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[t.41497]The 87th Academy Awards were held last Sunday and Alexandre Desplat took home his first Oscar. For further details on the event, [url.http://www.soundtrack.net/news/article/?id=1967]click here.
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.91]Mark Isham ([m.43273]The Accountant), [c.752]Alexandre Desplat ([m.43275]Don't Tell Me the Boy Was Mad (Une histoire de fou)), [c.58]Danny Elfman ([m.34056]Avengers: Age of Ultron), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 38 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-02-23]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by):...
[t.41497]The 87th Academy Awards were held last night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The nominees for music-related categories and the winners are as follows:
Best Original Score
WINNER: [c.752]Alexandre Desplat - [m.35957]The Grand Budapest Hotel
[c.752]Alexandre Desplat - [m.38812]The Imitation Game
[c.237]Hans Zimmer - [m.36450]Interstellar
[c.1817]Gary Yershon - [m.40759]Mr. Turner
[c.3198]Johann Johannsson - [m.40675]The Theory of Everything
Best Original Song
WINNER: "Glory" - Music and Lyric by [c.10688]John Stephens and [c.]Lonnie Lynn for [m.41458]Selma
"Everything is Awesome" - Music and Lyric by [c.644]Shawn Patterson for [m.33666]The Lego Movie
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.564]Christophe Beck ([m.43237]Hot Pursuit), [c.175]Trevor Rabin ([m.41320]Max), [c.809]Michael Andrews ([m.43193]The Adderall Diaries), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 25 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-02-16]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.42564]The DUFF ([c.2455]Dominic Lewis), [m.39989]Hot Tub Time Machine 2 ([c.564]Christophe Beck), and [m.38925]McFarland, USA ([c.448]Antonio Pinto).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.42564]The DUFF (32...
Soundtrack Picks: ‘BREAKING AWAY‘ is the top soundtrack to own for February, 2015
Also worth picking up ABOVE AND BEYOND, FANTASIA: THE LEGACY EDITION, JAWS: THE REVENGE, OUTLANDER, SHOCK WAVES, SWITCH and many more!
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD Cover
THE TOP PICKS
1) BREAKING AWAY
What is it?: Next to “The Rabbit of Seville,” no entertainment has better used to use Italian opera for all of its marvelously rhythmic, and romantic possibilities like 1979’s acclaimed “Break Away.” A pure love of the art form put pedal to the bicycle metal for Dennis Christopher’s Dave, a local Bloomington Indiana young man who dreams of making the big Italian bicycle racing leagues to the dismay of both his parents and hardscrabble “cutter” friends. This musically-driven approach was inspired by English director Peter Yates, who created one of the classic American coming-of-age movies, whose spirit now shines brighter than ever given a new blu ray edition via Twilight Time, and release of its truly unsung underscore by Patrick Williams on Kritzerland Records.
Why Should You Buy It?: Williams, a prolific composer whose catchily energetic way with pop rhythms and melodic emotion accompanied over 200 film and TV projects, including such cult objects of affection as “The Cutting Edge,” “Colombo,” “The Simpsons, “All of Me” and “Used Cars.” Kritzerland has made it their mission to put a light on Williams’ largely unreleased repertoire with “Cuba” and “Butch and Sundance the Early Years.” But perhaps none is more revealing than this largely unused score, whose orchestral ensemble wonderfully draws on the classical sources at hand to portray the bonds of family and friends, and more specifically a seemingly impossible dream to ride out of townie life. While there’s a lyrical Americana warmth for strings and guitar, Williams main ride draws from the classical source at handlebar, from heartbreaking piano melodies to boisterously symphonic Italian melody that’s inseparable from the real deal. This is truly one of the unused score instances where a listener could easily could question Yates’ decision not to let Williams make it to the finish line. Yet, original opera is the thing here. And having used 40s jazz for the likes of “Swing Shift” and 50s rock for “Cry-Baby” (not to mention very 70s bar funk here), Williams adapts the Italian standards to create one of the truly one of truly great classical songbook scores, whose memorable impact is right up there with Leonard Rosenman’s Oscar-winning adaptations of Schubert and his way drier 17th century friends for “Barry Lyndon.” Indeed, Williams received similar Academy-recognition (if not the win) for his work here, even if his original music got its wheels jammed by Yates. Indeed, “The Barber of Seville” has never so full of pace or soaring heart, especially with how well it captures its young, ever-dreaming underdog hero’s optimism as he attempts to outrace a truck, win a collegian’s heart or finally makes it past the finish line. There’s no doubt that “Breaking Away” certainly added to a love of Italian opera in a way that cycled right back to its wonderfully energetic appeal in the first place.
Extra Special: “Breaking Away” is a delightful release that works as both a greatest hits collection of Italian opera, as well as recognition to a composer whose work deserves to be heard more of on CD. To be sure, there are plenty of terrific Patrick Williams works waiting in the closet to take up the next starting position after “Breaking Away,” chief among them his distinctly American superhero score that matched John Ritter’s colorful musical costume for “Hero At Large.” Anyone? Anyone?
2) CLIFF MARTINEZ FILM FEST GENT / MY LIFE DIRECTED BY NICOLAS WINDING REFN
What Is it?: Inspired by the dreamily minimal alt. rock likes of Brian Eno and the shredding guitar insanity of Captain Beefheart (an artist whom he drummed for along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers). Cliff Martinez helped put accessibly experimental film music on the map with 1989’s “sex, lies and videotape,” truly kickstarting the indie film scene along with Steven Soderbergh’s career. Working with that director, and well beyond him on such distinctively rhythmic and hypnotically still scores as “Narc,” “Wonderland,” “Arbitrage,” “Spring Breakers” and “Drive,” Martinez is mainly know by the masses for his rock-electronic work, often distinguished by the eerily glass-like sounds of his Cristal baschet instrument. But if there’s one true cult score of his, then it would be Martinez’s immersive dive into the orchestral, dream-conjuring waters of Soderbergh’s 2002’s remake of “Solaris” that has drawn numerous movie industry fans to his work. Given how well organic players added to Martinez’s music back then (and since), it was only natural that the Brussels Philharmonic, under the baton of famed conductor (and composer) Dirk Brosse, would perform selections from Martinez’s repertoire both domestic and foreign at the Gent music festival. It’s a score-centric haven for discriminating aficionados that not only proves its good taste with this album, but more importantly the performance chops of its orchestra at equaling the original soundtracks that these selections come from.
Why Should You Buy It?: An exceptionally well-paced album, “Gent” gives us choice cuts from their respectively played scores, beginning with the calypso-like tonalities of steel drums and the shivering strings that take us to “Solaris,” a voyage of both eerie and meditative power. The cimbalom-topped “Kafka” is Martinez’s wry take on Anton Karas’ “The Third Man,” as given quite a bit more paranoid dread. The already orchestral scores like “The Company You Keep” gets emotional tenderness and twisted, patriotic power, while “Contagion” has a darkly groovy sense of 70s paranoia, with electronics expertly played on top of the symphony. But it’s the scores where no strings existed that truly benefit from the Brussels string-heavy musicians, as “The Underneath’s” theme proceeds at a sensuously lavish pace, and the youth-skewing romance of ”Wicker Park” uses a piano for elegant gloss. Of particular interest to Martinez’s stateside fans are selections from his still unreleased French films L’espions (“Spies”) and “A l’origine” (“In the Beginning”). Given a spy thriller and the business chicanery, Martinez binds his music with a sense of mystery and emotion, as driven with hypnotic suspense in a way that’s completely different from the Hollywood norm. It’s all the more reason of how Martinez’s distinct style is drawing more recognition than ever before, now given whole other alternative dimension with a rich string sound that plays like it was always his lush intention.
Extra Special: One of Martinez’s best scores is surely for one of the most vile film ever made, as Gent’s performance of “Only God Forgives’ brings out a gorgeous, Herrmann-esque danger and beauty from an otherwise pummeling revenge thriller set in Thailand, an unaccountable movie given just how brilliant its director’s “Drive” was. As made by his wife Liv Corfixen, “My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn” points the way to a breakdown about a filmmaker getting lost in the morass of his own cinematically violent pretentiousness. Cliff Martinez is on hand to document that marital stress and creative heart of darkness with a beautiful, translucent score that’s contrastingly beatific in understanding a behind-the-scenes situation the composer knew in a way that was creatively first-hand. Sympathetic, pensive guitar melodies, percolating melodies and the ever-present Cristal baschet take a cool, percussive journey up the river of excess and hubris, bringing the foibles of a husband and father very much back down to earth in a captivating, meditative way that works equally well as an acid-dropped tone poem. It might be about Refn, but “My Life” is also very much of an insight to the hypnotic sample and computer groove that’s distinguished Martinez’s work from the start – music that comes from a place so beautifully unearthly that it seems Solaris is a neighboring planet to Martinez’s studio where he conjures his own works that transport the listener into a dream state – here through one collaborator’s nightmare.
3) EVERLY / OUTLANDER
Prices: $ $8.99 / $15.98
What Is it?: If you think Bear McCreary’s music has recently been male-driven meat and potatoes stuff between “The Walking Dead’s” morose zombie busters, the sarcastic demon fighter of “Constantine” and “Black Sail’s” randy pirates, two new scores from this always-energetic composer show his affection for grrl power, whether they’re blasting bad guys by the seeming hundreds or tenderly teaching the art of love to a time-lost Scotsman.
Why Should You Buy It?: When it comes down to it (and as films like “Kill Bill” and “La Femme Nikita” more than prove), guys like nothing better than really hot chicks shooting off heavy ordinance. Salma Hayek does this, and then some, in the Christmas Eve confines of an assassin-assaulted apartment building as she takes out deadly valentines sent by her mob boss ex. But what’s not to love, especially when “Everly” gives McCreary the chance to re-team with filmmaker Joe Lynch after his inspired metal-rock meets medieval orchestral score for the director’s “Knights of Badassdom” (even if Lynch got executed from it). Here the musical results are just a bit different than what you might expect. Hyper-beat metal-techno percussion blasts proficiently away, as mixed with McCreary’s “Battlestar Galactica”-born love for hammering Taiko drums (for the Yakuza villain not so coincidentally named Taiko) and a mournful shakuhachi flute, befitting the high Japanese baddie body count here. But what’s particularly cool is how McCreary gets across a heroine trying to save her family through mournful voices, a soulful piano and hauntingly beautiful, cello-featured orchestrations. It’s a nice emotional touch when other more testosterone-driven scores of this type are often happy to settle back and let bad-ass percussion handle everything – though screaming rock guitar chords and thrumming rave-worthy beats will definitely satisfy that crowd. Given one wave of killers after the next that come after “Everly” with ludicrous abandon, McCreary mostly builds his cues as rhythmic set pieces, yet mostly with some kind of melodic content in mind. He goes from eerie tubular bell stalking to machine-gun blasting energy with complete assuredness, while also being sure to give things an melancholy rest break between flying limbs. Considering how well lone, gun-proficient survivors go with Xmas songs, McCreary’s singing muse Raya Yarbough is on hand to deliver a jazzily bouncing “Deck the Halls” and an especially eerie “Silent Night.” The family song affair is nicely complimented as McCreary’s brother Brendan delivers his own humorously funky, fa-la-la’ing, as well as a church-worthy brand of Christmas cheer.
Extra Special: Just as it was the source of The Twelve Colonies, McCreary’s seminal work on the greatest sci-fi reboot of all continues to prove a wellspring of inspiration, though of a softer kind for “Outlander.” Here, the Celtic instrumentation that powered much of “Battlestar Galactica’s” emotion and rhythmic action serves to send an English lass through a Druid portal in 1945, and into that arms of a Scottish highlander battling the Brits in 1743. It says something that the seriously re-shined “Galactica’s” creator Ronald D. Moore is behind this Starz’s adaptation of the wildly popular romance books, as he’d certainly meet McCreary’s Hurdy-Gurdy’s, fiddles and galloping drums with open arms. Where McCreary used strings sparingly on “Galactica,” “Outlander” benefits from a lush, highland string sound in painting a musical picture with distinctive feminine appeal that speaks for a woman caught between two worlds, seeking to return to her proper husband, yet drawn to a hunky new love. McCreary captures her longing with true passion, while Enya fans will also appreciate the mystical use of voices here. McCreary is also able to get in instrumental bits of some eternal Scottish hymns and jigs like “Comin’ Thro’ The Rye” and “The Woman of Balnain.” McCreary’s more than proven himself as a time traveler when it comes to capturing authentic instrumentation from the skull and crossbones-days of Starz’s “Black Sails” to their Renaissance Italy for “Da Vinci’s Demons,” But his real touch is giving musicology a terrific contemporary energy that makes these string and percussion pieces feel as if they’d just been invented yesterday. It’s a talent that lets “Outlander” work exceptionally well in both musical worlds for episodic dramas that so effectively use history, perhaps to no more to lovely effect than “Outlander.”
