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(Photo by Simon Murphy)
With a career spent on creating rapturously lush melodic scores, Craig Armstrong has an unabashed nature that Victor Frankenstein would likely appreciate – even if this composer might be just a bit more mild-mannered in regard to unleashing his striking creations. Be they killers (“The Bone Collector”), relationship-starved singles (“Must Love Dogs”) or historical heroes (“Elizabeth: The Golden Age”), Craig Armstrong’s work has strutted forth with richly orchestral themes, the lightning of electronic music often raining down upon them. Keenly drawn to emotion since his start playing for the stage with actor and director Peter Mullan (“The Magdalene Sisters”), Armstrong’s segue to the big screen has been full of the romance for the melodic possibility of film scoring itself, whether it’s intended to serve as Baz Luhrmann’s instrumental songbook in the pop-filled “Moulin Rouge!” and “The Great Gatsby,” or serving as textbook examples in how to fuse together motifs into walls of transfixing, suspenseful sound (“The Clearing,” “In Time”). To listen to a Craig Armstrong score is to really be at one with his characters’ fraught emotions, whether they be desperate yearning (“Far from the Madding Crowd”) the rocking joy of thieving (“Plunkette & Macleane”) or superhero smashing rage unleashed (“The Incredible Hulk”).
Craig Armstrong’s “Victor Frankenstein” stands proudly as the most no-holds barred score to grace the iconic tale of mad Victorian science since “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” back in 1994, (its symphonically rampaging score written by fellow Scotsman Patrick Doyle). This time, the thematic spin is on the very strange Bromance between James McAvoy’s Doctor and his assistant Igor. As embodied by Daniel Radcliffe, Igor is no grotesque loon, but the central object of a love that dare not speak its pilfered brain, Armstrong’s exuberant “Victor Frankenstein” score is seamlessly stitched together from the various styles he does so well. Driven by a monstrously pounding theme, the alternately restrained and operatic music is awash in the composer’s sense of costume drama, inevitable tragic attraction and synthesized rhythms – all energetically driven with a wrathful chorus a. It’s high drama run amuck, with a fearsomely gorgeous impact that’s inimitably, ultra-melodically Armstrong.
What drew you into composing, and were there any musicians and soundtracks that strongly influenced you?
In my mid teens I started to write music, I was in the school’s orchestra and there was opportunity to compose for some of the musicians.
At that stage it was really more for fun and I hadn’t thought about it as a possible career, in fact I never thought it would be possible to compose for a living until much later on when I went to the Royal Academy of Music in London. I was always in bands in my teens and wrote songs, I was aware of film music but only from hearing it in the cinema. So I started the piano very young and then progressed to the violin and was lucky to attend a lot of symphonic concerts as a kid in Glasgow. In those years I would say the theatre and the music written for theatre was a strong influence for me.
You have a distinctively lush and romantic strings sound that often mixes with orchestra with electronics. How did you develop this strongly melodic approach?
I think it’s helped my string writing with the fact that I studied the violin for seven years. This detailed knowledge of the instrument helped me a lot in developing the sound I like to create with a string orchestra. For some reason I do connect film music with melody as some of my favorite film composers; Ennio Morricone, Thomas Newman are from this tradition. However I would say that the music I write for classical commissions tends to be more abstract. But I’m also interested in synthesizer music, which I have been since my early teens. I’m still interested in the latest developments in electronic music, and have a healthy collection of vintage synthesizers that I enjoy using if the score requires it, especially with “Victor Frankenstein.”
Do you find yourself drawn to period scores? If so, what do you think they offer to a composer that modern day-set films don’t?
I have found when I work on period films usually the director asks me to ignore the fact that is a period film and just write an emotionally supportive score. I’m thinking particularly of the score I did for “Ray.” where the original score was really more focusing on gospel music rather than the music of Ray Charles. However in some scores like “The Great Gatsby.” there was definitely music that both ignored and reflected the period. The period films I suppose offer another level of research, which, with the director, we can choose to ignore or incorporate.
How were you drawn into “Victor Frankenstein?” And could you talk about your collaboration with director Paul McGuigan, who’s shown a real visual flair in movies like “The Acid House,” “Lucky Number Slevin” and “Push?”
Paul and I were friends from quite a long time ago in Glasgow. And we always said we when bumped into each other that we would like to work together. When Paul returned from L.A recently, he offered me the chance to work on his new film “Victor Frankenstein,” and I was very happy to say yes, being a fan of his previous work and a friend. In actual fact Paul just lives around the corner from my studio! So Paul would usually work with me at the weekends while he edited his film in London during the week. I found Paul’s visual aesthetic inspiring to write for. And the musical world of “Victor Frankenstein” was very open to a score that used both symphony orchestra and electronics.
Before taking on “Victor Frankenstein,” did you bone up on past Frankenstein scores? How difficult do you think it is to put a new cinematic, and musical spin into a tale that’s been told so many times before?
I really didn’t listen to previous Frankenstein scores. But now that you’ve mentioned that maybe I should! I think classic fairy tales will always be reinterpreted by each generation. Paul’s version is very reflective of his early work as a photographer. It’s also important when you work on classic pieces like “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Great Gatsby” or indeed “Victor Frankenstein” that you are not overwhelmed by the subject matter and just get on with writing with what you think will be an exciting musical experience.
“Victor Frankenstein” has an especially furious and driving main theme. How did you develop it?
I think this theme is one of the first pieces I wrote for the film. I often find that my initial first response to the movie is the one that finally makes it into the picture.
How much of a “horror” score did you want to make this?
I never saw Paul’s film as being in the horror genre. In fact I saw it really as quite a romantic film, which also had a lot of humor. So when I wrote it I focused on the relationship triangle between Igor, Victor and Lorelei. I think by developing the emotional side of the film, the action sequences took care of themselves.
This is your second score to feature a big bruiser after “The Hulk.” Could you talk about your experience with the Marvel Universe, and how the approach for that behemoth might have carried over to your approach for the Frankenstein monster?
I took on “The Hulk” on because as a young kid I was a big fan of the character. And I very much enjoyed working with the director Louis Leterrier on the film. It was very much a movie out of my usual genre. However, I did find it fascinating working on the animated scenes and seeing them come together. For me the two films are very different in tone and aesthetic.
The grand moment of any Frankenstein score is the “creation” scene. How did you want to tackle it?
The creation scene in “Victor Frankenstein” was an interesting one to score. I had this idea of having big chords played by heavy metal guitar. But instead of guitar I used a whole symphony orchestra, but in a very tribal and simplistic way. The orchestra, were really playing huge massive power chords.
Could you talk about playing the human element of “Victor Frankenstein,” especially in regards to the “bromance” between Victor and Igor?
Paul’s movie really focuses mainly on the “bromance” between Victor and Igor. So that the heart of the score really had to based upon those characters and the development of their friendship. This theme really grows throughout the entire score and is even hinted at in the circus music. So in away it is sprinkled throughout the entire movie.
You’ve got a sizable chorus that makes an impression in “Victor Frankenstein.” What was your goal in having a finally operatic approach?
I’ve always enjoyed working with choir. And of course “Victor Frankenstein” gave me the perfect vehicle to use a massive overwhelming choral sound to match what was going on screen. I think this operatic approach reflected the world which Paul had made and which was operatic in scale.
How do you think the electronics in “Victor Frankenstein” add to a character that’s dabbling in futuristic, forbidden technology?
Working on the electronics was a lot of fun. Paul was very interested in some of my early synthesizers in the studio like the VSC3 synthesizer and the Theremin. I also used a lot of samples from very early synthesizers like the Ondioline. This approach reflected the film’s excitement of the use of electricity. We spent many days working with just these instruments.
With its use of bell percussion, do you think there’s a “fairy tale” aspect to your score?
I think there is a fairy tale aspect to the score that comes from working with unusual instruments that are both electronic and acoustical. The bell percussion in particular gives it a slightly twisted and macabre feel, which suits the atmosphere of the film. The balance between the orchestra, the strange percussion and the obscure instruments like the glass armonica all create this slightly distorted fairy tale sound. I was really excited when I worked with the glass Armonica because it really seemed to conjure up sonically the world of Victorian London. It had an edge but also an ethereal quality that was very beautiful, and seemed to tie together the circus elements with the darker elements in the picture.
There’s more humorous character interplay in “Victor Frankenstein” than most films of the genre. How did you want to capture that sometimes-flippant attitude to the madness going on?
I really enjoyed the fact there as a lot of humor in the film which of course makes the darker moments even darker. However a general rule I find when composing under humor is mainly to ignore it and just support the drama in the scene.
In the end, there’s the timeworn moral point that man shouldn’t treat on God’s domain. How do you think your score hears that lesson, especially given the tragic quality that your dramatic scores often have?
The tension in “Victor Frankenstein” comes from the moral dilemma of playing around with and distorting nature. This tension that is throughout the entire film was a major theme to be exploited musically especially in the scenes with Turpin and Victor. I found these scenes very strong and therefore fun to write for, as both held polar opposite views on this big moral question.
In a way, “Victor Frankenstein” takes you back to your Hollywood debut, which was for the serial killer thriller “The Bone Collector? What was that initial studio experience like?
“The Bone Collector” was one of the first films I did after “Plunkett and Macleane.” In this film I worked with the Australian director Phillip Noyce and went on to work with him once more with “The Quiet American.”
I found working with Phillip very enjoyable and because he’s such a strong director. He had a very clear vision as to what he wanted musically which always makes life a little easier for the composer.
Audiences are perhaps most familiar with your work on Baz Luhrmann’s films. Could you talk about this continuing collaboration, especially when it comes to weaving score around the famous pop hits he so loves to use?
I’ve been especially lucky to have met and worked with Baz Luhrmann on his epic adventures. He’s a very inspiring director. His films of course are on a massive scale so when you work on a Baz film they can often be over a two-year period. During work on the “The Great Gatsby,” we realized we’ve been working together for almost twenty years now. I would say I’ve done some of my best work for Baz. His love of pop music has always been a big part of my job when working with him. Trying to seamlessly blend the pop songs into the score and back again has been integral to our collaboration. And often you work with the song’s artists themselves, which can be an interesting experience. That’s a big part of the reason my scores for Baz work so well with the songs.
What’s it like being a go-to rom-com composer as well with your work on “Fever Pitch,” “Must Love Dogs” and especially Richard Curtis on “Love Actually?” What do you think it is about your music that adds to that film’s enduring appeal?
