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Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.3471]Neil Davidge ([m.43836]A Hundred Streets), [c.257]Mychael Danna ([m.34040]The Good Dinosaur), [c.24]Carter Burwell ([m.42054]The Finest Hours), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here..
There were 43 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-05-18]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.39883]Poltergeist ([c.1374]Marc Streitenfeld) and [m.36502]Tomorrowland ([c.534]Michael Giacchino).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.39883]Poltergeist (4 songs)
This summer offers any number of musical apocalypses, from cities under siege by the laser-blasting strings and pulsing electronics of killer robots to a desert post-nuke future traversed by souped-up cars of screaming metal, tribal drumming and elegiac wastelands. But when it comes to pure, Rock-worthy symphonic muscle, Andrew Lockington might just win the symphonically sweating gold for “San Andreas,” a score that thrillingly jolts from a powerful, muscularly thematic ground of musical destruction and moving humanity. He’s conjured a 9.1 of raging rock guitars, anthemic themes, haunting choir, desperate rhythm and red-alert brass, all joining a veritable tidal wave of inescapable symphonic power to give thrilling presence to The Big One, that long-awaited moment when much of California falls into the seat.
For a disaster-loving Hollywood that’s already laid waste to LA with “Earthquake” and “2012,” it’s a dollar-generating catastrophe that can’t come soon enough – at least on the screen that is. But if one man can stand up to Mother Nature, then it is The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson), who plays Ray, a rescue pilot whose copter jets from Los Angeles to San Francisco as he tries to save his family from the worst the earth can throw at them. It’s a solid foundation of emotional peril that Lockington also uses to give a sense of movement to “San Andreas” that goes way beyond the orchestrally raging kind, as tender string sand piano emotion make family bonds as musically effective as the thrilling wall of themes trying to tear them apart with one special effects peril after the other.
“San Andreas” certainly marks The Big One when it comes to the ever-escalating scores that have come this talented composer’s way. First working alongside fellow Canadian composers Mychael and Jeff Danna as an assistant and orchestrator on numerous projects from “Ride with the Devil” to “Green Dragon” and “Antwone Fisher,” Andrew Lockington began finding his own composing path on such small art movies as “Touch of Pink, “Saint Ralph” and Cake,” while also garnering attention for his atmospheric werewolf score to “Skinwalkers.” And while he’s continued to lend intimacy to the dual personality of “Frankie & Alice,” the father-son time travel of “I’ll Follow You Down,” a far bigger opportunity to play visual spectaculars arrived with “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” It’s fun, adventurous sense of kid-friendly excitement was an auspicious start to Lockington’s foray into effects-intensive, prime demographic fantasies like “City of Ember,” “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” and recently the coming-of-age, sometimes swashbuckling tales told by an animated Donald Sutherland in the charming “Pirate’s Passage.” But if there’s one movie that shows that Lockington’s truly got the multiplex-swaying stuff to write on a grand playing field, than it’s his block-busting score for “San Andreas,” a soundtrack that thrillingly jolts from a powerful intersection of musical destruction and non-superhuman emotion.
What first interested you in scoring?
There is a very talented French Canadian pianist/composer named Andre Gagnon. My parents took me to one of his outdoor concerts when I was 5. It was the first time I remember being emotionally moved by instrumental music in the way it really resonates in your core. The themes stuck in my head and I immediately set out to learn them by ear. They were complex, yet still melodies you could latch on to and internalize quickly. Around the same time I also fell in love with the theme song to “Greatest American Hero” by Mike Post. These two influences got me to the piano and got me playing around very early on. As I got older and continued my interest in music, songwriting was what I spent most of my time on, but good scores always affected me in the way that early concert did.
With a film score the composer doesn’t have to fit all of his/her inspiration into a three and a half minute piece. I love that a musical idea or theme can be approached in many different ways for a film score, and much like a symphony you can play with multiple variations and have themes which exist both on their own and compliment and interact with each other as well. I love the canvas a film provides for music.
Could you talk about your time assisting Mychael and Jeff Danna on such scores as “Girl, Interrupted,” “Hearts in Atlantis,” and “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” and how it gave you your own voice as a composer?
I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Mychael. It was a great experience on so many levels. Working with Mychael gave me the opportunity to be a part of the scoring process on so many films from beginning to end. We worked on smaller indie films and big Oscar films and even on a ballet. He was an excellent mentor and his bar for excellence is very high. He introduced me to a plethora of musical cultures that I’d never truly explored before working with him. In addition, being part of his team and getting the opportunity to participate in scoring sessions all over the world was the kind of education one just can’t get in any other way.
In the end though, the most valuable thing I took away from working with Mychael was an education on his approach to scoring films. Mychael is an intellect and a student of the world, and he researches the music for his films thoroughly before he starts writing. But while his approach is always meticulously planned and logical, he uses all of this research and knowledge as ammunition in his ultimate goal – the goal of servicing the emotional soul of the story. That overall approach is something I’ve taken with me. I’m so grateful for the experience I had with Mychael and also the education I got from the films I orchestrated for his brother Jeff Danna like “The Boondock Saints.” They’re both incredible composers and I was thrilled to see Mychael get recognized with the Oscar for “Life of Pi.”
How difficult was it for you to go out on your own, let alone transition from indies to a score a film the size of “Journey to the Center of the Earth?”
Someone always told me to never let go of the vine you’re holding until the next one is firmly in your grip. I was keeping up with writing indie films on my own and building up my portfolio of work while still assisting Mychael. It was when the projects on my own starting demanding my full attention that I knew I could no longer do both.
After a few years of indie / festival circuit films, “Journey to the Center of the Earth” was the next big step, but at the end of the day scoring a movie is still scoring a movie. The composing and storytelling skills used in writing music for film are the same set of skills regardless of the budget of the film. For “Journey,” I was fortunate to have a music executive who believed in me enough to introduce me to the director Eric Brevig. At our first meeting, Eric and I referenced a lot of the same influences and he really responded to my ideas for the score. Most composers move into studio films by being part of a director’s team and as the director moves into the studio world, he or she hitches a ride. Because this was Eric’s first feature, he didn’t have that established relationship yet.
Once you’ve gotten a box office hit like that, how did you hold onto the perception of you as a composer who could handle big, epically entertaining scores like “City of Ember” and “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters,” so that it’d be natural that you’d get your largest, effects-heavy film, and score yet with “San Andreas?”
The box office success of a film is a lottery. I’ve worked on films I thought for sure would be box office gold and they didn’t get nearly the recognition they deserved. It’s always exciting to see how a film will perform but honestly the reward from doing the film can’t rely on it’s success at the box office, because no matter how good the film is, you’re always rolling the dice. That said, Hollywood is a business, and the success of a film is definitely measured in large part by its return at the box office. For some people it’s everything, for others the critical acclaim is more important, but no one can deny box office is usually the most important part determining the success of a film. It definitely gives studios confidence in you when your previous films have made money.
With “San Andreas,” I was fortunate to already have a great creative and collaborative relationship with the director Brad Peyton. Whenever we would work on the score to one of his films there were always musical ideas we would get excited about but quickly recognize weren’t appropriate to the film we were working on. We’d take those ideas and put them away to use on a future movie. “San Andreas” allowed us to pull a few arrows out of our quiver that we’d been excited to use for a while.
You’ve certainly done your share of climactic destruction sequences with “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” and “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.” What’s it like to turn that kind of Armageddon to Los Angeles and San Francisco?
Terrifying. “San Andreas” is such a realistic feeling film I couldn’t help but think about the possibility of an earthquake happening while scoring it. Day one, I bought my earthquake kit at Costco and had a lot of water on standby just in case. It got me googling about where the faults were exactly in California – something I probably should have done prior to signing my lease since there was one directly under my house that seismologists didn’t discover until recently. I guess it wasn’t directly under my house, more like 20 feet in front of my writing room…seriously…20 feet!
It was impossible not to be thinking about the fact that this likely will happen to us in our lifetime, and huge earthquakes kill and injure hundreds if not thousands of people every year somewhere in the world. I immediately felt a responsibility to the realism of this story. I think the film affected all of the crew in that way. The film really encouraged me to think about being prepared for disasters, developing a plan with my family, having a meeting place, etc. The government advises everyone to have at least 7 days of food and water stored in a safe place in the unlikely event of an emergency. This film illicits these real feelings and these raw instincts of survival. This isn’t a superhero film. No one has any super powers. These are real characters – people like you and me finding out what they’re made of in the face of being tested. We’d all like to think we’d be brave, selfless heroes but in reality no one knows how they’d react in a survival situation until they’re in one. In the film we see examples of characters being heroic, but also examples of those who want to be brave and heroic, but are so paralyzed by fear they’re completely ineffective.
This film makes you think about those things in a real way. For that reason this is a film unlike anything I’ve ever scored, and the responsibility of scoring something so true to real life events definitely affected the musical choices I made. It always had to feel real, but it always had to tell a story as well, and that’s a tightrope we walked through the entire score.
Before scoring “San Andreas,” did you dig into past disaster films, and scores for inspiration? And what do you think the formula is for the truly successful ones?
For the score, we always discussed the fact that I was scoring a family’s struggle to survive more than I was scoring the natural disaster. When someone sends you a YouTube video of a guy skateboarding over a bus, it’s fascinating, but you’re not emotionally invested in it. But if they send you that same video and it’s your spouse, your child, your sibling or your friend, there’s a completely different emotional reaction to watching it. My job in this film was to make you love the characters in exactly that way. When they’re faced with death, you feel the stakes the way you would for your own family. When you see them fearing for the life of their loved ones, they need to feel like your loved ones as well. Much of the music’s heavy lifting needed to happen in the moments between the events rather than during the events themselves. In that way, it’s some of the more intimate cues in the film that were the most challenging to do, but in return the most rewarding to compose.
“San Andreas” is most definitely a thrill ride in the tradition of “2012.” How did you want your music to put a sense of “fun” into the destruction at hand, while keeping it from crossing over into outright terror?
It’s a thrill ride for sure, but there was never a feeling of trying to use the music to make the destruction fun. I know what you’re saying because I’ve seen it in other films, but I’d say this is more like “Titanic.” You know it’s a disaster but you’re so with the characters and so inside the story you feel like you’re on the ship as it sinks. “San Andreas” is a fun ride, but the destruction is treated seriously and very realistic. We experience the quakes from the perspective of the characters and the music is very much the soundtrack playing inside their heads as they’re struggling to survive.
As a resident of California, I imagine you’ve been through your share of earthquakes. What were your feelings after going through your first, and did you draw on that while composing the score?
The first earthquake I ever felt was pretty small, but it definitely surprised me. Ground stability is something we assume is a constant, and you subconsciously take for granted the ground you’re standing on is always static, or at least I did. Maybe that’s because I didn’t grow up in California, or didn’t experience an earthquake until I was an adult? I’m not sure. But it was mind blowing the first time I felt the earth shaking. Fortunately I’ve never been there for any of the big earthquakes. The biggest one I ever felt, I was sitting up in bed on the phone. All of a sudden I felt a jolt and was pushed forward so my nose was almost touching my knees (a flexibility I sadly haven’t been able to duplicate since). It was such a big jolt and loud bang I assumed a car had hit the wall behind me but other than a few swaying elements in the room, there was no evidence that anything had happened. My wife started googling “Earthquake Los Angeles” and sure enough after about 10 minutes there were reports online of a small earthquake….small. I knew then I definitely didn’t want to be there for a big one.
