- No upcoming events available
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1480]Henry Jackman ([m.42318]The Fifth Wave), [c.361]Brian Tyler ([m.43595]Truth), [c.1154]John Paesano ([m.43479]Same Kind of Different as Me), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here..
There were 53 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-04-13]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.40892]Monkey Kingdom ([c.274]Harry Gregson-Williams), [m.40807]Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 ([c.540]Rupert Gregson-Williams), and [m.42287]Unfriended (no composer).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
[c.151]James Newton Howard, one of the most versatile and respected composers currently working in film, was named the new artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute (HMI) at the prestigious Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida.
[c.151]James Newton Howard succeeds film composer, arranger and multi-Grammy Award winning trumpeter and bandleader [c.247]Terence Blanchard, who served with distinction as artistic director for seven years, since 2008. Howard's term will begin in January 2016, announced Shelton G. Berg, dean of the Frost School of Music. An inaugural large-scale concert featuring Howard's original film music is planned for Spring 2016 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade...
NEWS: World Soundtrack Awards Announces Details of 2015 Composition Contest for Young Film Composers
Young composers across the world will have the chance to have their music played in front of some of Hollywood's most prominent film composers at The World Soundtrack Awards (WSA) in Ghent, Belgium. The WSAs will present the SABAM Award for Best Young International Composer to one of three selected finalists. The three finalists will be invited for a three-day visit in Ghent where they will have their compositions performed by the Brussels Philharmonic and conducted by maestro [c.3401]Dirk Brossé during the 15th World Soundtrack Awards, which serves as the official closing ceremony of the 42nd Film Fest Gent. They will also have opportunity to meet with international film music professionals and compete for a 2,500 prize.
Registrations will be accepted via this link until...
Lakeshore Records will release the [a.15174]Child 44 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally on [da.2015-04-14]April 14 and on CD [da.2015-05-12]May 12, 2015. The album features the film's original score by [c.2589]Jon Ekstrand.
"The movie takes place in the 50's Russia and the plot is about an idealistic pro-Stalin security officer who decides to investigate a series of child murders in a country where this sort of crime doesn't exist," Ekstrand explained. "He gets demoted and exiled but decides, with just the help of his wife, to continue pursuing the murderer. So we decided not to go with any electronic elements and only work with acoustic instruments and sparingly with effects. We also wanted solo viola and balalaika tremolo beds to be a part of the score so...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.89]James Horner ([m.43538]Avatar 2), [c.237]Hans Zimmer ([m.43543]Freeheld), [c.452]Theodore Shapiro ([m.43485]Zoolander 2), 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.2015-04-06]Click here for the full schedule.
The only film opening nationwide this week is [m.37140]The Longest Ride, with music by [c.91]Mark Isham.
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.37140]The Longest Ride (35 songs)
- [m.41874]Freetown (1 song)
- [m.43251]Clouds of Sils Maria (6 songs)
More than ever, the regions of the Middle East and Asia are the tragic grounds for thousands of people trying to make better lives for themselves in the face of religious repression and grinding poverty. This is the musical link when it comes to Benjamin Wallfisch expressing the souls of Iran and India in his immensely moving, reality-based scores to “Desert Dancer” and “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain.” The first speaks for the struggle of Afshin Ghaffarian, a young man whose spirit refuses to stay still for the murderous, moral police that stand for his country’s Islamist government – a passion for dance that drives him and his troupe into the beautiful, sand-swept wastes where they can express their true spirits. The second score is the deceptively beautiful, multinational-entranced lead up to the worst unnatural disaster to befall India, as interlinked characters hoping for the future in an ill-maintained American chemical plant instead receive terrible fates that spew out from its toxic clouds.
An Emmy-nominated composer whose striking work has received numerous awards justifiably touting him as a musical discovery, the England-born Wallfisch made an auspicious orchestral debut depicting the American gun craze of 2004’s “Dear Wendy,” continuing to show a versatility of styles that ranged from “The Escapist’s” percussive prison breakout to the emotional desperation of Paul Walker’s flood-distraught father in “Hours” and the pained elegance of Edwardian artists for “Summer in February.” But it’s been the way that Wallfisch has depicted “world” music that’s been particularly striking, from Viking death metal for “Hammer of the Gods” to the symphonically rocking adventure of a Turkish warlord in “Conquest 1453.”
But while these ethnically-inclined scores were musical forces of often brutal nature, what particularly distinguishes “Desert Dancer” and “Bhopal” are their beautifully muted approaches that mainly use the thematically orchestral sound of “western music” to convey their universally emotional language, all while subtly including their respective country’s ancient instruments. Yet if they start softly with a poignantly mournful tone, Wallfisch is sure to raise the dramatic stakes, from the expressive hand movements that turn into pounding desert drums to the surge of panicked, sorrowful strings that unleash a wave of fog-filled terror. What’s particularly striking about “Desert Dancer” is that where American dance movies rely on songs for their giant choreography, it’s Wallfisch’s score itself that drives the “Desert’s” soulful movement. Equally notable is the eerie Karmic sense of destiny that fuels “Bhopal,” with electronics, guitar, inflecting both scores to show Iran and India’s cultures as part of a modern world.
Now, Wallfisch discusses his westernized musical travels that are very much about the dreams of individuals, people who represent their country’s desire to join the west in both liberty and economy, both thematically united with their haunting, poetic scores.
Like Afshin in “Desert Dancer,” was there a musical “bolt from the blue” moment in your childhood that made you commit to a life spent in music? And if so, did that make you identify with the character?
I think my family had the most impact on my decision to become a composer. For me, family and music are one and the same thing. Both my parents are professional musicians, and their parents were too. So I was very lucky to have been surrounded by music pretty much from day one. Not just on records, but music being explored, endlessly worked on, developed, passionately discussed. From a young age I saw that being a musician was a lifestyle, not just as a job. Every day my father would start the morning at 6am practicing all of Bach’s Suites for solo cello. So whenever I hear that music, and the repertoire of Beethoven, Brahms, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and countless others, it feels like home.
My grandfather Peter in particular made a huge impression on me. He was a concert pianist and a refugee from Nazi Germany and was endlessly inspiring. When he eventually settled in the UK, he only had his piano playing and his wife Anita’s cello playing (also a German-Jewish refugee and Holocaust survivor) to keep the family going back in 1950s London. He was a true musical explorer, treating music as a precious evolving being, as a living, breathing entity. Whenever he played the piano, he somehow made it sing, and I vividly remember long conversations when he shared with me how to bring real color, drama and storytelling into a Brahms Intermezzo or a Beethoven Sonata. He was also an incredibly warm person, and formed very strong and long lasting friendships with other musicians. There were always people at his house making chamber music, and indeed my Dad had a long lasting cello-piano duo with him. So this was the environment I was in as a kid and I’m so grateful for that.
My own passion growing up was in discovering music through inventing things at the piano. I didn’t know what I was doing and would frustrate all of my piano teachers as I’d never practice the music they set me to learn. But I liked nothing more that to spend hours at the keyboard improvising, searching for harmonies and melodies that affected me, making lots of happy accidents along the way, constantly discovering sounds and textures that I didn’t really understand, but fascinated me – basically discovering music from the ground up. Eventually one of my piano teachers gave in and taught me how to notate my ideas. So they turned into little pieces of music. Around the same time, in the late 80s, very rudimentary computer-based sequencers were become affordable and for my 10th birthday, my Dad bought me C-Lab’s ‘Notator’ on an Atari (which evolved into Apple’s Logic). That changed everything for me. Now I could record my improvisations, and I started developing more complex pieces. I spent hours on that thing, and when I got a Roland S-760 sampler for my 15th birthday… Well I guess girls could wait…
We also went to the cinema a lot as a family and film was my other great passion as a kid, and in particular the craft of filmmaking. I loved nothing more than ‘behind the scenes’ features. I was so lucky to have grown up during the heyday of the great John Williams scores of the 80s and 90s, and like so many of my colleagues of my generation, can trace all of my inspiration to pursue a path in film music to his incredible work. I guess the nearest thing to a ‘bolt in the blue’ would have been when I heard the music for ‘E.T.’ for the first time. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the sheer emotion soaring through this music, and a kind of burning need to figure out why it affected me like that. I suddenly had a real sense of purpose to all the improvising I was doing at the time. I wanted to be a film composer.
In terms of identifying with Afshin, I did feel a kinship as he discovered dance as a very young kid and pursued with great passion. However, he had to fight for that basic human right of freedom of expression, something I have so much respect for. Most of us take that basic right for granted.
At what point did you start exploring world music as part of your film scoring process?
It’s actually just coincidence I have two scores for movies set in non-Western regions being released back to back. And I’m very grateful to have had the chance to contribute to these two important true stories. “Bhopal” and “Desert Dancer” explore human endurance in the face of two very different types of adversity. Music has the power to tell people’s stories in a universal way, regardless of region, and that was very important to my directors of both movies. Not to make “World Music” scores, but to tell the stories of these people, with music that can hopefully resonate with everyone regardless of where they come from. Of course it was very important to acknowledge the musical traditions and instruments of both respective regions to a certain extent, but we wanted to make this very subtle, so the narrative subtext drove the musical decisions.
How did “Desert Dancer” come your way? And what was its development process like?
Richard Raymond and I were introduced by a mutual friend back in the autumn of 2011. He had just finished co-writing the script for the movie and was in the process of getting it green-lit. We both have a very similar taste in movies and music, and a passion for telling powerful stories, and hit it off immediately. Long before he started shooting we were already experimenting with ideas, discovering what this movie might sound like musically. It was a very long and fascinating journey of discovery for both of us. By the time we actually came to the process of scoring the movie, two years after we had starting discussing the project, I had already written about an hour of music as sketches and experiments, including two totally different versions of the Desert Dance sequence.
Before we started shooting, the music was much bigger and more dramatic, but when we started to actually work with Richard’s incredibly sensitive cut and the deeply felt performances of Reece Richie and Frieda Pinto, we realized the music needed to be much more intimate. Afshin is a gentle soul with a fire inside of him. But he only lets that fire show when he is performing, and the score echoes that. We only truly erupt in the Desert Dance itself. The rest of the score tries to capture that sense of quiet but always visceral emotion that drives his character. Without a doubt it was the longest period I’ve ever worked on a single project, but it was worth it. It meant we could take big risks, make unexpected discoveries, and together search for what this story is really about, at its core.
When you got the assignment, what kind of musical, and historical research did you do?
My first instinct of course was to research the history of Iranian music, but I soon realized in my earliest discussions with Richard that that would basically be irrelevant to this project. This is Afshin’s story – the story of the power of art to allow people to escape from a terrible reality they might find themselves in, and of the courage of an individual to inspire others to use their art to rise up against a repressive regime. The fact it happened in Iran is just context – the principle echoes in many regions in the world facing institutionalized repression, where people are being denied their most basic rights of expression.
So I realized the first thing I had to do was to actually meet Afshin. I was lucky enough that this coincided with a trip Richard was planning to Paris, with Frieda Pinto and Reece Ritchie, to watch Afshin perform for his graduation exam at the National Centre of Dance in Paris. So just before Christmas in 2011, we all went over to meet him, and it was truly inspiring. Afshin is one of the warmest people I have ever met, and also someone who just emanated truth, intelligence and strength of character. We all knew then what a responsibility we had to tell his story from a position of real integrity, and somehow get inside his motivations. We wanted to inspire people simply through telling his inspirational story with respect, transparency and the sense of flow you feel when you watch a great dancer performing.
