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Alexander Publishing, working with the North Family, has begun releasing the Alex North Film Scoring Series featuring newly engraved scores in concert key of actual film cues of Academy Award winning A-list composer Alex North. The first cue is Bones/Main Title running 1:34 and is 100% downloadable and printable in an oversized 11 x 17 format. With the newly engraved cue is also orchestrator Henry Brant’s original handwritten orchestration for study comparison. Henry Brant is the author of Textures and Timbres: An Orchestrator’s Handbook and scoring techniques covered in his book are heard in the orchestrations.
Separate video instruction on selected cues focusing on orchestration and composition releases the week of October 13, 2014.
To promote the series, a newly designed movie poster alluding to the scene for which Bones was written has been created by Caroline J. Alexander and can be downloaded for free at the Alexander site.
Alex North’s instrumentation for Bones/Main Title is a true Hollywood balls-to-the-wall epic orchestral sound for full string section, 4 flutes, 4 clarinets, 4 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 contrabassoons, 4 French horns, 6 trumpets, 4 tenor trombones, 2 Euphoniums, 2 Tubas, 2 Timpanists (2 sets of timpani), crash cymbals, 2 different Organs, and 2 Harps.
The first of two video lectures on Bones/Main Title focuses on orchestration, composition, vertical registration and dynamic equivalents. “Though Bones/Main Title is short at a 1:34, what you come away with is titanic,” said Peter Alexander, General Editor of the Alex North Film Scoring Series and teacher on the Alex North video lectures.
The second video in the series, releasing in November, focuses entirely on harmony. “Those with a jazz harmony background will get lots out of the upcoming harmony video on Bones,” Alexander said.
For those not familiar with the 2001 score, the North family has permitted the original mono recording of Bones/Main Title, conducted by Henry Brant, to be posted at the Alexander Publishing web site.
All of the originally recorded cues for 2001 can be heard at Alex North 2001 at no charge to the listener. A concert of Alex North cues can be heard at the new Alex North Film Scoring YouTube channel.
A more recent recording can be found on iTunes conducted by Jerry Goldsmith on the Varese Sarabande label, where each re-recorded 2001 cue can be downloaded individually.
Varèse Sarabande Records will release [a.13512]Fury Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally and on CD [da.2014-10-14]October 14, 2014. The soundtrack features original score by the 2014 Academy Award-winning composer [c.1974]Steven Price.
"I remember having a chat with David [Ayer, director] on set and we discussed how no one had really shown the war [World War II] how it really was. He was incredibly accurate with every detail on this film," said Price. As a result, "the music needed to be honest and true. He wanted the audience to feel; to feel frightened when it was appropriate and give the feeling that life could end just like that."
"I sought to honor the characters' bravery; to create a score that was honest and true," said Price of his score for...
For a country where some people can congratulate themselves for electing a black President, it often seems that America is more behind the times then ever, both in lethally law-enforced terms, and artistic ones where “black” entertainment more often than not engages in minstrel show drama and humor. For an “enlightened” Hollywood that engages in “some of my best friends” lip service, it’s particularly disappointing when the precious few black film composers are kept by The Man in a musical ghetto where only brown color applies. It’s the kind of can’t-we-all-just-get along attitude that would make any self-respecting minority get outraged, let alone the students at tony Winchester University, whose biting voice of protest is the not-so ironically named Samantha White (Teresa Thompson), whose blisteringly hilarious podcasts give this Sundance winner its name.
As written and directed by Justin SImien, “Dear White People” comes across like “School Daze” as made by “Metropolitan’s” Whit Stillman, with its central conflict being as much between image-conscious black students as it is their white counterparts’ desire to make themselves part of their culture – satirically thoughtless stereotyping that comes to a boil at a Halloween party which becomes this movie’s version of a trash can hurled through the window of a Brooklyn pizzeria. However, “Dear White People” is way too Ivy-league smart to throw its can with hip-hop, shuck n’ jive clichés that other black filmmakers lower themselves to, with composer Kathryn Bostic particularly standing up to embody Simien’s satirically cool, Ivy League-level scripting and directorial style.
Toss away the color of “Dear White People,” and you’ll find the “snobs versus slobs” appeal that’s made for the college comedy genre since the landmark “Animal House,” which pitted misfits against the sniggering rich boys – except here the once-outcast students have already been co-opted. It’s a theme that informs Bostic’s super-intelligent approach, especially in its lush, aristocratic themes that stand for distinctly un-urban characters thrust into a white environment that’s desperate to show just how class-conscious it isn’t. Her music does wonders with Simien’s razor-sharp takedowns, where dialogue abounds racial references as much as it does pop culture call outs to “Gremlins” and Taylor Swift. For if you hear a familiar, catchily cool percussive take on a certain classical piece that got “Barry Lyndon” an Oscar for score adaptation, then they won’t be mistaken. When it comes to the jazz music that one black character dares to admit disliking, Bostic’s cool combo swings from Ellington-esque jazz romance to uptempo rhythm that bring to mind Bill Lee’s seminal score for his director son’s breakthrough “She’s Gotta Have It.” And for the climactic Halloween party riot, Bostic brings together electric guitar overload and drum percussion in a way that will have you applauding as the evil fratboys get a taste of not-so civil protest.
“Dear White People” has gotten a major push from its Special Jury Prize at Sundance, a counter-culture film haven that’s also given no small amount of inspiration to Bostic. It’s now given her career its biggest push yet after a range that’s encompassed her own concert appearances and playing beside such artists as Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Byrne, on-camera musical appearances in shows like “Brothers & Sisters” and a long career in both television and film that’s recently included such well-regarded indie features as “I Will Follow” and “Middle of Nowhere.” Though her scoring identity has displaying an entrancingly ethereal and melodic voice that’s driven by strong-willed characters, Bostic herself isn’t a woman who’s about to get on a microphone to give a Samantha-level protest at being one of the precious few black female composers, especially in a town that can’t wait to traffic jam for an Obama fundraiser, while simultaneously pigeonholing most of its media musicians who happen to be black. Instead, Bostic prefers to let her chill scores speak for themselves, which it does with an especially smart, impressively melodic bite in “Dear White People” a film whose incredibly intelligent voice promises many of its participants will be heard loud and clear in the future, no more so than Kathryn Bostic’s.
Tell us about your musical upbringing, and what made you want to be a composer?
I grew up listening to everything from classical, jazz, r&b, rock and more, my parents loved music and my mother was a classical pianist and teacher. I started playing the piano when I was 3 and was always coming up with these little melodies that I’d play and sing around the house. As I grew older, I appreciated more and more how listening to music made me feel and wanted to sing and create my own music. I was in a few bands in high school and college and we’d have these intense jam sessions that would later become more defined musically. In college I started writing music for dance, theater, and short films and really enjoyed the way music worked in these collaborative contexts.
Were there any black composers who influenced you in particular, or was it film music in general?
Listening to the wide range of music that I did while growing up brought me to a phenomenal treasure trove of black composers including William Grant Still, Ulysses Kay, George Walker, Margaret Bonds, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Isaac Hayes, Marvin Gaye…I mean I could go on and on. They are all such extraordinary innovators of rich textures and amazing emotional depth. Definitely big influences for me. These are all cutting edge and visionary composers.
How did your time at the Sundance composer lab give you an insight into the kind of “indie” scores that go into making the kind of movies that do well at the festival like “Dear White People”
For me the Sundance Composers Lab is more about the craft of film scoring in and of itself. The lab helps to refine tools about music as story telling for film. It provides a hands-on process to explore palette, genre choices, and overall stylistic instincts. The mentoring is incredible, I mean you have some of the top studio composers right there with you giving you insight and inspiration. The Sundance Composers Lab also creates an environment where you learn more and more about the art of collaboration with a director and what it means to be a part of a creative team that is shaping the film. It was one of the most beneficial and affirming events I’ve had as a film composer. They’ve recently expanded the labs to include a sound design team at Skywalker and that experience was amazing. Being a part of these labs was a crucial factor in my deciding to actively pursue film scoring.
How did that fact that this was Justin’s debut as a feature director, and screenwriter affect your work? And was it an easier collaboration given that you were both black, and drawing from that experience?
I treated scoring this film the way I treat all my scoring jobs regardless of race and what film it is chronologically for a director. As a film composer, my task is to write music that serves the film, and have a creative chemistry between myself and the director that enables this. Justin and I had worked together before, so there was already a synergy and creative simpatico. You could argue that a composer’s race or cultural background is an essential in scoring certain films and I suppose in some cases that may be true, in this case it was about being able to deliver Justin’s vision for the score.
“Dear White People” is shot in a very subtle, almost cold way that’s the antithesis of “black” films where characters are mugging to the camera. How did that play into your approach?
My approach to the score was very much like Justin’s approach in creating this film, veering away from the traditional musical anecdotes that often underscore many of today’s’ black Hollywood films with typical comedic hits or deep and searing melodramatic swagger. He wanted something fresh and innovative which gave me room to be quirky without being clichéd. He had very specific ideas about the music and wanted the score to defy the expected and the norm. So there would be a moment where Swan Lake is the underscore and it bumps into a Bebop jazz moment that turns into an electronic trance groove that morphs into a Ligeti sound alike or a song. So there’s a great montage of seriousness mixed in with sly comedy and the score reflects that. Justin has a great instinct for music not only carrying a scene but being its own character playing off the actual characters in the scene. He wanted the music to be able to stand on its own and not have a presence that was exclusively tangential and in the background. At first I thought this would get in the way of the dialogue and emotional momentum already there through the characters, but the way he places the music really helped to further define these moments.
You make particularly fun use of Schubert’s Piano Trio in Eb 2nd movement, which is most familiar to music fans for its thematic use in the soundtrack of “Barry Lyndon.” How did this piece end up in the score?
Justin is a huge Stanley Kubrick fan and in subtle homage to him, Justin wanted that particular theme from “Barry Lyndon” to be re-created in different ways to underscore the masks and persona of the characters.
Beyond Schubert, how did your music want to satirize the snooty nature of academia, especially when black pop culture references were thrown into it?
I think the music in this film was used in a way that again has all these milieus and attitudes bumping up against each other and at times “fighting” for their own musical turf and identity just like the students in the film. There’s an instant assumption that classical music is going to reference academia high “brownishness” and yet at the same time it’s also used to underscore pretentiousness and inner workings of a character like Coco. These characters are not one-dimensional, they have complexities about their own sense of identity and race heightened in this academic environment so the score is a mosaic of these various attitudes and conflicts. I really appreciated this approach in working on the score. Justin was very masterful in laying out the blueprint for this.
What’s your favorite joke, or scene in the film, and why? Is there something you agreed with it that white people would just “get” about blacks?
Let’s just say I love the poster for this movie…this about says it all and I have experienced this a number of times LOL and not so LOL!
I think a lot of people are going to compare “Dear White People” to “School Daze.” Do you think it’s similar, especially when it comes to the differences in attitude between Justin and Spike Lee? Or in the use of music?
I think those comparisons are understandable to the extent that both films take place on college campuses and deal with identity and race in biting satire and serious truth telling.
Your scores for “Middle of Nowhere,” “I Will Follow” and even scenes in “Dear White People” seem to share a mellow, ethereal mood. How do you think that reflects your personality, and melodic approach?
These scores, in those moments, reflect the mood and emotional intent the directors wanted me to convey and create. So that ethereal tone was what they specifically wanted.
Beyond film, you’ve also done theatrical scores for August Wilson and Rajiv Joseph’s “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.” What do you think the biggest differences are between those two forms of scoring, especially when it comes to accompanying action?
One of the main differences is that theater is real time and live so the timing of the music used to underscore or hit a point of action is going to vary in each performance in terms of timing. Theater scoring is tied more to the script where film scoring is locked into visual points that are not fluid that way. Both require the music to elevate the emotional arc of a scene or scene transition.
Tell us about your work as a singer and songwriter?
I’ve always enjoyed singing and songwriting, for me it’s a great form of composing and storytelling. I’ve been a backing vocalist for some amazing entertainers in the studio and on the road, including Ryuchi Sakamoto, k.d. Lang, Nas, Dave Byrne, and John Hiatt. I was inspired by their original and innovative artistry. I learned so much from them and realized that I wanted to create more of my own material and give voice to that. I’ve also done quite a bit of session singing on extraordinary scores by major hollywood composers that include John Williams, James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer, John Powell and many more. This has given me insight into how the voice is used as ensemble to elevate a particular scene.
When I’m at the piano there’s a fluidity that I really give into while playing, the lyrics usually follow the music and my songs kind of write themselves this way. I’ve been fortunate to hear and develop my ideas with some incredible musicians including Darryl Jones, Will Calhoun, Ricky Peterson, Keb Mo and Herman Matthews. I’m currently working with some really serious players who are patiently helping me “marinate my vibe” as I like to say. Special shout out to Abe Lagrimas Jr., Andrew Synowiec, Dan Pearson, Mitch Forman, Jamieson Trotter, Ross Garren and Ken Stacey. We play at local venues quite a bit so I get to hear my songs and compositions with an organic dynamic that really helps me to further define the music. I am deeply appreciative of this community and ultimately I take it back to where it starts, home while I sing, play the piano and see what the muse has in store for me.
What’s your reaction to people who might label you as a “black female film composer,” as opposed to just “film composer?” And do you think being in that minority can help, or hinder one’s chances?
If someone chooses to put me in a category and define me exclusively that way, then that’s what that is for them. I certainly embrace that I’m an African American woman and more, but deeper than that point of reference is my soul as an artist. That’s the place I write and create from and it’s always been that way, I didn’t sit at the piano at age three and say. “Here I am a little black girl playing the piano,” I just played the piano and wrote my songs. Obviously as I’ve gotten older the socialization, perceptions and projections about being black, about being a woman developed an awareness in me that also became a part of me. The awareness is absolutely there but doesn’t define me. I have always had an intrinsic instinct about being musically creative that transcends this. I believe those people who like what I do will want to work with me and this won’t necessarily be based on race or gender. It’s unfortunate that we still have to have these types of conversations because to me labels can potentially minimize and artificially define the depth of the work itself. There’s so much baggage with labels. It’s ultimately about the music…compose music that will serve the film in a way that’s effective and transformative.
Back in the day composer like Quincy Jones could score any kind of subject. Now it seems that black composers in general get “ghetto-ized” into only being considered for films that deal with black characters, or subject matter? Why do you think that is? And what’s your plan make people see you beyond those barriers?
I think film scoring is a hard nut to crack for anybody. Indeed, white males comprise the majority of the film and TV scoring community, the competition overall is very high and people tend to hire based on relationships that have been cultivated. For that matter, where are the Asian, Latino, Native American and women composers in mainstream film and TV scoring? The broader and important issue is providing music courses in the schools. There is a huge void in this area and kids are not being taught the basics of how to read or write music. That already creates a huge imbalance insofar as who is being encouraged, mentored and educated for this. There are so many talented kids from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds but the public school system needs to prioritize music education and mentor kids who aren’t able to afford private lessons and instruments. I think this has had an impact on the overall perception that there are no people of color composing music for film. I find the term “minority” to be pejorative and code for “less than” not only in numbers but in capability. This perception is confounding and false. I also think a mechanism for change is for directors and producers who are in a position to hire, to really want to think outside their comfort zone and make a concerted effort to look for and hire amazing talent beyond their “go to” roster. Ultimately the music, the score is what’s important and my “plan” is to focus on that with creative integrity and imagination that works for the film.