How did you want to capture the impending suspense of The Big One?
We purposely incorporated tension into the moments between the huge events. Brad and I discussed staying true to our approach of finding the emotion in the scene and playing the constant fear and adrenaline-filled trepidation of the characters. When you think of a dangerous series of events, it’s actually the moments between the life-threatening moments when one would actually have a chance to feel complex emotions. The music was conscious of that and works hard to keep that element present throughout the film.
The Rock gets to do more acting than usual for a film with so many effects. How did you want to support his, and the other’s character’s emotions, to make them front and center while all of the chaos was going on?
Dwayne’s acting in this film is extraordinary. He’s always been recognized as a versatile actor but he takes his character in “San Andreas” to places only the greatest actors can go. I forgot I was scoring Dwayne Johnson and really bought into him being “Ray”. With the best actors and characters, there are some scenes where I find it’s most important to stay out of their way emotionally. When the performance is that strong and complete, the scene is often better served to use the music to create context to what the actor is projecting. The last thing I want to do is try to re-voice what they’re already so eloquently communicating in a scene.
On the other hand, The Rock is by his nature a larger-than-life actor. How did you want to play to that muscular, “American Hero” nature of his box office personality?
I never felt a need to play the Rock as his persona, because to me he was always the character Ray. He’s a very accessible character in this movie. You immediately relate to him as a real person and he reminds you of someone you know in real life. He’s not a super-hero. The laws of gravity apply to him as much as the rest of us. So when you see his character dig deep to try to find the courage and strength to save his family, you can relate to that. The heroic theme needed to be something we could all relate to as well. It couldn’t be something too fantastic sounding or messiah-like. It had to be a melody that all of the characters could relate to. Something we might feel inside us if we were put in that position in real-life. What was great about that approach is it allowed me to use the hero theme to represent heroic moments for all of the characters. “Ray’s” heroics rub off on the people around him and by making that theme human in nature it worked on everyone from the mother to the daughter to young boy to the scientist, all of whom have their moments of bravery in the story.
How did you want to capture the “whirling” nature of a hero who’s also a helicopter pilot? And how important was it to give the score that kind of sense of “traveling” momentum as he races from Los Angeles to San Francisco?
There are films that need the music to retain the momentum in the music between set pieces. This isn’t one of them. The pace and drive of the story and the way it was written, directed, acted and edited maintains that momentum all on it’s own. That was great. It allowed me to really stay true to the moments of each scene rather than being concerned with overall pace. The nature of those scenes though definitely called for the music to be faster paced in many of them, but that quality of the story also meant I could go against the grain and write something slow and ethereal for dramatic reasons and not fear I’d be slowing down the story.
You’ve definitely got the “sonic boom” going on in the score. Why do you think that chestnut is so popular in action scores, and how did you create yours?
I work with Neil Parfitt who does a lot of sound design and modular synth programming for me. Brad and I had talked about finding the sound of destruction. He sent me some of the pre-viz sequences. One of them was a depiction of a bridge collapsing with the high-tension wires snapping. I came up with the idea of taking a piano and cutting the high-tension strings and recording the resulting sound of that. That turned into a two-day exercise of demolishing a piano in a recording studio. I remember standing in line at Home Depot with black work gloves, bolt cutters, a sledgehammer, protective facemasks, and padded blankets in my basket. The cashier looked at me suspiciously and I just shrugged my shoulders. It thought about telling him I was a musician and was destroying a piano but I’m not sure that would have helped. Anyways, I’m surprised the police weren’t at my door when I got back to the studio!
The “Earth” motif sound – this was something that came out of those recording sessions. In addition to using the string cutting and piano bashing sounds raw, we also took them and started using them as fodder for the modular synth. That sound was something that just popped out in our experimentation and we both immediately knew it was perfect for the earth motif.
You’ve got the Oscar winning sound designer Per Hallberg doing the sound effects here, the nature of which in an earthquake-driven score can really rock a composer’s world, and not in a good way. How did you achieve a balance so music and effects wouldn’t overwhelm each other?
It helped that Per’s a genius and a consummate professional. We met and screened the movie together seven months before the mix and mapped out what each other would be doing. He would send me files with their sound sketches and I would send him files with my midi demos. Per and his team are incredibly musical sound designers. Their sounds often felt like musical instruments to me and what they were doing would influence the key and tempo of what I would write. One of my favorite moments in the soundtrack is when Ray is flying towards downtown LA and you can see the buildings swaying and bending. I love how the music and sound effects work together there and how the bending sounds are like instruments in the orchestra. That type of co-operation meant we understood completely what each other were doing, and reason for attacking each scene the way we did. He was incredibly helpful in making room for the music when it needed it and vice versa. It was the kind of co-operation everyone on the post team always discusses but something that rarely happens to such perfection.
“San Andreas” nicely straddles the earthquake-line of being a rock-guitar-percussion action score and more of a traditionally orchestral one. How did you want to combine those two natures here?
Well one of our first discussions was that there would be no rock guitar but that the score would have that kind of edge. The fact that people perceive it is fantastic. Orchestra is such a versatile instrument, but so many scores have that element and the electronic element layered overtop of each other. The sound programmer Michael White and I set out to come up with a plan for manipulating some of our orchestral stems with filters and modular synth units to create a bridge between the organic and electronic elements. I love what we did, and it works incredibly well in the palette of “San Andreas, “but we both agree we just scratched the surface on a whole new world of ideas.
Is it expected that brass is going to play a pretty big element in “San Andreas?”
It does. Our brass section was epic. Massive. We recorded it separate from the strings and I think the string players would have gone deaf after a session of that brass section sitting right behind them. Orchestrator Nicholas Dodd came up with an idea for a unique brass combination and layout in the room to achieve the effect I was looking for. It was a complete success and we knew after our first take it was going to be perfect for the score.
Do you have a particularly favorite “musical” disaster sequence in “San Andreas,” and if so, why?
Probably the Hoover Dam sequence. It’s the sequence where all of the elements of the score first come together to work in harmony, and it was the first sequence I wrote in the process when I knew for sure our approach would be successful.
As big and exciting as “San Andreas” is, two particularly intimate, and haunting scores for you were the psychologically impactful “Frankie & Alice” and the deeply personal time travel drama “I’ll Follow You Down.” Could you talk about working on those?
“Frankie & Alice” is something I scored several years ago. Halle was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the film in 2010. It took several years to come out after that small theatrical run that year. I’m so glad people are finally getting a chance to see it as I’m very proud of that film and the score.
“I’ll Follow You Down” was one of two films I scored for Richie Mehta, the other being “Siddharth.” It’s very much a melodic, solo piano and string score and very different musically than anything people will have heard in my action / adventure films. I really enjoyed my collaboration with Richie. We’ve been friends for many years and spend so much of our times talking about films and film scores. To finally get a chance to collaborate on something with him was extremely rewarding.
You’ve also done the Brad Peyton-produced and written animated movie “Pirate’s Passage,” whose score has just been released, and soon the film soon along with it. How do you feel it follows your numerous “boy’s adventure” scores like the “Journey” films and “Percy Jackson?”
“Pirates Passage” is very different, both the score and the film. It’s less a story about pirate adventure and more a story about the coming of age of a young boy in the 1950′s. He befriends a mysterious older man who takes him on a journey through time to teach him about life and about being a man. Donald Sutherland plays the mysterious man who befriends the boy and their relationship immediately reminded me of my relationship with my grandfather. He had passed away just prior to me scoring the project and I had spent a lot of time reflecting on the life lessons I learned from him throughout my life. As such, I could very easily relate to their relationship in the film. Fortunately, Donald felt that was also an integral part of the story and something that the music could certainly assist in highlighting. While there are some great “adventure” moments in the film, there are many smaller and more intimate moments that didn’t call for the same massive scale of score. The smaller orchestra we had at our disposal was actually the perfect size for the score.
Your fellow Canadian Donald Sutherland wears many hats in “Pirate’s Passage” from voice artist to co-writer and producer. What was your interaction like?
Donald Sutherland the actor is a Hollywood Icon, but Donald Sutherland the person is equally as extraordinary. I was introduced to him through Brad Peyton who has been friends with Donald for a number of years. He’s an incredibly wise, intelligent and knowledgeable man. He has a youthful energy, but the wisdom of a Jedi Master. He is very poetic and passionate in his views yet logical and measured in his perspectives and approach. I recently saw “The Italian Job” on TV, the version where he plays a mentor to Mark Walhberg’s character. The personality of his character in that film is very much the man. He’s very gracious in helping and sharing with his fellow artists but yet manages to combine that with a quest for absolute perfection. He achieves it and once you’ve spent some time with him you realize his incredible success. It’s still only a reflection of his greatness.
I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with Donald on “Pirates. He was very involved and eager to participate in the scoring and mixing of the score. I learned so much from him on that film about scoring and storytelling. Those lessons will be a part of my scoring forever. It was such a gift to learn from him. He and I talked a lot about how to score great acting. It was amazing to discuss this topic with one of the greatest actors of all time and get his perspective on music in storytelling. I learned so much from those conversations and it definitely influenced my perspective on scoring this movie and certain scenes in general.
What to you think makes a “pirate” score? And given that this isn’t your typical “pirate” movie, what were the challenges of achieving that kind of swashbuckling sound here?
There are moments with that feel for sure in the “Pirate’s Passage” score, but as I mentioned it’s not the backbone of the score in the way it would be in the “Pirate’s Of The Caribbean” films. I found the featuring of the fiddle, the hurdy-gurdy and the hand drums helped give that sense without needing the big orchestra in the same way. I also orchestrated the strings to make sure that my violin sections and the cello sections worked in tandem when they needed to bolster the sound, or the melody the section was playing. It gives the illusion that the sections are part of a ninety-piece orchestra when in fact it was closer to thirty-five pieces.
Female chorus, something we don’t normally hear in pirate scores, is especially moving in “Pirate’s Passage” – as well as in “San Andreas” as well. What drew you to this particular “instrument” as it were?
I work a lot with Emilie-Claire Barlow, a singer I met on the film “Touch Of Pink” almost fourteen years ago. She an incredible talent and can create so many unique personalities using her voice. She was also the featured soloist in the “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” score. The way we work often involves me playing or humming themes to her and her humming them back to me. I find it really helps to hear a theme sung in voice, even if it ultimately won’t be a vocal line at all. When you internalize a melody you always are imagining it with your own voice singing it in your head, so the best hooks are those that would be in the range of the human voice and also have the pauses which would mimic a person’s breath and sentence phrasing. My sessions with Emilie help me figure out if a hook is working or help me figure out how I need to change it to make it work. On “Pirate’s Passage,” her voice fit so perfectly and she sounded so much like the character Meg (whose singing is featured in the story) that we decided to have her voice as an element in the film.