Both you and the director Richard Raymond are English. What kind of different perspective do you think that gave you in handling the material that would have been different if Iranians had made, and scored the film?
Richard himself has said that the Iranian people already know all too well the state of things in their country when it comes to freedom of expression. He didn’t want to make a movie in Farsi that would tell the Iranian people what they already know, but rather tell their story in a way that’s accessible to all cultures. That’s why he chose to have the dialogue in English, and also to have a score that focused entirely on the emotional subtext of the story and the characters, rather than traditional Iranian music.
Iran is full of incredible artists and I’m sure if this story had been told by filmmakers from the region it would have been a powerful piece of cinema. The sad truth is that their government would have shut down any hint of such a movie, even before the first word of a screenplay was written. That is the story we wanted to shine a light on. Expressing yourself freely is one of the most basic human rights. And banning dance is almost inconceivable. It’s so basic to the human condition: I’ve seen my one-year-old niece dance around to music long before she could walk. We dance when we celebrate, when we are happy, when we want to feel as one with a group of people. It’s fundamental to all cultures, no matter how ancient. Forbidding this is a true sign of the extent of repression people in that region live under, and we wanted to tell that story in a way that anyone could identify with, no matter their background.
What was it like working with the choreographer Akram Khan on the dance sequences? Did he always follow you music’s lead, or did you devise specific musical movements for him?
Akram is a true visionary. When I played him my original ideas for the dance sequences, he took their intention, but then completely reinvented them, structurally, emotionally and narratively in his own vision. He invited me to some of the rehearsals and I was completely blown away. It was unlike anything I could have imagined. I realized the only way to approach the music for these dance sequences would be to score them as after they had been edited in the movie, so there was cinematic interplay between the choreography and the music, with one taking front stage whilst the other supports, swapping these roles at key moments.
This also meant I could build in thematic narrative into the dance cues. The Desert Dance is as much about Afshin and Elaheh’s relationship as it is about the political narrative, both in the choreography and in a sub-plot that unfolds simultaneously to the dance, where it is intercut with images of the Basij (the State ‘Morality Police’) seeking out the location of the dance and arming themselves to kill everyone attending. In sequences like that the music had to serve both the choreography and the dramatic narrative of the movie, and that could only be done after they had been cut as a piece of cinema.
When most “dance” movies have songs that are incredibly energetic, the numbers in this film have a slow, melancholy quality to them – not to mention that they’re about far more pointed, political subjects. What was it like to go for that kind of strikingly different approach?
One of the most poignant moments in the movie, and this comes directly from Afshin himself, is when his teacher Mehdi quotes from the great Persian poet Rumi: “In your light, I learned how to love, In your beauty I saw poetry, You danced inside my heart, Where no one else can see you.” Those lines inspired the tone of so much of the movie, and of the dance sequences themselves.
There is incredible energy in the Desert Dance, but we had to earn that moment. Elaheh’s dance sequences shine a light on both her inner pain, and noble beauty. A young girl in the grip of a terrible addiction, to whom dance is her only true escape. I had no choice but to find a musical language that found its strength in understatement. Where every gesture no matter how small could have a deeper meaning than what’s on the surface. Once we discovered that as the musical approach, everything flowed and felt as one in the movie. That way the big energetic moments of dance felt like a release, rather than a set piece. Of course Richard and I had to discover this. Early sketches for the dance sequences were full of fireworks, but as we delved deeper, ’less is more’ became our mantra.
How did you want to convey the spirit of the desert, especially in the spiritual freedom it conveys to the dance troupe before they begin performing there?
I was so deeply honored when the great Iranian vocalist Sussan Deyhim agreed to perform on the score. For me, she is the true voice of the desert, and for maximum authenticity and sense of freedom I asked her to improvise her vocal performances, visualizing the vast beauty of Iran’s desert, the strength of the Iranian youth and the tragedy of the repressive regime they are faced with. The recording sessions were quite emotional. I felt like I was being transported there just by listening to her extraordinary singing, and the depth of meaning behind every phrase. We were very fortunate to have her on the score.
What’s striking about the music for “Bhopal” is how ethereally beautiful the score is for quite a while, without tipping the hand of the catastrophe about to befall the people. Was it your intention to create a musical “spell” that India would be under for the seeming hope a multinational corporation is bringing them?
I scored “Bhopal” in late 2012, and it was on the back of another score from an idiom that couldn’t have been further away: “Hammer of the Gods.” I guess part of me wanted some peace and quiet after writing 90 minutes of speaker-cone killing insanity…. But seriously, I was simply serving the tone of the movie. Director Ravi Kumar depicts a peaceful country, a warm loving community, and a young man wanting to provide for his family by working as hard as he can in a place with few opportunities. I was supporting that in the score.
In that respect, how did you want to also build suspense for the inevitable, especially as “Bhopal” follows the American “disaster” movie formula of interlinking multiple character stories?
Suspense was definitely important: from the moment we see the effect of a drop of the factory’s chemical byproduct on a worker’s arm, we know the enormity of the danger they people in the surrounding village. But there was no real formula to the movie other than to simply depict what happened.
The director Ravi Kumar is an extraordinary person. As well as` being a first time film director he is also a distinguished medical doctor in London. He had a way of communicating his ideas always from the point of view of the people on the screen – he had true empathy with what they were going through and it was an intensely collaborative process. Similar to “Desert Dancer,” it was very important to him that I didn’t try to write a score in any way firmly rooted in traditional Indian music, or anything too ‘ethnic’. It’s a good job as I would have probably have had to pass on the project, leaving it to one of the incredibly distinguished Indian film composers who would have been perfect for the movie had that been the brief. Instead he wanted me to get inside the underlying emotion and subtext of the story. Tell it in a universal way, using a Western orchestra. So one of the first things I did was write the theme that became the ‘Elegy to Bhopal’ – it’s a kind of musical prayer to those who died in this disaster. Having that as a core motivation to the rest of the score gave us a strong structure to work the other cues around.
Could you talk about scoring the disaster sequence, and what kind of emotional effect you wanted it to convey?
This was one of the hardest things to score. I used synth textures that to me were inhuman and terrifying in their own right, and then went about morphing them with more traditional orchestral sounds, which had been warped and mangled. Granular synthesis and a ton of degrading using bit crushers etc were integral to this. It was a case of trying to find a sound-world that sounded dark, industrial and invasive, without going into the realms of horror. It was a fine line to tread.
Did “Desert Dancer” change any opinions you yourself had about Iran? And do you think there’s any hope for the future of people like Afshin?
I think the main thing anyone can take from Afshin’s story is that there is always hope, when strength, courage and art come together.
“Desert Dancer” opens in theaters on April 13th, with Benjamin Wallfisch’s score available on Varese Sarabande Records HERE. “Desert Dancer now available digitally HERE, and available on CD April 14th”
Visit Benjamin Wallfisch’s Website HERE
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1054]Carlo Siliotto ([m.43483]Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend), [c.1287]Roque Banos ([m.43467]Risen), [c.257]Mychael Danna ([m.43461]Remember), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here..
There were 32 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-03-30]Click here for the full schedule.
The only film opening nationwide this week is [m.37596]Furious 7, with music by [c.361]Brian Tyler.
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.37596]Furious 7 (25 songs)
- [m.42675]Woman in Gold (8 songs)
- [m.39943]5 to 7 (8...
Varèse Sarabande Records proudly announces that the label will be hosting a booth on the Exhibition Floor at WonderCon (April 3-5, Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA). The world-renowned record label, specializing in film music releases, will be selling genre-appropriate titles from their catalog all weekend long, and will be hosting exclusive autograph signings in the booth on Saturday, April 4, 2015.
Schedule of composers in attendance:
11AM-noon [c.1096]Greg Edmonson [t.8593]Firefly
12PM-1PM [c.418]Elia Cmiral [m.1982]Battlefield Earth, [m.40751]Wicked Blood
1:30PM-2:30PM [c.1336]Mark Kilian [m.39261]Revenge of the Green Dragon, [m.31615]The Ward
3PM-4:30PM [c.929]Tim Jones [t.33134]Chuck
All fans that come to the...
“The performance is fluidly dynamic, like the American Southwest thunderstorms that inspired this show, and changes each time we do it,” visibly effervescent WAY OF THE RAIN creator Sibylle Szaggars Redford expresses as she and the live show’s principal artists sweep into a reflectively passionate post-show round table.
Mrs. Redford’s illuminating project description also mirrors the refreshing kaleidoscope mutability of each year’s evolving Sundance Film Festival labyrinth. Over the years as the festival has evolved from its humble Park City, UT roots as a one-theater trick pony in 1978, the Utah/US Film Festival, now Sundance, has shape-shifted into North America’s largest, most down-home film throw down. Too expansive for the intimate Park City ski village (home of the 2002 Winter Olympics) to exclusively handle host demands out of necessity, screenings and events also snowball down the hill to neighboring Ogden, the Redfords’ Sundance Resort, and Salt Lake City. Similarly, THE WAY OF THE RAIN is arguably the most uniquely dynamic and expansive Sundance-affiliated event in recent memory.
During the post-show round table, Mrs. Redford elaborates, her original art and evolving show were inspired by an organic hybrid of her improv watercolor paint medium and the annual monsoon rains that sustain life on the fragile landscape of the high-desert plateaus of the Southwest. As she painted, the water connection clicked, she set her watercolor expressions out in the monsoon rain, video artist Floyd Thomas McGee filmed the organic alchemy, and viola!, THE WAY OF THE RAIN was conceived. She tenderly offers, “My concern is about the well-being of the Earth. I use my art to express some consciousness and open up a wellness with my art. I want to create a beautiful statement about the Earth. These rain paintings are these magical, colorful abstracts, basically coloration with myself and the rain. The live multidisciplinary performance invites the audience to remember their physical and spiritual connection to our planet’s beauty and plight through paintings, music, dance, film, light, and spoken word. I see this performance as an abstract painting that you have to see from all angles.”
Having produced the multi-sensory, in-the-round stage format originally in Santa Fe, New Mexico (where the Redfords own a home), then in Miami in conjunction with the National YoungArts Foundation, the multi-disciplinary band of extraordinarily gifted performers cite ways each presentation is uniquely unlike prior shows. The sensually sensory experience now includes celebrated movement choreographer Desmond Richardson and the Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Marc Roberge and Richard On from Maryland rock act O.A.R., vocalist Susan Deyhim as Mother Earth, and reflections from Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee’s Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth recited by Robert Redford when he speaks to the audience with reflections, “what do you see when you look up at the sky at night, at the blazing stars against the midnight heavens?”
The aural experience begins like a tender whisper.
Award-winning cellist/pianist, Harvard University, and Julliard School Doctoral grad, Dave Eggar was a child musical prodigy, picking up cello and piano at age three, performed on Broadway and with the Metropolitan Opera at age seven, and debuted at Carnegie Hall at age 15. He has performed and recorded globally expressing diverse styles with acts such as The Who, Coldplay, Josh Groban, Beyonce, Pearl Jam, Fall Out Boy, Ray Lamontagne, Carly Simon, Bon Jovi, and others.
Two time Grammy winner, Berklee School of Music grad, and co-founder of genre-bending rock act, LIVING COLOUR (http://www.livingcolour.com/), Will Calhoun has produced and toured with disparate artists like Mick Jagger, Harry Belafonte, Mos Def, Lauryn Hill, Paul Simon, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Lou Reed, and Public Enemy.