What do you hope that black, and white audiences take away from “Dear White People?” Do you want them to be outraged in a way that goes beyond the humor?”
I think the dialogue about race and identity are important and can’t continue to be swept under the rug or air brushed to fit into media savvy campaigns and programming about this group or that group. These are very transparent times and everything is up for scrutiny and reveal. This film definitely provokes much needed discussion about stereotypic attitudes that are being confronted and exposed.
“Dear White People” opens October 17th, with Kathryn Bostic’s score available online soon from Lakeshore Records.
Visit Kathryn Bostic’s website HERE
ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records
Hollywood has hosted composers the world over who proudly integrate their country’s respective rhythms into the grand tradition of film scoring, whether it be the Oscar-lauded likes of France’s Maurice Jarre, Italy’s Ennio Morricone or Argentina’s Lalo Schifrin. But when it came to truly recognizing the indigenous music of South America, it would Gustavo Santaolalla who truly made a seismic Academy Award impact, winning back-to-back Best Scores for the heartfelt western guitar of “Brokeback Mountain” and the rhythmic world-spanning music of “Babel.” An acclaimed singer, songwriter and producer in his homeland, Santaolalla’s distinctive scores didn’t so much beat a strictly ethnic path as much as they adopted their native rhythms and instruments to a poetic, indie sound. In America, Santaolalla’s stripped-down, acoustical spirit blended with often melancholy keyboards in such dramas as “21 Grams” “North Country” and “August: Osage County.” It soulfully traveled the back roads across the border in “Motorcycle Diaries,” or jazzily sought the heart of an unbridled beat America in “On the Road.” And perhaps only Santaolalla could hear a zombie holocaust with a the spare, visceral impact of a rustic guitar, soft strings and a lone piano for the acclaimed videogame “The Last of Us.”
The South American spirit has always been willing for Gustavo Santaolalla, but never quite with the Dia de Muertos joy that his scoring puts into “The Book of Life,” a film that marks his first chapter in animated feature scoring. Joining him is Mexican producer Guillermo del Toro, a superstar filmmaking exporter of such distinctive Latin terrors as “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” – here helping realize the zanily creepy vision of animator-turned-director Jorge R. Gutierrez (“Mucha Luca,” “El Tigre”). It’s fitting that del Toro is a fervent fan of the twisted rock satire “Phantom of the Paradise,” whose brilliant songwriter Paul Williams joins Santaolalla for the catchily thematic tunes “I Love You Too Much” and “No Matter Where You Are.” Together, this richly imaginative team conjures a south-of-the-border “Nightmare Before Christmas” in celebrating Mexico’s far less freaked out celebration of the deceased, with a pantheon of other deities and creatures whose bric-a-brac design also seems to have come from a Salvador Dali acid trip. Santaolalla responds with a sweeping, magical score that compliments the antic musical comedy, rejoicing in his distinctively ethnic voice for guitar and percussion, while also bringing in chorus, orchestra, spaghetti western stylings and even rambunctious heavy metal in the in Hollywood tradition of epically antic CGI toon scoring.
Now on a new episode of “On the Score,” Gustavo Santaolalla talks about a distinctive career that pays equal heart to his native musical traditions and an ever-expanding Hollywood sound, one that bursts into new musical colors with the fun, skeletal fiesta that fills “The Book of Life.”
Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to DownloadBuy the Soundtrack: THE BOOK OF LIFE (Score Album) Buy the Soundtrack: THE BOOK OF LIFE (Soundtrack Album) Buy the Soundtrack: THE LAST OF US
Buy the Soundtrack: BABEL Visit Gustavo Santaolalla’s listening website
In a cinema where wannabe musicians have their aspirations lifted through the very mild tribulations of crotchety, yet ultimately humane instructors, filmmaker Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash” is “Fight Club” as opposed to “Fame” – the equivalent of a cymbal in the face, or a shower of blood splashed across a drum kit. While young percussion prodigy Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) gets out of the way of the first abuse-bomb, he’ll have plenty of blood, sweat and tears to give in his sadistic servant-master relationship to his instructor Terence Fletcher, a jazz drill sergeant who makes the scream-swear martinet in “Full Metal Jacket” look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Music Conservatory Farm. Fletcher’s determined to slap the greatness out of his students even if it means driving them to madness, and the desperate-to-please Andrew is determined to show he’s got what it takes. Their resulting drum clashes are far more physical beat downs than anything resembling the free-form joy that jazz is supposed to represent, resulting in what just might be the most viscerally exhausting, and nastily exhilarating film ever made about what it takes to make music. Not the happy cafeteria jam that sends the kids onto the streets outside Julliard, but the agonizing pressure of rising oneself above the pop mediocrity of being “good enough.”
When you see and hear the insanity that Chazelle went through in his acclaimed, autobiographical film, you can easily understand why he tossed the drumsticks in favor of a likely far more successful career as a writer-director. Yet for a movie where music stands for anything but harmony, “Whiplash” benefits from a terrific soundtrack that works as pure jazz and devastatingly psychological scoring as Andrew’s beloved music is gradually twisted inside of his head. The score by Chazelle’s fellow Harvard grad Justin Hurwitz is as far different imaginable from their joyous jazz musical debut with 2009s “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench,” let alone the brilliantly lush “movie jazz” pioneered by Alex North’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” or Elmer Bernstein’s “Man with the Golden Arm.” Instead, Hurwitz’s astonishing work is work plays jazz as a progressive mental breakdown, with warping, drone-like effects over slurred, blaring carhorn brass and relentless percussion. A grimly poignantly theme for intimate piano and bell percussion (or played in devilishly melodic fashion by Fletcher on the ivories) capture the sadly wounded, beyond-eager to please child within Andrew. It’s a score as a skittering time bomb, waiting to blow as it curls back in defeat after one profane explosion after another. That Hurwitz has a whole other writing gig that includes “The Simpsons” and “The League” makes his musical work in “Whiplash” all the most astonishing.
The more pleasantly traditional jazz stylings in “Whiplash” go to Tim Simonec, an orchestrating and conducting sideman second to none. Such acolytes as Michael Giacchino and Graeme Revell have kept Simonec in constant scoring stage demand to make scores like “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “Aeon Flux” and “The Incredibles” sing, all while Simonec has made his own composing bones on “Survival Game” and “Fighting Tommy Riley.” In “Whiplash,” Simonec’s big band numbers “Too Hip To Retire,” and “Upswingin’” along with the rehearsals for Fletcher’s tightly wound jazz competitions are the energetic, ironic contrasts to Hurwitz’s neurotic grooves. This is brass and percussion swing at its happiest, which is anything but what’s going on – especially when Simonec’s name to conjure utter terror in Andrew. Simonec’s swing is right in line with “Whiplash’s” nostalgic use of Stan Getz’s “Intoit,” Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol’s “Caravan” (which provides the film with its bravura finale) and Hank Levy’s titular tune, which soon becomes a thematic callback to Fletcher’s repetitive abuse.
Now Hurwitz and Simonec reflect on creating an alternately troubling and joyous jazz groove that will likely make any potential student think twice about just what it takes, while showing just how dangerously exhilarating that drum-beating journey can be.
What was your moment when you decided to become a musician? And did that initial optimism ever get deflated?
Hurwitz: I started playing piano at 6. There were times that I hated practicing and wanted to quit, but stuck with it because everything else (sports) would have been more miserable. Now, I’m of course thankful that I kept music in my life.
Simonec:I started taking organ lessons at the age of eight. My mother took me to practice until I was about 16. I started organizing small singing groups and then larger singing groups through college, but never considered music as a career. Again my mom kept saying, “You’re not gonna become a minister (which is what I studied for and majored in while in college). Why don’t you go into music?” However, I did become a minister of youth and music in the local church when fate took a hand. I was asked by a friend to write a theme for a local television show. For the first time in my life, I was fortunate enough to work with professional studio musicians. The very moment they played my theme was the defining moment of me going into the music business. I knew I wanted to write music for movies and work with studio musicians. This dream was realized about six years later when I moved to Hollywood and began scoring music for the show “Happy Days” in 1980.
What do you think sets “Whiplash” apart from both “I want to be a musician” movies like “Fame,” or other movies that try to capture the essence of jazz like” Bird”
Hurwitz: Whiplash shows the sheer physicality and brutality involved with playing music at a high level, in a way that I haven’t seen.
Simonec: I believe at the essence of this film there is a driving passion for Andrew to become the best as a drummer. The huge challenge and obstacle before him is to deal with Fletcher. It is the passion to make great music that becomes the very conflict between Andrew and Fletcher. I also think that the film presents a truer look at the very essence of making music and the conflicts that are inherent in having a musical career – romantic entanglements, encountering someone in a position of leadership who doesn’t have confidence in your abilities, a family that doesn’t quite understand what you’re going through, and trying to possess the inner drive that necessary to make it in music.
What’s the big difference with having a director who’s also a musician, let alone one who’s made a film with autobiographical elements like “Whiplash?”
Hurwitz: Damien is amazing at communicating what he wants. He has a more advanced musical vocabulary than most directors. I don’t end up running around in circles trying to interpret a confusing note, like composers often do, because I always know what Damien is looking for.
Simonec: Working with Damien Chazelle, who is a drummer and has a great love of big band music, made the composition process extremely smooth and efficient. He was able to perfectly articulate the kind of compositions he wanted for each scene. Plus he provided me with audio examples from the archive of great big band music. Any suggestions or comments he had on my compositions only made them better. As to the autobiographical elements, I feel Damien was able to incorporate them into the final script and filmmaking process. His autobiographical experiences were secondary to making a powerful film and understanding the movie making process. He understood, and showed that all too well in the final product.
Justin, were your school experiences the same as Damien’s, and if so, did that put you in better synch?
Hurwitz: Damien and I were roommates from sophomore year on, and had very similar lifestyles. We didn’t do a ton of partying. We spent a lot of time in our room, working. Until we made Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (our first film) at the end of college, our work was separate, but we always kept each other motivated and on task. We’d see that the other one was reading a blog or watching a YouTube video and say, “Get back to work.” There’s a similar sentiment in Whiplash — the idea that to be good at something, you have to work hard and sacrifice.
Justin, did you work with Damien on the “Whiplash” short that got him the feature? And did you know how essential the music would be towards landing the deal?
Hurwitz: The short didn’t have any original music in it, only the titular song “Whiplash” which is a jazz standard composed by Hank Levy. But I knew that his plan was to make a feature, and that I would do the dramatic underscore and original jazz.
Did you ever have an instructor as terrifying as Terence?
Hurwitz: Not as terrifying as Terence Fletcher, but I had a piano teacher who used to hit me on the back with a ruler.
Simonec: Thankfully, no. But I did have quite the opposite with an instructor who helped me greatly.His name was George Strombeck and he was the band director at Trinity College. My major was Bibl Studies. But I was so into music and was very fortunate to just bump into George after school while I was doing an arrangement for singers in an orchestra. I shared with him that I had so many musical ideas in my head that I really didn’t know how to write them down on paper. George then taught me privately after school how to interpret and write down complicated rhythms so that they could be played by instrumentalists. Unlike Fletcher he was always very enthusiastic about my work and extremely encouraging to me. I will always be grateful for the part he played in my musical path.
If you ever had a moment where you felt you didn’t have it, what inspired you to continue?
Hurwitz: As a classical pianist growing up, I had a number of reality checks where I realized how much better other musicians were than I was, and that was sometimes demoralizing, but I kept at it because I knew that I was better at music than anything else I could be doing.
How else could you personally could you identify with Andrew’s character?
Hurwitz: I don’t have the greatest social skills in the world. I usually choose to stay in and work over, go out at night. There’s an early scene in Whiplash where a bandmate asks Andrew how his weekend was and he says, “Fun,” when we know that he stayed in. I love that moment because it always annoys me when people ask how my weekend was.
Conversely, do you agree with Terence’s teaching practices, or philosophy? How do you push someone without going over the edge? And how do you tell someone they’re not good enough?
Hurwitz: This is tough. I think it’s all right for a teacher to push a student as long as the student doesn’t break. Different students have different tolerances and breaking points, so a teacher has to adapt. There are aspects to Fletcher’s style that I certainly don’t agree with like his use of epithets, but I think it’s all right to be demanding and at times cruel depending on the student, their goals, and what they can handle.
Do you think we’re letting “Good Job” mediocrity get away far more often in jazz, let alone music?
Hurwitz: I think the line Damien wrote, “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job” can be applied in a lot of areas, not just music.
How did you want to create a contrast between Andrew and Terence’s music?
Hurwitz: The music Andrew plays is increasingly feverish throughout the movie. We only see Fletcher play music once, and it’s a very tender piano piece that I wrote. He’s such a monster throughout the movie, that it’s nice to see glimpses of his gentler side. Twice in the film, we see Fletcher’s vulnerability. Once when he talks to his class about a former student, and once when he’s at the piano.
How did you go about choosing the jazz pieces for “Whiplash,” especially the title tune?
Hurwitz: Damien chose that piece because it was one of the tunes he played coming up as a jazz drummer himself.
With “Whiplash” showing up so many times, how did you want to make its renditions different?
Hurwitz: You never hear the full song in the movie. You hear sections of it during the rehearsal scene, but Fletcher keeps stopping them because of mistakes. Then you hear part of “Whiplash” played well at a competition, but you never hear the chart in full in the movie. The full song is on the soundtrack album.
New York City also plays a character in “Whiplash.” Do you think there’s an automatic association we draw from pre-existing tunes like “Intoit” and “When I Wake” that automatically conjures a bigger picture of Manhattan for audiences, even though we might not see any big recognizable landmarks?
Hurwitz: “When I Wake” isn’t pre-existing. I actually wrote it for Whiplash, to sound like something that was recorded in the 30s. And Nicholas Britell did some amazing production work to give it that old vinyl sound. But I do think that jazz and New York City go hand in hand in movies. There are so many jazz tunes where the #1 thing they conjure for me is the Woody Allen movie they’re associated with.
Do you think the irony of “Whiplash” is showing how restrictive a work that’s supposed to be improvisatory can actually be?
Hurwitz: That’s a really interesting point, although I would maybe phrase it a little differently. I don’t think jazz is restrictive. I might say that the movie shows how much precision goes into jazz, a style of music that some people consider to be “loose.”
What’s the biggest difference between rock drumming and jazz drumming? And with Miles having previous drumming experience, was it easier to push him further?
Hurwitz: You hold the sticks differently, and the rhythms are very different. Jazz is usually swung and full of syncopated rhythms while rock is straight. It was great that Miles knew his way around a drum kit already, but he still had so much to learn. Once he heard examples of the type of solos he was going to have to play, he got very motivated very quickly. What he was able to learn in the short time he did is astounding.
Could you talk about “scoring” the practice sessions? And on those notes, have you ever played so fast your hands bled?
Hurwitz: The music in the practice sessions was generally designed to get more intense as the movie goes on. My hands have never bled because piano doesn’t abuse them like drumming does, but I’ve skinned my knuckles playing glissandos. That’s pretty badass right?
Conversely, what was it like working with a non-musician like J.K.? And do you think it was as important to make his dialogue as convincing as his playing?
Hurwitz: J.K. actual does have a background in music. In fact, he went to music school. He didn’t have much experience playing piano, but I made him a note for note transcription of the pre-recorded jazz piece he had to play, and he played it perfectly. I came to set that day to watch his hands and make sure they weren’t playing the wrong notes, or playing out of time. There was literally nothing for me to do because he nailed it every time.
