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Varèse Sarabande will release the [a.17144]Star Trek Beyond Music From The Motion Picture digitally worldwide on [da.2016-07-22]July 22 and on CD [da.2016-07-29]July 29, 2016. The album features original music by [c.534]Michael Giacchino.
"To me it feels like an episode of the original series, but on a much grander scale. The crew is now on their five-year mission embarking on a completely new emotional journey than we have previously seen," said Giacchino. "It's been a chance to create a new musical landscape for the film that reflects both hope and exploration."
[m.42919]Star Trek Beyond, directed by Justin Lin, marks Giacchino's third film in the franchise. It will be in theaters, REAL3D and IMAX 3D on [dt.2016-07-22]July 22,...
The 10th Tenerife International Film Music Festival (FIMUCITÉ) will open on September 23rd with the concert "Lalo Schifrin's Jazz Goes to Hollywood" in the Infanta Leonor Auditorium in Los Cristianos. The Big Band de Canarias, led by the renowned saxophonist Kike Perdomo, will play some of the most known works of the Argentinian musician, composer of the score for the TV series [t.]Mission: Impossible.
The opening concert repertoire of FIMUCITÉ X will include [c.193]Lalo Schifrin's pieces for film classics such as [m.4519]The Cincinnati Kid (1965), [m.5084]Cool Hand Luke (1967), [m.3505]Bullit (1968) and [m.7739]Enter the Dragon (1973), Bruce Lee's last film. The soloist Alba Serrano will be performing at this opening recital.
The tickets for this first concert...
Soundtrack Picks: “THE ROCKETEER” is the top soundtrack to own for July, 2016
Also worth picking up CAFÉ SOCIETY, THE INFILTRATOR, JESSICA JONES, THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, MADE IN FRANCE, NIGHTHAWKS, SENSORIA, VICTOR YOUNG AT PARAMOUNT and many more!
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover
THE TOP PICKS
1) THE CONJURING 2 / LIGHTS OUT / SENSORIA
Price: $11.99 / / $9.49
What is it?: Ghost scores are back with a vengeance, a slew of hauntings given new inspiration by the Blumhouse formula – a mainly home-bound brand given sinister new life that’s counted Joseph Bishara as the main lease holder. A composer-cum-creature actor, Bishara has essentially become horror soundtracks’ answer to such modern classicists as Bela Bartok and Krzysztof Penderecki – musicians renowned for favoring stabbing dissonance in favor of any melodic escape to grasp onto. Perhaps that’s why Bishara’s work is so effective in alternately pouncing and shrieking its way through any number of Blumhouse movies and their ersatz spawn, scoring determined to get under the listener’s skin while throwing pleasantry into The Pit. Certainly Warner Brother’s “Conjuring” is the most effective devotee of what Blumhouse hell-spawned, especially with Bishara on board, With “The Conjuring 2,” Bishara is back to his old nerve-stabbing tricks, but expanding his shocks into more humane territory. Given the further, heavily fictionalized adventures of real-life ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren, Bishara not only delivers the expect movie theater-chair jumping flourishes, but hears a surprising amount of emotion as well. A weird, religious feeling hangs over the score for its unreservedly Christ-believing couple, choral masses that at once reflect their faith, while also moaning with the ungodly forces determined to test it. Effective melancholy also hangs over the unfortunate, working-class English family tormented by something way more than a pesky poltergeist, showing off a haunting as an intrusion upon family togetherness as well. It’s the loneliness of having no home to go that’s as awful as being trapped in the blackness of The Further, a phantom zone that Bishara materialized with his “Insidious” scores. That dread musical place is all over “The Conjuring 2” as well with chilling moans and purposefully out-of-tune brass masses. But in turn there’s also far more of an epic sense of symphonic heroism as the Warren’s souls go head-to-head with the movie’s soon-to-be-serialized evil “nun.” In the meantime, “The Conjuring 2” is a sequel score that really expands on Bishara’s repertoire, one that not only continues to get under our skin, but actually touches the character’s hearts as well
Why should you buy it?: Perhaps not so ironically, “Lights Out” composer Benjamin Wallfisch served as the composer for English television’s far more “factual” take on The Enfield Haunting that “The Conjuring 2″ spun in a far more demonic direction. It’s poltergeist hunting that puts Wallfisch in very good stead to tackle the purely imagined she-specter that appears when it’s “Lights Out” in the Blumhouse. Once again dealing with children facing an angry entity that would like the young ones to be part of their house forever, Wallfisch’s approach is just a tad more conventional, which works quite well for a bad seed turned into a malicious adult ghoul. Given more of a melody-based background that’s done suspensefully well in such scores as “Hours” and the ghostly “Thirteenth Tale,” Wallfisch starts out of the gate with a strongly orchestral, child-like theme that carries a feeling of tenderness, all the better to get ripped asunder by nerve-shredding samples that evoke the dread of utter darkness in which evil dwells, and snatches her victims into. “Lights Out” does an effective to-and-fro between tunefulness and truly scary sample bits, poignant pianos and haunted choruses suddenly lurching into sinister, all-enveloping atmospheres designed with maximum impact for jump-shocks, yet wrapped into an uneasy thematic bow that’s about how family bonds can conquer all – at least until the inevitable sequel, with his ending rhythmic take on the main theme makes us quite musically eager for.
Extra Special: The Blumhouse effect has certainly rippled through world spook cinema, as can be seen and heard in Swedish with “Sensoria.” Israeli composer Frank Ilfman nicely captures the creepy musical spirit of Poland’s Krysztof Komeda as a lonely woman goes down the Polanski “Repulsion” rabbit hole, driven nuts by the barely-glimpsed ghost that’s her apartment’s other tenant. Very much “Rosemary’s Baby” in creepily melodic spirit, Ilfman treats this ghost with a witch’s brew of female-voiced lullabies and soft wailing, where a memorable music box theme adds to a poetic atmosphere of unholiness. There’s a twisted, child-like quality to “Sensoria,” a darky gentle spin on the tone that Ilfman gave to the far nicer meeting between a kid and a hulking, if friendly creature in his potent score to “Abulele.” And if Ilfman brought on the Herrmann-esque thunder in his last psychological horror score for “Big Bad Wolves,” the more restrained, eerily gossamer tone of “Sensoria” is truly fairy tale in tone, with delicate strings, tender piano, bell percussion and pulsing electronics weaving an empathetic spell around its heroine, much like a crone laying candied, thematic treats for an innocent to follow to a bad end. It’s a delicate, deceptive gentleness that shows how horror scoring can be just as effective with a sweetly evil, old school hush as it is conjuring shocks with blunt force when it comes to three memorable scores definitely not to be listened to with the lights off.
2) JESSICA JONES
What is it?: For the most part, movie superhero scoring is understandably of the muscular, macho symphonic variety, even if Wonder Woman might get a badass cello theme. Far more down to earth is the Netflix edition of the Marvel Universe, whose avengers prowl the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and occasionally better NYC neighborhoods in “Jessica Jones.” Where John Paesano’s approach for “Daredevil” might be a sonar sense of dark rhythms, his soon-to-be fellow Defender gets a more welcoming emo-noir treatment by composer Sean Callery. It’s scoring that’s all about smoky, sensual vibes as opposed to menace – even if her main purple foe is arguably more horrifying than Matt Murdock’s girthy one.
Why should you buy it?: A longtime television-centric composer whose grrll power shows have included “La Femme Nikita,” “Sheena” and “Medium” (with an inordinate time spent saving the world with Jack Bauer as well), Sean Callery now gets the chance to hit the unrestrained world of subscription television, where Marvel has been pushing a far more serious R-rated edge long before “Deadpool.” Where “Jessica Jones” might be a hipper, more melodically pleasing listen than “Daredevil,” its investigator heroine is driven by the far darker subject of rape – as done to her head by the mind and body enslaving words of the psychotic Killgrave. Callery communicates what it’s like to be under that spell with melodically intoxicating mélanges of jazz, vocals, rock guitar and sometimes terrifying rhythmic samples – one part sultry private dick music, and the other the sound of being trapped in a mental spider’s web, helpless as the purple man approaches, yet lulled into not wanting to break free. It’s a hauntingly unique approach that really digs inside of Jessica’s wounded psyche, conveying a screwed up woman who’s now way worse for the wear. Yet sensuality, and the need for sex remain part of this exceptionally well developed character who’d rather just not speak at all, leaving Callery’s inventive approach to bring out the emotion amidst the gloom.
Extra Special: With its numerous tracks very well culled from 13 binge-addictive episodes, “Jessica Jones” is as far away from manly, Marvel fisticuffs as the Earth is from Pluto, even when it comes to her fights with the Killgrave-possessed Luke Cage. While we might have heard the kind of powerful, growling percussion that accompanies the very reluctant heroine trying to get through his unbreakable hide, “Jessica Jones” really hits something new when these fisticuffs become free form jazz. It’s like Miles Davis scoring a superhero battle, which is just one of the many innovative touches that Callery brings to a soundtrack that hypnotizes the listener in all the right ways.
What is it?: Though their LP to CD series sadly won’t be continuing, Varese Sarabande Records is still in the business of digitizing vinyl soundtrack gems from studio labels during the late 70s and early 80s. Where their lyrical likes of Charles Fox’s “One on One” and Dave Grusin’s “The Champ” might have had the occasionally groovy track, few scores from the period rock as hard as their ironically welcome release of Keith Emerson’s “Nighthawks.” Given Rutger Hauer’s ladykilling terrorist who enjoys discos in between blowing up English department stores and taking hostages on the Roosevelt Island tram, Keith Emerson create an action club beat that sounds with twisted, rocking confidence.
Why should you buy it?: As the keyboardist for Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Emerson’s virtuoso piano playing helped establish the groove of progressive rock, a sound at once rooted in classical orchestrations and electric guitar energy. With his distinctive flair infusing the Gothic horror of Dario Argento’s “Inferno,” Emerson was next given the shot at a studio film for Universal’s Sylvester Stallone vehicle. And while “Nighthawks” inexplicably remained his only studio picture, the suspenseful energy he gave to this stylish, gritty chase between he-man cross-dressing cop and vainglorious handsome evildoer has made “Nighthwawks” memorably stand as one of the 80’s most distinctively stylish action films. Yet the swaggering, jazz-brass quality of Emerson’s score as is also firmly rooted in such rhythmic urban crime scores as “Dirty Harry” and “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.” It’s brassy propulsion that teams with Emerson’s cutting edge synth work, taking on the propulsion of helicopter blades, where muddily distorted synths and electric organ play the all the crafty horror of the stalking Wulfgar. It’s the musical language of cop thrillers as put through the heated, melodic sensibility of a rock god in a final song solo, yet one cannily aware of the genre he’s playing in.
Extra Special: Where Emerson’s club songs were woefully changed on DVD due to the song rights that afflict so many MCA movie releases from the era, the “Nighthawks” album offers the full, film-heard versions of “Nighthawking” and “I’m A Man,” the first with Emerson turning his terrific theme into truly cool disco, and the second his vocal, electric-guitar riff on the classic Steve Winwood tune via his pro-rock guitar, organ and Studio 54-ish beat. Now with the score flying solo apart from the Emerson CD compilation it was once part of, “Nighthawks” impresses more than ever with its dazzling, energetic freshness, making Emerson’s recent loss all the sadder, yet more alive with suspensefully groovy energy than ever.