These two craft masters set an initial performance flow with Mr. Eggar’s dissonant, staccato cello polyphonies and Mr. Calhoun’s various acoustic and electronic percussion derivations. Soon, industry sound design icon, Ron Saint Germain (who has produced, engineered, and mixed over 75 gold and platinum records, selling over a quarter billion units, receiving 14 Grammy Awards for dynamic artists like Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Mick Jagger, U2, Muse, Bad Brains, Tool, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, The Cure, Ziggy Marley, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foreigner, and Duran Duran), eases in layers of rain and rolling desert thunder sounds cape as Mrs. Redfords’ silk watercolor tapestries sway with a soothing breeze and piped-in dry ice smoke and sage scents are punctuated by epochal performance lighting designer, Steve Cohen’s (who has crafted lighting rigs for countless exemplary artists like Billy Joel, Elton John, Mariah Carey, The Judds, Justin Timberlake, Enrique Iglesias, Linkin Park, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Van Halen, Simon & Garfunkel, and Lenny Kravitz) thunder lightning accents.
Vocalist Susan Deyhim glides barefoot across the performance platform with haunting, knowing elegance conjuring singing the impact of talking wind and urgent wounded plaintive wails as if from the planet’s core heart. Award-winning choreographer Desmond Richardson (co-founder and artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet and former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater principal) and a handful of his dance crew weave around her and the swaying silks with sumptuous alacrity representing Earth’s foundation elements – air, fire, water, and earth.
Mr. McGee’s video art elevates Mrs. Redford’s resonant water color paintings down the flowing silk screens and various plasma screens … the large-dropped rain dispersing the paint color without washing it away.
Drummer/percussionist Chuck Palmer (EVANESCENCE) suddenly ratchets up the sonic currency with concussive rock rhythms and echoing alliteration accenting Mr. Calhoun’s “gong chimes” with algorithms conceived of by an Austrian physics alchemist.
The whole engine progressively winds down into a whimsically hopeful climax of joyful elation as the entire crew gathers in the stage’s center with undeniably infectious smiles.
When asked where and how will this improv-inspired sensory singularity evolve, Mrs. Redford responds, “Into as many corners of our struggling planet as we are humbly invited. We offer this as our part in an expanding greater healing ecological conversation … and having a blast so far.”
Jeremy Borum's Guerrilla Film Scoring is the first guide to provide new cutting-edge solutions for composers to deliver quality music with ever-shrinking budgets. Even before its release on April 16, 2015 by Rowman & Littlefield, it already has been chosen as a must-read for composers worldwide by 15 out of the top 25 most influential music universities such as Juilliard, Yale, USC, Berklee College of Music, and the Royal College of Music (UK). Both professors and professional composers are endorsing this book as the definitive ground-breaking guide to the new film scoring and music landscape.
Borum and 20 of his celebrity colleagues (including [c.38]Stewart Copeland, [c.21]Bruce Broughton, [c.901]Jack Wall, [c.1242]Garry Schyman, and [c.1371]Austin Wintory)...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1465]Lorne Balfe ([m.38258]Terminator: Genisys), [c.168]Rachel Portman ([t.43427]Bessie), [c.1015]Aaron Zigman ([m.43425]I Saw the Light), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 31 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-03-23]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.40395]Get Hard ([c.564]Christophe Beck) and [m.35219]Home ([c.1465]Lorne Balfe & [c.15500]Stargate).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.40395]Get Hard (32 songs)
- [m.35219]Home (13 songs)
The upcoming film [m.38583]Desert Dancer, directed by Richard Raymond, will feature original score by Emmy and Ivor Novello nominated composer, [c.1354]Benjamin Wallfisch. Varèse Sarabande is proud to announce the release of the [a.14942]Desert Dancer Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, available on CD [da.2015-04-14]April 14 and digitally on [da.2015-04-07]April 7, 2015. The original score includes the music for three extended dance sequences featured in the film, especially created for the movie as a collaboration between Wallfisch and award winning choreographer Akram Khan, whose credits include the choreography for the opening ceremony of the [t.34986]2012 London Olympic Games.
"My collaboration with [c.1354]Benjamin Wallfisch started years before I began...
FMM’s Michael Rogers covers the creative process with composer Harry Gregson-Williams at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah.
On Saturday, March 21st, 2015 composer [c.45]John Debney's [m.19765]The Passion of the Christ Oratorio Concert was attended by nearly 6,000 people at the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba in Spain and closed their night with five curtain calls. Helmed by conductor and arranger Kevin Kaska, the performance featured the Córdoba Orchestra and Choir Ziryab along with special guests, woodwind player Pedro Eustache, and vocalist and soloist Lisbeth Scott.
This was the first orchestral concert at the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba in over 40 years and the first public performance in 15 years. LaLa Land records has also released a 2 disc set in honor of the historic concert which also marks the 10th Anniversary of the first Passion of the Christ Live concert which occurred in Rome, Italy. ...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.149]Thomas Newman ([m.41409]Bridge of Spies), [c.231]John Williams ([m.41408]The BFG), [c.2507]Joseph Trapanese ([m.41486]Straight Outta Compton), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 29 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-03-16]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.40666]The Divergent Series: Insurgent ([c.2507]Joseph Trapanese), [m.42580]Do You Believe? ([c.2357]Will Musser), and [m.36834]The Gunman ([c.14]Marco Beltrami).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
Soundtrack Picks: ‘CINDERELLA‘ is the top soundtrack to own for March, 2015
Also worth picking up AT MIDDLETON, BHOPAL: A PRAYER FOR RAIN, THE CAR, CHAPPIE, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, IT FOLLOWS, LADYHAWKE, MAP TO THE STARS and many more!
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD
THE TOP PICKS
What is it?: In their 25-year and counting career that’s seen Patrick Doyle score (and occasionally act in) every Kenneth Branagh film from the time of 1989’s Oscar-nominated “Henry V” both men have shown a chameleon-ability to re-invent themselves for an ever younger-skewing Hollywood, no more so than Doyle as he segued from an incredibly lush and thematic style of orchestral scoring to taking on the muscular, pop-influenced electronic rhythms of multiplex action for Branagh’s “Thor” and “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.” But thankfully, that didn’t mean that the filmmaker and his favorite muse couldn’t go back home again to the kind of lavish productions that first brought them acclaim, while attracting a new young audience to boot.
Why should you buy it?: “Cinderella” might just being the most enchanted jewel in Branagh and Doyle’s old-school crown, or more likely glass slipper as the composer brings out his sumptuous symphonic talent in all of its glory to sum up the magic of Disney fairy tale enchantment as the studio puts flesh and blood on their their classically animated princess-to-be. Given a way less rough-and-tumble heroine to score for the studio after “Brave’s” Merida, Doyle befits Cinderella in the most gossamer of thematic finery, all gorgeous strings, sparkling bells and gently dancing rhythms that tap into the wish fulfillment of going from virtuous rags to sumptuous riches. Tenderly expressing the evil sister exasperation of Cinderella, Doyle pays off her fairy godmother assist with glorious waves of symphonic magic, desperately racing with ticking-bell clock excitement before her carriage’s transformation. The prince arrives with dashing nobility to sweep the music off of its dancing feet with any number of elegant waltzes (and even a Polka) that would do the European masters proud. Just about everything here is perfect in Doyle’s pull-out-the-melodic stops representation of wish fulfillment, as well as a young woman’s plucky spirit, his music having more melodic stardust than Tinkerbell herself.
Extra Special: “Cinderella” stands tall as a romantic testament to the of the unabashedly luxurious scoring that gave Doyle his start, with sparkling panache that will very likely make her a strong candidate for being the belle of the Oscar ball. Starlet Lily James certainly proves she’s got a pleasant singing voice to match with her waltzing performance of the classic tune “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes,” while Helena Bonham Carter has a ball getting her tongue around that other “Cinderella” standard “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.”
2) CHAPPIE / JUPITER ASCENDING
What Is It?: From military robots with heart to ruthless intergalactic multinationals, Varese Sarabande offers two big ticket sci-fi scores for March. While blisteringly bad reviews (one undeserved and other most deserved) unite both of them despite their disparate subjects, the one thing that “Chappie” and “Jupiter Ascending” can proudly play are two composers at the enthusiastic height of their craft as they soulfully explore the fantastical.
Why Should You Buy It?: Filmmaker Neil Blomkamp knows how to dirty up high-tech with the slum-set environs of “District 9” and “Elysium,” junkyard society that impactfully serves to re-educate a former police robot that gets drop-kicked into a limited battery life of crime. Given this way more visceral, and emotionally affecting take on “Short Circuit,” Hans Zimmer makes Number 5 come alive with an ingenious, synth-powered score that plays the growing evolvement of a cybernetic babe in the dark woods who only wants to be loved. With co-composers Steve Mazzaro and Andrew Kawczynski forming “The Chappie Elektrik Synthponia,” Zimmer goes right back into the high energy, transistorized guts that made him a 90s action stalwart with the likes of “Drop Zone” and “Broken Arrow” – wiping out any musically organic component in the process. The result is pure, powerful circuitry as scoring, its 8-bit sound ferociously souped-up for near future Johannesburg. Pulsating rhythms might get “Chappie” off to a crime-busting bang, but it’s almost a fake-out for a more restrained, and loveable, Pinocchio-esque tone the music will take to capture a fairy tale-like quality in its memorable theme, one that even whistles to capture the innocent, tender soul within the machine. Combined with Sharito Copley’s astonishing performance, “Chappie’s” score creates one of the cinema’s most emotively human robots, making the punishment that’s meted out against it almost unbearable. But this is a Neil Blomkamp movie after all, meaning that the big guns are going to get their play. And Zimmer delivers the action with thrilling ferociousness, his theme jamming with unhinged delight as vocals sing the praises of an ersatz ED-209 coming to call. It’s an powerhouse extension of the unjustly-maligned style that made Zimmer’s rockingly percussive, electro-charged score to “Spider-Man 2” the most fun thing about that film, here taken to even more buzzing, clanking and eardrum-bursting dimensions. In a new retro-synth meets techno-industrial era that’s given us the throwback likes of Daft Punk’s “Tron: Legacy,” “The Social Network” and “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,” Zimmer’s “Chappie” is perhaps the purest of these thrilling throwbacks to the whole Tangerine Dream / Giorgio Morodor / Kraftwerk wave that Zimmer tamed into his own soundtrack-changing robot music beast. That tradition proudly continues with “Chappie’s” a terrifically energized and creative score that’s way more than the parts of the mind-boggling gear that it took to put it together. For Zimmer and team know that the most important part is heart.