I think working on romantic comedies can often give a composer a lot more room to develop themes ironically. As the pace of them tends to be slower, there seems to be more space for melodic development, which in the case of “Love Actually” gave me lots of room to develop the several melodic strands for each of the characters. I think it’s hard to quantify why a film like “Love Actually,” or even “Moulin Rouge!” has been taken to the heart of the public so much, it’s one of those unquantifiable elements. But of course when that happens it’s genuinely lovely.
Your other notable period score this year that’s meant far more for the Oscar crowd is “Far from the Madding Crowd.” Could you talk about the challenges of putting your own spin on the remake, especially given the last film adaptation having such a remarkable score by Richard Rodney Bennett? Did you want to capture any of that classical flavor here?
When working on “Far From The Madding Crowd” with the director Thomas Vinterberg we of course explored different approaches at the beginning, which included at one point focusing on the church music that would have been used in that period. However I eventually settled on writing a score featuring solo violin, which, seemed to capture the emotional heart of the story and also gave me an opportunity to work with the very talented violinist Clio Gould. As for Richard Rodney Bennett’s remarkable score I only listened to it after I had finished work on the film, in fact a friend bought me a vinyl copy of it. However I was very familiar with Richard Rodney Bennett’s concert works, as he was one of the professors at the Royal Academy of Music when I was a student there.
Your next big, and perhaps most controversial film will be “Snowden,” about the still-wanted “traitor” who revealed the government’s enormous surveillance efforts. Could you talk about your continuing collaboration with Oliver Stone after “World Trade Center” and “Wall Street 2?” What can we expect from this score?
For” Snowden,” I worked with Oliver in Munich and New York but composed most of the score in Glasgow. I found it an inspirational film to work on and was very happy to work with Oliver again after our previous collaborations. For this score I worked with the London Sinfonietta, so the orchestral music sounds very classical. However, electronics are part of the score as well. For that element, I worked with the German artist Antye Greie (AGF), I have worked with Antye before on several different projects. Funnily enough, when a score has been written so recently, I sometimes find it hard to analyze t myself.
Do you think there’s a dramatic fearlessness to your work that other composers might not attempt?
The only approach I take which might be slightly unusual from other film composers is that I try not think of it as film music and just try and write music that can live on it’s own as well as with picture.
In the end, how do you think “Victor Frankenstein” figures into the saga’s cinematic and musical legacy?
I think Paul’s film fits well into the legacy of the Frankenstein movies it has a more romantic and also humorous approach but at the same time is tense, emotional and visually ravishing.
“Victor Frankenstein” opens on November 25th, with Craig Armstrong’s score available on La La Land Records November 19th HERE
Visit Craig Armstrong’s website HERE
ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records
One of Hollywood scoring’s most singular, yet stylistically diverse and intelligent voices belongs to the New York City born and based Carter Burwell. A former Harvard Lampoon cartoonist and punk rock performer, Burwell made an auspicious movie debut along with the Coen Brothers for 1984’s “Blood Simple,” a score that immediately showed the composer’s talent for capturing clever, dramatic irony. Over the last three decades and counting, Carter Burwell has segued from the multiplex mainstream of “Twilight,” “Conspiracy Theory,” “A Knight’s Tale,” and “The Blind Side” to such arthouse pictures as “Gods and Monsters,” “Fur” and “Howl.” Given an astonishing musical range that can jump from twangy looniness to hilariously bombastic drama and cutting-edge synth rhythms, it’s no wonder that Carter Burwell has become the eccentric, oft-used muse for some of the cinema’s equally unique directorial voices, among them Bill Condon (“Mr. Holmes” “Kinsey”), Spike Jonze (“Inside John Malkovich,” “Where the Wild Things Are”) and of course The Coen Brothers (“Fargo” and the forthcoming “Hail Caesar”).
Given a fall film season that finds Burwell on impressive display with the eccentric stop motion animated chamber score for Charlie Kaufman’s “Anomalisa” the swaggering punk rock gangsterism of Brian Hegeland’s “Legend,” the most emotionally impactful Burwell score belongs to “Carol,” his new collaboration with director Todd Haynes, Having first teamed for the 70s glam rock odyssey of “Velvet Goldmine,” then gone back to the 30s and 40s for the tormented career woman that netted HBO’s “Mildred Pierce” miniseries a best score Golden Globe, Burwell and Haynes now journey to the 1950s. It’s an equally repressive time for Carol (Cate Blanchett), an unhappily married woman who finds her heart’s desire in the salesgirl Theresa (Rooney Mara), a forbidden romance that tears both of their worlds apart. For attraction that must remain in the shadows, Burwell creates a beautiful, hushed, thematic tapestry of echoing piano and aching strings. It’s a score of sensual, sad desire and the creeping threat of proper society that continues to show Burwell’s keen sense of human nature, and the his talent for weaving melodic spells of irresistible fate.
Now on a new episode of “On the Score,” Carter Burwell reflects on the poignant touch he’s given to the lovers of “Carol,” and reflects on a career of creative, musical liberation.
Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to DownloadBuy the Soundtrack: CAROL Buy the Soundtrack: MILDRED PIERCE Buy the Soundtrack: LEGEND Buy the Soundtrack: MR. HOLMES Buy the Soundtrack: FARGO Carter Burwell’swebsite
The Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMA) announced the winners in film, TV, video games, commercials and trailers on Wednesday night.
The winners in each category and the other nominees were as follows:
ORIGINAL SCORE - FEATURE FILM:
WINNER: [c.2590]Dan Romer - [m.42348]Beasts of No Nation (Netflix/Participant/Red Crown)
[c.201]Alan Silvestri - [m.41169]The Walk (Sony)
[c.24]Carter Burwell - [m.39926]Carol (Weinstein)
[c.1318]Daniel Pemberton - [m.43172]Steve Jobs (Universal)
[c.3198]Jóhann Jóhannsson - [m.41837]Sicario (Lionsgate)
[c.149]Thomas Newman - [m.41409]Bridge of Spies (Dreamworks/Fox/Participant)
ORIGINAL SCORE - SI-FI/FANTASY FILM:
La-La Land Records and Creature Features invite you to meet and greet composers [c.11]Richard Band and [c.631]Joe Kraemer, with artist Miles Teves at Creature Features on Saturday November, 14 from 1pm to 2:30pm!
Join composer [c.11]Richard Band signing his stellar, new [a..16517]Puppet Master: Axis Rising / The Evil Clergyman CD (the world premiere release of both scores), composer [c.631]Joe Kraemer signing his dynamite [a.15671]Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation CD and renowned artist Miles Teves, who created the beautifully haunting cover art for our premiere vinyl LP release, [a.16745]Invasion of the Body Snatchers, who will be signing this striking LP.
Can't make the signing on Saturday? You can order signed copies from Creature Features at...
Lakeshore Records will release [a.16557]Casual - Original Score from Jason Reitman's original Hulu series with Lionsgate TV, digitally on [da.2015-11-27]November 27, 2015, and on CD in early 2016. The album features original music by [c.1575]Mateo Messina with [c.401]Rolfe Kent.
"This is such a unique series to score as it feels more like writing an emotion and seeing how it lives under a scene," said Messina. "It has felt quite different than scoring scenes like we normally do in Hollywood. This series is driven more by digging inside of the characters than it is about anything that is happening on the surface."
"Mateo and I found a superb mesh between our two approaches, and found ourselves creating music that blends easily with each other and the nature of the...
Lakeshore Records will release the [a.16334]Stonewall Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on CD [da.1969-12-31]Noevember 13 and digitally on [da.2015-11-27]November 27, 2015. The album features original music by [c.1240]Rob Simonsen.
"We discussed embracing the sounds that were prevalent at that time," said composer Simonsen. "Electrified instruments were the basis for most popular music at the time, electric guitars, Fender Rhodes, electric bass. Also drum kit, acoustic guitars. We wanted to capture an 'on tape' sound and feel like the score came from the era a bit."
"I think the opening scene, which establishes the main theme to Danny set up the heart of the character well, giving us that material to draw from throughout the film," Simonsen...
Lakeshore Records will release the soundtrack for the documentary [m.45001]Deep Web digitally on [da.2015-11-20]November 20, 2015. The album features the film's original score by [c.1805]Pedro Bromfman.
"Deep Web is about technology, the internet, hackers, cyber crime, encryption, etc... its characters are brilliant individuals, pushing the boundaries of technology, whether you consider some of them libertarians or criminals," said Bromfman. "The idea was to address those themes in the music and Alex Winter, [m.45001]Deep Web's director, and I agreed we needed an electronic score to underline the tech element at the core of the film. We wanted the electronic elements that populate the score, the synthesizers, pulses, mallets and processed strings, to sound deep and alive....
NEWS: Varese Sarabande to Release Anthology Celebrating 20th Anniversary of 'Xena: Warrior Princess'
Varèse Sarabande will release the [a.16803]Xena Warrior Princess - 20th Anniversary Anthology on [da.2015-12-04]December 4, 2015. The limited edition set (2000 units, individually numbered) contains all 7 volumes of soundtracks from the series, composed by [c.114]Joseph LoDuca. The collection includes fan-favorite pictures and album covers and newly written liner notes from Co-Executive Producer/Writer Steven L. Sears, all bound together in a brown leatherette case goldfoil stamped with the show's title treatment logo and Xena's signature chakram. Each copy also includes a beautiful 30 x 40 inch flag depicting many favorite scenes from the series.
"The reissue of my music for Xena gives me a moment to reflect on an incredible period for all of us lucky enough to have worked...
(Photo by Giuseppe Asaro)
While his own birthplace of Canada might not immediately seem exotic to those residing in the creative land of milk and honey called Hollywood, Michael Brook has made an impressive career of bringing an intriguing, ethnic touch to his soundtracks that’s ranged from The Middle East (“Fires of Kuwait”) to Africa (“Ashes and Snow”) and India (“Kingdom of the Tiger”) as well as the murderous American hinterlands of the snow-draped “Affliction” and the Cajun double-crossing “Albino Alligator.” But even more importantly, Brook’s unique, often eccentric approach has captured the emotions of young characters trying to find their place in the world – hearing a doomed soul-seeker acoustically journeying “Into the Wild” and high school madness through an 80s emo rock groove with “The Perks of Being A Wallflower.”
