Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Joe Kraemer

Film Music Magazine News - Do, 21/02/2019 - 21:07

With dozens of films and television shows to his credits in a career launched with “Way of the Gun’s” cult explosion, composer Joe Kraemer has scored no end of see-it-to-believe it projects. From daredevil swings between conspiratorial suspense and Lalo Schifrin spy riffs on Christopher McQuarrie’s “Jack Reacher” and “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” to the scary second entries of “House of the Dead” and “Joyride,” not to mention the orgasmic thrills of Skinimax’s “Femme Fatale’s” anthology series and upending a TV spin on “The Poseidon Adventure,” Kraemer’s energetically melodic approach has made listeners believe in the improbable. But perhaps the biggest surprise of Kraemer’s career is not only making us believe that Sam Elliott is “The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot,” but giving these accomplishments dead dramatic seriousness as well the kind of gorgeous thematic resonance you’d expect in a John Williams score dealing with far more earthbound events.

Yet it’s exactly the unexpected that makes this “Man” stand out. Written and directed with slowly paced resonance by Robert D. Krzyowski in his feature debut, taking down an infamous dictator and an unfortunately afflicted primate aren’t the happiest affairs for the history-haunted Calvin Barr (Elliott), who’s most silently tormented by the happier, romantic road his life has not taken due to his special set of lethal tracking skills. Veering between a homespun naturalism worthy of a “Waltons” episode with more ferocious combat one might find in “The Dirty Dozen” and “Evil Dead,” Kraemer’s quite beautiful score effortlessly segues through time and emotion with its striking lyricism, where military action takes a turn into the sad poetry of aging. For if the people who know Calvin quite didn’t realize he had it in him, the same might be said for listeners familiar with Kraemer’s more ferocious music in this most unexpected of stories.

Joe Kraemer and Sam Elliott

Of course that doesn’t mean Kraemer isn’t up to his sly tricks, particularly with the seditious “Comrade Detective.” Produced in Eastern Europe but made by Yanks, this seditious, terribly dubbed procedural has Bulgaria’s greatest macho detectives taking down the evil pawns of democracy to Kraemer’s over-the-top, spot-on salutes to America cop TV kitsch as well lampooning the iconic work of numerous capitalist film composers. Then with the deliriously fun documentary “King Cohen,” Kraemer gets into a jazz-blaxploitation swing that’s all about the chutzpah of a prolific outlaw filmmaker. It’s music that captures a Deuce decade when anything was possible in the name of memorable exploitation and pure, jazzy moxie. In yet another feat that shows his stylistic dexterity, Kraemer’s lush re-score of F.W. Murnau’s classic 1927 film “Sunrise” again shows Kraemer’s talent with a full, lush orchestra for film music at its purest form, from a time when scoring truly had to tell a story – from a composer who’s shown an affinity for tall tales like never before.

How did you become involved in a film with one of the more outlandishly memorable titles in some time?

The writer-director Robert Krzykowski first reached out to me to score a short film he made, based on a comic strip he drew in college called “Elsie Hooper”. The short film was a black-and-white noir made with life-size puppets and was very unique and personal, so when he told me he had a script for a feature he wanted to make, I was braced for something out of the ordinary.

Sam Elliott and Robert D. Krzykowski

He sent me the script and some production art he’d done. I read the first 20 or so pages, and emailed him right away and accepted the job. I usually don’t read scripts at all (unless I need to write music for use during principal photography) because there can be such a big gap between what one reads in a pre-production script and how the finished film turns out, and I find this can interfere with the scoring process. But because of this title, I just had to read some of it. When I finally saw a cut of the movie, I was so impressed by Bob’s filmmaking. He made an independent movie that looks as good as a big Hollywood feature, with phenomenal performances from exceptional actors. I was most struck by the emotional heart of the film, which ran counter to the expectations the title evoked.

The film has a surprisingly naturalistic pace in spite of its outré elements. How important was it to capture that feeling of normalcy in a way that you could still plunge into the more fantastical scenes?

I think it was very important. I think if I had tried to fight the feelings and pace that the movie was built on, it would have felt false. As a composer, I always try to follow the film’s lead, sometimes within a specific scene, and sometimes looking at the film as a whole. I have to trust that the movie knows what it’s doing, if you will, and that by following the film, I’ll be able to help the director tell his or her story. Of course, sometimes I encounter a situation where I have to deviate from this aesthetic and help push the film in one direction or another, usually at the director’s request, to help drive home a point that for any number of reasons might be resonating as strongly with the audience as desired. On this film, it was usually the opposite. We were pulling back on the emotion in spots to make sure we didn’t overdo it for the audience.

What kind of gravitas do you think Sam Elliot gives to the film, and your score?

I think he captured perfectly the sense of a lifetime of exhaustion that Barr has endured, disappointment at the way things turned out, and resentment that he didn’t take certain actions when he had the chance.
Again, I try to let the film tell me what kind of music it needs, and with Sam’s performance at the center of the film, it obviously led the direction of the emotional arc of the movie, and the score too as a result.

Can you talk about your main themes, and how they suit the film’s bittersweet, if not often-melancholy idea of aging in deceptive anonymity?

Well, Barr’s principal theme is pensive piano melody, which grew from my reaction to the lonely, quiet life he’s living in the modern part of the story. There is a “Brotherhood” theme, which developed out of the relationship Calvin has with his brother, Ed (Larry Miller), and grows to encompass his feelings about a particular character he interacts with in the back half of the movie. I wrote a delicate theme for Maxine (Caitlin FitzGerald), the love of his life, which is first introduced in the scene in the Hat Shop. They also have a love theme that is heard throughout the film, including a heartbreaking sequence involving letters she has written to Barr. There’s also a theme for the Bigfoot, which also relates to the FBI and the Canadian authorities. Finally, there is a theme I wrote, the purpose of which is more ambiguous, and deals with the desire to hang on to a single moment in time and make it last forever. I hope these themes are composed or arranged in such ways that they resonate with the scenes in question effectively.

The film has an interesting flashback structure between young Calvin (Aidan Turner) and old. How important was it for the music to tie the timelines together?

If the flashback structure is working for the film itself in a narrative way, then the score should also work if I go along with it. I think Bob did a terrific way of pivoting the audience into the flashbacks through visual turns, so the music didn’t really need to help out there. Maybe films like “The English Patient” and TV shows like “Lost” have opened me up to the liberties stories can take now with flashbacks, because it was never really something I worried about on this.

Tell us about scoring the assassination of Hitler?

For me, the key to the scenes with Hitler is a close-up shot of Hitler’s hand, shaking uncontrollably. Combining this with some information Barr gives us during an engrossing monologue about what it was like to carry out that mission led me to score you hear in those scenes with Hitler. Nervous, tense, frenetic, hopefully with a surprising humanity in the subtext for Barr’s character.

What was your approach to Bigfoot?

Sometimes I try to be clever. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In this case, I took the notes B, G, and F and made a musical motif out of theme that became the music signifier for Bigfoot. Not only do we hear it during the brawl with the creature, but also earlier in the film, I used it to foreshadow the involvement of the FBI with Bigfoot, although this is one of the things we pulled out of the film during the mix, as we felt the audience could figure this out for themselves…

There’s a nice John Williams-esque feeling to your orchestration in your score. What kind of feeling do you think that composer brings to distinctly American films, and how did you want to capture that kind of homespun quality here?

I suppose I’ve been such an admirer of John Williams for such a long time that I can’t help but approach some of the situations I encounter as a composer with techniques I learned studying his work. But I also specifically referenced J.S. Bach in this score, as well as making allusions to Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, David Shire, and John Barry. I didn’t specifically set out to capture that homespun quality, as you eloquently put it, but rather, tried to make music that seemed appropriate for the scenes in question.

Onto way more obviously crazy material, your music from Amazon’s “Comrade Detective’s” score is getting an LP release. What kind of opportunity do you think that scoring a “fake” Bulgarian cop show gave you, especially as the villains were the purveyors of Capitalism and Democracy?

The fun thing about that project was that I got to pretend I was someone else. I imagined I was a composer living in the Soviet Union in the early 80’s and I’d been given this chance by the Communist regime to do a big score for their top show. As this imaginary composer, I was given the chance to subvert American propaganda being distributed through their action movies like “Bullit”, “First Blood” and the Rambo films, “Chinatown”, and TV shows like “The A-Team”, “Hill Street Blues”, and such.

Did you do a deep dive into older TV “cop” music in preparation for “Comrade Detective?” And just how goofy did you think you could get with that over-the-top approach?

I didn’t do any specific research per se, instead I relied on my memory of how those shows were scored, which kind of worked as I imagine the composer I was pretending to be would not have seen these shows more than once, and even then as bootleg video tapes smuggled into Communist Romania. But I didn’t purposely try to be goofy with the music. If I got big, it was because I imagined the filmmakers of this 80’s program would have wanted the audience to be invested in the importance of this show.

Kraemer conducts Comrade

You pay some hilariously obvious homages to composers like Jerry Goldsmith and John Barry with “Comrade Detective,” not to mention twisting Democracy’s most sacred anthems to villainy. Was that part of the fun?

Definitely. Perhaps the most obvious aspect of my career has been an association with a “retro” approach to scoring, and getting to use techniques that audiences enjoy hearing in Goldsmith and Barry scores was a lot fun. I also love putting clever little Easter eggs into my scores. So using famous American melodies, such as the National Anthem, in twisted kept me amused.

Having scored the adult anthology series “Femme Fatales,” what was it like to get to do a way more kid-friendly “Goosebumps”-esque show called “Creeped Out” for Netflix?

I loved it. I’m kind of a kid at heart, and I really love the late 70’s and early 80’s films and scores, and I keep returning to those when I listen to music or watch movies for fun in my down time. So having a chance to write music for Amblin-esque material, albeit through the lens of the BBC, was really terrific. The director I worked with most on the show was Steve Hughes, who comes from “Doctor Who” and “Casualty”, just to name a few, and together we really wanted to make each episode a sort of mini-tribute to a film or director we loved from the 80’s.

Another thoroughly enjoyable throwback score you did was for the documentary “King Cohen.” How did you want to capture the go-for-broke chutzpah of an “outlaw” writer-director whose career has gone from the golden age of television to today’s Hollywood?

Larry Cohen is such a larger-than-life character, that it was impossible not to go-for-broke with the music. Some of the music we did in the film was driven by effective temp music placed by the director, Steve Mitchell. Some of it was from me, reacting to Larry’s personality. Sometimes it was dictated by the time period being discussed in the film, or the film being covered.

Joe Kraemer and ‘King Cohen’ director Steve Mitchell

What do you think the appeal of Larry Cohen’s movies are, and how did you want to translate to music an oeuvre where you feel the filmmaker’s personality?

I think Larry Cohen makes movies that are genuine and honest expressions of who he is and what he’s trying to say, and the audience reacts to that. I think writers and directors who try and create a false impression of who they are, or make movies that aren’t really what they love or want to do, end up creating work that is false, and the audience can see through that too. In terms of his personality, I think Larry is a natural-born entertainer who is at his best when he has an audience to perform for. You see it in the movie, I’ve seen it in real life at screenings and signings, he engages the audience and draws them into what he’s doing, with humor at first, and then with sincerity for what his ultimate goal is, whether that’s to scare them with “It’s Alive”, address a social issue with “Bone”, or satirize commercialism and capitalism with “The Stuff”. He has a lot of energy as well, so I tried to create music that had energy, a sense of humor, but an underlying sincerity, and depending on the situation in the documentary, a sense of fear, a sense of justice, let’s say, or a sense of humor. Evoking those senses through music is the job of a good film composer, and I tried to use the skills I’ve developed in those areas as best I could.

King Cohen

With so many film clips in “King Cohen,” how did you want to reflect on the actual scores in his movies?

Documentary scoring can be different from narrative feature scoring in that sometimes the music has to serve a purely practical purpose, such as linking interviews between movie clips. Obviously, music rights prevent us from using the scores from the original Cohen films except in “fair use” clips, so I had to come up with pieces that could segue into and out of the film clips without infringing on the copyrights of the original scores but also without taking the audience out of the flow of the documentary. But any composer who survives in this business has to have some skill at listening to a temp score that a director loves and finding a way to create a new piece of music that satisfies the filmmaker without stealing from the temp.

One of your most interesting projects has been doing a new score for the classic silent movie “Sunrise.” How did this classic come your way, and what kind of musical opportunities did it present to you?

Up until 2016, I had never had anything I’d written for orchestra performed live in concert, and it was a dream of mine I was striving to realize. In March of that year, I got a call from composer Brian Satterwhite, asking me if I was interested in writing a score for a silent film to be performed “live-to-picture” in the fall. I immediately said yes. I have to thank my friend, Beth Krakower, for pointing Brian in my direction. She passed away last year, and it was heartbreaking for me, and my score for “Sunrise” will always remind me of her.