4) FANTASIA: THE LEGACY EDITION
What is it?: One might say that classical music was indeed the first movie scoring, as pieces done to specific storylines were meant to conjure images in the mind’s eye way before the advent of moving pictures. And no filmmaker would prove that point like Walt Disney, whose 1940 masterpiece “Fantasia” was the best excuse for a concert a kid could hope to be dragged to, significantly elevating studio animation from children’s stuff to an art form that could be appreciated by one-stuffy adults. Some music received literal translation, from the glistening bells of an ethereal sugar plum fairy in Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite,” Mickey Mouse evading a playfully relentless broom march for Paul Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” or the devilish Chernabog rising for the “Night on Bald Mountain” to the rapturously terrifying orchestral evil of Modeste Moussorgsky. Other segments captured the spirit of these great composers in tone, if not in original intention, as when Igor Stravinsky’s primal “Rite of Spring” accompanied the earth’s birth throes, or when a hippo did a dainty string dance to Amilcare Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” (although it’s impossible now to hear that tune now without hearing how Allan Sherman turned the melody into “A Letter from Camp”’s lyrics of “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!”). When listening to this gloriously chosen assemblage of classical music’s greatest hits, one can’t help but think of just how important the musical form has been to cartoons in general (especially to such classical-referencing Looney Tune composers as Carl Stalling). But “Fantasia” remains the high mark though the film’s numerous re-release, using Disney’s idea for making the idea timeless by incorporating new musical segments with “Fantasia 2000” and even video games with “Fantasia: Music Evolved.” Yet the original remains the gold standard, especially when put out as part of Disney’s lavish “Legacy Edition” soundtrack line.
Why should you buy it?: “Fantasia” wasn’t released on LP until well after the fact, though Buena Vista’s three-LP 1957 soundtrack was an event in itself, complete with a fold-out cover. Disney’s new, double foldout release goes one CD better, with the first two discs containing the original Leopold Stowkowski performance. From his on-camera appearance conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” Stokowski’s affable interchange with Mickey did much to convince young viewers that classical music could be down to animated earth. Though archival in sound, the landmark vitality of the original soundtrack couldn’t be more passionate, or sound better given this album’s remastering. Taking full advantage of the new digital medium in 1982, Disney commissioned an entirely new performance from the baton of Walt’s favorite movie conductor Irwin Kostal (“Mary Poppins”), whose work with the Disney Studio Orchestra and Chorus truly made this music sing, opening up wondrously colorful sonic dimensions that play like the fog being wiped from several masterpieces. Without slighting Stokowski’s work, Kostal’s rendition achieves the true resonance that Walt was going after. And thanks to its recording technology, the work remains just as technically, and emotionally vibrant decades later as the height of audiophile performance – sinking home the colorful imagery that Walt has now eternally tied to these concert hall standards.
Extra Special: The Legacy Collection packaging has been akin to mini, art filled books and “Fantasia” is no exception, with Disney producer Dave Bossert detailing the omnibus movie’s history, its pages full of glorious art that show the range of Disney’s grand ambition come true. Once upon a time Claude Debussy’s “Clair De Lune” was even in “Fantasia,” a piece we get to hear via Stokowski’s recording. And just for fun, the wonderfully raspy voice of the great character actor (and immediately recognizable Winnie the Pooh) Sterling Holloway is on hand to narrate for the little ones about what’s happening in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Peter and the Wolf,” though here it’s definitely images as opposed to words that really makes “Fantasia’s” music come to enduring life.
5) THE RIVER WILD
What Is It?: Since the day sound came to the movies, film scores have been rejected for reasons both political and aesthetic (especially as music is usually the first thing to get blamed when a film isn’t working). A few hundred of also-ran soundtracks including Bernard Herrmann’s “Torn Curtain,” Alex North’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Carter Burwell’s “Thor: The Dark World” – enough instances for Gergely Hubai to write a big, excellent book about these instances called “Torn Music.” But whatever the reason a score doesn’t make the final cut, it doesn’t mean these reams of tossed, recorded music are without merit, as Intrada Records has often proven with such “before and after” releases as “White Fang” and “Supernova.” Now two classic composers who have had no shortage of work tossed between them for all of their musical pedigrees get their moment to shine for the label’s impressive release of “The River Wild.”
Why Should You Buy It?: Probably the two most notable things about Curtis Hanson’s average 1994 thriller was the idea of putting Meryl Streep in the role of an action hero, and seeing her stunt double navigate some hair-raising Canadian rapids. Jerry Goldsmith (of the unused “Alien Nation” and “Wall Street”) and Maurice Jarre (also musically MIA for “First Knight” and “Jennifer 8”) were respectively sent swimming, and sinking during “The River Wild’s” tumultuous post-production. When listening to both scores here, it’s fairly easy to discern why Jerry Goldsmith kept his head above water. The one gigantic mistake that could have easily gotten him tossed from the boat would have been to play Streep’s plucky housewife-outdoorswoman like a bow-holding Rambo. Thankfully, Goldsmith captured her stalwart determination instead in this impressively thematic score that keeps its excitement constantly moving with a strong sense of character, much like the score he’d proved for the bear-evading, psychologically attuned score to “The Edge.” He starts out with Copland-esque orchestrations that could accompany a western landscape, while being just as well suited to these far greener great outdoors. Adapting the standard “The Water is Wide” as main theme, Goldsmith impresses with creeping, gradually building suspense for Streep’s fellow travellers to reveal themselves as not-very-nice guys. Determinedly melodic strings join with breathy synth suspense in a way that also recalls Goldsmith’s feminine-driven suspense for “Sleeping With the Enemy,” the score climaxing in a breathless, ten-minute run of action music that shows off his talent for being able to navigate constant blasts of percussive, symphonic excitement without muddying its waters with “busy music.” His “River Wild” is tightly controlled and beautifully maneuvered, paying off as an incredibly solid action score that never grows tiring.
Extra Special: Maurice Jarre was a particularly unabashed composer, but then the said can be said of any French musician weaned on big, expressive melody. For if Goldsmith’s “River Wild” is about muscular, thematically modular music, then Jarre takes a way more lavish picture of the wilderness. He begins with a soaring, gorgeously sumptuous feeling of a family about to take a great American adventure. Action is defined through military snare drums, crashing pianos and a sense of feminine vulnerability, along with a smattering of Jarre’s electronic music that made up most of his output during the 80s, here singing like a Native American bird. Yet the problem is that Jarre’s score is too tumultuous, leaving no real theme for the listener to grasp onto – the thrills often so over the top that this seems to be a sequel score to Jarre’s spy satire “Top Secret” as opposed to serious suspense. Though capable of truly amazing work, Jarre’s “River Wild” just isn’t at that level, giving justifiably good reason why a way more structured work by Goldsmith would replace his. But even with its faults, any Jarre score is worthy of interest, from its warmer melodies to the way that the composer unleashes some of the most gigantic percussion of his career here in a neo-Asian way that would perfectly suit a samurai epic. The problem is that “The River Wild” isn’t that picture. But I’m certainly glad that Jarre’s smashing waves are finally able to be heard in an album that not only allows every note of his work to be heard, but Goldsmith’s as well. We also get 16 minutes of alternate Goldsmith cues, with Jarre’s numbering 25 minutes, showing how much both composers struggled to satisfy Hanson (with Goldsmith’s reward being an Oscar nomination for that director’s landmark “L.A. Confidential”). “The River Wild’s” is certainly a whale of a musical tale, told with no favorites by Jeff Bond journalistic approach in the substantial booklet. But whether your favored captain is Goldsmith or Jarre, this a trip worth taking, where the only thing in musical common is The Cowboy Junkies performing “The Water is Wide” – soulfully on one boat, and with way more country groove on the one that didn’t sail, even as Jarre provides a beautifully sumptuous end title that ironically proves to be his best piece of music for the film.
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
. ABOVE AND BEYOND
Movie buffs might think the limit of American involvement in creating the state of Israel’s first air force was Frank Sinatra throwing Molotov cocktails from a rusty plane in “Cast A Giant Shadow.” They’ll certainly be enlightened by this documentary that shows just how many post WW2 American flyboys were part of an international squad (including “Star Trek – The Motion Picture” writer Harold Livingston and Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reuben’s Dad) who made sure Israel wasn’t overwhelmed by invading Arab armies during the country’s War of Independence. Given the recreations of air combat, it’s only right that this powerful documentary would need to have all of the soaring, daring and emotional firepower of a feature movie. Enter ace composer Lorne Balfe, a seasoned veteran of heroic soundtrack combat with such honor and glory efforts as “Ironclad” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.” But apart from blasting the enemy, Balfe knows this was a battle for a people’s very survival, made all the more important by the fact that they were nearly annihilated in the Holocaust. Starting out with a moving variation of the traditional Jewish song “Hatikvah,” Balfe subtly uses Hebraic melodies and an Eastern European violin, along with Middle Eastern percussion to capture a refugee-filled region that gives a newfound purpose to its airborne saviors, whose cocksure bravado also gets treated with wry humor. But more importantly, Balfe’s music is about bravery, danger and sacrifice, with a score that’s more about contemplative force than rhythmic battle, contrasting poignant piano-driven melodies with a suspenseful feeling of history in the making. If “Beyond’s” producer Nancy Spielberg should interest her brother in doing the Hollywood treatment of this nearly unknown story, one couldn’t imagine a better, or more moving score l to accompany it. Watch the skies, and iTunes for the imminent release of Balfe’s score.
. ATLAS SHRUGGED: WHO IS JOHN GALT?
Sometimes music is so good that you can forget exactly what vehicle it’s attached to, especially when its Ayn Rand’s super-powered, epic train to nowhere through three lamentable “Atlas Shrugged” movies. Where Chris Bacon took the mulligan for its second entry “The Strike,” the first movie’s composer of note has now come back on board to finish this triptych with “Who Is John Galt?” For those uninitiated into the ways or Rand, or who end up getting the CD with understandably no urge to see the movie itself, the biggest question will be “Who is Elia Cmiral?” The answer is the very talented Czech composer behind the likes of “Apartment Zero,” “Ronin” and the recent, excellent southern crime-noir score to “Wicked Blood.” With this “Atlas’” focus on the emotion between two industrialists in an idyllic haven as opposed to having them speechify, Cmiral is able to go for a lush, romantically epic and exceptionally well-performed score. His concluding chapter positively sings with brawny orchestral themes and solo piano tenderness, music as melodically vast as the hidden valley that Galt calls home. But you could just as well imagine Abraham Lincoln chopping wood to this score, all the while feeling the call to serve his nation – its problems he sets out to finally fix with militaristic danger and chorus abounding. But then when so many Hollywood movies are afraid to go for this kind of unabashed symphonic abandon, perhaps it takes this kind of all-out, hopingly lavish indie film to allow its musician to really flex his soaring emotional muscles like Cmiral does to truly impressive effect. This is certainly a score that can walk tall, and proud, especially if you forget its source material.
THE BOY NEXT DOOR / THE LOFT
When it comes to sex and murder, it’s all location, location, location as can be evidenced in these two intriguing suspense scores from Varese Sarabande, both of which take their erotically charged subject matter seriously indeed (even if critics might not have). While “The Boy Next Door” isn’t going to win any authenticity prizes when it comes to spotting first editions of The Iliad, what Rob Cohen’s nutty thriller does offer is a hauntingly weird score by his frequent musical collaborator Randy Edelman (“Dragon,” “Daylight”), with an even big influence here felt by co-composer Nathan Barr. For “The Boy Next Door” comes across most as a creepy, kissing neighbor to his “True Blood” work (also available on Varese). Sexy vampire Goth singer Lisbeth Scott’s cooing vocals are eerily featured front and center amidst the sometimes southern-flavored strings and rock guitar reverb. But while erotically atmospheric, the mood she helps provide for a killer-bodded teen who’s hot for teacher is anything but romantic, and all the more effective for it. The theme of this “Boy” is all about transgression, far more in the mood of horror scoring than Skinimax, the music gradually goes bananas with all sorts of skittering, menacing samples that really get underneath the sweating skin.
Extra Special: For John Frizzell, having hot bodies frame the upper class is familiar territory since he provided one of his first, impressive scores for “The Rich Man’s Wife.” With the composer finding new avenues for suspense on television with “The Following” and “Stalker,” his feature score for “The Loft” arrives with impressive, well-toned elegance as an illicit high-rise time-share yields a beautiful, incriminating corpse. But as opposed to at first going on a more orchestral “Basic Instinct” route as the plot gets unraveled, Frizzell has something for more tantalizingly ethereal in mind. Using haunting sample and string tonalities, Frizzell treats the film as some kind of sensuously dangerous dream, his melodies drifting about as rhythmic suspense arises. But as the noose tightens around this badly behaving boy’s club, Frizzell neatly brings out a big, pounding orchestral theme, grim gestures and percolating rhythm to point out the guilty parties, and the desperation of escaping a murder rap. His “Loft” is exceptionally well constructed, as erotic in its cool miasma as it is breathless in reaching the ironic finish that shows off a composer who’s equally in the door with both Hitchcockian suspense and seductive beats.
. CHICAGO FIRE: SEASONS 1 and 2
Beyond his impressive film scores for “The Eagle” and “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” the Icelandic Atli Orvarsson has racked up any number of American TV credits on “Dragnet,” “Six Degrees” and “Law & Order: LA.” It’s through the latter show’s mega-producer Dick Wolf that Orvarsson was recruited in 2012 for an ongoing job with the Chicago Fire Department, his first two seasons with the model-hot squad now released separately via Lakeshore Records. Where the “Law and Order” franchise demanded something far darker, “Chicago Fire” gives Orvarsson more emotional breadth in dealing wit the torrid love lives, and dangers of its photogenic characters. Taken as a whole, these two releases are a thoroughly engaging, and exceptionally well-produced listen that pull us in with its strong melodic content, impressively scoring that often exudes a beautiful sense of melancholy with strings, piano and a haunting female voice. Just as able to burst into high-tension rhythm as it is movingly restrained tragedy as well as ethnic bagpipes and smoldering rock guitar, these well-chosen collections impress with an approach to musical firefighting that’s far more psychologically interior than slo-mo fireball-outrunning heroism. Its scoring that could easily accompany a beautifully brooding feature drama, making these albums equally worthy for fans of the show as it might soundtrack collectors.
. THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR / THE TIME OF THE DOCTOR
Music is still the hippest thing about the Doctor Who since his true rebirth in 2005, with Murray Gold’s scoring giving every new variation of England’s most famous Gallifreyan an attitude of fun and high cosmic drama. Gold’s epic send off’s for Matt Smith’s final two outings on this double CD makes for some of his most exuberant work for the series, starting straight off with a manically rocking techno spin on the Time Lord’s famed theme. Given that “The Day of the Doctor” marked the 50th anniversary special of the cult BBC sci-fi program, its seeming final solution to the Dalek problem gave Gold an especially galactic orchestral power to play off, not only capturing the big screen majesty of a symphonic space opera, but also the sense of humor so endemic to the character, a harpsichord stuffiness as mixed with Bond-like adventure. Better yet, the music’s synth element pays tribute to the electronic tonalities of the past composing likes of Ron Granier and Tristam Cary, if understandably souped up quite a bit in its futuristic computer vibes. Beginning with far more overt comedy is “The Time of the Doctor,” it’s 800th show where the T.A.R.D.I.S. got handed from Smith to his currently wizened incarnation of Peter Capaldi. Filled with bouncily waltzing music and pokey brass, Gold’s work nicely recalls the more humorous action music befitted to the slightly more rugged hero named Indiana Jones. As cracks in time and a horde of Daleks converge, Gold once again shows off his lush, orchestral dexterity by cleverly mixing John Barry-esque brass with wonderfully nostalgic Christmas music, making a sweepingly heroic, bell-ringing last stand for the Doctor to assume his next incarnation. But then, the massive charm of Gold’s music, even for non-acolytes, has always been that his approach is way more “Star Wars” than “Doctor Who” in its ambitions, a stellar majesty, and humanity that comes across loud and clear with this terrific release.
. JAWS THE REVENGE
How does one follow up one of the most iconic scores written for one of the greatest thriller-action films ever made – given that the gigantic great white shark has turned into one of the biggest dogs to ever surface in Hollywood for his fourth outing? Faced with a truly formidable task, Michael Small’s approach was to essentially go his own way with John William’s inescapable melodies in capable tow. It’s a decision that makes for one of the better scores written for one of the worst movies ever made as Intrada follows up their release of Alan Parson’s score to “Jaws 3D” with this quite unexpected work from a master of far more minimal conspiracy-suspense scores to the likes of “The Parallax View” and “The Star Chamber.” Gliding on Williams’ melodies as much as he has to (and often thrillingly so), Small is determined to create a “Jaws” score very much his own, and perhaps not as removed from his more personal work as one might think. Small connotes a dangerous sense of the deep, especially with growling electronic effects. A bold sense of heroism is front and center, given a similar, rhythmic feeling for a nautical chase between overwhelming, pounding menace and human vulnerability, deftly swimming between Williams’ score and Small’s own in a way that doesn’t ride that shark’s back as much as it impressively riffs on it. Perhaps the biggest difference between the scores is that while Williams gave the chase a feeling of swashbuckling joy, Small’s accent is far more on impressionistic, dangerous thrills that capture the movie’s infamous tagline of “This time it’s personal.” As such, this just might be the most exciting score of Small’s tragically cut-short career, meshing one very familiar piano and glistening string build-up with chiming, dark electronics and uncompromising orchestral menace – as performed by an arguably better symphonic performance than even Williams received. Previously released as an abridged promotional CD, this new presentation of Small’s shark from snout to tail is a real revelation, perhaps most of all for diehard “Jaws” score fans who will get to hear just how well a composer can use a classic work to swim on his own thrilling steam.
. THE JOURNEY INSIDE
While best known for such conspiratorial scores as “The Conversation” and “All the President’s Men,” David Shire also created wondrously symphonic expeditions into both the dark fairy tale realm of “Return to Oz” and the historically soaring skies of “The Hindenburg.” But perhaps no flight of fancy that Shire has taken was more commercially obvious than this sweeping Imax score celebrating the Intel Pentium Processor, even if some aliens find it a threat. No expense was spared in both terms of recruiting talent, or orchestra members for this outsized project, whose very big screen Shire filled with optimistic, epic melody. Indeed, this is the kind of rapturous work that never need be upgraded for fans of big fantasy scoring (even if the computer the score celebrates has progressed many times over). For this sci-fi tinged spin on Shire’s classic “Oz” score, the composer uses heavenly choruses, sweeping Americana orchestrations, a lurching bad guy theme and a youthful, often-playful sense of exploration into the technological unknown, all while assuring the audience that things will turn out all right for its plucky protagonist. “The Journey Inside” fits quite nicely into Intrada’s recent releases of such lush, youthfully heroic genre pieces as Bruce Broughton’s “The Boy Who Could Fly” and Craig Safan’s “The Last Starfighter,” while being the most unknown, and surprising score of these melodic flights of fantasy.
. SHOCK WAVES
Arguably the greatest Nazi underwater zombie movie ever made, Ken Wiederhorn’s creepily atmospheric movie has lost none of its nightmare inducing quality from the kids of my generation who blundered onto it during the late night CBS Friday movie. Now given a special edition blu ray, “Shock Wave’s” 1977 elements have been brought up to chapped skin snuff, especially its all-important force of creepy musical nature, as conjured for this Florida-made film by New York City-based composer Richard Einhorn. This beyond-creepily effective score marked the debut of this modern classicist, who spent his first scoring years in the independent horror genre with the lives of “Don’t Go in the House,” “Eyes of a Stranger” and “The Prowler.” Yet none were as purely strange, or disturbing as the synthesized tonalities of “Shock Waves,” for which Einhorn served as an eerie one-man synth band straight out of Columbia University. Fashioned from equal parts music concrete and melody as a tribute to Gil Melle’s pioneering electric score for “The Andromeda Strain,” Einhorn’s own computer experimentations are best at giving the listener the feeling that they’re trapped underneath buzzing, piercingly high or concrete-thick waves of digital water, surrounded by the howls of the damned. Einhorn goes even further with his unsettling effects by adding in the sounds of seagulls and Sieg Heil’s for good measure, creating a truly unearthly altered state that still slogs to shore as one of the pioneering genre scores. And it would be fair to say there’s a fun, unavoidably dated cheesiness to “Shock Waves” as well, particularly in its alternately lurching, or creeping Theremin-like melodies that are pure chiller theater stuff. With such other retro-synth scores under Howlin’ Wolf’s pelts like “The Boogey Man” and “Cyborg,” the label does a nice job of rescuing Einhorn’s goggle-wearing water-troopers from the abyss with all of their unnerving resonance intact, and lovingly mastered in mono no less, to remind us of the power of old-school circuitry music.
Unlike some soundtrack journalists who subscribe to the Woody Allen axiom of “those who can’t teach,” Brian Satterwhite is a man who can put his money where his mouth is. Beyond being an estimable soundtrack journalist, Satterwhite is longtime composer in his own right with a focus on documentaries, His catchily rhythmic approach has often accompanied truth-seeking subjects, from a zillionaire determined to put himself into space for “Man on a Mission” to seeing what’s truly netted inside the raw industry of “Sushi: The Global Catch.” Now joining these two scores among Satterwhite’s available discography is his drivingly rhythmic work for “Switch,” wherein a scientist goes on an energetic quest to see the many sources that fuel an increasingly overpopulated planet. But rather than taking stances that Greenpeace or Exxon might approve of, this is no doom-saying documentary or finger-pointing score. Instead, Satterwhite’s vibe has a pleasant brightness to it. Sounding much like a power station’s happy computers jamming with earth-generated percussion, “Switch” has a beeping, buzzing sense of fun and discovery, thematically travelling the world-wide instrumental grid from Indian singers to Irish pennywhistle and accordions, it’s more pensive moments conjured with grinding guitar chords, dulcimers and a creative array of rhythm instruments. But overall, “Switch” has a welcome sense of gentleness to it, conveying the ideas of problems that can hopefully be fixed as opposed to darker oil slicks of hopelessness, all making for a winningly propulsive score powered by clever enthusiasm and an overall vibe of hope.
. THE TOY SOLDIERS
Not to be confused with a classic early 90s movie about terrorists invading a boy’s school, this is instead an epic-length 80s look at the events during the closing night of a titular roller rink, during which five stories boogie down on teen angst. The soundtrack is certainly spot-on for the period, beginning with its underscore by Nathaniel Levisay (“Fading of the Cries”). He’s a composer who’s certainly listened to a lot of Tangerine Dream, circa their classics like “Risky Business” and “Miracle Mile.” He does an exceptional job of recreating the especially icy, pulsing groove. But it’s one thing to emulate, and another to put new soul into it, something that Levisay’s work does get better at when it starts going beyond the retro synth gear approach for more emotional, guitar-topped cues that bring out the inter-connected character’s sense of ennui, along with a more traditionally string-driven approach that stands for the composer’s own voice. It’s an overall muted, nicely introspective approach with a near religious sense of angst, its soulful pain coming across in shamanistic voices and church organ-like samples to go beyond the Edgar Froese mock-ups that at first limited it. The final song section of the “Soldiers” soundtrack is equally effective, with the bands Daily Bread and Gliss impressively raising the ghosts of such proto-Goth bands as The Psychedelic Furs and The Cure – their excellent vocals and guitar-rock grooves for teen pain so rhythmically, and romantically palpable that you can practically smudge the eyeliner from them. In any case, it’s nice to have a soundtrack where it sure ain’t disco pushing its young skaters down the rink to angst.
CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, Movie and Screen Archives Entertainment
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1018]Steve Jablonsky ([m.42317]The Last Witch Hunter), [c.1781]Saunder Jurriaans and [c.8161]Danny Bensi ([m.43159]The Ticket), [c.1480]Henry Jackman ([m.32339]Pixels), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 41 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-02-09]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.36439]Fifty Shades of Grey ([c.58]Danny Elfman) and [m.41219]Kingsman: The Secret Service ([c.1480]Henry Jackman and [c.2159]Matthew Margeson).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records
As hip as today’s spy music might get with techno rhythms and rock guitars, any composer worth their salt knows that the gold scoring standard remains with Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and the jazzily debonair music bestowed upon its most famously-numbered agent by John Barry. Whether it’s David Arnold and Tom Newman paying it official 007 homage, or even Edward Shearmur and Ilan Eshkeri making you take “Johnny English’s” spy cred seriously, you’re sure to hear those big brass horns, lush strings and charge-ahead, manly themes capturing operatives who can take down a secret villain’s base while never letting their Savile Row tailor down.
Now John Barry’s spirit gets resurrected like never before with positively smashing elegance by the team of Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson for “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” Every trick in the classic “Thunderball” music book gets played here, and then some, from cool espionage vibes to heroically roaring trumpets and dynamic orchestral excitement, as steadfastly propelled by a theme as patriotic as a Union Jack. This is the music of a suave agent, as teamed with the upstart electric rhythms and electric guitar attitude of a hooligan who has the stuff of greatness in him – if only Harry Hart can whip “Eggsy Unwin and a team of young punks into shape in time to take on the megalomaniacal Richmond Valentine from turning civilization into a lethal mosh pit.
It’s a musical teaming between edginess and sophistication that’s dynamically played by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson in their second official score after “Kick-Ass 2” – a movie not so coincidentally about brash youngsters getting themselves into heaps of neo super-heroic trouble. Indeed, you might call Margeson Robin to Jackman’s Batman as he’s capably arranged and writing additional music for Jackman since that composer’s 2009 breakout score of “Monsters vs. Aliens” – a comic book progression that’s included “Kick-Ass,” “”X-Men: First Class” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” as both men carved solo scoring careers. But it’s re-teaming with the “Kick-Ass” moviemaking team that’s really brought out the brass balls like never before from Jackman and Margeson with some of their most wonderfully rocking, testosterone-filled score yet. “The Kingsman” truly speaks to both the Bond and Xbox music generations with equal, exhilarating excitement as it makes retro spy scoring sing with rockingly fresh excitement through one rip-roaring action cue after the other – an introduction into the Bond boys club like none other.
Now, on a new edition of “On the Score,” Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson reveal their oldest, and newest instrumental tricks to an arsenal of comic book movie scoring that only continues to grow with explosive excitement, all while Jackman talks about his seriously twisted spy music for taking on the real evil of Kim Jong-Un with his finally released score for “The Interview.”
Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to DownloadBuy the Soundtrack: KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE Buy the Soundtrack: THE INTERVIEW / THIS IS THE END Buy the Soundtrack: KICK-ASS 2
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards ceremony was held last night at the Royal Opera House in Convent Garden, London. In the category of Original Music, [c.752]Alexandre Desplat took the prize for his score to [m.35957]The Grand Budapest Hotel. Also nominated in the category were [c.11302]Antonio Sanchez for [m.39779]Birdman, [c.237]Hans Zimmer for [m.36450]Interstellar, [c.3198]Johann Johannsson for [m.40675]The Theory of Everything, and [c.9466]Mica Levi for [m.38539]Under the Skin.