Now, Brook has combined the best of both musical worlds as he ventures to “Brooklyn,” a score and film that just might have the luck of the Oscar Irish for this distinctive, often heartfelt musician. But then, there’s much affinity for hearth and home in this endearing tale by scripter Nick Hornby (“About A Boy”) and director John Crowley (“Intermission”). Set in a 1950s when everything seemed possible, especially for a budding woman constricted by her rustic Irish town, “Brooklyn” has the lovely Eilis (played by the Irish-blooded, Bronx-born Saorise Ronan) emigrate to America through her sister’s help. It’s in a welcoming concrete landscape where the lovely girl is finally able to come out of her shell with the affection of her soft-spoken, Irish-fixated Italian beau Tony (Emory Cohen). But when fate calls Eilis back home, she finds her new path in life might not so clearly spelled out anymore, especially given the attention of the unsuspecting Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) who can give Eilis the comfort and joy she once never thought she’d find in her town.
Old-fashioned in the best sense of the word, Michael Brook’s music in “Brooklyn” is as Irish as the rolling hills, following the film score tradition of “Angela’s Ashes,” Evelyn,” “My Left Foot” and “The Quiet Man” in their mix of a rhythmically ethnic orchestra and Gaelic instruments, with of course the quintessential violin for the conjuration of the quaint villages and rolling green hills. It’s in this lush symphonic approach that Brook’s music finds its unforced sentimentality, beautifully capturing the tenderness and spunk of an unassuming heroine who carries her home in her heart. It’s a tone of unassuming, yet moving emotion that’s also the thematic through line of much of Brook’s work in general – here with Irish eyes that smile with the joy of discovering a new world, then become misty back in the old one, where Irish movie music is smiling upon Brook’s intelligent continuation of its legacy.
You have a real affinity for playing young people in search of themselves. What were you own explorations as a budding musician like, and how do they help you relate to these kind of characters? Was it also difficult for you to break away from conventional expectations?
My first exploration as a budding musician was when I first started playing music as a guitar player in various rock bands in bars in Toronto. I enjoyed doing that very much and also kept thinking that maybe there were other areas of interest musically that didn’t involve singing, because I can’t sing. I then came across music from other cultures, particularly from India and Africa, and composers like Terry Riley and Brian Eno who made music that was accessible and focused on sound qualities as part of the compositional process. So I started to explore the use of electronics and electric guitar and really stumbled around for a long time before taking an electronic music course at York University, which had me getting involved with synthesizers and contemporary composition. I think the main way I relate to young people in search of themselves is that for the longest time I really felt that I had no idea what I was doing; it was purely exploring various areas of music and I still feel that as an unschooled musician there’s a large degree of stumbling that seems to be an inherent part of my process. It wasn’t particularly difficult to break away from conventional expectations, because I don’t have much expertise in traditional music. Partly that lack of expertise can make the process difficult or laborious and challenging, but it also forces me to be kept on my toes, which brings a certain freshness to the things that I do.
How did you land at “Brooklyn?” And could you talk about your collaboration with director John Crowley. What did he want your score to accomplish?
I was initially approached by the film’s producer Finola Dwyer who put me in touch with the director John Crowley. I think that John’s main goal with the score was to support and heighten the emotion without ever becoming cheesy, which can happen when you either push something too much or you belabor something that’s already present on the screen. John also brought something to the score that I hadn’t focused on that much previously. He was very intent on bringing out the thought processes of the actors as you watch them on screen having their internal monologue. For me that was the most intensely challenging and ultimately rewarding aspect of working with John.
Were you a fan of scripter Nick Hornby’s films like “High Fidelity” and “An Education” before working on “Brooklyn?”
I am a big fan of Nick Hornby’s work. I think he brings out a kind of enthusiasm for the human spirit that comes out in characters that are both good and bad. It’s very easy to identify with this in ourselves and the people we know.
How “Irish” did you want to make the “Brooklyn” score, and on that note, how “American” as well?
A big catchphrase on working on this with John was to create a “delicate balance” in terms of acknowledging a sense of place with both Ireland and America. But we wanted to be subtle about it and refer to these two cultures in a fairly light-handed way. So we have a bit of mandolin when people are in Ireland or thinking of Ireland and clarinet and upright bass when people are in America or thinking about America.
As a composer who has used a lot of ethnic music, what kind of exploration did you have towards choosing the Irish instruments that you wanted to use, and what do you think they have to say about Eilis?
We wanted to stay away from overtly ethnic instruments. One notable thing that gradually emerged was the violin as kind of a theme for Eilis; not so much as a melody, but as an instrument motif that was played by my wife Julie Rogers.
Do you think there’s something naturally anguished about the violin, especially when it comes to evoking Irish emotion?
I think that the violin is perhaps the most expressive instrument, maybe the degree of articulation and expressiveness that it is capable of suits music that in some ways is non-European – such as certain aspects of Irish ornamentation or Indian or Middle Eastern music.
What’s the trick to playing emotion in a “woman’s picture” like “Brooklyn,” while taking the relatively restrained approach that you do here?
Having said that we consciously steered away from trying to have any overtly Irish ornamentation, ultimately a stark, simple style of music seems to actually bring out the emotion in the most appropriate way.
What touched you about Eilis, and became the most important aspect of her to convey with your score?
What I found particularly touching about Eilis’ character was that she was in situations that she didn’t do much to create but she just had to deal with them and then ultimately she had to make very large decisions with insufficient information. She had to make her best guess, which is what we all have to do most of the time. I also was emotionally connected by the fact that Eilis’ trajectory almost parallels my mother, who went from post war England to Canada in 1949. She went for a two week vacation, and is still there.
What was the most difficult sequence of “Brooklyn” for you to compose, and why?
The most challenging sequence for me to work on was at the end of the film. Partly because it’s long, but also partly because she goes through so many changes which take her on a particularly large and varied emotional journey. It was very helpful that John had a clear and precise map of what the music needed to do throughout the end of the film.
A particularly stirring moment in the score is “Frankie’s Song,” where you develop a traditional Irish tune in Gaelic into an orchestral instrumental. What was the trick to making that flow so beautifully?
Funnily enough I had worked with the singer Iarla O Lionaird about 20 years ago when we did an album for Real World Records. So I actually had a bit of experience in transitioning from Iarla and Sean Nós’ singing into instrumental music.
“Brooklyn” starts off with a tone that’s very lightweight, especially given that Irish subjects are usually “downers” as such, a la “Angela’s Ashes.” But the film gets a bit heavier in the second half. How important was it for you to score Eilis’ weightier questioning of her purpose, without losing the more “fun” first half of the score completely?
It was always important to keep a mix of light and dark music in the film. I think if we just stayed with heavy things it would’ve been overwhelming and depressing and less effective.
If you just listened to the score without being aware of its subject matter, you could mistake “Brooklyn” for an intimate western – much like your work on the late, lamented HBO series “Deadwood.” Can you hear that at all in the score in terms of discovering a new land as it were?
Well I think there’s an element of Irish music in what we think of as country western or cowboy music. There certainly was an intention to give a sense of going to a new land and when she gets to America we introduced a couple of different instruments to try and give a sense of a different place.
Do you think there’s an emotional commonality to playing the story of an immigrant, no matter the nationality?
I think maybe one of the most universal aspects of the film that people can identify with is that in the modern world so many of us are immigrants. It seems to be a huge part of contemporary life. And although we achieve greater self-realization, perhaps we also pay a price for that as we are separated from our families and I think there’s a fundamental human need to be around family and community. Perhaps a great deal of contemporary angst comes from that separation that goes against our human nature.
As a Canadian, what was your own “immigrant” story like when moving to pursue your career in Hollywood?
America is actually the third country I’ve lived in. I lived in England for 10 years before moving to America. It’s exciting moving to a new country and it’s terrifying at the same time, because you leave your whole life behind you. So I strongly identified with some of the scenes in Brooklyn where Eilis was struggling to make a life in a new country. It is hard and it is lonely.
How was it making the transition to being a songwriter in tunes like “Ultramarine” (which was used in “Heat”) to doing underscores?
The main difference I found between making albums and scoring films is that when you score a film the music probably should be incomplete in some ways, because it’s part of a bigger whole. When I make albums I’m primarily following my muse and trying to make something that feels like a complete entity.
Your very first score was for 1992’s “The Fires of Kuwait.” And you’ve done quite a lot of them since with films like “Who Killed the Electric Car?,” “The First Year” and “An Inconvenient Truth.” What kind of musical discipline is necessary for that genre when compared to a fictional film?
I really experienced the difference between scoring for a drama versus a documentary particularly strong on “An Inconvenient Truth.” I found that whenever Al Gore was talking about environmental/scientific issues or conveying information, putting music underneath it felt false and like propaganda. However, when he was describing some of his personal history and events in his family life, music help created an emotional atmosphere that let the audience experience the film in a different way, and also told them that they didn’t have pay attention in the same way as when trying to absorb and process information.
As a politically-minded musician, do you think documentaries are more important than ever now?
In a way I don’t feel exactly “political”. My philosophy is that civil society should be governed in a way that maximizes the quality of life for the most people and protects minorities. This is inherently an imperfect process and a moving target. So that outlook has political implications, but I don’t particularly identify with being political, although maybe I’m being a semantic nit-picker here.
Your Golden Globe-nominated composing breakthrough was for “Into the Wild.” But to me, it seemed like you should have gotten more attention to your work in it. Is that the pitfall to working on a soundtrack where the song-driven focus of mainstream listeners always seems to be more concentrated on the rock star involved?
It makes sense that people, and the media, will always focus on fame first. There’s a kind of efficiency to that, and there is a downside, and an upside to working on projects with famous collaborators. So in the case of “Into The Wild”, yes many people thought that because Eddie Vedder wrote all those great songs for the film that he had also composed the score, which was a bit frustrating. To be clear, no fault of Eddie’s who took great pains to always point out that he had not done the score. On the other hand, some people came to appreciate the score who were initially attracted by the name of people that they had heard of working on the film.
Another impactful score of yours was for “The Fighter,” which had a quite unique, sound-design approach that you wouldn’t expect from an underdog boxing film. How did you hit on that?
Because David O. Russell had quite a few songs in “The Fighter” that supported many of the high energy scenes, he wanted the score to bring out some of the more nuanced and emotionally subtle parts of the characters, so we ended up with some very minimalist music for that.