Extra Special: As a fellow Oscar-winning composer who can always escape the few bombs thrown his way, and come out convincing listeners they’ve been listening to the score for an entirely different, and way better film, Michael Giacchino has made “Land of the Lost” into “Jurassic Park” and “Speed Racer” into “Grand Prix.” But he’s pulled off what must be his greatest hat trick for the latter filmmakers by making the Wachowski’s hilariously lamentable “Jupiter Ascending” rise to the heights of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” (or at the very least “Star Wars”) by bringing out a truly cosmic score of imperious majesty, cliffhanging heroism and the human vulnerability of a young woman swept up into an intergalactic conspiracy, or at the very least one heck of a house of style. Giacchino is playing at the top of his thematic game here, especially with his use of chorus, ominously moaning for the villains, given a plaintive solo voice for an unbecoming empress and roaring full charge into a space minefield. It’s a terrifically pulse-pounding, and deliriously over-the-top in the way that only a very talented sci-fi loving kid can be when given an orchestra of what sounds like hundreds at his disposal. The result is a two-CD work of singularly exhilarating space opera bombast as it paints in epic, ear-popping colors to convey a universe in the balance, while at once lushly rejoicing in the alien-ethnic spectacle of it all, all without forgetting the more intimate moments when a bit of romance can poke through. As such, you could say that the magnificent “Jupiter Ascending” comes across as the sequel music that the actually quite good, Giacchino-scored “John Carter” will never get after its undeserved drubbing. At the least, this a heck of a warm up to what Giacchino will ultimately get to do when he’d deservedly handed the keys to the kingdom for George Lucas’ far-away galaxy (the playfully swooping, drum-pounding, Hoth-worthy “Flying Dinosaur Fight” at the end is more then enough to convince of Giacchino’s Williams street cred) “Jupiter Ascending’s” score is made all the more astonishing by the fact that Giacchino wrote it before the film was shot. Once again, it’s a demonstration in just how well he can play music from an alternate cinematic universe, let alone bestow distinctively separate, musical identities to the genre spectacles that understandably fly his way.
3) DUEL / THE CAR
What is it?: Intrada hits the evil road running with two classics of the killer vehicle genre, driven by truck and auto with Billy Goldenberg and Leonard Rosenman behind the wheels of “Duel” and “The Car.”
Why should you buy it?: If you talk to a certain generation, the most scarring horror experiences weren’t to be had in the cinema, but on network television, whose series and TV movies of the week were prolific in their suggested ghastliness. One of their most notable musical practitioners was Billy Goldenberg, who provided the chilling soundtracks for “Circle of Fear,” “Smile Jenny, You’re Dead” and “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” (as well as episodes of “Night Gallery” and “Colombo” for director Steven Spielberg). But perhaps his most important work would be providing the memorably impressionistic score for a “Duel” between motorist Dennis Hopper and an unseen big rig driver for this 1971 ABC Friday the 13th telefilm that showed its 25 year-old director had the right stuff for the big screen. The key to Goldenberg’s approach was in conveying the pitiless, desert byways that serve for a thoroughly unequal mouse-and-cat chase. Dissonant, churning strings eerily beat down with the heat of the sun, a hallucinatory waterphone creates weird bird-like cries circling overhead as if they were vultures, while dirty chords take on the stench-spewing weight of a truck from hell. Very few scores for film, or television were quite as mercilessly experimental in embodying rubber-tired death metal and a complete, terrified sense of exasperation like “Duel.” While organ passages are the more traditional horror scoring instrument in view as Hopper tries to figure out the maniac driver inside a diner, what makes the score all the more crazed is when it launches into stabbing tributes to the shower scene in “Psycho,” as if the 1955 Peterbilt truck was the malignant personification of Norman Bates as a “multi-ton knife” (but then again, Universal was also the producer here). With precious little melody to purposefully get mileage from, “Duel” is one relentless, truly scary listen, with the only respite given by some country-western instrumentals in the extras section. Indeed, “Jaws” seems like a piker when compared to just how musically ferocious “Duel” is.
Extra Special: With all respect to “Duel’s” accomplishment, I should look out of my rear view mirror for angry trucks when saying that my far preferred film and score is 1977’s “The Car,” which runs on the shrilly enjoyable satanic music of Leonard Rosenman. Plainly put through Universal’s assembly line with the goal of being “’Jaws’ on wheels,” “The Car” came out way better than the sum of its similarly “Duel”-influenced parts thanks to its astonishing stunt work, and even more importantly the direction of Elliot Silverstein, a filmmaker far better known for his eccentric character comedies like “Cat Ballou” and “Support Your Local Sheriff.” While that quirky sensibility inflects what’s on screen, “The Car” is given a head-on sense of evil by Rosenman’s pounding, “Dies Irae”-themed score. Rosenman was one of the main composers who truly brought a sense of concert hall modernism to Hollywood with an aleatoric style that was particularly impactful in service of sci-fi with the likes of “Fantastic Voyage” and “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” and was all the more terrifying when in tri-tone service of the supernatural for “Race with the Devil,” a cultist versus RV road chase that put him in particularly good stead for “The Car.” With its pounding momentum and brassy feeling of doom, this score is pure, undistilled Rosenman. Way more impressionistic than going for more melodically accessible “devil” music a la Jerry Goldsmith’s “The Omen,” Rosenman went for something sneakier as he crosses sinisterly identifiable Latin melody with the sounds of a possessed souped-up Lincoln Continental Mark III, powered by metallic hits, furious rhythms and horn-like blasts of brass. But then, it’s exactly the right approach for a movie that never specifically says that Satan is behind the wheel (even if the original script did). Where “Duel” went for the head-on insanity of facing off against evil, “The Car” is more melodically accessible for a movie with a similar desert setting. It’s also perversely fun in the way that it cleverly personifies ultimate darkness on four wheels, fueled on impressionistic music that’s pure, unhinged tone pyramid Rosenman. The climactic chase’s interplay between surging, relentless brass, and piano as they try to run down the militaristic heroism for James Brolin’s good guy sheriff is a highlight of the score, so breathless that it makes one wonder how any musician could have survived playing it without a heart attack. Put together, “Duel” and “The Car” are intensely scary, beautiful-sounding listens that mark the films as genre classics of their kind, with Jeff Bond’s humorously incisive liner notes and Joe Sikoryak’s exceptionally well-designed road map booklets true appreciations of the sinister driving skills of these composers. For horror fans, one couldn’t imagine more perfect music to blast through the car radio, though one can only hope their eyes don’t sinisterly drift to pedestrians and other smaller vehicles while doing so.
4) FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Original Score and Soundtrack)
Price: $12.99 / $13.98
What Is it?: The approach to musical movie sex has been pretty much played out between the usual (though always effective) suspects of a smoldering jazz saxophone, cooing female voices and erotically lush strings – even as the notion of a mainstream, major studio sex film has barely been played since the 70s. On those notes, “Fifty Shades of Grey” has arrived with unexpectedly stylish vibes on both counts, from its smartly heated score by Danny Elfman to a truly seductive song album that helps to accomplish the film’s seemingly impossible goal of making S&M enticing.
Why Should You Buy It?: Danny Elfman has scored dozens of films, yet practically none of them have overtly centered on sex (the media-hungry vixen of “To Die For” just might be the closest in his soundtrack sack). That alone makes “Fifty Shades” one of the most interesting projects to come this versatile composer’s way in a while, especially given how Elfman’s often-eccentric approach just might hear subject matter that’s been in the domain of Skinimax for the last few decades. The enticing result is a score that plays character psychology far more than it does sex, especially in how his music helps transform the tender, virginal vulnerability of young woman into lust for a whole new carnal world, even if what she really wants is a feeling relationship to go along with her ice cube / whip-stroking orgasms. Driven by an especially strong theme, Elfman uses a sound caught somewhere between alt. rock and a somber, subtle orchestral score. It’s an excitement that’s always tempered with yearning, the soulful, feminine guitar and strings hypnotically bound by rhythmic, bell-topped melody and strong electric chords. Caught between beautifully languid passages and percussive desire, Elfman conveys the urge to run to the forbidden red room, while also poignantly getting across how the ties that bind can only be physical at the end. Given how borderline goofy a movie stemming from Twilight fan fiction is, Elfman also gives a bouncy, subversive comic wink to the material. But overall, his approach is as gorgeous, and artsy as Sam Taylor-Johnson’s direction, determined to create something artful from unintentional camp. That his music helps “Fifty Shades” succeed by placing itself firmly in the big head, as opposed to what’s below it, shows just how hauntingly he’s achieved that goal.
Extra Special: When it comes to representing “Fifty Shades’” sweaty bump and grind (or more specifically stroking and spanking), then the soundtrack leaves the real sex to its songs, which have had just as much thought put into their selection as Elfman did in composing his score. That’s a rarity in many big-ticket movies that have one unmemorable pop tune after the next. But when picked with the actual desire to reflect the story, they can actually he inspired. “Shades” music supervisor Dana Sano has done this exceptionally well with both an ear to what’s hot and smart, getting the idea of mistress-master right across at the start with Annie Lennox’s hungry performance of “I Put A Spell On You.” But the big ticket here is Beyonce, who certainly doesn’t need Kanye’s help to impress us with her sultry pipes, which gets across the idea of an impossibly glamorous, and completely F’d up suitor’s pull with “Haunted,” the club beats of Michael Diamond’s remix capturing the film’s neo-futuristic glamour – a stylish sheen given a slow, pumping burn in “Crazy in Love.” But then, “Fifty Shades” is way more about foreplay, a slow dance to the red room expressed though Jessie Ware’s “Meet Me in the Middle” and the funky groove of The Weekend’s “Where You Belong.” Sia’s “Salted Wound” is full of painful yearning, while Skylar Grey’s “I Know You” has a gorgeous, pleading rhythm that sinks in the obvious as to how this is no love affair. Yet put together, Danny Elfman and the “Fifty Shades” elegant tunes are exceptional musical bedmates, all pleasure and no pain.
5) LADYHAWKE: LIMITED EDITION (3,000 edition)
What Is it?: When it comes to the oh-so-80s soundtracks, none more notoriously crossed rocking big-haired prog-rock with old-school orchestral scoring like 1985s “Ladyhawke,” a choice made all the more crazily anachronistic given that this was otherwise traditionally told sword and sorcery, whose spin was that a dastardly man of the cloth had jealously cursed a knightly hero and his fetching maiden to be separated by beastly conflict time schedules. Yet as opposed to using one his past composers like John Williams (“Superman”) or Jerry Goldsmith (“The Omen”), both of whom were unavailable, director Richard Donner drew on the music he’d been playing throughout pre-production scouting in Italy, and employed the titular musician behind The Alan Parsons Project to produce a score composed by his bandmate Andrew Powell. The result was a majestically zany soundtrack that would suddenly segue from strains that Miklos Rozsa could appreciate into disco rhythms where one would half expect Donna Summers to start singing. Given numerous soundtrack issues over the years that confirmed “Ladyhawke’s” enduring rep as a cult classic, Powell and Parsons WTF work has always remained a hate it or love it proposition (I’ve always been in the latter camp). But now given a gloriously complete (and then some) two-CD release by La Land Land Records, it’s likely that this sweeping score will be winning a few new acolytes who can truly appreciate how the duo hopped to hip up fantasy scoring in familiar orchestral armor.
