varese, and long out of print since then, La La Land gives new energy to “Wavelength,” with insightful liner notes by UFO soundtrack specialist Randall Larson that pays tribute this unsung, indie sci-fi evolution in the band’s Hollywood profile.
CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, Movie Score Media, Screen Archives and Varese Sarabande
Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), a global leader in music rights management, is proud to continue its support for Sundance Institute, which is collaborating with the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills to present two events exploring the role of music in film: Composers Lab: LA On Stage with world-renowned BMI composer [c.274]Harry Gregson-Williams on Sunday, March 30, at 2:00pm, and Composers Lab: LA on Saturday, April 12, for composers working in film and television. Composers Lab: LA is supported by BMI and will include a discussion on career development led by BMI's Doreen Ringer-Ross, Vice President, Film/TV Relations.
Now in its fourth year, Composers Lab: LA is a daylong workshop for composers, filmmakers, students and other industry...
ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records
When it seems that many movie scores are cannibalizing each others’ sound, it’s a continued blessing to see the singer and guitarist formerly associated with the alt. band Pop Will Eat Itself blaze a stylistic, soundtrack path that resembles few composers before him. Brought into the world of film scoring by the similarly offbeat auteur Darren Aronofsky to solve the equation of 1998s “Pi,” both artists have brought out each other’s best work through a shared a desire to touch the transcendent. Mutating metal to reach the higher mathematical intelligence of “Pi,” shredding the strings of the Kronos Quartet amidst a hallucinogenic brew of insane percussion to achieve the heroin high of “Requiem for a Dream,” or traversing time from Spanish rhythms to a big bang of symphony and electronics to drink deep of “The Fountain’s” eternal waters, Mansell and Aronofsky have been on a vision and sound quest to touch a higher power.
But perhaps no other collaboration between Mansell and Aronofsky is a literally all-mighty, or seditiously of-beat as “Noah,” a movie that’s drawn the ire of scripture traditionalists for its unique take on one of religion’s prime builders – a simple man tasked with the mission of saving a small bit of humanity (and animal) from The Lord’s wrath. But then, Mansell and Aronofsky have never been sheep when it comes to following traditional Hollywood story and music-telling, let alone biblical movie clichés. The result is creative heresy itself as both men take a decidedly intellectual approach to a story that demands absolute obedience from its hero, and followers. With Aronofsky’s surreal visions driving “Noah,” Mansell steadily creates a score that’s biblical in the best musical sense, forsaking all others when it comes to faith-based scoring.
It’s a soundtrack constructed piece by piece from brave themes that blend symphonic resonance with a gripping wash of surreal samples, chorus, ethnic instrumentation, sounding brass and rock guitar among its striking elements. And like Mansell’s best music, “Noah” rhythmically builds to musical self-realization at once apocalyptic and intimate, as striking waves of melody coalesce to play the end of mankind and its new beginning. It’s a mix of poetry, wrath and deliverance where Mansell once again hears a spiritual, mesmerizing force that’s made him into one of the prophets of next generation film scoring.
Now on a new episode of “On the Score,” Clint Mansell talks about constructing his bravest, and most transcendent work yet under the guidance of an auteur determined to forge his own path in realizing one of the greatest stories ever told.
Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to DownloadBuy the Soundtrack: NOAH
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Composer [c.89]James Horner's score for the second-highest grossing film in history, [m.26293]Titanic, was a stunning critical and financial success in its own right--winning two Oscars (Best Score and Best Song), three Grammys (Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Song Written for Motion Picture or TV), and topping sales charts.
On the evening of Monday, April 27th, the Maestro will return to his opus at the Royal Albert Hall to conduct a live performance in accompaniment of a screening of [m.26293]Titanic in high definition.
The event, Titanic Live, is hosted by Avex Classics International. For tickets and further details, visit:...
Composer [c.8705]Junkie XL is hosting a remix contest, presented by Dancing Astronaut and Soundcloud, as [m.33814]300: Rise of an Empire has grossed $238 million at the box office globally within its first two weeks of release. Contestants will remix [c.8705]Junkie XL's [m.33814]300: Rise of an Empire score track "History of Artemisia," the stems of which are available for download through [c.8705]Junkie XL's Soundcloud.
The grand prize winner will have their track mentioned on the film's social media channels, including [url.https://www.facebook.com/300Movie]Facebook (11 Million+ likes), [url.https://twitter.com/300MovieUK]Twitter, and the Warner Bros. Picture [url.https://twitter.com/wbpictures]Twitter (1.2 Million followers). The grand prize winner will also...