Perhaps my favorite score, and film of yours was for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” What were the challenges of not only doing in an 80s-set “period” score, but also one where the teenager not only had to deal with the pressures of fitting into high school, but his own madness as well?
The 80’s aspect of the film didn’t enter into the score that much, probably more in the choice of songs. In general, I like the challenges of scoring films that involve conflicting and contradictory emotions; where people might be mad, but also are sweet and caring.
You’ll next be dealing with another dramatic, life-changing story involving a female with “About Ray,” where the teen girl seeks to become a man. Could you talk about your score for that film?
“About Ray” is another example of that dichotomy, or unresolved vibe, that I like. Ray is trying to push a group of adults in her family – mother, grandmother, and father – to accept and facilitate her changing gender. They all love and care about her, but all have their own demons and shortcomings that impede Ray’s goal.
Do you hope to keep following the path of intimate, emotional scores with your career? Or do you think the sometimes lush sound of “Brooklyn” might move you onto grander approaches?
It was a great thrill to work with a larger ensemble, and I would love to do more of that, but not to the exclusion of anything else. For me it has always felt exciting and immersive to have a sense of not knowing exactly what I’m doing. Working in ways that I haven’t done before seems to foster a feeling of discovering something new; new for me at least. And that keeps things fresh. So yes, “Brooklyn” is a bit of a new direction for me and it would be great to do more of that kind of thing, and also explore other genres like sci-fi or crime, which appeal to me as well.
Visit Michael Brook’s website HERE
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1585]Nathaniel Mechaly ([m.43486]Shut In), [c.17193]John Moreland ([m.44915]Boomtown), [c.247]Terence Blanchard ([m.44906]Chi-Raq), 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.2015-10-26]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.43478]Burnt ([c.1240]Rob Simonsen), [m.43759]Our Brand Is Crisis ([c.1750]David Wingo), and [m.41319]Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse ([c.2159]Matthew Margeson).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
Milan Records will release [a.16740]The Knick: Sason 2 Original Television Soundtrack digitally on [da.2015-10-30]October 30 followed by the CD [da.2015-12-18]December 18, 2015. The album features original music by composer [c.124]Cliff Martinez.
"I thought the music from last year was scary good," admitted Martinez. "Then when Steven edited the new episodes around that music, in many instances it felt even stronger than in its original incarnation. It seemed impossible to top. After such attention to musically creating the atmosphere of [t.39039]The Knick in the first season, the second season allows for a deepening of the tonally anachronistic world."
"In continuing [t.39039]The Knick I kept a time-honored Soderbergh/Martinez tradition that I like to call...
October Soundtrack Picks: ‘THE WALK‘ is the top soundtrack to own for October, 2015
Also worth picking up AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., BONE TOMAHAWK, ENOLA GAY, STEVE JOBS, THE LAST WITCH HUNTER, TALES OF HALLOWEEN and many more!
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover
THE TOP PICKS
1) BRIDGE OF SPIES / HE NAMED ME MALALA
Prices: $9.49 / $10.79
What is it? Since the beginning of his scoring career, Thomas Newman has rarely played the expected notes, often combining the groovily surreal sound of his alt. rock and roll aspirations (“Reckless”) with the more traditional orchestral approach (“How To Make an American Quilt”) that distinguished a film music family tree – no more impressively than when Newman combined both approaches on the same score, a la his twelve Oscar-nominated work from “The Shawshank Redemption” to “Wall-E.” Now Newman is given the chance to bridge multiple styles again as he deals with two worlds on the political stage – one for which an unassuming insurance lawyer helps thaw The Cold War just a bit between America and Russia, and the other where a brave Pakistani girl is violently attacked for daring to be speak against the Taliban. The result is two excellent, individualistic scores that show Newman is as energetically vital as ever as one of Hollywood’s boldest scoring voices.
Why should you buy it?: Having shown an aptitude for foreign intrigue with the China imprisoned American of “Red Corner” (not to mention the ethnic espionage which inflects his Bond scores to “Skyfall” and “Spectre” Newman immediately conjures an ominous, snowy identity for evil Russia in “Bridge of Spies” with a Slavically-themed chorus and gossamer percussion, while good old American patriotism is proudly stated with Copeland-esque horns and drum timpani. But if you think that “Bridge” is going to be a walk in the park of Cold War musical stereotypes, Newman, like director Steven Spielberg, has something far more interesting in mind. Keying his score from the humor and everyman likability that star Tom Hanks brings to any role, Newman’s score has a propulsive, offbeat feel as electronics mix with lush, sympathetic strings, even giving a sad measure of depth to the Soviet spy under our hero’s charge. A grand orchestra conveys the sleek, and soon-to-be shot down might of the U2 spy plane, where Newman’s talent for the simplest of poignant piano melodies captures the humanity at stake beyond how the world powers view their prisoners as chess pawns – the score reaching its exchange at the Gleniecker Bridge with a stirring, yet underplayed sense of history in the making. While one can imagine the no-doubt terrific work that John Williams would have done on dangerous ground with similarities to his score for Spielberg’s far lesser “Munich,” the director’s creative prisoner exchange with Thomas Newman has brought a new, modernistic edge to the Spielberg sound that keeps “Bridge of Spies” musically relevant while not forgetting its red, white and blue nostalgic. This is a score as beautifully identifiable in its voice as Williams’ music is, and equally effective in its approach that dares to be serious, suspenseful and whimsical for an unlikely American hero facing off against a calculating Bear.
Extra Special: Newman has had a fun time checking in twice to score the best, and second best Exotic Marigold Hotel, lovely and breezy exotica-filled scores where the biggest danger its characters faced outside of aging was faulty construction. The stakes in that musical region of the world are far higher in Davis Guggenheim’s documentary “He Named Me Malala,” which details Malala Yousafzai’s triumphant journey back from near assassination to winning the Noble Peace Prize, greatly abetted by the devotion of her father and family. Newman does a remarkable job of capturing her indomitable spirit through angelically protective voices, tender piano and gossamer strings, all of which reflect gentleness and rhythmic determination in equal measure. In its way, “Malala” is a kindred spirit to Mychael Danna’s “Life of Pi,” in combining the approaches of ancient East and film scoring West to hear the struggle of an individual determined to survive frightening obstacles, achieving a state of understanding, if not melodic Nirvana as they realize their own inner power. The difference here is that “They Call Me Malala” hearkens more towards Newman’s own sample-driven, old school experimental spirit, an approach that further gives this soundtrack an emotional transcendence, filled with captivating ethnic beats and slow, lovely string lines that move the listener in both groove, and soul.
2) THE FORBIDDANCE / FORT ROSS
What is it?: There’s never been more of a boom time for soundtrack labels catering to the collector’s market, a party where more are always welcome. It’s especially true when a hardcopy label arrives from out of the blue – or red in the case of the Russian-based Keep Moving Records, whose debut releases include the majestic outdoor adventure scores of Stanislas Syrewicz’s “Stranded” and Mychael Danna’s “The Snow Walker.” Sure the Iron Curtain fell decades ago, but somehow much of that country’s film music has remained cut off from western audiences. That just might change now with Keep Moving, especially given their love of composer Yuri Poteyenko, whose “The Forbiddance” and “Fort Ross” headline the label’s impressive, initial slate.
Why should you buy it?: Best known to American cult audiences through his epic (and still somehow unreleased) scores to the Russian fantasy-horror films “Night Watch” and “Day Watch,” Poteyenko (called “Poteenko” on the IMDB). His “Forbiddance” rhythmically conjures the waves landing on a WW2-era stone-hewn island, where distrusting allies and a lovelorn woman come to blows. Using strings, violin and a cimbalom-sounding gusli, Poteyenko creates a beguiling theme that’s the stuff of which Russian tragedy is made of. But while full of storm-tossed emotion, the score is never less than captivating in its poetic anguish. Poteyenko shows just as much of an aptitude for gorgeously sultry film noir stylings with the album’s companion score to “Earthly Eden” (a far more enticing title than the original play’s “Duck Hunting”) complete with nightclub piano and a sax that conjures images of femme fatales and their lovestruck prey in any musical language – though its actual subject is a man’s anguish over his marital strife. With the piano, mournful brass and lush strings evoking such masters as Bernard Herrmann, the musical viper coiled around “Earthly Eden” marks it as a striking, altogether remarkable entry that could easily suit the softest, seductive touch of a black widow.
Extra Special: Poteyenko’s talent for capturing a swashbuckling magic worthy of John Williams and Erich Wolfgang Korngold gets played by way of Alaska and California in “Fort Ross,” a wacky Russian comedy-adventure in which an actor’s time-travelling cell phone gets him whisked back, Indiana Jones style, to a brigand-attacked outpost. That’s just as good of an excuse as any for Poteyenko to ditch any sense of Russian grief for this thoroughly jolly score. Full of sparkling percussion, jigging rhythms and orchestral derring do, the composer gives a thematic tip of the hat to every great Hollywood movie to feature a scallywag from “The Sea Wolf” to Cutthroat Island” with a boisterous heart. It’s a score that’s pure fun in the best sense of word, showing a real enthusiasm for old-school symphonic panache, the kind of unabashed Saturday matinee scoring you rarely hear in American multiplexes anymore – but is certainly alive and leaping in Poteyenko’s homeland, whose musical treasures will hopefully keep appearing from Keep On Moving.
3) HANGOVER SQUARE (1,000 edition)
What Is it?: Kritzerland follows up their releases of Bernard Herrmann’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “White Witch Doctor” with the composer’s first score to feature a psycho, and a far more musically-inclined one that that.