Why Should You Buy It?: Even if one might break a smile at the bouncy, lighted floor sounds of the electro disco beat that takes one straight to the 70s and 80s as opposed to some vague medieval setting, there’s a reason that style of music reigned supreme for a good decade, which is its use of memorable thematic riffs. But whatever musical era they’re employing, Powell and Parsons have got a collection of terrific melodies in “Ladyhawke,” from the main, swaggering theme, one that serves as both a sun-blazing announcement of Rutger Hauer’s dashing Navarre whenever he’s battling church goons or riding across scenic Italian landscapes in the mousy company of Matthew Broderick. A more expected orchestral approach with the addition of magical electronic percussion and guitar create a truly lovely damsel to die for in Isabeau’s Michelle Pfeiffer, while dark, often dissonant percussion stands in for the animalistic savagery of the hordes after this romantically enchanted duo. Some of the Powell and Parson’s most effective music revolves around the anguish of them being separated in feather and fang by day and night, with ethereal, synths, poignant violin, eerie voices and heartfelt strings helping to make them one of the truly memorable duos of 80s genre cinema. And just as they transform, Powell and Parsons shape-shift their rock-pop rhythms into stunningly lush orchestral melody, then blend both approaches together with panache more reminiscent of their Parson Project albums than a typical fantasy score, the epic scope of which can really be appreciated for the first time in over 90 minutes of score. Another musical character that comes to the fore is John Wood’s twisted Bishop, who’s given Latin chanting and sinister male chorus, with voice-like samples memorably added to clanging percussion for the final slo-mo sword battle, the lover’s reunion in the flesh afterwards played for all of its gloriously soaring symphonic worth – all before of course going back to its horse-dance-gallop groove.
Extra Special: “Ladyhawke” has never sounded this good as it truly steps up to the mantle as a classic fantasy score. As with the case of many soundtracks that tried to meld popular music with an orchestral approach, it’s the glorious string sound that comes out as being the eternal of the two. Yet it’s also the audaciously dated beat of the Alan Parsons Project that really ensures “Ladyhawke’s” position as a cult classic, making the two stylistic approaches as inseparable as night and day. La La Land’s two-cd release further compliments Powell and Parson’s work with numerous alternates and extended underscoring for the fillm’s radio spots, as well as the fully prog-rock rhythm of the album’s single that will truly separate “Ladyhawke’s” score fans from the unbelievers. Tim Grieving provides thoroughly entertaining and honest liner notes that features fresh quotes the composers along with Rutger Hauer and producer Lauren-Shuler Donner, complete with her husband defending his bold composer choice against the haters. My feeling is that there will certainly be less of them after hearing this groovy, magical album that throws Erich Wolfgang Korngold and his compatriots on the rocking disco floor.
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
. 1001 NIGHTS (500 edition)
Gabriel Yard has taken many romantic flights of fantasy from “Map of the Human Heart” to “The English Patient,” but few have the exotic eccentricity of his magic carpet ride for “1001 Nuits,” Philippe de Broca’s absurdist 1990 spin on the famous tales conjured by the alluring Scheherazade (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones in her film debut), wherein a very French genie jumps from a 20th century television set in London to create hijinks in ancient Arabia. A composer of French-Lebanese descent, Yared’s ethnic quality has often shown though with his exotic combinations of Middle Eastern instruments and lush orchestras. But “1001 Nights” just might be the most sensuously beautiful mélange of these two musical cultures, as a beguilingly romantic theme that’s the stuff of handsome, turbaned adventures and sultry women of mystery enters as Kasbah of wind instruments and percussion that’s as well suited to Valentino’s Sheik as it might be Aladdin. In addition to the seductive, melodic quality, Yared has just as much fun with playfully sweeping adventure, the kind of knowingly perilous fantasy escapades he hasn’t got to play much in a mostly dramatic career, while also relishing in the absurdity of synth circus music and a pipe organ. Catherine Zeta Jones’ pipes also impress with English-language song “Scheherazade.” As such,“1001 Nights” casts a truly enchanted melodic spell for fans of both Yared and a particularly enticing storyteller with a gloriously thematic score that isn’t so much scoring an absurdist time-traveling comedy as it is the purely cinematic language of Arabian love and adventure that helped give birth to the cinema’s thousands of stories.
. AT MIDDLETON
An emotionally congested heart doctor and a vivacious furniture saleswoman have a brief encounter during the day they take their unappreciative kids for a college tour. But when you listen to Arturo Sandoval’s beguilingly beautiful little score, you might think these two adults were gamboling about a small, seaside Italian village for a soundtrack that’s the height of retro romance. Indeed, Luis Bacalov’s Oscar-winning “Il Postino” score comes to mind, as opposed to anything Latin jazz when listening to the sweet, incredibly thematic melodies for accordion, strings and piano from Cuban jazz great Arturo Sandoval. Astonishingly representing his first feature score after his trumpet playing was featured in such pictures as “The Mambo Kings” and “Rango,” Sandoval is in pleasantly ironic position of composing for Cuban co-star Andy Garcia, who played the musician himself in an HBO movie. It’s a task that Sandoval handles with both poignant romance and sly wit. Using an ersatz Copland-esque fanfare, witty pomp and circumstance, and jazzy rhythms of a collegiate environment to serve as a playground for two adults getting back in touch with their inner youths, Sandoval develops their developing attraction with incredibly affecting tenderness and heartbreak, music at once drawn in for a climactic kiss with all the melancholy of the knowledge that this will be a life-changing brief encounter. Sure there might not be a particular reason for Sandoval to take such a Mediterranean-specific approach for a bucolic Middle American campus, but perhaps nothing can better sum up this character’s who are unable to change their fate. The effect is a score of lovely, bittersweet power, capturing the kind of unabashedly, intimate melodic poetry that’s a rarity in way bigger Hollywood rom-com’s, but can be found in abundance at this campus. While Andy Garcia performs his own lyrics for the thematically-based “There Was A Day,” with Dan Higgins’ emotive sax playing getting solely featured on an instrumental track of the tune. Randall D. Larson’s equally pleasant liner notes elaborate on this affecting musical tour with new interviews with Garcia and Sandoval, talking about a rewarding creative relationship that’s unusually personal.
. BHOPAL: A PRAYER FOR RAIN
British compose Benjamin Wallfisch has excelled at both ethnically-themed music (“Conquest 1453,” “Desert Dancer”) and scores about unassuming people being put to ultimate tests of their humanity (“The Escapist,” “Hours”). Now he’s able to tragically employ the best of both musical world for “Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain,” which uses a multi-character set-up that Irwin Allen would appreciate to unleash a real life disaster so horrifying that it would doubtlessly render that master of catastrophe silent in shock. Here, it’s left for Wallfisch to eloquently express the build-up to when Union Carbide’s pesticide factory will unleash cyanide hell upon the populace of a jam-packed Indian city. Yet it’s not as if those desperate to work in the shoddy factory think of it as anything but a blessing, as Wallfisch’s score conveys an innocent, blissful beauty through his deft combination of Indian instruments and a western strings, piano and electronics, as well as creating his own, breathless vocal-drum rhythm for a city-on-the-go with voices and native percussion. The composer would certainly fit right in at home if asked to score “Slumdog Millionaire 2” given his adeptness at reflecting both an ancient culture hoping to doing anything to entice a multinational that cares little for them. But there’s trouble in corporate paradise as Wallfisch gradually brings in a more concerned orchestral tone, his electronics now not quite so ethereal, almost simmering with ghostly voice-like effects. When disaster finally strikes, its with lushly melodic, ever-building symphonic anguish and ever-popular sonic booms. What follows is an especially eerie musical personification of cyanide fog catastrophe, made all the more effective with how Wallfisch mostly underplays the events with pulsating heartbeats and mesmerizing solemnity, done with the hindsight of history as opposed to hearing the kind of action-panic that might offer any hope of escape for these thousands of victims. But then, one might say it’s an approach befitting a country whose faith views death as part of a cycle of rebirths, or more likely is accepting of the lingering corporate horrors that befall them to keep jobs going – as the almost wistful guitar epilogue music innocently fast forwards to the present. It’s just part of the thoughtfulness that makes Wallfisch’s score so powerful, and delicately tragic, a tenderness that also fills Mary Lea’s end song. Sting and Anoushka Shanker’s end title “Sea Dreamer,” as heard in this exceptional Netflix instant watchable film, can be gotten via iTunes.
. ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN
Since musically partnering with The Mouse House, Intrada has released any number of worthwhile scores from the studio’s underappreciated period of live action filmmaking during the 1970s, among them Maurice Jarre’s “The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark” and Jerry Goldsmith’s “One Lucky Indian.” But if there’s one movie that’s stood the test of time (and a Rock reboot as well), then it’s 1975′s pre-teen sci-fi chase picture “Escape To Witch Mountain.” Introducing the telekinetic alien brother-sister team that would be the G-rated audience’s answer to “Carrie,” “Witch Mountain” would sort of go for a more adult treatment of suspense by hiring John Hough, who’d last scared the dickens out of any child unlucky enough to catch “The Legend of Hell House.” Along for the RV ride was composer Johnny Mandel, doing his first outright genre score after specialize in adult romance, comedy and crime with the likes of “The Americanization of Emily,” “MASH” and “Point Blank.” The result was a thrilling, if not-too dangerous score that ingeniously gave a folksy spin to alien powers, impressively combining weird, ultra-70s synths with a southern-style, ESP-enabling harmonica, two unlikely partners that somehow meshed quite well with the energy of an orchestra. Having created one of the most-played themes known to Hollywood with “The Sandpiper,” Mandell drives to “Witch Mountain” with a dynamic melody that pits two kids against adult menace, while gently capturing the innocent nature of these blonde-haired protagonists, playing their impossible tricks with a mixture of magic and electronic spaciness whose sound will be a particular rush to fans of Columbia’s old-school studio logo. The score’s down-home, rustic nature is particularly sweet, and still likely the closest that music befitting Mayberry RFD has gotten close to a sci-fi score. Yet Mandell’s understandably lighter way of treating the material only adds to the score’s charm, especially with his flute and brass flying camper music that’s pure, perky Disney lightness. As a film, and score that still bewitches a generation who fell in love with a pre-Housewives of Beverly Hills Kim Richards, “Escape to Witch Mountain” has gotten the wonderful presentation this blast from the matinee past deserves, with extras that spotlight its orchestral cues sans harmonica, and a last track that shows one of the more impressive virtuoso performances the instrument has gotten from “Cool Hand Luke’s” mouth-playing ace Tommy Morgan.
. IT FOLLOWS
Just as so many sci-fi scores like “Chappie” are taking their hip retro cues from the 70s and 80s, this electronic era is also proving a boon to such impressive horror homage soundtracks as “Starry Eyes,” “Cold in July” and “The Guest.” Heck, even John Carpenter is even back on the act he truly started with “Halloween” with a collection of imagined “Lost Themes.” Now Disasterpeace chimes in for “It Follows,” a score, and film that lives up to its title in more ways than one as a seemingly unstoppable supernatural entity chases a reluctantly horny teen through a suburbia The Shape would most definitely feel at home in. But where Carpenter’s game-changing score was essentially synth simplicity itself with its staccato theme and low, minimal atmospheres, the artist known as Disasterpiece (whose resume includes indie game scores for “Apoc Wars” and “Cannon Brawl”) is cleverly after a score that seeks more electronic meat to chew than just lovingly riffing on period slasher soundtracks. Sure you’ve got banging, ever-encroaching percussion a la “The Fog” for the incredible relentless of the whatever-it-is, introspective melody for a girl trying to spot a boogie thing out from the corner of her eye, and a suspiciously calm rhythms as we drive among rows of cookie-cutter, tree-lined houses. But Disasterpeace goes a few homages better with sound morasses that would fit nicely into Gil Melle’s seminal “Andromeda Strain” score, or paying tribute to Jerry Goldsmith’s eerie, electronic gestures in “Alien.” The score expounds on these originals, sometimes with just the slightest bit of subtlety, or gigantically in the case of shrieking sound morasses. But like the power of these synth scores that have stuck with generations thoroughly creeped out by such other landmarks works as Charles Bernstein’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Entity” (scenes from which “It Follows” is sure to reference in its seeming lo-fi way), the overall effect that Disasterpieace inspires is one of surreal dread, the sound of reality being turned upside down into a buzzing realm of insanity, luring its victim with hypnotic motifs before pouncing on them with blasting dissonance. It’s a pull that really helps the awkward pacing of this uneven, but overall impactful little horror movie that perhaps could have used more of Disasterpeace to keep its energy up. But as a listen, “It Follow” pulls off the trick of turning homage into something neat, original and most importantly of all, upsetting. Even Michael Meyers would be freaked out by how his synth strains have been so surreally, and brilliantly messed about with in anything but a electro-killer copycat way.