“San Andreas” was different though. Instead of a female soloist we were looking for something more innocent and naive, but still beautiful and haunting. Brad and I settled on a solo boy Soprano. That was the first element we heard and knew immediately it was right for the film. From there the idea formed of having a boys choir. I knew I didn’t want low male voices chanting. I’ve done that before for other films and it’s worked well, but in keeping with the realism of this film I didn’t want to make the danger and ominous feel of the earthquake too theatrical sounding. The boys’ choir feels very spiritual and represents raw human innocence. We didn’t want it to feel religious so there’s no Latin or lyrics of any kind. I found a specific syllable that I really liked and we stayed true to that throughout the “San Andreas” score.
You’ll next be scoring Brad Peyton’s “exorcist” thriller “Incarnate,” which returns you to the horror genre for the first time since “Skinwalkers.” What can we expect?
What an awesome experience it’s been so far. We set out to create and instrumental palette completely different than anything you’ve heard from us before. Still working on it so there’s not a lot I can tell you about “Incarnate” just yet, but I’m very excited for everyone to hear the score and see the movie.
When do you expect The Big One? And did working on a film like “San Andreas” make you want to move out of California as soon as possible, or at least buy life earthquake insurance?
“San Andreas” is such an honest look at earthquakes and the devastation they can cause, that even more than ever I hope “The Big One” doesn’t come in our lifetime. We’ve always said this film, as much as it’s fictitious, is based on actual future events. This will happen on some level. Hopefully in lieu of a massive series of quakes the fault will re-adjust in smaller, less damaging events, but scientists have been warning the public to prepare for the worst. Much of the world sits on fault lines like these and as we’ve seen in Japan, Chile and more recently Nepal, this is something we need to be aware of and something we need to plan for. I hope this film will help highlight the need for preparation and planning both on behalf of individuals and on behalf of our governments. Earthquake insurance is important, but a supply of water and non-perishable food to survive the aftermath is higher on the priority list for me.
People are going to love “San Andreas” and the physical and emotional ride it takes you on, but something tells me Costco is going to be sold out of those emergency kits in the next few weeks!
“San Andreas” opens in theaters on May 29th, with Andrew Lockington’s score now available on Water Tower Music HERE. Buy the animated “Pirate’s Passage” via Amazon Canada HERE, and listen to its score CD on Move Score Media HERE
Visit Andrew Lockington’s website HERE
Lakeshore Records and Hasbro, Inc. are releasing the forthcoming [a.13363]DJ PON3: MLP Remixed digitally and on CD [da.2015-06-23]June 23, 2015. [c.13568]Daniel Ingram's beloved original songs are remixed by some of the top talent on the scene, including Faust & Shortee, Arkasia, Rubicon 7, Heavygrinder and more. The album was produced by Justin Lassen, who worked with all of the artists for the recording.
"The My Little Pony brand has taught fans of all ages about the power of friendship for more than 30 years through socially relevant messages of acceptance and kindness," said Samantha Lomow, Senior Vice President of Hasbro Brands. "We have seen the power of storytelling through music and lyrics in the [t.41712]My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic animated series, and...
There’s always been something winningly offbeat to artistry that’s emerged from Down Under, especially when it comes to the work of filmmakers re-defining the western to their eccentric tastes like George Miller (“Mad Max”) or the composing duo of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (“The Proposition,” “The Assassination of Jesse James”). It’s in the latter team’s ironic, authentic rhythms in playing the unplugged, poetic mythos of the American outback that musician Jed Kurzel impressively follows, making the trek along with a hopelessly romantic English kid to the beautifully threatening, heartbreakingly funny environs of “Slow West.”
Kurzel is also in the far more assured company Beta Band member-turned-filmmaker John Maclean, who brings a visually striking, loopy tune to the movie’s mix of murder and friendship that will happily remind some viewers of Jim Jarmusch’s off-mark gunslinging for “Dead Man.” It’s a cult pedigree that “Slow West” does waltz time with as our out-of-place English innocent Jay Cavendish (Kodi-Smit McPhee) is taken under the wing of Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender), a crusty bounty hunter to find the youth’s fled object of affection – each man for their own reason. As this likable odd couple roam the gorgeously stark landscape in a series of incidents as capable of brutality as they are of humanity, Kurzel’s haunting score also moves in unhurried irony. A waltz-time theme is played with an authentically rustic chamber orchestra, an unplugged vibe well suited to the story’s measured rhythms as it is “West’s” sense of black-humored whimsy. It’s music that’s at times pokey, at others lyrical as it wanders into other fishes out of water, as captured in ethnic songs.
“Slow West” affirms Jed Kurzel’s unique, rising voice in the domain of indie cinema, a score whose unplugged, acoustic sound has its roots in the composer’s Aussie band The Mess Hall – their folk-rock rock stylings bringing comparisons to The White Stripes. Making his scoring debut for brother Justin’s true-like serial killer film “The Snowtown Murders,” Kurzel’s evocative work has often graced shattered family ties, from the nerve-jangling music of a mother and son terrorized by “The Babadook” to the mesmerizing minimalism of a young thug trying to impress a seasoned criminal in “Son of A Gun” and the exhilaration and downfall of Australian skateboard brothers in the documentary “All this Mayhem” Now giving us his most stripped down, and lyrical score for “Slow West,” Kurzel brings a distinctive, Australian wryness to a universal genre while providing yet another unclassifiable, ear-catching score.
Could you talk about getting your music, and composing start in Australia?
My composing start really came with my brother Justin Kurzel’s first film “The Snowtown Murders,” or “Snowtown” as it was called in Australia. I’d previously been playing in bands but at home I was making a lot more instrumental music. It wasn’t something I was doing with any grand plan in mind, just a creative itch I needed to scratch. The only person I was ever sharing this music with was my brother, so when he decided to make “The Snowtown Murders,” he asked me to compose the music. Everything I’ve done since has really stemmed from that film.
What was the “Snowtown” experience like?
I think I’ll forever be chasing the experience I had on that film. I had no preconceived ideas about composing, everything was new and we worked very much from instinct rather than trying to reference other scores. My brother and I are very close. We share a similar aesthetic and over time have developed a shorthand in how we communicate ideas. This immediately cuts through any bullshit and allows for honest discussions about what works and what doesn’t.
I started working on the film while they were shooting. Justin would send me rushes and rough cuts of certain scenes and I would send music back to him. During the edit we went back and forth like this a lot until the music started informing the cut. The beginning and the end of the film changed completely because of the music I was sending to them. I was very conscious of not referencing other soundtracks. I grew up very close to where the events of the film took place. The key for me was to respond directly to the environment, never to hold the audiences hand emotionally.
Another movie about youth-gone-wrong was the powerful skateboards-go-bad film “All the Mayhem.” Tell us about how you wanted to capture that lifestyle? And were you a fan of the Pappas Brothers?
By the time I was approached to work on “All This Mayhem,” the director Eddie Martin and the editor Chris King had settled on a pretty interesting tone for the first half of the film. It was kind of Disney music or the kind of score you’d find in a cartoon. They had temped the edit with this music and it captured the spirit of The Pappas Brothers when they’d just discovered skateboarding as kids, before all of the insanity. All of us agreed that it was working really well so I took on the job of finding a theme for Ben and Tass and scoring a lot of the darker sections through the last half. It’s such a wild story, Shakespearean in parts and very moving. I’m very close to my brother so I could relate to it on that level. I skateboarded a lot as a kid too so I was aware of how incredibly talented the boys were.
You gave the visceral “father and ‘offspring’” crime drama “Son of a Gun” a truly unique, minimalistic approach that distinguished it from the typical action score one might expect. How did you hit on its hypnotic approach?
It was a genre I hadn’t tackled before and this was one of the big reasons I decided to take the film on. I like a challenge, there’s always a lot to be learnt from working outside of your perceived comfort zone. “Son of a Gun” was different to other films I’d done as it was more genre based and the music had to have a certain scale and rhythm about it, particularly during the second half of the movie. I was aware of writing themes particularly for the character of J.R., but also having music that could weave itself in to the sound design of the film and become quite subliminal.
“The Babadook” gave you the opportunity to deal with a mother and daughter relationship, under some particularly trying and nightmarish circumstances. What were the challenges of scoring a horror movie that could very well be taking place in the woman’s head?”
“The Babadook” was more in line with the kind of horror films I’ve always loved like “Rosemary’s Baby” or “Who Saw Her Die?” The director Jennifer Kent had a really strong vision for the film. She’s very much into sound design and the way music and sound can play off of each other to create a creeping, more internal horror. We avoided the usual tropes like string stabs or shock tactics often employed in horror films and went for something where you weren’t sure where the sound design finished and the music began. I ended up experimenting with my four-year old daughter’s voice, cutting, looping and delaying it to make unnerving pieces that felt like trapped voices within the mother Amelia’s head. Sometimes more structured musical pieces would form out of this idea and other times the challenge was to sit everything subtly within the mix and give the audience this sense that maybe like Amelia they were hearing things.
How authentic did you want to be to the period of “Slow West?” And did you do any kind of research into its instruments and folk music?
John and I weren’t really concerned with being period specific. It really feels like a time in the West where the period itself is in a state of flux. You have characters from all different cultures roaming around trying to find their place in this violent landscape and amongst this is Jay, a young Scottish romantic, viewing it all from a uniquely European perspective.
Could you tell us about the “band” of instruments you’ve come up with here?
I remember having an early conversation with John about the music feeling like it’s a band playing specifically for Jay, almost as if it’s literally following along behind him throughout the journey. In keeping with this idea, I settled on a smaller section, just the quartet with a double bass and me plucking away at an old mandolin or classical guitar. I think in the end you get this European flavor with the strings but the mandolin and guitar give a slight nod to the genre.
Though “Slow West” has a strikingly intimate approach, were there any larger western films or scores that influenced your approach?
No, we were very mindful of not going into that very genre specific territory. Obviously Ennio Morricone casts a huge shadow over the genre and as much fun as it would have been we kept the whistles and the twanging guitars out of the room. I really like Tom Wait’s score for “One Night On Earth” though. It’s very simple and there is this great sense of time passing in the way the music is played.
Your work on “Slow West” also brings to mind the approach of your fellow Australian musicians Nick Cave and Warren Ellis on such outré westerns as “The Proposition” and “The Assassination of Jesse James.” Were they an influence on your approach as well?
Not directly, I think “Slow West” is probably a bit more playful than the scores you mention. Having said that though, growing up in Australia, they’re hard not to miss. The Bad Seeds are great and I’ve always been a fan of Warren Ellis’s band The Dirty Three, they’re so uniquely Australian and I think Warrens approach to film music is a beautiful extension of that sound. In the end our approach is very different though. They are a duo that has played together for a long time, so you can hear the idiosyncrasies of that relationship in their music. I assume they work a lot quicker than I do too.
Do you think that taking a spare “lo fi” approach to “Slow West” makes it more realistic?