This was Desplat's seventh nomination for a British Academy Film Award and his second win. His previous victory was for [m.30730]The King's Speech in 2011. He is also nominated for two Academy Awards for his scores to [m.35957]The Grand Budapest...
Director Paul Tibbitt's recent release [m.38642]The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water features a score from composer [c.45]John Debney. Debney conducted the recording of the score at the Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Bros. last year. Our friends at [url.http://scoringsessions.com/news/283/]ScoringSessions.com have made pictures of the session...
LOS ANGELES (Feb. 15, 2015) – They say that behind every great movie is a great score. But do you know the story behind every great score?
So much attention is paid to what happens in front of the red light of a motion picture camera. But the magic that unfolds under the red light of the studio scoring stage is just as spectacular, as SCORE: A Film Music Documentary will reveal.
SCORE launches on Kickstarter Feb. 15 to raise funds to finish a film that will feature A-list composers such as Danny Elfman (Batman, Spider-Man, Alice in Wonderland), Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Departed) and John Debney (Passion of the Christ, Elf, Star Trek: The Next Generation), as well as insight from others in Hollywood including leasing film critic Leonard Maltin and legendary director/producer/actor Garry Marshall.
“Music by itself has an emotional impact all on its own,” says composer Christophe Beck who penned the score for Disney’s Frozen.
“For a younger generation, film music is the symphonic music of today,” says Patrick Russ of the Film Music Foundation.
Epicleff Media’s thoughtful, engaging documentary will guide viewers through the creative processes of some of the world’s greatest musicians as they create some of the world’s most emotionally expressive music. SCORE highlights the ups and downs of the creative process, a process with as many highs and lows as the winding melodies we’ve come to love.
Funds raised from Kickstarter will go toward final production costs for what will be the most definitive documentary ever made about film music’s biggest stars. Supporters will be able to pre-order the film, with their contributions covering the cost of the production. Backers who pledge more could be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have their own musical motif written by a Hollywood composer, or a trip to Los Angeles to attend the premiere.
Support is needed to finish this massive undertaking so fans of film music can learn why film composers are considered to be the Mozarts and the Michelangelos of our day, and why many believe there is a new Renaissance occurring right before our eyes.
Fans will see the sound and the fury behind the score.
“We’re harnessing something from the ether,” says composer Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy, 300, Watchmen) of his craft. “It’s exciting.”
SCORE: A Film Music Documentary will launch on Kickstarter Feb. 15 with a fundraising goal of $40,000 to cover operating expenses, fees and creative costs.
Epicleff Media is a Los Angeles-based production company specializing in crafting compelling nonfiction projects with deep journalistic value. Its members are established, award-winning producers, photographers, editors and journalists.
Sure he might have unleashed voodoo-action hell for Arnie’s “End of Days,” gone hunting in the primeval percussive jungle with the “Predators” or taken “The Caller’s” ring from the razor-sharp Nine Inch Nails receiver. But when you come right down to it for all of his impressive detours into darkness, the Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated John Debney remains known as one of Hollywood’s nice-guy composers in a career that hasn’t stopped running for three decades since taking up his family’s Disney legacy. It’s a warmly melodic, family-friendly spirit that’s much like Debney’s affable personality, growing from the small screen to apply his lavishly fun orchestral sound to such live-action and animated fantasy epics as “Inspector Gadget,” “The Ant Bully,” “The Scorpion King,” “Evan Almighty,” “Zathura” and “Lair” – a lavish orchestral score that arguably put videogame soundtracks on the map as a musical contender.
In a way, you might say that John Debney has retained the adventurous, sometimes goofy enthusiasm of a kid glued to the boob tube, as expressed through music that can touch both the looney tunes kid in all of us, as well as the wistful maturity of an adult who yearns for more in life. Both facets are on display this movie Spring, first as the anarchic show your mom tells you to shut off makes its second cinematic adventure. And Debney is there for the momentous occasion of “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” as the utterly bizarre hero and his equally wacked-out crustacean friends make the big leap into live action, as given super-heroic CG biceps to take on Antonio Bandera’s food-obsessed pirate. Debney fans who thrilled to his swashbuckling score for “Cutthroat Island” will surely groove to this very, very big symphonic expansion of the SpongeBob legend with a score that comes across as Erich Wolfgang Korngold meeting Carl Stalling, with a knowing dash of John Williams thrown into the iconic Krusty Krab musical mix, one that’s likely the most fun, and thrillingly “real” score as you can imagine being composed for a SpongeBob movie.
Though many of Adam Sandler’s performances have much in common with that certain ADD slab of yellow sea life run amuck, the actor is in restrained fashion at first for “The Cobbler,” an adult fantasy of far more indie-intimate proportions. One size doesn’t fit all for this Jewish mender who discovers a literal ability to step into his clients shoes, especially when it comes to the unexpected, but strikingly good idea of teaming Debney with Nick Urata for the music. As the leadman for the Gypsy-Klezmer influenced group Devotchka, Urata’s voice first impressed with the songs that drove “Little Miss Sunshine” to her beauty pageant, Urata then revealed his own instrumental abilities, going from the yearning child-like melodies of “What Maise Knew” to the sweetly romping score of “Paddington.” “The Cobbler” allows for a seamless meeting of the multiple identity minds between Debney and Urata for “Win Win” filmmaker Tom McCarthy, here with a score that has the delicious ethnic swing that encapsulates both “The Cobbler’s” Hebraic background and 20s jazz swing. But that’s just the start for a score that grows into decidedly oddball directions that SpongeBob itself would appreciate as funk joins with techno, rock and orchestra – all making for a wildly unique, yet mature comedy score as eccentric as it is emotional.
Now caught in his own musical workshop where the musical cobbling, and inventiveness have yet to cease, John Debney reflects on talking sponges, swinging Klezmer jazz and bringing The History channel a deliciously anachronistic sound.
Do you think having a dad who worked at Disney set you up to make a name with family-friendly cartoons and fantasy-adventures?
I don’t think that growing up in the business was an advantage for me necessarily. It helped me because I grew up in the Disney family that I was able to get a job in their music department. But from there the relationship of having a dad who worked at Disney worked against me quite often, because people erroneously assumed it was just a nepotism thing, and not necessarily talent.
How much of a musical inspiration were television cartoons for you?
I grew up first loving Disney cartoons and then later Hanna-Barbera cartoons and all of the wonderful companies that made these Saturday morning shows back in the day. But whatever generation we’ve grown up in, I think that cartoons are some of our favorite things. Later when I started to write for television cartoons, it was something I felt very comfortable with because I’d grown up in the environment of the Disney cartoon machine. So doing Disney shows like “Tiny Toons” was comfortable in my wheelhouse.
You’ve scored numerous cartoons that have been aimed squarely at the younger set like “The Ant Bully”, and ones that have gone for a more knowingly satiric adult appeal like “The Emperor’s New Groove.” What do you think is the difference in tone when scoring either approach?
I don’t categorize cartoons into sort of a narrow box of what tone they should be. I take each animated show as its own animal, because I don’t want to go in with any pre-conceived ideas of what I should do. When I was working on the “Looney Toons Back in Action movie,” for which I had the great joy of taking over from Jerry Goldsmith towards the end of his life, I had to honestly go into that production knowing I was going to have to write Warner Brothers-type music in the tradition of Carl Stalling. So there is a “style” that’s suited more to the actual studio. In the case of my score to “The Jetsons Movie,” I went for the Hanna-Barbera style that Hoyt Curtain developed, which was a jazzy, retro-sound. So I don’t think it’s the cartoons, or their movies that dictate the music. I think it’s more the era in which those shows were made.
On that note, do you think the appeal of “SpongeBob” is just how insane it is – the kind of “you’ll go blind if you watch it” stuff we used to get from our parents for watching “The Three Stooges?”
Yeah, I think that has a lot to do with it. I think SpongeBob crosses a few generations. When my boys were growing up, we would hesitate letting them watch “SpongeBob SquarePants,” because for some reason my wife felt that the show was a little bit in bad taste. But honestly, looking back on it, I think everything these days is in your face and distasteful in some ways! Back then, “SpongeBob” was an edgy thing. But now, it’s pretty mainstream. And the wonderful thing about doing “Sponge Out of Water is that I’m able to relive and replay some of those classic SpongeBob musical ideas, but to also create something big, new and orchestral.
On the opposite note, do you think there’s an adult appeal to SpongeBob?
I think there’s an adult appeal to the character. Parents get some of the jokes that kids don’t. Then there are a lot of jokes that the kids get which the parents don’t think are that funny. I think really smart comedy is like that, whether it’s animated or not. But there are always going to be things that appeal to certain age groups, which is the kind of timelessness of SpongeBob in a way. It’s become iconic. Where the show was sort of rebellious, parents are now going to take their kids to this movie, and I think they’ll all like it.
Having taken “Jimmy Neutron” to the big screen for Nickelodeon, is there the expectation of a bigger sound to really get home that this is a “proper” movie? And if so, was that particularly important for a film that had the characters going out of the ocean to take on CGI dimensions?
Yes. We knew going into this thing that we wanted a large scope, especially when the characters come into our live-action world. Definitely the filmmakers wanted a score that would fill the screen and tell people that this was a big, fun and very adventurous film. So there are all of those things in the score. There’s right down the middle “fun” music for SpongeBob with the pedal steel guitar, the ukulele and the like. But when we come into the real world, we explode into a much bigger sound, which was always the desire.
Do you think part of the score’s humor comes from just how epically symphonic it is?
Yes. It’s like Elmer Bernstein’s gag in “Airplane!” where you’re playing music very seriously without commenting on the comedy. But there are times when you want to comment on it, which we did on “SpongeBob.” It’s more the fun factor of it all. Sometimes if you play music that’s very serious, like an Indiana Jones movie, which I did a bit in SpongeBob (thanks maestro John Williams!), I think the score comes off as being more enjoyable for that.
How would you describe SpongeBob as a musical character?
I think that each character in the movie has their own theme, and motif. Plankton’s theme is played in the low brass and the trombones. SpongeBob music is just wacky. It’s just “SpongeBob-ish,” meaning there are hints of a Hawaiian guitar, 50s kitschiness and a funny mocking baseline. Creating those individual vibes was a lot of fun for me.
Was it important to capture a bit of the original cartoon’s scoring as well?
Yes. We had to give the hardcore fans bits and pieces of the original SpongeBob music because it’s so beloved and iconic. So there are numerous pieces from the show that hit at really fun moments where you might not be expecting it.
One of your fan favorite scores is for “Cutthroat Island.” What’s it like to return to those epic pirate waters here, and how did you want to make it just a little less savagely scallywag-ish in tone for Antonio Banderas’ Burger-Beard?
It was wonderful getting back to my pirate movie roots. I quite love that kind of music, and I don’t know why. Maybe I was a pirate in another life! As we had a pirate as our bad guy in “SpongeBob,” I just know that I had to go there. I created a theme for him that turned out to be a major theme in the score, as the very first piece of the movie is a big statement of the Burger-Beard melody and the SpongeBob theme. Later in the movie when our pirate comes onto dry land, there’s a furious minute-long pirate piece that’s probably faster than it should have been. It’s my favorite piece of score in the film, and I give big props to my orchestra for being able to pull that off. The LA musicians are incredible, and they played the hell out of it. So I’d say the music is in the vein of “Cutthroat Island,” though it’s a different type of theme for our bad guy. But nevertheless it’s in a world that I love.
“Sponge out of Water” plays in a slightly less cartoon-y, Carl Stalling way than one might expect. Was it important to go for a more, adventurously straight route than “Mickey Mouse’ing all of the jokes? And is that an approach you prefer in general for your animated scores?
Again, I take every project as its own thing. In the case of SpongeBob, as with every film I do. There were times in SpongeBob where we had to be cartoony, and others where we didn’t. Sometimes we’d hit things right on the nose, and at others we’d purposely not. It’s in the shaping of that where film music works well. Other than that, there’s no hard and fast musical rule.
Let’s talk about “The Cobbler,” an Adam Sandler “body switch” fantasy that you’ve co-scored with Nick Urata. How did the idea come about for you teaming with this score, and did you “divide” the cues based on what the needs would be?
The idea was brought to me by our mutual agent Laura Engel, who thought that this would be an ideal score for us to collaborate on. I thought the idea was great, as I’d loved Nick’s music for a long time. So we met, and I really liked Nick, We subsequently had a meeting with “The Cobbler’s” filmmaker Tom McCarthy, and really hit it off. Nick and I loved the strange, off-kilter angle of this story, as well as Tom’s work. So it was a no-brainer. We thought, “What if this score was a Devotchka-Klezmer tinged score, as our lead character is a cobbler. We wanted it to have the flavor of his background. It would be a fun, ethnically tinged score, which is what we came up with.
What do you think is the trick to a composer co-collaboration so that the score comes out as having one voice?
I think it’s important if you’re collaborating with another artist that you come up with a sound, and stick to the ground rules of what it is, so it doesn’t come across like there are two different musical things going on. That was crucial. And once we figured out the band and instrumentation of the cobbler, we just sort of went with it. We knew we were gong to have a clarinet, a tuba and a rhythm section, with magical dulcimers thrown in. But yet we had to make sure that it was all of a musical kind.
Could you talk about the score’s jazzier, Django Reindhart-esque roots, which are central to Nick’s music with his band Devotchka?
Part of the credit for that goes to Tom McCarthy, who had some great temp music in there comprised of different bands and artists from that world. That gave us a great road map of what we were going to do. We just had to figure out what we could do given the slim music budget of an indie film. So we came up with a rhythm section with ukuleles, guitar, clarinet, and a little sax that served the band. We added a wonderful violin player by the name of Sandy Cameron, and just went from there.