Beth Krakower

My favorite aspect of the music itself was the freedom to tell the story in the score. I actually really love the balance between sound and music in films, having worked in sound for years while I waited for scoring opportunities. I am always complaining that my score is mixed too loud in some scene, or that we have too much music in a movie, but with “Sunrise” it was all music, all the time. Combined with the very classic look of the film, I felt liberated as a composer to indulge in thematic, emotional writing that had kind of vanished from live-action dramas in the 2000’s. You still hear it in animation, and some kids films, but this was a chance to just go for it one hundred percent.

What’s the trick to writing in the style of a 1927 score, from your way of embodying exactly what’s happening on screen to capturing the jazz age influences?

I don’t know if there was a “trick” per se. I tried to write music that felt honest to the film, music that didn’t clash with what I was seeing on screen. I guess the biggest factor in my decision-making was choosing the instruments to be used in the ensemble. By avoiding any synths or “modern” sounds like guitars or a drum set, the music had a certain accuracy to the film in terms of instrumentation. There is a character in the film referred to as “The Woman” or “The Other Woman” and she dresses in what for 1927 was considered very flashy clothing, a “flapper” haircut and the dress and heels that go with the look. That to me evoked an association with “rooty-tooty” clarinets and Gershwin and such. Another sequence has the central couple of the story dancing at a fancy restaurant to a brass band in a waltz, and the music for that sequence was determined to a large degree by the instruments seen on screen, the tempo the on-screen bandleader sets and at which the couple dance, and the kind of dancing they do. There are plenty of moments in the film where I do something that a composer from 1927 would not have done, things that are more modern than that, but I always tried to make sure those moments felt honest to the emotional intent of the movie.

As an especially busy composer, what’s coming up for you?

Joe Kraemer at Abbey Road Studios

I’m planning very soon to score a film for Lucky McKee, who I met when he produced “The Man Who Killed Hitler and the the Bigfoot.” Later this year, I’ll be working with Marcus Ovnell, a Swedish filmmaker, on a fantastic family-oriented film he’s currently editing called “Faunutland.” I also do a lot of work with a British organization called Big Finish, and they make Doctor Who audio dramas. With 50-plus years of history, the Doctor Who universe has endless story potential, and actors from the show’s history come in and do radio plays for CD, Audible and such. I do scores for those whenever I have time, they keep me busy and they give me a chance to work on a property I’ve loved since I was a kid.

Having gotten such a wide, stylistic range of film and television to score, is there any approach you’re still looking to play?

I think I’ve made it pretty obvious over the years that I’d love to score a “Star Wars” movie. I came pretty close with one, actually, but it wasn’t to be. Maybe one day? I guess rather than any one musical style, I’d just like to continue working on films that have something to say for the audience. I’ve been really lucky with “The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot” to have a canvas on which to paint a very emotionally satisfying picture.

Returning to “The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot.” do you think this score shows about what you’re melodically capable of as a composer, especially as its title is about the pre-conception of what kind of movie and score you expect, but then actually get?

I do the best job I can with every opportunity I get, whether it’s a film like this with a crazy title that yields a heartwarming story, or a popcorn-entertainment like “Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation.” Looking back at the past five or six years of my career, I see lots of turning points for my growth. I suppose “Hitler and Bigfoot” feels to me like a kind of fruition of seeds I planted in my work on “Sunrise.” I don’t really have any expectations of where my career is headed, I don’t actually believe one can control that kind of thing, so I just keep studying, keep practicing, and keep working. I trust the universe to take care of the rest.

“The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot” is now playing on Amazon iTunes and other VOD outlets HERE, with Joe Kraemer’s score available soon on La La Land Records.

Tune into the music of “Comrade Detective” on Lakeshore Records HERE, then get the blu ray / cd combo of “King Cohen” on La La Land Records HERE

Joe Kraemer’s score for “Sunrise” is available on Caldera Records HERE. Listen to other Joe Kraemer scores HERE

Visit Joe Kraemer’s website HERE

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Lakeshore Records to Release 'The Dragon Prince' Soundtracks

Soundtrack News - Di, 19/02/2019 - 01:00
Lakeshore Records has announced the upcoming release of both the season one and season two soundtracks to the Netflix Original Series [m.53165]The Dragon Prince[] with original music from [c.1540]Frederik Wiedmann[]. [m.53165]The Dragon Prince[] is an original animated series produced by Wonderstorm for Netflix. Season one premiered in September, 2018 and immediately topped popularity lists across Rotten Tomatoes, Google, and Tumblr. Lauded for the diversity of its characters and its deeply layered storytelling, the show was renewed for a second season less than a month after its debut. The mix of action, adventure and humor attracted genre fans, families, teens and animation fans of all ages. Season 2 premieres on February 15 with...

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NEWS: Varese Sarabande Announces 'House of Cards' Season 6 Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Za, 16/02/2019 - 01:00
Varèse Sarabande celebrates President's Day with the release of [a.25109]House of CardsSeason 6 - Original Netflix Series Soundtrack[]. The album features the original music composed by [c.674]Jeff Beal[]. The digital album is available now at online retailers, while the CD is a exclusive. All 500 CDs of the limited run are signed by the Emmy Award-Winning composer. Soundtracks to seasons 1-5 of [m.33760]House of Cards[] are also available from Varèse Sarabande. "It's with great pleasure I bring you our final installment of music from [m.33760]House of Cards[]." Said composer [c.674]Jeff Beal[] about the conclusion of the award winning show. "Our show was about politics, but I always felt it was also about...

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NEWS: 9th Guild of Music Supervisors Awards Winners Announced

Soundtrack News - Vr, 15/02/2019 - 01:00
The 9th Guild of Music Supervisors Awards were handed out last night at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. The nominees and winners in the major film/TV music categories are as follows: BEST MUSIC SUPERVISION FOR FILMS BUDGETED OVER 25 MILLION DOLLARS Winner: [c.3969]Julia Michels[] and [c.4291]Julianne Jordan[] for [m.47155]A Star is Born[] [c.1013]Dave Jordan[] for [m.41692]Black Panther[] [c.3940]Becky Bentham[] for [m.49194]Bohemian Rhapsody[] [c.9803]Michael Higham[] and [c.13925]Paul Gemignani[] for [m.44578]Mary Poppins Returns[] [c.8930]Wende Crowley[] for [m.45383]Peter Rabbit[] BEST MUSIC SUPERVISION FOR FILMS BUDGETED UNDER 25 MILLION DOLLARS [c.5071]Howard Paar[] for [m.50400]Can You Ever Forgive Me?[] [c.4711]Buck Damon[] for...

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Audio: Interview with Junkie XL

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 13/02/2019 - 19:47

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

Pushing the outer limits of music from the alternative concert stage to the multiplex film screen, Junkie XL (alias Tom Holkenborg) has made an impressive career on sound and fury. Whether his subject is Elvis, Mad Max, Batman or Deadpool, Junkie XL has shown his rhythmic dexterity in instruments both ancient and state of the art, while also banging on the pieces salvaged from the trash heap. With “Alita: Battle Angel”, Junkie recovers an object of beauty from the cast-offs of future tech. His discovery is a big-eyed cyborg super-heroine whose past domain was a cult Manga series. Now turned from Japanese illustration to Hollywood flesh and blood by director Robert Rodriguez and producer-writer James Cameron, “Alita” takes her own musical path to humanity.

Quite different from the often ferocious percussion that Junkie XL has given to super-powered icons, “Alita” sings the body electric with a gorgeously melodic score, with emotionally resonant strings and haunted voices taking the composer’s style to a new, epically lush frontier. With gliding themes both epic and intimate, Junkie finds no ghost in the machine, but instead of beating, soulful heart. But of course, brass and rock rhythms are ready to do scoring battle for “Alita” in the film’s cyborg-smashing Thunderdome, where Junkie unleashes full-throttle action. It’s an impressive, old school evolution for a composer pushing the cutting edge for some of pop culture’s wildest creations. Now on a new podcast of On the Score, a composer with a distinctive voice at conveying a warrior’s mettle reflects on his passionately powered, heavenly sound for “Alita: Battle Angel.”

Click above to Listen Now or Click Here to Download

Buy the Soundtrack: ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL Buy the Soundtrack: MORTAL ENGINES Buy the Soundtrack: MAD MAX FURY ROAD Visit Junkie XL’s “Studio Time” YouTube Page Visit Junkie XL’s website

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga & Lukas Nelson Win at 72nd BAFTA Awards

Soundtrack News - Ma, 11/02/2019 - 01:00

Earlier today, the 72nd British Academy Film Awards were given out at the Royal Opera House in London. The nominees and winners in the music category were as follows:

Original Music:
[m.52117]BlacKkKlansman[] - [c.247]Terence Blanchard[]
[m.52113]If Beale Street Could [] - [c.4631]Nicholas Britell[]
[m.49258]Isle of Dogs[] - [c.752]Alexandre Desplat[]
[m.44578]Mary Poppins Returns[] - [c.198]Marc Shaiman[]
Winner: [m.47155]A Star Is Born[] - [c.19386]Bradley Cooper[], [c.19387]Lady Gaga[], [c.]Lukas...

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NEWS: Patrick Doyle's 'All Is True' Soundtrack Released

Soundtrack News - Za, 09/02/2019 - 01:00
Sony Music proudly announces the release of [a.25084]All Is True (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)[] featuring original music by Oscar-nominee [c.50]Patrick Doyle[]. Of the soundtrack, composer [c.50]Patrick Doyle[] says: "I have the great fortune of a long-standing working relationship with Kenneth Branagh, which has been a huge pleasure and very fruitful. Kenneth kindly asked me to score the picture, [m.54094]All Is True[], and I readily agreed. I loved the script and, of course, with the knowledge that Ken and Judy would be playing William and Anne, I knew it would be electric and historic. The schedule was very tight and I was sent the rushes every day, composing hot on the heels of the cut. This included two songs...

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NEWS: Lakeshore Records Announces 'What Men Want' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Vr, 08/02/2019 - 01:00
Lakeshore Records is set to release [a.25110]What Men Want--Music From The Motion Picture[] digitally February 8. The original score was composed by [c.361]Brian Tyler[] ([m.34056]Avengers: Age of Ultron[], [m.50345]Crazy Rich Asians[]). A fresh take on the comedy classic [m.28166]What Women Want[], the Paramount Pictures film was directed by Adam Shankman, and stars Taraji P. Henson, Tracy Morgan, Josh Brener, Aldis Hodge and Erykah Badu opens in theaters February 8. Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) is a successful sports agent who's constantly boxed out by her male colleagues. When Ali is passed up for a well-deserved promotion, she questions what else she needs to do to succeed in a man's world... until she gains the ability to hear...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Jeff Russo

Film Music Magazine News - Do, 07/02/2019 - 01:53
(photo by Cliff Lipson, CBS)

Much like the shape shifting of a certain multiple identity mutant that he scores, the Emmy-Winning TV-centric composer Jeff Russo has shown no end to his ability to morph across the small screens brave new worlds. Hailing from a Grammy-nominated background with the band Tonic, Russo has shown no end of personages from the murderously loopy miscreants who populate “Fargo” to “Waco’s” apocalyptic cult leader and the lethal club kingpins of “Power.” But no playing field affords Russo such notable creativity as the genre, whether it be the body-swapping surreal atmosphere of “Altered Carbon” the devilish antics of “Lucifer,” “Ghosted” and “The Santa Clarita Diet” or creating an alternate musical world from the other-earth agent of “Counterpart.”


2019 have given a noteworthy blast-off for Russo. Not only is he saving humanity from the vampire plague of “The Passage” alongside frequent collaborator Jordan Gagne, but Russo has also impressively returned to the commander’s chair with “Star Trek: Discovery” while steering a woefully dysfunctional band of ex-superheroes known as “The Umbrella Academy.” Coming on board a television starship whose post-classic incarnations had a prime directive order of bland scoring, Russo invigorated the small-screen franchise with the kinds of big themes, and melody that hadn’t been heard in that TV universe for decades. Now with a new “Discovery” season leavened with humor decidedly missing from the show’s deceptively bleak start, Russo is going boldly with terrifically exciting, and humane music that show creator Gene Roddenberry would no doubt be happy with – from a John Williams-worthy flight through a meteor shower to a sense of mysticism for a mysterious angel-like figure that haunts both Michael Berman (Sonequa Martin-Green) and her “brother” Mr. Spock (Ethan Peck). It’s a return of O.G. characters to a Kelvin universe that also gives Russo the chance to capture the heroism of a fully mobile Captain Pike (Anson Mount).