4) THE ROCKETEER
What Is it?: Of all of the gloriously unsung retro superhero films in the 90’s that took audiences back to the thrilling 30’s and 40’s days of yesteryear like “The Phantom” and “The Shadow,” “The Rocketeer” holds a special place for capturing a singular, soaring feeling of uncomplicated innocence. Here was an apple plié, gold-helmeted protagonist unburdened with psychological tsuris in a clear-cut fight against good and evil, all to save pal, country and a winsomely eye-popping heroine. And no composer embodied that kind of airborne derring do like James Horner, a musician whose own, ultimately tragic affinity for the sky poured forth in one of his most gloriously buoyant and thematic scores, bursting with all the red, white and blue of a Captain America comic book. Now on its 25th anniversary, Horner’s vibrantly enduring score flies like never before via Intrada’s sonically spy-smashing release.
Why Should You Buy It?: Created by comic book nostalgia fan Dave Stevens as a saucy salute to the Commander Cody serials of yore, “The Rocketeer” was Disney-fied for its terrific screen adaptation. But if Stevens’ fans didn’t get an homage to sometimes S & M pinup Bettie Page in the translation, “The Rocketeer’s” wholesomeness was a wonderfully fitting for the material, giving Horner’s work all the more affectionate. Having reached the heights of orchestrally swashbuckling, and wondrous fantasy and sci-fi scores like “Krull,” “Willow” and “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn,” “The Rocketeer” served as a sum total of the composer’s lushly symphonic bells and whistles for the genre – a pre-flight, ultra-thematic checklist that included a strongly heroic melody, yearning romantic music, villainously fascistic brass, lightning-fast, trumpeting crescendos, desperately suspenseful percussion and energetic derring-do. There’s no doubting for a musical second whom the good guys and bad guys are here, as well as when Horner is taking flight with a sense of elation in his gossamer strings and heavenly harps. If “The Rocketeer” has remained aloft as a beloved cult film, it’s in no small part because of the gee-whiz love that has infused every aspect of “The Rocketeer” from its performances and production. It’s a personable, often humorous approach that sings through the score in the obvious passion that Horner shares with the innocent romance and cliffhanging, comic book thrills that allow Horner to blazing play every aerial maneuver and two-fisted punch, making “The Rocketeer” the definition of clear-cut, flag-waving superhero scoring for the dearly missed simpler times of Saturday matinee superhero serials and those pictures that earnestly strove to recreate their magic.
Extra Special: “The Rocketeer” received an ample release back in the day that showed off Horner’s talent at writing extensive passages well above the seven-minute mark, as well as the big band swoon of former “Fridays” player Melora Hardin. Intrada’s dazzling two-CD set offers both the original release, and the complete score, both terrifically re-mastered from the original tapes in one of the label’s most-anticipated titles from their soundtrack partnership with Disney. Much of the extra 21 minutes involves the set-up of Howard Hughes’ stolen rocket pack as Horner captures the interplay between Bill Campbell’s barnstorming Cliff Secord and his wary mechanic Peevy (the always wonderfully nervous Alan Arkin), music that captures a yearning sense of a financially busted flyboy hoping for something better, and finding it with a dangerously shrill “gizmo.” The nefarious, coldly motivic brass of the traitorous, ersatz Errol Flynn star Neville Sinclair are get more of an ominous workout. But perhaps the most thrilling “new” music on hand is “The Laughing Bandit,” Horner’s tribute to Erich Wolfgang Korngold that plays as Sinclair engages in Robin Hood theatrics on the soundstage. While Horner took a fresh, retro approach to “The Rocketeer” in tone as opposed to outrightly trying to sound like a score from the 40’s, his brief, swashbuckling salute to the music of Hollywood’s golden age shows just how wonderfully Horner followed in that symphonically exuberant tradition. Tim Grieving’s enthusiastic liner notes and Joe Sikoryak’s colorfully designed booklet perfectly complement this red and gold valentine to when superheroes stood for goodness in all of its youthful, patriotic splendor.
5) VICTOR YOUNG AT PARAMOUNT VOL. 2
What Is it?: A soundtrack label that continues to dig into the best, if not terrifically well known work from the orchestrally glittering golden age of film music, Kritzerland gives another wonderful salute to a fairly unheralded composer with their second volume of Victor Young’s work at Paramount. With over two hundred scores to his credit (pretty prolific in a period where so many composers worked non-stop providing wall-to-wall music), Young is best known for the romance of “Three Coins in a Fountain” and such sturdy westerns as “Johnny Guitar” and “Shane,” along with his rollicking Oscar winner “Around the World in Eighty Days.” Young had a particular talent for jazzy, star-crossed attraction and dramatic patriotism, as spotlighted on this endearing volume
Why Should You Buy It?: Kritzerland’s second Young volume begins with 1956’s memorably titled “The Proud and the Profane,” a wartime romance where a widowed Red Cross nurse finds a new match in a hard-bitten colonel who knew of her husband’s death. While there’s some military marching about and noble strains of duty and sacrifice, “Proud” stands out for its WW2 jukebox jazz music, a swinging sound that Young takes to full, bluely rhapsodic Gershwin heights for the “All About Eve”-ish backstage backstabbing of 1953’s “Forever Female.” Going from waltz-time to a swooning, gorgeous orchestra that sings of NYC’s jet-setting showbiz nightlife. It’s wonderful froth, complete with a trip to Sardi’s Conga room. Far more dramatic is 1953’s “Little Boy Lost,” wherein a war correspondent returns to post WW2 France to reconnect with the son he lost contact with during the war. Young truly pulls at the heartstrings, no more so than with his aching use of violins that plead for the tear ducts, nicely showing off the kind of unbridled melodic emotion that composers were allowed to indulge in back in the day. The soundtrack quartet ends with the cartoonish delight of the 1952 Bob Hope comedy “My Favorite Spy,” where the affably bungling road icon is thrown into Tangiers-set intrigue. With just of bit of Middle Eastern rhythmic exotics, Young shows off his Carl Stalling side at making cartoonish hay with popular tunes, especially with his romping, circus-like take on “Farmer in the Dell” for a camel act, while the military drama gets put through its slapstick paces.
Extra Special: Whether serious or fun, what connects all of Young’s work for these relatively obscure films is a rousing sense of richly thematic, orchestral melody, the top notch work of its Hollywood players sounding particularly robust on this collection some fifty years later, now given their first-time release. It’s a delightful listen that puts a relatively unsung composer in a sparkling spotlight.
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
. CAFÉ SOCIETY
Jazz and Woody Allen have long gone together like bagels and lox. Whether New Orleans’ Dixieland swing, Josephine Baker crooning, George Gershwin rhapsodizing and Glenn Miller swinging with his big band (with the tune brakes pretty much stopping around 1950). America’s unique musical art form has served as the energetic, rhythmic voice of a director who could just as well have ended up running a vintage used record store if the film thing hadn’t worked out for him. If there’s one era that Allen has shown continual affection for, it’s the champagne-effervescent sound of the 30’s and 40’s, as can be heard in such films as “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Bullets Over Broadway” and “Radio Days.” Now “Café Society” joins that vibrantly antique nightclub / jukebox pantheon as yet another nebbishy Allen stand-in is shown the high life of Hollywood and Manhattan, with all of its assorted gorgeous dames, mob flunkies and hilariously hollow studio types. But if anything, listening to this wonderful assemblage of 30’s hits is like being given a front table seat at a nightclub where all of the swing legends and chanteuses hang out, to the point where you can hear the noisy laughter and clanking cocktail glasses in the smoke-filled background. Give new life to such iconic standards is Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks, who bring piano bounce and a Stefan Grappelli-esque guitar to such tunes as “The Lady is A Tramp,” “Jeepers Creepers” and “My Romance.” Kat Edmonson joins in with sultry tempo for “Mountain Greenery,” while Conal Fowkes tickles the ivories in style with “Out of Nowhere” and “This Can’t Be Love,” doing time with the Tango beat of YeraSon’s “The Peanut Vendor.” And of course, no Allen soundtrack would be complete without classic recordings, given here to the nostalgic big band of Benny Goodman’s “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” to Count Bassie’s “Taxi War Dance.” A greatly enjoyable album that sounds off with tuxedo’d class, “Café Society” continues to show that Woody Allen knows how to pick the jazz standards like no one else.
. A CONSPIRACY OF FAITH: THE DEPARTMENT Q TRILOGY
It’s glum enough being a procedural cop in America as one dives into the morass of human depravity. It’s a whole other level of soul crushing psychology when you’re doing the beat in Denmark as part of the “Nordic Noir” genre, whose most popular transplant to English language screens is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy. Now three new movies from the land of frost and criminal cruelty lands with the “Department Q” series, adapting Jussi Adler-Olsen’s books about two cops digging into sinister past crimes, ones which turn out to be very much alive in the present. Uniting a female politician’s seeming suicide, a double murder perpetrated by the sinister elite look at people as big game, and a message in a bottle from a long-dead child that might save two others, is a riveting sound that effectively combines a melancholy orchestra with suspensefully sampled rhythms. Movie Score Media releases three CD’s that round up these coldly gripping “Department Q” scores, beginning with “The Keeper of Lost Causes” and “The Absent One” representing the seamless work of Johan Soderqvist, Patrik Andren and Uno Helmersson – a team that certainly knows where the bodies are buried given their collaboration on the Danish version of “The Bridge” (a series transplanted to the Mexican border for its American adaptation). It’s a pulsing, grim approach that’s definitely familiar to any viewer on these shores who’ve watched cops drive themselves nuts while exposing a bigger, conspiratorial picture. But what helps musically distinguish the “Keeper” and “Absent” is a melodic sense of humanity that keeps its heroes going, often-fragile piano and strings accompanying harsh, metallic evocations of evil. Yet there’s a sliver of hope amidst the scores’ morally anguished, poetically tragic tone that relentlessly push its clues together into a whole, twisted picture as they link the cases’ equally menacing past and present. But the most riveting “Q” soundtrack singularly belongs to Nicklas Schmidt (“Ronal the Barbarian”) with the concluding cinematic chapter “A Conspiracy of Faith.” As the cops ferret out a religious community’s distinctly unholy secret behind a grisly child napping, Schmidt brings a powerful drive to “Faith’s” distinctive fusion of electronics and orchestra, keeping tension and emotion alive as the officials pray to reach the innocent in time. Ranging from an intimate, classically-styled piano theme to fragile bells and the hollow, gnarled presence of its villain, Schmidt keeps a suspenseful chase between innocence, pure evil and world-weariness alive, especially in a bravura ten-minute set piece set aboard a train. Rays of sunshine might not exactly pop out of these three intriguing “hybrid” soundtracks even as its cases are put to relatively happy rest. But as an example of the international language of crime scoring, the “Department Q” musical trilogy is nothing less than riveting.