. JUSTICE LEAGUE: THRONE OF ATLANTIS
Where DC’s live action films have mainly inhabited a darkly pretentious realm of missed promise, the comics’ animated division has been delivering far more entertaining, and involving movies that truly deserve to be given big screen flesh and blood, especially when it comes to the talented composers who’ve given equally impressive musical muscle to their costumed heroes. Certainly deserving his place in a cinematic Hall of Justice is Frederik Wiedmann, whose cosmically thrilling time spent with the Green Lantern’s animated series led to the terrific Justice League ‘toon “The Flashpoint Paradox” before continuing on with impressive DC universe entries for “JLA Adventures,” “Beware the Batman,” “Son of Batman” and now “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis.” One particular reason that Wiedmann’s music is so thrilling is that he knows how to play these characters with all of the noble seriousness they deserve, but without crossing over into moroseness. Given the introduction of Aquaman here, the composer strongly paints the gold and green king of Atlantis with a proud, majestic strains and a Middle Eastern diduk, not only giving his newfound home a mythological sense of place born from ancient gods, but more importantly personifying a half-bred character caught between his father’s land and mother’s undersea domain. It’s his musical personage that leads the JLA, whose blend of alien, human, technological and magical members is kept hip with a combination of electronics and strings. While he might not have the resources of the London Philharmonic here, Wiedmann’s exception combination of a small orchestra and out-of-the box string emulation has the punch of a 100 pieces, especially considering how all-out epic “Atlantis” frequently is. Capturing a character who’s conflicted about being to the Atlantean manor born, Wiedmann gives his score a true sense of destiny and power, two big reasons that he’s also the subject of an unusually exhaustive composer featurette on the film’s blu ray itself.
. KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON
Varese Sarabande follows up the angry jazz energy of “Whiplash” with this far more positive vibes of Clark Terry, a recently passed jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player who stands as a true legend of this distinctly American musical art form, having played over 70 years with the likes of Count Basie and Duke Ellington, given the Tonight Show band its swing, and lent soulful inspiration to such students as Quincy Jones and Miles Davis. The soundtrack, and documentary “Keep On Keepin’ On” not only let us hear a similarly profound connection through a blind piano protégé Justin Kauflin, but also highlight Terry’s astounding career as one of the most recorded jazzmen in history. It’s not an easy task to fit hundreds of hours onto one 70-minute long CD, let alone Terry’s touching words of finding one’s groove, but this bravura collection produced by director Alan Hicks and Quincy Jones (both former students of Terry’s) succeeds as a lesson in how to put together storytelling in both tunes and words. Given course with dialogue excerpts from Terry and the many artists who’ve been touched by his gift, “Keep On Keepin’ On” serves as a tour down memory lane of jazz itself. We get the Dixieland swing of The Oscar Peterson Trio’s “Brotherhood of Man,” vintage tracks from his “Harlem Air Shaft” with The Duke, and the raucously strutting swing of the “Blee Bop Blues” for Count Basie. “Michelle” is softly played jazz at its most romantic The standards also get their spotlight with the lush big band melody of Terry’s teaming with lush orchestral strains for “Candy,” “Girl Talk” and the swooning “Misty,” as well as the more intimate live performances of “I Had You” and his virtuoso solo horn giving magic to “Stardust.” Clark’s pupil also shines with his nimble keyboards on “Dreams Change,” the beautifully somber Darkest Hour” and the album’s end track “For Clark.” It’s a marvelous CD that’s a lesson in itself to jazz history, especially with how a horn can sum up the sadness and joy that gave the form birth, as played by a man who was jazz itself.
. MAP TO THE STARS
Even when not outrightly dealing with material steeped in horror or science fiction, the collaboration between director David Cronenberg and composer Howard Shore has often resulted in hard-edged music, from the viscerally brass knives to the gut of “Eastern Promises” and “A History of Violence” to the guitar electro shock of “Crash” and the psychologically howling strings of “A Dangerous Method.” It makes Shore’s more ethereal approaches to the director’s somewhat regular world tales of “Cosmopolis” (co-scored by the industrial band Metric) and now “Map to the Stars” all the more interesting and experimental in a collaboration that keeps stretching its already insane boundaries. With this poison pill travelogue of Oedipal Hollywood at its most quietly insane, both composer and director weave one of their best love-it-or-hate-it works. For a score that unites a bunch of unbalanced actors and their enablers, all on the verge of a truly intense nervous breakdown, Shore sets the thematic tone with ethereal synths and a Middle Eastern tabla, hinting of the promised exotic land of dreams. What he gives us is a hypnotic nightmare of rock-synth atmospheres, drifting over its universe of beyond-spoiled characters like pulsating clouds or brimming with electric guitar madness. “Map to the Stars” grows ever more disturbing and hypnotic in Shore’s judicious balance of ethereal atmospheres and more palpably organic music, as mixed with hip club beats for the viper dens of young stars on the make, pleading violins finally taking tragic center stage. For a composer who’s often taken daring chances of musical transgression in abetting Cronenberg’s decades-long career of provocation, the surprise of their latest affront is just how accessible this limo ride to LA hell is, which is perhaps the biggest comment they can make on how mesmerizing Hollywood’s psychoses are in the first place.
Albert Pyun was stylistically grinding out “Terminator” clones in the early 90s, following up the muscle from Brussels in “Cyborg” with Parisian kickboxing action-hunk Olivier Gruner as a trench coated LA cop man-machine on the trail of his ex-partner, with all roads leading to blowing up even more of a decimated factory location familiar to fans of this kind of low budget mayhem – let alone Pyun’s beyond-prolific output. Matching the director’s telltale color saturation was a stylishly atmospheric score by Michel Rubini. One of the most underrated practitioners of the era’s sleek, synth sound, Rubini’s noir-ish credits had included “The Hunger” (co-composed with Danny Jaeger), “Band of the Hand” and “Manhunter.” “Nemesis” would provide him with a half-electronic, half-orchestral fusion that particularly suited its high-kicking, gun-blasting future cop. And while Rubini would deliver on the percussive thunder here to match the relentless fireballs and bullets, what truly distinguishes “Nemesis” is its sunglass-cool mood. Given a reflective dick-on-the-beat theme perfect for a fog-drenched street, Rubini’s distinctive, effective melody gets haunting mileage from the City of Angels to desert and jungle, his score given further texture with voices, guitar and shakuhachi, an neo-Oriental vibe that’s well-suited to Pyun’s Woo-esque ambitions. A rock guitar groove also befits these swaggering gunslingers, while metallic hits give a Fiedel-esque presence to the evil robot overlords in human skin. Sure “Nemesis” might be familiar, but it’s a measure of Rubini’s energy as to how much swaggering, percussively pummeling fun this score is for the ambitious, low budget genre. Perserverance’s engineer Chas Ferry has done much to clean the dust off of this old cyborg’s bones for the first time in 23 years, giving Rubini’s work an impressive new spark that will impress fans of cult-video action flicks who want to get the Gruner groove on again. Rubini \ entertainingly elaborates on the scoring process in his liner notes – with perhaps the most interesting fact being that the composer was being trained by Gruner before he’d been approached to score the film. One can judge who emerged the master here.
. THE NUMBERS STATION
John Cusack and Nicolas Cage have long been in a race to see who can make the most direct-to-iTunes movies. But as Cage more than ever seems intent to be racking up some truly craptacular pictures to pay the bills, I’ve got to hand the title in terms of quality to Cusack’s way more interesting and polished choices, one in particular being “The Numbers Station.” Cusack’s once again playing a burned-out enforcement figure, this time a black ops assassin locked into a spy fortress with Malin Akerman’s attractive code breaker, both of whom are forced to fend off waves of assassins after intercepting a particularly dangerous secret message. Keeping these locked-in protagonists company in this effective, spare thriller is a cool, captivatingly pulsing score by Paul Leonard-Morgan. With the Scottish composer getting a particular lift from scoring the English spook series “MI-5,” Morgan has since impressed in Hollywood with the techno acid rush of “Limitless’” drug-crazed braniac, and the steely, hard-ass electronic rhythms of “Dredd’s” merciless future judge. “The Numbers Station” keeps that synth-rock / trance club groove effectively going in the movie’s lonely spy base, with the added benefit of strings to give the score real scope. Yet as opposed to a composer who’d be content to let the beat machine run amuck on top of a bunch of human players, what raises “The Numbers Station” above similar scores of this VOD type is its got a solid thematic foundation. Melody is the real key here to decoding this “Station’s” surprises, giving it a cool hip groove that brings to mind Harry Gregson-Williams’ “Spy Game” score. Leonard-Morgan nicely balances the more dance track-ish numbers with enticing suspense rhythms that bringing out the mystery behind the constantly voiced call signs, while also capturing the rapid, chattering and catchy beat of computer information flashing before the analyst’s eyes, the mechanical nature of her job abetted by scraping, chattering gestures. It’s a cool, rhythmically atmospheric score that’s especially well modulated between more oppressive tones and conveying the far bigger, and deadlier world of espionage outside of this forgotten English base. Amid so many scores playing the numbers game in taking a similar approach, its says something that this “Station” stands out in the spy score pack, especially given a composer who knows his way around fast-paced beats and more cerebral head games.
. PINOCCHIO: THE LEGACY COLLECTION
In the decades since 1937’s “Sleeping Beauty,” no animation-specialty studio has provided such iconic songs or scores as Walt Disney. But after numerous appearances out of, and back into their movie and music vaults, no ever-more-special CD release has done justice to their aural work like the studio’s Legacy collection, among whose multiple-disc releases are the likes of “Fantasia,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King.” But if there’s one classic movie that’s truly eternal in capturing the enchanted optimism that stands for the studio’s appeal to the youth in all of us, then it’s the glistening, magical music of 1940s “Pinocchio,” which is now fully given musical life to reveal itself even more of an instrumentally animated work than thought. Seeking to recapture the sweet fairy tale enchantment of his score to “Snow White,” Disney brought back the team of Leigh Harline and Paul J. Smith for “Pinocchio.” Together with Ned Washington they’d win the Best Score Oscar for this delightful work that’s the embodiment of a puppet who wants to be a real boy, a spirit that’s at once magical and mischievous. Given thematic life Washington’s classic Oscar-winning song “When You Wish Upon A Star” (which Steven Spielberg had John Williams’ use so brilliantly for the end credits of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”), Harline and Smith’s work is full of bright, eager melodies built around its other memorable tunes, begun by the sprightly “Give A Little Whistle.” Sparkling bells, the spectrally enchanted music of The Blue Fairy, the Germanic accordions of the movie’s “Old World’ Eastern European setting and the tinkertoy sounds of Gepetto’s workshop make this one of the first scores to truly become a character in such an inventively playful and unabashedly emotional way, especially as the puppet’s misbehavior puts him in melodically woeful and dangerous jeopardy. A particular delight is hearing some decidedly bad-boy stripper jazz-meets-circus calliope music as Pinocchio falls in with the wrong kid crowd at Pleasure Island. And when it comes to subversion, “Hi Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor’s Life For Me)” stands as a sarcastic ode to the next-oldest profession that’s more hilarious than ever. Those who’ve watched the “Avengers: Age of Ultron” trailer numerous times will also get to hear the original, far more innocent version of “I’ve Got No Strings.” Such is the power of “Pinocchio” in our collective memory that’s made this arguably the greatest of the golden age Disney song-score. With “Pinocchio’s” soundtrack fitting into one CD, the second disc is first given over to perky re-performances of its lost songs. But the B-side truly belongs to the three-octave voice of Jiminy Cricket (aka the folksy Cliff Edwards) and his insanely cute morality lesson songs. Hearing this collection of oh-so chirpy, and undeniably clever mental hygiene tunes as “Safety First” and “I’m No Fool” on “The Mickey Mouse Club” as he sung to TV-addicted kids about the dire consequences of what would happen to those who didn’t brush their teeth, properly ride their bike or jump in a pool right after eating is enough to make you want to stomp on that darned insect – which is exactly what Pinocchio did in Carlo Collodi’s original story.