What do you think sets “movie jazz” apart from the real deal, and were you trying to capture that real deal here?
Hurwitz: “Movie jazz” can sometimes be watered down. Sometimes it’s harmonically simplified, or lacks a solo section. What’s unique about this movie is that Damien portrays the music exactly as he experienced it. Granted, the film takes place in a music conservatory, so you’re not getting the heroine-addled club version of jazz, but it’s very accurate to the experience of playing jazz in a cutthroat music school.
Justin, could you talk about the process of finding a style of underscoring that would complement the jazz pieces?
Hurwitz: Figuring out an approach for the dramatic underscore was a long conversation between Damien and me. We knew that the underscore shouldn’t be big band jazz, since there was already so much of that on screen and elsewhere in the movie. We knew that an orchestral score would be stylistically wrong, and that an electronic score wouldn’t make sense in a movie about musicianship and instruments. So we came up with the idea of building a score using the techniques of electronic scoring, but using 100% real instruments — in fact, only the instruments in a big band lineup. With this approach, we would have a score that felt atmospheric like an electronic score without actually being electronic, and organic to the movie’s existing soundscape, without feeling like just more big band music.
Our scoring session was really tedious because I recorded the score cues one note at a time. Literally, one note at a time. What this allowed me to do was layer and manipulate the notes in a way that musicians can’t. The resulting textures are reminiscent of an electronic score, except every note was either a sax, trumpet, trombone, piano, vibe, or upright bass. The majority of the notes in this score are slowed down to about 1/3 time, creating a hellish version of a big band sound. Damien and I joked that it’s like Andrew is being tortured by the very instruments he makes music with.
Woven into these textures is one familiar melody — the tune that Fletcher plays in the jazz club. I put that melody in many of the score cues, in major, minor, and other modes, depending on the situation. Damien and I love scores that are economical with melody — scores that establish one or two themes or motives, and use those themes or motives in every way they can be used. In this case, we found that one versatile melody was all we needed. The melody tied to Fletcher expressing himself at the piano seemed like the right melody.
What’s almost funny is that when you finally see Terence playing, it’s the most relaxed, nice jazz piano tune ever. How did you hit on this theme, and what do you think it says about Terence’s personal life?
Hurwitz: I wanted a melody that was pretty, but has a little bit of pain in it. The song is in minor, and the very first note of the melody is a dissonance (a ninth). The song visits a major key during the B-section, but always comes back to minor. The piece both shows Fletcher’s more tender side, but also betrays a sadness. There was a scene that got cut from the film where we see that Fletcher lives alone, and eats dinner alone. I think that generally he’s not the happiest guy, even if some of his teaching is very fulfilling.
One of the most impressive cues is “Accident,” where we see just how far Andrew’s commitment takes him. How did you want to play it as both a jazz piece, and one that goes inside of Andrew’s head?
Hurwitz: Like all of the score cues, this was built using the instruments of a big band lineup. Everything played by the brass and reed instruments is slowed to sound weird and unsettling. Then we have bass and drums, which aren’t slowed down. I layered several drum tracks at different tempos, so it feels crazed, at times cacophonous. And then right before the major event of the sequence, at the height of the cue’s craziness, I layered in a version of “When I Wake,” the sweet, old-fashioned jazz tune that played during the date in the pizza parlor. I thought it was an eerie juxtaposition.
In that respect, do you think the score is ultimately about playing a mental breakdown, especially with its drone-like effects?
Hurwitz: I hadn’t thought about that exactly, but it’s a really interesting point. Some of these cues can be seen a little bit as a sum of all the jazz swirling around in Andrew’s head.
The piano also plays an important role in signaling a sense of defeat and doom in “Dismissed.” Do you think it has an emotion drum percussion can’t reach?
Hurwitz: Absolutely. Being an instrument that makes notes, piano can get at certain emotions that drums can’t, like melancholy. That being said, the “Dismissed” cue has a rhythmic element to it too. The left hand is playing a rhythm that we’ve heard in many of the more intense cues. The rhythm is like one of a funeral march, or like the dread-evoking rhythm in Don Giovanni. Basically there are two motives in the Whiplash score: the melody from Fletcher’s piano song, and this rhythm. They come together in the “Dismissed” cue.
There’s rarely been such a bravura jazz performance in film as the climactic “Caravan.” What were the challenges of this scene?
Hurwitz: Give the credit to Damien, his cinematographer Sharone Meir, and editor Tom Cross. Damien had storyboarded and built an animatic for the scene. Shot by shot of where the camera is, beat by beat. “On this beat the camera is on the trumpet. Then on this beat it punches in on the trumpet bell. Then during this measure it tracks from this saxophone to that saxophone.” It’s amazing how well planned it was. Then they shot it with a bunch of cameras, and edited it together.
Tim, what’s it like to have a piece introduced with your name on it for a terrifyingly impactful moment?
Simonec: It was a real thrill to actually have my name mentioned in a movie. I had seen J.K. Simmons right after he wrapped up shooting the film and he told me that he mentioned my name in one of the scenes and we both figured it would end up on the cutting room floor. It doesn’t matter to me where it was used in the film, I just thought it was cool that it was used.
Do you think a movie like “Whiplash” will encourage, or scare away future jazz musicians?
Hurwitz: Hopefully encourage them.
Simonec: Probably a little bit of both. I do think that in some small way, the difficulty of a character like Fletcher encapsulates the difficulties any musician will encounter on his or her way to making it in the music business these days. I personally feel that “Whiplash” is a quality music movie, and to that extent, it will encourage young musicians to really work hard. Those musicians that work hard at their craft, persevere, have a supporting wife like I have been so fortunate to have, and surround themselves with good people…will succeed.
How long do you think you could take Terence before you’d snap? And how fast do you think you could dodge a flying cymbal?
Hurwitz: I’d like to think I could handle Fletcher at least as long as Andrew does, but my reflexes probably aren’t fast enough to survive a cymbal.
“Whiplash” opens on October 10th, with Justin Hurwitz and Tim Simonec’s score on Varese Sarabande Records available now HERE
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.14054]Josh Kelley ([m.42149]Home Sweet Hell), [c.448]Antonio Pinto and [c.3017]Dudu Aram ([m.38144]Selfless), [c.]Nathaniel Mechaly ([m.40708]Taken 3), 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.2014-9-29]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.41039]Annabelle ([c.1418]Joseph Bishara), [m.39148]Gone Girl ([c.1745]Trent Reznor and [c.1283]Atticus Ross), and [m.41301]Left Behind ([c.2996]Jack Lenz).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
Where it’s far from novel to have great conductors showing their talent at writing original film music, as Leonard Bernstein did with “On the Waterfront” or Andre Previn did in his previous composing incarnation with the likes of “Elmer Gantry,” it’s a bit more unusual to have a conductor specifically known his energetic renditions of other people’s work for years seemingly come out of nowhere to blow away his admirers by displaying a whole other cinematic vocation. But yet that’s the feat that Gustavo Dudamel does in “The Liberator” with all of the acclaimed wild-haired flair he’s given in America to the likes of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an especially notable event in a film scoring medium that many might argue has become the new classical music.
Smashingly leading the charge with an emotionally imposing orchestra, haunting choruses and an overall surfeit of thematic melody that could have easily graced one of the great Hollywood epic scores of yore, this Venezuelan native shows that he’s got one heck of another job to go to when not at podium with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, or back home with the Bolivar Orchestra. For when you listen to the ethnic winds and percussion of his “Liberator,” you understand the passion that drives his fairly magnificent film debut. For Alberto Arvelo’s movie not only represents Venezuela’s biggest play into the Hollywood arena, but the continent’s as well as it details the valiant quest of the country’s most iconic figure. Imagine a man with the command of George Washington and the heroic charisma of Zorro, and you’ll get the emotion that Dudamel so ably communicates for Simon Bolivar (as charismatically played by Edgar Ramirez). This foreign-educated Venezuelan aristocrat returned home in the 1800s to lead a revolution to unite Latin America. But as opposed to a vainglorious Napoleon, Bolivar was the real, freedom-seeking deal. Yet it’s also historical fact that grand dreams have a way of going south of the border, as Bolivar’s noble ambitions descend into the realities of the political infighting that has seemingly doomed Latin America to the lethal mess it is today.
Yet there is much rousing hope to Dudamel’s score (as played by the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela) that particularly draws on his experience conducting John Williams scores for the Philharmonic, a lavish sense of themes, melody and emotion that help “The Liberator” at the least succeed with its cinematic goal of being as relatable, and impressive a historic epic as David Lean or Ridley Scott has made. Now more than proving his own music as worthy of concert hall treatment, Gustavo Dudamel talks of the nationalistic pride, and film score savvy that’s made him an immediate, original composer to be reckoned with on the international landscape of movie music.
Did hearing movie scores play a part in you wanting to go into music? If so, how did they impress you?
My musical training started very early, as it does for many children in Venezuela, so some sort of “serious shaping” from the music of film is something that may well have been at play – let’s not forget how many of the great classical composers have works incorporated in film. Here I think of the greatest of so-called classical works: Beethoven’s 9th symphony and how Stanley Kubrick built this into “A Clockwork Orange!” Who wasn’t impressed, though, by the first time they watched and heard the brilliance of the “Jaws” soundtrack? The utter simplicity! But absolute genius! Music is, I believe, what brings film alive and while perhaps not the why, it is certainly an aspect I love and the use of music in film is something I’m passionate about. In film music, a single note can make an entire scene, but one wrong note can also ruin everything. To master the art of conveying great emotion through such simplicity is an important lesson for every artist.
How important do you think your film music performances with the LA Philharmonic were in shaping your composing abilities?
What a lot of people don’t know is that I’ve actually been a composer for my whole life – it’s something I shelved (along with the violin) when my conducting career took off and the huge responsibilities of both career and family meant that I could not have the time for it as I would have liked. Composition has never really left me and was clearly waiting to be jump-started when the offer came from my dear friend Alberto Arvelo to write for “The Liberator.”
Was there an “I should be doing this” moment while you were conducting, and working with an orchestra?
Never – it just became apparent – Alberto Arvelo wanted to make a film that was not only a testament to the significance of the historical figure, Simón Bolívar, but also to give a sense of the man behind the legend, and of his relevance to our lives today. Initially, Alberto asked me to join the team of “Liberator” as a musical advisor. Yet when I began thinking about Alberto’s approach to Bolívar, to the drama of this man’s life, ideas and musical motifs came to me, naturally. It was a very organic process, and soon I was composing the soundtrack myself.
With your involvement with a Venezuelan orchestral named after Simon Bolivar, do you think this was a score you were born to do?
Recording the soundtrack with the Bolívars was for me self-evident (and a LOT of fun!). They can do anything, and they understood after as many years as we’ve worked together, precisely what I wanted to achieve with the soundtrack. This is the orchestra I grew up with and when you work with an ensemble as I have this for almost twenty years, it’s a little like being married. They think and do with you, doing what comes naturally!
What were your impressions of Simon Bolivar while growing up in Venezuela, and how do you think the movie changed, or added to them?
Simón Bolívar is probably the most important single person in the history of South America. As a soldier, a thinker, and a leader, he affected the lives of millions of people and shaped the future of an entire continent. In South America, Bolívar is a legend: squares, cities, streets, airports, currencies, even a country (Bolivia) are named after him. We in Venezuela consider him the father of our nation, similar to the way U.S. Americans think of George Washington. We therefore hold him with that sort of similar reverence as the US Americans do their founding fathers. By writing the score to “The Liberator,” I had the chance to work with some of the greatest thinkers and historians on the topic and that was truly exciting for me.
“The Liberator” has the feeling of an old-school Hollywood epic, particularly in its orchestral score. Were there any soundtracks in that genre that inspired your approach?
It was a very organic process. For instance, I made a conscious choice to base the main Bolívar theme on a progression similar to Aaron Copland’s famous “Fanfare for the Common Man” because I wanted to reflect Bolívar’s character first as a man – a common man – and not right away as a hero. More generally, I don’t make any secret of the fact that my dear friend John Williams was a huge inspiration to me and I spoke with him at many different points during the process. When I decided to say “Si” to Alberto Arvelo and work on the movie, John was the first person I called because I wanted to share it with him and also be able to ask him LOTS of questions. So if there is any one mentor in that respect, or pure inspiration for me, it was certainly John.
Was “The Liberator” an experience where the music just flowed, or were their challenges you might not have expected, especially with this being your first major film score?
For me the process was what was so exciting. I remember sitting in dressing rooms at concert halls around the world – backstage at Carnegie Hall in New York, the Kimmel Centre in Philadelphia, at La Scala in Milan, or even my own dressing room in Los Angeles at Disney Hall, with minutes to go before the start of a performance, but I was still sitting at the piano working through some passage which needed work. Having a piano in my hotel room became no longer a luxury but an essential item where ever I travelled!
Could you talk about the indigenous, Venezuelan / South American element that you brought to “The Liberator?”
Well, there is the very simple element of the Flute, especially because it is written in the film for a special kind of South American wooden flute. This, for me, expresses the soul of the past, a sense of longing – both for Bolívar personally and for the traditional South American ethnic cultures swept away by the colonizing Spanish. And the percussion, of course – there are times in fact in the score when the entire section has the chance to improvise and bring their true spirit and inspiration.
For all of his accomplishments, Simon Bolivar is also a tragic character. How did you want to chart the “rise and fall” that accompanies these kinds of historical epics, as well as the dashing, romantic quality of his political passion that drew so many people to him?
Although Simón Bolívar is in the DNA of every Venezuelan like me, to interact with the man, with his psychology as well as his biography, with his strengths and talents, his struggles and his faults, with compassion but without sentimentality, is a rare privilege. Alberto’s film offered me the unique opportunity to renew my perspective of this legendary figure and ultimately to try to express through music the inspiration Simón Bolívar symbolizes for us all how a man becomes a hero. Heroes are not just statues from the past, or super-humans from the future. Heroes are all around us, every day. Heroes are real men and women, young and old, rich and poor, who find in their hearts the love and in their souls the courage to give of themselves, often at great personal cost, for humanity’s highest ideals. Heroes are not born, they are not made – they become.
“The Liberator” opens October 3rd, with Gustavo Dudamel’s soundtrack on Deutsche Grammophon available HERE
Director Wes Ball's September hit [m.37015]The Maze Runner features a score from composer [c.1154]John Paesano. Pete Anthony conducted the recording of the score with the Hollywood Studio Symphony at 20th Century Fox. Our friends at [url.http://scoringsessions.com/news/279/]ScoringSessions.com have just made pictures of the session available.
[a.13384]The Maze Runner - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on CD and digitally on [da.2014-09-16]September...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.3914]Jake Monaco ([m.39182]Playing It Cool), [c.6903]Garth Stevenson ([m.42071]Ten Thousand Saints), [c.12928]Marty Beller ([t.42091]Gracepoint), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 37 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2014-9-22]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.35584]The Boxtrolls ([c.1069]Dario Marianelli), [m.38177]The Equalizer ([c.274]Harry Gregson-Williams).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.35584]The Boxtrolls (3 songs)
- [m.38177]The Equalizer (18...
Soundtrack Picks: ‘ANONYMOUS REJECTED FILM SCORE ‘ is one of the top soundtracks to own for September, 2014
Also worth picking up ANGRY VIDEO GAME NERD, BATES MOTEL, BLOW OUT, THE DOLL SQUAD, THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, HANNIBAL, THE KNICK, THE MAZE RUNNER, THE SPIDER and many more!