Having scored movies like “Bruce Almighty” and “A Thousand Words,” what do you think the challenge of “adult” wish-fulfillment fantasy is, especially for a movie that’s tied into emotion like “The Cobber?” not to mention having Adam Sandler doing a more restrained performance for it?
Both “A Thousand Words” and “The Cobbler” had lots of comedic moments. But at the heart of it all there’s this deeply felt emotional storyline. And I think you have to connect with that musically. If the score is too light then you’re doing a disservice to both the film and the audience. So it’s crucial to be in touch with the comedic side and the heartfelt side, which shouldn’t be cloying and over the top. Everything’s got to be emotionally centered.
How did you want “The Cobbler” to go from a wistfully intimate, “unplugged” approach to crazier moments for funk, fuller orchestra and techno rhythms?
Well, we had no idea where we were going! And as the film progresses, it gets even more schizophrenic and wilder. At face value, our hero is a cobbler. But he’s got a personality-changing shtick, and we had to go there – whether it meant getting techno, or getting funky. You can’t plan that stuff.
What was the challenge of keeping on top of modern beats in a way that’s real, especially for a composer who wants to sound contemporary in a way that isn’t pretending to?
Whatever age you are, or whatever part of your career you’re in, I think you always need to foster a desire to stay current and to listen to what’s being played now – to not let yourself get stale. Just try to keep your mind open to all of the new styles, which is what I embrace. I think it took me four movies to get my feet underneath the more contemporary electronic work that’s out there. Take my uber-aggressive scores like “The Call” and “Alex Cross.” These were learning experiences for me in how to integrate current music with the orchestral and acoustical elements I’m more familiar. The most exciting thing for me right now is to create scores like “The Cobbler” and “The Caller,” just things that are left of what people would consider my center. Because if you don’t embrace change you’re doomed to repeat yourself and be boring. I don’t want to be that artist. I always want to be a little bit surprising.
I thought your score for “Stonehearst Asylum” was one of last year’s best. It marked quite a different direction than your last industrial-driven score with Brad Anderson for “The Caller.” Was it particularly fun to go in a thunderous, gothic route here?
It was extremely fun to go into the bowels of this kind of Hammer-esque, traditional scoring. But I have to give all the credit to Brad Anderson for that. He’s an auteur, and a great director. From day one with “Stonehearst,” he wanted me to create a very passionate and traditional gothic score, tinged with some irony and quirkiness, because it’s a pretty quirky film. There a re a lot of comedic underpinnings to it. Brad challenged me to write some very beautiful themes, especially the love theme. I went to London to record, where the musicians played it with incredible verve and emotion. It was a great experience. My only regret is that the movie deserved to be released properly, and it didn’t get that chance. But nevertheless, I’m proud of the score, and the movie.
You’ve been a big part of “hipping up” the History Channel with your work on “Hatfields & McCoys,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Houdini” and the forthcoming “Texas Rising.” How did you hit on an approach of incorporating a wildly anarchic “rock and roll” approach to the more expected music you’d hear from the time periods? And do you think these shows would have been as big of a hit if the music went for something straighter?
Thanks for asking that, because I take great pride in the work I’ve done for The History Channel. The nice thing about those projects have been that the channel and those shows’ teams have given me great creative license for those sores. I scored “Hatfields” with my buddy Tony Morales, and we created what I consider a modern western-flavored score. We had great specialists on that like the singer Lisbeth Scott. Then after that was the incredible “Bonnie and Clyde.” I’d fallen in love with the director Bruce Beresford years before with his work like “Driving Miss Daisy.” He’s a wonderful gentleman, who allowed me to create a jazzy score that would at times be spot-on period music, and at others use completely contemporized, loopy music, especially because I felt that the real Bonnie and Clyde were rebels who could have been living right now – two star-crossed confused kids going out to create havoc and kill people. So I definitely wanted the score to have their edge and a groove to it. Fast forward to “Houdini,” where the creative direction was to have it be heavy metal, Nine Inch Nails-ish grooves meeting Gypsy violin music. That immediately caught my interest, and you can imagine the fun I had doing that. The very first piece of music in the film accompanies Houdini chained on a bridge, ready to jump into the freezing cold water. It was a three-minute cue that I spent a couple of weeks on, seeing if it could work. And I found that the cooler those people in the costumes looked in the scene, than the hipper and edgier the music sounded. It really did something to your mind. The byproduct out of all of that experimentation was that I got to create a superhero out of Houdini, of course aided by an amazing performance by Adrian Brody. Usually I can’t do what I want unless it’s on the screen, and boy was it there front and center with his performance. I called a good friend of mine named Sebastian Arocha-Morton to help me remix and produce the score. We ended up with a two-CD soundtrack. It was a gas, as they would say in the old days.
As a composer who’s worked nearly continuously for over 30 years, how do you see the Hollywood-scoring scene now? If it needs a big fix, what do you think it’s going to take to make it happen?
I’m extremely fortunate to still be working over that length of time. I didn’t even realize it was that long. I’m very lucky to have had the career I’ve had and to still be on people’s list. They still haven’t thrown me out yet as it were. I think there’s a lot of exciting new composers on the scene right now, so I don’t think that there’s a necessarily a dreaded disease in composer land. There are incredible people doing wonderful, new-sounding scores with their own style, which I think is great. I think in general it would be nice to celebrate diversity in the different types of music that’s being created in Hollywood. When things start sounding the same, that’s not a good thing – not that they are. Diversity is something that should be embraced.
“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” opens in theaters on February 6th, with its score album available soon on Varese Sarabande Records. “The Cobbler” opens March 13th, with John Debney and Nick Urata’s score available on Lakeshore Records. “Texas Rising” premieres on The History Channel on May 25th.
Visit John Debney’s website HERE
A special thanks for Stephanie Pereida for making this interview possible
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.1336]Mark Kilian and [c.1337]Paul Hepker ([m.43078]Eye in the Sky), [c.14]Marco Beltrami and [c.74]Philip Glass ([m.36210]The Fantastic Four), [c.1788]T Bone Burnett ([m.43071]Let It Snow), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 29 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-01-26]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.39627]Black or White ([c.247]Terence Blanchard), [m.33758]The Loft ([c.70]John Frizzell), and [m.37700]Project Almanac ([c.1018]Steve Jablonsky). [m.42034]A Most Violent Year ([c.4295]Alex Ebert) is...
Singer, songwriter and actress Rita Ora will perform the Oscar-nominated song "Grateful" at [t.41497]The 87th Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. [t.41497]The Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.
"International recording artist, Rita Ora, will make her Oscar stage debut this year. The mixture of her incredible voice and glamour makes a perfect combination for our show" says Zadan and Meron.
"Grateful," written by [c.]Diane Warren for the film [m.39563]Beyond the Lights," is nominated for Original Song. This marks Warren's seventh Oscar nomination in the category. The four other nominated songs are "Everything Is Awesome" from [m.33666]The Lego Movie, "Glory" from [m.41458]Selma, "I'm...
ABC Studios' musical comedy [t.38980]Galavant features music from composer [c.294]Alan Menken and [c.2725]Glenn Slater. Michael Kosarin conducted the Hollywood Studio Symphony last November to record the songs and score. Our friends at [url.http://scoringsessions.com/news/282/]ScoringSessions.com have made pictures of the session available.
[a.14430]Galavant - Original Soundtrack was released digitally on [da.2015-01-19]January 19, 2015, and the CD will be released [da.2015-02-17]February...
The Guild of Music Supervisors held its fifth annual awards ceremony this week to honor members' achievements from 2014 in film, TV, video games, and advertising. To learn more about the event, including the nominees and winners, [url.http://www.soundtrack.net/news/article/?id=1953]click here.
Also announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.564]Christophe Beck ([m.41026]Sisters), [c.752]Alexandre Desplat ([m.30573]Everything Will Be Fine), [c.1283]Atticus Ross ([m.43009]Crocodile Gennadiy and [m.41875]Triple Nine), 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.2015-01-19]Click here for...
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Sparks & Shadows announced the release date for the [a.14334]Everly Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on [da.2015-01-20]January 20, 2015. The album features original music composed by Emmy Award-Winner [c.1238]Bear McCreary with vocals performed by Raya Yarbrough and Brendan McCreary.
"I first conceived of the story for [m.41702]Everly, as my ode to Asian cinema, holiday movies like [m.6618]Die Hard, and entrails," said Lynch. "[c.1238]Bear McCreary is one of the most eclectic composers working today and there was no-one else I wanted to tell this story with me musically, so much so I named the head Yakuza Boss "Taiko" as an homage to one of Bear's signature sounds."
"For [m.41702]Everly, director Joe Lynch asked me to combine searing electronics,...
The Godfather LIVE brings Francis Ford Coppola's Masterpiece Film to music venues for the first time, making its Southern California debut at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on Saturday, January 24, 2015. Winner of three Academy Awards and countless other honors, [m.9896]The Godfather remains one of the greatest films in the history of cinema. [c.185]Nino Rota's iconic score accompanied by the film's traditional Italian folk music and jazz comes to life on stage, performed LIVE by the Hollywood Studio Symphony while the film is simultaneously shown in high definition on the big screen. Special guests to be announced.
For further information, [url.http://www.soundtrack.net/news/article/?id=1930]see our previous article on this...
Soundtrack Picks: ‘ON THE WATERFRONT‘ is the top soundtrack to own for January, 2015
Also worth picking up ALLIES, THE BETSY, ELMER BERNSTEIN: THE WILD SIDE, ETHEL, FALLING IN LOVE, THE GREAT INVISIBLE, SHAFT and many more!
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover
THE TOP PICKS
1) 1864 / ALLIES
What Is it?: Movie Score Media’s quality releases continue to be not only a major source for discovering new composers whose attendant projects barely hit U.S. shores, but also a great way to hear relatively obscure foreign soundtracks done by sometimes eminent American musicians – in both notable cases here performed in the key of war.
Why Should You Buy It?: Early on in Marco Beltrami’s career, the composer wrote one of his most interesting psycho-killer scores for a deranged female cellist, albeit in the guise of a period costume drama for Norwegian director Ole Bornedal’s 2002 thriller “I Am Dina.” Now Beltrami reteams with him for a completely different, equally impressive score for the Denmark’s most expensive TV miniseries. “1864” chronicles the country’s disastrous war with Germany during that fateful year, which also happened to see a bloody battle occurring in a United States. In fact, when stateside listeners hear the elegiacally orchestra, patriotic brass along with the tender strings and piano melody of the women left on the home front, they might assume that Beltrami has written a very assured Civil War score – minus the southern-isms. But that perhaps that’s just the point of how a powerful orchestral score can conjure the universal language of for all of its heroic folly, as dynamically performed here by \ Danish orchestras. They conjures both the horror, and true valor of battle, with an extra dose of tragedy given the catastrophically lopsided, and history-change results inflicted on Denmark. Beltrami does an especially good job of musically cutting between royalty planning out strategy and civilian soldiers suffering for it on the battlefront, seguing from heartfelt drama to the ominous winds of war. It’s epically sweeping music that gives “1864” all the thematic impact of a major film score, yet with such distinctive Beltrami touches as glass-like eeriness, relentlessly dire rhythms and raging brass that will appeal to admirers of such exceptional genre scores of his as “Snowpiercer.” Sure this might be Denmark. But given this oft-passionate, heroism-delineating, trumpet-blowing score in this midst of total loss, one might easily imagine Beltrami scoring a woman determined never to go hungry again if the need arises.
Extra Special: Rising French composer Philippe Jakko does his part for his country’s underground in this stalwart English WW2 film, wherein “Downton Abbey’s” Julian Ovendon leaders a crack team of Americans and Brits into occupied territory, of course with a traitor in their midst. But while traditionally told on the cinematic front, Jakko’s score is way more contemporary in its symphonic / sample treatment than going for a Ron Goodwin-esque approach, although his music’s stalwart spirit is certainly there in terms of its heroic military timpani and low, Nazi menace. Instead, Jakko uses tense, time-is-running-out percussion and waves of threatening string tension, a la “The Thin Red Line,” albeit with an approach that’s more centered on fighting than that movie’s existential meditation on war. “Allies’” battle music is suitably throttling, while horror-like electronics convey the overwhelming forces pitted against our patriots. For the most part, “Allies” is about survival as opposed to rah-rah assaults, a trigger finger-tightening darkness that distinguishes Jakko’s work, especially in the building chorus, strings and rock-like percussion that drives a truly memorable, neo-romantic theme to its sacrificial finish. As he succeeds in giving war scoring a powerful, contemporary energy by making very good use of obviously limited musical resources, Jakko puts himself in very good stead to accept further soundtrack missions with bigger budgetary guns on this side of the Atlantic.
2) ELMER BERNSTEIN: THE WILD SIDE
What is it?: No composer embodied the pure movie swing of jazz during the art form’s mainlining into much of film scoring during the 50s and 60s like Elmer Bernstein. From the hot sax heroin rush that flooded into Frankie Machine’s veins in “The Man With the Golden Arm” to the lustful brass catfight of “Walk on the Wild Side” or the salacious gossip beat that stank of “The Sweet Smell of Success,” Bernstein tapped into the energetic transgressiveness of music that promised a rawness that the Hayes Code-enforced movies could only hint at. So it’s only natural that Varese head Robert Townson would use his new concentration of staging international film concerts, particularly in Spain, to essentially strip Bernstein down to his jazz roots in the outlying Canary Island of Tenerife. It’s a swinging concept that not only goes for the hep Bernstein standards in their brass and percussion purity, but also numbers from the composer’s vast repertoire that one might not begin to think of having a sax in sight for.