Why Should You Buy It?: Tragic star Laird Cregar went from playing Jack the Ripper in “The Lodger” to “Hangover Square’s” far more refined maniac, a composer who turns into an ersatz Mr. Hyde when his work is rudely interrupted by dissonance, and more particularly exploited by a beer hall femme fatale singer. It was a groundwork of rich menace that Herrmann would build a notoriously suspenseful career from, filled with brooding strings, tormented Wagnerian romance and bursts of rhythmic menace. But most importantly of all, Herrmann gives his tormented character a measure of sympathy, and even vulnerability that would fill a rogues gallery of killers to come. But what makes “Hangover Square” stand out is how Herrmann uses instruments as literal tools of madness, with rumbling pianos and razor-sharp flutes throwing its musician off the deep end, while the the fox-hunt like rhythms of latter scores like “On Dangerous Ground” and “Marine” become the chase to murder. Often as low and hypnotically atmospheric as the London fog itself, “Hangover Square’s” highlight is its “Concert Macabre.” As played by Cregar for a memorably fiery finale, swinging with mad rapture from the piano to a full orchestra. It’s a truly legitimate classical piece a keyboard fever dream of modernistic melody that’s possessed of dark romance, raging with both violence and tenderness, like some monster love child of Stravinsky, Mussorgsky and Debussy. Though Herrmann might be more famed for a concert that built to an assassin’s bullet in Hitchcock’s redo of “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” it’s “Hangover Square” that has a far more unconventional, and malefic impact, especially given Mike Matessino’s powerfully remastered presentation (featuring an additional sixteen minutes) for this this unsung Herrmann masterpiece, which created mad inspiration in Stephen Sondheim to conjure his own musical of “Sweeney Todd.”
Extra Special: Herrmann’s talent for capturing far more urbane villains is shared on the “Hangover Square” album with his cunning spy score for 1952’s “Five Fingers.” James Mason followed up his traitorous performance in Hitchcock’s “Notorious” as a real-life butler using his position with Britain’s man in Turkey to sell secrets to the Nazis. Herrmann just as effectively becomes the character here, low winds and brooding strings staying to the orchestral shadows, There’s much suave villainy to the score, Wagnerian melody again abounding in a destitute character who makes up for his lack of funds with seductive charisma towards the “countess” who’s his partner in crime. Latin rhythms imagine the couple’s hoped-for good life in South America as a subtle Middle Eastern melody stands in for a Turkey filled with spies at the beckoning for information that can tip the scales of WW2. It’s a gripping sense of skullduggery in Herrmann’s ever-tensing touch, but also capturing a certain playfulness for the kind of overly assured antagonists that James Mason made us love to hate.
4) TALES OF HALLOWEEN / UNNATURAL
What is it?: ‘Tis the season of scary music, and there’ no better treat than having one big grab bag of horror scoring with “Tales of Halloween,” a movie that just might set some record by cramming ten stories in under 90 minutes. It’s an audacious squeeze that nonetheless offers a spacious wealth of energetic approaches to the true spirit of Halloween, as heard and seen in all of its malicious gory.
Why should you buy it?: You can’t have a soundtrack released through Lalo Schifrin’s Aleph label without a contribution from maestro of “The Amityville Horror” himself. And Schifrin’s rockingly macabre “Main Title” shows that he’s just as young at heart as ever, setting the gleefully twisted and energetic tone to follow. “Tusk’s” Christopher Drake, effectively begins these tales with a steadily menacing, piano-topped theme that plays effective homage to John Carpenter’s babysitter motif in “Halloween,” until far gnarlier, razor-in-apple samples announce a ghoul who enjoys candy no matter where it’s to be found. Drake also delivers a devilishly clever orchestral salute to pokily escalating horror comedy a la Alan Silvestri’s “Death Becomes Her,” as he accompanies a kidnapping gone very wrong in “The Ransom of Rusty Rex.” More overtly absurd is the Klezmer violin -meets-metal guitar of “This Means War” by Michael Sean Colin (“Killjoy Goes To Hell”) as the music hilariously switches sides for a deadly duel of the Halloween decoration bands. Bobby Johnson (“Wristcutters”) applies his talent for off-kilter tinkertoy percussion to a boy who get his own pranking turned on him big time with “The Night Billy Raised Hell,” while Christian Henson (“Severance”) takes a computerized note or two from “Halloween 3’s” high tech witchery for the rampage of “Bad Seed’s” man-eating pumpkin. You might think you’re listening to a spaghetti western showdown given the uniquely twisted harmonica and dulcimer beat of Austin Wintory (“Grace”) for “The Weak and the Wicked” before the band Psycho turns Disney’s Haunted Mansion music into a death metal title song with “Tales of Halloween.” But the anthology’s standout segment and score is owned by “Friday the 31st,” which starts out with all of the terrifying, nerve ripping string ferocity that Joseph Bishara (“The Conjuring”) can bring to the pursuit between a Jason wannabe and his nubile prey. But when a hilariously WTF trick-or-treater appears in the midst of a time-worn slasher pursuit, Edwin Wendler (“I Spit on Your Grave 3”) jumps in with bombastic, Theremin-a-raging sci-horror and just a bit of childish sweetness to hilariously switch dismembering positions between predator and prey. If you can imagine Danny Elfman’s “Mars Attack” having a crack seizure while taking-down of stereotypically dissonant horror scoring, then you’ll get a crazed taste of the inspired heights that “Tales” reaches for in an album that offers one fun, stylistic treat after the other.
Extra Special: Edwin Wendler is also on hand for the way more serious, positively chilling killer mutant polar bear music of “Unnatural,” which like “Tales,” shows the kind of horror geek panache that is making the VOD realm a place to check out for rising genre talent. Very well shot in the Canadian hinterlands, “Unnatural” is a truly disquieting land of sound design and respites of melody, an approach befitting the presence, and voice of a creature that’s been cobbled together from high tech and nature Alternately atmospheric and ferocious, Wendler knows how to keep the score’s tension high while also making his sampled effects interesting, an ability he effectively showed on his additional scoring for Liam Neeson’s hunt for the plane-bound terrorists of “Non-Stop.” Here pretty much everyone is prey as director Hank Braxtan effectively (and smartly) keeps his great white shark as such in the shadows, it’s killer weight truly conveyed through Wendler’s unsettling approach. Raging percussion strikes and retreats, as contrasted with infrequent, haunting stillness, with eerie, clock-ticking rhythm counting down to the next victim. “Unnatural” certainly keeps the listener on their toes, much like the characters desperately holding their breath for fear of becoming bear meat, its bio-engineered snarls heard in the truly unnatural samples that keeps the film, and score running for its life towards the salvation of unmarred melody, and a goofily welcome hidden track.
5) THE WALK
What is it?: In the dozen plus films that Alan Silvestri has scored for the filmmaking muse that lifted him from the television likes of “CHIPS” and “Manimal” to such acclaimed features as “Forrest Gump” and “Castaway,” the composer has often provided Robert Zemeckis with wondrous flights of fantasy. It’s a lush, confidently melodic sound that’ given distinctive voice to a mad doctor who achieved time travel, a woman whose determination to meet aliens opened the fabric of space and kids who hopped on magic train to meet Santa Claus. But among this gallery of fantastically optimistic dreamers, perhaps none occupy a place of impossible real-life achievement like Philippe Petit, a more-than-mad tightrope walker who repeatedly paced between the World Trade Centers, in the hope of evoking a sense of amazement from the spectators far below. It’s music for “The Walk” that beautifully achieves that goal as well, going beyond the dangerously whimsical surface spectacle to hear the Zen of the daredevil spirit.
Why should you buy it?: For a good three-quarters of its running time, “The Walk” is a very pleasant, pretty much surface soufflé that Zemeckis treats with a deft, sweet touch that hints of the transcendent third act to come. Certainly the cutest Francophile score to hit the screen since “Ratatouille,” Silvestri engages in whimsical French rhythm, balancing itself on the energetic circus music he’d last gotten to play for Siegfried and Roy. There’ also jazz a la Mancini and Williams at their 60’s comedy heights, with even a bit of Schifrin “Mission Impossible” spy groove thrown into the frothy soupcon of styles. But orchestral weight is also present in the gong-ringing march of death music that plays upon Petit’s fear of falling, the music amped up for Zemeckis’ forced suspense of the tightwalker’s crew infiltrating the twin towers, sequences of sometimes-imagined peril where “The Walk” threatens to go off the wire as a film. However, they do offer Silvestri a terrific opportunity to recall the charge-ahead suspense that propelled a DeLorean, and gave muscular weight to The Avengers, while also conveying a majestic sense of NYC skyline scope to the glorious insanity that Petit is attempting. But it’s all basically a warm up for Silvestri to take that big first step into the ether, whereupon “The Walk” elevates itself stratospherically from lightweight entertainment to the spiritual.
Extra Special: As he especially proved in Zemeckis’ vehicles for Tom Hanks, Silvestri has a way of reaching into a character’s soul in an uncomplicated, moving way with a purity of melody. And in the score’s defining “The Walk,” echoing pianos, a heavenly chorus and lyrical strings have a tear-eliciting transcendence. It’s the music of touching God and his creations, and the Icarus-like spirit that has compelled Petit to touch the stars – or in this case the sky. As Silvestri demonstrated in his Emmy award winning score for TV’s reborn “Cosmos,” there’s an inherent optimism, a delicate poignancy of touch that’s imagination itself. In a coup de theatre, Silvestri builds from Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” during “The Walk’s” beguiling back-and-forth between buildings, segueing from The Maestro into his own playfully suspenseful theme as cops on opposing WTCs trying to grab Phillipe, the score jetting back and forth between goofy comedy, awe-inspiring wonder and the darkening momentum of a coming storm, a daredevil movie between overt comedy and inspiration that Silvestri somehow pulls off over the course of the cue’s bravura seven minutes. But then, it’s music that’s driving what the unfortunately limited audience has come to see as much as the perhaps too-astonishing Imax 3D effects – all creating a building peril if Phillipe’s nimble footing will finally run out. But in the end for all of its rapturous music that tells us just how blessed Phillipe was, Silvestri doesn’t let us off easy with the realization of buildings and people that no longer exist. It’s a deeply moving, soaring sense of solemnity that shows just how much “The Walk” has grown from its frothy first paces to reaching a true profundity that marks this as one of the year’s best films, and scores, a highpoint in a composer-direction collaboration whose best work has been about characters reaching for heroic heights they never thought they could achieve, but somehow do.