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover
THE TOP PICKS
1) ANONYMOUS REJECTED FILM SCORE
What Is It?: Many composers have re-purposed scores that either were tossed because they simply were too smart for the movie they were intended for, frankly didn’t work with the picture or became the victim of studio politics that shelved the scores for spite. But whatever the reason the music didn’t see the official light of day, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of release on its own, whether it’s John Corigliano turning “Edge of Darkness” into “Music from the Edge” (on Perseverance), Jerry Goldsmith transforming the main electronic melody from his blackballed “Alien Nation” way down to earth as the jazz love theme for “Russia House,” or John Murphy now morphing his own sad instance of MIA music into “Anonymous Rejected Film Score.” But where many tossed soundtracks are only superficially touched up, or used wholesale for their “new” incarnations, what Murphy has done here is to bring almost completely re-imagined new life into his work, making it even stronger as a tone poem that allows the listener’s own visual imagination to take over as its own powerful soundtrack.
Why Should You Buy It?: Like such progressive English compatriots as Clint Mansell, Murphy drew on his rock background to create the criminally insane scores for such Guy Ritchie movies as “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch,” an often funkily surreal melodic sound that also became a favorite of director Danny Boyle on “Millions,” “Sunshine” and “28 Days Later,” the rock and roll zombie holocaust score that became Murphy’s breakout work – and whose alternately dream-like and menacing tone “Untitled” feels closest to. Like the best concept albums, “Anonymous” takes you on an emotional journey, beginning at “3:59 am” with a hummed, chillingly whimsical theme, whose female lullaby vocalese wouldn’t be out of place in a reboot of “Rosemary’s Baby” or “Suspiria.” Murray has shown himself as a gifted musical texturalist ion such scores as “Miami Vice” and “The Last House on the Left,” introducing sound-effects like samples over the melodic intimacy of strings and pianos before kicking into edgy, angry guitar rhythms that build with a violent fever pitch – a signature vengeance-seeking groove that’s not only shown up in Murphy’s “28 Weeks Later” and “Kick-Ass,” but has also become the movie trailer cue du jour for “Avatar,” along with action builds that have been ripped off by just about everyone else. Murphy takes ownership of his simmering rhythm of the guitar heat back here with electrifying gusto in such tracks as “1-2-3-4,” topping them off with lush, melancholy string lines as he strikingly varies his main theme for the blistering epiphany of “Automatic,” even hitting a red alert trance groove with “How to Leave Your Body” along with a Theremin-like whistle. Though Murphy’s popularity for rock-driven scores like “Armored” tended to give his underrated orchestral talent less of a work out, “Anonymous” also remedies that with the gorgeously haunting waltz of “Dead Ballerina.” A somber piano, soothing chords and strings play the poignancy of “Boy,” while “Sacrifice” uses ghostly electronic voices and strings to elegiac effect. Yet Murphy is also capable of brightness, as “California” has surprising sense of optimism in its female voice and strumming guitar theme, with “Fade to” giving the album a reflective, hopeful send off, compete with an organ and exotic, resplendent melody.
Extra Special: “Anonymous” is worth naming as it encompasses progressive rock and poetically symphonic tone poem into an exceptional, involving listen well apart from any movie it was intended for. Even using the word “rejected” in this album seems an insult to the obvious passion that John Murphy has poured into these tracks. That he’s mutated them into a whole other transfixing piece of musical art says much about an intensely thematic work that would do itself proud in any gutsy film lucky enough to have it.
2) THE DOLL SQUAD / JUVENILE JIVE
What is it?: After starting out with Grade-A re-performances for the energetic scores that graced such wonderful B- genre features as “The Deadly Mantis” and “Day of the Triffids,” David Schechter’s label Monstrous Movie Music has segued to releasing the actual soundtracks for even loonier sci-fi movies like “Kronos” and “ Missile to the Moon,” with some decidedly non-creature filled detours into westerns and prestige Ernest Gold scores in the bargain But for all of their sporadic and increasingly eccentric titles so far (whose latest batch includes a herd of deliriously scored oaters with “The Gatling Gun” and a “Western Medley” collection), it’s a trio of ninja vixens and high school greasers that just might prove to be the most wildly entertaining entries of the lot.
Why should you buy it?: Exploitation impresario Ted V. Mikels can count “Astro Zombies” and “The Corpse Grinders” to his resume, but no picture of his has had the grrll power impact of 1973s “The Doll Squad,” wherein cat-suited babes under beck and call of the government take down a world-conquering crazy on a lunchbox budget – but with a premise that gave birth to “Charlies Angels.” Given the incredible funkadelic jazz action music of Nicholas Carras, you might assume you’re listening to some long-lost Lalo Schifrin score launching a renewed assault on Han’s island, given how much this score has in kick-ass common to that composer’s for a certain little Bruce Lee movie that came out the same year. While the Asian element is the only thing missing from Carras’ work, the fact that his musical dynamo’s fat brass could easily take on a martial arts army as opposed to Michael Ansara’s haplessly dying soldiers says much about the kitschy excitement that Carras generates. His brass-powered theme has a bodacious sexiness to it, which is catchy enough to be varied from jazzy assault to lounge lizard cocktail hour strains. Carras also makes the coolest use of an electric organ this side of Ron Granier’s “The Omega Man” in his action writing, whose sly, militaristic percussion wouldn’t be at all out of place if it were playing behind Farrah Fawcett delivering a karate chop. Sure Carras might not have had the budget for Schifrin’s Hollywood ensemble, but it’s precisely the lounge hour intimacy of his ensemble that makes “The Doll Squad” so wonderfully groovy as it jumps between smoldering, villain-baiting eroticism and shagadelic action. And if there’s more than a Bondian feel to its grooviness, hearing Buddy Kaye unleash his inner Tom Jones to belt out “Song for Sabrina” makes you particularly glad that John Barry never got wind of a tune that would have made for a pretty good 007 theme if he’d had more than a share of shaken and stirred martinis.
Extra Special: Nicolas Carras is back in a wild mood for 1960s “Date Bait,” which makes for disc one of the switchblade jazz which comprises the double disc collection of “Juvenile Jive.” Here he scores a teen girl who falls in love with a pill-popping fiend who ends up dragging her to the wrong side of the tracks, hook, line and marriage. When his hopping ensemble isn’t going into a dope fiend swing, Carras scores “Date Bait” with all of screaming, small orchestral danger that accompanies so many of Monstrous’ earlier scores. It’s a nifty, hilariously cool combination of creature-worthy drama, growling brass and hip marijuana den grooves that makes you half expect the musicians ran into a rumble between the Jets and the Sharks, or at least Frank Drebin and The Police Squad, complete with a particularly funny quote of “Here Comes the Bride” and the doo wop song “Date Bait Baby.” Before he had Kirk and Spock battling to brassily percussive Pon Far, Gerald Fried prowled the hallways of 1958s “High School Big Shot,” which works just as well as adult crime jazz as a kid’s big-time plans to snatch a million go awry. Fried’s work scoring the show “M Squad” comes in very hand with the crisp, brass and piano heavy score, with the kind of piercingly rhythmic melody that paved the way to the big Vulcan rub out. Carras concludes the punk score triptych with the soundtrack for 1960s “High School Caesar,” which has more empathy as a rich kid delinquent tries to fix the school election. Carras makes particularly good use of the bongos those reefer poets were playing back then, creating a neat crime does not pay combo, again given a catchy doo wop title tune. In any case, MMM’s showcase of “Juvenile Jive” stands as great crime jazz of any age, with Schechter as always providing beyond-detailed, and very funny liner notes for albums that come off as passion projects of the best kind, whether the scores accompanied the letters of A, B or Z.
3) THE KNICK
What Is It?: Where prolific filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has gone to Thomas Newman for the trippy ambience of “Side Effects,” and David Holmes for the jazz groove of the “Oceans” trilogy, Cliff Martinez continues to prove a reliable, experimental constant since director and composer made their indie bones on 1989s “Sex, Lies and Videotape.” Both have considerably broadened their repertoire from that ambient hip-hop score which redefined the look and sound of alternative cinema, their collaborations ranging from the enraged crime percussion of “The Limey,” to the modernistic orchestral score of “Solaris” and the retro-virus suspense of “Contagion.” But whatever approach he’s taken, Martinez’s voice has been an immediately, coolly identifiable one of pushing the tonal, propulsive with a hypnotic vibes of alternative scoring. One could definitely imagine hearing his hallucinatory, dusky sound in a contemporary cable hospital TV drama. But the idea of putting it into a show set in 1900 seems positively revolutionary – that is if you didn’t know Soderbergh and Martinez’s brilliant way of confounding expectations.
Why You Should Buy It?: Cinemax, or Skinimax as it will forever be known, has been doing much to shed its softcore smut skin, even if such shows as “Strike Back” and “Banshee” always had a way of throwing in multiple sex scenes so as not to lose that viewership. However, “The Knick’s” idea of NC-17 is the hardcore surgery scene of the week, which does much to inform us of the show’s intellectual pedigree, one that uses particularly dark, atmospheric camerawork to fascinatingly shine the light on turn-of-the-century medicine. It’s as much haze from the early days of electricity, as it is the opium smoke used by Clive Owen’s magnificent bastard of a surgeon, who’s doing his best to pioneer the medicine of the future. He’s literally a cutting edge dope friend whose character gives you all you need to know about why Martinez’s anachronistic, electronics-heavy work is so revolutionarily here. Using the Calypso-like glass sound of the Crystal baschet that’s become a far less dated definer of his sound that the Ondes Martinot was to the likes of Elmer Bernstein and Maurice Jarre, Martinez creates a feeling of both medicine, and plot on the movie, surrounded by haunting, melodic drones. It’s an approach that likely makes a less Martinez-familiar viewer simultaneously think WTF as it pulls them completely into this hospital. Used in the show with a deliberately spare quality, Martinez’s music at times seems disconnected from the action on screen, much like doctors trying to keep their distance from the appalling cases they’re presented with, yet determined to seek some greater purpose. But then, subtly commenting on the action as opposed to directly playing it has been another powerful trademark of Martinez’s work, which sounds more like a cool computer bank here than ever before – a 70s analog synth sound amidst the emulated organs, chimes and dulcimers that capture the era’s still-classical spirit, if not to obvious effect.
Extra Special: What this well-chosen collection of tracks from “The Knick’s” ten episodes (with another season thankfully coming) ultimately creates is melodically measured, almost intangible music that accentuates the uniqueness of the show above all, an almost transcendental, often beautifully sad meditation on visceral horrors it’s hard to believe that any hospital had to deal with, yet taking an approach that’s psychological as opposed to the physical. Martinez’s “Knick” casts such a hypnotic lull that you can easily imagine its music being used as knockout gas of the coolest, comfortably numbing kind in a way that still keeps our attention rapt.
4) STAGE FRIGHT
What Is it?: Pulling off a musical satire, let alone one based around horror movies is fraught with a lot of unintentional peril, efforts that can go as unheard of as a bear relieving itself in the forest (does anyone remember Vincent D’Onofrio’s indie band slaughter “Don’t Go In the Woods?”). But when it really works, as in the case of “Phantom of the Paradise” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the lyrics usually satirize the conventions of rock and roll as opposed to horror. While “Stage Fright” is punishably guilty of that sin, it’s scattershot satirizing of every other musical form from Broadway to classical makes this one of the more successful efforts in its delightfully peculiar genre, even if the movie itself might be pleasantly flawed.
Why Should You Buy It?: Throw “Phantom of the Opera,” “Prom Night,” “Glee” and “Trick or Treat” into one big gay pot, and you’ll come up with a mostly ingenious, and gorily shocking satire that’s all over the place (mostly to its benefit) as the daughter of a murdered stage singer ends up reprising her mom’s role at a musical summer camp – with of course a masked killer doing his best to bring down the final curtain. The music and lyrics by Eli Batalion and Jerome Sable (who also wrote and directed) along with orchestrator Aram Mandossian are hilariously dead-on taking stabs at Andrew Lloyd Webber with their “stage” production of “The Haunting of the Opera,” nailing the composer’s floridly romantic ballads to a tea in a way that both Webber lovers, and haters will appreciate. It certainly helps when you’ve cast the movie “Phantom” star Minnie Driver to sing your ersatz tune in a bloodily memorable opening, with film daughter Allie MacDonald impressively carrying the vocal torch. And just like those Broadway by way of South Park fans Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Batalion and Sable snarkily know their targets, delightfully skewering Gilbert and Sullivan in “Where We Belong,” Rodger and Hammerstein as Meatloaf belts out “The Show Must Go On,” and invariably colliding multiple songs a la Sondheim in “Rehearsals” and even that great classical composer Franz with “Lizstomania.” The songs are so damn, hilariously good and tuneful that you wish there were far more of them, as opposed to the movie becoming a fairly unfunny by-the-book slasher by the end. While Sable’s comedic scoring is nicely thematic, his straight-up horror music also isn’t that particularly inspired as the body count piles up, with a show-stopping killer reveal that proves more energy draining than anything else. But given how many humorous notes that “Stage Fright” hits on all counts, it’s a soundtrack and film at least deserving of the cult love that “Cannibal: The Musical” got.
Extra Special: Of all of “Stage Fright’s” salutes, its most inspired just might be the rowdiest, as terrifically played heavy metal thrash becomes the Broadway-crashing voice of the Kabuki killer, whose theme song “Shut Your F***ing face screams it all for those driven homicidal by musical theater.
5) THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO / THUNDERBIRD 6
What Is it?: Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s marionette-centric genre shows like “Joe 90” and “Supercar” might have seemed like charmingly ingenious kids’ stuff in other people’s wire-holding hands. Yet it was the couples’ joyful, uncondescending commitment to their literally wooden characters, and ingeniously designed models that made them truly come to flesh and blood life, especially by filling them with the robustly symphonic scores of Barry Gray. Their imaginations truly took off to become the toast of England, and the TV-watching world with their series “The Thunderbirds,” which had the Tracy family and their International Rescue roster of rocketships coming to the near-future’s salvation. With “The Thunderbirds’” global success, it was only natural that the series would launch into two feature films with 1966s “Thunderbirds Are Go” and 1968s “Thunderbird Six,” with Gray getting the chance to expand on his lavishly played weekly scores to truly fill up the wide screen with a completely fueled orchestral ensemble.
Why Should You Buy It?: While fans still had to with for “Thunderbird 6” to hear Gray’s lightning-charged main titles that promised 60 minutes of throttling action (let it not be said that the Anderson’s “coming attraction” titles weren’t the most excitingly scored of all time), practically every other memorable Thunderbird theme was on hand for these “Thunderbirds Are Go/” The presence of Space Probe Zero-X and the arch fiend The Hood make this the most exciting score (and movie) of the two to be presented on this La La Land disc, with Anderson relishing in his brassy, beyond-lush orchestrations. Carrying the same militaristic pride as any British WW2 fighter squadron might have had (especially when accompanying a marching band for the end titles), Gray’s music is the height of patriotic bombast, with snare drums and brass thrumming away for the Tracy team spirit, while romantic strings give pink-colored gloss to the spy friend zone of Lady Penelope. But the score’s most interesting moments belonging to the Thunderbirds trip to Mars to battle stone-spitting serpents, with Gray’s whistling, eerie electronic sustains, whirling sound effects and bell percussion prefiguring his scores for the Andersons’ live action “UFO” and “Space 1999,” as does his brass-and-bongo driven action for a rousing orchestra that’s either approximating the rhythms of blast-off or plunging to earth.