. FINDING DORY
If Randy Newman established Pixar with a relatively normal, and wonderfully robust symphonic sound for 1995’s “Toy Story,” it was his younger cousin Tom that really brought the studio’s tone into a new, rocking, alternative world for his big splash on 2003’s “Finding Nemo.” A master of conjuring lush oceans of orchestral melody with rhythmically offbeat sampling and oddball instrumentations that distinguished his youth comedy start in Hollywood, Newman represented the future of animated scoring, as he proved by giving soul to Pixar’s little robot that could with 2008’s “Wall-E.” If anything, little water has passed under the bridge when it comes to the freshness of Newman’s music to mark his return to the deep blue CGI Sea of “Finding Dory” – even if this cute sequel is just a bit familiar around the gills. Though its fish might be forgetful, this “Nemo” reprise does at least musically benefit from switching its viewpoint to a far goofier fish, allowing Newman to go for a more frantic and funnier score while also reprising many of “Nemo’s” instantly memorable themes (especially the wah-wah guitar of its surfer dude turtle). Basically a race through a Sea World-esque land of torment, and back out again, Newman often pumps his playful rhythms faster than a nuclear-powered aquarium pump. It’s breathlessly exciting while not Mickey Mouse’ing the CGI toon action as the score veers from Copeland-esque orchestrations to bell-ringing percussive fun, then darting into outré experimentation before resting with meditative strings and a sympathetic piano. And given the near-exhausting level of “Dory’s” excitement, it’s easy to imagine some of the more antic scoring fitting into the drolly comic approach that Newman’s often taken with his 007 scores for “Skyfall” and “Spectre,” especially when given a melody of a flute flitting about at top speed with a wah-wah guitar. If music could be magical water, then Newman’s score for “Finding Dory” is teaming with life, creating a truly enchanted kingdom beneath its sea of rhythm and emotion.
. INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
Now given a mothership that covers half the planet, Roland Emmerich’s follow-up to “ID4” somehow doesn’t have the dramatic mass of its predecessor, which doesn’t make this lightweight sequel and its score any less fun for not being as filling. The big elephant in the epic room of course is if the filmmaker’s disaster co-scoring confidants Thomas Wander and Harald Kloser (“2012,” “White House Down”) can match the original, mighty score by Emmerich’s first musical bro David Arnold. The answer is no, which doesn’t mean their entertainingly listenable work doesn’t ultimately succeed to some small size, given an impossible-to-fill, planet-devouring shadow to walk in. Where Arnold’s massive themes set up an ominous tone that spelled out a suspenseful end of the world, Wander and Kloser are dealing with a brighter future attack, especially given heroes who are a bit overconfident having manned up with alien technology. There are no themes as such to grab you in their approach, which has a heroism that captures an 80’s-era sense of fantasy fun. “Resurgence” at first does the job capably enough, if not exactly memorably. But just as one might expect musical froth all the way through, Wander and Kloser gradually make “ID2” more interesting, even taking some unusually powerful emotional directions when action might seem to be the way to go, no more so than when the good guys are ambushed inside the mothership to end all motherships. Spacey electronics also make a distinctive appearance with an of-course talking alien orb that proves to be an ally. By the time the film’s Godzilla-size queen does it’s best to wipe away memories of Emmerich’s giant turkey of that name, Wander and Kloser definitely have their save-the-world groove going on with equal parts patriotism and excitement as they recall the first film’s inimitable tone with this enjoyable, gung-ho effort. Yet perhaps it would’ve been better to craft their own distinctive melodies than bring back Arnold’s music at all, scoring that crushes all in its path, no matter how fun these new composers’ enthusiasm might be.
. THE INFILTRATOR
The cocaine glitz o 80′s “Miami Vice” meets the 70′s undercover cop grit of :”Serpico” in this intense, fact-based drama that finds Bryan Cranston on the right side of the war on drugs, courtesy of “Lincoln Lawyer” director Brad Furman. In a similar, pulsating drive that he’d employed Cliff Martinez to route his other effective crime noir thriller “Lincoln Lawyer,” Furman brings along composer Chris Hajian for the grippingly rhythmic ride to the dark side. With a comedy-filled resume that includes “Upright Citizens Brigade,” “Beverly Hills Chihuaha 2″ and “Beethoven’s Treasure Tail,” you might not know if Hajian would be the most appropriate guy to navigate an Fed’s dangerous money laundering trail through Pablo Escobar’s empire, The surprise is grippingly on us in this mesmerizing, melancholy score. While not necessarily retro as such, Haijian’s sleek synths call to mind Jan Hammer’s work for the exploits of Crockett and Tubbs in building a world where pastel-colored style masks murderous depravity. But if Hammer’s trend-setting electronics had an in-your-face enjoyment in living the high, barely legal life, Haijain’s “Infiltrator” is done in a far lower, key. Sure Cranston’s cop might do international jet setting here as he pieces together the audio tapes to bring Escobar down. But it’s not “fun” stuff as such, as Haijan’s subtle, nicely thematic score conveys the constant sense of both a terrible fate that’s possible at any second, as well as the emotional sense of betrayal that comes from invariably thinking of foe as friend. Hajian gets too close by adding strings on top of his synths, bringing sad, soul-searching impact to the soundtrack as the noose gets both tighter around compromised heroes and multi-dimensional villains. It’s a smart, powerful approach that distinguishes “The Inflitrator,,” making it musically more real, and suspenseful in the bargain as it builds to the Big Sting. It’s a sneaky, high-tension score that marks Haijan as a composer one wouldn’t expect, much in the same way as Cranston’s narc.
. THE LEGEND OF TARZAN
Given a character once raised in a pulp jungle that rejoiced in wanton animal butchery and native racism, the key to making this umpteenth version of this English Earl the best Tarzan outside of the excellently literate “Greystoke” is tossing that noxious birthright to make him far more of a likeable human than savage ape man. That’s the key as well to Rupert Gregson-Williams’ wonderfully empathetic score – one that also doesn’t skimp on the thunder-drumming excitement of a brawny guy swinging about the jungle. A composer whose brought colorful life to any number of kid-friendly films from “Thunderpants” to “Over the Hedge,” while also showing his way around darkest Africa with “Hotel Rwanda,” “The Legend of Tarzan” marks a true, bravura entry into the summer vine-pole genre with all of the massive orchestral resources that comes with it. Taking a percussive page from the Hans Zimmer wilds where he rose up from, Williams creates a lush palette of strings, furious drumming worthy of Simba and a gorgeous female voice that could be paying testament to the greatness of The Gladiator. Williams makes this thrumming action sound very much his own in the Congo, which is more often than not an enchanted, ethereal place with mesmerizing electronics, foreboding ethnic winds and exotic rhythms, its accent on derring-do fun and tenderness. It’s the first score in the series to really communicate the mystical love that draws Jane to this jungle creature, creating a melodic bond that makes you believe he’d run hell-bent with the full percussion section to save her. There’s a truly epic orchestral sweep to the propulsive excitement that shows a composer determined to live up to the “Legend’ in this film’s title, while rebooting Tarzan with a contemporary action sound that’s its own animal. As a score that’s fully aware of the mantle of its icon, Greystoke’s lord emerges as an exceptionally, emotionally well-rounded, and percussively muscled musical character.
. MADE IN FRANCE
One of the reigning masters of 80’s-style retro synths, Robin Coudert (aka ROB) is best given to scoring such movies as “Maniac” and “Horns,” where his slasher-ready electronics can kill with abandon. It’s also a sadly inspired approach when it comes to playing homegrown Jihadists for a movie bloodily ripped from real life in his sinisterly energetic score for “Made in France.” Oft delayed on its turf given the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, this tale of a crusading journalist going undercover with a youthful cell of Islamists finally got released in both French theaters and via the county’s soundtrack label Music Box Records. Coming across like an icy computer rhythm mating between John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream and Vangelis to boot, the pulsating rhythms of “Made in France” have a fierce, relentless energy that sucks the listener into a grooving spider’s web of religious insanity, with Rob giving a particularly gnarled, industrial rock edge to his vibrant, throwback approach. Though he doesn’t go for a Middle Eastern tone as such, there’s a creepy, tribal beat to the score suggesting Arabic percussion. It’s a rhythmically buzzing hornet’s nest that an unfortunate reporter steps into, yet Rob can be just as quietly, and tragically creepy here as he is at engaging in crazed house beats, with flute, choral and organ emulation getting across an unstoppable sense of piano-topped tragedy that’s going to keep going on even if this film’s bombing plot is somehow foiled. Intensely unsettling and horror glowstick-waving cool at the same time, “Made in France” is throwback terror in a way that’s far more musically unsettling than if Rob composed his gripping score for a retro maniac holding a old butcher-knife.
. THE MONKEY KING 2
Where Hollywood might not be giving Christopher Young the major magical movies he certainly deserves (I’m looking at you Stephen Strange), the even bigger world of Hong Kong cinema is to be congratulated for allowing this seasoned practitioner of epic scoring to unleashed his mystical arts to even more amazing effect in his bigger, even better follow-up to “The Monkey King.” It’s an inspired choice to give the composer who’s often unleashed hell on earth, or outrightly tried to end the planet, with the task of putting karmic justice to rights in one of the many, if not more lavish, cinematic adaptations of the centuries-old adventure tale “Journey to the West.” Here a monk keeps getting his path to enlightenment royally screwed up by a monkey demigod with a penchant for rascally behavior and wantonly killing civilians. Just when you thought that Young couldn’t make the pillars of Buddhist heaven shake any louder, the composer pushes the volume to 11 with the same sly impertinence as this man-ape, laying down an epically melodic take on east meeting west as ancient Chinese instruments combine with assured symphonic thunder, eerie religious chanting and awe-inspiring vocalese to convey a mythically convey Asian fantasy with a holy attitude. A composer who gives particular attention to reworking his scores into album suites, Young’s extended tracks impress with their own thematic characters that shows off the beguiling richness of his score. A basilisk demon attacks with the full-blown ferocity of any of Young’s horror scores, where a prancing pig demon roots about with sprightly rhythm and flute. A giant lady skeleton beast has somewhat of a melancholy human heart given an evocative Erhu solo, where The Goddess of Mercy evokes gentle, flowing transcendence. A white dragon has a big outdoors brass swagger that’s positively John Wayne-esque, where a Bat Demon is given the gnarliest rock guitar this side of Young’s metalhead score to “Ghost Rider.” The Monkey King himself prances about with rhythm and swooning, choral heroism that says there might be hope yet to make a caring human out of him. It’s a sequel score that’s right at the top of Young’s always-impressive work, showing off new musical horizons that truly appreciate his god-like command of vast, magical melodies. That he’s the actual guy doing the Buddhist chanting to unleash his epic powers should come as no surprise.
. L’OUTSIDER (TEAM SPIRIT)
A financial whiz kid’s rise to the top of a financial institution he’ll take tumbling down is the real-life subject of this French take on “Wall Street.”