A far wackier approach worthy of Russo’s “Legion,” if not the eccentricity of “Fargo,” is “The Umbrella Academy. Adapted by Netflix from Gerard Way’s Dark Horse comic, this smash-up between “The Incredibles,” “Johnny Quest” and any number or ironic, dysfunctional avengers finds a band of lethal child superheroes brought together by the death of their sadistic English explorer mentor. Grown into woeful adulthood, the collective that includes a gorilla-powered leader, a drug addicted clairvoyant and a time-warped kid assassin must somehow unite to prevent The Apocalypse. Russo’s richly thematic, violin-topped score does much to distinguish each basket case. Whether using cheerfully chirping bells to rock guitars or more traditional orchestral fisticuffs, Russo’s witty emo score captures how children who were once the idols of millions end up as truly screwed grown ups. It’s a powerful, poignant approach that still delivers on ironic, ultra-violent hipness as well as Marvel-worthy save the world stuff.

Whether he’s warping to a new quadrant of the universe of showing the blackly humorous workings of the time continuum, Russo’s ever-prolific work continues to run with inventiveness and energy, creating some of the most thrilling television scoring out there while also making cinematic inroads. Now Russo expounds on his musical team spirit, whether said groups are united by a Federation, or neuroses.

I felt that every TV incarnation from “The Next Generation” onwards had music that wasn’t memorable, a “wallpaper” approach that was the producers’ Prime Directive. What was it like to bring back actual themes, and scoring that truly did something to the franchise since its original series? And had they asked you to take the same approach as the Trek shows before, do you think you could have even done “Discovery?”

I don’t know what I would’ve done. Early on, I had a meeting with the producers where I had a concept in terms of how to approach the musicality of the show. They were on board because their original idea also was “Hey, we need to bring back what music means to this franchise, what music does to the story.” It was certainly more in line what the franchise does from the films than it did from the last few iterations of the show. It’s not that the last iterations weren’t great, because the themes and music that composers like Dennis McCarthy and Ron Jones did were amazing. “Discovery” just wanted to bring thematic music back into the show so music would be a real part of it as opposed to just “wallpaper.”

In any show I score, I want music to have an emotional core. I write music based on what I think and see a character feeling rather than what I see that character doing. It’s an approach that has more of an undertone, an undercurrent emotional base that than what I’d think you’d expect. Had “Discovery” wanted to go in the other direction, I don’t know what I would have done.

Photo by Cliff Lipson, CBS

I wasn’t a big fan of how “Discovery’s” first season started out, with episodes that were way too violent. But then, it really won me over in the second half with its switch to adventure, and an attempt at peace with the Klingons. Were you aware of the overall arch when you started the show, and how did you intend to reflect that tonal “course correction” as such?

I have to deal with stories as they come in and to also think about what the endgame is pretty much at all times. It’s difficult to address fan concerns and people who don’t know what’s coming, especially how things are on a certain episode when I’m thinking about 10 episodes ahead. There was always this idea about how we were going to end Season 1, and how that was going to affect the jumping off point for what Season 2 was going to be. I’m assuming that the producers deliberately chose this “Kelvin” timeframe leading up to seeing The Enterprise, and how that timeline would affect the way we’d continue to tell “Discovery” stories. I needed to manage the music for the Klingon war, so there was always this big overarching feeling about how to approach storytelling for the long term. I try to keep that in mind when writing music as I continue to go back and say, “Okay, so how I do this one theme in this one episode will affect something that I’m going to need to do again, perhaps in Episode 11 when this and that happens.” I need to think about the whole thing in order to keep it all of the music tied together.

Do you think there were any lessons learned from Season 1 in terms of making Season 2’s story more tonally consistent?

I think that we as storytellers do the best that we can to come from an honest and emotional place. The beginning of Season 1 was fashioned in a deliberate way in how it was going to lead into its second half. We want to make “Discovery’s” new season a swashbuckling adventure, rather than a story of war, which has affected everybody’s idealism. Now we’ve become a more swashbuckling-adventure type of show with Season 2, and I’m trying to mirror that in the music. I think that’s a somewhat natural progression of how “Discovery’s” story is being told.

What was it like to get the O.G. characters of Captain Pike and Mr. Spock with Season 2?

It’s totally thrilling! At the end of Episode 15, you hear the bridge crew saying that there’s a message coming from the Enterprise and it’s Captain Pike! I threaded in Alexander Courage’s classic “Star Trek” fanfare for that moment. That was thrilling for me, even though I knew it was going to happen. I even got a tear in my eye! I threaded Alexander Courage’s classic “Star Trek” fanfare into the scene, which was as a nod to a new season in which we’d get to know Captain Pike. I thought how I was going to represent him musically. He has an aura about him that is really bright, and I wanted to represent that. You also have moments of seeing a younger Spock, in Season 2’s premiere, which was also exciting for me. I’ve been a “Star Trek” fan for my entire life, and we hadn’t seen Spock on the show since they had him years ago on “The Next Generation.” I practically lost my mind to see him coming back as a viewer, so I can imagine the same thing is happening for everyone on the show, to have these iconic characters as part of the storytelling process. It’s pretty incredible.


The second episode of Season 2 brought the names of actual religions into the franchise, which might be a first.

I talked to the producers about how to musically approach that aspect without sounding religious at the same time. Star Trek has always been about us trying to be grounded as we possibly can to tell the Human Story. I look at that as spirituality, which really doesn’t stray too much from the show’s ethos. It’s all about how you perceive religion from a literal standpoint, I think it’s always been spiritual instead of being directly religious.

Your other big “team” score this month is “The Umbrella Academy.” Do you think that doing so many off kilter shows like “Fargo” and “Legion” has set you up well for an eccentric superhero series that plays like Wes Anderson meeting The X-Men.

I think that “The Umbrella Academy’s” eccentricity comes from the way these really interesting individual characters are written and performed. I just really had to support that from, as I usually say over and over again, an emotional space. There’s a lot of emotion in the way the story unfolds and the relationships between this “family” and their father. The show is relatively close to the original comic book and its left-of-center feeling. The idea is that if these superhero characters were real people, then what would they be like? That was the most interesting storytelling part to me. But they’re also real people who fall in love and make real mistakes. The only thing that is really above reality is their powers. Everything else feels very grounded and very real. I think that that juxtaposition is what makes “The Umbrella Academy” feel like it’s very much in line with Wes Anderson’s kind of storytelling. He tends to write and direct from a real place, and that’s the thing that makes his films feel so oddball.

Can you talk about your thematic approaches to the various characters?

These are really deep characters, so I thought it would be a good idea to sort of start out by writing an overall suite of music that could represent them as a unit. Doing that made it so much easier for me to build the score over the course of the ten episodes in a way where my themes could really grow with these characters—starting with Vanya, and her solo violin theme, which then becomes an apocalyptic symphony that is the culmination of the show. The piece is called “The White Violin.” At the same time, I was also writing motifs for the characters that were added to the series.

Another interesting “family” series as such deals with “vampires” for “The Passage.” What’s it been like scoring that show?

It’s a score I did with Jordan Gagne. We had done two versions of the pilot because it changed, which often happens with pilots. The redone version of it was much better, which let us change the score from the ground up. Our “vampires” are called “virals,” because they have this virus that makes them vampiric. The challenge was trying to keep an emotional beat for an action-oriented show, especially as “action” music doesn’t really interest me that much. We played a lot less of that, and it worked out really well because there’s an emotional core to the show where there are a lot of related characters that need to be linked together thematically. There’s the kid and her reaction to this father figure whom she’s rebelling against. She’s got a lot of weight on her shoulders, so the question is how do you represent that through music? It’s been somewhat of a challenge but we’re getting there!

You’ve maintained a consistent quality through the numerous television series that you’ve scored. How important is a team to achieving that, as well as you writing your own music?

The commitment to writing the music is there, but we do work as a team. I couldn’t possibly do this by myself. I spend 12 hours a day writing for each show, but it takes a village to make these scores happen. So I take a very concerted team approach to this thing, because I don’t think it can be done without it. I’ve got an assistant who helps edit and rearrange scores based on the themes that I’ve written. It really runs the gamut of things that get done from the top down.

You recorded a lot of “Discovery’s” first season at The Bridge scoring stage, which unfortunately has since closed. What do you think about its loss, and what it says about recording in Los Angeles now?

Without The Bridge It’s been difficult, I did most of “Discovery” at Warner Brothers, while also using The Bridge. Now with one less scoring stage it does make it a difficult conundrum when it comes to recording music. I’m not sure what happened, but it could be many factors that led to the Bridge being shut down. With television there is a lot of sink or swim with new shows. And if there’s a hiatus, then there’s nothing new to record for quite a while. At the end of the day it’s a business. But it’s really unfortunate that it happened.

Besides television work you’ve been scoring films as well like “Mile 22” and “Lizzy.” How do you get your voice out there as a composer with the same success that you have on television?


I’m not sure I look at it that way, because I treat TV scores in the same way I treat film scores. I was asked to do “Lizzie” because its director Craig William Macneill had worked with me before on the show “Channel Zero.” Pete Berg called me after watching Season 2 of “Fargo,” even though “Mile 22” was nothing like that show! Now I’m working on “Lucy in the Sky,” which stars Natalie Portman, and is directed by “Fargo’s” Noah Hawley. It’s thrilling to be doing movies that are entirely different from television work, especially in terms of their more relaxed schedule. But in terms of my approach and desire, I want to continue to write music and make art. That’s the great thing about being able to jump from one medium to the next. I get to use different parts of my brain and shake my cobwebs loose, where I get to score an episode of “Discovery” and then get to mix a song for “Legion” in the same day.

What shows are coming up for you?

We have just finished the new season of “Santa Clarita Diet,” and the second season of “Altered Carbon” will begin shooting soon. The final season of “Legion” should be starting in April, which I’ll be getting to work on as soon as I finish “Discovery.”

When you look at all of the work you’ve done, how do you feel your music is reflected in how television itself is becoming a more challenging medium?

Photo by Justine Ungaro

I think it all depends on the show. Not every show is like a movie. Some shows are “television” shows, like “The Passage” which is written in an episodic way. “Star Trek” has a musical approach that’s very cinematic, for a show that is really shot for the big screen with all of its special effects. But it has an overarching story in the same way that “Fargo” does with each season. When music takes center stage like that on a series, it becomes part of the overall art form. I think more and more, people are making television like that.

Watch the second season of “Star Trek: Discovery” on HERE and “The Umbrella Academy” on Netflix, starting February 15th HERE.

Buy the Season 1 soundtrack of “Star Trek: Discovery” on Lakeshore Records HERE. Lakeshore releases “The Umbrella Academy” soundtrack on February 15th HERE

Buy Jeff Russo’s soundtracks HERE

Visit Jeff Russo’s website HERE

Thanks to Alexander Portillo for his interview transcription

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: WaterTower Music to Release 'The LEGO Movie 2' Soundtrack and Score Albums

Soundtrack News - Do, 07/02/2019 - 01:00
WaterTower Music today announced the February 7, 2019, digital release of two albums of music from the exciting new animated adventure [m.43693]The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part[], the much-anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed global box office phenomenon that started it all, [m.33666]The LEGO Movie[]. Both a soundtrack album and a score album will be released on February 7, the day before the film comes to theaters nationwide from Warner Bros. Pictures. The new music featured on the soundtrack collection includes the end title song "Super Cool," from Beck feat. Robyn & The Lonely Island, the infectious "Catchy Song" by Dillon Francis feat. T- Pain & That Girl Lay Lay and two songs performed in the film by Tiffany Haddish...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Sony Masterworks Announces 'Arctic' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Za, 02/02/2019 - 01:00
Sony Music announces the release of [a.24983]Arctic (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)[] with music by [c.2507]Joseph Trapanese[] ([m.42916]The Greatest Showman[], [m.41486]Straight Outta Compton[]) – available everywhere February 1. Originally premiering at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Joe Penna's [m.51028]Arctic[] is a dramatic tale of survival and makes its debut in theatres on February 1. "Director Joe Penna was a wonderful creative partner in helping me invent a unique soundtrack for [m.51028]Arctic[]. We used choirs of bass flutes, Wagner tubas, and low strings to evoke the power of the landscape, and explored electronic techniques like convolution, re-amplification, and tape varispeed to bring organic, familiar sounds...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: 'The Music of Fifty Shades – Complete Soundtrack Collection' Announced

Soundtrack News - Vr, 01/02/2019 - 01:00
On February 14, UMe brings together the individually released soundtracks for one of the most successful film trilogies of all time as [a.25104]The Music Of Fifty Shades – Complete Soundtrack Collection[]. This deluxe 4CD, 76-track box set includes all three film soundtracks -- 2015's [m.36439]Fifty Shades Of Grey[], 2017's [m.43704]Fifty Shades Darker[], and 2018's [m.43703]Fifty Shades Freed[] -- plus a bonus disc featuring the [a.15283]Fifty Shades Of Grey Remixed[] album and a previously unreleased version of Liam Payne & Rita Ora's international singles chart hit "For You (Fifty Shades Freed)," in addition to rare remixes and other bonus tracks. An exclusive, lavish hardcover collectible coffee-table photo book with images from...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Michel Legrand Dies at 86