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
. AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Even given an impossible amount of hit television series to score, it’s no miracle that Bear McCreary can provide top quality work in radically different styles, whether it’s a Renaissance wild wild west in “Da Vinci’s Demons” (its music for seasons 2 and 3 just out on Shadows & Sparks), kilt-wearing romance for “Outlander,” or the thankfully increasing musical presence that strikes emotional fear into “The Walking Dead.” But if there’s one show’s soundtrack that proves McCreary should be a part of the bigger cinematic universe, let alone a big gun in the Marvel one, then it’s ABC’s “Agents of Shield.” Over the course of three seasons, McCreary and his own crack squad have been providing music on an Avengers-worthy level, with the show’s best work for its first two seasons finally collected onto a 78-minute CD. Driven be a memorable, can-do theme, McCreary and own crack composing squad pour on a breathless sense of excitement into cues that resonate with true orchestral power, all with the enthusiasm of a big kid who’s finally gotten to play the superhero dream. Unlike a certain other comic book label, McCreary is right along with the Marvel line of give his action stylings a sense of fun above all, the feeling of non-conflicted heroism brassily socking it to the bad guys. But while bombastic thrills are the name of “S.H.I.E.L.D.’s” game, there’s also variety to be found from this mighty assemblage, from soulful metal guitar, wild Latin percussion, an aching cello solo and the mournful voice of McCreary’s “Battlestar Galactica” singing muse Raya Yarbrough as the embodiment alien DNA. Nearly every cue flows back to McCreary’s main theme, showing just how imaginative and well thought-out the show’s connective, musical construction is. If the TV appeal to Marvel here was doing a non-superhero show that could seem like on, then it’s McCreary’s music that has the blazing appeal of costumed characters.
. ATTACK ON TITAN
When we think of “Kaiju” films, it’s usually (and gloriously) guys in lizard costumes having a sumo wrestling match whilst laying waste to miniature cityscapes. Now imagine that formula done far more realistically with genital free, Godzilla-sized nude demon people fighting cable-swinging, post apocalyptic kids in a “Maze Runner” world and you’ve got the beyond-batshit “Attack on Titan.” The folks behind the awesome regeneration of the Gamera films have turned their country’s hugely popular anime into a two-part live action film, graced with an equally crazy, epic score by Shiro Sagisu, a composer whose background is filled with such Japanese sci-fi toons as “Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water” and “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” If there’s a disconnect between how American composers might attack this sort of material and how the Rising Sun does it, then “Attack on Titan” is a glorious example of that un-Hollywood-ness. It’s hard to imagine one of our musicians starting out with a glorious, symphonic opera only to have the voices go completely off kilter as the melody swings to a head-banging heavy metal guitar. There seem to be two, or perhaps five different approaches duking it out in the same cue at times, with roaring symphonic music (very well performed by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra) that might accompany some American 50s atomic monster flick (as well as lurching brass that would make “Godzilla” composer Akira Ifukube proud) before the score flies off into grinding, trip-hop. Then at the next moment, you’ve got a tender piano melody, a haunted female voice joining with lush, tragic melody , battle chanting English lyrics and then a piece filled with gorgeous romance. Often, this music is so completely, jarringly wrong and frequently over the top when put to already jaw-dropping images that you feel like saluting the sheer, berserker brilliance of it – especially given cue titles like “Die die die die!!” and “Rise up, Rhymetal.” Yet the shear, monster-sized thematic scope of it all seems perfectly logical as a grand battle cry when swinging sword-first into a 1000-foot tall burning anatomical man. Now with both film soundtracks gathered on a single-CD compilation, “Attack on Titan” offers a wealth of continuous, insane and often shockingly beautiful musical surprises that define the utter wonderful craziness of Japanese giant monster films, and scores in general.
. BONE TOMAHAWK
If you’ve been hungering for a cannibal western since “Ravenous” about fifteen years back, then you’ll get your finger licking satisfaction (and then some) from seeing Kurt Russell and his posse take on a bunch of neo-cavemen Indians. But where Michael Nyman and Daman Albarn last treated this body splattering with a thoroughly crazed score, “Bone Tomahawk” is far, far more leisurely paced on its way to delivering the subhuman goods, with the very spare score by Jeff Herriot and director Craig Zahler not even entering until the halfway through this two hour plus film. This duo doesn’t have brain eating on their minds, but rather an elegiac, intimate tone far more in line with Marco Beltrami’s score for “The Homesman.” Basically, it’s a score that’s cut right to the minimalist bone of a somber violin theme and a piercingly unholy guttural sustain for the troglodytes’ cave den of horrors. But while this score might be the least terrifying work done for this peculiar genre, it’s effective in an anguished, poignant way that evokes the desert landscape and a bunch of hard, noble men with a powerful simplicity and overwhelming sadness. Sure this essentially might be a two-note soundtrack, but it says a lot about just how unpleasant, and anguished the untamed west was while barely sounding like a western score at all. Offering more material than what’s heard in the film (which could have used just a bit more musical goosing), the only truly crazy thing on the album is having a trumpet introduce an Opera Man singing the movie’s events for a catchy WTF title tune if there ever was one.
70s stalwart live action Disney director Norman Tokar (“The Cat From Outer Space,” “The Apple Dumpling Gang”) had rising “Freaky Friday” studio starlet Jodie Foster (her image likely a bit shaken by a distinctly unwholesome role in “Taxi Driver”) as the star of “Candleshoe” the English estate to which an American street urchin is hustled off as the long-lost heir to dotty Helen Hayes’ fortune. It’s a perfect opportunity to recruit the services of the great British composer Ron Goodwin, better known for such patriotic WW2 action scores as “The Dam Busters” and “Where Eagles Dare,” but just as well suited to the kind of comedy he’d last proved for Disney’s Blighty-set “One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing.” Where that film dealt with skeleton-snatching nannies, the far more youthful energy of a tomboy showing her elders American spunk allowed Goodwin to have a jolly good time here, especially starting out of the estate gate with a groovy jazz theme that mixes our heroine’s LA sass with brass and flute English affections. Goodwin has particular fun ribbing his country’s musical clichés, from a mock horse race (complete with the melody of “A Hunting We Will Go”) to trumpeting, knightly action music and skewed, stately music for a teen not to the manor born. There’s also a genuine, Disney sweetness to Goodwin’s wonderfully rollicking score, which makes pleasantly gentle use of the dotty matron’s favorite classic folk tune of “Greensleeves.” As the latest treasure to be mined from Disney’s underappreciated 70s family films by Intrada (including such nearly forgotten scores as Maurice Jarre’s “The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark” and Jerry Goldsmith’s “One Last Indian”), “Candleshoe” is a real treasure, with Tim Grieving’s liner notes giving an interesting low down on the Disney live action lineage, and album producer Douglas Fake finding numerous, fun versions of the main theme in the bargain for the album’s extras.
. ENOLA GAY
As a film music fan and soundtrack collector, my obsession began during the not-so forgotten days of early 80s vinyl, when I’d hunt through the two Doubleday bookstores on NYC’s fifth avenue to see what the latest releases were from a promising label named Varese Sarabande. Where many of those titles would again see light on the newfangled format of CD (particularly through the Varese Club), many of their initial gems like “Dance With A Stranger,” “The Fourth Man” and “Prince of the City” have so far languished in the vaults. Thankfully, the vinyl that helped build a trailblazing soundtrack company has been replayed through Varese’s LP to CD subscription series. Given a smart mock ’45 case for the initial subscribers, this economically-minded record club has surprised with a variety of forgotten, and still vital gems, mainly of the awesome 80’s synth variety from the cool slasher stylings of Charles Bernstein’s “April Fool’s Day” and Stanley Myers’ “Blind Date” to the tropical battle beat of Brad Fiedel’s “Let’s Get Harry.” Given exceptional, CD-worthy mastering from vinyl (as most of these releases masters have disappeared), the $10 a pop club titles vanish back into the vaults after a month’s time (or at least the way higher-priced domain of Ebay). Now the subscription provides another great reason to buy in on their first orchestral release with Maurice Jarre’s score to the 1980 NBC production of “Enola Gay.” By that point, TV miniseries, particularly Asian-themed ones, had provided a home to Jarre with the smash hit of that network’s “Shogun.” Fans of Jarre’s romantic, and percussive way of capturing feudal Japan will likely admire Jarre’s contrast of a militarized country on the fateful eve of the atomic bomb to be dropped by the most famous plane in American history. Drawling from his patriotic WW2 scores to “The Train” and “Is Paris Burning,” Jarre provides an emotional, salute-worthy march to a band of brothers, while also getting to show off his nostalgic jazz chops. A worthy, unsung score in Jarre’s repertoire, “Enola Gay” nicely withstands the proud, military march of time with its sonic spit-polish that shows off the impressive sense of scope he brought to the small screen. Be sure to take this flight on “Enola Gay” before she jets back into the horizon on the November 14th, only to be replaced with another of the club’s pleasant surprises that brings back the thrill of finding out what Varese title Doubleday had stocked up on from month-to-month.
. IN HARM’S WAY (Expanded)
Though he might not have served in WW2, Jerry Goldsmith could certainly be given a medal for conveying a mythic sense of bravery for our armed forces in such scores as “Von Ryan’s Express,” “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” “MacArthur” and his masterpiece “Patton” (while also saluting the high-flying enemy with “The Blue Max”). While Goldsmith contributed a war score to “A Gathering of Eagles” and the attempted military coup of “Seven Days in May,” the 1965 Oscar Preminger epic “In Harm’s Way” truly marked his first major enlistment to the cinematic fight. Arguably a more entertaining Pearl Harbor movie than “From Here To Eternity” (or the Goldsmith-scored “Tora! Tora! Tora!” for that matter), this saga of a battling navy men and their women was unique in Goldsmth’s repertoire as it would feature far more of Jerry’s 1940s jazz chops than dramatic underscoring (even given Goldsmith his first on-screen cameo as a piano player). Like Maurice Jarre, Goldsmith does a spot-on job of capturing the nightclub swing and big band dance hall rhythm a la Benny Goodman, with a Hawaiian ukulele to enhance the film’s locale. But what’s even more distinctive about “In Harm’s Way” when compared to Goldsmith’s latter war scores is its focus on the characters as opposed to the armed forces, though there’s certainly drum timpani and patriotic brass to be mustered during this relatively brief, but impactful score. Choosing to play Kirk Douglas’ sly, lady killing jazz and hard-drinking anguish, as well as The Duke’s unwavering service in the face of dishonor, “In Harm’s Way” has more in common with such dramatic Goldsmith scores from the period as “A Patch of Blue.” But when the Japs bomb Pearl Harbor, it’s certainly time to fight with a terrific, hard-driving battle themes that foreshadows “Patton” in conveying the duty that unites the armed forces despite their squabbles, giving the military’s strike back a relentless, rhythmic sense of soaring momentum. A relatively unheralded score in Goldsmith’s war cannon, Intrada brings back “In Harm’s Way” to their catalogue with more underscore and source cues, as well as a presentation of the original album with exceptionally good re-mastering from newly discovered elements. For Goldsmith fans, this is a soundtrack definitely worth re-enlisting with for.