I think it just gives it an honesty and intimacy that the film really responds to. It’s also the way I like to hear strings. I don’t like to add too much to the production, I avoided overdubs and editing and tried to get a true reflection of the musicians in a room playing together. I love the rawness and honesty of smaller sections when it comes to strings and I think that has a lot to do with coming from Australia.
The theme has a waltz-like quality to it. How did you come up with that approach?
John gave me two very specific directions. He wanted something he could whistle and he wanted it in 3:4 time. Like Jay, The waltz feels distinctly European and very much at odds with the violence of the landscape. My previous scores were more drone-y, experimental and dark I guess. “Slow West” was the complete opposite. There was a formality to the writing, as the focus was more on melody. It was a process that was more akin to songwriting.
“Slow West” is the most self-consciously eccentric and beguiling western I’ve seen since “Dead Man.” How did you want to suit its quirky brand of hip humor, as well as its very ironic, and blackly funny portrayal of brutal violence?
Probably by not playing the violence or commenting on the film in an overtly emotional way. The humor is very dry and dark. As an Australian I could relate to that. It’s ingrained in our sense of humor. The last thing you want to do is sign post it in any way. Again, John was very clear in his direction and how the music related to Jay and his unrequited love.
As John was a musician as well, how did that contribute to your collaboration?
John was in The Beta Band, so he’s had years of experience with music. Directors can over complicate things when it comes to discussing music. It’s a difficult thing to articulate. John would just give really clear and simple directions. I remember we talked about hip hop a lot, just how great it can be when it’s stripped back and simple. With any other director a conversation like his could have been completely misleading but with John it all made perfect sense. Like anyone who’s played in a band, he communicates a lot with winks and nods, I like that, because you know really quickly what works and what doesn’t. John is also an avid collector of soundtracks, so he knows his stuff.
“Slow West” is an especially poetic film in terms of its visuals, which reminded me of Terrence Malick’s “Badlands” and “Days of Heaven.” How did the look of the film influence you?
The look of the film was the first thing that struck me. It was such a fresh take on the genre. Because it’s shot in New Zealand, you get this strange feeling like it’s the West as seen through foreign eyes. The look of the film reminded me of the paintings early settlers did of Australia. The landscape looks European. It’s like the artists couldn’t wrap their heads around how alien the landscape was so they had to infuse it with something familiar. I hadn’t seen this idea in film before and it was a clever move on John’s behalf and one that could have gotten lost in the wrong hands.
There are also authentic songs in “Slow West,” from African to Hebrew. How do you think they add to the musical tapestry?
The idea of the West being a kind of cultural melting pot hasn’t really been explored too much and the way John uses music to highlight this is really effective. I think they ground the characters culturally in some way and give them a clear sense of identity outside of this foreign landscape. They maybe add to the “fish out of water” element too.
When you look at your career so far, do you think the theme of bonding between unusual, often clashing “families” is a running motif? Do you personally identify with that at all?
I think we all identify with the intricacies involved in a family dynamic. I haven’t actively looked for these types of films but there does seem to be a pattern in what has come my way. I find it interesting how tenuous the bond between a family can be, how easily it can be shattered. I also find it fascinating how a community can build something akin to a family, like in “The Snowtown Murders,” which is not bound by blood but is exposed to all of the same variables of a traditional blood related family. I think we’re all looking for somewhere to belong, a kind of grounding. There is a freedom and a terror involved in being cast out to sea and this is always an interesting angle to be approaching music from.
What do you think it takes to be an unquantifiable composer such as yourself, where one score after the other goes for an eccentric, often innovative sound? On that note, could you see yourself doing a score that was more mainstream?
I’ve always been pretty curious. I like trying out different things and I think it’s important to not be afraid of failure. I really enjoy making mistakes too. I’m always listening out for the good ones. A great mistake will always lead to something really interesting.
Film is such a collaborative process and that’s what separates it from other art forms. When everything lines up and all of these disciplines like cinematography, design, sound, performance, editing etc., are working together it’s unbeatable. I really love that and when you find yourself working with a great team of people who are all bringing something unique to the table it forces you to work outside of yourself and come up with something that adds another layer to the mix, an element that wasn’t previously there.
It feels like a pretty interesting time to be composing for film. Directors seem to be taking a lot more chances when it comes to music, no matter what the budget is. In saying that, I don’t think I’d discriminate between mainstream and non-mainstream films. I’m more interested in who I’m working with and their vision. In the end you’re only ever as good as the director you’re working with.
You’ll again be working with your brother Justin for “Macbeth,” which also reteams you with star Michael Fassbender. What kind of score can we expect, and do you think doing a period film like “Slow West” has helped for a movie that reaches even more centuries back?
“Slow West” and “Macbeth” are two very different films. However, Justin has always talked about Macbeth being like a Western…. Macbeth comes with a lot of baggage. People are familiar with the play and everyone has an opinion on how it should be done. Scoring for Shakespeare is whole different ball game. You’re dealing with a very lyrical text and you really want to keep out of everyone’s way and pick your moments. Much like “Snowtown,” my focus was very much on the landscape where that the music is kind of born out of this cursed environment. I was lucky to work with The London Contemporary Orchestra again in developing a kind of earthy foreign texture that suited the film. I was after something that sounded ancient and timeless, but very modern in its approach, the LCO were incredible to work with, very open and up for trying anything.
Would you hope to make the move to Hollywood? Or do you think Australia offers more interesting films, and scores as a result?
There’s interesting work anywhere, so I’m happy to go wherever that takes me. Australia has some amazing talent and I’ve been lucky in who I’ve worked with. It’s a great place to make a first film, you are kind of left to your own devices and don’t have the constant scrutiny that you have in the US. It provides a great breeding ground for talent. I think it gives directors the opportunity to focus on bringing their own vision to life without too many distractions.
“Slow West” is now in theaters and on VOD, with Jed Kurzel’s score available on Lakeshore Records HERE. Listen to Jed’s score for “Son of a Gun” HERE. Watch “The Snowtown Murders,” “All this Mayhem,” “The Babadook” and “Son of a Gun” on Netflix Instant
An exclusive preview has been made available to Soundtrack.Net readers for [c.1715]Nuno Malo's score to [m.32957]LUV. [m.32957]LUV was released theatrically in 2013 and is currently available on DVD. [a.15509]LUV - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack will be released digitally [da.2015-05-26]May 26 and on CD [da.2015-08-14]August 14, 2015. Read the full news item
Lakeshore Records will release [a.13809]Dawn Patrol Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, digitally on [da.2015-06-02]June 2 and on CD [da.2015-08-14]August 14, 2015. The album features original music composed by [c.631]Joe Kraemer and songs by Donovan Frankenreiter, Safety Orange, Guardian Ghost, Up the Anesthetic, and the original track "Bad Things" by Rita Wilson & Matt Nathanson, written for the film.
"The central musical idea of the score is the theme for the two brothers, which bounces back and forth between a minor, sad sound, and a major, uplifting sound," [c.631]Joe Kraemer said.
[m.42188]Dawn Patrol, part [m.20326]Point Break and part [m.30351]Hurt Locker, is about a surfer-turned-Marine (Scott Eastwood) held at gunpoint in a distant desert, who...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.519]Craig Armstrong ([m.43534]Snowden), [c.8705]Junkie XL ([m.43808]Kill Your Friends), [c.1061]Marcelo Zarvos ([m.40895]American Ultra), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here..
There were 33 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-05-11]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.39111]Mad Max: Fury Road ([c.8705]Junkie XL) and [m.40102]Pitch Perfect 2 ([c.139]Mark Mothersbaugh).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.39111]Mad Max: Fury Road (4 songs)
- [m.40102]Pitch Perfect 2 (58...
Lakeshore Records will release the [a.15557]Slow West Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally on [da.2015-05-19]May 19 and on CD [da.2015-06-23]June 23, 2015. The album features the film's original score by [c.2345]Jed Kurzel and performances by The Mess Hall band.
"John is a very talented songwriter and musician in his own right," said Kurzel of the film's writer/director John Maclean, who was a member of The Beta Band. "He was able to communicate ideas very clearly. We talked about the music being simple, melodic, uncluttered and honest. You wouldn't know it from hearing the eventual score, but I remember our discussions revolving around hip-hop a lot of the time and what makes it so effective. I don't think I could have had those conversations with another...
ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records
Film music has come a long way since such relatively sedate pop-rock artists as Simon and Garfunkel and Eric Clapton were recruited to bring a new, youthfully acceptable sound to film scoring. Now, it’s about the shock of the alternative new as cutting-edge artists like Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Daft Punk are sought by groundbreaking filmmakers to shake up soundtracks with electrified industrial percussion and techno rhythms, creating scores that can often border on audacious anarchy. But even their insanity can’t begin to compare to the latest work of Junkie XL (aka Tom Holkenborg), whose alternately barbaric and beautiful work signals the end of the musical world as we know in “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Holkenborg’s own path to Hollywood began amidst screaming metal, as the Holland-born musician went from producing the industrial bands Sepultura and Fear Factory to producing for such diverse artists as Chuck D., Coldplay and Britney Spears, developing an cool sense of rhythm that caught the ear of another rocker-turned-composer named Hans Zimmer. Collaborating on such scores as “Madagascar,” “Man of Steel” and “Inception,” Holkenborg’s own voice would emerge for the studios with the techno-suspense of “Paranoia.” But if spinning out internet-energized percussion might have been expected for a gifted gearhead, Holkenborg showed he had the stuff for a symphony hall as well with the epic, orchestral sound of “300: Rise of an Empire,” showing off a high-octane fuel of organically thematic writing and percussive electricity for “Divergent,” “Run All Night” and his forthcoming big ticket soundtracks to “Point Break” and “Superman Vs. Batman.”
Yet no musical hero is as mad as Max, a former cop thrown into a nightmare existence of white, violent noise, Holkenborg’s score matches his insanity as wild industrial rock lays down a highway to post-apocalyptic hell, fueled by unhinged tribal percussion, blasting brass, nerve-rending cellos and a furious wall of strings that take today’s propulsive brand of rock-pop action music into the future like no chase score before it. Yet in the midst of its berserk stylings, one can also hear that old school film music tradition hasn’t bit the desert dust, as haunting melody, neo-Wagnerian chorus and a symphonically mythic sense of Max as biblical deliverer rings just as thematically through “Fury Road” as any of it’s grinding metal violence – making for a “Road” paved with both insanity and humanity.
Now on a new episode of “On the Score,” Junkie XL talks about finding the musically savage and the heroically epic in the wastelands of “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to DownloadBuy the Soundtrack: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Buy the Soundtrack: RUN ALL NIGHT Buy the Soundtrack: DIVERGENT
Buy the Soundtrack: 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE Visit Junkie XL’s website
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.8705]Junkie XL ([m.36918]Black Mass), [c.809]Michael Andrews ([m.43237]Daddy's Home), [c.1750]David Wingo ([m.43759]Our Brand is Crisis), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here..
There were 36 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-05-04]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.42246]The D Train ([c.14159]Andrew Dost) and [m.43237]Hot Pursuit ([c.564]Christophe Beck).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.42246]The D Train (13 songs)
- [m..43237]Hot Pursuit (15 songs)...