. REACH ME
In nearly two decades of scoring, Tree Adams has mainly worked on television with such popular shows as “Perception,” “Californication” and “Franklin & Bash,” where he’s often impressed with quirky, groove-based music. That put him in good, eccentric stead for this off-kilter character cavalcade for director John Herzfeld, who returned to LA after the star-filled “Two Days in the Valley” with this even more out-there movie about fate-linked Angelinos, who are brought together by the words of a reclusive self-help author. While there’s no way for Adams to thematically play every member of the cast, the composer smartly settles on a vibe that combines rhythm and blues with nice Hammond organ bits, perky comedy-orchestral percussion with a spacey, meditative music for strings, synths and piano. It’s a fun, energetic approach that does much to smooth over some of the film’s wilder eccentricities, while offering melodic self-enablement for a cinematic approach that’s out to find some measure of truth in its emblematic author, who’s given a sad-sack jazz-brass approach, the horns going off-kilter when confronted with his fear of the people who desperately seek truth-telling from him. Another musical personage to stand out is a cop who can’t help killing ever perp he encounters, his quick-on-the-draw charisma cleverly given a spaghetti country-western energy. Keenly balancing comedy and drama, Tree Adams’ funkily appealing score is about LA as a state of eccentric mind, as mapped out with melodically energetic, and tenderly thoughtful geography
. RED ARMY
Christophe Beck is a composer with ever-growing action muscle with the likes of “Edge of Tomorrow,” Terminator Genisys” and “Ant Man.” But it’s his few forays into documentary scoring where he really gets to stretch his biceps, first taking on a broken educational system with “Waiting for Superman” and now showing the shattering, if emotionally empty power of Russia’s hockey-powered “Red Army.” Teaming with his longtime scoring coordinator and additional composer Leo Birenberg, Beck enjoyably partakes of all things Soviet for a score so nationalistic that it puts “Dr. Zhivago” to shame. Dancing Balalaika, violins and pomp-filled strings create an invincible army of warriors on ice that would take a big Cold War fall at the sticks of the U.S. at the 1980 Winter Olympics. But beyond going for the obvious employment of all things musically Russian, the true strength of Beck and Birenberg’s work is in getting across the soul-draining punishment of having no life beyond sports in service to The Motherland. A plucky main theme maneuvers to rhythmic builds, blasting rock guitars, virtuoso violin solos and chorus. It’s an approach that’s all about aggression and drive, while the wreck of the lives barely off the rink are conveyed through agonized strings and a mournful men’s chorus. You could almost say there’s a satiric quality to it all as these famed Russians truly face the not-so invincible music, with quirky instrumentations further melting the stone-faced ice. But then, if Russia has built its now capitalist revolution on sacrifice, “Red Army” is best at powerfully getting across the sad human toll in reaching shattered perfection, its especially empathetic string, flute and synth-sample melodies almost pleading for a shot of vodka as the rhythmically militaristic hockey machine breaks down. It’s in the strength of how thematically well Beck and Birenberg’s score is constructed that we get a moving sense of vulnerability in the enemy on ice, and no small amount of stalwart Russian pride as the score climactically rocks out with chorus and sonic booms in the best action hero fashion.
One might expect a Hollywood score for a tale of an angelic, flying infant to be full of sugary, bouncing baby comedy, Thankfully, that’s not the way they score angelic tykes in France, especially when in the caring hands of Philippe Rombi. An exceptionally melodic composer who could be the next Alexandre Desplat on these shores if given the chance, Rombi has had his share of childhood enchantment with “War of the Buttons,” as well as mystery for director Francois Ozon with “The Swimming Pool.” In 2009’s “Ricky,” Rombi was able to combine both approaches, beginning with a tender, piano-waltz theme that is the definition of vulnerable, sweetly sympathetic innocence for a woman awaiting her bundle of joy. Yet a good portion of the ensuing score is far more anguished than fairy tale in nature as Rombi concentrates on playing the aghast parents’ reaction as they notice strange bruises on their baby’s back. The sparkling bell percussion of Rombi’s theme joins with sorrowful violins and creeping strings suggesting an M. Night Shamalayan score in the making, while also getting across the child abusing implications of these unexplained marks. But once “Ricki’s” abilities are revealed, just a little tiny bit of the darkness leaves the score as Rombi conjures the “flying” rhythms of the infant, if in a more down to earth way than the swoopingly symphonic likes of “The Boy Who Could Fly” and “Superman.” There’s something to be said of the emotional gravity that Rombi makes his memorably thematic, poignant score that’s only as fantastical as it needs to be. You never knew flying baby music could be this smart with only the gentlest, melancholy flutter of its wings.
. THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
Being second best doesn’t mean playing second fiddle to his first “Exotic Marigold” score when it comes to Thomas Newman’s return trip to this not-so geriatric Indian hotel for English expats. In this more-than-respectable sequel, Newman reprises his melodically cross-cultural masala of subcontinental rhythms and pattering voices with lush strings for a score that’s as colorful, and vibrant as the hustle and bustle of the city. If anything, Newman’s new check-in has even more of that fast-paced energy. For a composer who impressed out of the gate with the magically percussive comedy quirk of “Desperately Seeking Susan” and “The Man With One Red Shoe,” this “Second” time around gives him the welcome opportunity to return to a genre he doesn’t get to visit that often outside of his Disney scores for “Saving Mr. Banks” and “Finding Nemo.” Though the golden girl likes of Maggie Smith and Judi Dench might same ageless, what gives this “Marigold” entry more of a dramatic edge is the realization that the cast won’t be doing these sequels forever, even with the relatively younger Yank-blooded like of Richard Gere on hand. Subsequently, the poignant melodies that Newman gave to the likes of “Little Children” and “Revolutionary Road” are also on hand to give this score an especially moving, though unforced resonance, especially in its movingly quiet send-off before returning once again to its eccentric, rhythmic enchantment. But no matter what continent its playing, Newman’s music has always said it’s hip to be a square, no more so than with a soundtrack that communicates the love for these Brit fogies with a vibrancy that’s positively dancing to an ethereal, enchanted raga beat – along with the addition of catchily upbeat and modernly rhythmic Indian pop songs.
CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, MyPlayDirect, Perseverance and Screen Archives Entertainment
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.2495]Dave Porter ([m.43339]Term Life), [c.674]Jeff Beal ([t.43330]The Dovekeepers), [c.8705]Junkie XL ([m.41252]Point Break), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 28 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-03-09]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.36438]Cinderella ([c.50]Patrick Doyle) and [m.38979]Run All Night ([c.8408]Stephen Perone).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.36438]Cinderella (6 songs)
- [m.38979]Run All Night (5 songs)
- [m.41750]Cymbeline (6...
Lakeshore Records will release the [a.14795]Effie Gray Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally on [da.2015-03-31]March 31 and on CD on [da.2015-04-28]April 28, 2015. The album features the film's original score by [c.1293]Paul Cantelon.
"Working on [m.38101]Effie Gray was a privilege," Cantelon said. "I was allowed to write the music freely, which in turn allowed the music to express the depth of the emotion that the film creates. I was raised in a very similar religious background to that of John Ruskin, and was exceedingly moved by the film's exploration of those important influences. This personal connection propelled the music to become a fully realized character."
"The whole film is brimming over with emotions on all scales," said Cantelon. "Though...
Since his 2005 video game scoring debuts with “Rise of the Kasai” and “Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows,” Jason Graves has played faithful service to a genre that’s continually evolved in terms of its striking visuals and bold storytelling as the genre has done its damnedest to shirk the mantle of being kid’s stuff, no more so than in the quality of its music. Action has been a particular forte for Graves, who’s proved that one could indeed hear a terrifying orchestra shriek in the void with the “Dead Space” franchise. He’s given the stuff of soaring fantasy to “Dungeon Siege III,” sent Lara Croft’s arrows heroically flying with “Tomb Raider,” rocked with the tricked-out cars driven by the “Wheelman,” and delivered righteous ghostly payback in “Murdered: Soul Suspect.” Yet among Graves’ numerously exciting scores, perhaps none have been as grippingly downbeat, or as elegantly sad as the centuries-old code of honor that binds “The Order: 1886.” It’s a classically-themed soundtrack that puts Graves at the center of the round table of an Arthurian-esque police force out to preserve the peace in a steampunk England, its Knights of the Realm beset by werewolves, rebels and a growing conspiracy within their ranks.
From airship to Lycan-infested hospital and the hallowed halls of his fellow Knights, “The Order” the noble Galahad finds his sense of righteousness crumbling with each new discovery. Given the thematic heavy heart of a cello and viola driving its tragically noble orchestra, Graves conveys an ever-darkening sense of betrayal to match a Knight seeing his band of brothers in a monstrous new light. Even with its rhythmic werewolf battles, moaning voices and tearfully aching strings, “The Order: 1886” maintains a real melodic sense of class (and dare say decorum) that one could imagine being heard in “Downtown Abbey.” It’s music that’s all about stiff upper lip honor a life sacrificed to duty, even as these warriors festooned in pomp and circumstance throw down with the ultra-violent action gaming demands. And given its lengthy and gorgeously moody cinematics, “The Order: 1886” allows Graves the opportunity to write a game score with the development, and depth of a feature film, an arena that the composer has recently been exploring with “Adrenaline” and “Unknown Caller.”
For a game full of armor-weighted characters, the composer has created a score that’s even stronger for its emotional weight as it is its percussive action, elaborating on the price of duty with refined, truly grave soulfulness that levels up just how dramatic game scoring can be within its shoot-‘em up, franchise-launching expectations. On that, Jason Graves can proudly be knighted amongst “The Order: 1886.”
Could you talk about the road that led you to specialize in video game scoring?
I cut my teeth on film and television music in the mid ‘90s. I attended USC’s Film/TV Scoring program and found myself working halfway through my first semester. I did lots of agency work for commercials and trailers plus plenty of reality television and film. My time in LA taught me to work very quickly under tight deadlines. Most importantly, I learned how to listen to the client and deliver what they need – as opposed to simply giving them what I wanted to do.