It’s an international language when it comes telling the fast-paced lesson of high living and moral consequences of the ill-gotten high life. It’s also terrific musical territory for Philippe Rombi to go rogue trading in when back in the company of director Christophe Barratler after his delicately beautiful score for “War of the Buttons.” Offering a memorable, determined theme as the stock and trade of “Team Spirit’s” emotionally rhythmic score, Rombi’s lush strings drive home a pulsating sense of flawed accomplishment, combining orchestra and pulsing electronics in a manner that will be familiarly energetic to American listeners of such up-to-the-minute decision making scores as “Frost / Nixon” and “Draft Day.” With billions of dollars on the computer stock line, Rombi’s effective use of time-ticking percussion and deceptively fun propulsion is the stuff that nail-biting financial montages are melodically made of. But there’s a price to be paid in the somber, reflective emotion in the score, a “Who am I?” feeling captured in lonely, self-reflecting piano and soulful violin that will ultimately slam the jail doors shut on our antihero. It’s another powerful score that’s a sum gain for this talented composer who proves himself worthier than ever of being a valuable French import to Hollywood.
. THE SAILOR WHO FELL FROM GRACE WITH THE SEA
A jazz artist whose work as a film composer could range from such lushly swooning scores like “The Americanization of Emily” and “The Sandpiper” to such strikingly experimental work as “Point Blank” and the sensual teen psychosis of “Pretty Poison” (not to mention a screwball golf game in “Caddyshack”), Johnny Mandel likely received his most deceptively disturbing assignment for the 1976 Kris Kristoferson-Sarah Miles romance “The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea,” However, it’s a film far more akin to “Lord of the Flies” as a widow’s son with sadistic delusions of grandeur ends up plotting to eviscerate the new man in his mother’s life – egged on by what he’s witnessing in their bedroom via a keyhole. Mandel had certainly dealt with disturbed kids in “Pretty Poison” and “The Sandiper,” but not to the creepy, cat dissection-to-start lengths of “Sailor’s” spawn. It’s a deliberate journey from love to madness given “Great Santini” director Lewis John Carlino’s delicate approach to the material, a halting, measured pace that Mandel creates with a stripped-down electric keyboard approach, next bringing in a trumpet that could either stand for the sea, or cruel film noir fate, with twisted, lullaby bells getting inside of the dark soul of a boy who isn’t going to be won over. As the English widow’s life opens to the sexual, and emotional promise of her new American beau, Mandel uses the subtle magic of harp and piano. Yet even when strings thematically come into the score, it’s done with a deliberate subtleness that’s most definitely not “The Shadow of Your Smile.” For the vastness of the ocean nearby, Mandel keeps the tone somewhat lonely for all of the promise his music gives to its widow. Because soon enough, the music is impressionistically twisting about again with harpsichord and dark rhythms that bring to mind Jerry Goldsmith’s score for the rural, equally perverted young sadists-in-training of “The Other.” That the most sinister music in the score accompanies his cue “Wedding Preparations” tells you that no nuptials will be had, with the borderline dissonant “End Titles” giving us anything but closure for one of the most horrifying (if thankfully unseen) endings in a romance. It’s a striking, yet delicately poetic work that stands as one of Mandel’s most unsung soundtracks. Previously only available on an vinyl from Japan (where the tale was adapted from its suicidal author Yukio MIshima), Kritzerland’s premiere release of “Sailor’s” short, but greatly effective LP program is reason to celebrate this unnervingly beautiful work that showed just how far Mandel could push his romantic touch, with its heart still temporarily intact.
. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS
A French jack of all musical trades, Alexandre Desplat has certainly scored a multiplex animation film before, though done with a relatively straight-laced action-adventure approach for the superb, and sadly unheralded fairy tale superheroes of “Rise of the Guardians.” However Desplat’s second effort for this type of CGI toon is a funny animal score of a whole different 3-D color, a wonderfully rollicking soundtrack that jams with unleashed energy, yet with an elegant sense of melodic control that defines the composer’s prolific work. Given a menagerie of NYC-based pampered pets, as well as cast-offs with an attitude, Desplat goes for an overall jazz vibe that evokes every practitioner of Big Apple brass bounce from George Gershwin to Leonard Bernstein and the unrelated Elmer Bernstein at that, wrapping the antics from the city streets to the Brooklyn Bridge in a vibrantly thematic bow. Given that “Pets” arrives with the pedigree of the “Minions” team, there’s antic energy that comes with the territory, and Desplat marks it with a wonderful cartoonishness that is smart as opposed to busy, bringing in all sorts of delightful multi-cultural critter styles. Telenova music thematically turns Zorro-esque for a pampered pooch with a karate bite, Native American pow-wow drums, deliberately retro 50’s cha-cha’s, 60’s crime fighting swing and even a bit of modern day techno-scratch abound. Desplat also has fun with stalwart cartoon music, manufacturing a theme for spooky, skulking melody, while also engaging in the kind of comic book action that distinguished “Guardians.” Thankfully, a lot more people have seen and heard “Pets,” which is anything but a secret in showing the dexterity and sheer enjoyment that Desplat has in keeping up with keen refinement to whatever animated antics can be thrown at him for this utterly delight score.
. SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ
From “A River Runs Through It” to “The Majestic,” Mark Isham is a composer who knows how to play the heartstrings with devastating emotional impact, especially when dealing with the fact-based tragedy of “Bobby” and “The Conspirator.” With “Septembers of Shiraz,” Isham turns to the Iranian revolution, which delivers the Trials of Job upon a Jewish family who were comfortably numb to a country’s suffering under The Shah, whose Islamic population now out for biblical payback. It’s the world-shattering experience of having one’s dignity and flesh rent asunder that sorrowfully infuses Isham’s wrenchingly beautiful score. As shown in such scores as “Schindler’s List” and “Defiance,” there’s no instrument like the violin to evoke Jewish identity, and tragedy. Even when subject to the worst of the revolution, Isham keeps a balanced, even ethereal tone to the drama, never hammering in the characters’ loss. But if “Shiraz” is full of regret, the score is far from a downer, keeping a small semblance of hope alive in its gripping melancholy. Isham also has a keen sense of the Middle Eastern setting in his use of percussion, call to prayer and a cimbalom. As a composer who can also let head-banging action percussion rip in such scores as “Time Cop” and “The Mechanic,” Isham keys his score on the seemingly impossible hope of getting out of Iran as “Shiraz” builds to its great escape, combining sweat-dripping suspense and desperate, hamming rhythm. That the orchestra finally breaks into a semblance of sunshine at the end of “Septembers” puts a moving release on one of Isham’s most grippingly poetic scores.
. STARSHIP TROOPERS (3,000 edition)
The composer-director relationship of Basil Poledouris and Paul Verhoeven relished in symphonically swaggering macho thunder, a delight in violent attitude that rang through the medieval pillaging of “Flesh + Blood” and “Robocop’s” extreme law enforcement. But no score, or film better defined their mastery of militaristic bombast like 1997’s “Starship Troopers,” a movie both satirical in its gung-ho, kill ‘em all attitude against giant interplanetary bugs. Certainly one of the biggest budget cult movies of all time, Poledouris’ masterwork finally arrives in its full, propagandistic glory via Varese Sarabande’s terrific-sounding deluxe edition. Where past releases of “Troopers” score have concentrated on its dazzling action, there’s just a little more tender breathing room on this double-cd album that gets across more of an “All Quiet on the Western Front” vibe amidst its Leni Riefenstahll call for fascist God and country as Poledouris charts the indoctrination of a bunch of high school kids into battle-hardened warriors. Crafting terrifically memorable themes with no shortage of drum-rolling timpani or Teutonic brass war cries, this “Starship” savors the ramp into all-out action, With the troopers facing one overwhelming bug assault after the next, Poledouris’ rhythmic approach explodes with breathless excitement, smashing exhilaration and fear together in a score whose lifeblood is all about the stuff of great war scores, crafting its orchestral sound with just a bit of electronic sci-fi elements to place it in a future where nothing seems to have changed in terms of indoctrination.. There’s a true, epically melodic majesty to this pounding, relentless stuff, the fantastic sound of this new edition really getting across the kids-playing-war fun that Poledouris and Verhoeven had with this delightfully berserk, and satirically sincere movie. It’s an attitude that bursts with macho, melodic exuberance. “Starship Troopers” proudly stands as the alpha and omega when it came to Poledouris’ talent for these kinds of brass-fueled scores that could revel in their themes, from the majestically rising appearance of a brain bug to its relentlessly motivic creature attacks. That Poledouris knows he’s selling a big lie is very much part of “Starship Troopers” gonzo, flag-waving charm.
Ramin Djawdi has practiced a distinctive brand of musical sword and sorcery for HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” a show that’s allowed him to progress from low key Machiavellian scheming to the epic strains of battling bastards and avenging dragons. That alone is more than enough fantasy street cred to net Djawadi the RPG-to-live action adaptation of “Warcraft,” a saga with just as much history behind it as the iron throne. But given all of the music he’s provided for numerous seasons of “Games,” what can be possibly be new in the composer’s instrumental arsenal? Plenty, as it turns out in this powerhouse score that attacks its iconic creatures in a slightly lighter, if no less important way. Djawadi’s swashbuckling touch is also a good thing when it comes to a movie that should have been way more fun. “Warcraft’s” score does quite a bit of musical world building, with an emphasis on weighty brass, exotic winds and guttural voices to create towering, menacing Orcs as they invade an otherwise happy human realm. Driven to destruction by a memorable theme that rarely stops giving, Djawadi also gives a measure of nobility to the big brutes, let alone to the various human mages and knights tasked with defending the realm. There’s a neat sense of enchantment, as well as emotion that does much in the never easy task of giving videogame movies musical flesh and blood, an epic quest that Djawadi accomplishes with an sense of melodic majesty and cliffhanging excitement that nicely hammers away through the expanse of “Warcraft” while making it a distinctively strong scoring realm of its own.
CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, Moviescoremedia and Screen Archives Entertainment
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced the nominees for the 2016 68th Emmy Awards. Some of the highlights are as follows:
Original Main Title Theme Music:
- [t.44784]Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ([c.17045]Rachel Bloom and [c.2719]Adam Schlesinger)
- [t.44162]Marvel's Jessica Jones ([c.678]Sean Callery)
- [t.44216]Narcos ([c.16577]Rodrigo Amarante)
- [t.43903]Sense8 ([c.515]Johnny Klimek and [c.516]Tom Tykwer)
- [t.45300]The Night Manager ([c.1744]Victor Reyes)
- [t.41998]The Whispers ([c.927]Robert Duncan)
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score):
- [t.36164]Bates Motel, Forever ([c.1590]Chris P. Bacon)
- [t.]Chef's Table, Grant Achatz ([c.18716]Duncan...
Soundtracks Live! announces its annual concert for the FilmMusic Live! conference of Oviedo which will be held between 15 and 18 August. The program, entitled "Soundtrack Stars 2016", will feature music composed by the most important film composers of our time--20 composers, 20 film scores. Performed by the Orquesta Oviedo Filarmonía under the baton of conductor Óliver Díaz, the program marks the second collaboration between the festival and Soundtracks Live! in bringing quality film music events to the Spanish city after 2015's inaugural concert.