Lakeshore Records will release the [a.15152]Songs of Defiance - Season 2: Original Television Soundtrack digitally on [da.2015-05-26]May 26 and on CD [da.2015-06-19]June 19, 2015. The album features original songs and performances from the series by Brendan McCreary, Young Beautiful in a Hurry, Raya Yarbrough and [c.13126]Trace Adkins.
The Season 2 soundtrack focuses attention on the songs of the hit Syfy series. With a mix of original songs, and hit songs covered in the style of the various species co-existing in the town of Defiance, the soundtrack spotlights the work of Brendan McCreary.
"I began working on [t.36956]Defiance when composer [c.1238]Bear McCreary and showrunner Kevin Murphy had me contribute a few tracks with my group Young Beautiful in a...
Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), a global leader in music rights management, will present the Icon Award to [c.752]Alexandre Desplat. Desplat is an Oscar award-winning composer and one of the most coveted film composers in the world who is noted for his collaborations with some of the world's tops filmmakers. Chris Montan will receive BMI's classic contribution award for his distinguished three decade career at Disney, including his current role as President of Walt Disney Music.
Additional invited guests include:
[c.809]Michael Andrews, [c.810]Nathan Barr, [c.648]Tyler Bates, [c.1133]Charlie Clouser, [c.663]Moby, [c.1065]Ramin Djawadi, [c.2113]Fil Eisler, [c.70]John Frizzell, [c.151]James Newton Howard, [c.91]Mark Isham [c.630]Christopher...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.58]Danny Elfman ([m.40390]Goosebumps), [c.139]Mark Mothersbaugh ([m.42191]Vacation), [c.1069]Dario Marianelli ([m.42722]Kubo and the Two Strings), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here..
There were 38 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-04-27]Click here for the full schedule.
The only film opening nationwide this week is [m.34056]The Avengers: Age of Ultron (with music by [c.361]Brian Tyler and [c.58]Danny Elfman).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.34056]The Avengers: Age of Ultron (11 songs)
- [m.42746]Iris (14...
Soundtracks Live! Announces its New Website and Services Available to Orchestras and Concert Halls Worldwide
Prolific film music company MovieScore Media announces the launch of Soundtracks Live!, a new and innovative service devoted to bringing the best of film music to concert halls and film music events all over the world. Soundtracks Live! offers a regularly updated catalogue of concert programs devoted to innovative film music concepts, genres and composers of film music; film music repertoire consulting services as well as musical production including arranging and music preparation of film music for concert use.
“The interest in film music in the concert world has exploded in the past decade. It is a logical step for progressive orchestras who are looking for exciting ways to widening their repertoire and appeal to new audiences,” comments Mikael Carlsson, the artistic director and producer of Soundtracks Live! “We have also seen a steady growth of festivals and events devoted to film music all over the world, another proof of the increase in awareness of film music and interest in experiencing the magic of cinematic orchestral music live.”
Collaborating with many of the most talented composers and conductors in the world of film music, the Soundtracks Live! catalogue offers featured conductors such as Joel McNeely (A Million Ways to Die in the West), Don Davis (The Matrix), Roque Baños (Evil Dead), Blake Neely (Arrow) and Nic Raine (long time orchestrator for John Barry). Current composers featured in the catalogue include Harry Gregson-Williams (Shrek) and Christopher Young (Hellraiser) with many more to come!
The Soundtracks Live! catalogue features three main concert series:
• Soundtrack Specials assembles innovative concepts and cinematic themes based around popular genres or other concepts (such as filmmakers).
• Soundtrack Stars focuses on the current stars of film music where some of the involved composers are also available as guest conductors.
• Soundtrack Legends is devoted to preserving and presenting the legacies of legendary Hollywood film composers.
All programs in the catalogue are flexible and adjustable in order to meet the specific demands of each client. Some of the already available programs include:
• Soundtrack Special: Soundtrack! – the flagship program in the Soundtracks Live! catalogue featuring the best of very current film music, constantly evolving to feature all the latest and hottest films and film scores.
• Soundtrack Special: Space Symphony – a concert focusing on great music from science fiction films, including music from the Star Wars and Alien series, with Don Davis, the composer of The Matrix, as the Soundtracks Live! featured conductor.
• Soundtrack Special: Chiller Concerto – a concert featuring a spine-chilling historic overview of horror film music ranging from Max Steiner’s King Kong to Roque Baños’ Evil Dead – the Spanish composer is the featured conductor of Soundtracks Live! Roque Baños’ Evil Dead performance is available here: https://vimeo.com/70786184
• Soundtrack Stars: Harry Gregson-Williams – a concert presenting the colourful scores of the composer behind the music for films such as Shrek, The Chronicles of Narnia and Kingdom of Heaven, with the composer being the Soundtracks Live! featured conductor of the program.
• Soundtrack Legends: Elmer Bernstein – a concert devoted to the legendary composer of The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments and Ghostbusters, produced in collaboration with Peter Bernstein, son of the composer.
“The film music repertoire is extremely rich and multi-faceted” says Mikael Carlsson about assembling the program. “However, we believe that the decision to perform film music live should be based on the artistic merits of the music itself – not only because of the commercial success of the film it was written for. To identify this music, and to find the balance in programming film music in concert is the true challenge. It’s a very specific competence which we are happy to be able to offer.”
Apart from offering innovative concepts for film music concerts, Soundtracks Live! offers film music repertoire consulting, arranging services and is the perfect partner for all orchestra libraries looking for specific film scores to be featured in their programming. Soundtracks Live! is very well-connected in the film music industry with a network that exceeds well over 500 composers in addition to numerous film studios, publishers and music rental agencies.
The official web site is available at http://www.soundtrackslive.com and is destined to become the #1 film music concert resource for orchestras and concert halls worldwide.
For more information on Soundtracks Live!, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
On [da.2015-05-19]May 19, Varèse Sarabande will release two albums of music from Temple Street Production's hit series [t.37105]Orphan Black, the [a.15160]original soundtrack featuring songs by Tears For Fears, Meredith Brooks and the "Theme From Orphan Black" by Two Fingers, as well as the [a.15307]original score album composed by [c.7689]Trevor Yuile. In addition, a [a.15467]1,000-unit picture disc of the soundtrack album will be exclusively available at Hot Topic on July 24, 2015. A regular vinyl release of the soundtrack album is planned for a late summer release. The Varèse Sarabande deal was brokered by Striker Entertainment on behalf of Temple Street Productions.
"Throughout the creation of the show, music has helped us paint each clone into a distinct, layered...
Lakeshore Records will release the [a.14453]Good Kill Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally and CD on [da.2015-05-12]May 12, 2015. The album features the film's original score by [c.564]Christophe Beck.
[m.41788]Good Kill is the story of fighter pilot, Major Tommy Egan, who has been flying F--16's in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is still flying missions in that part of the world but now he is doing it from the inside of a very different cockpit. He is a drone pilot, fighting the war by remote control from an air-conditioned cubicle 7,000 miles away on a base near Las Vegas. It's about the new schizophrenia of war.
"In approaching the score, I wanted to create a certain sonic ambiguity between the two desert landscapes featured: rural Nevada and Pakistan,"...
Soundtrack Picks: ‘GRABBERS’ and ‘ROBOT OVERLORDS‘ are the top soundtracks to own for April, 2015
Also worth picking up 3:!0 TO YUMA, CHUCK, DEBUG, EX MACHINA, GOING APE, SOAPDISH, STORMY WEATHER, WOLF HALL and many more!
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover
THE TOP PICKS
1) 3:10 TO YUMA / THE GUNMAN
Prices: $19.98 / 16.95
What is it?: With the NRA-approved likes of “Terminator 3,” “Live Free or Die Hard” and “Mesrine: Public Enemy #1,” Marco Beltrami has shown his certain set of skills when it comes to using firearms, at least musically when it comes to a soft-spoken composer whose scores often make particularly loud bangs – no more so then with a fully loaded re-issue of his ode to spaghetti westerns, or his recent score that effectively turns the similarly circumspect Sean Penn into a weapon-blazing action hero.
Why should you buy it?: When hearing how Beltrami created a unique, and gnarly sound for James Mangold’s mighty good 2007 reboot of 1957’s “3:10 To Yuma,” one might look back to his untraditional take on the modern western for the psychological, south of the border “revenge” movie “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” which twisted about its Mexican rhythms to paint a hard-bitten, “real” portrait of weathered frontier men (a feet he most recently pulled off again with the even crazier “Homesman”). As translated to the frequently emulated territory of Ennio Morricone, Beltrami’s Oscar nominated take on tack pianos, mouth harps, spur-hitting metal percussion and twanging nylon and steel string guitars has an impact that’s as vibrant as ever in La La Land’s newly expanded soundtrack. Tasking a desperate rancher to take a perhaps not-so villainous gunslinger to the train that will transport him to the hanging hoosegow, Beltrami creates a menacing, exciting landscape, full of eerie, blistering samples, furious action rhythms and shivering tension. The whole effect is unsettling and dangerous, playing the west as a place where conventional, black hat / white hat scoring nobility is in short supply, using the orchestra in a way that seems completely authentic to the period while re-inventing it at the same time. But “3:10” is also quite a lot of fun when Beltrami tips his ten-gallon to Morricone with aplomb, especially as clopping percussion plays the climactic race to the train, complete with a soaring, fateful Mexican-style trumpet. It’s a score that does a lot of make Russell Crowe’s gunslinger one of the more memorable bad-asses since The Man With No Name, while imparting heroic vulnerability to Christian Bale’s rancher.
Extra Special: Having last handled a rogue agent with Pearce Brosnan’s “November Man,” Beltrami take quite a bit of a less explosive approach for Sean Penn’s “The Gunman.” Not that there isn’t percussive excitement to spare, but the big difference is that Penn has never been perceived as James Bond – something that makes this largely successful attempt to “Taken”-ize the beyond-serious actor so interesting. While way better cinematically than Penn’s last film in that realm with “The Interpreter,” “The Gunman” shares its setting of Africa as a jumping off point for overseas mayhem that stretches from London to Barcelona. While not specifically doing a Dark Continent score as such, Beltrami’s truly interesting percussion conveys the violent, tragic land within as Penn seeks redemption for the sins of his past. It’s the character’s haunted quality that gives an often weird, interesting soulfulness to “The Gunman” introspective approach. The music has quite a bit of ethereal space for a genre score, conjuring the dread feeling of being surrounded by the many ghosts he’s put in the grave for right, or mostly wrong causes. But this is a chase thriller after all, which Beltrami recognizes in his tense, heartbeat percussion, especially in the dynamic finale that lets the bulls out, along with the kind of pulsating electronics, menacing brass and rampaging percussion that first made Beltrami’s bones in the horror genre – here used for multinational corporate payback at its best Beltrami also gets to write that one, romantically resplendent all-is-going-to-be-well climactic cue that proves the one sunny spot for every body count movie, You might even detect an unintentional flavor of “Born Free” in “The Gunman’s” return to a hopefully better Africa.