Soundtrack News - Zo, 27/01/2019 - 01:00
[c.110]Michel Legrand[], Academy Award-winning composer of [m.25079]Summer of '42[], [m.26008]The Thomas Crown Affair[] and [m.29011]Yentl[], passed away today at age 86 in Paris, France. The composer's other credits include numerous films directed by Jacques Demy, including [m.27084]The Umbrellas of Cherbourg[] & [m.29100]The Young Girls of Rochefort[], as well as Norman Jewison's [m.2262]Best Friends[], Irvin Kershner's [m.18352]Never Say Never Again[], Richard Lester's [m.38561]The Three Musketeers[], John Sturges' [m.12104]Ice Station Zebra[] and Orson Welles' [m.52116]The Other Side of the Wind[]. Throughout his career, he received three Academy Awards, five Grammy Awards, one Golden Globe and BAFTA Award. Among his...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Weekly Roundup: January 25

Soundtrack News - Za, 26/01/2019 - 01:00
Academy Award Nominations were announced this week honoring the best achievements in motion pictures in 2018 -- including the Original Score and Original Song categories. For the list of music-related nominations, [url./news/article/?id=2720]click here[]. Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.151]James Newton Howard[] ([m.53091]Jungle Cruise[]), [c.171]John Powell[] ([m.50815]Call of the Wild[]) and [c.1620]David Buckley[] ([m.54292]Angel Has Fallen[]), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here[]. Over 45 soundtrack albums were released this week. [da.2019-01-22]Click here for the full schedule[]. Opening in theaters nationwide this week are (with music...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with West Dylan Thordson

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 16/01/2019 - 16:12

Long before the idea of a shared comic book universe was a glimmer in Hollywood’s eye, M. Night Shyamalan introduced a “real world” superhero and arch villain for 2000’s “Unbreakable.” Little did security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis) realize he was an ersatz Superman until his true identity was revealed by wheelchair-bound, brittle-boned, comic book collector-cum-evil genius Elijah Price – a.k.a. Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson). It was a shocking journey of discovery guided with a mournful, symphonically lush score by Shyamalan’s then-frequent composing collaborator James Newton Howard (“The Sixth Sense,” “Signs”). Given perhaps his best twist ending to that point in a career made on them.

“Unbreakable” was arguably Shyamalan’s biggest highpoint for the next sixteen years until his critical comeback with “Split.” Transforming his work into a far darker, murderous meditation on identity, Shyamalan not only introduced his far darker side with a personality-filled “Horde” (embodied by James McAvoy), but also a new, impressive scoring collaborator in West Dylan Thordson.

Starting off as a Minnesotan rocker leading the band “A Whisper in the Noise,” Thordson’s spin on Bob Dylan’s “The Times They are A’Changin” proved notable Shyamalan, who used the version for “Lady in the Water.” With his scoring travels taking him to New York and then Hollywood, Thordson’s work was mostly in the documentary realm with such projects as “The Atomic States of America,” “Dixieland” and “3 Generations,” Thordson showed he had bloody money running through icy, creative veins when he played the cunningly, lethal sides of heirs John Du Pont in “Foxcatcher” and Robert Durst for the HBO documentary series “The Jinx.” With “Split,” Thordson channeled eerie empathy and bone-grinding rage, conveying vulnerable multiple identities helpless before the emergence of a wall-crawling, flesh-ripping Beast.

Of course saving the best surprise for last, the far more human strains of Howard’s David Dunn theme appeared at “Split’s” end to reveal that this hooded avenger (along with his arc-nemesis) shared the same “real” world. It was a promise for a comic book team-up that had Shyamalan’s fans salivating for the possibilities. Now nineteen years after this unexpected saga’s first chapter, “Glass” brings the three meta-humans together for the ultimate throw-down of powers real, or perhaps imagined. As staged in an asylum run by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), “Glass” veers from intensive psychotherapy to sinister plotting for a climax that might seem to move Shyamalan into Marvel and DC movie territory. But given the writer-director’s moody take on the nature of heroism and evil, “Glass” takes an expectedly unexpected route, especially in Thordson’s inventively psychological score. While Howard’s more mainstream signature is still in the mix, Thordson assumes Dunn’s identity with his own poignant approach to the security guard. Mr. Glass becomes a sinister, melodically crystalline force, while The Horde’s nerve-wrenching sampling becomes even gnarlier.

Varying between experimental dissonance and hauntingly intimate melody for piano and chamber orchestrations, Thordson finds a humanity that links the characters, especially in the relationship between Casey (Anya-Taylor Joy), a Horde survivor determined to reach the victim within his rage. Driving the score is the sense of a clock ticking to a confrontation governed by cosmic forces beyond anyone’s control. It’s a striking soundtrack as far away from the traditions of comic book scoring as imaginable as Thordson embodies Shyamalan’s subversive take on the genre. Like “Split,” “Glass” announces an especially forceful identity on the scoring scene, now more impressive than ever in its multiple guises.

Tell us about your musical beginnings and how they led you to composing?

I grew up in a fairly remote rural region of Minnesota. Early on, my most impactful connection to music largely came from messing around on my grandma’s old spinet piano that was next to an old wood-enclosed television set. Much of my upbringing was spent as the only child at my grandparents’ dairy farm. While they would be outside tending to farm work, I was often inside with the TV as babysitter. Music from movies, TV, and video games was a huge influence on me, and I remember spending many hours at the piano plunking out my versions of things I’d hear. Henry Mancini’s “Pink Panther” theme was something I was particularly obsessed with. No one in my family was a musician or artist, and like many areas in the Midwest, pursuit of the arts tended not to be strongly encouraged, especially within working class families.

The music teachers I attempted to learn from tended to have a tough, pretentious shell to survive the area. Being very shy, it was difficult for me to establish trust or connection with these educators. Understandably, the musicians my age tended to have similar qualities to the local teachers, so many of my attempts to connect musically with other children was met with condescension. None of this was necessarily a bad thing, but it did cause me to introvert even further with my interests. Perhaps protecting a more unique inner world of creative perspective, but with diffidence attached. I became more secretive with my interests. For quite a while, I focused mostly on visual arts, which definitely had a big influence on how I perceive music. But creatively, what I really wanted to make was music with layered development.

The day that I discovered 4-track cassette recorders existed, things clicked for me. I became obsessed and began saving up money. Music has been focal for me ever since then. Long before I attempted playing music with other people, I began using the 4-track to make sense out of multipart music. No one I knew had one, so it was my world alone to develop within. The 4-track recorder became both a great tool and a crutch. Its limitations shaped me towards the composer I am today. Eventually, I worked my way out of my shell enough to start working with other musicians. I began learning to read and write staff music by going to the public library. This was all pre-internet for me, so there was a lot of isolated logic at play.

How do you think scoring a true, murderous series like “Jinx” set you up for “Split?”

From the start, Night mentioned that “The Jinx” series was the main reason I was hired. He said everyone at Blinding Edge, his film company, was obsessed with it, and he sought me out for “Split” because of it. Oddly enough, he hadn’t realized that he’d previously licensed a piece of music I made in an earlier movie. All this definitely helped with the interview process. To move forward on film projects, relationships with filmmakers take trust and feelings of connection between each other.

Much of the music from “The Jinx” played with a POV perspective for an audience peering in as if staring into a snow globe at a bad dream. Frequently, it scored an inner Robert Durst taking control of his own narrative. Durst obviously wanted to be understood, but to tell his story, his way, within the truth he wanted to be seen. As dark as it was, I wanted to humanize his crafted storytelling as best as possible, keeping it veiled and controlled, but with a yearning for connection. At one point, I thought of it as scoring the thrill and awe of a child feeling safe in his home, looking out a window at a tornado that’s destroying all the neighbors’ homes.

Yet aside from Durst’s POV, there was so much painful tragedy in the “The Jinx.” A family lost a young daughter and sibling, and they were unable to find closure with what happened. Any score music here needed to feel of a sincere place with both overt and complex feelings of loss.

In reverse of this sincerity, other parts of the score needed to play with a dark, wry comedic sense. Music from the original “Terminator” film was one inspiration for some of it. With Robert Durst, it played sort of in an over-the-top, tabloid news way.

Photo by Marion Curtis / Starpix

For “Split,” Night was looking for music with some very similar perspective and energy. He wanted a score that played from the POV perspective. Much of it needed to feel dark and controlled. The music for Kevin Wendell Crumb needed to hold a sincere sense of tragedy. The Beast needed unique colors that felt unexpected. There was also a darkly playful energy, and I definitely pulled from some of “The Terminator” influence for this. For me, much of this played to the perspective of Hedwig watching from within, scoring this child who spoke with a thrill when bragging about the Beast.

Were you a fan of M. Night’s films before doing “Split?” And how do you think his style set him apart from other director-writers in the genre?

I was a fan before we met. I’d seen all of his films from “The Sixth Sense” onward, regardless of critical conscientious. He’s the real deal – a true filmmaker and artist. Whether or not people like what he does with his movies, he makes them from a genuine place. When “Unbreakable” first came out, I watched it twice in a row. On the first watch, I remember not knowing quite what to think. I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but I felt compelled to watch it again. So I did and loved it. This stuck with me. I feel Night chooses a very difficult approach to filmmaking. He goes for things that are complex and difficult to achieve cinematically, though not in an esoteric way. He genuinely wants to make movies that many people connect to, yet still veer on the fringe of what many people might accept.

What did you discover about M. Night’s approach to music on “Split?”

On “Split,” he frequently commented that the score should always feel as though it comes from the internal perspective of the characters appearing within each scene. Through the music, he wanted to feel the ride that the characters were on. For me, I took liberties with what this means, but I really love this concept.

Talk about creating the guttural, nerve-ending sound for “Split,” and how it would lead to the appearance of The Beast.

For this sound, I started by recording several loose takes of some simple harmonic bowing ideas with a cellist and violinist. The intention was to heavily modulate the captured sounds. While playing around with an idea in the past, I’d accidentally captured something like this and wanted to explore it more.

For the initial take, it was basically two mics, a Coles 4038 and figure-8 condenser, setup in M/S. I recorded this digitally with Ableton Live. Afterwards, I individually sent both sides of stereo out to a mono Nagra 4.2 tape recorder running at it’s fastest speed. The tape was played back slowed down to the lowest speed and digitally re-recorded. The Nagra is extremely consistent for a tape machine, but when the two stereo sides are re-synced from tape individually, the result plays back with really unpredictable phasing issues. Next, the new stereo audio was time-compressed in Ableton so the slowed-down tape re-recordings played at approximately the same speed of the original recordings. To finish it off, I used a plugin called Elastique Pitch to further modulate the pitch to where it sounded best. I also with messing it up ever more using two separate Roland Space Echos and a plate reverb.

The resulting sound was extremely chaotic, unpredictable, and scary. It felt haunted and seemed to capture the otherworldly, tortured, animalistic quality I was looking for. I wanted it to feel like “Jaws,” foreshadowing the existence of this malevolent being.

Were you as surprised as everyone else by its sequel-promising ending the first time you saw “Split,” and what it portended for your involvement in a revealed M. Night “universe?”

When I began the project, I saw a version that didn’t include the final scene. Some of “Split” was still being shot, and I was told of the connections early on. All said, I still didn’t expect a third film would happen. So when I saw the first version of the film with the final ending, there was still an element of surprise for me.

Did your collaboration with M. Night differ on “Glass,” especially when it came to this film’s tone?

In the early stages, it did a lot. Having developed communication and trust from “Split” allowed me to be able to freely experiment a lot early on and feel like I was on the right path. When they shot at the Allentown State Hospital, I spent a lot of time on set. Experiencing the film process while cameras were still rolling inspired a lot of feelings about tone, which I was able to immediately explore with great depth.

How did being on “set” inspire you?

The Allentown State Hospital was an enormous property. I believe there were 28 buildings with a tunnel system connecting many of them. It was desolate and abandoned, with numerous vast spaces I found acoustically inspiring. Recording musical silence within the buildings captured otherworldly room tones I was dying use in the score. So soon after getting there, I brought in an assortment of drums and percussion. After the film crew fully wrapped for the night, I’d often go in and record ideas with a mobile rig. Generally from 9 PM until 4 AM. Aside from a couple roaming security guards, it was just me. Some might say it would be a very spooky and Kubrickian experience. But for me, the hospital at night tended to feel strangely inviting and electrifying. There were only a couple times I felt like I needed to pack up and get out quickly.

Mr. Glass and West on set (photo by Adam Bailey)

A friend mine, the violinist Tim Fain even came to the hospital. We recorded much of the violin work used in the score within the super creepy tunnel system. There was also an enormous upstairs auditorium we used. It was just down the hall from the main surgery room, which I’m certain held many dark stories. The “Pink Room,” with all the lights off, was used too. To say the least, it was an unforgettable experience. I can still feel a vibe from it sometimes.