"It is an immense pleasure to once again return to Spain for another wonderful film music event," said Soundtracks Live! artistic director, Mikael Carlsson. "Oviedo FilmMusic Live! is a wonderful addition to the vivid Spanish film music...
BMI composer Rick Baitz is again directing his “Composing for the Screen 2016: A Film Scoring Mentorship Program” at BMI’s New York office starting September 8. The BMI-sponsored program, which is free to accepted participants, will select nine emerging film composers for a high-level workshop that will explore a wide range of film music excerpts – studying, composing, recording, and sharing work in a supportive environment. Students will leave the workshop with greater confidence in their own voices as media composers, an enhanced sensitivity to the art of composing for the screen, several strong cues for their reel, and an increased understanding of the film music business. This opportunity is also followed up with year-round continued consultation and development.
Prerequisites for the program include the ability to read and write music, history of experience and credits as a composer with media scoring experience preferred, access to music production equipment: computer, DAW (Logic, Digital Performer, ProTools, Cubase, etc.), notation software (Sibelius, Finale) and ability to create MIDI or hybrid scores.
Six sessions, to be held at the BMI Media Room, 7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich St, NYC 10007 (except for Session 5, the final recording session, location TBA).
1. Thursday, Sept. 8, 4-7 PM
2. Wednesday, Sept. 14, 4-7 PM
3. Thursday, Sept. 22, 4-7 PM
4. Thursday, Sept. 29, 4-7 PM
(2 week break to prepare final project)
5. Thursday, October 13—Recording session, time & location TBA
6. Wednesday, October 19, 4-7 PM
If an alt. rock band has captured a spirit of ethereal, Earth mother transcendence, then the gentle, drifting melodies and angelic voice of Iceland’s Sigur Ros could be considered the equivalent of one-ness with the woods. Two vital parts of a sound that’s drawn a cult-like following around the world are Alex Somers and Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson, otherwise known as the band Jónsi and Alex. Having met when both were students at Berklee’s College of Music, the home of so many composers to be, Somers would travel to lifemate Birgisson’s frost-covered home, creating art and albums that were as much a part of Sigur Ros’ hauntingly blissful alt. rock worldview as much as their own lyrical voices.
Now after venturing into soundtracks with music-centric director Cameron Crowe for “We Bought A Zoo” and “Aloha,” then the atom bomb making-of series “Manhattan,” Somers takes his first solo feature scoring credit with “Captain Fantastic” crafting a beautiful tone poem very much in tune with his past Zen naturalism. That’s all the better in capturing the unlikely spiritual force of Viggo Mortensen’s back-to-nature, now-single father, whose way of bringing up his brood as hyper intellectual Rambos makes his extended, sadly civilized family think his parenting skills leave something to be desired. This PC Peter Pan takes his ersatz wild boys on a bus out of the wilderness to make sure his deceased wife’s funeral lives up to her last will, leading to a reckoning of just how far his grand experiment will take him into a modern, uncivilized world his brood is socially unequipped for.
As directed by actor-turned-director Matt Ross (best known for his role as the odious Huli guru of HBO’s “Silicon Valley”), “Captain Fantastic” is an emotionally affecting film at once funny, pointedly political and a deeply felt meditation on dealing with death and leaving an incredibly sheltered, savage nest – a spirituality beautifully defined by Somers’ lyrical score. Touched by an uncondescending modern hippy spirituality, “Captain Fantastic” is a mesmerizing wash of thematic melody, an angelic voice, tender piano, soothing strings and ethereal spirituality flowing through a score that handles its wellspring of emotion with the most delicate of touches. It’s the definition of heavenly grace whose religion is human nature, creating a captivating dreaminess that fans of Sigur Ros, and Jónsi and Alex will find to be an unbroken line from their work outside of the movie frame.
What was your musical upbringing like? And did film scores play any part in it?
My brother is a musician. My parents are fairly musical. My musical upbringing was more about learning to play guitar, drums, and keyboards… and making noise with my friends. I didn’t get interested in film scoring until around the age of eighteen. It started to interest me how music could have less shape and how music could have such a meaningful impact when married to picture.
How did you help develop your gentle, alternative signature, what kind of emotion did you want it to convey?
There’s no singular emotion I was trying to convey in “Captain Fantastic,” but there is a common melodic and sonic thread I was going for. That thread is to keep feelings of hope and wonder in the darker moments and keep darkness in the more optimistic moments. The story of this family living out there in the middle of nowhere and creating their own paradise is a beautiful thing. But as perfect as it seems, it crumbles and they have to start anew.
What do you think it was about the music of Sigur Ros that’s touched audiences and made it such a popular band?
I’m not sure! It’s pretty unlikely that a few guys from Iceland, singing in Icelandic would ever reach so many people. I think that’s beautiful.
What was it like to go from alt. rock to scoring with Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought A Zoo” and “Aloha?” And how do you think his own background as a music journalist helped you to grow as composers?
Working with Cameron on those two movies was so fun! He is a true music lover. He has such a vast knowledge of music and musicians and his passion for it just flows from him. He was very encouraging of Jónsi and I to experiment, make weird sounds, and collage it all together with orchestra and more traditional scoring. It created a nice effect.
What was it like composing for the a-bomb series “Manhattan?”
Really fun! We wrote and recorded lot of music. It may have been more work than we initially anticipated, but it was such a great learning experience to have to create music for an hour-long episode each week. That was definitely a challenge at times, but it made us dig deep and keep going. We had a really nice relationship with the show’s creator Sam Shaw and the primary director Thomas Schlamme. I’ve always wanted to work on a period piece and it was such a treat to go into the world of 1943. The costuming, set design, and atmosphere of it all was beautiful and eerie.
Tell us about working with director Matt Ross, and what his vision was for the “Captain Fantastic” score. Did you find his other, best-known occupation as an actor playing a part in his musical approach?
Working with Matt was a dream. He’s so clever and insightful and has a good sense of what is working and what could be better. Sometimes as the composer you’re too close to the music to hear and see things objectively. In those cases Matt was invaluable. His vision for the musical component to the film was just to create something organic, melodic and moving, but always unusual and as untraditional as possible. I was all for trying my best to end up with music that functioned as a traditional score, but sounded and felt very different.
How did you want to capture the “hippy Zen” nature of the characters?
Well I didn’t really have to try to hard in that regard. I’m pretty into a lot of ideals that may fall into that category!
How child-like did you want to make the score for kids live a wild boys existence out of Peter Pan?
I like the peter pan reference! Maybe it falls somewhere between Peter Pan and “Lord Of The Flies?” There were times where I was using my dulcitone and Matt kept saying, “I like that sound” So I tried to incorporate the childish moments using dulcitone and other bell instruments. Because of the old crusty sound of these instruments I felt like it never became too precious or overly sweet.
There’s a powerful, gently spiritual quality that fills the score. How do you translate one’s belief, whether it is in God or nature, into a score?
I think it’s difficult to translate that feeling into anything… It’s so fleeting.
How important is the outdoors to your own creative process, especially given your residence in Iceland? And did nature play any part in your youth before then?
I loved climbing trees and playing in the forest as a kid. It was such a wondrous place to be. Everything changes. The light becomes dim. Kids invent another world to temporarily exist in. It’s magic! I live in downtown Reykjavik. And even though the air is good and you can see mountains in the distance I wouldn’t really say the outdoors has much impact on my music. It’s always just out there and I know it’s close by, which is nice I think, but when I go into my studio and close the door I could be anywhere.
How did you want to conjure the wilds that these characters inhabit? Was it important to show their travel into the modern world?
I did want the music to reflect how wild and untamed the kids in the movie are. It’s just such a cool element in the story! They are these really mature kids who live in the middle of nowhere in a beautiful forest. I tried to let the music embody their spirit and their attitudes. As the family goes into the modern world my score introduces darker themes. That’s because world outside of their self-made paradise is more complex and upsetting.
“Captain Fantastic” has particularly beautiful and haunting use of wordless vocals. How did you process them, and what did you want the voices to represent?
Jónsi and Sindri sang some really nice parts through out the score. I’m so grateful to have them! Some of the vocals I recorded through a vintage SM-57 into a Moog filter, analog delay, and eventide reverb. Most of Jónsi’s vocals were recorded through a U-47 and treated in the box. I used everything from reverbs, delays, and granular synthesis to dubbing to microcassettes and re-recording the tape.
Conversely, why goes the electric guitar has an especially gnarled sound in “Captain Fantastic.”
I think you’re referring to all the blown out distortion stuff right? That’s not electric guitar, but something called the Culture Vulture and using it’s bias control to fuck up the sound. And it’s also the sound of dubbing to micro cassettes and some heavy in the box processing as well. I love to control sound. Sometimes I like to destroy sounds. I like to push them and hear them brake in a beautiful way. It can feel like I’m playing the sound as an instrument sometimes.
How did you want the string / orchestral presence to work in “Captain Fantastic?”
I love recording strings. Strings have a way of transforming simple melodies and themes into something more. Especially arranging string parts with Amiina. I can’t say enough good things about those girls. They are amazing! It’s so rare to find musicians who can improvise so tastefully and melt into the atmosphere so effortlessly. For this score, I wanted the strings to be able to really lift up some of the more intense moments and to create beds of drones for the more subdued moments. I just followed my ears.
What are some of the other instruments you used to give “Captain Fantastic” such an ethereal presence?
Other than the strings and voices we used the piano, dulcitone, harmonium, mellotron, bowed vibraphone, tuned gongs, guitar amplifier choir, guitar, sub bass, sampler, drums and percussion. It’s often about how you treat the sounds, either during recording or afterwards. I love to manipulate sounds and turn them into something else. You can surprise yourself when you start toying with sounds to make them what they’re not.
What’s your own opinion about the appropriateness of how Ben is raising his kids?
I’m pretty into most of it. I’m not into the hunting element personally. But most of it is really cool! Who says kids need to go to a school and be miserable inside a depressing building all day? There’s no right way to learn and grow.
“Captain Fantastic” often walks a fine line between comedy and drama. How important was it for the score to keep that in balance with it’s overall “quiet” approach?
I never attempted to score the funnier moments. Because the humor is kinda dark and sarcastic we all thought it was better to have those moments play dry. Thank God, because I don’t think I could make music for a comedy!
The death of Ben’s wife, and the possibility of injury to his kids because of his lifestyle are themes that loom over “Captain Fantastic.” How did you want to capture this idea of acceptance, as well as danger?
I think it goes back to me always wanting to have a tiny sense of hope in the darker moments and a sense of darkness in the more optimistic moments. There was one scene where one of the kids falls off a roof. It’s very suspenseful and then you’re shocked and scared when she does fall. I tried scoring that scene and it never worked. We all agreed it was more intense to use silence and let your mind go to a place of worry.
What do you think that “Captain Fantastic” shows about the possibilities of alternative film scoring? And how can you see your “Jónsi and Alex” sound developing with future film scores?