Why should you buy it?: With its main players put together from The Big Band De Canarias, this “Wild Side” ensemble has an energy that’s both tight and free form as they nail “Man,” “Walk” and “Smell” in a way that’s as nostalgic as it is vibrant. And they’re not afraid to riff as well on performances for “The Rat Race,” give a saucily percussive build to “Jubilation” or put their Latin samba chops into “The Caretakers.” Special attention is given to Bernstein’s TV work for the John Cassavetes detective-cum-musician show “Johnny Staccato,” from its explosive main title to its soft, seductive vibes and crime scene blues that give off a cool, intimate film noir vibe. Frequent scoring session and Varese concert flutist Sara Andon adds to the album’s catchy energy, particularly in her tender reading of “Devil In A Blue Dress” and blowing with high, crime jazz finesse for a rambunctious performance of “Saints and Sinners,” then pleasantly helps turn the theme from “The Age of Innocence” into a neat variation that transports music written for an 1800s Manhattan-set drama into resplendent, uptempo music you could imagine hearing a century or so later. Vocalist Esther Ovejero is also on hand to give bad girl sex appeal to the theme from “The Silencers,” a Bernstein-Bond title song if there ever should’ve been one.
Extra Special: There’s a real cigar-smoke feel to these performances, the sense that this is playing in a backstreet nightclub as some very bad deals are going down to the clink of booze-filled glasses – which is probably the best compliment to give this big band ensemble who’ve captured Bernstein’s bad musical behavior in an unplugged, swinging way that the composer surely would’ve appreciated, let alone the fans of his brassily strutting golden era.
3) INHERENT VICE
What Is it?: For much of his filmmaking career, Paul Thomas Anderson had used composer Jon Brion to convey his provocative cinematic approach, from the insane percussive assault of “Punch Drunk Love” to the frog-raining, imposing orchestral thunderstorms of “Magnolia.” In relatively recent years, Thomas has moved onto Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood to accompany his swings between transfixing brilliance and unbearable pretention, often within the same films. If anything, Greenwood’s music has tended to be even more innovatively insane than Brion’s, ranging between abstract modernism and hypnotic melody to capture the addled minds of kingpins, whether it was an oil baron’s very bad attitude for “There Will Be Blood” or the mind-controlling intellectual guru in “The Master.” But perhaps what’s most unexpected about Anderson’s most incomprehensibly infuriating movie yet is just how relatively normal, but no less impressive Greenwood’s work is at flashes between Wagnerian melancholy to the altered musical consciousness of 70s era scoring, all with far more coherency than the stoner private dick of “Inherent Vice.”
Why Should You Buy It?: The self-knowing gag of “inherent Vice” is just how seriously it takes a labyrinthine plot that would give Jake Gittes pause, let alone a detective who makes The Dude seem like an intellectual giant. Greenwood’s main theme plays with the idea of being witness to great revelations of human avarice in his neo-tragic orchestral melody, poking about LA’s dark corners with brooding suspense. It’s almost as if his whole scoring viewpoint is heard from a doom-obsessed gumshoe, all while avoiding the jazz vibe that spells out film noir. Instead, Greenwood goes for the soothing quality of strings and violin, both soaringly downbeat in their melody. But if much of “Vice” starts off like the opening of some Wagnerian opera that stalks about with Glass-ian rhythm, there’s also subtly wacked-out humor to his score as well, as a Theremin mixes with pokey electronic percussion and rock guitar feedback for a rising, feverish sense of bewilderment. More period-specific vibes arrive with the drug-filled schooner called The Golden Fang, which gets a Chinese-meets-psychedelia mysterioso vibe, while “Amethyst” is a blissed out, sideburned groove for organ and folk guitar. Yet if “Inherent Vice” gets far out, it surprisingly isn’t half as confrontational as Greenwood’s other work for Anderson. This is a detective score that’s a beautifully smooth joint going down into the ears, as fit for the oldies at an opera opening as it might be stoners staring up at the ceiling as a Grateful Dead album plays – an approach that’s truly more than half as clever as Anderson seems to think his beyond-puzzling film is.
Extra Special: Vice’s” song choices is the one area where the soundtrack shines, especially given Anderson’s picks that range far beyond the usual 60s-70s song suspects in evoking an eccentric LA. If anything, numbers like CAN’s Velvet Undergound-ish “Vitamin C,” the R&B jazz of The Markett’s “Here Come the Ho-Dads,” Minnie Riperton’s delicate “Les Fleur,” Neil Young’s southern fried harmonica-flavored “Journey Through the Past” and the Tiki exotica of Les Baxter’s “Simba” suggest a mix tape put together by a clerk at Amoeba Records in a moment of ultra-hip, LP-bin combing euphoria. The dust that flies up definitely makes “inherent Vice’s” album a thoroughly interesting, cool buzz high worth investigating.
4) ON THE WATERFRONT
What Is it?: There are composers like Philip Glass (“Candyman”) who start out in the concert hall, and go onto blaze impressive new careers in Hollywood. Then there are those like Andre Previn (“Elmer Gantry”), who prolifically begin in tinsel town, only to leave it completely behind. And then there are such maestros as John Corigliano (“Altered States”), who briefly tread in Hollywood while making sure not to quit their day jobs, leaving behind a precious few soundtracks that show the dazzling movie career that could have been. On that note, perhaps no conductor could have been a Hollywood contender like Leonard Bernstein, proof positive being the knockout score for the 1954 classic “On the Waterfront,” a film that showed he had the stuff to venture from the elite-filled New York Philharmonic onto the city’s crime-swamped docks with wild, dramatic abandon that’s proof positive that movie scores walked tall as the new classical music for the masses.
Why Should You Buy It?: Few conductors really brought classical music to the people like Leonard Bernstein, who was also quite busy with Broadway musicals as he performed works by The Masters, whose work was arguably the “pop” music of the past. The time of the 1940s and 50s that marked his ascent was also an impactful era where audiences were being impressed with the work of such modern classicists as Aaron Copland, not to mention being wowed by the revolutionary visual work of such mavericks as Elia Kazan, who’d made a smash transition from stage to screen with “Gentleman’s Agreement” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.” That film’s bawdy jazz score by Alex North essentially broke the Eastern European mode of opera-based scoring into a new, dynamic directions that were muscularly American in nature. Kazan’s exciting tastes were in equally fine form when he brought on Bernstein for his first major score with “On the Waterfront,” a movie whose tale of Terry Malloy, a mug facing off against union corruption, served for many as Kazan’s screw-you to those who frowned on his finking of former Hollywood Communist friends to the HUAC red-baiting committee. But no matter how one might read “On the Waterfront,” the cinematic result was a blockbuster of black and blue emotion, all hammered in with raw poignancy by Bernstein. His work is particularly reminiscent of Aaron Copland, especially in its balletic movements and incorporation of jazz and the orchestra – but with firm musical control of that untamed idiom (though boozy jazz-blues source is to be had here). There’s heartbreak and trumpeting nobility to spare in Bernstein’s theme for this washed-up boxer turned dockworker, a deeply melodic sense of a bum who’s nearly gone down for the count in life, yet is possessed with enough dignity not to take the complete fall. Terry’s emotion is played for all of its raw vulnerability through Bernstein’s flute-topped strings, his themes are no more vulnerable than during the romantic scenes, or tearfully moving as its downtrodden hero discovers his mob brother’s sad fate. The darkness of the unstoppable corruption around Terry is made through sharp percussion and ominous brass that comes raining upon on him with roundhouse blows, with notable use of tri-tone menace (a modernistic technique employed even more furiously by Kazan’s next NYC composing discovering of Leonard Rosenman for “East of Eden”). Though “Waterfront” might not be quite as radical as North’s score for “Streetcar,” it’s one of the most seminally dynamic meetings of traditional symphonic film scoring with the upstart new-classical style, a vibe that would once again sound off with jazz-orchestral energy when Bernstein provided underscore for another gang street classic called “West Side Story” in 1960 – a work that “Waterfront” is most definitely a raw, angry precursor to – but with a gut punch impact far removed from the elegance of the 17t century maestros that provided Bernstein with his bread and butter.
Extra Special: It’s almost amazing to think that this landmark, Oscar-nominated score to a Best Picture winner has taken 60 years to come out. But Intrada has done a masterful job with one of the most important soundtracks they’ve ever released. The audio presentation is incredibly vibrant and brassy, betraying little of its audiophile age for a score from the way pre-digital era. Joe Sikoryak’s grittily black-and-white styled booklet design, classic score specialist Frank K. De Wald’s informative liner notes and album producer Douglas C. Fake’s tale of how the score was so splendidly presented today go to the mat to play Bernstein’s groundbreaking score in all of its pug-worthy glory that’s as impactful today as when Bernstein had Brando ran the union-bruising gauntlet decades ago.
5) STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE (3,000 edition)
What Is It?: Since the days the U.S.S. Enterprise set space sail on vinyl, the franchise’s TV music universe has beamed from Varese Sarabande to GNP/Crescendo and Film Score Monthly, but perhaps not so exhaustively as in the good hands of La La Land Records, who beyond their releases of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager” could lay claim to releasing just about every note of Classic Trek music in an astounding box set, which offered 15 CD’s suffused with the kind of distinctive themes and melody that would essentially be phasered out when the show was reborn in multiple incarnations in the 1980s. Some offshoots would be far more successful than others, especially when it came to the “Enterprise” prequel that aired on Paramount’s UPN network from 2001 to 2005 – a time when the scoring approach dictated by the shows’ high creative council displayed as much liking for distinctive music as Klingons had love for tribbles. Sure “Enterprise” might have been a scrappy holodeck precursor to some, but what’s surprising is that it might just have been the spin-off to display some of the most interesting music of the bunch, as can be heard in La La’s four-disc collection of the series’ greatest hits.
Why Should You Buy It?: “Enterprise” set itself apart from a fairly musically amorphous pack right out of retro-spacedock by using a Diane Warren song as its main title, as opposed to an instrumental theme (the most memorable of which still belongs to Jerry Goldsmith’s re-use of his “ST-TMP” theme). Smartly divided by musicians and fan favorites, the first two CD’s belong to longtime TNG composers Dennis McCarthy and Jay Chattaway, the men tasked with finding what would essentially be the non-commital approach to the franchise’s sound. Thankfully, “Enterprise” gave a bit more leeway to both, allowing them to show off more of their true thematic talents, McCarthy in particular reveals his epic abilities with the villainous Xindi’s attack on Earth for “The Expanse,” taking full advantage of the orchestra at his disposal with proud military action and suspense, Holstian thrills that get to take on Nazis in his full-throttle music for “Storm Front.” Not only does Chattaway get to play alien-ethnic flutes for “Civilization,” but also gets in some of the series’ (and this album’s) most wonderfully movie-score conventional music as he gallops away with space spaghetti western music, combining a wild electric guitar with rocking old-school orchestral stylings for the space range of “North Star.” CD3 is dedicated to the “Veterans and New Recruits,” which starts off impressively as “First Contact” film orchestrator Mark McKenzie brings that Goldsmith touch to “Horizon,” one of the most robustly cinematic suites in the collection. “Alien Resurrection’s” John Frizzell provides percolating suspense and melodic grace to “Proving Ground,” while “Quantum Leap’s” Velton Ray Bunch shows he’s equally adept at sending Scott Bakula into a Starfleet uniform with Federation timpani as he is a coming up with loopy theme for a game of Geskana.
Extra Special: CD4 is given over to the “Fan Favorites,” beginning with McCarthy and Kevin Kiner’s visit to a familiarly savage alternate universe with “In A Mirror, Darkly,” which offers thunderously striking, battle-loving music for orchestra and electronics, all with having a novel, sadistic twist on Goldsmith’s peacefully climactic scoring in “First Contact.” But most impressive on this disc is a score from a certain rising composer named Brian Tyler, who was given the formidable task of taking on The Borg for “Regeneration.” Even at this early stage in a career that would be full of fantastical action scoring, Tyler’s ability play excitement with ever-rising, orchestral rhythms, a la his breakout, Goldsmith-replacement soundtrack to Paramount’s “Timeline,” is played with utter, captivating confidence here. He also captures the eerie, seemingly unstoppable menace of a robotic hive mind – something that will be on full display as he helps the Avengers take on Ultron this summer. It’s “Enterprise’s” willingness to finally let these talented composers to relatively go for it after years of musical vanilla that really makes this set worth it for fans whose alpha and omega is understandably the scoring style of Classic Trek. Tying just about five hours of music are some of the best liner notes that Trek music expert Jeff Bond has done for both movie and show scoring incarnations, his writing made all the more memorable with the surprising honesty at getting the composers to reveal how “Enterprise” was going to be a relatively new, and far more interesting ball game in guiding New Trek to its seemingly final destination, as heard from the beginning of the Federation’s voyages.