What was it like for you to adapt, and expand upon the theme that James Newton Howard created for David Dunn in “Unbreakable,” especially when battling with yours from “Split?

In the beginning, it was intimidating. It felt as though any way I approached his work would be wrong. In the process, I ended discovering a lot of thematic material of my own that seems to flourish from these genuine feelings of doubt. Much of this worked well within the story of “Glass.” At some point, I felt that the best approach with James’ material was keeping it sincere and sort of naked, as if it was a far-off, ghost-of-a-tune that David was hearing.

How does your own music hear David?

To me, I saw David as a man who had still not fully believed that he was all that remarkable, even though he discovered he had superpowers. He chose to stay hidden, keeping a lifestyle of an ordinary, working class man. While staying mostly in the shadows, he had grown old, only choosing to take these gifts so far. Musically, new material was written for David that contained a lot of doubt, but with hesitant yearning to fully believe in the extraordinary.

What was your approach like to the brittle, calculating quality of Mr. Glass, especially given that you’re scoring another criminal mastermind?

Within “Glass,” I saw Elijah moving with a sociopathic precision and unstoppable persistence. He also has this playful energy, as if it all is just a thrilling chess match for him. To express this approach, I wanted to find sounds that felt brittle and sharp. Violin and metal percussion became clear voices for me to build from. At the core of Elijah is a philosopher, always in pursuit of knowledge and his perception of truth. So I felt there needed to be a determined feeling of the pursuit of truth. I loved the concept of recording the instruments and sounds I was gathering as they echoed down the halls of the empty asylum. So much tragedy and sadness was present there, and it seemed to attach to the sound of the recordings.

What is the challenge as well for scoring a film that brings together so many characters, especially given one with endless multiple personalities?”

For a good while, bass clarinet was something I explored intensely for Elijah. My concept was to link it into the world of the Beast sounds from “Split,” eventually melting them into one sound. I wanted to take the chaotic, animalistic growls and moans of the Beast theme and have it evolve with the meticulousness, chess-like nature of Elijah. As you score a film, music takes shape to picture in unexpected ways. For the collaborative process of filmmaking to keep moving, one needs to constantly detach and simply roll with it. If things don’t come together fast, alternative approaches need to happen. This is a challenging process, but embracing this is necessary for the craft of scoring films.

Talk about the metallic effects you created for The Beast this time out?

Much of this originated from taking the chaotic, animalistic sounds of the Beast theme and attempting to have it evolve with all the sociopathic precision of Elijah’s thematic concepts.

How did you want to play Casey this time out, especially given her sympathy for the multiple personalities, even after what they’ve put her through?

There was a strangely worn-in sympathy between her and The Horde. It felt as though Casey held a mild exasperation with this sympathy that balanced against her fears in this relationship. Within it was a yearning to reach through The Horde so she could explore deeper into this genuine connection she felt to Kevin Wendell Crumb. I wanted to find a theme for this that felt hopeful but could never fully find itself. Music that kept climbing and climbing and reaching but never quite got to where it was going. From the soundtrack release, the whole piece is played out as the track titled “Cycles.” Yet within the film, this piece only appears within fragments and slivers.

There’s a “ticking clock” aspect to “Glass” as the characters figure out how to escape. How did you want to play this element, and the setting of an insane asylum?

This sound was attached to Elijah, but I wanted it to integrate into the other characters as well. Early in the film, this sound appears within David, leading to his pursuit of the Horde. I wanted it to play as if David was already beginning to feel Elijah’s presence again. It seemed that David had been floating around for years with a feeling of being incomplete. He was becoming more and more lost and tired. Suddenly emotions in him were beginning to reawaken. I liked the idea of crafting a clocklike sound, but I wanted it to play at a much faster tempo. For some reason, 161 bpm seemed right to me. This tempo seemed more like time was running out, combined with a feeling of something unstopped and inevitable.

How experimental did you want to make the combination of melody and dissonance for “Glass,” especially in how you balance more intimate orchestrations for piano and chamber strings with gnarlier sounds?

Mainly, I wanted the combination of melody and dissonance in “Glass” to play to Elijah’s thrilling and playful energy. To me, this was in connection to Elijah’s defiant desire to shake things loose and turn everything around him upside-down while he calmly played chess – dissonant and chaotic, but fully in control. The longer gnarled sounds combined with the pristine orchestral elements seemed to work well to represent the melding of light and dark. Having them paralleling or harmonizing somewhat together, as if towards an awkward acceptance of a chaotic existence rather than a clear yin and yang opposition. To me, the score for “Glass” is largely about discovery and acceptance.

Do you think that that comparing the M. Night collaborations of you and James Newton Howard shows just how more experimental genre scores have gotten?

Yes, in many ways. Hiring Mike Gioulakis was very much in line with this, and there are similarities between him and me here. Within this era of filmmaking in general, there seems to be an openness to utilizing more unconventional scores, but much of this is directly related to current technologies of filmmaking. Many filmmakers have been tending to favor fast, loose results with a lot of energy over what they might consider to be the traditional, conservatory-trained approach. This can be extremely deflating when you have been envisioning music to be recorded by a full orchestra ensemble, especially when you feel the quality difference is dramatic. Yet for many modern filmmakers, the difference they hear between the results of a quickly-made, less-costly scoring approach and the recording of dozens of living, breathing, human beings – that are all making music together at once in one room as orchestral ensemble – has turned into a choice of preference and taste over a clearly perceived difference in quality.

For a clear example, I (along with other composers I know) have created music for scenes where I provided a demo mockup for a full orchestral recording. The filmmakers responded strongly to the demo piece, but agreed that it doesn’t quite sound full enough for the final picture. So they authorized the recording of a live orchestra, regardless of cost. The recording was made, and the results were extraordinary. The room felt alive and electric. When watching the picture with the live recording, one could clearly feel more air within the scene. The emotions became more focused, yet nuanced and human. I was overjoyed to share the material with the filmmakers. Yet somehow when the new recording was presented, the filmmakers listened back and forth between both recordings and found themselves unable to let go of the original demo. To them, the demo held some sort of cinematic magic that the full orchestra didn’t capture. Some of this is simply “demo love,” but some of this is a clear example of how people now hear music differently. It’s all down to a matter of taste, but tastes are always changing.

For “Glass,” Night’s decision to hire me seemed built around his intimate process of filmmaking. He seemed to want someone he could work very closely with so he could feel deeply bonded in the process of building the score. He wanted someone he fully trusted to fall in love with the film and pour everything into crafting the score. For much of the editing of “Glass,” I set myself up in a space just downstairs from his office. I relocated from NYC to Philadelphia. Night was looking for a very particular score. He specifically wanted music that he hadn’t heard before, yet echoed back elements of the first two films in some unique way. We searched for musical ideas that felt unpredictable and developed them alongside familiar ideas. Early on, we made plans to record everything live with a large orchestra ensemble. As the film developed, we chose a different route. The film we were making seemed to call for different music, utilizing a lot of the unusual sounds I captured at the Allentown State Hospital and smaller chamber ensembles.

How do you think “Glass” shows off your distinctive approach to the genre, and would you like to see him bring other elements of his movie universe together in the future?

I genuinely love the collaborative energy of the filmmaking process and thrive on finding a childlike joy in diving deep to discover unique sonic colors, motifs, and melodies that help shape storytelling. For me, scoring film is all about unearthing nuances in the story that could not be experiences without music. I tend to love scores that operate with an invisibility while doing this. No Country for Old Men” is one of my favorite films, and almost no music is used. When Carter Burwell’s score occurs, the story needs music to be there. “Glass” is an entirely different film. It seemed to thrive with lots of music. For the filmmaking process, about three times as much music was created as was used in the final version. As the film was edited, I attempted to remove music wherever possible. This approach aside, I also love melody and theme use. The score for the first “Jurassic Park” is another of my favorites. Though melody in “Glass” is very different, there was still a lot of influence from “Jurassic Park” in “Glass.”

As far as Night’s movie universe, all I wish for is that he continues to explore filmmaking in his own unique way, with childlike joy and fearlessness.

photo by Marion Curtis / Starpix

“Glass” opens in theaters on January 18th, with Wes Dylan Thordson’s score available on Back Lot Music HERE

Listen to the previous issues with ”Unbreakable” HERE and “Split” HERE

Special thanks to Nikki Walsh

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Interview with Mychael Danna

Film Music Magazine News - Do, 20/12/2018 - 04:50

Among the black-clad movie superheroes this year, the most impressive just be a wizened, real-life woman who goes up time and again against the sinister forces trying to take down her motherland. No injury can stop this iconic figure as her quest for justice faces increasingly diminished odds, a drive that’s endeared Ruth Bader Ginsburg more than ever to the fans who’ve watched her moving, life-spanning documentary “RGB.” But what might just provide to be the most empowering delight to Ginsberg’s admirers is to see her embodied in biopic form as a sensual, smart and vivacious woman who takes on the oppressively judicial overlords with the case that puts her on the legal map with “On the Basis of Sex.”

Mimi Leder, who blazed her own trail as the first woman to direct a mega-action picture with “The Peacemaker,” takes an equally powerful approach to fighting the good fight – her real world warrior embodied on screen by Felicity Jones, who last showed her biopic strength as Stephen Hawking’s first wife Jane in “The Theory of Everything.” As her Ruth Bader Ginsburg presents her case as an equal legal eagle to her beloved husband Marty (Arnie Hammer) and a force to be reckoned with government determined to keep an unjust status quo, “Life of Pi’s” Oscar-winning composer Mychael Danna is sure to be at her inspirational side to hold the true cinematic life legal briefs.


Certainly no stranger to the genre in scoring such figures as the writers Truman “Capote,” “Antwone Fisher” and Stephen “Shattered” Glass to Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane (“Moneyball”), Danna is one composer who knows how to play Hollywood’s particular form of reality. With delicacy and determination, Danna’s tender emotion and heroic, drum-rolling marches makes Ruth Bader Ginsberg come to life. It’s a strongly thematic approach that will no doubt have Ginsberg’s admirers cheering, while helping the film win over new converts to one of the last Supreme Court justices standing as steadfast as a rock for the kind of human rights that once-upon-a-time Democracy stood for. Like the best Hollywood scoring documentarians, this Canadian’s accomplishment with “On the Basis of Sex” is more rousingly important than ever in making audiences identify with a public figure as an emotionally identifiable human being, one who’s more thoughtfully vibrant than ever.

How familiar were you with the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg before “On the Basis of Sex?”

Not very. The documentary “RGB” had not come out yet. Obviously I knew who she was, but I didn’t really know her place in history like I do now. “RGB” was a film I found to be both interesting and inspiring film, I felt like I learned something about America I didn’t know before. Now I’m very excited about our film coming out. I wish that it were out already, because the more people that see “On the Basis of Sex” the better I’ll feel about it!

How did you get the assignment?


I believe Mimi Leder temped in my music from “Moneyball,” and “Capote” for the preview version, so she felt that I was the right composer for this, especially because “On the Basis of Sex” is a dialogue heavy film. It’s a courtroom drama with a lot of intellectual concepts and arguments gong on in it. So Mimi wanted someone to be restrained in those areas, yet to also be able to move forward when the drama needs a shot of adrenaline.

Once you got the film, did you do a deep dive into who Ruth Bader Ginsburg was?

Because this film’s ideas are laid out right there, I didn’t really need to do. I waited to watch “RGB” once I had finished “On the Basis of Sex.”

Where did the score’s “military” sound come from?

The film has two opposing camps. There’s the older white male institutions – the people who had inherited the laws of the constitution and want to keep out those who oppose their views. Then there’s the other side with Ruth and her husband Marty being a team in the groundbreaking movement opposed to the older white male institutions. But Ruth and Marty are the “true” America opposed to the males trying to hold onto the original American values that don’t exist any more. It’s Ruth and Marty who are able to change and evolve with the times. But that’s the thing that makes America great, and continue to be great. So we wanted to give Ruth the American anthem sound that you might normally give to the old conservative institution. We turn that musical cliché on its head by giving that approach to Ruth right from the very beginning, because it matches her ideas and the energy of who she is.

Some listeners might even regard that approach as a “Star Trek” one in how it captures a captain boldly going into the future.

Well, there is a sense that of American fearlessness in how she pushes boundaries – the kind of anthemic American melody where it’s trying to break through that glass ceiling, trying to expand where it’s being contained. There are those kinds of themes being built into those anthems throughout the score.

Felicity Jones stars as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Mimi Leder’s ON THE BASIS OF SEX, a Focus Features release.

For those who have a grandmotherly view of Ruth from “RGB,” “On the Basis of Sex” conveys sensuality about Ruth that viewers might not expect.

Ruth is an attractive woman who has this energy about her, which is a beautiful way they start off the film. The music had to reflect that, so we needed some soft romantic piano composition cues for that romantic side of her life.

A big part of the film is about Ruth’s relationship with Marty and her daughter. What was it like to “speak” for her emotions?