I hope my sound is always evolving and I’m continuing to follow new musical threads. I really hope to do more film scoring and collaborate with interesting filmmakers. It’s great to have music and sound working hand in hand in unusual ways. Look out for Bill Morrison’s next film “Dawson City: Frozen Time.” It’s a silent film documentary. I have been writing and recording for a while now and am pretty excited about it. It’s made from old found films that were buried under ice for 100 years…
“Captain Fantastic” is now in theaters, with Alex Somers’ score available from Lakeshore Records HERE
Visit the Jónsi and Alex website HERE
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.15056]Hauschka ([m.46856]In Dubious Battle), [c.1714]Corey Jackson ([m.46851]The Bleeder), [c.1140]Michael Wandmacher ([m.44387]Underworld: Blood Wars), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 18 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-7-04]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.42918]Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates ([c.1259]Jeff Cardoni) and [m.43508]The Secret Life of Pets ([c.752]Alexandre Desplat).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits for:
- [m.42918]Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates...
Soundtracks Live! announces three programs and six concerts to be presented in Milan, Italy, during the 2016 summer season. The three concerts are entitled Superhero Symphony, A Tribute to Alfred Hitchcock and Space Symphony to be performed by the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi at the Auditorium di Milano, Italy. The concerts will be conducted by Ernst van Tiel, a veteran of film music concerts who had also conducted the Academy Award-winning score for [m.31586]The Artist (2011). Two of the concerts will feature remarkable world premieres, including a selection by [c.1187]Blake Neely from his work on [t.]The Flash TV series and a newly assembled 12 minute [m.26510]Total Recall suite from composer [c.77]Jerry Goldsmith who has just been awarded a posthumous star...
The Academy's Board of Governors approved Oscars rules and campaign regulations for [t.46838]The 89th Academy Awards at their most recent Board meeting (Tuesday night, 6/28). Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Governors for approval.
Updated campaign regulations, which specify how companies and individuals may market to Academy members any movies and achievements eligible for the 89th Academy Awards, are also presented to the Board for approval. The most significant changes affect members' attendance at certain types of screening and non-screening events.
Music Branch members may not be invited to or attend any...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.19108]Christian Jacob and [c.19109]The Tierney Sutton Band ([m.45380]Sully), [c.1336]Mark Kilian ([m.46829]Brother's Blood), [c.515]Johnny Klimek ([m.46810]Jungle), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 27 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-6-27]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.41408]The BFG ([c.231]John Williams), [m.40229]The Legend of Tarzan ([c.540]Rupert Gregson-Williams), and [m.45683]The Purge: Election Year ([c.6935]Nathan Whitehead).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song...
Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), a global leader in music rights management, is proud to continue its support for the Sundance Institute Film Music Program, which collaborates with Skywalker Sound to host the Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Labs at Skywalker Sound. Its first 2016 session of the Lab, which begins July 7 at Skywalker Ranch, provides an opportunity for composers and directors to explore the collaborative process of writing music for feature film and is a joint venture of the Institute's Film Music Program and Feature Film Program. The second session of the Lab will focus on composing for documentaries and is a joint venture of the Film Music Program and Documentary Film Program.
BMI is a longtime supporter of the Sundance Institute Film Music Program. As a...
The past few years have been a field day for dark, rhythm-driven suspense scores. But when many of these pulsating killing fields have a tendency to merge into one big murder dome, how does one keep the mayhem playing with a sense of fresh musical blood? Just ask Nathan Whitehead, a composer who’s consistently been playing his brutally cool way of surviving one Purge after the other with his action-horror identity intact. In creating what’s easily the most interesting Blumhouse franchise (or at least until they turn “Whiplash” into one), director-writer James DeMonaco took the idea of Classic Trek’s “Red Hour” from a Landru-approved festival of carnage into a far more believable U.S. government’s sanctioning of an anything-goes, yearly night of mayhem.
A sinisterly clever metaphor about violence that’s had it’s chainsaw-shotgun-machete cake and eaten it too, the “Purge” series has successively grown in its ambitions, going from home invasion to city-wide freak-out, and now most cannily with an “Election Year” that’s just slightly less terrifying than the real one. Back in action from “Anarchy” is ex-cop Barnes (Frank Grillo), who didn’t succumb to his legal lust for revenge against his family’s inadvertent killer. Now rewarded with providing the security for a Senator (Elizabeth Mitchell) who wants to put the moral kibosh on The Purge, Barnes is forced into a Die Hard-esque scenario as the official’s adversaries use the Purge as a way to wipe out any hope of ending the insanity. Needless to say, our hero will get to exercise his kill-or-be-killed rights across Washington as he tries to protect his boss from one twisted slice after the next.
All along the way of its Washington murder zones, Nathan Whitehead enables both berserker rage and food for thought with his ever-ambitious scores. Combining industrial rock worthy of foot-long nails with dread-inducing atmospheres and twisted samples for his first two “Purges,” Whitehead’s scope of destruction is both more heartfelt and brain bashing with “Election Year.” His music continues to impress as it breaks out melodic emotion, then runs like hell from shredding electric guitars, fear-sensing sonar and howling voices. It’s a score that plunges the listener into humanity gone mad, assaulting them with a method to its madness.
Uniquely equipped to combine music with audio design with his copious credits in both fields for games, films and television (among them sound editing on “Saints Row” “Crank” and “Pride and Glory”), Whitehead’s musical upbringing has had no shortage of rhythmic adrenalin in his collaborations with Steve Jablonsky on “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Keanu,” or coordinating the music of button-pushers “Infamous.” “Bioshock 2” and “Ratchet & Clank.” Where Whitehead’s taste for adrenalin has fueled such scores as “The Last Ship,” “12 Rounds 3” and “By the Gun,” it’s his ability to let it all loose for those precious twelve hours that truly allows him to inventively rage, especially on an “Election Night” where fans of blasting, terrifying action are the winners no matter the party of choice – a run for his life that Whitehead revels in like never before.
Could you tell us about your musical upbringing?
My upbringing could be summed up by experimentation. I grew up listening to my parents’ records and playing the family piano. I didn’t take piano lessons but I was obsessed with picking out tunes I had heard and writing little riffs. We weren’t a family of musicians but music was always playing in the house and in the car – mostly rock & country from the 60s and 70s. For better or worse, I’ve generally been determined to explore things in my own way and music was no different. I think it usually made me a bad student but I would go all-in on the things that seemed interesting generally at the expense of everything else. Around age eight or nine I became intensely curious about music and how it made me feel. The idea of writing music seemed so amazing. At some point around that time we got a Casio SK-1 for Christmas and that was a whole new world. It had a crude sampler and a brass ensemble patch that I loved. I picked up guitar a couple years later. In high school I formed a punk band called Spork and started writing tons of songs. That was a really exciting time for me musically and I was becoming interested in writing different genres, not just punk songs. I was focused on music by the time college came around but I didn’t know I would end up in film scoring. I studied music and studio production at MTSU in Tennessee before moving to L.A. I also took a few film scoring classes at UCLA but only until I started finding composer assistant work. Those jobs generally demanded pretty intense hours, but that is the best education in film scoring you can get.
You started out as a sound editor at the same time you began working as a composers. What did working in one field teach you about the other?
There is a lot of overlap in thinking between the two. I was always writing music but sound editing was where I managed to get a job when I moved to L.A. I was very fortunate to work for Dane Davis at the time and that job really taught me a lot about storytelling. Dane is also a musician and I think he approaches the sound design in a film in a similar way you might approach writing the score. I learned the importance of focusing on storytelling above all else and I also started to really think about the emotional content in sounds and textures. There are emotional statements being made by the notes on the page but I think there can be an emotional connection present in a lot of sounds that are more difficult to put on the page. The page is sort of a crude approximation of what we hear. We have such an established history of how musicians interpret those notes that it’s easy to take for granted all the things that make up what we are hearing—the note, the instrument, the mood the musician is in, the physics involved. Working in sound editorial helped broaden my idea of what an instrument can be and it really reinforced that I am striving to tell a story and make an emotional connection and there are no hard and fast rules on how to achieve that. This job also really beefed up my studio and tech chops and that came in handy later when I was assisting various composers around town.
How did you first become a part of “The Purge” series?
I wound up on The Purge ultimately through a composer friend of mine, Steve Jablonksy. Steve was a wonderful mentor to me and we’ve continued to work together over years. He introduced me to Platinum Dunes, which was one of the production companies involved (the other being Blumhouse). Obviously at the time nobody dreamed that this would launch a franchise. It was just a small movie that needed someone to write a score in about three weeks. I sent them a demo and got the call a few days later. I freaked out when I heard the schedule but then I basically moved into my studio for a few weeks and managed to get it done.
Were you glad to see “The Purge” go outside of the house for “Anarchy?” And how did you want to open the score up for an urban setting?
Absolutely! It has been really exciting watching the scope of this story grow with each film. For “Anarchy,” the urban setting brought many more layers. Trying to survive in the middle of a city on Purge night is totally different from barricading yourself in your house. I thought the score needed something that propelled us as we move around the city and the score also needed to speak to this odd group of people whose stories intersect as the night progresses. We see the mayhem of the night unfolding in a much larger way and we also see Leo’s internal struggle. We see people connecting in spite of this crazy institution. I think this called for much more range in the score. It was a fun challenge.
With “Election Year,” the “Purge” series takes on its biggest canvas yet that brings the series’ political subtext to the fore. What effect does that have on the score?
I think more than ever we are juggling multiple points of view and it makes striking the right musical tone much trickier. We are moving beyond simply surviving Purge night and now examining society and where the Purge fits in and all the different motivations people have. To some the Purge is a very positive thing. In their minds it improves society and it is a right granted by the government. The other side of the aisle firmly opposes the Purge. Some people just make money from the Purge. We have this patriotic celebration and this grisly ritual and somehow the music needed to weave through these different points of view.
How do you think the score shows how Sergeant Barnes has grown as a character since deciding not to become a killer at the end of “Anarchy?” And how does star Frank Grillo’s charisma fit into your score?
I think there’s a restraint and precision to Leo that I tried to incorporate into the score and I think that highlights a bit of his journey. He is now working within the system in America. Rather than grab quick vengeance on Purge night he has decided to embrace democracy to peacefully and thoughtfully be an agent for change. At least that’s the goal. He’s now playing the long game. To me, Leo has this measured toughness that I tried to reflect in the music. He is resolute in his mission but he’s taken much of his emotional reaction out of it and I wanted to feel that drive in the score. Frank’s charisma is a big part of that. I think he embodies Leo in a very genuine way. He has this hard edge and he can be mysterious but he’s also a good guy and he is cool. I tried to have all that come out in the score. Leo’s music always needed to be cool.
Do you think there’s more of an emotional component to the score in terms of how you balance an orchestra with rhythmic samples and rock guitar energy?
I do. I think the emotional component has grown more significant and more complex with each movie. I think we get more into the hope of the American people this time around. People are being galvanized and the score needed to support this larger shift in how the country as a whole feels. There are also patriotic & passionate purge supporters where we have this strange mix of a beloved tradition and brutal murder all wrapped up in one. There are also more intimate moments. It just feels like a bigger story overall.
The action in “Election Year” is fiercer than ever. How hard rock / heavy metal did you want to make the violent insanity?