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
Marc Streitenfeld has provided muted, morally ambiguous scores before to oil workers facing off against killer wolves in “The Grey” and a professional hitman wanting his pay in “Killing Them Softly,” scores filled with truly interesting “ambiences” and unexpected instrumentation. But perhaps none of Streitenfeld’s experimentally minded scores of this nature hits more weirdly, or more effectively at home than “After the Fall,” wherein Wes Bentley’s suburban dad truly goes off the criminal rails to avoid falling into poverty after his firing. Perhaps one way to describe Streitenfeld’s unique work at its most effective here is to imagine Carl Orff or Saint-Saens on acid, as rhythmic, sometimes reversed bells capture a once-complacent man losing his innocence while plunging into a gun-toting rabbit hole. Plucking mandolins and icy strings give this “Fall” perhaps an even more of an emotionally chilling environment then he memorably applied to the doomed survivors of “The Grey,” a subtle feeling of tragedy in “After the Fall” that’s played with aching strings, and at times almost wistful, whistling sustains. Even samples resembling whale calls appear in this deceptively spare, yet hauntingly melodic score, which subtly, and powerfully achieves its goal of turning reality upside down – a feeling of childhood lost when the youth-instilled dream of the rewards that come with following the rules get economically shattered.
. THE BETSY
John Barry could give even the trashiest movies a sense of rose-smelling class, especially when the pot was boiling over with a stew of upper class behavior involving the usual assortment of sex, murder and business chicanery – as centering around a clean-burning car engine called “The Betsy” of all names. Such was the title that author Harold Robbins bestowed to this fun, Mr. Skin-worthy cinematic adaptation of his critically ta-ta’d brand of wealthily randy literature. Sure Barry might have been given a bit of cheese to work with in1978 between this, “Starcrash” and “Game of Death.” But the big difference was “The Betsy’s” air of high class, resulting in a score of true, richly melodic elegance that those unacquainted with the material might mistake for music dedicated to the noble, nostalgic captains of industry. No composer could use themes to drive scores like Barry, and “The Betsy” is as usually resplendent with them. Veering from busy, sometimes waltzing rhythms that signal the assembly of cars to eerie, “electronically”-accented suspense, aching violin tragedy and swooning romantic melodies for the abundant bedroom hopping, “The Betsy” shines as one of John Barry’s most impossibly lush scores in a repertoire full of them. One wonders why it’s taken so long to get this model soundtrack out of the cobwebbed assembly line of seemingly lost scores. But leave it to Barry specialists James Fitzpatrick and conductor Nic Raine to follow up their release of the Barry obscurity “Mister Moses” with another great performance by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Sure they’ve rebuilt the model, but this Barry “Betsy” drives like a champ, even if it was always attached to an Edsel.
Having started off with some fairly wacky narrative films like “Streets of Rage” and way more artistic indie efforts like “Amy’s Orgasm,” Miriam Cutler has essentially become one of the queens of documentary scoring to the rhythmic tunes of “Lost in La Mancha,” “One Lucky Elephant” and the Emmy-nominated “The Desert of Forbidden Art.” Yet with so many works, Cutler remains truthfully under-represented on CD, a fact that Perseverance’s release of her score for the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary “Ethel” does a charming, and ultimately moving bit to remedy. Reteaming with “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” director Rory Kennedy for a very personal look at the filmmaker’s mom, “Ethel” talks about the life of the woman whose marriage to Robert Kennedy was tragically cut short. Yet this matriarch from America’s most famous political family is someone who looks on the brighter side of life, an uplifting attitude that Cutler embodies with a playful, pizzicato-friendly rhythmic approach. It’s energetic music that’s full of likeable, peppy warmth, as well as far more poignant moments for string and guitar. Cutler follows the subject like a friendly reporter, spreading thematic sympathy, as well as subtly capturing the Washington environs of her husband, as well as nicely playing Latin music for Robert’s meeting with Caesar Chavez. Tragedy is also reflected with the same, understanding subtlety for a sympathetic orchestra, playing the poignant irony of a director who never got to meet her father. Cutler’s approach has a folksy quality to it as well that’s relatable in much the same pleasant way that Ethel Kennedy was to the many people who grew to realize that she played no small contribution to her husband’s legacy, even if she wasn’t in the spotlight. It’s a vibe that’s no less moving for the gentle, upbeat understanding that Cutler brings to the documentary genre, and this subject in particular.
. FALLING IN LOVE
Movie jazz has always seemed to find a home in Manhattan, and few composers awash in the spirit of an unsleeping city of a thousand stories have embodied those rhythms with the distinctive, thematic flair of Dave Grusin. Given a trademark NYC sound most often comprised of mellow electric percussion, reflective piano and wistful strings, Grusin has heard the city as both a place of danger (“Three Days of the Condor”), gilded society (“Bonfire of the Vanities”) and eccentric criminal intent (“The Pope of Greenwich Village”). But more often than not, it’s the vibes of beautiful, soft romance in scores like “The Goodbye Girl,” “Author! Author!” and the Oscar-nominated “Tootsie,” all of which have enchanted us with a metropolis of pining souls, to which that heartfelt repertoir can now add the first soundtrack release of 1984s “Falling in Love.” This muted, “Brief Encounter”-ish reteaming of Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro after their last tyrist in “The Deer Hunter” find them as already-coupled characters steadily being drawn into extra-marital passion through increasingly not-so incidental meetings throughout Manhattan. Grusin’s beautiful vibe-y score is the thematic throughline at opening up their vulnerable emotions, carried by with a longing melody that never fails to stroke the heartstrings, especially when combining a gorgeously lush orchestra is there to support the composer’s trademarked soft, and sometimes peppy vibes that make this a particularly noteworthy score for “Tootsie” fans. Indeed, hearing those shimmering strings, electric bells and steady piano percussion is pretty much seventh heaven for lovers of soft movie jazz at its best, as played in a score that pretty much captures Grusin’s winsome appeal as both a composer and jazz artistm here painting Manhattan in a mellow glow as transfixing as a soft fireplace – its gentle light drawing a couple together with an added undercurrent of suspense where the danger is heard in emotional terms. It’s nice to know that Kritzerland is a fan of Grusin’s work when it comes to his output for Paramount, following up their release of his nostalgic period score to 1984s “Racing with the Moon” with this other exceptional score from the same year, both scores awash in romance and longing as only Grusin’s affectionate style can convey. Of particular thematic note is the revelation of Grusin’s main theme (tracked in the film with the composer’s “Mountain Dance”), giving us new reason to fall in love with this unsung score for essentially the first time.
. A FAR OFF PLACE
Way before she trekked the Pacific trail, Reese Witherspoon braved 2,000 miles of the Kalahari desert in this surprisingly perilous 1993 adventure film from the family-friendly likes of Disney, who were certainly showing surprising bite at the time with the such movies as “White Fang.” Having released that double score (along with a bunch of worthy soundtracks from other unlikely Disney pictures), Intrada dips again into the well they first dug for “Place” at the time of its release, now coming up with 75 minutes to fully show off James Horner’s relatively unsung, strikingly epic score. Even though he ventured to Apartheid South Africa to far darker effect in “Bopha!” “A Far Off Place” has more than a bit of that menace, starting straight off as poachers wipe out the guardians of two white teenagers, leaving them to make an incredible journey to safety with the help of a young tribesman, a big elephant and some cute non-food animals – of course with the murderous villains on their trail. It’s a striking musical mix of Disney nature spectacle, tender sweetness and percussive peril. Horner seamlessly combines these elements with his majestic and dangerous score, of course graced with a telltale soaring theme that drives the action and emotion along with melodic grace, all while still acknowledging the story’s inherently savage nature. Hence oompa brass emphasizes animal pratfalls, gentle strings and noble horns bonding kids with a sense of purpose. Symphonic action stampedes, while instrumental exotica like African drumming and Oriental shakuhachis paint the kind of ethnic landscapes that Horner is so adept at scoring. Whether they took place in South American (“Where the River Runs Black”) the Middle East (“Day of the Falcon”) or the jungle planet Pandora (“Avatar”), Horner has always gives his locales a strongly empathetic, and unabashedly melodic, Americana orchestral shape, an approach that always made Horner a natural for Disney, especially when helping youths and their animal friends cross a truly dark continent – whose expanse now truly gets to trumpet itself for this powerful release.
. THE GREAT INVISIBLE
Ry Cooder’s ethereal scores merged country-folk guitar with blues rhythms, harmonica joining with rural percussion and eerie atmospheres of synths and metal to create such enticingly regional scores as “Southern Comfort,” The Long Riders” and “Paris. Texas” – a landmark, often Tex-Med groove that has since been exceptionally taken up by David Wingo in such transfixing Southern Gothic scores as “Mud” and “Joe.” While Wingo has put his own melodic stamp on characters inhabiting the deep woods, the composer now chronicles the real deal as he plays one of the most catastrophic events to hit the Gulf of Mexico in the acclaimed documentary “The Great Invisible.” Here Wingo’s rhythmic, ethereal talent for musical regionalism soaks over the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which took eleven lives and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history. With a duplicitous industry of course taking an “I didn’t know stance,” Wingo’s music is left to chronicle the clinging psychological, and physical wake of the disaster on both the surviving workers and the economically devastated residents, a task which he approaches with both authentic empathy, and chilling atmosphere that also calls into play his disturbing, apocalyptic grooves for “Take Shelter.” “The Great Invisible” is all the more effective in accenting a real end of many peoples’ worlds as echoing guitar, poignant harmonica, rhythmic electronics and clanging percussion plays a massive construct perched above an unknowable ocean, the score gradually building a transfixing sense of menace that’s destined to blow – all with a keen feel for his earnest, southern-accented subjects. Wingo’s “Great Invisible” might be a mournful wake to the hubris of big oil and its little people victims, but it’s a score that’s always engaging in a way that’s both authentic and experimental, as hypnotic, elegiac melodies plunge into an industry’s oil-pitched blackness and its sad, still-sticking aftereffects on humanity and the environment.
. KING SOLOMON’S MINES (1,000 edition)
They were musical equals in my opinion. Yet for the better part of the careers of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith, it always seemed that the latter was chasing the coattails of the first when it came to picture quality. For if John got Irwin Allen’s “The Towering Inferno,” then Jerry received that producers’ dog called “The Swarm.” While John flew with “Superman,” Jerry remained earthbound in the enjoyably silly company of “Supergirl.” But perhaps no second-cousin removed picture that Goldsmith got to score was a ludicrously close to aping a way better picture than when it came to comparing 1985s “King Solomon’s Mines” with another Spielberg-Williams adventurer that had hit the screens to way better effect five years earlier – even if Indiana Jones himself was certainly spun from H. Rider Haggard’s 1885 hero Alan Quatermain, who’d previous appeared onscreen in 1950. Valiantly stepping into Stewart Granger’s safari garb (sans Harrison Ford’s bullwhip) was Richard Chamberlain, a TV miniseries king not lacking for his own roguish charm. Heck, even Sallah showed up in this. That the resulting spectacle represented Cannon in all of its major studio-wannabe gonzo excessiveness certainly didn’t prevent its star from having a good time, let alone Jerry Goldsmith in his quest to swing with equal orchestral panache over an alligator pit of John William’s cliffhanging motifs. Just how close he got in spirit to those snapping maws is just one of the reasons why “King Solomon’s Mines” remains one of his most excessively enjoyable scores, as revisited in Quartet Records’ new two-CD set. Sure Jerry Goldsmith had more turkeys per quota than a composer of his talent deserved, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to give them his best. In the case of “King Solomon’s Mines,” he serves up all of his brassy action with a big, humorous wink. Driven by a rollicking, nearly-shrill theme that screams manly period adventure, Goldsmith lets us know the big difference between this and “Raiders” is that J. Lee Thompson’s thrill-a-minute pastiche is set in Africa, as opposed to Indy’s Middle East, a continent that the composer happened to visit that year in “Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend” (with the equally, enjoyably ludicrous “Congo” a decade away). The result is much tribal percussion (especially as its heroes are dropped into a now un-PC human boiling pot), charming mystery for far nicer upside-down natives, a nice, Marion-esque romantic theme and villainous, if not truly threatening brass for more German bad guys. Particularly fun is how Goldsmith frequently quotes from its Wagner-loving villain’s favorite hit “Ride of the Valkyries. The treasure within is some of Goldsmith’s most wonderfully frenzied action writing this side of “Total Recall,” long patches of non-stop, go-for-broke orchestral thrills and spills that leaves the listener breathless. In that respect, “King Solomon’s Mines” truly nails the fun of Goldsmith’s cliffhanging thrills, as well as shows up his own personal Belloq for energetic fun. “King Solomon’s Mines” has been popular enough to endure through many sold-out editions, but Quarter’s newly mastered release (along with Ennio Morricone’s score for Cannon’s other wannabe spectacle “Sahara”) is the first to pair the complete score with Goldsmith’s original album presentation, abetted by an splashy booklet, whose entertaining liner notes by Jon Takis have a true appreciation of Jerry Goldsmith unleashed.