. L’ANNEE SAINT / TRY THIS ONE FOR SIZE (350 edition)
Though he might not be as well known on these shores as “The Thomas Crown Affair’s” Michel Legrand, Claude Bolling comes from the notable tradition of French composers who frequently show their love for both classic jazz and swinging pop rhythms – most notably in Bolling’s Hollywood case with “California Suite” and “Willie & Phil” (while also creating the distinctive mummy reincarnation horror score of “The Awakening”). Far more legendary on his home turf for the likes of “Love in the Night,” “Lucky Luke” and “Borsalino,” Bolling’s sense of swinging fun now gets exposure with two Music Box releases, the first of which is a delightful pairing of particularly sinful criminals and bumbling soldiers. Given the “We’re No Angles”-like set up of two crooks masquerading as men of the cloth in 1976’s “Holy Year,” Bolling comes up with a wily main theme played on harmonica, with romantic vibes and woozy strings capturing sneaky, rhythmic suspense as the antiheros try to hustle religious pilgrims only to get skyjacked themselves. What’s fun here is Bolling’s sense of religioso mischief, especially when played on an organ for all of its sanctimonious worth, or giving his theme a Bach-like swing, while disco-era pop and spy jazz turns have a delicious kitsch to them. The WW2-set “Le mille-attes faith des claquettes” (a Radio London password for Resistance fighters) opens with delightful Glenn Miller swing, a style that fills Bolling’s equally renowned career as a big band jazzman. The film’s 40s setting allows Bolling to indulge in Stephane Grappelli-esque gypsy violin energy as well as Dixieland blues and a pompous military band playing as the heroes try to snatch the Venus de Milo from the Third Reich. At its best, “Claquettes” would do just as well on the Yank’s USO dance floor apart from its tender orchestral strokes of the statue. Far more modern in its seductive Bond-ian swing is Music Box’s release of Bolling’s “Try This One for Size,” a 1980 film that features the adventures of Tom Lepski (Michael Brandon), French author James Hadley Chase’s (aka Rene Lodge Brabazon Raymond) insurance investigating answer to 007. But where Dee Dee Bridgewater’s catchy theme song “The Key” might lead one to expect John Barry a la Bolling, this composer is way more about playing broad, funky action as opposed to secret agent stuff. With Oriental mystery, oh-so French accordions, disco-action grooves and once again Goodman-style swing, “Size” is a charming, lightweight score that’s an exemplar of Bolling’s sweet energetic touch that shows his ability at whipping up delicious music froth, especially when given caper comedies.
. THE LAST WITCH HUNTER
Steve Jablonsky is one of the main go-to composers when it comes to effects extravaganzas. And there’s damn good reason, whether he’s battling aliens on the side of Autobots (“Transformers”), teen war game whizzes (“Ender’s Game”) or the U.S. Navy (“Battleship”). For Jablonsky can conjure giant walls of rhythmic muscular might with the sound effects fighting best of them, using an imposing theme to give his immense musical forces a sense of mythic gravitas. Now given the gravel-voiced Vin Diesel as an undying warrior battling the bitchy forces of darkness, Jablonsky goes roaring into his first full-blown fantasy-horror score. It’s mighty stuff indeed, capturing the emotional weight of a guy first out a few thousand years ago to avenge his family, only to get cursed with immortality by his woody nemesis. It’s a need for payback that gives the film a mythically noble sense of mission, its catchy motif powering through the score like a bulldozer, with enough exciting wind-ups to the boss level takedown crescendos. Having started off in the full-on horror genre with reboots of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Hitcher,” “Witch Hunter’s” bouts of dissonant fear give Jablonsky a good chance to revisit that scary territory, while being sure to keep his score in the comic book avenger vein. But what’s particularly notable about “Witch Hunter” given Jablonsky’s past genre scores is just how orchestrally organic it sounds, the techno-rhythm element that was a trademark given his past futuristic villains gone, especially as this “Witch Hunter” is fully in the realm of modern-day sword and sorcery. It’s a cool, new sound for him that truly resonates on this subwoofer-shaking album, the music really given its chance to thematically swing with its blasting strings and percussion sounding off outside its constant battle with shrieks, spells and bug explosions within the screen.
Olga Kurylenko’s a jewel thief with a special set of skills, which take on Neeson / Damon dimensions when that one last heist turns out to be anything but. It’s certainly a different kind of musical strength than what Laurent Eyquem gave to his last heroine “Winnie Mandela” for this adrenalin-filled exercise in subwoofer blowout action propulsion. This is certainly a realm of bad-ass VOD percussion that Eyquem knows well from unleashing The Cage in “Rage.” And while Kurylenko’s character might just be a bit haunted by her friends who rapidly become the victim of government cleaners on her trail, “Momentum” doesn’t have much moping in its score, Instead, “Momentum’s” combo of orchestra, sharp-edged electronics and enough sonic booms to fill twenty action trailers has a ballsy, mean fun to it that’s certainly never boring. Thankfully, thematic melody is a running mate here as well with the kind of lush, melodic strings that are Eyquem’s forte in far nicer scores like “Copperhead,” with this character’s sex nicely nicely embodied with a haunted female voice and piano. There’s even a quite lovely respite in the cue ironically titled “The Torture,” six minutes of feeling that the composer makes sure to run with when he isn’t rhythmically shooting it out like an ace with the genre’s de rigueur gunplay and car crashes.
Kid-friendly flights of fantasy couldn’t ask for a composer who’s a bigger child at heart than John Powell, a musician who’s rambunctious melody has never quite jetted about in a straight line. Instead, it’s crazily veered from one idea to the next at the speed of sound, from dragon riding Scottish bagpipes to chicken running kazoos and tropical bird sambas. The latter Latin rhythms are only part of this Peter Pan prequel’s wonderfully delirious yo-ho-ho energy. Powell’s music has always been about nutty adrenalin, here powered by a theme that captures a mischievous child avenger to be, soaring with magic wonder as he’s introduced to Neverland. The O.G. pirate Blackbeard is given a big, dastardly presence, while his prisoners get a rollicking, percussive stomp. Like John Williams’ “Hook” in spirit, if not exactly traditional tone, Powell’s use of heavenly voices and s lush strings capture a legendary, almost religious presence for the ever-enduring Pan in the mist of swashbuckling bombast, which never gets tiring thanks to Powell’s balance of melodic simplicity (including a particularly beautiful piano theme) with action where every blasting instrument is on deck. If some of this might feel just a bit modern in approach, hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” just might be some of the biggest jaw-droppers amongst Powell’s animated scoring, though Lily Allen’s performance of “Something Not Right” is far more lovely than jarring, where her processed voice for “Little Soldier” is cute kid’s radio stuff. Sure the film might have sunk to Dave Jones’ box office, but it’s an album well-worth having as a textbook example of John Powell’s giddy musical imagination.
There’s a passionately bucolic brand of music that comes from the great, old school British composers like William Walton (“The Battle of Britain”), John Scott (“The Shooting Party”) and Richard Rodney Bennett (“Far from the Madding Crowd”) when given the chance to play the rolling hills, garden-filled estates and wave-swept shores of their home country – a romance with England’s oft-turbulent beauty that provided Bennett’s protégé Christopher Gunning (“Firelight,” “La Vie en Rose”) with a beyond lush, achingly romantic approach to this 1997 miniseries redo of “Rebecca.” If Franz Waxman’s Oscar-nominated score for Hitchcock’s 1940 take on Daphnier du Maurier’s romance was all about a mysteriously dead wife’s haunted grip over the re-marriage of her husband to an unsuspecting, sweet young thing, then Gunning’s frequently soaring work instead deals far more with picaresque romance, with only an anguished cello theme to tell us something might be amiss. It’s sweeping, unapologetically love struck music with a memorable theme and classical affectations. Even as the bride steadily becomes obsessed with the first Madame de Winter, Gunning’s approach remains mostly pastoral, its memorable theme taking on a true, physical presence, its bursts of danger. It’s “High Drama” with flair that nicely sits alongside Steiner when it comes to burning down the house in the rapturous, symphonically swirling flames of Manderlay. Old-fashioned in the best sense of the modern gothic word, “Rebecca” is a superior, lavish score (astoundingly only performed by thirty musicians) from a composer who knows how to play picaresque romance amongst the well-heeled, music that sounds more alive than ever given Caldera Record’s sophisticated presentation, with Gunning himself summing up his stirringly passionate masterwork in his own, soft-spoken words.
. SODOM AND GOMORRAH
After a fairly prestigious run of spreading the epic gospel, cinematic religion reached its apex of sin, swords and spectacle with 1962’s “Sodom and Gomorrah.” Sure, this collaboration between testosterone-filled director Aldrich and spaghetti western legend-to-be Sergio Leone wasn’t exactly “Ben-Hur” or “King of Kings” in terms of quality in its Lot-led damnation of hedonism run amuck in the ancient Sin City, but that didn’t mean Miklos Rozsa wasn’t going to treat its parade of dancing girls, massive battles and spin-the-human torture devices with all of the commitment he’d given to the far more respectable costume fare that had garnered him the Oscar golden calf. Given that Jesus Christ was nowhere on the horizon of this film, “Sodom” doesn’t have a feeling of overall holy transcendence. This is brawnier stuff for Hebrews twisted by the heathens, full of the kind of trademarked, breathless rhythms that danced like a mad dervish for Rozsa. Though much of “Sodom” sounds an action-filled alarm for valiant Lot to avoid temptation, it also has a typically lovely Rozsa “Hebrew” theme that sings for its valiant biblical icon. Holiness also comes through in a beholden chorus and climactically virtuous church bells, while the evil, exotic pleasures of Gomorrah are heard through westernized Middle Eastern melody, with outright ethnic percussion serving for the lesbianic dance sequences – all leading to Rozsa conjuring the elements for God’s furious musical demolition with a roaring pipe organ to spare. Relatively underplayed when it comes to how many re-performances we’ve gotten of “Ben-Hur” and “King of Kings,” “Sodom” gets the honor its music deserves from the always reliable team of James Fitzpatrick, conductor Nic Raine and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. Having given new symphonic magnificence to such Rozsa epics as “El Cid” and “Quo Vadis,” “Sodom and Gomorrah” has renewed sound and fury that turns great music for the tawdry into a replenished, exciting score that now truly acquits itself in the shadow of his far more lauded work for the good cinematic book.