2) GOING APE
What is it?: Though he’d never stopped scoring dramatic subjects like “The Great Santini” and “Zulu Dawn” (not to mention “Saturn 3′s” hulking robot), the 1980s proved to be a three ring circus that proclaimed Elmer Bernstein as a king of comedy. He was certainly on a roll after the hijinks of “Animal House, “Meatballs” and “Airplane!” scores that famously played their screwball humor “straight.” But definitely not so with the monkeyshines of 1981′s “Going Ape,” which teamed TV’s “Taxi” stars Tony Danza and Danny DeVito with three mugging orangutans. While definitely not the most sophisticated comedy that Bernstein would ever score, the sheer delight that he put into this fairly obscure soundtrack makes his monkeyshines into an unexpected delight.
Why should you buy it?: Apes and screwball comedy have always gone together like Cheetah and bananas, plots revolving around how to deal with a barrel of monkeys that have shown up from “Every Which Way But Loose” to “Dunston Checks In,” in this case sending the loveable furry trio into a schlub’s apartment after his circus-owning dad passes. Of course there’s a massive inheritance to go with it if his son can deal with the primates and their equally hairy, and diminutive human handler. It’s a high concept shtick that Bernstein announces straight up with his rollicking circus music. And while there’s plenty of calliope stylings at hand, what makes “Going Ape” particularly fun for Bernstein fans is its pokey jazz comedy. One can sense how much fun Bernstein has subverting the jazz rhythms that truly made his bones in the 50s, a soft-shuffle here that also brings to mind “Animal House’s” hilarious scoring as Flounder is hustled to the stable to take revenge on a fascist white stallion. “Going Ape” plays like the next generation to that particular score in many ways, as the loopy carnival rhythms orchestrally lope about with comically suspenseful, sneaky pizzicato brass. It’s an ungainly, and very funny way of embodying orangutan movement. The fact that the themes come across as being as menacing as they are goofy also show off “Going Ape” as the ancient ancestor of “Ghostbusters” in its mockingly dangerous way of setting up scary characters as nothing worse than ungainly kids.
Extra Special: But then, pretty much every style is in target range of Bernstein’s cartoonish cage when it comes to this delightfully unapologetic score, from aping Mozart opera to doing a very credible riff on “The Godfather” theme for two mob goons, or using heavenly voices and sparkling strings. Almost as astounding as seeing this forgotten, but very worthwhile score get a release is that it’s come in at 77 minutes. Intrada’s completest presentation not only offers numerous alternates but also a number of catchy pop songs, from the driving R & B rhythm of “It Ain’t Who’s Right, It’s What’s Right” to the romping country-western “One Way Street.” The tune-packed “Apes” even has the love ballad “Suddenly” and the winsomely poetic, self-reflective “Grim Brother Grimm,” which has both female and male vocalist versions. Consider “Going Ape!” as Bernstein comedy at its scruffiest, unkempt in its loopy, -four-knuckle lurking way whose deliberate, jazzy absurdity showed that Bernstein could indeed be in on the goofy musical joke, as much as he otherwise tried to avoid that particular banana peel. The liner notes by Jeff Bond (who just finished his own “Planet of the Apes” tome) are likely funnier than the film itself as they come up with every primate metaphor in the book.
3) GRABBERS / ROBOT OVERLORDS
What Is It?: Since throwing an executive team-building trip into a bunch of merc serial killers in “Severance,” Christian Henson has proven to be one of the more notably rising British composers with his particular talent for the genre, exploring an eerily time-trapping Bermuda “Triangle,” then adding to the Sean Bean body count in the lethally atmospheric “Black Death” before playing one of history’s monsters for Saddam Hussein’s “The Devil’s Double.” Movie Score Media has been a big proponent of this gifted and prolific composer, recently with “Malice in Wonderland,” “The Secret of Moonacre,” “Storage 24” and his music for a new TV spin on “Sinbad.” But Henson has been no more impressive than with the label’s new, evil double whammy of “Grabbers” and “Robot Overlords,” one score offering a sly Irish-flavored spin on “Tremors,” while the other impressively fuses old school scoring and the high-tech for an imperious army of mechanoids.
Why Should You Buy It?: There’s a monstrously delicate balance to any comedy-horror score. One light tip too much, and the music will encourage one to laugh at a pitiful, toothless creature. A swing the darker way, and the musical jokes will be scared away as the tone goes on a mis-matched rampage. Henson can be congratulated for navigating between both ends, especially given that he’s got to be drunk as a skunk to combat fang-mouthed , tentacled creatures that would give the Graboids a run for their money. But before hilariously slurred brass enter this ingenious, relatively small picture, Henson’s score sets an ominous, rhythmically gnashing tone, with a reverberated motif that no doubt conjures up a bit of “Alien” for these creatures’ space-bound origins. “Grabbers’” Gaelic setting adds much scenic mirth to the score, bringing out the usual suspects of an accordion and fiddle to join the orchestra. But it’s a whole other level of inventiveness as Henson breaks into jig-like action theme to battle the beasties, with woozy horns piling on the beers. You could just as well assume this is the best score ever written for a “Leprechaun” movie with how well Henson develops the score, deliberately building from slow, suspenseful atmosphere to the point where all roly-poly hell loose. Henson embodies the Irish fighting spirit as a mad, desperate dance, effortlessly switching partners between slasher dissonance, desperate chases and a gigantically heroic climax that neatly ties his themes together. Delightfully stumbling about like a kraken OD’ing on whiskey before getting its melodic act together, “Grabbers” (now watchable on Netflix Instant) is the height of cleverness, music that succeeds as making one laugh before gobbling for the throat.
Extra Special: Electronic synthesis is all the rage these days in conjuring post-apocalyptic young adult sci-fiction driven scenarios – scores that at once have a touch of 8-bit retro while hitting the glowstick floor with trance /hip hop club beats. What’s especially welcome is when composers have the orchestral muscle to back up that tween approach, especially if that might is carried in the claws of the “Robot Overlords.” But don’t let an even sillier title than “Grabbers” dissuade you from Henson’s next, ambitious teaming with director Jon Wright, whose cinematic scope this time encompasses all of the United Kingdom, and the world when it comes to a mechanoid invasion that makes “Red Dawn”-ish resistance fighters out of a group of valiant kids. What comes as no surprise is just how smart and intricately constructed Henson’s score is in giving blockbuster scope to his music. Sure you’ve got the gnarly, pulsating synths to herald the invasion, their whooshing, rocket engine circuitry sound given energized symphonic back-up that’s no stranger to a multiplex world reshaped by the Hans Zimmer sound. But what’s particularly cool is how Henson twists, and distorts the grinding, beeping digitized pulsations about to create truly unique, and creepy metallic vibes, conveying how its heroes avoiding brain-sucking alien wavelengths. But surprisingly, it’s the more organic components of the score that are even more impressive, especially in Henson’s manipulation of the human voice. A lonely female sings a lullaby theme for childhood lost, while an imposing wall of male voices are chopped up and reverberated as a rhythmic device, or finally used for soothing, heavenly deliverance. Rock guitar gets across the youthful determination to wipe out the robot bastards, with a swaggering, swirling orchestral theme dealing the heroic blows for humanity. As big as “Robot Overlords” does get, it’s the more intimate instruments like bell percussion and piano that really sock home the underlying subtext of childhood lost to the metal men. All are impressive components of Henson’s unique, involving work that pushes the sound of the YA genre into new musical realms that are at once futuristic while thankfully being as emotionally old as the symphonic hills for this soundtrack that truly rules.
4) SOAPDISH (1,000 edition)
What Is it?: Having cut his very early musical chops traveling with a neighborhood Cuban band, it was destiny itself that Alan Silvestri would get to mix that island’s boisterous rhythms with a very American brand of hilariously bombastic orchestral drama for this all-star 1991 send-up. But then again, Silvestri did start his major scoring career with the adventurous Latin beat of “Romancing the Stone” before playing the deliciously melodramatic cat fight of “Death Becomes Her,” all of which made him a perfect over-actor to accompany “Soapdish” with this winning plethora of snappy mambo energy and exuberant orchestrations for a cult comedy score that finally gets the sappily hilarious soundtrack treatment it deserves.
Why Should You Buy It?: Whether it’s “Back to the Future” or “Predator,” Alan Silvestri’s music has always been marked with an emotionally heightened sense of melody, especially when dealing with straight-up seriousness in the Oscar-nominated likes of “Forrest Gump.” “Soapdish” slides effortlessly between the worlds of more conventional comedy stylings and the Latin big band world. One can only pity Silvestri for the viewing time he put in to nail the daytime TV drama suspects of woeful violin sympathy, grandiose award ceremony fanfares and pokey snooping about, all the better to nail the arch scheming in front of, and behind the camera. And when it comes to brain surgery in a world of impossible-to-kill characters, Silvestri milks every ounce of obvious suspense with a hilarious lack of restraint with his telltale shivering strings, lurking piano percussion and exclamatory crescendos that could easily play a lurking Predator if one didn’t know better. Yet there’s real, emotional feeling for these hams as well in the sincerely beautiful love theme, whose lilting violin and piano comprise but one of “Soapdish’s” many exceptional melodies. While Silvestri had used 1940s jazz swing for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” it was truly “Soapdish” that unleashed his inner Henry Mancini, as crossed by the brass of such Cuban bandleaders as Perez Prado, using tangos, mambos and cha cha’s as the stuff of high comedy. Latin rhythms race to the next shocking, swooning revelation, or do a deliciously slow tango to milk the unexpected revelations, with a classical violin brining an air of snootiness to the distinctly populist entertainment that “Soapdish” is cleverly making hay of.
Extra Special: While it could be easy to be condescending, what’s made “Soapdish” endure is the obvious endearment that’s gone into the film and its boisterously lush music. “Soapdish” brims over with high energy fun and delight as it effortless switches tango partners from traditional scoring to Latin jazz, his career’s cultural roots finally singing out with breezy, brassy energy (with the truly Cuban score “The Perez Family” to follow). Now Quartet Records follows up their Silvestri double-header of “Summer Rental” and “Critical Condition” with this jewel in the composer’s comedy crown. Hearing the full extent of Silvestri’s warm romance and Cruella De Ville-worthy villainy is the equivalent of going binge listening to a whole season of “The Young and the Restless,” with numerous further alternates expanding on the score and its tropical rhythms, as well as some knowingly kitschy Muzak tunes.
5) A SOUND OF THUNDER
What Is it?: You’d be hard pressed to hear Ray Bradbury when this wannabe epic showed the time-wave shock of what happens when errant dino-hunters from the future happen to step on a hapless butterfly. Certainly filmmaker Peter Hyams was used to bagging bigger cinematic game when he took on the project for cash-strapped Franchise Pictures. But if the company’s fall made the real havoc here into the unrealized ambition of effects that seemed like a chicken in Jurassic Park, that didn’t stop Hyams from delivering an unexpectedly entertaining, and at times quite suspenseful film, the vision of what it’s production should have been truly realized in the impressive score by Nick Glennie-Smith. An OG member of Hans Zimmer’s posse since their days playing for Stanley Meyers, Smith was part of Zimmer’s game-changing team from Remote Control to Media Ventures, journeying from the propulsive likes of “The Rock” to “Drop Zone,” and “King Arthur” before mainly continuing on as a top-rank score conductor. Glennie-Smith was well versed in his own propulsive scores like “Fire Down Below,” “The Man in the Iron Mask” and “We Were Soldiers” when “Sound” came calling. Even in the movie might be buried in history for its few admirers (of which I count myself a non-guilty pleasure one), having Dragon’s Domain Records excavate his score after a decade is certainly better late than never.