. LES ONZE MILLES VERGES / TAROT (500 edition)
One of France’s most overlooked imports to Hollywood might be the late Michel Colombier, whose pop sensibilities particularly rocked the 80s with the funky synths of “Purple Rain,” “The Money Pit’s” jazzy comedy and “Against All Odd’s” sensual Latin exotica – easily one of the era’s sexiest, and literally heavy breathing scores. But Colombier was just as lustful in the 70s even after stroking the ego of Hollywood’s biggest evil computer for “Colossus: The Forbin Project,” a carnal talent that Music Box reminds us of in the release of 1975s “Les Onze Mille Verges” (aka “The 11,000 Sexes, or the most obviously straight-up American title of “Bisexual”). Yet when you listen to just how beautiful this period score is, the results are way more in the elegantly libidinous tone of “Dangerous Liaisons” than smutty sex music – even perhaps ecclesiastical given just how well Colombier recreates classical music from its gossamer strings, genteel waltzes to heavenly choral pieces, all the better to accompany the aristocratic debauchery of this adaptation of the pornographic poem of Polish-cum-French playwright Guillaume Apollinaire (aka Jan Kostrowicki). If anything, Colombier’s work is the height of symphonically melodic romance, and particularly clever in its Swingles Singers-like use of voice samba rhythms, only really tipping its lascivious hat in a full-on, cowbell ringing, horn-honking and whistle-blowing striptease.
Way more mod is the album’s accompany score of “Tarot,” which had “Lolita’s” post-nymphet Sue Lyons out for some Spanish gold digging. Colombier gets to put his songwriting talent to a catchily intoxicating use, at first performed by Nanette Workman with a Burt Bacharach-Roberta Flack catchiness. Colombier than proceeds to vary both the song, and its instrumental versions in ways that are always in the mood, much like its villainess. “Tarot” particularly impresses in a cool-kitsch suspense way with percolating, weirdly crying, siren-like synth psychedelia, gothic organs, guitar grinding and hammering pianos, his supernatural chicanery prefiguring such captivatingly surreal American scores as “Impulse,” “Cop” and “New Jack City.” But if you were just expecting 70s “Eurosleaze” mysterioso from “Tarot,” Colombier surprises by bringing in a strong, sinister orchestral component to spell out lovers plotting against s seemingly helpless bewitched target. But then, what can you say about a score that has a groovy rock cue called “Doggie Style?” Though they might be completely disparate in their musical styles at inspiring humor and weird depravity, what ties both “Bisexual” and “Tarot” show is Colombier’s cleverness at hearing sex as pleasure and punishment, a musical double feature where the cards are definitely in the listener’s favor at re-discovering this wonderful French composer’s more outré efforts. Plus, male readers will certainly enjoy the racy pictures onhand in a booklet that competes with Quartet Records habit of making liner notes the next best thing to Playboy Magazine – except you actually do read them for the articles.
. THE LITTLE MERMAID: THE LEGACY COLLECTION
Disney continues their exceptional series of hard-bound “Legacy Collection” releases with “The Little Mermaid,” the 1989 soundtrack, and film that really put the studio back above animated water, netting the fist of many best Song and Score Oscars for the “Little Shop of Horrors” stage duo of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, whose hip energy was sought to awaken the studio from its animated doldrums with this now-classic adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson fable – the first fairy tale for Disney since 1955s “Sleeping Beauty.” What’s interesting about hearing the “Mermaid” in her complete, symphonic glory is just how much glowing, thematically instrumental wealth lies in Menken’s score. Crossing playful, bouncy “Mickey Mouse”-ing cartoon music with the motif-driven nature of movie tradition, Menken is sure to use the infinitely memorable hooks of these now-classic songs to tie itself his instrumentals together, showing this as indeed Oscar-worthy stuff, from the score’s regal rhythms to its heroine’s romantic pining for two legs and a terrific cliffhanging climax with the dastardly, organ-accompanied villainy of the tentacled Ursula. Menken and Ashman’s songs are as clever as ever in hearing a Calypso-Rasta beat for a matchmaking crab, Pat Carol’s Mack the Knife-like delight as she belts out “Poor Unfortunate Souls” or Jodi Benson’s wistful pleas to be “Part of Your World,” the tune that set the tone for every Disney heroine who wanted something better. Indeed, the novel device of having Ariel’s ever-rising singing voice subsumed into Ursula’s malefic melody still sends chills up the scaled spine. This “Mermaid” legacy continues these exceptional special editions’ tradition of offering original song demos from the artists, including a second CD that has Menken and Ashman pouring their Broadway glee into the tapes that would change the course of animated soundtracks. The book-like packaging offers charming new art in addition to concept sketches and touchingly emotional liner notes by Menken and “Mermaid” co-director John Musker. All make this “Mermaid” worth a new dive no matter how many times it’s already surfaced on your stereo’s shores.
. NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB
When looking for Hollywood scores filled with unabashedly glittering themes and melody, you might as well feel like visiting a museum. However, Alan Silvestri thankfully remains anything but a fossil in this practice. As a composer who’s been applying this relatively ancient orchestral approach since the long-lost days of “Back to the Future,” Silvestri has remained vibrant in conveying a child-like sense of magic and adventure when its come to fantastical wish fulfillment, no more so than in his continuing trips to this Fox family franchise, of which “Secret of the Tomb” threatens to be the last admission. If so, let it not be said that Silvestri isn’t shining these “Museum” lights with extra brightness. As he’s done with such popular triptychs as the “Future” and “Predator” films, Silvestri has a keen sense of history when it comes to reprising all of the themes he’s built his musical foundations on, with a wonderful, flowing sense of cohesiveness that’s abounding with new motivic ideas. Better yet, these movies’ draws of exhibits popping to humorous life is a virtual gallery for Silvestri to show off his various styles, from the knightly nobleness of Sir Lancelot to the sinister, ethnic rhythms of its Egyptian villain (a la the composer’s swashbuckling score for “The Mummy Returns”). But whatever the historical figure he’s galloping with, all of the music is tied together with Silvestri’s trademarked talent for lush strings lines, twinkling percussion and heroic brass – the kind of music which has now been enchanting young audiences for more than a few years. “The Secret of the Tomb” is yet another thrilling repository in which to visit these old musical friends in all of their golden, uncondescending sweetness and fun, once again show that dust is in danger of settling on Alan Silvestri’s enchanting, and energetic enthusiasm.
Eleanor H. Porter’s adorable, eternally optimistic sprite has been showing up on big and small screens since 1920, most popularly in Haley Mills’ effervescent form via Disney in 1960, and most recently in 2003 on the U.K.’s ITV. With the character’s roots transported from New England to England proper, it’s only right that a classically-minded composer like Christopher Gunning be giving the musical job of making the sun shine as bright as the little girl’s smile (never mind that he impressively got his start on such bloodthirsty scores as “Goodbye Gemini” and “Hands of the Ripper”). Thankfully, Gunning knows how to get across an adolescent’s spoonfuls of sunray smile sugars without inducing musical diabetes. And he’s got a smart, sweet theme that’s sure to warm over even the grinchiest of soundtrack fans. Gunning’s “Pollyanna spreads its happiness through beautifully delicate strings and pianos, wistful flutes and bell percussion gradually working over the emotions with a distinctive sense of early 20th century time and place. Like his “Greystoke” mentor John Scott, Gunning evokes the delicate, bucolic sounds of such English masters as Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Walton, here in restrained fashion, though unafraid of melancholy. Gunning’s indomitable, winningly tender optimism that finds an innocent, melodic purity within its music. Given that “Polyanna’s” score is relatively brief, Caldera Records has even more extensive time for its welcome inclusion of a composer audio commentary, a thoroughly engaging 25 minutes in which Gunning elaborates with utter charm on the career that led to “Poirot” and “Pollyanna,” as well as finding way more satisfaction doing concert music – though his scores are always welcome, especially little charmers like this one.
. QUEENIE / TO KILL A PRIEST (1,000 edition)
Georges Delerue wrote an astonish 18 scores alone from 1987-88. Two reality-based scores from that time now show his versatility, first making an emotionally empowering Indian passage to Hollywood, and then movingly martyring a leader doomed against totalitarian odds. Even given his French birthright, few composers had a naturally feminine quality to their work like Delerue, whose string, violin and flute empathy embodies an ersatz Merle Oberon (in the exotic form of Mia Sara) in his score for “Queenie,” one of those passion-filled TV miniseries of yore involving a woman climbing her way to the top through beauty and bedroom, a journey begun for the half-caste heroine in India. It’s an opportunity that allowed Delerue the rare opportunity to luxuriate in that continent’s rhythms, as ruled by imperious, English brass, creating a delicate, yet determined theme that formed the musical bedrock over two nights on ABC. Yet while the music is proud of its heritage as first, Delerue does much to hide its ethnic identity in both suspenseful, and tender fashion as “Queenie’ tries to succeed in a racist movie society – a sense of danger and discovery that’s perhaps even more important than romance in Intrada’s sumptuous album.
Far darker, but no less determined in its musical cause is Delerue’s score for an English-language, star-powered take on the Commie-backed murder of Solidarity-supporting Polish priest Jerzy Popieluszko (here called “Father Alek”), as directed by Polish expatriate Agnieska Holland (“Europa Europa”). Having powerfully dealt with the church in “True Confessions” and “Agnes of God,” Delerue plays the grim pursuit of Ed Harris’ secret police agent and Christopher Lambert’s fateful man of the people’s cloth with tragic, almost pre-determined realization of sacrifice. Yet the score is more about suspense and sadness, judiciously using a religious chorus for the fateful end, with anti-establishment singer Joan Baez accompanies the singers for “The Crimes of Cain,” where her iconic folk voice helps the theme rise to the heavens, hinting that the murder would be one more withdrawn brick from the Berlin wall that toppled Russia’s control of Poland. Music Box’s expanded release of Delerue’s fine work includes a far lighter collection of Polish waltzes and Mazurkas, along with Delerue himself singing a vocalese version of “Priest’s” end tune.
Honkeys had their gun slinging, women-bedding superhero named James Bond for years until a 1971 sex machine named John Shaft showed that a black private dick could be just as bad-ass, especially when it came to an urban action-funk groove that got Isaac Hayes an Oscar winning song and nominated score. So perhaps it was a little ironic that a “white bloke from Luton” who’d been busy scoring 007 would land the music gig for John Singleton’s 2000 reboot, giving Sam Jackson a tailor-made vehicle to cement him as a big screen mofo. But even given Arnold’s urban pedigree that might have been way lower numbered than 110th Street, the English musician truly showed he could do that way uptown walk in style, paying tribute to Hayes’ inimitable vibe while carving out a fresh rhythm for Shaft’s new incarnation – all while not selling out the spy friendly orchestral energy that Arnold had used to put new, pop-retro action into the Brosnan-Bond rebirth he helped spur. The result is a score that plays with all the energy of funk-driven 007 score like “Tomorrow Never Dies” and “The World Is Not Enough,” while being just as cool a listen for old school fans of Hayes (who put his stamp of approval on Arnold’s approach). But what gives his “Shaft” its own identity is how well Arnold uses his distinctive, dangerously lush string-brass sound with the improv energy of a Hayes-style band. Not only do their wah-wah guitar, electric organ, horn section and percussion grooves play freely over a tight, dramatic orchestra, but they go beyond riffing on Hayes’ sound (and occasionally his iconic theme) to go into the realms of wild Miles Davis “Bitches Brew”-style jazz and electric hip hop. It makes “Shaft” a shaken and stirred action jam both befitting her majesty’s secret service and an a soul brother, whose score proper now finally hits the street in style with La La’s generous 76-minute release, with Tim Grieving’s excellent liner notes getting down with Arnold on the composer’s desire to authentically update the “Shaft” sound without losing its cool.
. STILL ALICE
A professor losing her smarts to early onset Alzheimer’s has not only inspired a Golden Globe-winning performance from actress Julianne Moore, but also a similarly delicate, and painfully beautiful score from Ilan Eshkeri – whose score here captures the musical memory of his female-centered chamber work for last year’s “The Invisible Woman.” Where that character was dealing with lovelorn anguish, the subtly dissonant violins and delicate piano that inflect Alice’s struggle are about holding onto cherished life itself. Where a less-indie approach would’ve likely meant bringing on far bigger heartstrings, the intimacy of Eshkeri’s work is perhaps even more emotional in its seeming simplicity. For nothing has the immediate anguish of just a few musicians playing with strong, neo-classical themes that convey a woman of sophistication, struggling to hold onto the shards of her thoughts. But while “Still Alice” is full of quiet anguished, it’s far more of a lyrical listen than it is a sad one, its poetic melodies strangely soothing as a woman goes not-so quietly into the tragic night. Karen Elson’s closing song “If I Had a Boat” has a fairy tale wistfulness to it that proves a nice compliment to Eshkeri’s poignant instrumentals.
CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, Movie Perseverance and Screen Archives Entertainment
Award-winning composer [c.1528]Cris Velasco has created the original score for [v.42369]Assassin's Creed Unity - Dead Kings, the latest chapter in Ubisoft's historical action-adventure open world video game series. Set during the French Revolution, [v.42369]Dead Kings is a fully-fledged single-player campaign that continues Master Assassin Arno Dorian's story after the events of [v.42369]Assassin's Creed Unity. The [a.14471]Assassin's Creed Unity - Dead Kings Original Soundtrack was released [da.2015-01-13]January 13, 2015,is now available on iTunes.
[c.1528]Cris Velasco's dark, atmospheric orchestral score for [v.42369]Dead Kings immerses players in the mysterious open-world city of Saint Denis and its underground universe--an ancient necropolis with an...
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this week the nominees for Best Original Score and Best Original Song. For further details, [url.http://www.soundtrack.net/news/article/?id=1948]click here.
Also announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.24]Carter Burwell ([m.42948]The Family Fang and [m.42417]Hail, Caesar!), [c.827]Heitor Pereira ([m.41880]The Moon and the Sun), [c.1367]Jeff Grace ([m.42947]In a Valley of Violence), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 44 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2015-01-12]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music...