Extra Special: Where one could easily assume “Thunderbirds are Go” was written for Spitfire squadron taking on The Jerries given Gray’s straight-ahead, excitingly heroic approach, “Thunderbird 6” is more way out in a kid’s movie way. Given the opportunities of a world-travelling Skyship One, Barry jumps into the opportunity of doing a rocket travelogue score, proudly seguing from Middle Eastern to Indian music. Even America gets its dues with some familiar patriotic hymns and native drumming, with ballroom jazz detours along the way. There’s also wincingly goofy, high-hat cartoon music to spare, which might make the ride a little bit less adrenalin-fueled, but no less fun amidst the surfeit of perky musical Mickey Mouse’ing, with some darker brass bits coming when the Airstrip’s hijackers jettison their victims to villainous horn hits. You quite never know what style Barry will rocket to next here, which is part of this score’s ultra-thematic charm, with Barry finding ways to make even the most ethnically disparate music refer back to his iconic Thunderbirds march melody. However, the show’s opening theme does get an exciting workout here for Lady Penelope’s escape via Tiger Moth plane. And what can you say about a composer who can turn “The Flying Trapeze” into score for a crash landing? The pure, ingenious joy that this “Thunderbirds” feature score fly on might be a bit more kiddie-ish on its second route, but never once does the music betray that you’re listening to a rocket-powered dance of marionettes, its lush, wonderfully melodic symphonic energy showing just how indispensible a member Barry Gray was to The Tracy Family, let alone the Andersons. With the movies now released on Twilight Time blu ray, La La Land makes terrific-sounding use of the “Thunderbirds” sonic elements, with Jeff Bond’s FAB liner notes for a smartly designed booklet making for a nostalgic flashback to the most ambitious music to ever grace what might simply be called puppet shows, and the films to be spun from them.
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
. ANGRY VIDEO GAME NERD: THE MOVIE
Film scores are going through an 8-bit revolution with the likes of Nigel Gordich’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and Henry Jackman’s “Wreck-It Ralph.” But arguably non of these retro scores have the insane fanboy enthusiasm that Bear McCreary beings to a two-hour feature version of a game geek blog done good. Done with the same, blasting out of your parents’ basement energy of his epic metal-orchestral score for the RPG’er’s versus real monster score to “Knights of Badassdom,” McCreary plays this unlikely hero’s odyssey of uncovering the equally deadly E.T. game from an Arizona landfill with the same level of gleefully bombastic commitment. Indeed, no one has every played the 80s Atari synth sound to such dead-on extremes, with a wonderfully cheesy electronic vibe so accurate that one can only imagine the corpses of the Super Nintendo consoles that McCreary ripped apart to get this sound. But McCreary’s not so nerdy that he can’t go beyond a one-note approach of bowing down to Donkey Kong, as he score gets in nods to spaghetti westerns and crazed military action as the “Angry” quest takes on terrifying cosmic dimensions. Bringing all of the thematic attention that McCreary gives to his scoring for the far more respectable likes of “Shield” and “Outlander,” “Nerd” goes for gonzo broke because it hears this ridiculousness for real, especially during the ten minutes of “The Nerdy Hero,” which plays like a knockout battle of the bands between a raging metal orchestra and the speedy synth rhythms of Sonic the Hedgehog. That this score’s satiric, broad-hearted cheesiness could work just as well over a Michael Dudikoff ninja Cannon picture, circa 1985, as much as it does at convincing us that that this has the melodic balls of a real movie score, says much about the sweat-dripping enthusiasm that continues to make McCreary one of Hollywood’s busiest fanboys. More than ever, he’s got the thematic stuff to back up a wonderfully berserk and inventive score, complete with swear-filled song that Wayne and Garth might have rocked out with on a particularly pissed off day. “E.T the Game Score” “AGVN” is most definitely not.
. BATES MOTEL / PENNY DREADFUL
Two cable hits have been busy re-inventing everyone’s favorite Mama’s boy and band of Edwardian monster hunters. But leave it to Chris Bacon and Abel Korzeniowski to make these often horrific exploits go down with orchestral elegance. For Bacon, it’s realizing that melodic empathy is the room key to loving Norman Bates as much as his mom, tenderness that suffuses his often beautiful, lush score to “Bates Motel.” Yet the spirit of Bernard Herrmann certainly inhabits this abode, not in stormily gothic (or stabbing) violins, but in “Bates” long, drifting string lines and sympathetic piano. While there’s effectively uptempo percussion, stalking horror-score sample effects, and even some villainous country guitar to suit “Bates” modern-day CW-style reboot for A&E. It’s Bacon’s exceptional, intimate orchestral writing that stands out, showing his time working with James Newton Howard on the likes of “King Kong” and “Lady in the Water” as very well-spent in creating a solo career with such other noteworthy efforts as “Source Code.” Bacon’s stay at “The Bates Motel” (with this album representing the first season) continues to open intriguing musical doors that capture a horror “hero” in the making, one who’s as romantic as he is potentially terrifying.
There’s a deep sense of melancholy that runs through the bloodline of Polish composers, which makes horror scores by the likes of Wojciech Kilar (“Dracula”) and Jan A.P. Kaczmarek (“Lost Souls”) as sad as they are chilling. Now after his beautiful, romantically foreboding scores for the likes of “A Single Man” and “Romeo and Juliet,” Abel Korzeniowski gets to bring about sympathy for the devils, a rogues gallery that includes the vampires, werewolves and undead creations that clash in the alleys of fog-filled, turn-of-the-century London. But where the title “Penny Dreadful” might be a play on the gore-filled pulps of that era, Korzeniowski’s music is anything but lurid. With violins slashing out the main theme melody, Korzeniowski fills these cobblestone streets with gloomily gorgeous passion. It’s scoring that works as much for costume drama as it does unholy, bodice-ripping passion, lacking none of the lush, sweeping orchestrations that have made Korzeniowski one of Hollywood’s most promising melodists. While most certainly having its own fearsomely romantic face, “Penny Dreadful” also stands as a kissing cousin to his countrymen’s angst-filled work in the genre, and Kilar’s seminal “Dracula” score in particular in conveying a damned sense of longing, his strings becoming the creeping talons of unholy fat, which often go for the jugular. There’s real, beautifully haunted poetry in the episodic pages of “Penny Dreadful” that’s possessed with his country’s sad classical spirit, as well as the kind of lush, thematic lighting that Hollywood has been imbuing it creature prototypes with since the days when Franz Waxman’s electrified the Bride of Frankenstein. The fact that Korzeniowski’s resurrected a bunch of her pals as well says much about the unholy melodic elixir he’s conjured for Showtime.
. BLOW OUT
After “Carrie” and “Dressed To Kill,” DePalma and Donaggio were at the top of their ersatz Hitchcock-Herrmann game when they took a nihilistic detour into the paranoia-conspiracy territory that fueled such similarly bleak classics as “The Parallax View” and “The Conversation.” But while there was nothing remotely “meta” about those movies’ dark approach, the thrill of any collaboration between this director and composer was in seeing, and hearing just how close their homages could get to the originals and survive, while still being dazzlingly stylish in their own right. On that count, “Blow Out” is a terrific example of being on that knife’s edge, or rather the exactor knife that a sound editor used to cut audiotape in the pre-digital 1981 age. For DePalma’s bravura direction that mixed a fascination with the perception of narrative film with woman-in jeopardy suspense, Donaggio created a grippingly thematic score that mixed alarmed action with richly melodic string and bell builds, creating an ever-tightening spider’s web of military-industrial complex villains unraveling our heroes’ lives, silken orchestrations mixing vulnerability with snare-drum danger and piano percussion menace. The music’s sad destination is exceptionally well constructed with a shivering, anticipatory approach that also manages to have some humor about it (complete with cheesy synth horror music and a snatch of an Italian tarantella). But if “Blow Out” is more emotionally affecting than this duo’s other collaborations, it’s due to the ill-fated romance that suffuses the score, as embodied by a beautiful, ultimately mournful theme. Where Nancy Allen is great as a hooker with a heart of gold who ends up in the wrong politician’s car, its Donaggio’s music that gives her an extra depth of wind instrument empathy, especially in the white-knuckled, heart-pounding race that builds to the big, Hitchcock hero rescue moment, only to have the thrill tragically be ripped away, as the score is reduced to a tender piano melody. It’s arguably the most gut-wrenching moment in these collaborator’s repertoire, and key to the heart that rises “Blow Out” above the level of brilliantly made recreation, ultimately melancholy music that sinks in the realization that the greater, villainous forces at play will always come out the winner. It was a message that audiences at the time didn’t want to hear, but one that’s been increasingly venerated by fans, who will no doubt appreciate that Intrada’s beautiful-sounding “Blow Out.”
. THE FRENCH REVOLUTION (1,500 edition)
One can only imagine the honor for a French composer to score an epic based on the events that defined his country’s future, and for a small time the ideals of Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité. And it’s in that spirit one can understand the pure, gorgeous passion that Georges Delerue gave to “The French Revolution.” This massive, six-hour, two-part cinematic endeavor was done for the event’s 200th anniversary, starring the English-speaking likes of Jane Seymour, Peter Ustinov and Sam Neill, and ultimately turned into a TV miniseries that’s still unavailable on video in this country. Delerue had certainly done sweeping, historical orchestral scores before this, especially when it came to the excesses of English monarchy with “A Man For All Seasons” and “Anne of the Thousand Days.” But given the chance to bring Versailles’ bourgeois class bloodily down unleashed a whole other level of epic majesty to his voice that will no doubt surprise his admirers – most of whom have never heard this legendary score due to excessive Ebay prices that would have sent CD gougers to the guillotine back in the day. It’s a sense of importance heard in the choral “Hymne a la Liberte” that opened the “Revolutions” two parts, the song piercingly performed as well by soprano Jessye Norman (that you’ll also hear the song “La Marseilles” is a given). Delerue’s unequalled, and utterly Gallic gift for romantic melody plays the elegance and rollicking, regal brass of the aristocracy, a magical tone (inflected by period music and instruments) of days that will never seemingly end as the poor starve outside the palace gates. With the more optimistic tone reserved for “The Light Years,” the storm of “The Terrible Years” arrives with powerful suspense and raging brass, the action becoming swashbuckling, and outrightly cliffhanging in tone, while low strings signal inevitable tragedy for both the aristocrats and freedom fighters who can’t imagine meeting the ultimate Monsieur, their march to awful destiny led by beating drums and darkly trumpeting brass. It’s tragedy that Delerue plays for all of its tearful, chorally solemn worth, yet in his inimitable way of turning sentiment into a work of moving, ultra-melodic art, as any American who cried through his wind and string scores for “Beaches” and “Steel Magnolias” in that especially rewarding year of 1989 can attest. For few composers wore their emotions on their sleeve as powerfully as Delerue, no more so than as characters’ neck cuffs were being undone with the rousing performance by the British Symphony Orchestra. It’s a bravura expression of the go-for-broke energy that Delerue gave to a project you can tell that he regarded as a personal milestone, which can now stand tall as one of his most impressive works thanks to Music Box Records two-CD release, whose powerhouse sound, nicely photogenic booklet and smart liner notes by Gergely Hubai also show it off as an honor for this French label to release. But at 1,500 copies of the finally complete score (whose previous releases somehow switched the stereo channels), it’s only a matter of time before those Ebay debauchers get this soundtrack back in their control, much in the same way the monarchy came rolling back into France. But in the meantime, viva la “Revolution,” a la Delerue at his most epically impassioned.
. GORKY PARK (Expanded)
James Horner’s career was taking off in 1983, due to a dynamic signature sound that often meshed impactful percussion with richly thematic melodies that paid homage to such modern classical Russian masters as Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky. So it was fitting that Horner’s music would journey to their Motherland with “Gorky Park,” its unique story (by “Nightwing’s”” killer bat author Martin Cruz Smith) pitting a Soviet cop against a murderous American capitalist pig, with furry sables as the MacGuffin behind a skinned face triple slaying. One need not dig far to turn up Horner’s usual, impactful suspects with a score that essentially takes the brassy jazz-pop beat of “48 Hours” San Francisco and gives it a suspenseful passport to Moscow, replacing urban rhythm with rich, cimbalom-balalaika strumming, Slavic bells and growling brass for pursuing suspects across the state, its relentless drive backed up with fever pitch electronics and an orchestra. “Gorky” has always stood as a landmark in Horner’s synth explorations, but on Intrada’s terrific release, the expansiveness of his instrumental layering is particularly astonishing at conveying foreign intrigue. “Gorky” richly contrasts its driving action with more subdued romantic mystery in his lovely, swelling theme for a beautiful dissident that of course will have a Communist cop questioning his value system. Her melancholy character infuses much of Horner’s oppressively exciting score, at last giving it a sweeping symphonic release from his musical Iron Curtain, as well as using a far happy variation as the little critters are set free from their cages. This was the score that set Horner up for the alternately pounding and piano-creeping spook house atmosphere of LV-426 in “Aliens” and the Soviet men of action in “Red Heat” and “Enemy at the Gates” in particular among the many impressive Horner scores to follow, with the 79-minutes on this greatly expanded re-issue a copious amount of alternates, while also separating Horner’s ingenious segues from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and the “1812 Overture” to his tingling suspect-tailing motif. It’s a major re-discovery of a seminal work that shows Horner working expertly on multiple dramatic levels, going into electronic and orchestral Iron Curtain with intense determination in a way that would make Russia sound both forbidden, and suspensefully intoxicating to a movie audiences’ Cold War ears.
. HANNIBAL: SEASON 1 and 2
To label the sonic nightmare that Brian Reitzell has cooked up for television’s most lethally elegant doctor-gourmand as “music” is way to simple a way of defining the wildly experimental stew of sound design and occasional shards of melody that infuse a show that by rights shouldn’t be anywhere near network television, especially scoring that could lead to seizures in more tender viewers foolish enough to tune in. But the psychological incisiveness with which Reitzell conveys the sound of insanity is like nothing else that’s ever been done within the psycho-killer genre, be it on the big or small screens. Taking a cue from the truly terrifying, razor nail-on-blackboard vampire score he created for “Hannibal” producer-director David Slade on “30 Days of Night,” Slade has gone for an experimental, constantly transforming sound collage of twisted metal, hammering percussion and unnerving ensemble playing – chilling sustains, come-from-nowhere percussion, swinging, hypnosis-inducing gestures and mutated brass the equivalent of being trapped inside a pitch-black hell of a psychopath’s mind. Yet there’s a method to Reitzell’s madness, as “Hannibal’s” impressionism is balanced with something resembling melody, mournful strings the cost of a profiler hero submerging himself in a dark parade of horrors, with Reitzell embodying the “killer of the week,” from the buzzing of bees to the playing of vocal chord violin strings, with the cannibal’s love of classical music similarly perverted amidst the morass. Reitzell’s been relentlessly scoring “Hannibal” over two seasons (with a third thankfully to come for us masochists), giving Lakeshore more than twenty hours of madness to create a four volume set that slices two seasons of “music” between them. Reitzell has done an exceptionally smart job of assembling the material, just allowing enough remotely conventional cuts among its elongated suites to serve as filler between the way more impressionistic stuff. With “Hannibal’s” first course offering a French set meal, Reitzell goes for a mocking jazz tone at its most inventive points. For “Hannibal’s” second, Japanese-themed meal, the composer noticeably scores in a Toru Takemitsu vein with cacophonic percussion, brass and piano amidst God knows what. They’re the savage contrast to lonely passages for piano and the Theremin, an electronic airwave instrument that’s been used many times to connote craziness, but never like this. Yet it’s absolute, eerie beauty that ends this collection with the chiming acoustical effects of “Bloodfest” for a second season climax so gory it’s amazing anyone will be sticking around for thirds besides the good doctor. It’s in this cue’s melodically rhythmic minimalism that Reitzell creates his most impressive serving of all, hearing one major character evisceration after another as a whispered, poetically elegant work of art. Ultimately for all of the horror he’s created, Reitzell knows he’s playing a character above his own carnage in his soundscape’s brilliant insanity – one well worth immersing oneself in for the four plus hours of hypnotically immersive goo and pure anti-matter music ingenuity.