Why Should You Buy It?: “Thunder” really roars as an unsung, incredibly dynamic score that makes full use of Smith’s knowledge honed in the multiplex-adrenalin trenches of Team Zimmer. Like Brian Tyler’s “Timeline,” Smith relies on a near-constant sense of rhythm to connote future machines propelling foolhardy scientists (and in this case idiot great white hunters) across the millennium-stream. Percolating danger hangs over a score that always seems to be in motion, creating an incredibly suspenseful feeling of world-changing devastation in the offing at any second. The themes are here in abundance, yet Smith keeps them subtly in the string-heavy background, much like the danger brewing about the increasingly affected future. You can certainly sense how Smith’s programming and orchestrational skills (of course with his writing at the forefront) are really saving the day from what could have ended up sounding like a budgetarily-drained score, giving angry, reptilian flesh and blood to the sampled elements. Ethnic flute emulation also helps with the score’s sense of pre-history rampaging into the present, “A Sound of Thunder” has a breathless, thrilling quality to it that knows when to run, or hide as the time-hybrid creatures stalk within arm’s reach, its sturdily melodic construction building to a slam-bang race-to-save-the-butterfly finish. It’s all certainly as exciting as any music Glennie-Smith wrote for the far better received “Rock,” with the added bonus of its sci-fi score elements that make this ever-accelerating score anything but a time capsule.
Extra Special: Dragon’s Domain makes an auspicious, Tyrannosaurus-sized imprint with their first release, sporting enveloping sound, and a nicely designed fold-out booklet with comprehensive notes by genre score archeologist Randall D. Larson. Here’s hoping this label will continue to unearth such worthy scores that relatively recent time forgot, even as its composer continues to conduct such action blockbusters as “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” It’s an arena that “Thunder” shows he should be stomping around far more in as a composer as well.
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
. BATTLEFIELD: HARDLINE
As you play the “episodes” of “Battlefield: HArdline”that take a straight-shooting cop from the pride of the force to a vigilante looking to take the force down, you might feel like you’ve been drop-kicked into an R-rated version of “CSI: Miami,” or more likely old-school “Miami Vice” given the thrumming rock soundtrack by Paul Leonard-Morgan. Having impressed with his energetic, often electricity-fueled scores for such rapid-fire films as “Limitless,” “The Numbers Station” and “Dredd,” Morgan goes for a rawer, rock guitar guitar groove that not only brings to mind Jan Hammer, but also such late 80s Tangerine Dream scores as “Near Dark” and “Miracle Mile” – scores that used propulsive, often country-flavored power chords, thrashing drum percussion and eerie, ambient synths to go for a pedal-to-the-medal groove as opposed to hitting specific action. It’s a grungy, raw power that effectively provides exciting, and menacing music beds for the game’s various gun battles, car chases and way more boring fact finding, giving the impression of the player up against some very bad guys. There’s a neon energy to Morgan’s work as he gets the first person shooting groove down, making it hard to believe that “Hardline” is his first entry into that arena. But then, Morgan’s had plenty of practice with bad-ass heroes and villains, characters whose music tells you they’re entering the scene packing both sunglasses and machine guns. This is pure adrenalin with some thankfully moody down time that conveys an angry world of cops and kingpins, energized attitude that never gets tiring as Morgan finds one electrifying, bad-ass rhythm after the other that ups “Battlefied Hardline’s” ante of copshow-as-videogame.
With geeks inheriting the television earth, it was only natural that a computer nerd named “Chuck” would get his own cult NBC show, where he proved himself to be a more-than capable super-spy over the course of 91 episodes and five seasons. That’s quite a lot of time to make a musical impression with his ceaseless, CIA-embedded skills. But darn if composer Tim Jones’ brain didn’t stop cooking as he came up with one clever stylistic touch after the other, the best of which have now been collected to create a very strong musical impression on this titular CD. Of course you’re going to get that swaggering, James Bond sound that every satirical agent from Austin Powers to Cody Banks and the Kingsmen can’t do without. And while Jones accomplishes that smooth, jazzily dangerous symphonic fuzz guitar mission with attitude to spare, it’s the electro-jolted sensation of Willams-esque adventure, bang-up percussion and rocking guitars that flood the ear with energized information, the sensation of one idea neatly segueing from the other that makes this album so much fun. You’ve got “Tron”-esque synth organs tango’ing about, cocktail percussion serving another hammering round of percussion as groovy surf chords hang ten. Delightful in whichever stream-of-spy consciousness path its neurons are firing with, “Chuck” has a slam-bang sense of energy that recalls the kind of crazed, yet sophisticated energy that John Powell gave to the likes of “Agent Cody Banks” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” yet with ultra-homage music that is very much of Jones’ own creation. But within “Chuck’s” craziness, there’s real honest heart to be had, as Jones shows his thematic talent with piano themes that play a man-child who’s looking for love in all the dangerous places. Sending the album out on a goofy high note are delightfully cheesy Karaoke takes on the kind of retro tracks that are these geek show’s self-referential stock in trade. Needless to say, I don’t think A-Ha, Creedence Clearwater, or Queen will have to worry about Jeffster’s enthusiastically warbled versions of “Take On Me,” “Fortunate Son” or “Fat Bottom Girls.”
While he’s impressed with the jet-fueled thrills of “Red Sky” and the massively symphonic historical scope of “Walking with the Enemy,” some of Timothy Williams most blazing work has appeared under the company of Tyler Bates’ “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a score that he also conducted. It’s a sci-fi energy that puts Jones in particularly good solo stead to head into space with a bunch of juvenile delinquent hackers, who discover a particularly devilish mainframe who doesn’t want to be deleted in “Debug.” Though it might not have “Guardians’” budget, filmmaker David Hewlett (most familiar as an actor in the likes of “Splice”) has done an ingeniously resourceful, and clever job in creating the shiny sets, outrageous bursts of gore and unexpected ninja plot twists that bring to mind such late 80s ghost-in-the-machine sci-fi thrillers as “Nightflyers.” While the synth technology has grown a bit since Doug Timm’s exceptional work on that haunted spaceship, Timothy Williams brings a cool, throbbing retro flavor to the combination of electronics and orchestra that thrillingly power “Debug.” It’s often hard to tell where the twisted circuitry and actual instruments trade off, especially given the composer’s novel way of recording the orchestra in “reverse” to fill in this super-elongated craft. Williams uses creepy atmospheres, chopping rhythms and ominous suspense to create a fun musical interface between the HUD-equipped, ill-fated computer kids and future Aquaman Jason Moma’s well-coiffed tormentor, his percussion-heavy music effectively jumping between the real and circuitry worlds. For as sparkling clean as “Debug’s” impressive sets are, Williams gives a nasty, rock and roll grunginess to the score that conveys a punk team spirit facing off against a fiendish circuitry man, also conveying a spirit of sacrifice in his more emotional moments of camaraderie that use unexpectedly poetic piano, voice and melancholy strings to contrast with the more angrily energized music at hand. While even Rocket Raccoon might not be able to survive in this darker musical atmosphere, “Debug” once again shows that Williams is able to suit up for far bigger genre fare, especially when his character-centered score helps give “Debug” electrified, big budget resonance.
. THE DEVIL’S HAND
There’s nothing creepier than black-garbed, bible quoting religious cultists dwelling in the rural hinterlands, as the genre of pseudo-Amish horror has proven with such brethren as “Deadly Blessing” and infinite entries of the “Children of the Corn” series. But when you’ve got an assortment of string and percussion instruments ripping your spinal chord out with the finesse of a rusty wood chipper, then that congregant’s screaming, shivering voice achieves a whole other level of musical fright. On that note, Anton Sanko’s score for “The Devil’s Hand” can be welcomed as the most insidious member of a musical congregation that includes James Horner and Jonathan Elias. A composer who’s proven he can swing from indie dramas and comedies like “Rabbit Hole” and “Delirious” into full-out terror with “The Possession,” “Jessabelle” and “Ouija,” Sanko goes for grim, rustic blood like never before as he tries to ferret out which one of five, nice sweet sect girls will turn out to be the Anti-Christ, who’s of course due by prophecy to fully take over the survivor’s body in New Bethlehem at the stroke of midnight. The rapidly dying digits of the decent “Devil’s Hand” give Sanko a powerful opportunity to mix the profane and the sacred in the form of shrieking sound masses and melodic empathy for the pre-cursed. Twisting about rural instruments so they’re far more part of hell than ersatz upstate New York, Sanko creates a chilling, slowly drawn string quintet sense of isolated, feminine vulnerability, not only going up against a seeming supernatural force, but also the pain of family abandonment – a very real emotion that cult kids go through when they’re ostracized from their unbending communities. Piano and a ghostly female voice play nice homage to the likes of “Rosemary’s Baby,” while slowly plucked, hit and otherwise tortured dulcimers, autoharps and zithers merge into razor sharp dissonance. The result is real nightmare stuff, the kind of music that should most definitely not be listened to at night for fear of conjuring monsters in the mind. Yet there’s enough thematic, and thankfully melodic content here to keep pulling the listener towards the darkness in which extremism dresses in body and sprit for all of his sanctimony.
. EX MACHINA
“28 Days Later” and “Sunshine” writer Alex Garland makes a gradually impressive directing debut in front of the lens with this beautifully appointed, but at-first sterile adult sci-fi picture that gradually builds to end on a memorable high note. And it’s exactly the film’s overwhelming, creepy blankness that co-composers Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury are effectively playing to. It’s an interesting, and impressive dynamic, with Barrow essentially making his scoring debut here after writing tunes that have appeared in such films as “Tank Girl,” “The Craft” and “Lord of War,” while Salisbury is the more seasoned component with his copious work heard in such nature documentaries as “Ocean Giants,” and “Life In Cold Blood.” That is what seemingly comprises the circuitry of the femme bot that a hapless computer geek is sent to explore, a process of emotional discovery that starts off with hypnotic, unfeeling ambience. As with Hans Zimmer’s way more active pro-mechanoid score “Chappie,” Barrow and Salisbury use gentle bell percussion to play the child-like aspect of the forbiddingly sensual “Ava,” a war more attractive Pinocchio figure who wants to be a real woman in every way possible. Yet this is pretty much a haunted house score, as bizarre, bubbling electronic effects gradually intrude amidst the minimal atmospheres to tell us that something very wrong is afoot, if purposefully hidden behind the closed doors of icily appealing sound masses. It’s a throbbing, thematic ambience, with a flight into guitar rhythm, that recalls the more surreal work that composer John Murphy gave to Garland’s rage zombies and burnt madman, as stripped and slowed down to completely hypnotic effect. This is pure, state of the art computer music with a bit of a taste for buzzing retro synthesis, capable of both fear and religious transcendence, much like the film’s erotic test subject. “Ex Machina” a musical Tabula Rasa if you will that asks the listener to invest feeling into the music instead of it giving away deliberate emotion the other way around. And much like a computer dork who may be as big a sap as any detective who fell for the wrong dame, Barrow and Salisbury’s “Ex-Machina” completely sucks the adventurous listener in to its high tech, and at times alarming, seduction.
. FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
The beautiful, slow-moving string melodies of English composer Craig Armstrong have made him a favorite when it comes to the many shades of romance. And while he’s had his share of cheerful, kiss-filled endings with “Love, Actually” and “Fever Pitch,” most often it’s his poignant talent for melody that has ripped romance asunder, most often in the company of Baz Luhrmann for “Moulin Rouge!” and “The Great Gatsby.” Armstrong’s beautiful melancholy couldn’t be better suited than for this latest cinematic trip to Thomas Hardy’s countryside with “Far From the Madding Crowd,” the story of a woman torn asunder between an earthy sheep farmer, dashing soldier and stuck-up land owner. It’s a story as old as the green rolling hills, made most famous by the 1967 love triangle between Julie Christie, Terence Stamp and Peter Finch in John Schlesinger’s excellent adaptation, which featured sumptuous Oscar nominated score by Richard Rodney Bennett – arguably one of the finest written for the cinema. While Armstrong doesn’t quite have the musical showcase of Stamp showing off his cavalry skills here, he does quite well in making his own imprint on the tale. Just as that composer took inspiration from the master of bucolic English music William Walton, Armstrong is mesmerizingly at home in nature with a score that features violin and harp amidst his strings, creating a lush, yet subtle paean to both nature and a woman’s conflicted heart. The classical effect is nothing less than gorgeous in a well-trod land of costume drama scores, quietly singing with its own poetic presence as it delicately sets the stage for tragedy. Victorian-era tunes also prove to be an essential part of the “Crowd,” from the church hymns of The Dorset Singers and Yeovil Chamber choir to the energetic folk dances, performed with joyous energy for fiddle and accordion by the Eliza Carthy Band and Saul Rose. But when it comes to enchantment starlet Cary Mulligan provides a poignant warning about menfolk with “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme” – nor would they dare to from her.
. KANGAROO: THE AUSTRALIAN STORY
Definitely the silliest title to grace a beyond-manly score, 1952’s “Kangaroo” was the first Hollywood film to be shot down under, even if its plot of two swindlers after an old coot’s money was a western that could have just as well taken place in Texas (of course minus a few shots of said creatures). Creating a massive orchestral soundtrack that was certainly as big as that state, not to mention a continent, was Sol Kaplan. Best known for his memorably shrill, epically dangerous music for the great “Star Trek” episode “The Doomsday Machine,” Kaplan was an especially adventures composer in the early 50s with such oaters as “Red Skies of Montana,” “Return of the Texan” and “Rawhide,” all of which put him in good blockbuster stead to accompany ne’er do-wells Richard Boone and Peter Lawford as they fight over Maureen O’Hara. The great thing about golden age scores of this sort was how completely uninhibited they were in virtually playing through the entire film, wearing their drama and lilting violin romance directly on their sleeves. “Kangaroo’s” smashing action, quivering suspense and overall brooding atmosphere is up there with the most boisterous of the lot, with Kaplan’s especially dark opening recalling the work of Bernard Herrmann. Things do lighten up a tad with quotes of English-Irish Irish folks songs before returning to the struggle of men trying to tame the outback, with the dynamic 12-minute cue “The Dry Land” an especially dramatic piece in brassily conveying the physical, and emotional struggle that was the Hollywood homesteader experience. And when it comes to cues that buck like a bronco, the relentless, furious rhythms of “The Stampede” threaten to throw the listener out of their seat. Once can hear the presence of music director Alfred Newman in Kaplan’s massive, and always melodic score, which serves as a thrilling discovery in the pantheon of classic Hollywood scores whose power bowed down to no man. Having done exceptional jobs releasing such classically robust scores as Dmitri Tiomkin’s “Champion” and Franz Waxman’s “Sunset Boulevard,” Counterpoint Records does another smashing job with a soundtrack from the era in making the music play with minimal “archival” age, chronicling its story in an exceptionally well-designed booklet, whose honestly engaging liners by James Doherty take a look at “Kangaroo’s” trouble-fraught production that goes beyond its unfortunate choice of a name for a score that comes roaring at the listener like a brahma bull.
. OLD BOYFRIENDS
In one of the more ironic scoring assignments, David Shire was put in the position of scoring his then-wife Talia as a character who sorts her romantic love life out on screen, here playing a psychiatrist who flees her husband, bounding about the county to do some serious self-therapy with a rogues gallery of exes that include the acting likes of Richard Jordan, Keith Carradine and even John Belushi. With the actress capitalizing on her “Rocky” role as Adrian to show she had far more range in this and her other star vehicle “Windows,” one might expect a somewhat treacly romantic score given the subject of a woman pursuing self-worth through her old romantic adventures. But what Shire delivers is a score full of suspenseful passion, unexpected high drama that’s way more along the strong, dramatically orchestral lines of his classic women’s score to “Norma Rae” than the frothier, jazzy likes of “Bed and Breakfast” (scored for Shire long after he’d found new love with “Grease’s” Didi Conn). “Old Boyfriends” is full of thematic, self-discovering gestalt, angst embodied in rhythmic strings, tender guitars and poignant flutes that convey a voyage of inner discovery, buffeting its heroine in highly emotional winds – with all paths leading back to poetic self-reflection. It’s truly gorgeous, heartbreakingly thematic work that ranks among the best instances of a male composer touching a feminine sound, and feeling. It’s a thematic power that’s especially tearful and devastating via violin during its big “Love Scene,” and poundingly horrific return to the scene of attempted suicide. It’s a power that no doubt owes itself to the fact that Shire intimately knew his star at the time. The return to “Old Boyfriends” 35 years later has lost none of its impactful feeling, musical emotion that’s well psychoanalyzed by Tim Grieving’s liner notes. It’s a soundtrack that definitely makes me want to go on a hunt to watch this essentially lost movie itself.
. STORMY WEATHER
After their terrific release of Patrick Williams’ Italian-flavored underscore for “Breaking Away” that coincided with Twilight Time’s blu ray movie edition, Kritzerland once again works in conjunction with the label to put out a truly historical, two-CD of one of mainstream Hollywood’s few forays into black entertainment. But beyond the song made eternal by Lena Horne for this 1943 20th Century Fox production, “Stormy Weather” also stands as one of the great American songbook scores when it came to showing black culture’s big splash on the nation’s music songbook. Done in the all-star cavalcade style made popular from the advent of musical sound, this heavily fictionalized biography of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson was as wonderful a reason as ever for getting together the best all-colored talent of the day, many of whom played themselves. With Bojangles making a brassily raucous entrance with “Walkin’ the Dog,” “Stormy Weather” hits numerous styles and tempos with delightfully warm sound. Horne’s bluesy romantic lead vamps with the sax and strings as she moons “There’s No Two Ways About Love,” Fats Waller and Ada Brown have a comically bluesy interplay for “That Ain’t Right” (complete with his great realization of “One Never Knows, Do One?”), with Waller next on the piano for a relaxed interpretation of “Ain’t Misbehavin.’” Cab Calloway is at his boogying, scat-singing, wolf-call best for the bawdy “Geechy Joe” and “The Jumpin’ Jive,” showing off a near-yodeling tone that would become famous for a whole new generation when he took the stage before the Blues Brothers. But it’s big band jazz that’s the name of the game here, whether its roaring hot or playing with sultry romance in one classic, swinging tune after the other. Given Twilight Time’s penchant for isolated music tracks, Kritzerland’s “Stormy Weather” goes well beyond the vocal numbers to include extended underscore as well (given exceptional vibrancy by Neil S. Bulk and Mike Matessino), which show off a range from patriotic military timpani to such southern favorites as “De Camptown Races.” It’s a glorious album that’s all about they heyday of classic black music, given the rare chance not to be in the back of the big screen bus. The album also offers a whole second cd of bonus tracks, from a sultry six-plus minute instrumental of “Body and Soul” to Lena Horne’s beautifully despondent “Good for Nothin’ Joe” and Bojangles telling the bible story of “Shadrack.” But the highlight is the Fox orchestra riffing on “Alfred the Moocher” as Cab Calloway belts out the “boy wonder” story of studio music head Alfred Newman in what’s likely most gloriously personalized and affectionate rhyming-verse tribute given to any composer on the studio stage. As such, “Stormy Weather” is a succession of landmark wonders that’s pure sunshine.
. WOLF HALL
It’s understandable that the BBC (let alone America) can’t get enough of the wildest member of England’s Royal Family and his entourage, who helped the lusty Henry VIII break from the Roman Catholic Church. The chief architect in his court who enabled is wife-laden plans was Thomas Cromwell, not exactly a babe magnet himself, but serpentine in his machinations that changed the fate of Britain. Given this interior, oft-villainized figure who spawned Hilary Mantle’s novels and this six-episode adaptation, it’s understood that a big, robust orchestral score might not be the way to go, or either the kind of contemporiazed take that Trevor Morris gave to Showtime’s “Tudors.” So it’s a particular pleasure to have Debbie Wiseman arrive in the king’s confidence for the lovely, intimate score that graces “Wolf Hall.” A composer who’s proven herself in the historical arena with the robust, sympathetic scores for the likes of Oscar Wilde, and T.S. Elliot as well as such fictional icons as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Henry Jekyll, Wiseman has always been a composer who’s equated melody with aristocracy, both in terms of creative distinction and English society. Here she’s essentially dealing with a working class schemer who made very, very good, but likely at the cost of his humanity. “Wolf Hall” is subsequently “unplugged” in its sparseness, yet vast in emotional tone as her mostly string quintet approach (richly performed by the Locrian Ensemble of London) creates a gripping sense of rhythmic intrigue, conveying the constant back-stabbing and ear-whispering that rises one to the top of the political game next to a figure with a fondness for decapitation. Using a repeating, string theme that gives a Glass-ian touch to “Wolf Hall,” Wiseman creates a haunted, elegant sense of loneliness for a man who’s survival meant hiding in the moral shadows. Combining a period-specific sounds with the flute, harpsichord and drums, as well as such emotive instruments as the piano and chorus Wiseman creates a rich, lovely thematic tapestry in the almost poignant sound of a loner looking in and yearning for acceptance even as he helps shape the course of a country to its ruler’s whims. When so many bigger entertainments now trying to find good within iconic, seemingly villainous characters as “Maleficent,” Wiseman accomplishes the historical version with a calm, darkly melancholy whisper, much like the life-altering words that Cromwell sent into a King’s ear.
CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Kritzerland, Intrada, iTunes and Screen Archives Entertainment
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