I wanted to be aggressive and hopefully communicate the nightmarish madness of the night, but I didn’t want to go too hard rock or metal. The score definitely has its moments where it’s sort of retro and we have some big, nasty guitars. That was fun and I think it works in the scene but James was always steering me away from focusing on one genre too specifically.
One instrument you might not expect to hear in a “Purge” score is an organ. What gave you that idea?
I think the initial idea came from either James or our editor Todd Miller. We were trying to find something that felt right for those who passionately believe in the Purge. The organ has a ceremonial / religious quality that seemed to work really well in this perverse way.
How difficult is it to walk “The Purge” series’ tightrope between harshness and melody – let alone create a score that works for both action and horror?
We talked about this a lot on every film. I think this is the hardest part about writing music for The Purge. The film straddles all these genres. Anytime we went down a path musically that was too genre-specific it didn’t work. Finding the balance is the hardest thing but it’s also one of the aspects that make it so much fun to work on. Hopefully, it’s a good mix. I didn’t want to be so harsh that the audience is just pummeled for two hours but when things get ugly, we wanted it to get really ugly.
Given how popular dark percussive scores have gotten, what kind of sampling did you use to give your own approach its identity? There are bits of it that strikingly sound like submarine sonar, while other stylistic touches could be mistaken for hissing snakes.
I try to create a custom vocabulary for each movie as much as possible. Recording lots of weird sounds and turning them into sampler instruments is something I love and it’s a big part of how I work. It’s not a new concept – plenty of composers do that – but by setting out on each project and building this specific sonic world I think the score can have more of a unique identity. I think this is a good example of my past sound editor life being useful and it really highlights how a simple sound can have a specific emotional quality. It’s a subjective thing but I try to find and create sounds that evoke the world of the Purge to me. Eventually this grows into the body of sounds and motifs that make up the score. James is also very tuned into specific sounds. The “sonar” element you mentioned is one that caught his ear and we brought back in a few places. That sound is actually my ancient SK-1 keyboard (not the same one I got as a kid but the identical model I found on eBay) ran through various guitar pedals and plug-ins. For me, the key is to try not to be limited by off-the-shelf sounds but try to imagine what this world sounds like and then experiment until those sounds and motifs emerge.
Vocals almost make a particularly scary impact on the “Election Year” score. How did you want to use them?
I thought vocals were particularly helpful in shoring up the haunting and nightmarish nature of the Purge. We see some very dark recesses of society in this story. We talked a lot about ‘descending into the nightmare.’ To me, some of the vocal elements helped depict the sickening nightmare.
Your writer-director James DeMonaco has essentially made his whole career within the world of “The Purge.” How do you think he keeps the series fresh, especially when it comes to your collaboration?
I love working with James. I’m not sure how he thinks of these things but it is inspiring to see the way he pours himself into each of his movies. I think he has a wonderful imagination that is apparent in the crazy ways the Purge world is expanding. I think our collaboration process is largely the same. He really gives me a lot of space to try ideas and creates an environment where it’s safe to be vulnerable and experiment to see which idea works. That is so important. I think it allows good ideas to surface. I think he keeps it fresh by continuing to take the story in new directions that call for different musical approaches each time.
Do you think there’s a Blumhouse “brand” that “The Purge” fits into? And given how abstract many of their scores get, do you think it gives you even more freedom to truly go nuts here?
I don’t really think there’s a “Blumhouse” brand that shapes the movie. If anything, their brand is diversity. A wonderful thing about Blumhouse is they create an environment where it seems like directors get to make the movie they want to make. Most people know Blumhouse focuses on smaller budgets but every movie, from a student short to a $100M tentpole, has to work within budgets, schedules etc. Their relationship with directors has a big positive affect on how James and I get to work together. There is freedom to go nuts. This is a collaborative job and by allowing directors’ creative vision to guide the process it makes the work so much more satisfying.
You recently did quite a serious score with Steve for “Keanu.” Was it difficult keeping a musical straight face when hunting for a cute kitten in the hood with Key and Peele?
Keeping the music fairly serious seemed like the way to go right from the beginning. Steve and I are both huge fans of Key & Peele and of the director Peter Atencio. Using serious, cinematic music is something that Peter has done brilliantly in so many Key & Peele sketches. Plus, Peter creates these amazing, cinematic sequences. Just looking at individual shots you would never guess that the movie was a comedy – at least until the kitten shows up. So we sort of knew at the outset that we didn’t want a typical comedy score.
Having done a lot of work on such videogames as “Infamous,” “Ratchet & Clank” and “Gears of War 3,” what would you say is the biggest difference between scoring for film and television? And is there a realm you prefer?
One of the biggest differences is the project timelines. Video games take a long time to develop and it’s not uncommon to be on a project for a year or more. It’s rare that I’m on a movie for that long and TV is generally a brutally fast schedule. Another significant difference is obviously the interactive nature of games. You have to write music that is adaptable to different gameplay scenarios and that can evolve dynamically. One thing I love about my job is getting to change things up from project to project. I love experimenting with new instruments and genres and trying to learn something new on each project. So I like to have a mix of film, TV and video game work. I think the variety makes me continually push myself and they can all be fun!
You’ll be reteaming with “Purge” star Frank Grillo when he takes on the aliens of the sequel “Beyond Skyline.” What’s like to join that series about anarchic aliens?
I feel like I’m Frank Grillo’s personal composer! I’m having a lot of fun on ‘Beyond Skyline’. The director Liam O’Donnell has expanded significantly on the first film. I’m not sure how much I can say but the film is much bigger. I think writing music for aliens is a unique opportunity to stretch the musical palette further and use sounds and weird recordings in new ways. It’s also been interesting because the aliens don’t speak any human languages that we know of but there is alien-human communication. Dialog doesn’t work in the same way and I think that forces us to use music in different ways.
You’ve got quite an interesting score coming up with “Killing Hasselhoff,” where you’ll be trying to murder the star of “Baywatch.” What can we expect from your score?
This is a crazy, hilarious movie! It was a blast to write music for and it was also fun to work in comedy after so many dark and serious projects. It was a great opportunity to write some over-the-top comedy music and dabble in a lot of different genres. The score is all over the place and so is the movie. In a good way!
Where can you see the “Purge” series going in terms of its stories, and score?
We’ll I am always surprised by the mind of James DeMonaco so who knows where this can go. I think this story can really continue to escalate. I could see another American civil war at some point with so much contention surrounding the Purge. I think the NFFA and the anti-purge citizens will continue to clash on a larger scale. Maybe the Purge goes global? It feels a bit like a pressure cooker and I think the score will need to scale up accordingly. Who knows what that will sound like musically but it would be a good challenge.
If given one night to purge yourself without any consequences, what can you imagine doing?
I would hastily build an un-permitted garage at my house.
Visit Nathan Whitehead’s home page HERE
A new group of entertainment professionals in Motion Pictures, Television, Live Theatre, Radio and Recording have been selected to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it was announced yesterday, Tuesday, June 28, 2016 by the Walk of Fame Selection Committee of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. These honorees were chosen from among hundreds of nominations to the committee at a meeting held in June and ratified by the Hollywood Chamber's Board of Directors. The new selections were revealed to the world via live stream exclusively on the official website [url.http://www.walkoffame.com/]walkoffame.com.
Composer [c.77]Jerry Goldsmith will receive his posthumous star sometime during 2017. For more information, visit...
Lakeshore Records will release [a.17934]Captain Fantastic - Original Motion Picture Score both digitally and on CD [da.2016-07-08]July 8, 2016, and on LP via a partnership with Invada Records the same day. The album features all new compositions by American composer, musician and producer [c.12732]Alex Somers.
Appropriately, the album beautifully mirrors the story's strange, otherworldly settings, with Somers creating a score that is at once delicate yet haunting, fragile and moving, with tracks such as "Remembering" and "Water (I'm Right Here") conjuring up a gorgeously ethereal atmosphere.
[m.45386]Captain Fantastic will be released in theaters on [dt.2016-07-08]July 8,...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.58]Danny Elfman ([m.44985]The Girl on the Train), [c.234]Gabriel Yared ([m.46781]The Promise), [c.8705]Junkie XL ([m.41976]Justice League), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 30 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-6-20]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.43533]Free State of Jones ([c.4631]Nicholas Britell), [m.38200]Independence Day: Resurgence ([c.509]Harald Kloser and [c.1599]Thomas Wander), [m.42368]The Neon Demon ([c.124]Cliff Martinez) and [m.44375]The Shallows ([c.14]Marco Beltrami).
Today the LA Film Festival, produced by Film Independent announced Danny Elfman Project: Rabbit and Rogue, a unique online challenge for filmmakers in partnership with [c.58]Danny Elfman and [url.http://indi.com/]Indi.com.
Elfman is offering free licenses of his latest album, [a.18127]Rabbit & Rogue that can be used by filmmakers as the catalyst and soundtracks to their short films. The films can be live action, animated, narrative, documentary, music video, abstract or experimental. This unique marriage of music and movies will culminate in a competition of short films submitted for selection and screening at next year's LA Film Festival. Filmmakers are encouraged to pick their favorite composition from Rabbit and Rogue and use it as inspiration and soundtrack for their...
When you’re marooned on an ocean-lost island, many things come to mind in the madness of utter isolation. For the increasingly suicidal Hank (Paul Dano), it’s the Greek chorus (by way of Polynesian chant) of American composers Andy Hull and Robert McDowell. Their harmonies are full of tuneful lament and poetic irony, vocalese that turns to self-accusing song, all telling Hank to take The Big Dive. But just before he steps over the edge, Hank’s isolation is interrupted by the appearance of the very Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), whose very dead condition doesn’t mean that this can’t become the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Given his own Wilson in corpulent human form, Hank is not only given a chance for imagined conversations, but more importantly the idea to use Manny’s post-mortem bodily functions as a virtual “Swiss Army Man” to provide a means of long-awaited escape.
Hull and McDowell’s vocals and lyrics chart this oddball relationship with continual invention, not only bringing real emotion out of a seemingly one-sided pair, but also fashioning their voices into a percussive means of escape. Like this absurdist film by video directors Daniel Schienert and Daniel Kwan (aka the “Daniels”), this composing duo have made a strong, first-time cinematic impression that’s quite like anything before it. Where The Swingles Singers gave a wacky sense of A Capella playfulness to such Burt Bacharach scores as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Hull and McDowell take a musical idea that could have made for one-note musical shtick into a true score that sings with emotional beauty. Imagine what Beach Boy Brian Wilson might have thought of to pass the time if he got shipwrecked during his “Pet Sounds” period, and you’ll get an idea of this soulfully unique score whose peculiar raft is strongly constructed out of themes. Now as they make an impressive journey from their membership with the alt. Manchester Orchestra, Hull and McDowell reflect on a singular score of vocal invention that’s as multi-faceted as the “Swiss Army Man.”
Filmmusicmag: Could you talk about your backgrounds, and vocal training, that led to “Swiss Army Man?”