. LES PASSAGERS (500 edition)
What Americans among us would have known that the first adaptation of popular thriller novelist Dean R. Koontz (written as “Shattered” under the pseudonym of K.R. Dwyer) was done for a French movie? But then, who’d have realized that its composer Claude Bolling wasn’t the first musician in the driver’s seat for a movie that ultimately appeared on our shores as “The Intruders” in 1977. But thanks to this intriguing Music Box Records release, both musical takes are out there to savor for as the road got paved for far better known Koontz movies as “Hideaway” and “Watchers.” But there’s nothing like the first time, as a father and son are pursued through dangerously winding Italian byways by his mom’s psychotic ex, which gives modus operandi to Bolling’s bonkers approach. With such English language scores to his credit as “Silver Bears,” “California Suite” and the chilling mummy revenge music of “The Awakening,” you’d be hard pressed to think of this music representing a white-knuckled steering wheel. Instead, Bolling’s “Passengers” are breezily accompanied by a sweet theme (which even gets a piano bar variation) and gamboling Baroque music. Slightly more typical is a sultry film noir sax and lush mystery befitting an eccentric take on Bernard Herrmann – which turns out to be Bolling’s ironic way of capturing a man who envisions that his love is still along for the ride. This just might be the least menacing psycho killer score of all time, which is part of the deceptively jaunty charm that the filmmakers wanted when they tossed the first score by Eric Demarsan to the curb. But like the boyfriend who won’t take no for an answer, his music is here as well for the ride. Having remained in France with such well-regarded scores as “The Army of Shadows” and “Le Cercle Rouge,” Demarsan’s score actually comes across as the saner of the two. One can definitely hear a mind turned to murder with low horns and the child-like bell percussion that makes for a truly sinister lullaby theme that spells out a Euro thriller, with pursuit given with pop piano and guitar in a manner reminiscent of Ennio Morricone. It’s a low key, effectively eerie approach that also has jazz to spare, but in a way that also chimingly spells out its villain’s intentions, With the movie unavailable in America, it’s up to listeners reading Giles Loison’s informative liner notes to figure out which of these two composing drivers in fact suited “The Passengers” best in one of the more interesting after-and-before score releases to hit since Film Score Monthly put out multiple variations on “The Appointment.” Here, Bolling and Demarsan handle Koontz’s mystery vehicle with an equally impactful ear for a dangerous road with more than a few cool jazzy detours.
. THE MAZE RUNNER
Starting off his career as an assistant to Jerry Goldsmith on “Star Trek Nemesis” and “The Sum of All Fears,” John Paesano has certainly been busy with DC animation, DV action and friendly children’s stuff with such work as “Superman / Batman Apocalypse,” “S.W.A.T. Firefight” and “Another Cinderella Story.” But given the chance to crush kids on a major Hollywood playing field, Paesano blazingly takes off with “The Maze Runner” to land in a zone of body-crushing walls and prowling creatures – attacking the opportunity with terrific excitement and character-oriented melody to boot. Where the YA sci-fi genre has given a similar breakout opportunity to Junkie XL with “Divergent” (and given fresh vibrancy to older dudes like Marco Beltrami with “The Giver” and James Newton Howard on “The Hunger Games”) Paesano is welcomely determined to use his own voice for an oft-trod book-to-hopeful blockbuster arena. The big difference here is that it’s a playing field where kids are fending off external menaces as opposed to each other, which opens up the opportunity for melodic warmth as well as furious action, his score given further distinction by using exotic, ethnic percussion and wind instruments to distinguish a surreal zone of death and deliverance that could just as well be taking place in Jurassic Park. Paesano suspensefully keeps this sense of mystery going in a way that thematically pumps the heroically adrenalin, its walls built from equal parts tenderness, racing terror and restrained electronic percussion of the tech that makes the maze work. A chorus helps to convey just how immovable, and suddenly crushing this awe-inspiring maze is, yet one where hope somehow survives, While its teen characters might not know where the hell they are, Paesano’s alternately rampaging, and emo scoring proves an impressive map that will no doubt have producers, and sudden fans beating a path to his keyboard.
. NO GOD NO MASTER
The anarchist movement in the early 1900s and the mass deportations its bomb-planting extremists inspired remain obscure, in spite of their lessons being more relevant today than ever in a society willing to do anything to stop terrorists in their midst. It’s a tragic, dramatic importance that infuses this historical drama, whose ambitious scope is given immense, tragic power by Nuno Malo’s score. With a sweeping, symphonic talent that actually made us musically believe in “The Celestine Prophecy,” the Portuguese composer take on affecting images of poverty-oppressed Italian immigrants struggling, some violently, for a new life in a land that’s not so free. While this movie might not exactly have the budget to equal “The Godfather 2’s” extra-filled tenements, Malo’s beautiful, elegiac theme nicely captures a neo-Italian, operatic sense of fate that Nino Rota’s “Godfather” scores did so iconically. Malo does an exceptional job of varying his own theme with more contemporary samples to give impact to its tale of David Strathairn’s straight arrow, sympathetic agent on the trail of the bombers, whose investigation leads to the not-so savory tactics of his superiors, including one J. Edgar Hoover. It’s am empathy for the unwashed immigrant underdog that suffuses the score of “No God, No Master,” from poignant violin solos to optimistic melody for the American Dream, which is tread under heel as Malo’s theme turns to dark, marching outrage. Yet the tone of “No God No Master” is more inviting than crushing, thanks to the often visually bright direction of Terry Green, whose decision not to go for the fatalistically grim period vision is a relief, as we brilliantly have more than enough of that already with the similarly set “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Knick.” Another unexpected dimension is this film’s telling of the Sacco and Vanzetti story, last dramatized by Hollywood in a still unavailable 1971 movie scored by Ennio Morricone. That composer’s talent for longing string and piano melodies also suffuses Malo’s approach in representing the characters’ nobility and unjust fate, which is no more tragic than when a Latin chorus takes up his theme to movingly close the film’s moving take on the still unending clash between radicalism and law and order run amuck. Released as a limited edition CD by Varese Sarabande (along with the worthwhile scores of Elia Cmiral’s “Wicked Blood” and Reinhold Heil’s “Haunt”), “No God No Master” shows Nuno Malo as no melodic anarchist when it comes to impressively thematic, symphonic scoring, while giving true, incredibly poignant heart to a smaller, human story swept aside by history.
Israeli composer Inon Zur is a rock star when it comes to scoring dozens of videogames from “Lord of the Rings” to “Everquest” and “Soulcaliber.” But success in one genre can often lead to a prison-like sentence from those who can’t see movie scoring talent from the sword-swing PS3 trees. Thankfully, Zur has gotten to break out with exceptional results in the far more realistic realm of child trafficking for “Reclaim.” John Cusack can certainly lay claim to that title as he keeps getting pulled back into the VOD arena as a bad guy, this time as the deceptively calm villain whose band of miscreants terrifyingly milk a desperate couple for all of their money, with the bait of a Haitian girl they think they’ve adopted. While this surprisingly well-made and acted thriller certainly delivers on the improbable, white-knuckle chases you expect from the iTunes action genre, Zur wisely chooses to put equal emphasis on the story’s emotion. So before cars end up on cliffs and people are shooting at each other in picaresque Puerto Rican locations, Zur’s strong, moving themes concentrate on emotional bonding, with an exceptional performance by the Macedonia Orchestra giving his melody-heavy score a real depth of feeling – all the better to hit the chase with rhythmic propulsion when it inevitably comes and doesn’t stop. Though meant for the small screen, Zur gives “Reclaim” a lush, exciting symphonic expanse with the kind of dramatic, human depth that elves, soldiers and androids might not exactly have for this niftily affecting score, making a winning argument that video game composers are just as capable of scoring the kind of live action assignments you might not expect their talent to lie in, no more so than when grabbing a kid off a cliff-hanging jeep works as well for emotion as it does excitement.
. RELENTLESS JUSTICE
David A. Prior, the Z-movie commando who gave the world the hilariously brutal “Deadly Prey” is back in the woods with a one-person army who happens to sport a killer figure and an Australian accent. While I don’t know if Victoria De Vries beats someone to death with their own dismembered arm, at the least she’s got Chuck Cirino as her musical wingman when it comes to racking up a body count. A composer who’s been to the ‘Nam of countless schlock movies, Cirino can be counted on to give his all to this sort of insanity, from the killer robots of “Chopping Mall” to the Godzilla-sized skeleton creature called “Bone Eater.” For just like these filmmakers and actors who know they aren’t making great art, Cirino is still out to have a fun time with the very limited resources at hand. And while he might not have the London Symphony Orchestra at his disposal, what he does give his cheesily sampled sound is surprisingly decent, self-aware music that often has more melodic and thematic content than the way bigger, and better pictures one hopes he could somehow get. “Relentless Justice” is another crafty, and funny score, coming up with a ripping, mean-ass melody that still tries to impart its heroine with an amount of piano tenderness that one might connote with the fairer sex. As she goes about winning trophies during this most dangerous game scenario, Cirino delightfully goes off the expected action-pulse reservation, first by skinning the strains of Ludwig Van Beethoven into suspense music, and then with a strumming acoustical sound that makes “Relentless Justice” into a western score with a touch of Spaghetti, especially when an electric accordion seemingly arrives from nowhere. This is one composer who deserves a female Rambo to rescue him after decades of being a POW in VOD prison camp, even if he can’t help but have a great time playing the hapless mayhem around him for all its worth – and then significantly some more.
. THE SPIDER
As the soundtrack label that’s taken up the torch for golden age score releases, one can see the blazing “Nordic Noir” light that attracted Kritzerland to release a soundtrack that’s practically unknown to American ears – and one that should be placed their promptly. For in composer Soren Hyldgaard’s music for this 2000 Danish TV miniseries about Copenhagen clawing its way out of the physical, and moral wreckage of WW2, one thrillingly hears the era’s blazingly melodic Hollywood scoring of Miklos Rozsa and Bernard Herrmann (as well as latter day masters like Jerry Goldsmith and John Barry,) as taken to a stylistically familiar land of black market skullduggery and outright murder. You can’t imagine someone getting away with the crime of scoring a movie like this in Hollywood today, which is what makes Hyldgaard’s score particularly thrilling in its skillfully bombastic playing by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Yet as colorful as the composer’s memorable themes are, the tone is pure black and white in conjuring a sense of trench-coated romantic darkness and outright fatalism, with romantically lush strings and tender piano creating a marvelously melodic web, with the very subtle use of the cimbalom helping to also evoke a “Third Man” spirit of to “The Spider’s” postwar suspense, whose reporter-hero’s headlines symphonically shout from the rhythmic presses with music that could have been straight out of some 40s montage. But then again, when you hear familiar percussion and a woozy trumpet, you’d swear that you were on the streets of Chinatown as opposed to Copenhagen. Or perhaps it’s the swaggering brass that makes one feel like a secret agent avoiding spies on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall. At 79 minutes of this hypnotic throwback silk, “The Spider” is an old-school blast, and a major unmasking of a composer who definitely deserves some major play in the current viper’s den of LA after his English language indie scores for “Red” and “The Stranger Within.” “The Spider” is a score so full of smoke-filled orchestral atmosphere that you half expect it to be attached to a Maltese Falcon, as made in Denmark.
. WON TON TON THE DOG WHO SAVED HOLLYWOOD
Neal Hefti was one of the swinging-est composers of the Mad Men era, a musician who put a happy-go-lucky bachelor pad groove into the wet bar of such comedies as “Sex and the Single Girl,” “How To Murder Your Wife” and “Barefoot in the Park.” However, it’s his cool, superhero scoring via Vegas for TV’s “Batman” that remains Hefti’s best-known work among a criminally under-represented discography. Thankfully, Kritzerland comes to the rescue with this two-fer of great scores for box office bombs (whose chances certainly weren’t helped by their way-too long titles). While I can’t attest if 1976s “Won Ton Ton The Dog Who Saved Hollywood” was a mutt as a movie, Hefti’s music is a charmer as it gives a composer who most often played a 60s shagadelic beat the chance to jump into the music of Hollywood’s roaring 20s for his final score. Starting with a rousing rendition of the Paramount fanfare, Hefti unleashes his Won Ton theme with a Dixieland orchestra, then chases it about with the madcap stylings of a Keystone Cops comedy, the over-emphatic emotion of a tear-jerking Mary Pickford drama and cliffhanging thrills that could easily accompany Lillian Gish in ice flow distress. Not only does Hefti delightfully catch every nuance of a classic silent movie score, but he furthers the satire by transposing its theatrics onto the off-the-lot travails of Madeline Kahn’s wannabe actress who ends up being one lucky pooch owner. “Won Ton Ton” constantly surprises, whether it’s going for rapturous Egyptian music worthy of The Sheik, a Scott Joplin swing or out-of-tune playing that sounds like a pit band going to pieces. That’s certainly not the problem of the Jonathan Winter’s mummified husband, whom Rosiland Russell drags around in a suitcase for 1967s “Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hug You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad,” a notorious adaptation of Arthur Kopit’s way-better regarded stage play. But as a score, it’s pure Hefti wackadoo gold, as the corpse’s vacation to the islands makes for kitsch fun. Another catchy Hefti theme is particularly off the wall when played with a Calypso grooves for fender guitar and kettle drum, with another brassily percussive theme that you half expect to break into the refrains of a certain caped crusader’s name. A wittily funereal mood is given by an angelic chorus, gently picked harps and a diabolical organ. “Oh Dad” get across the swinging-est corpse ever, with an especially hilarious wah-wah title song that captures the bright energy that embodied Neal Hefti’s jazzy brilliance for an album that will equally delight Rin Tin Tin and Don Draper.
. THE ZERO THEOREM
When you think back to Terry Gilliam’s latter good old days with “The Fisher King,” “Twelve Monkeys” and arguably “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” the directors’ movies worked so strikingly well by being simultaneously mind-blowing and nightmare-inducing acid trips, unleashing exaggerated performances and imagery that tended to turn the world into a dystopian wonderland. It’s a sad sign of how far Gilliam has fallen since “The Brothers Grimm” that “Brazil” and “Twelve Monkeys” have gotten upchucked as “The Zero Theorem,” which equals near insufferability – though not without Gilliam’s seemingly unbreakable visual talent on display. But the one element of “Zero Theorem” which adds up quite wonderfully is its score by George Fenton, who last took a more wildly traditional approach for Gilliams’ crazy medieval quest in modern day Manhattan for “Fisher King.” With “Zero” pretty much set in the same universe that uses Central Services, Fenton imaginatively plunges into the addled mind of a math-obsessed civil servant pursuing a computer-enhanced dream woman. It’s a mesmerizing pursuit for Fenton as he uses mind-bending bells, crazed electronic-analogue samples, techno hip-hop and merry-go-round melodies to create a soundscape quite unlike anything he’s ever done in a mostly symphonic career, though strings do provide the melodically binding force here. It’s a pleasant contrast to the movie’s spastic, indecipherable antics, the musical equivalent of the Soma that being hooked up to virtual reality provides, yet with a sad, poignant quality for anguished solo violin that reflects how hollow the babbling hero’s sensuous illusion is. At its best, Fenton’s “Theorem” sounds like a squeezebox steampunk dream machine cobbled together out of old instrumental bits and parts, doing its best to stave off a mental breakdown, but unable to hide the madness it’s running on. A sultry, 40s style lounge version of “Creep” provides another neat touch for Fenton’s mesmerizing future shock, which is easily the only good trip worth taking within Gilliam’s otherwise hallucinogenic mess of used parts from far better movies. Indeed, good is Fenton’s work at finally suggesting salvation that you wish it could scoop up the filmmaker along with it.
CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, Movie Score Media, Perseverance, Screen Archives and Varese Sarabande
Coming in third at last week's box office, director Shawn Levy's film [m.39057]This Is Where I Leave You was scored by composer [c.534]Michael Giacchino. Tim Simonec conducted the recording of the score at the Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Bros. Our friends at [url.http://scoringsessions.com/news/278/]ScoringSessions.com have just made pictures of the session available.
[a.13503]This Is Where I Leave You - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released digitally on [da.2014-09-16]September...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.631]Joe Kraemer ([m.38497]Mission: Impossible 5), [c.4295]Alex Ebert ([m.42034]A Most Violent Year), [c.274]Harry Gregson-Williams ([m.42027]Southpaw), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 49 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2014-9-15]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.37015]The Maze Runner ([c.1154]John Paesano), [m.39057]This Is Where I Leave You ([c.534]Michael Giacchino), [m.39494]Tusk ([c.1619]Christopher Drake), and [m.40104]A Walk Among the Tombstones ([c.13643]Carlos Rafael Rivera).
Among all new...
Back Lot Music will release [a.13451]The Boxtrolls Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally and on CD [da.2014-09-23]September 23, 2014, with a vinyl version of the soundtrack will releasing at the end of this year. The album features an original score for the Focus Features and LAIKA family event movie by Academy Award-winning composer [c.1069]Dario Marianelli and an original song by Eric Idle (of Monty Python fame), plus classic songs performed by the group Loch Lomond. The Boxtrolls is the first animated feature that [c.1069]Dario Marianelli has scored, and he began his work notably early in the production process.
"That was a huge benefit for us," said The Boxtrolls co-director Graham Annable. "Dario started work when most of the movie was still in the...
Harry Gregson-Williams has often been a man on a mission of dark righteousness. Sure he’s done far gentler scoring for the likes of “Antz,” “Shrek,” “The Tigger Movie” “Arthur Christmas” and the “Narnia” movies, where he even essayed the voice of Patterwig the Squirrel. But if you cross the side of justice, just hear Williams’ family-friendly orchestral voice set its watch to 60 seconds, and become a distinctive sound of simmering electronics, imposing strings, slicing rock guitars and beds of raging percussion – melodic, often hallucinatory music that builds for characters’ with haunted pasts to explode into body count action in such scores as “Spy Game,” “Domino,” “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town.” And when that music is in the hands of Williams’ frequent embodiment of vigilantism known as Denzel Washington, you can be sure the bad guys are going to hit the floor with a distinctively dream-like tone of emotional, and percussively brutal efficiency, no more so than with the stopwatch countdown of a rebooted Robert McCall in the cinematic spin of the 80s CBS show “The Equalizer.”
“The Equalizer” marks the first time in sixteen years that Gregson-Williams has teamed with filmmaker Antoine Fuqua, who set him on a more-than occasional musical path of darkness with 1998s assassin free-for-all “The Replacement Killers.” However, it’s certainly not the first time Gregson-Williams has been to the action dance with Denzel Washington, most often in the company of late director Tony Scott, who had the charismatic leading man playing civilians who battled runaway trains in “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” and “Unstoppable,” a cop using time travel to stop a murder in “Déjà Vu” and an ex-military man out to severely mess up the thugs who’ve taken a little girl in “Man on Fire.”
It’s that character, and plot that “The Equalizer” resonates the closest with, as not so ex Black Ops operative McCall avenges the abuse heaped on the teen prostitute Terri (Chloe Grace Moritz). As is the case with the prolifically versatile composer’s frequent entries into the thriller genre, Gregson-Williams goes for his own film noir tone, using the electronic vibe that distinguished his rise alongside Hans Zimmer’s team, as paired with an organic orchestral approach, creating a hypnotic hybrid sound that deals with inner, thematic turmoil as much as it does meting out rhythmic payback. It’s a skill that “The Equalizer” does with brutal, anguished proficiency, its sound a long way from Stewart Copeland’s far brighter synth groove for Edward Mulhare back in the TV day.
With such other suspenseful scores waiting to be unleashed from Gregson-Williams for Michael Mann’s cyberthriller “Black Hat” and the next evolution in the “Call of Duty” videogame series, the composer talks about a style that gets into the soul of his tormented characters, and one actor in particular who’s out again for the big payback.
Did you ever watch the original “Equalizer?”
Yes, I did watch “The Equalizer” back in the day. I don’t recall Stewart Copeland’s original score, but I do recall the character of Robert McCall and what a smooth, cool personality he was. Maybe it was his English accent! But the character of McCall changed quite a bit with Denzel’s portrayal in this version, I think. Denzel brings such a gravitas to anything that he does and I found him entirely believable throughout the film. In fact, I recall Antoine Fuqua telling me that Denzel had said to him, “I don’t want my character to do anything that I can’t do myself.” He didn’t want him to have any superhuman strength or powers. He wanted his actions to be believable and not have a heightened reality to them. So that was a guideline for me; that the music should be grounded in reality and not too fantastical.
“The Equalizer” is your fifth movie with Denzel. What kind of qualities do you think he brings to your music as both an action hero in “Man on Fire” and “The Equalizer,” as well as when he’s playing a regular guy thrust into dangerous situations in “Unstoppable” and “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three?”
Denzel is an amazing actor and certainly Tony Scott must have shared that opinion by casting him numerous times and I was fortunate enough to score some of these films. He brings a certain star power to a part without being too conspicuous somehow – he’s never too showy and always interesting. I don’t know how he does it, but he does.
The last time you scored Denzel on a mission of vengeance, it was for “Man on Fire.” How do you think they differ when it comes to their personalities, and music?
The lead character in “Man on Fire” is very driven by what his heart tells him. This is very similar to the character in “The Equalizer.” They both use their heads, too. They are smart about their actions and seem to know what they’re doing, so these personality traits are certainly similar. They are both on a vengeance mission and both are triggered by the actions of a young girl. In “Man on Fire,” it was a child. In “The Equalizer,” it is a young woman. I got the feeling that in “Man on Fire,” Denzel’s character had always been a loner that had never really connected with anyone, whereas in “The Equalizer,” we learn that McCall’s wife had passed away and that they had shared a loving relationship.
How did you want to show Robert’s humanity, and the sadness that cloaks him?
I love the scene at the beginning where we first meet Robert. We can see that he is a very solitary, self-contained man who’s not needy and not dependent on anyone else. There is certain sadness in that knowledge and the music reflects that. He’s torn as to whether he can continue the life he leads now or whether he has to go back to something more violent and volatile.
With so much secrecy about Robert’s background, did you find yourself inventing his past while writing the score?
Not at all. Antoine asked me to score what I saw on the screen and to be quite literal with his character.
When it comes to Teri’s character, did you want the music to paint her a lost child?
No, not as a lost child, but more as a sensitive soul in search of meaning. Her character really is in need of belief in a future. The one really stand-out scene that Denzel and Chloe share together – in the cafe – where she really lays that out on him and he implores her to be what she wants to be and what she can be is a winner, I think. We found it necessary to score this whole scene, but we didn’t want it to be in your face at all. It’s a very quiet, sensitive, and supporting cue and only makes a couple moves and shakes; and hopefully enhances the sense of innocence lost and of secrets shared.
Antoine Fuqua gave you your first all-out action score with “The Replacement Killers” in 1998. How important do you think that score was for launching you into that realm, and what’s your collaboration been like for this film?
It’s been fantastic working with Antoine again. We’ve both been involved in multiple projects since “The Replacement Killers,” and yet he’s certainly made a leap of faith to circle back to me as his composer and I’m really grateful for that. “The Replacement Killers” was very important for me as a composer at that time, for my confidence and feeling of worth. I had not embarked on a solo action score before and this was a great opportunity, and while the film/score wasn’t particularly well-liked or well-received, we had a good time on it, and we both went off to make many other films as a result of it, I think. I’m happy to say that I’m already writing the score for his next movie called “Southpaw,” which stars Jake Gyllenhaal.
Another frequent director you worked with is the sadly passed Tony Scott. What kind of inspiration did he give you? And do you think directors like Antoine carry on his stylish spirit?
Tony continues to be my inspiration on many levels, actually. He made a huge impact on my life, you see…not to mention my career. He was thoughtful and sensitive towards my music, and me, yet at the same time über critical and impossibly demanding and we went through an awful lot together. Eight or nine feature films (all with in excess of 70 minutes of music), a few short films, commercials, and various TV projects all spanning 18 years, is something really special in this business, It was a heck of a ride and an unbelievable honor for me to be a part of. It’s still difficult for me to imagine this journey can’t continue…he died two years ago last month.
How did you want your music to “hit” Antoine’s “over and out” depiction of violence that Robert often sets to his stopwatch?
Antoine made it clear that he wanted sound effects to play a large part in the action sequences – for the music to stand out on occasion, but not always, and when it did, it needed to be sharp and punctuate various events.
More than ever with “The Equalizer,” you’ve hit a vibe where samples and electronic percussion are completely bonded to the orchestra. Would you say that’s your signature when it comes to action scores?
Yes. Certainly that’s the way I compose my scores. There’s a hybrid here between electronic and acoustic instruments. I love the spot where these seemingly disparate things converge!
While “The Equalizer” has harsh, slicing notes, do you think there’s a dream-like quality to the score here as well during it’s more introspective moments?
Absolutely. There are two facets to the music for Denzel Washington’s character. On the one hand, there is a gentle, safe, calm, and deliberate feeling, which you can hear during introspective moments – often portrayed simply by a melodic piano theme. On the other hand, when he springs into action, there is a dangerous, swaggering, and muscular tone that can be heard. For this, I employed heavy drums, guitars, and synths. There were occasions where I employed a medium-sized string section to pull out emotion within both of these thematic strands, either vengeful and violent or reflected and sad.
Could you talk about your continued relationship with Hans Zimmer as a “go to” composer on his team?
I do have (and am proud of) a long-term relationship with Hans, and yes, I suppose my music is heavily influenced by what I learned in the late 1990s as his apprentice. I do hope that I’ve evolved since then musically. I know Hans has. But is it part of my DNA? Absolutely. Is that something I’m ashamed of? Nope. Is it something that’s a work in progress? Yes. I hope at this stage that I’ve found my own voice.
You’ve next got Michael Mann’s cyber thriller “Blackhat” coming up. There’s always been a “circuitry”-like pulse to your rhythmic music. In that respect, did that make this collaboration slightly easier than it might have been, or one as demanding as his other composers’?
I actually finished scoring “Blackhat” a few months ago. I worked on it for the first six months of this year. I delivered my score in June, having had an interesting time on the project. It was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. The film is excellent and quite unique and also very topical. Hacking! We all know that he rarely uses a single composer on his scores and I hear that other people might be at work on the film, but whatever works for him, you know. It’s his way. For my part, I wrote 80 minutes of music for a film I liked a lot, and I am looking forward to seeing how much of that will be used in the final version. I have no idea, but I’m hopeful…
Right now you’re scoring the most ambitious game yet in the “Call of Duty” franchise. What can you tell us about your approach to it, and how it will reflect both the new technology of the PS4 console, and those advancements it’s given to the franchise?
I finished scoring “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” in July. I recorded the orchestral elements up at Skywalker Ranch and had some good results there, which I was thrilled with. The new technology of the PS4 console, and other alike platforms such as XBox One, allows for more memory, disk space, and faster processing. This also means the music is able to be played at full fidelity, more specifically at 48kHz, as opposed to previous “Call of Duty” games where the sample rate had to be converted down to fit on the console disk. More processing speed allows for more advanced mixing systems, which in turn, lets the audience experience the music, and all other audio, at a much higher dynamic range.
One of the main goals that Sledgehammer Games looked to accomplish with “Advanced Warfare” was not to make it sound “futuristic”, per-say, but more “advanced”, as the title implies. They wanted the sound design and music to always be “grounded” through the use of natural and organic sounds/musical ideas in combination with more futuristic sounds. I think the score contributed these humanistic elements that emphasized the drama and story-telling aspects of the game.
There’s a whole other, far happier nature to your music with such scores as “The Tigger Movie” and “Arthur Christmas”. Do you try to emotionally vary them up with your darker work so you won’t be immersed in that emotion for so long?
Absolutely. I love to work on films such as these. I’m a happy guy by nature, but somehow over the years I’ve been drawn to a lot of dark thrillers. There was something very, very joyful about producing reams and reams of happy, elf-like Christmas music in mid-June with the sounds wafting over Venice beach! What’s not to like? I had a great time working on that movie.
With that being said, do you have a particular affection for modern-day film noirs after scoring movies like “Man on Fire,” “The Town” and “The Equalizer”?
Yes, of course I do have a particular affection for these types of movies, “Blackhat” being another one of them. I hope to work on many more genres as well in the future. I’m excited to work with Catherine Hardwicke later this year on her movie “Miss You Already,” as this is a bit of a departure for me. Great script, awesome director.
If you had a favorite television show whose movie version you’d like to score, what would it be? And what musical spin would you like to give it?
“Masters of Sex.” I’d inevitably have to give it some balls.
“The Equalizer” opens on September 26th, with Harry Gregson-Williams’ score on Varese Sarabande Records available September 23rd HERE
Composer [c.418]Elia Cmiral is proud to announce the release of the [a.13644]Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt? Motion Picture Soundtrack. Cmiral previously composed the first film of the trilogy, based on the renowned and influential novel Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. "I was thrilled when I received the phone call in April of 2014 from producers John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow, asking me to write music for the final part of the [m.]Atlas Shrugged trilogy," said Cmiral. "When we met a few days later, it felt like coming back home. I was overwhelmed by John and Harmon's enthusiasm as they recalled the work that I did on [m.31348]Atlas Shrugged: Part I and explained their expectations for the score of [m.40750]Atlas Shrugged Part III."
"[Elia's] passion and...