I eventually worked my way back to my home state of North Carolina and spent five years working on independent films and corporate accounts before I landed my first game. It was definitely a “knowing someone who knew a guy who knew someone that needed music” situation. The developer was in Australia and needed forty minutes of music in four weeks. Fortunately, I had been working on my studio and honing my orchestra chops for five years, so I jumped in headfirst and ended up having more fun in those four weeks than I had the entire time in LA. It wasn’t just the creative freedom – the sheer amount of music needed was the opposite of the “revising thirty seconds of music for six weeks” experience I had with advertising. It was a very liberating experience and I definitely set my sights on games since that first title in 2001.
How long was “The Order: 1886” in development, and did your music for it evolve along with it during that time?
I’ve been attached to The Order since 2012 and I know they were working in earnest on it for a few years before that. The first two years were definitely touch and go – there wasn’t a lot that needed music then. We still kept in touch and had an evolving idea of what the music could contribute. There were a few test levels and experiments I scored during that time, but they were really more surface/scary/single dimension kinds of cues. Everything revolves around Lycan encounters, so the music was very scary…but that was about it. Nothing of substance yet – none of us yet knew what kind of game we were making.
By late 2013 things were beginning to take shape. We knew that, yes, there were going to be gothic horror aspects to the game, but I didn’t want to score the whole thing as an outright horror title. I was particularly interested in our lead protagonist and what the game developer, Ready At Dawn, called “a burden of responsibility and honor” that he and his fellow Knights carried. The idea of a burden, or weight, was very intriguing from a musical standpoint and gave me a unique perspective towards the game. I wanted the score to feel more personal, introspective and mournful, rather than the usual drum-riddled, combat-driven loops that permeate so many blockbuster combat games. “The Knight’s Theme” and “Galahad’s Theme” were born out of this idea in early 2014. There had been plenty of experimenting for the previous years and I essentially wiped the creative slate clean with my eyes fixed on an April recording session at Abbey Road. We planned two sessions total to cover the in-game music and cinematics.
The first session went very well. So well, in fact, that I expanded some ideas and pushed the interesting sounds – male choir and solo strings – even more to the forefront, which yielded cues such as “The Knighthood” and “Last Man Standing” on the second session.
Like “Beyond: Two Souls,” “The Order: 1886” is a “hybrid” game that’s almost a movie as it is a game. Did you look forward to that approach?
I definitely enjoyed the story-driven plot and character development, which is a result of RAD’s overall approach to the gameplay. In many ways, I was able to score a good bit of the game as if it were a film. Any large game has many hours of cinematics – Tomb Raider had over two hours and Dead Space 3 was about the same. We had music in more than two hours of cinematics for The Order, but there was also an additional two hours of in-game music, so it really ends up balancing itself out.
The cello and viola are especially evocative instruments in “The Order: 1886.” What made you decide to feature them, and what did you want them to express about the characters and the story?
I seem to be on the eternal search for unique ways to approach each new score. Small, personal ideas are always more interesting to me and I’ve always approached music for a game the same way I would a film. What emotions are we trying to convey to the player? What are the character’s motivations? The Knights of the Order are solitary and lonely, having sacrificed normal lives for the greater good and leaving behind their family and loved ones. How could I express this, also immediately, in music?
Solo cello and solo viola was featured quite a bit. In fact, there are no violins in the entire score! I’ve always loved solo strings, especially for their personal, mournful quality – so introspective and solitary. Those emotions aligned with my musical idea of the Knights of The Order.
Could you talk about the religious aspect of the score, especially in how you use the choir? How did you want to play the “Arthurian” aspect of characters that likely started off at the Round Table?
The choir really serves two purposes. It functions as both the Knights and Lycans depending on the musical context. The human voice is the oldest instrument in the world. I wanted to lean on that idea and use that specific texture to full effect. There is a woman in The Order, but our story is centered around Galahad so I chose a male choir. And not just any men – only the low voices were used. We had twenty-four men made up of baritones, basses and contrabasses. And they were usually singing in their lowest registers. In fact, when we recorded the win themes they dropped their parts by an entire octave. Not only did it sound fantastic, but it wasn’t muddy or blurry – you could still hear every note in the chord, even that low. The effect was surprisingly immediate, especially when taken in context with the visuals. You see these Knights on screen in their amazing surroundings and hear the low male choir – it’s one of those infrequent but lovely “well, obviously that’s how the music is supposed to sound” moments.
Could you talk about the approach you wanted to take for the Lycans?
The entire ensemble really gets corrupted for the Lycans. The choir sings really, really low clusters – they actually had the most fun singing all that really low, dissonant stuff. Lycans are essentially humans that have been twisted into another form. The idea was to portray a mangled, twisted version of the “Arthurian” men’s choir while simultaneously providing a recognizable contrast in terms of texture and harmony. Even though the exact same group of men is singing, you should immediately recognize the difference between the choral music for the Knights and the Lycans.
The woodwinds were an unusual lineup to begin with. We had three bassoons and three bass clarinets, plus another three contrabassoons and three contrabass clarinets. They mostly played simple but effective low textures and clusters, quite literally scoring the Lycans and their monstrous appearance. They almost sound like they are sputtering and growling, with plenty of low trills and clustery swells. In cues like “The Hidden Enemy” you can really hear the low woodwinds moving in and out of the string quartet music, as if they are chasing and fighting with the Knights. There’s also plenty of low register breathing and growling in “The Enduring Pride,” which is the main theme for the half-breeds.
The strings were also treated very differently for the Lycan cues. It’s fair to say that all sense of melody or harmony was pretty much thrown out the window. What remained was very primitive and rhythmic. The strings are essentially the instinctual side of the Lycans. Heartbeats, blood rushing, fight or flight – I tried to make the music as primal and driving as possible, especially for the Lycan combat scenes.
Is it more pleasant for you to do a game score with more melodic content as such than the all out musical assault of a game like “Dead Space?”
Honestly, both are really a lot of fun! But that’s the key – being able to work with different styles of music from project to project. I honestly prefer to bounce back and forth from orchestral to other styles. Variety, as they say, is indeed the spice of life.
“The Order: 1886” is one of the most visually beautiful games I’ve played. How did that level of artistic design figure into the score?
I wish I could talk about how inspirational and amazing it was scoring such a gorgeous game. The reality is everything I saw, beyond concept art, was unlit polygon blocks and pre-vis renderings. It’s very typical in games and one of the few disadvantages of the music production schedule running parallel to the game production. So, basically I had to use my imagination and assume the visuals would end up looking fantastic, which, of course they did!
Did you want the score to reflect the “steampunk” aspects of the game, especially when it comes to the setting of an alternate, Victorian-Edwardian England? On that note, was it tricky balancing the many game genres that “The Order: 1886” fits into, from science fiction to fantasy and horror?
No matter how complicated story elements seem to get, for me as a composer it always comes down to what the gameplay needs. A lot of times there are distinctive aspects of a project that don’t need additional musical commentary. My approach for The Order was definitely more introspective than anything else, and in many ways limiting myself to the instruments I chose was the ultimate customization. I’m not really thinking of genre or period-specific requirements. I’m almost fanatically focused on the emotional connection between the player and the game. If I can forge and continually strengthen that connection, the rest will fall into place on its own.
What do you think is key to a franchise-launching game, especially when it comes to the music?
The hardest part would certainly be creating something original that is also both recognizable and memorable. Simplicity is an absolute must, but it can also be the most challenging and elusive goal.
When doing more of an “authentic” score like “The Order,” how do you keep the music fresh and contemporary?
I was very wary of stepping on too many musical toes, so to speak. We have a very specific time period the game takes place in and I wanted the music to seem like a natural extension of the era. At the same time, we all knew we wanted the score to have a unique sound, which meant things needed to be tweaked somehow. So I went back to the overall sense of weight and introspection. What is the simplest, most straightforward way to musically illustrate weight? Obviously, the easiest answer is to use an orchestra that could’ve existed in 1886 and write music with lots of low notes. And it is very possible that kind of score would work for a project like this. However, I love the idea of a musical challenge and really enjoy trying new things. I decided the most efficient way to compose a “heavy” score was to simply eliminate any instruments that would not contribute to that sense of weight. What I ended up with was a string-based score without any violins. Instead, I doubled up on the violas and cellos. The same idea applied to the woodwinds – only the low, beefy instruments were allowed.
In addition, most of the score is performed with string mutes, lending a veiled sensibility to the music. And, as luck would have it, almost every instrument bottomed out on a low C (including woodwinds), so most of the score is written in those very low keys of C, D or E. There were also instructions as to which specific strings the players were to use. We focused on the two lowest strings of each instrument, which have a thicker, darker sound to them. All of these examples are really more shading techniques than obvious, over-the-top extremes. But the idea of having them all combined together would definitely contribute to the overall sense of weight for the entire score.
How did you want to apply “period” strings to the game’s action mechanics?
It simply came down to a matter of energy. I was essentially limited to only violas and cellos for the action writing, since the choir, woodwinds, and contrabasses really just provide support more than anything else. Most of the score is actually three-part writing, especially the action cues. It was basically like writing action music for a string trio – it had to be simple but effective. That meant driving rhythms and plenty of forward motion.
Could you talk about your other projects this year, “Evolve” and the feature film “Adrenaline?”
“Evolve” was the exact opposite of The Order, musically speaking. It’s an online co-op shooter with extremely fast-paced gameplay. I performed and recorded the entire score in my studio and had a lot of fun experimenting with sound sources – everything from razor blades inside a piano and external synthesizers to found sounds and electric guitars. Most notably, every cue in the score has something run through my external guitar setup, which has twenty+ pedals, three cabinets and seven different microphones on it. “Re-amping” so many already unusual sounds gave the score an interesting twist, hopefully sounding modern yet organic at the same time.
“Adrenaline” was a wonderful throwback score for me. It’s a racing movie starring John Schneider. The entire film was scored with nothing but guitars and drums. Basically if you hired a rock band to score your film this is the kind of music you would get. Except in this case, it’s just a one-man rock band. I played and recorded all the instruments myself, which was an absolute blast. It has a very no-holds-barred classic rock sound and was a wonderful palette cleanser.
Do you think video game scoring affords you more creative opportunities than feature scoring would?
It really depends on the kind of people you are working with and how much trust you have between you. Game developers seem to desire more inventive and creative scores for their project. They want music that’s going to distinguish their game from the competitors. And I feel like the more original and interesting I can make that music, the happier they are with the end result. But originality is definitely risky!
Film, on the other hand, can fall into the temp track trap and want the new score to be as close to a previous, “successful” score as possible. Of course, if you’re an experienced film composer with an established track record you will have more leeway to be creative. Of course, it comes down to relationships and trust in film as well. The two films I’ve done in the last year were both very creatively satisfying because I knew the filmmakers and they trusted me with their projects. A lot of it is simply experience and relationships, which go hand-in-hand. The longer you work, the more people you know, the more music you write, the more opportunities you receive.
Visit Jason Graves’ website HERE
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.9137]Keefus Ciancia ([m.43314]Criminal Activities), [c.1061]Marcelo Zarvos ([m.43313]Our Kind of Traitor), [c.139]Mark Mothersbaugh ([m.35972]Hotel Transylvania 2), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 35 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-03-02]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.39641]Chappie ([c.237]Hans Zimmer) and [m.39374]Unfinished Business ([c.597]Alex Wurman).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.39641]Chappie (13 songs)
- [m.39374]Unfinished Business...