. STEVE JOBS
Tasked with musically presenting the brilliant, mercurial personality of America’s most important tech guru as three time-spanning audiences eagerly anticipating the next big home computing thing, Daniel Pemberton crafts one of the year’s most audaciously stylistic scores as he jumps from lo to hi-fi and then back again over the course of three musical “acts” that define the Macintosh’s 1984 “vision, the NeXT Cube’s 1988 “revenge” and the iMac’s ultimate 1988 “wisdom.” Speaking in electro-symphonic tongues in a way that makes him completely unrecognizable as the composer of “The Counselor” or “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” Pemberton begins with an orchestral tune-up, only to reach into the guts of old-school synths that would’ve been playing back in the day, all the better to capture a technology on the cusp without a hint of archness. “Steve Jobs” moves into truly daring territory during its middle section, hitting the go button from New Order rhythm to bring the score to symphonically organic life, crafting a near-endless, neo-Steve Reich-ian build to a mini opera as Job’s sinister determination reigns supreme over his enemies. With the film’s concluding segment, Pemberton returns to the electronic world, now in a far more technologically advanced style, but with his score’s soul rooted in retro, crafting a religioso, synth organ sound a la Daft Punk’s “Tron Evolution” to paint a picture of Jobs as Prophet of the new computing age – the fairly cold score finally ending on a humanistic, upbeat note as he reaches his true achievement as a caring father. “Steve Jobs” offers one invigorating, smart musical surprise after the next. While there isn’t really any thematic connection as such between the film’s three chapters, “Steve Jobs” masterfully captures the dramatic thrust of each computer unveiling and Jobs’ demolishing of family, friends and associates. A lot of the score is buried under Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue, or sometimes playing overbearingly on top of it (though not to completely distracting effect like the wildly overpraised dialogue-mangling score for the similarly warped guru of “The Social Network”), The album is also a showcase for director Danny Boyle’s always astute choice for songs, his use of the punk Libertines and Bob Dylan capturing Jobs viciously smart attitude, while Bob Dylan’s soulful “Shelter from the Sun” and The Maccabees “Grew Up at Midnight” play his ultimate reconnection with kindness. It’s all a symphony of high tech, and high musical concept that’s as dazzling as the character it constructs.
A Frenchman who’s certainly fought for women to take charge with an emphatic, melodically feminine voice in such scores as “Philomena,” “Coco Avant Chanel” and “Julia and Julia,” Alexandre Desplat now takes on the English women’s movement for “Suffragette.” But if you’re expecting a sweeping orchestral score right off the brick for protestors who turned to “terrorism” as such in order to get the vote, then this isn’t quite that soundtrack. Instead, Desplat starts out walking softly while carrying a big stick for the growing realization, and radicalization of its put-upon heroine. Though strings and a measure of force are certainly necessary for the good musical fight against England’s macho snobbery, Desplat keeps his music at an impactful solemn level of suspense, building from ladylike harps, piano and almost playful rhythms to brooding intensity, telling us just how brutal the fight will get for these brave women. Like them, Desplat keeps rhythmically moving forward no matter the odds, holding fast to a measure of thematic optimism, most interestingly playing only a heartbeat during Meryl Streep’s big speech as the suffragette leader, its pulse ringing in our characters’ ears like an inspirational call to battle, with constricting sustains later spelling prison isolation and force-feeding. It’s subtly rousing, emotional, music for an unlikely army that won’t stop until it throws off its societal shackles, thematically standing strong as one of Desplat’s most powerful scores.
Though Theodore Shapiro might often be particularly busy this year in the service of multiplex escapism with the fun likes of “Spy” and “The Intern,” he’s also a composer capable of true arthouse efforts, as such dramatically unheralded scores as “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh” and “The Girl in the Park” have proven. Credit goes to his collaboration with director Jay Roach on the satirical “The Campaign” and the terrifying true-life run of Sarah Palin in “Game Change” that the director has now given Shapiro the chance to play one of Hollywood’s screenwriting titans with “Trumbo.” A maverick who didn’t cow before the Commie witch hunts, Trumbo kept his dignity (if not credited name) at great personal distress before Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger used him to break the blacklist by naming him on “Spartacus” and “Exodus.” With his troubles hitting during a time of American musical revolution with the advent of Beat Jazz, Shapiro brings the wildness, and anger of that music to his “Trumbo” score (though without scenes of Trumbo hanging out at coffeehouses), using the hits of a prepared piano and drum percussion, getting across his the sound and cunning fury behind his bathtub typewriter strokes. It’s music that’s packed with in-their-HUAC-faces attitude. And like most scores about a champion of the working man overcoming adversity, Shapiro is sure to employ an orchestra to sometimes lush, always potent effect, hearing the struggle and triumph of a man who made Hollywood a safe place for true artists to work again. But most importantly with this excellent film and soundtrack, “Trumbo” fearlessly shows a composer who’s at his best when given subject matter that doesn’t play it safe – much like the leftie Hollywood icon his score so potently embodies (available from Lakeshore on November 6th).
CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, Moviescoremedia and Screen Archives Entertainment
The 15th edition of the World Soundtrack Awards was held yesterday at Kuipke in Ghent. The winners were as follows:
Discovery of the Year:
- WINNER: [c.11302]Antonio Sanchez for [m.39779]Birdman
- [c.4295]Alex Ebert for [m.42034]A Most Violent Year
- [c.2455]Dominic Lewis for [m.42026]Spooks: The Greater Good
- [c.13365]Ben Salisbury & [c.13366]Geoff Barrow for [m.41546]Ex Machina
- [c.15527]Zhiyi Wang for [m.41851]But Always & [m.]Highway of Love
Film Composer of the Year:
- WINNER: [c.534]Michael Giacchino: [m.34278]Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, [m.32685]Inside Out, [m.37205]Jupiter Ascending, [m.36457]Jurassic World, [m.36502]Tomorrowland
- [c.352]Bruno Coulais:...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.2345]Jed Kurzel ([m.44871]Blackbird), [c.137]Ennio Morricone ([m.44863]Voyage of Time), [c.1018]Steve Jablonsky ([m.42201]Deepwater Horizon), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 36 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-10-19]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.42286]Jem and the Holograms ([c.1230]Nathan Lanier), [m.42317]The Last Witch Hunter ([c.1018]Steve Jablonsky), [m.36020]Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (no composer), and [m.41877]Rock the Kasbah ([c.1061]Marcelo Zarvos). [m.43172]Steve Jobs...
The Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMA) announced nominations in film, TV, video games, commercials and trailers. The HMMA nominations have historically been representative of the nominees of key awards shows that are announced months later. Last year's Golden Globe nominees for score matched the HMMA' selections. Nominees of this year's HMMA represent visual music from around the world including Spain, Argentina, France, Norway and Australia. The 2015 HMMA event will be held at The Fonda Theater 6126 Hollywood Blvd on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Education Through Music, Los Angeles (ETMLA). For tickets and additional information visit [url.http://www.hmmawards.com/]www.hmmawards.com. The HMMA includes presentations, performances and a...
Lakeshore Records will release the [a.16594]Fathers & Daughters Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally on [da.2015-10-23]October 23, 2015. The album features original music by [c.4822]Paolo Buonvino with two exclusive tracks performed by Michael Bolton, a cover of the classic song "(They Long To Be) Close To You" and the original track "Fathers and Daughters."
"I have made several movies with Gabriele [Muccino, director] and we know each other very well," said Bounvino. "I know exactly what he means with a simple gesture, we developed a common language that helps us to work together and understand what we need and what we want. That ease shows through in the effecting emotions on the screen. It is a pleasure to such a wonderful relationship that allow for and...
Varèse Sarabande will release the [a.16528]Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans Original Soundtrack digitally on [da.2015-11-06]November 6 and on CD [da.2015-11-13]November 13, 2015. The soundtrack features original music by composer [c.16947]Jim Copperthwaite. The film is a documentary that looks at the making of the seminal Steve McQueen film, [m.14745]Le Mans. As a special bonus, the album also includes selections of [c.110]Michel Legrand's themes from the film [m.14745]Le Mans.
As a nod to McQueen's love for racing, composer [c.16947]Jim Copperthwaite turned towards the speedway. "The sound that begins the score is a wavering drone that I created from a recording of a Porsche 917 engine at full throttle," described Copperthwaite. "This sound became central....
Sparks & Shadows announces the release of the [a.16597]Da Vinci's Demons: Season Three - Original Television Soundtrack, featuring music by [c.1238]Bear McCreary. The album from the third and final season of the hit STARZ Original series, produced by Adjacent Productions, will be available, both digitally and on CD, [da.2015-11-03]November 3, 2015. [a.16699]Da Vinci's Demons: Season Two - Collector's Edition, featuring 10 bonus tracksover 28 minutes of music, will also be released on [da.2015-11-03]November 3.
"The score for Season 3 strikes the perfect balance between modern and ancient instrumentation," said McCreary. "As the series' composer, I have enjoyed the challenge of blending the Renaissance tones of the viola da gamba, lutes, and Celtic harp with...
Lakeshore Records will release the [a.16229]Regression Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally on [da.2015-10-23]October 23, 2015 and on CD [da.2015-10-30]October 30. The album features original music by [c.1287]Roque Banos.
"[c.835]Alejandro Amenabar is a composer as well as director, but he wanted to leave on me all the creative aspects on this score," Banos explained. "When I saw the movie for the first time, it was without any reference or temp music, so I literally had to start from zero. We did have a conversation about the mood of course, but these were general aspects in tones such as mysterious, magic, horror, ancestral vocals, etc."
"When I compose, I generally start from the very beginning and continue chronologically, but in this case I...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.139]Mark Mothersbaugh ([m.44789]Pee-wee's Big Holiday), [c.24]Carter Burwell ([m.43477]The Founder), [c.448]Antonio Pinto ([m.44806]Shot Caller), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 34 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-10-12]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.41409]Bridge of Spies ([c.149]Thomas Newman), [m.36586]Crimson Peak ([c.1748]Fernando Velazquez), [m.40390]Goosebumps ([c.58]Danny Elfman) and [m.44295]Woodlawn ([c.408]Paul Mills).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song...