There is a Ruth and Marty theme. It’s not a love theme per se because it’s deeper than that. It’s a partner theme that’s warm, one that we didn’t want to push it into cornball territory. We were careful to make it super classy, like she is. Ruth’s well educated when it comes to classical music, and a big lover of opera. We wanted to use instruments that reflected that “audio” part of her life. It’s also a score that helps Ruth find confidence that starts with her as a young woman, who’s super bright and excels in school. But it still takes her a while to get her real world chops to go up against these institutions that have been around for 200 years.

photo by Nicholas Skalba

Having scored your share of biopics, what lessons have you learned in this genre and how do they apply here?

Whenever I am in an airport, I always look for a biography book to read. They’re a reflection of ourselves, how we are born into our place how we react to it all and how we learn from it. I find biographies more amazing than fiction, and more interesting to work on as a composer.

You have also done your fair share of courtroom dramas, with “Fracture” (along with brother Jeff) as a prime example. What have you learned about playing trials?

This film’s trial is about idea versus Idea. Much of the time we avoided those courtroom scenes, because they were so compelling that they didn’t need any score. Audiences know how to feel in those moments, though there were instances where we did want to musically punctuate their drama.

One scene that moved me to tears has what might be the best time jump cut since “2001.” What was it like scoring that moment?

It’s a moment for restraint. I musically built the emotion up to it so I could sit back and give people the space where they would have that “Aha” moment. It’s really powerful and emotional because you watch this film and you know intellectually that it’s about a real human being that’s walking around this earth. But when you have that moment in the film, it really lands, in a way that super effective. It was something that didn’t need any musical push for. It just needed preparation.

Given that you’re a guy scoring a movie about a woman was there an extra weight on your shoulders to get it right?

That thought never crossed my mind. My job as a composer is to empathize the emotion no matter what the sex of the characters are, I have to get into their place and try to feel it and score it. I don’t have to be black or white or female or anything to feel the emotions of someone, it’s part of what a composer does.

How did being a Canadian play into your view of a film that dealt with a time when you felt there was hope for change in America’s Supreme Court?

I am a proud American citizen now. I truly believe that this is the greatest country that has ever existed. Part of why it’s a great country is what’s portrayed in this film – this ability to evolve, to change with the spirit of the people. Canada is a wonderful place, but it’s a conservative country. America is the opposite of that. It may be all over that place at times, but it can still be the guiding light of the free world. I love both countries, but they are two different things.

“On the Basis of Sex” is getting the release accorded to an Oscar hopeful. As an award- winning composer for “Life of Pi,” how has an Academy Award changed your life?


Up to that point I had fun playing in my own sandbox and thinking that nobody was paying attention to me. That gave me a sense of freedom in both here and Canada to do my own thing because there was never really a spotlight on me. After that Oscar, my perspective changed and it took a couple of years to shake that off. I still am going to do my own thing and make my own decisions, but winning sort of froze me for a while which made me self-conscientious. But this film for me is very gratifying, and I am very proud to be part of it.

In a country of some people who feel that democracy on its way out, do you hope that this movie has the power to change minds? Or are we now too far gone for a film like this to have some kind of effect?

I still have optimism, I really do. I think that what’s happening now is a learning experience for America. I believe that America can turn the wheel back to the center of the road. But it’s a dark time and the system got tested here to an extreme. I don’t believe that we’re doomed, but we need to be vigilant – voting is not just a hobby, it’s something that you need to take seriously. I have faith, I have kids and I see how they are growing up, I feel that we are going to be just fine.

Mimi Leder, Director, Mychael Danna, Composer,

I believe that “On the Basis of Sex” will play everywhere. It’s not a blue state film. It’s a film about America and deals with an issue that’s a very important part of American history. It’s not pushing any buttons where it’s going to be offensive. It’s a story of how America and the law work. Though it paints a picture of the old guard, I was careful not to make them musical villains with black hats and moustaches, because they have their views of what America should be. We point out that America isn’t about that anymore. It’s an argument between two sides that’s handled in a very compassionate way, and it was a lightbulb moment for me to have that moment of clarity. As a viewer, you have that clarity as well – that society changes on its own and the law catches up. This film will remind us that democracy still works, even in the darkest of times. Now that the Kavanaugh hearing had happened, I do feel that this film needs to be seen, especially in this current political climate.

Have you gotten a chance to meet Ruth yet?

She lives on the opposite coast, so she did not attend the premiere at the American Film Institute. But then, she has an important job, so I won’t hold it against her. We don’t want her to leave her job on account of a film.

If you got to meet her what would you say to her? And what do you hope that Ruth thinks about your score?

I would be nervous to meet Ruth, because she really loves great music. So I was very self-conscious when I was composing this, I tried to keep my standards high and keep the score classy!

“On the Basis of Sex” opens this Christmas, with Mychael Dana’s score available on Sony Masterworks HERE

Listen to Mychael Danna’s scores HERE

Visit Mychael Danna’s website HERE

Special thanks to Alexander Portillo for his interview transcription

Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

Audio: Interview with Rupert Gregson-Williams

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 19/12/2018 - 02:33

ON THE SCORE is sponsored by La-La Land Records

Once filled with gloom and overshadowed by other company’s comic book-to-film ventures, the DC movie universe is now being made ship-shape with a major keelhauling of fun and excitement. Listen for the sound of their brightly clad characters’ rejuvenated music, and you’ll hear the sweeping melodies and energetic inventiveness of a composer finally being given his epic due.

photo by Jordan Strauss

But then, rousing music runs through the bloodline of the Gregson-Williams family. Taking up the profession of his older brother Harry (“The Martian,” “The Equalizer”) to also learn his composing craft under the auspices of Hans Zimmer. Rupert Gregson-Williams began making his own name through the heavy drama of the Rwandan genocide in “Hotel Rwanda” before the funny animals of “Over the Hedge” presaged Gregson-Williams becoming Adam Sandler’s go-to musician with comedies like “Click,” “Jack and Jill” and “Grown Ups.” Now in a welcome heroic segue, Gregson-Williams’ melodic craft has entered a new, heroic realm, his more grounded entries showing the strength of Queen Elizabeth in “The Crown” and conscientious objector in the thick of “Hacksaw Ridge’s” wartime violence. After impressively rebooting the jungle king with “The Legend of Tarzan,” Williams’ mixture of brawn and Amazonian nobility that helped propel “Wonder Woman” from the trenches of WW1 into one of DC’s most acclaimed and successful modern era films.


It was only natural that “Wonder Woman’s” magic lasso would turn into an Ocean Master’s trident for Rupert Gregson-Williams, one that he holds mightily indeed for “Aquaman.” Given that its horror-centric director James Wan (“Saw,” “The Conjuring”) is making a wonderfully bold leap into the superhero realm, Gregson-Williams isn’t quite so serious this time out. Given a merman who’d rather be hanging in a biker bar than saving the seven seas and the earth above, Gregson-Williams brings a new, rocking attitude to his style, while also conveying the emotional vulnerability of Jason Momoa’s god-dude who’s got the muscles, if not exactly the confidence at first. “Aquaman” also announces its own scoring identity with a distinctive retro synth sound, one that makes this super science deep sound as hip as “Tron’s” game grid. With equal attention to thrills and majesty, Williams embodies this offspring of Atlantean and air breather, with a hybrid score for electronics and orchestra that more than fills the eye-popping Imax frame, His “Aquaman” is the water-filled stuff that hip superhero scores are made, especially given DC’s decision to beat up suffocating darkness above all – a wise decision that more than ever gives Rupert Gregson-Williams his long-deserved membership alongside Hollywood’s Justice League – a journey that he now talks about at “On the Score.”

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

The Best Scores of 2018

Film Music Magazine News - Wo, 12/12/2018 - 21:51

Click on the album covers to purchase the soundtracks on this list
(Joseph S. DeBeasi and Michael Stearns / Madison Gate Records)

A year of atypically impactful scoring starts off with the Dawn of Man, a savage epoch that’s usually heard in film scores with raging earth tones fashioned from the bones of Stravinsky and Holst. But in playing the first bond between hunter-gatherer and wolf-dog, composers Joseph S. DeBeasi (“American Sniper”) and Michael Stearns (“Baraka”) hear an evolution from ethereal music to symphonic friendship for “Alpha.” Taking a cue from the experimental world beat of Stearns’ globe-spanning, ethnically attuned documentary work on the likes of “Chronos” and “Samsara,” “Alpha” unfolds with a sense of mystical synth wonder for its harsh landscapes and even more menacing animals, creating a feeling of awe and dread that must have possessed the first cognizant humans. Asian-accented wind instruments convey the sense of their tribe, the score gradually building from ephemeral tones and primal, spear-throwing percussion as fear gradually turns to symphonic friendship. It’s a striking journey of scoring discovery where the soundtrack has to truly paint a picture where there’s way more growling than dialogue. “Alpha” is all about the powerful layers of emotional evolution, trekking through the primordial landscape on a musical path less taken.

(Michael Giacchino / Milan Records)

For all of the epic genre scores that Michael Giacchino creates (this year counting another swaggering visit to Jurassic World and The Incredibles) his most powerful soundtrack lies within the bummer in name only of “Bad Times at the El Royale.” Given a Tarantino-esque crime ensemble with loads more empathy, Giacchino opens new doors of film noir, acid rock and suspenseful dread for a knockout score that certainly doesn’t put a “do not enter” sign on his big, symphonically brassy balls he’s known for. Weaving together themes for multiple, deceitful characters, Giacchino’s score has a wink in its eye as it collects “Royale’s” plotlines with a punchy tone that takes a way different 60’s tone than his “Incredibles” scores. When a Manson-esque cult leader shows up at this nefarious bi-state hotel, the score swiftly goes to hallucinogenic hell as all bets are off, building to militaristic payback and tragic emotion that show off any number of styles that Giacchino can ace – ones that hopefully won’t be booked for a one night stay over.

(Terence Blanchard / Back Lot Music)

The enduring partnership between jazzman-composer Terence Blanchard and agent provocateur director Spike Lee has raged, and laughed at the violent ironies of race relations, which now shows off their mutual best by pulling a white sheet over their targets’ eyes with this stranger-than-fiction takedown of the KKK by a black-Jew cop tag team. Starting off with a gleefully militaristic take on “Dixie,” Blanchard has his merry way with the prideful music of the old South’s glory, showing off his muscular way with an orchestra while also bringing in a rock guitar and soul vibes that let us hear the 70’s-set movie’s social awakening. Blanchard’s emotionally charged themes have never been more potent at both mocking racists and showing just how deadly their threat is. Blanchard often channeled an Aaron Copland-like sound of Americana for Spike Lee to make a bitter point, and here’s it’s a gut punch of profound rage for a news footage ending that drum-beatingly resounds with bitter defeat. It’s a shock to the system unequalled by any film or score this year in showing that nothing has changed at all.

(Ludwig Göransson / Hollywood Records)

Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson certainly had the street cred to take on Stan Lee’s most revolutionary superhero, given his urban-themed work for Childish Gambino and “Creed” director Ryan Coogler, here taking a socially conscious leap into the Marvel Universe. Given the costume-wearing king of an African nation with roots both tribal and super technological, Göransson collects an array of authentic instruments and vocals that make Wakanda rock – delivering one of the most authentic African scores ever realized by Hollywood. He also crafts an equally memorable 70’s urban crime signature for villain-to-some Killmonger. But given that this is a comic book movie score when it all comes down to it, Göransson just as successfully unleashes the symphonic utility belt audiences expect. By the time that tribal beats, hooting vocals and orchestral fisticuffs are thematically duking it out for the boss battle, “Black Panther” hits a crescendo of exciting, emotional superhero scoring and black pride, showing just how unique Marvel movie scoring has gotten with collaborators determined not to sell out to The Man, expect if it’s capturing the spirit of Stan.

(Matthew Herbert / Varese Sarabande)

An outcast Jewess returns to her Orthodox tribe in London to make peace with her rabbi father’s passing, only to find rebuke again in the attraction to a woman still very much entrenched in repressive tradition. It’s a journey of mutual self-discovery that’s told in exquisitely beautiful tones by English composer Matthew Herbert, who’d previously shown an emphatic queer ear to “A Fantastic Woman.” Sexual identity is just as much on Herbert’s mind here, though told in a gorgeously hushed, hypnotic manner that makes “Disobedience” an exemplar of tone poem scoring. Strings weave an intoxicating spell of a bond that religion couldn’t sunder, bringing its characters together with an almost mystical sense of fate. Yet powerful themes arise in Herbert’s gossamer approach, brass taking on an incredibly subtle sense of Hebraic identity that the score announces with a Shofar. It’s an experimental approach to explosive feelings, perfectly attuned to a culture where women aren’t expected to raise their voice above a whisper. Full of mesmerizing tranquility and a mood of discovering one’s purpose, “Disobedience” stands its ground rarely raising its voice above a beautifully mesmerizing whisper until soaringly affirming its musical identity.