Andy Hull: I have been playing rock shows since I was 15 years old and that eventually led into a career leading the rock band Manchester Orchestra. We produce and perform under several different projects, so the combination of making countless albums and playing thousands of shows was my sort of background for learning how to sing.
Robert McDowell: Neither of us have had any vocal training. Just lots of moments to figure what you can do with your voice, sounds and production. We have always tried to approach each project with a different method in order to learn new techniques and make music that doesn’t sounds like part 1, 2 and 3. That mindset gave us enough tools to start the soundtrack and then experiment our way through.
FMM: How did you come up with the musical premise of “Swiss Army Man?”
AH: The Daniels contacted me and asked if I was interested in writing some songs for their first feature. Movies are probably my biggest passion, even above music, so I was more than thrilled. When they told us that they wanted the score to be made with no instruments and almost all human sounds and voices, we were thrilled at the challenge. As far as the musical premise, the first song I wrote, “A Better Way”, was the basis for the entire score. Once we wrote that song and “Montage”, we realized the chords would work perfectly throughout without seeming overused. We tried to focus on 5 or so different melodies in the same key that could all work together and would sound differently depending on which melodies we paired together.
RM: The Daniels have always had a lot of passion and direction. When they came to us, they already knew they wanted a unique score. We were told we could use sounds that only exist in nature, which left us with vocals and percussion. Over the next year, the premise came into itself. Every few weeks we would find a new sound, emotion or approach that would become one piece of the soundtrack. We tried to let ourselves evolve with each edit or re-write in order to match the premise of the music with the movie.
FMM: “Swiss Army Man” is one of the crazier novelty films since “Weekend At Bernie’s. But was it important to have the score go out of immediately funny territory into becoming an organic part of the movie?
AH: The movie is obviously funny but I never once thought of it like a comedy while we were making it. It doesn’t really read like a comedy from the script. So the score was a reflection of that. I knew the visuals and heart of the movie were going to be beautiful and organic so we tried to capture that on our end as well.
RM: From day one, the Daniels wanted the movie to sound and look beautiful. We had to create a bunch of material prior to them shooting, so the actors could sing along. I believe it helps bring the music into the story. There are a few moments where you see the actors singing the score, which help establish that this music is all happening inside of Hank’s head.
FMM: Given that you’re a composing duo, what kind of energy did that give to working with a directing duo? Do you think their rock video background was an asset when it came to creating such a unique score?
AH: We had worked with the guys before on our music video “Simple Math”, and it was an extremely pleasurable experience and collaboration. In a lot of ways we are very similar to those guys in our hunger to reach further and be better. To be unique and powerful. So when you have guys with a specific thought in mind and we have a specific thought as well, we would work on them over and over until we had uncovered some really beautiful stuff.
RM: Having a pre-existing relationship made working together very smooth and natural. It grew into a group of friends rather than two different teams. As for their background being an asset, I would have to say absolutely. They are very familiar with pairing movies to music, which helped everyone’s vision. This time we were just reversed, with us creating content for their visual.
FMM: It’s been quite a while since we’ve gotten a vocal-based score like “Swiss Army Man.” Did you ever listen back to Burt Bacharach scores like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” or A Capella groups like The Swingles Singers?
AH: We definitely did some research at the beginning, but not with film scores. The Daniels would send over all sorts of videos of tribes from all over the world performing insane vocal compositions. The vulnerability in just letting your voice do crazy and wild stuff is hard to achieve, but once you’re there, the possibilities seem endless. We wanted the score to sound magical and otherworldly, so we tried to be inspired by what we were working and how to reach that sound.
RM: I have not heard either, but I’ll have to go check it out now!
FMM: Did you listen as well to any pop /rock / alt. groups or artists as well for inspiration? There’s definitely a cool Beach Boys / Brian Wilson “Pet Sounds” influence to “Swiss Army Man.”
AH: I guess with indie/alt rock being our day job, that is going to naturally show itself. We do love the Beach Boys. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but when we realized one song in particular has a Brian Wilson thing going on, it was exciting knowing that Paul would be able to pull it off. While we were recording the actors’ vocals in LA, it’s funny to tell him, “I hate to say this, but sing this part like Brian Wilson.”
RM: My dad was a big music fan, so we listened to everything growing up. Those classic records were a big part of my life musically and personally. I can remember moments where I’d listen for the hundredth time and hear a new part. Once your ear starts to hear those hidden, but genius parts, you can become obsessed with trying to create you own. Once we got into the thick of the movie, we had to go back to some of those, but also find inspiration in anything from Frank Zappa to classical arrangements.
FMM: In the same way that Hank fashions Manny into a vehicle for his escape, how did you want to create instruments from your voices?
AH: We had to get very creative to make the album sound dynamic and different. We used a lot of echo, delays and reversed reverb. It took time to put headphones on and just make sounds and hear what could sonically work for the scene. We would usually start with a low octave organ that wasn’t really desirable, other than the note and start slowly adding from there; eventually taking the low organ out and it still sounding full.
RMM: We wanted these songs to sound bigger than a simple choir. When we started, we had no idea what that meant or how to do it. So we started trying things blindly. We tried looping, stacking, sampling voices, hitting delays, etc. and through that, found so many new versions of singing. Once we had the different options, we were able to apply them to the emotion of Manny and Hank.
FMM: There’s a beautifully haunting quality that you don’t expect from your score. How did you want your voices to reflect Hank’s isolation? And In a way, do you think the stripped-down quality of the score is more emotionally effective than had an orchestra been used for it?
AH: I definitely think it’s more emotionally affective because it connects you to the character at an even deeper level. You are listening to his thoughts in music. At times I would have to get into that headspace to sing a certain way. I’d ask, “How is he feeling? Where is he standing? Why would he sing like this?” It was a total blast to sing in character.
It was very tempting to make things polished and beautiful. At times it would be perfect in the studio, but once to picture caused conflicting emotions. The turning point for us was when we carelessly made five or so ideas with a new trick we discovered. It allowed very few voices to fill the entire moment. It managed to match the feeling perfectly – you have one guy alone, in this huge place, struggling but finding hope as he goes.
FMM: Is it particularly tricky to give vocal personality to a dead, expressionless body?
RM: It took some time! It required us to have zero judgment about what was happening in the room. The biggest problem was that what we were making shouldn’t exist by definition. So we once again had to try things and let it evolve into Manny’s voice. Once the first edit came in things began to speed up. Now Manny had a personality and speaking voice outside the script. We were able to use what Danielle Radcliffe did to mold and shape what we were doing.
AH: The Daniels had a pretty clear idea that Manny’s voice was going to be clumsy and low from the start. We worked in that arena for his songs. The incredibly talented Daniel Radcliffe really helped bring that character to life in the songs. He had perfected the voice and can sing really well, so it was relatively easy. Luckily for us, he could also sing very well in the higher octaves, which gave “Montage” an extra kick.
FMM: How did you want to sample voice into the score? Are there any other instruments in the score beyond them?
AH: Robert was really genius in that area. He was inventing new tricks everyday. The first 85 percent of the movie there are no real instruments other than our three voices and some drums. Once the movie starts to progress into a more ordinary world (I don’t want to give anything away!), we were allowed to move into more traditional scoring. We still used mostly voices but having full strings, piano, etc., which helped elevate the final reel of the movie.
FMM: There’s a particularly funny vocalese salute to “Jurassic Park” here. What inspired that?
AH: The script had it mentioned in a pretty pivotal moment of the movie so we just went for it. We thought, “Never in 1000 years is John Williams going to let us do this” and sure enough I got a FaceTime call from Daniel Schienart at midnight and he was jumping up and down going “JOHN WILLIAMS LOVED IT!! WE CAN USE IT AS LONG AS THE MOVIE ISN’T RATED X!!”… It was incredible!
RM: That is a life moment for us now!
FMM: How did you want the score to build with the anxiousness if Hank will finally escape the island?
AH: I think the movie lends itself that way naturally, but as musicians making a large piece of conceptual art, we wanted to make sure it was moving and didn’t ever stall out.
RM: We just tried to follow the story as much as we could. At times, we would get notes saying that it was too anxious or they edited something and need a new feel. We had a really great back and forth with the Daniel’s through those moments. It was very experimental at times, they would have us try some anxious, sad or tense cues and see what fit best.
FMM: How do you think that audiences will react to the film, and your score? And what do you think it shows about the potential of how you can score a comedy that might not have such a crazy premise?
AH: I think people will be surprised at the sweetness and charm of the movie. As a self-proclaimed “movie freak”, I couldn’t imagine working on a cooler and more inventive movie. From the cast to everyone who worked on the film, it was about as special as it could be. I can’t ever worry about what audiences will say about the score. I know I tried as hard as I possibly could to create something really special and unique and I have to leave it at that.
RM: I think it’s an incredibly unique film and everyone should see it. The film forces people to think and react to emotions and some people might not enjoy that. But for me, that’s what art is.
FMM: Do you think that a soundtrack like “Swiss Army Man” is something that only first time composers could come up with? And can we expect anything more conventional from you in the future. Would you even want to be?
AH: I imagine that composers of all sorts could do this sort of thing. I know it wouldn’t sound like ours, but that’s the beauty of it. I do know that our background and history in music played a big part, but we have always wanted to intertwine large orchestral ideas into our rock band; so having to strip it all away and do it with my voice was the best challenge we could ask for. We would love to score more movies if the right movie and opportunity arrives, but our main goal for the next year is to record a new album for Manchester Orchestra.
RM: I don’t think we could create this soundtrack again if we tried. It would have to be something slightly different because so many of these moments came from experimenting. I would love to do another movie but for me the best part is being able to experiment and try new ideas.
“Swiss Army Man” opens in theaters, with Andy Hull and Robert McDowell’s score available from Lakeshore Records HERE
Visit The Manchester Orchestra’s website HERE
Sony Classical will release the [a.18005]Free State of Jones - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally and on CD [da.2016-06-24]June 24, 2016. The album features the film's original score by [c.4631]Nicholas Britell.
Director Gary Ross, editor Juliette Welfling, and Britell worked very closely together to determine the musical approach to each scene. Britell used a string ensemble with added mandolin, trumpet, guitars, banjo, piano, and percussion. "We created a sound palette drawn primarily from instruments of the era; our attempt was to craft a musical landscape which felt almost like an ethereal civil war band. With all the sounds, we produced and recorded them in such a way to form a unique character for the overall musical atmosphere of the film," explained...
Announced this week were new composer assignments for [c.200]Howard Shore ([m.46719]Denial), [c.8161]Danny Bensi and [c.1781]Saunder Jurriaans ([m.46731]Rosy), [c.135]Giorgio Moroder and [c.4109]Raney Shockne ([m.46489]Tomboy, a Revenger's Tale), among many others. For the full list of composer and music supervisor assignments from this week, [url./composers/]click here.
There were 25 new soundtrack albums released this week. [da.2016-6-13]Click here for the full schedule.
Opening nationwide this week are (with music by): [m.43480]Central Intelligence ([c.2269]Ludwig Goransson and [c.452]Theodore Shapiro) and [m.35577]Finding Dory ([c.149]Thomas Newman).
Among all new theatrical releases, we are tracking song credits...