For The Month of August 2014
- Record Label
1Dawn of the Planet of the Apes OST Sony Masterworks Michael Giacchino
2The Giver OST Sony Masterworks Marco Beltrami
3Snowpiercer OST Varese Sarabande Marco Beltrami
4How to Train Your Dragon 2 OST Relativity Music John Powell
5The Knick OST Milan Records Cliff Martinez
6Guardians of the Galaxy Deluxe OST Hollywood Records Tyler Bates
7Hercules OST Sony Masterworks Fernando Velasquez
8Maleficent OST Walt Disney Records James Newton Howard
9Fargo OST Sony Masterworks Jeff Russo
10Godzilla OST WaterTower Music Alexandre Desplat
11X-Men Days of Future Past OST Sony Masterworks John Ottman
12Batman: Assault on Arkham OST La-La Land Records Robert J. Kral
13Houdini Vol. 1 & 2 Lakeshore Records John Debney
14Doctor Who: 50th Anniversary Collection Silva Screen Records Various
15Penny Dreadful OST Varese Sarabande Abel Korzeniowski
16Red Sky OST Lakeshore Records Timothy Williams
17Hannibal Season 1 Vol. 1 & 2 Lakeshore Records Brian Reitzell
18Into the Storm OST Varese Sarabande Brian Tyler
19The Signal OST Varese Sarabande Nima Fakhara
20Under the Skin OST Milan Records Micah Levi CineRadio is produced by CineMedia Promotions. For more information about CineRadio or CineMedia Promotions contact Beth Krakower at cinemediapromo (at) yahoo.com
The chart is composed of music played during the month of August on soundtrack music specialty shows. This month’s reporters include WPRK, KMFA, CFMU, WHRV, WTUL, KFJC, WRTU, WQXR, WHFR, KSPC, BBC 3 “Sounds of Cinema”, Urgent.fm/Supercalifragilistic, The Score, Radioaktywne, Cinematic Sound, Soundtrax.fm, and A Fistful of Soundtracks.
* denotes new reporters
Beginning with short films in the early 1960s, [c.13881]Antoine Duhamel became a prominent composer for French films throughout that decade, working with famed directors Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut.
Born in 1925, Antoine was the son of author Georges Duhamel--an amateur musician whose early training of young Antoine fostered the child's passion--and actress Blance Albane. Antoine went on to study music at the Paris Conservatory and became fully focused on his musical career after World War II.
Duhamel's career in film composition spanned over four decades. In 2002, he received the Berlin Film Festival's Silver Bear for [m.42004]Safe Conduct (Laissez-passer). In addition to the Silver Bear, Duhamel's career also yielded three Goya Awards and five Cesar...
French composer [c.13881]Antoine Duhamel passed away yesterday. For more information on the award-winning composer, [url.http://www.soundtrack.net/news/article/?id=1892]click here.
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.423]David Hirschfelder ([m.41988]The Water Diviner), [c.568]Jon Brion ([m.41970]The Gambler), [c.760]Conrad Pope ([t.41998]The Whispers), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 46 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2014-9-08]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.38202]Dolphin Tale 2 ([c.168]Rachel Portman) and [m.35318]No Good Deed...
Varèse Sarabande Records will release [a.13422]Whiplash Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally and on CD, [da.2014-10-07]October 7, 2014. The soundtrack features original score and big band songs by [c.2205]Justin Hurwitz ([m.31689]Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench) and original big band competition pieces by [c.1232]Tim Simonec ([t.7266]Dune).
"The director Damien [Chazelle] and I started talking about this score a year before the cameras rolled," said Hurwitz. "While the original jazz would be somewhat straightforward, the movie's dramatic underscore was more of a conundrum. How do you score a movie that already has so much music in it?" To navigate these waters, Hurwitz would use the techniques of electronic scoring, but with all real instruments, in a way...
When zombie apocalypses are all the rage in every conceivable medium, it seems difficult to come up with a new spin on the undead, let alone a new sound. Yet that’s precisely what Howard and Jonathan Ford did back in 2010 when they switched the usual American-English terrain to the African outback. It was a haunted land to begin with where walking bodies seemed like the natural outcome for the continent where life began. Adding immeasurable atmosphere to their “Dead” was the score by Indian-born composer Imran Ahmad, an unearthly mélange of ethnic percussion, voices and the more recognizable “horror score” elements of gnarled samples, rapid-fire percussion and raging dissonance. But most of all, “The Dead’ impressed in music, picture and emotion as it kept a firm human handle on a mercenary and young boy attempting the impossible task of finding sanctuary, where every sunbaked corner of desert seemed to hold another horde.
Having displayed an epic filmmaking chutzpah with a zombie apocalypse that easily outdid the infinitely bigger-budgeted “World War Z,” the Ford brothers now get back to body-gnashing on another exotic stretch with “The Dead 2.” And this time, it’s one that the London-based Imran Ahmad draws his own blood from, as India becomes the next target for the Ford’s not-so fatal wave of disease. Once again, an ersatz “family” tries to somehow survive, as turbine engineer Nicholas (Joseph Millson) finds himself slicing and dicing far more than wind as he sets off on a s three hundred mile journey to save his pregnant girlfriend Ishani (Meenu), whose home in Mumbai has undead pounding at the door. Accompanying Nicholas is the adolescent Javed (Arnand Goyal), whose bond to a father figure gives “The Dead 2” its emotional power through one viscerally amazing setpiece after the other.
But perhaps the most important elemental force to be derived from the land is its soul, as personified by Ahmad’s even more complex score. For a country steeped in mystical belief systems, Ahmad’s melodically beautiful use of India’s vast array of eon-old instruments conveys the Karmic sense of destiny which makes “The Dead 2” moving in a way that few zombie projects are, especially in conveying an unwavering sense of purpose against whatever horrific odds are thrown at our heroes. It’s a sense of vulnerable destiny that’s unique for American-centric horror scoring. But Ahmad’s music certainly doesn’t turn the other cheek when it comes to delivering the ferociously violent goods, as rock guitars and percussion rage amidst wailing, screaming voices, a thrumming beat making the pulse race as the characters try to outrun one wave of the undead after the other. It’s a masala of eerie exoticism and outright terror that gives palpable expanse to what’s arguably the most interesting, and multi-ethnically impressive zombie franchise in the world, with Ahmad’s music an unforgettable tour guide in a land of no Nirvana in white-eyed sight.
Tell us about your own musical upbringing, and what interested you in film scoring?
I was born in London and being of Indian origin I grew up listening to a variety of Eastern and Western sounds, from Indian classical to Western pop. I started playing the piano and later the guitar in my early teens. Later on I became very interested in film music when I noticed how it would make me feel while watching movies. Being a musician, this awareness led me to explore more about how the music was being used to steer emotions and pace the drama to help tell the stories.
Were there any particular genre scores that stood out for you, especially in the zombie arena before “The Dead” came your way?
There wasn’t anything particularly genre-specific as I have been influenced by a wide range of movies and music, from the fantasy adventure scores of Bernard Hermann to the electronic sounds of John Carpenter. I also draw inspiration from Indian and Middle Eastern music. The first film I saw in the cinema was “The Return of the Jedi.” I must have subconsciously absorbed the music over the two hours while watching visuals that were completely beyond my imagination as a child. The exhilarating feeling has never left me!
How did you first team with the Ford brothers for “The Dead,” and what was it about your music that appealed to them?
I met Howard in London at the time he was beginning post-production for sound on “The Dead.” I watched the initial trailer he sent me and was amazed by the visuals he and Jon had captured out in West Africa (shot on 35mm). Feeling inspired I wrote some music and sent it to him. Both Howard and Jon loved the sounds I had used, especially the adventurous pace and spiritual feeling of the vocal parts. They said it was very different for a horror genre score and that is exactly what they were looking for.
Before even jumping into “The Dead” series, did you listen to past scores in the zombie genre? And how did you want to put your own stamp on it?
Howard and Jon had made a visually stunning movie about a road trip journey across an unfamiliar landscape that happened to have zombies in it! I wanted to use sounds and instruments that were unfamiliar to the zombie genre. Our overall aim was to give the audience a very different aesthetic experience in terms of visuals and music.
Could you talk about your musical approach for the original “Dead?” And how did you want to use the original’s theme here as connective tissue in getting across the global outbreak?
The Ford Brothers wanted the movie to be original in every way possible including the score. They were very keen to communicate the fragile sense of hope the characters were left with. Also, in one of my initial conversations with Howard, I described the intended music as arising from nature itself and turning the environment into a twisted and distorted reality. So musically I wanted to develop a delicate sound for the inner journey of the main characters and use experimental vocals and percussion for the natural world and the horror.
The main theme is primarily vocalized and is meant to outline the feeling of being human and not being able to make sense of the world. The zombie outbreak could very well be a force of nature such as a tsunami or earthquake. All human beings rely on hope and perseverance, and the main theme tries to convey the internal struggle that everyone goes through.
Beyond scoring “The Dead 2,” you also helped in its production. What were some of your wilder experiences on the shoot, and were any of them life threatening?
I only accompanied Howard and Jon on the location scout trip to India. As I speak Hindi, I assisted in planning the route and liaised with local people we met along the way to play zombies for our teaser trailer. In total we drove about a thousand miles around the state of Rajasthan (the land of Kings) in Northern India looking for suitable locations. The countryside was captivating as we drove past sunbaked villages, abandoned palaces eroding away and the immense Thar Desert. The only life-threatening situation was the insane driving that we witnessed!
Could you tell us about how the Ford brothers work as a team, especially when it comes to collaborating with you on the music for “The Dead 2?” Were you all going for a “bigger and better” attitude?
The Ford brothers have always wanted to make a zombie movie ever since they saw the original ‘Dawn of the Dead’. This is why they co-directed both of these films. They are creative explorers and always inclined to go off the beaten track when they shoot their films. That is why they find captivating and haunting locations that are not necessarily on the official location guide. I think this combination of passion for the genre, sense of adventure and relentless enthusiasm, led me to create a music score with a more expansive feel.
What do you think the biggest differences, and similarities are between Indian and African music?
I’m not sure that I can comment in broad terms regarding this! India is a subcontinent and is incredibly large and diverse with varying cultures and musical traditions. Africa, on the other hand is a continent with well over forty countries! It’s way too diverse in music styles depending on which part of the land you go to. What I would say about Indian music is that there is a refined ancient system of musical scales (raags) and rhythms (taals) that are still used to this day in both classical and popular music. These are the musical influences I primarily draw from.
Tell us about the ensemble of Indian instruments that you used.
The Indian instruments were primarily the bansuri (Indian flute) with some sarangi (bowed string instrument) that was processed and distorted. I also worked with Indian classical singer, Chandra Chakraborty. Howard and Jon were keen on embellishing a haunting song or lullaby into the film. Chandra and I recorded a Rajasthani lullaby about a woman who lives in a palace and dreams of her husband returning to her. It had relevance to the film’s setting and the yearning that the main characters Ishani and Nicholas both feel.
In the respect of Indian music’s natural, peaceful quality, do you think it affords “The Dead” more moments of tranquility, and beauty that another ethnic musical approach might?
Indian music is one of many languages in which to communicate feelings and emotions. This is the inherent transcendental nature of music. I used the Indian flute for the more tranquil moments and the sound of the flute naturally possesses the qualities of beauty and peace. I hope that the audience will appreciate and absorb any sounds outside their own cultural frame of reference, as we naturally tend to listen more attentively when sounds and rhythms are unfamiliar.
Could you talk about the electronic and rock guitar elements to the score, and how you wanted it to serve the movie’s pace?
These elements are complimentary to the rest of the musical palette. The energy and textures of sounds generated by amplifying rock guitars are incredible in themselves. Elementally they sound like fire and dramatically give a sense of emergency and danger. The rock guitar isn’t communicating anything cultural in the movie. I love using sounds like this in an unexpected context like when I used the Indian flute in an African setting.
When you think of zombies, a moaning, if not outright screaming voice comes to mind for the tortures of the dead, and the damned. In that respect, how did you want to use voices in this movie, for both terrifying and peaceful ends?
For most of the vocals, I worked with a singer called Saba Tewelde who is originally from Eritrea in East Africa. Her voice was what I felt could represent the natural world turning lethal as the outbreak is a force of nature. She has this amazing vocal dichotomy where the higher registers are very beautiful and ethereal, and the low ones sound haunting and foreboding. The higher tones are short and fleeting during moments when the characters are hopeful. The darker tones just stay with the characters the whole time never leaving them alone. I then added distorted screaming as another texture to some of the sections of the score. It’s disturbing and powerful as it is derived from fear. However, we had a fun time recording that in the studio!
You’ve got some particularly unsettling, and outright ferocious percussive passages in “The Dead 2.” Tell us about that quality of the score.
We wanted to propel the unrelenting threat from the zombies. These are the slow moving zombies that were first made popular in George Romero’s movies. The zombies are silent predators and slowly creep up on you without you even noticing. I think the scare factor is amplified than if you saw them running towards you screaming like an animal, as you wouldn’t have any time to react and plan what to do. The percussive passages help to heighten the terror and sense of panic when the attacks occur.
Both movies share the story point of an American hero trying to get a vulnerable person to safety. How do you think the music reflects that emotion?
The emotional core is a distillation of all our worldly concerns down to what actually matters and motivates us to live. Most people become unconscious of what really drives them in life. The hero is himself now vulnerable too as his world is falling apart. The music reflected in the love theme for Ishani and Nicholas is very simple and attempts to reflect the fragility and sacredness of their relationship. If you became helpless and vulnerable, whom would you naturally turn to for help? I think for most people it will be the people that they love and care about the most.
With the hero traversing so much territory, how did you want the score to reflect the different locations?
I think there is cohesiveness to the overall sound of the score and it doesn’t venture into terrain outside the reality of the story. The scenes at night are particularly unsettling. If the main characters are vulnerable during the day, then they are more so at night when they need to sleep! The music has a haunting and ghostly quality in these quieter moments.
In general, what do you think makes horror music scary? And how important is its balance between melody and dissonance for you?
It has been said that silence is the most effective storytelling device in horror. In a silent scene, there is no musical narrative to inform how the audience is meant to feel. That is scary! Our physiology can be purposely built up to a state of anxiety and panic. Other than this, dissonance is important as it can create feelings of uneasiness and simulate sounds generated by animals and humans when they are scared – a vocal expression of our primal fears. The right balance is very much dependent on what kind of experience the Director wants the audience to have. I prefer a good mix of melody and dissonance.
How do you think things are looking with Indian composers making the crossover into English language films, especially when it comes to movie that have nothing to do with India?
I think it’s great. The wonderful thing about composing is being able to experience different musical cultures, traditions and languages from around the world. It’s very rewarding. When I worked with Gambian musician Jali Kebba Susso on “The Dead,” he was the 75th generation kora player from his family! He not only brought his beautiful sounds to the score, he also infused it with the richness of his ancient culture.
Howard Ford is next up to direct a film outside of the horror genre. What can you tell us about it, and how will it be to break away from the zombies for him the next time out?
Howard’s next film is a thriller that is going to be set primarily in Morocco. It follows an American single mother on vacation in a beautiful but unfamiliar land that takes the law into her own hands when her child is abducted. I’m really looking forward to seeing the visuals he captures whilst he is out there.
What do you think makes “The Dead” films distinctive from the wave of zombie pictures, and TV series we’re getting now?
“The Dead” films are austere and laconic in terms of dialogue and the very few characters, similar in tone to the westerns of Sergio Leone. The landscape and indigenous people are very much part of the visual language. I think this makes it distinctive. Also, the Ford brothers want to take the audience as well as the fans of the genre into new locations with people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. I think this creates a fresh perspective for the genre especially with local interpretations and reactions to the outbreak framed through their own culture and beliefs.
What locale would you like to see The Dead series go to next?
There have been talks of the series continuing into Asian countries like Afghanistan or China.
How would you survive a zombie invasion, especially in India?
Indian people are incredibly resourceful and creative. A large percentage of people live and consume well within their means. The people would just know how to survive a zombie apocalypse!
Buy Imran Ahmad’s first DEAD soundtrack HERE
Visit Imran Ahmad’s website HERE