(Justin Hurwitz / Back Lot Music)

From the jazz drumming rage of “Whiplash” to an Oscar-winning reboot of the classic Hollywood musical for “La La Land’s” hipster set, Justin Hurwitz is a composer who’s consistently taking on new adventures in service of director Damien Chazelle. But perhaps no risk so boldly goes as flying in the soundtrack face of what constitutes the patriotic astronaut score for “First Man,” a stunningly introspective portrait of moon walker Neil Armstrong. Basing his themes on the loss of a child, and a wedding dance to a surreal Theremin tune, Hurwitz conveys space exploration with fear and melancholy yearning, until finally surrendering to the kind of soaring orchestra that’s defined cinematic space flight since the days well before NASA. Here, it’s the ultimate trip that’s never before achieved a scope of musically emotional intimacy, one that “First Man” is all the more powerful for.

(Torin Borrowdale / Sony Classical)

Where the endless “found footage” genre thought it was being inventive by dispensing with the artificiality of musical commentary, the social “Searching” brilliantly breaks those social media shackles to become the best film of its kind – especially when it comes to using an actual score that opens up a whole new dramatic world for its laptop-set “stage.” Torin Borrowdale (“The Midnight Man”) begins with an impressively dexterous use of his main theme, an initially warm melody that tracks a happy little girl into a sad, secretive teenager. Mostly using an electronic approach to capture the digital hole her desperate father plunges into, Borrowdale’s riveting music keeps the human drama front and center through music that embodies the depersonalizing nature of the web. Taking the pulsing nature of high-tech suspense scoring up several notches, Borrowdale’s rhythmically emotional score searches with ticking time bomb suspense, alternately haunting and riveting as he shows just how powerful the seeming artificiality of film music is to a moribund genre that refused to change its tune until now.

(Lorne Balfe / La La Land Records)

This TV-to-movie franchise has gone through six missions and counting, its Ethan Hunt-led teams leading any number of stylistically diverse composers to save the world – with their one common denominator being the understandable use of Lalo Schifrin’s themes. Now the militaristic, countdown fuse gets a sparklingly cool workout from Lorne Balfe, a composer with a special set of megabudget action skills with his own franchise blasts for the likes of The Terminator and Pacific Rim. But he’s never had such a skillful commander as filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie, who delivers the series’ best entry with a plot that mixes nail-biting suspense and action with the emotional toll of spying. Running at top percussive speed, or decelerating on a dime to brooding drama, Balfe shows the solve-anything dexterity of Jason Bourne in service of Ethan Hunt’s most desperate hour. Brimming with dazzling score set pieces that give Schifrin’s melodies a workout alongside his own impactful themes, Balfe keeps excellent musical trek from Paris to Kashmir, the orchestra booming alongside breathless tablas in a way that brings incredible freshness to the multiplex hybrid action sound. Balfe’s way of amping up the excitement delivers a true highpoint of climactic action for a deliriously extended helicopter chase finale that positively breezes by as it sweeps between mid-air battles and bomb defusing tension on the ground. It’s relentless, rhythmic scoring of the best storytelling kind that keeps upping the ante for the composer and this series in wonderfully impossible ways.

(James Newton Howard / Sony Classical)

After venturing into the post apocalypse for director Francis Lawrence with “I Am Legend” and the climactic “Hunger Games” entries, James Newton Howard arrives in his most bleak, and dangerously sensual environment yet for the filmmaker alongside the Cold War black widow code-named “Red Sparrow.” Given a grippingly intelligent old school spy thriller mainly set in Mother Russia, Howard starts off by expertly taking on the identity of a Tchaikovsky symphony that literally kicks off the story. Howard certainly knows his way around Soviet femme fatales after his excellent “Salt” score, even as the emphasis here is mostly on mind games, its physicality of the erotic persuasion as opposed to the kick-ass kind. Brimming with darkly lush symphonic romance that evokes Bernard Herrmann, Howard weaves an especially brooding thematic web. Like its unexpectedly resourceful heroine, Howard’s music is cunningly icy on the outside, but emotionally vulnerable within, subtly pleading for release from the Commie sex femmebot she’s trapped into being. It’s an escape provided as Howard again assumes the grand choral tone of the Russian maestros. But look inside of the balletic orchestrations, and you’ll most certainly hear a composer at the top of his orchestral game, pirouetting its set-ups with a whole new Soviet shade of dangerous beauty.

(Nicholas Britell / Decca Records)

Having given properly snarky vibes to the robber barons of the banking collapse for Adam McKay’s “The Big Short,” Nicholas Britell really gets to go to darkly satirical town for the director with a dictatorial wannabe attempting to steal Washington D.C. No, not The Orange One, but the ashen, succinctly twisted V.P. for Bush Jr. Starting off this Kingpin look-a-like’s rise to power with dissonantly noble brass blazing, Britell also tracks Dick Cheney’s beyond-Machiavellian rise to power with swinging disco beats and “Ocean’s 11” heist grooves. While giant orchestral reveals, fake end credit swelling and an outraged neo-classical approach sinks in the fourth wall laughs, the charm of Britell’s stylistically insane score is in how disturbingly well it digs out the festering insides of its subject to reveal that there’s a human being inside there, whether we like it or not. Britell’s “Vice” is a musical mix of comedy and pathos as its melodies try to ironically fill its subjects big, black hole where a heart should be. His imposingly thematic approach upends the notion of patriotic scoring to wave the musical tropes of the red, white and blue, hearing Washington DC as the ultimate bank to be ransacked by a composer who’s equally as smart as he is brutally smart-assed.


(Christophe Beck / Hollywood Records)

Having fashioned the caper crime jazz approach that made the first “Ant-Man” one of the first Marvel scores to truly break an already effective mold, Christophe Beck creates an even bigger and better score for a way smaller sequel. While it would be foolish to completely ditch the hip sound of his last score, Beck takes way more of an O.G. symphonic superhero approach in showing who really wears the wings in this dynamic duo. His crazier, electronic and vocal writing is reserved for the out-of-phase, semi-villainous Ghost, who creates a creepily effective presence as her samples do battle with The Wasp’s blasting brass. Especially effective is how Beck’s trumpeting themes weave in and out of our recognizable world and the infinite microverse for the ever-shrinking and growing chase at the end, his trumpeting themes creating a thrilling sense of acceleration, fun and feeling. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with out of the box or why-so-serious superhero scoring, Beck’s terrific return to “Ant-Man” shows the musical virtues of pure comic book scoring fun.

(John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies / Sacred Bones Records)

Given how many composers were affectionately rebooting the minimal tone of John Carpenter’s seminal synth horror with the likes of “It Follows” and “Stranger Things,” it seems perfect that The Man himself would get the chance to play a revamped Michael Myers sequel while new blood directed it. It’s a slasher infusion that also takes place in the score as Carpenter’s one-man band is significantly livened up with the inclusion of the musician’s son Cody and friend Daniel Davies, all of whom play The Shape’s greatest thematic hits while bringing stylistically fresh kills to the psycho’s sound. Minimally infamous rhythm is joined by eerie atmospheres, blazing rock guitar and nerve-ripping metal in a way that brings new sonic ferocity to the iconic masked man, adding to the menacingly silent charisma of an unstoppable supernatural presence. Here, a filmmaker who electrified the synth horror scoring revolution shows he’s more than got a lethal spring in his step for a decades-old menace that’s snapped out of his rhythmic trance like never before.

(Alexandre Desplat / ABKCO)

Alexandre Desplat has mastered Wes Anderson’s peculiar brand of arch, whether it be in animation with “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” or the live action of “Moonrise Kingdom” and his Oscar-winning score for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Drawing from hayseed music to a madcap Viennese waltz, the ethnic opportunities presented by Anderson’s fractured fairy tales now take the French-Greek composer to the peculiar, stop-motion Oriental trashland called “The Isle of Dogs.” You’d think that Desplat was to the droll manor born given just how well he channels the Japanese musical spirit animals, in particular Toru Takemitsu as Taiko drums join with a groaning male chorus along with flutes and bell-ringing rhythm. It’s a deliciously portentous mix, propelled by a humorously dire theme in the same energetic manner as “Fox” and “Budapest,” here creating a world of ninja-like skullduggery and the honorable heroism of disgraced canines. As with Anderson’s stylized worldview, Desplat’s approach suggests bemused, but respectful outsiders trying to make sense of a seemingly impenetrable culture, not to mention human race, as done with humorously woeful rhythm for this drum-beating tail of woe and redemption.

(Adam Barber / Seven Arts Music)

Just because a dame keeps bad company doesn’t mean that her music isn’t alluring, as the case for Adam Barber’s beyond-sultry score proves beyond film noir doubt. Just listening to the erotic saxophone, sinister techno grooves and intimate combo of piano and brass and your ears will envision a man-eater you’ll want to be devoured by. Barber’s score conjures the coolest erotic crime jazz this side of the glory days of “Twin Peaks’” Angelo Badalamenti and “Stormy Monday’s” Mike Figgis, balancing smoky mood with playful vocalese, bass-strumming and rockabilly sense of humor about his music’s overt desire – all of which makes “London Fields” as emblematic of great naughty girl scoring as a cancer stick held between pouting, scheming red lips.

(Daniel Hart / Varese Sarabande)

For his frequent director in cinematic crime David Lowery (“Pete’s Dragon,” “A Ghost Story”), Daniel Hart pulls off a surprisingly lightweight caper score that’s definitely in the old school vein. Given a gentleman thief who’s most rocking days were likely in the 70’s, Hart pulls gently jazzy loot from Dave Grusin (“The Firm”) and wonderfully launders it into his own, relaxed, small ensemble vibe. Sure this “Old Man” isn’t the only retro jazz heist score in town, but he certainly sounds like the leader of the pack given Hart’s nimble, bouncy way with strings and percussion. But for all of its sophisticated pistol-flashing fun and games, Hart’s lovely, nostalgic theme gives a sense that crime has the cost of family, especially as his main motif goes to a classical, hand-clapping quartet for the score’s neatest reveal.

(Mychael Danna / Sony Masterworks)

Given a stonily resolute Supreme Court Justice who will hopefully never say die, Mychael Danna, a master of biopic scores like “Antwone Fisher,” “Capote” and “Shattered Glass,” musically breaks our image of the ultimate spectacled superhero grandma to reveal a ball of sensually youthful, and vulnerable energy out to change a discriminatory system to all sexes. It’s a musical origin story told in an uncloyingly inspirational way as Danna depicts a workaholic lover and mom out to change a discriminatory law, and the plight of all sexes with it. That Danna rousingly helps her do with the military energy of a brave captain, his noble symphonic approach painting Ginsburg’s determination in much the same way as another officer named Kirk. Danna wins the musical case with convincing intelligence and emotion, his strong female power theme earning its rah-rah honors with the conviction of its case.

(Marco Beltrami / Milan Records)

A composer who often screams as loudly as possible in his prolific service of horror, Marco Beltrami is given the boss-level challenge of scoring a film whose beyond-clever conceit is that even a sliver of noise will bring instant, monstrous death. Also given the deceptively bucolic existence of an expectant family. Beltrami rises to the task brilliant with his combination of rural melancholy and abject terror. It’s lyricism that could befit “To Kill A Mockingbird” as attacked by demons, with rampaging fusions of electronics, grinding brass and crazed orchestra creating a stomping, roaring presence that would give Godzilla pause. It’s a score that simultaneously strokes the heartstrings while growling in one’s twitching ear, creating a score that’s as relentless as it is poignant, a rare feat that continues to show Beltrami’s inventiveness in a musical genre he helped give a shrieking rise to.

(Alan Silvestri / WaterTower Music)

Who else could score the ultimate pre-millennium geek culture valentine than the composer responsible for so many of its greatest soundtrack hits? With no slight to Spielberg’s usual, and then-occupied collaborator, the director has for turning back to the future with Alan Silvestri here. Unlike many of his compatriots whose epic, fun sound has somehow been sidelined since the 90’s, Silvestri’s been on a non-stop roll, as can be also be evidenced this year alone with “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Welcome to Marwen.” But nothing hits the magical formula that put Silvestri on the map of an entire generation like “Ready Player One,” which fills its Oasis with a grandly thematic orchestral sound and still-hip virtual reality electronic beats. Silvestri’s way with sweeping, youthful heroism, charge-ahead military rhythms and sparkling enthusiasm recaptures lightning in a DeLorean for “Ready,” playing the greatest hits from back in the Amblin day with freshly dazzling excitement. It’s music that’s about the stuff of sci-fi and fantasy dreams, while also hitting the characters’ emotional beats amidst the excitement. Especially fun are the musical Easter eggs within as Silvestri unleashes notes upon the blink-and-you’ll miss ‘em cameos, from a snatch of “Back to the Future” as well as Akira Ifukube’s Godzilla march as icing on the delicious throwback calories. With “Ready Player One,” we see, and hear that the musical wizards of our movie going childhoods have never grown up in the best way.

(John Powell / Walt Disney Records)

When you’ve got John Williams setting the tone for what’s arguably the most famous film scores in history for a galaxy far, far away, it takes a musical daredevil to truly pull out of that gravity well. John Powell, no stranger to having his way with epic sci-fi scoring while simultaneously having his way with its conventions, accomplishes the feat in style for this iconic pilot’s prequel, bringing a new sound to the “Star Wars” galaxy while paying homage to it in Williams’ writing. It helps that Powell has his Ben Kenobi as a thematic co-pilot, creating a fun mosh pit as Powell varies his brash percussive style with the maestro’s smoother romantic stylings – no more so than in a brilliantly tracked asteroid evasion sequence that flies right into a distinctively Powell monster maw. But for the most part, “Solo” sings with the enthusiasm of the new guy taking over the Millennium Falcon’s control, bringing any number of new musical ideas to the critter checkerboard table while paying heed to this saga’s forever trademarked sound.

(Thom Yorke / XL Recordings)

While taking a cinematic approach that’s as insanely different from Dario Argento’s vibrantly-colored, witch-run dance academy for vivisected girls as imaginable, arthouse darling Luca Guadagnino also chooses a musical approach far afield from Goblin’s frenzied prog-rock lullaby score. It’s a revamped “Suspiria” that’s an unexpectedly rare instance where going from a scream to a whisper (at least until its ending) yields strikingly chilling results, especially when it comes to the score by alt. rock Radiohead front man Thom Yorke. With his eerily poetic and restrained soundscape of tunes and score, Yorke evokes an intoxicate witches brew to seduce its heroine to the head of the coven. He conjures beautifully tender song-themes to pirouette alongside unearthly synth reverberations, heartbeat palpitations and gnarled, piercing samples that promising dance to the death disfigurement. It’s an alt. sorcerer’s waltz for the cool kids and crones seeking eternal youth. But if one listens hard enough to the guitar grooves and spacey atmospheres, the ghost of Goblin sort of haunts Yorke’s score, whose spirit is thankfully willing to seek new, weird dimensions to work its own, intoxicatingly dark magic on.


There could be no better backseat driver to the cinematic adventures of famed, progressive jazzman Dr. Don Shirley than a next-gen musician who embodies his subject’s ideals, Trained from the womb pianist Kris Bowers is just that as he opens the “Green Book” (Milan Records) to a buddy dramedy with a streetwise wheelman though the 1960’s deep South. Segueing from his work for Kanye West, Kobe Bryant and such Afro-centric series as “Dear White People” and “Warriors of Liberty City,” Bowers not only does a spot-on recreation of Shirley’s jazz-meets-classical modernism for the film’s performances, but digs into the characters’ emotional bond with a richly felt orchestral voice, his melodic approach conveying both an awakening sense of identity and a deepening friendship that makes this racial roadmap so incredibly affecting as the soundtrack travels from ironic concert halls to cotton field realizations and the pure joy of a down-and-dirty roadhouse performance, all of which show a composer whose trip is just starting.

Hildur Guðnadóttir was a protégé to the dearly missed Jóhann Jóhannsson, collaborating with him on the nightmarish Oscar-nominated score to “Sicario,” anti-matter music that plunged into the low tone intensity of the drug war to become the late composer’s most influential work. That torch is powerfully passed to Guðnadóttir for “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” (Varese Sarabande Records), a sequel score that goes to even more impossibly terrifying depths with her fusion of sound design, ever-ratcheting suspense and new, haunting themes that convey the sadness of a bereaved lawyer who’s been transformed into an avenging angel of death. Guðnadóttir shows a riveting talent for conveying the kind of action anger that’s usually the playground of male composers, one that this musician proves herself more than capable in with a welcome touch of feminine soulfulness, making her potential in scoring the upcoming “Joker” standalone film even scarier given Guðnadóttir’s talent for playing monsters drawn from the real world.

Lili Haydn has segued from playing a precocious daughter to Mrs. Columbo and Rodney Dangerfield to a career as a top violinist and singer who’s worked with the likes of Roger Waters, Hans Zimmer and Marco Beltrami among her own albums. She’s also steadily become a composer of note on such indies as “Broken Kingdom” and “The Sublime and the Beautiful” and the new Netflix documentary “Feminists: What Where They Thinking?” Haydn also takes impressive center seat this year to propel the ersatz Uber-man of “DriverX.” for a truly interesting and eccentric ride with any number of offbeat passengers. Haydn’s deeply empathetic violin playing helps to veer her entrancing music between Spaghetti Western strumming, eerie techno beats, indie guitar grooves and whimsical rhythm. She conveys the lost souls of LA’s concrete prairie, as brought together for an eclectic, unique musical cab fare that captures what’s odd and beautiful about humanity in the backseat, as well as the seemingly silent guy at the wheel.

Nate Heller, the musical better half of director Marielle Heller, goes from the cartoon-drawing mindset that made for “The Diary of a Teenager Girl” to the fake literary signatures of a desperate author who pleads “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (Verve) when her convincingly counterfeit jig is up. Heller is just as psychologically impressive at aging up here with a jazzily sardonic sound that cuts deep into the pretentiousness of the NYC literary scene. Creating a score that Woody Allen would no doubt love, while being the most deliciously urbane portrayal of NYC’s easily duped hoi polloi since Jerry Goldsmith’s “Six Degrees of Separation,” Heller’s witty, sad chamber approach conveys a distinctly unlikable, sad sack writer who finds her biggest acclaim far better known wits. Not only conveying Manhattan in poetic tones, the intimacy of Heller’s score more importantly paints the big city as a very lonely place where bad ideas can get the better of desperate has-beens.

An enjoyably evil, bonkers spin on “The Scarlet Letter” gets exactly the tripped out sound of social media maniacs it deserves from former Passion Pit front man Ian Hultquist for “Assassination Nation” (Lakeshore Records). That he goes for an acid-beat sound that could easily be mistaken for a slasher score is the texting icing on a sadistic cake of tweeting technology run amuck, with voices conveying a holier-than-thou attitude descending into lynch mob anarchy for a twisted, killer cocktail of blackly satirical sampling whose transfixing rhythms inventively cut deep.

Few films have captured the embarrassing nightmare of an American school horror story, or have given it such a wacky neo-retro synth sound like Britain’s Anna Meredith when attending “Eighth Grade” (Columbia). Her souped-up Casio vibe is perfectly suited for a teen girl who’s on the outside no matter how much she tries to get in. Turning a pool party into a trumpeting, Philip Glass-ian freakshow or pattering a banana BJ demonstration, Meredith’s approach has a psychedelic, nervous groove that feels homemade for all of its sophistication, bounding with antsy energy that’s as nervously offbeat as its heroine.

The Zellner brothers’ whimsical deconstruction of western archetypes, particularly a maiden in need of saving by a gallant suitor, gets a wonderfully offbeat, yet seemingly authentic tip of the hat by the Austin, Texas-based, alt. mumblecore tendrils of The Octopus Project for “Damsel” (Milan Records). Picking up from the ill-fated, “Fargo”-inspired quest of the duo’s “Kumiko the Treasure Hunter,” this musical collective encompasses a warped old west with bemused folksiness. Yet in their inspired combination of unplugged, era-specific instruments and haunting electric atmospheres, “Damsel” has a mesmerizing, airy twanginess that seems unusually authentic for the genre, creating a sense of introspection and rambling energy that brings an entirely old, and new sound to an oft-trod territory, even when it’s Robert Pattison strumming their song “Honeybun.”

With a background in creating and mixing sound effects, Jed Palmer knows the ghost in the state of the art machine, a talent that make his first major studio score for “Upgrade” especially effective. Given that fellow Aussie Leigh Whannell has taken the parts of so many past cyber thrillers and assembled an impressive new creation in the same re-jigged spirit as “The Terminator” and “The Matrix” Palmer creates a vibrantly cold score that draws from retro synth sounds, It’s music that pulses with lethal, steely efficiency, conveying both shock and awe at new superhuman abilities as its serves the rhythmic needs of a thriller who’s hero is on the run – all while hearing his humanity increasingly diminished by the implant that’s the real boss. It’s a great example of how sound design and score can be fused into a new, energized musical being whose old, replicant parts have never pulsed with shinier efficiency.

If film “music’s” first duty is to work for the picture as opposed to a stand-alone listening experience, then there’s no more abjectly terrifying, and tortuous example than what Colin Stetson has conjured from the satanic pit for “Hereditary” (Milan Records). One of the rising dark princes of alt. modernism, Stetson’s horn calling, nerve-shredding sustains and grinding metal take over any threat of melody as a miniature-obsessed housewife’s existence turns into a god of hell nightmare. Among Stetson’s experimental peers that seem to be engaged in a battle of the bizarre soundtrack bands to see who can be more insane, Stetson pierces some sort of evil veil here, crafting a finally unlistenable demonic tone that truly delivers on the term “horror music,” that being “music” in name only. Its anti-matter that lets “Hereditary” really deliver for a potential genre scoring career that should make routine listeners very, very afraid as Stetson drives them to insanity.

Like a determined journalist, composer H. Scott Salinas has empathetically any number of catastrophes from an Isis-haunted “City of Ghosts” to the drug crisis plaguing both America and Mexico in “The Trade.” Now his “Cartel Land” director Matthew Heineman takes the leap from documentary to feature biopic with “A Private War” (Varese Sarabande) as the lion-hearted, one-eyed report Marie Colvin conveys the anguish of war zones for a world that doesn’t care. While her reporting is more than devastating, Salinas’ score is impactful by not hitting the listener over the head, instead hearing inwards with an acoustic, subtly ethnic tone that finds lyricism in the unimaginable. His “War” is full of danger and sadness in its muted approach, sustaining melodies hauntingly portraying the anguish of those caught in the middle as Colvin tries to convince an uncaring world of civilians’ plight. Just as impactful is how Salinas’ score finally transforms into the song “Requiem for A Private War,” as Annie Lennox provides a beautifully anguished tribute to the sacrificial definition of #realnews.

Having played Armando Iannucci’s hilarious brand of political profanity for multiple seasons of “Veep,” British composer Christopher Willis gets possessed by mercilessly oppressive Russian ghost of Sergei Prokofiev in service to Iannucci’s twisted history lesson on “The Death of Stalin” (MVKA). It’s a textbook lesson on being a musical chameleon while still retaining one’s own voice, as Willis channels a raging orchestral fist for a scrum of opportunists, each hatching an arsenal of back-stabbing plotting to take the throne of a post-dictator Soviet Union. Expertly combining surging strings with a more reflective moments for piano, Willis’ massive, panicked score is its own brand of gleefully ironic satire, especially when channeling a thematic, symphonic voice that not celebrates the kind of darkly boastful music that gave birth to the sound of film scoring itself, but hears Prokofiev’s own torment by Stalin as a sort of last, bitter laugh.

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Varese Sarabande Announces 'The Devil We Know' Soundtrack

Soundtrack News - Za, 08/12/2018 - 01:00
Varèse Sarabande Records announces the digital release of [a.24732]The Devil We Know – Original Documentary Score[] on December 7th. The score features music from composer [c.361]Brian Tyler[] ([m.50345]Crazy Rich Asians[], [m.31328]Iron Man 3[]). "Composing the score for [m.51246]The Devil We Know[] was a truly personal experience for me," composer [c.361]Brian Tyler[] shares. [m.51246]The Devil We Know[] tells about one of the largest lawsuits in environmental history, staring a gym teacher and cattle farmer who led the citizens of a small West Virginia city to battle the multinational chemical megaliths, Dupont and 3M. In tribute to this heroic struggle, composer [c.361]Brian Tyler[] creates a rich audio panorama for the...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws

NEWS: Golden Globe Nominations Announced

Soundtrack News - Vr, 07/12/2018 - 01:00

The nominations for the 76th Golden Globe Awards were announced today. The nominees in film music related categories are as follows:

Best Original Score - Motion Picture:
[m.48963]A Quiet Place[] - [c.14]Marco Beltrami[]
[m.49258]Isle of Dogs[] - [c.752]Alexandre Desplat[]
[m.41692]Black Panther[] - [c.2269]Ludwig Goransson[]
[m.48801]First Man[] - [c.2205]Justin Hurwitz[]
[m.44578]Mary Poppins Returns[] - [c.198]Marc Shaiman[]

Best Orginal Song - Motion Picture:
"All the Stars" - [m.41692]Black Panther[] Songwriters: [c.]Kendrick Lamar[], [c.]Anthony Tiffith[], [c.]Mark Spears[], [c.]Solana Rowe[] & [c.]Al Shuckburgh[]
"Girl in the Movies" - [m.54057]Dumplin'[] Songwriters: [c.2070]Dolly Parton[] & [c.22850]Linda...

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Categorieën: Filmmuziek nieuws
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