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DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.

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A multiplying nation of genetically evolved apes led by the highly intelligent and strong willed chimpanzee Caesar become increasingly threatened by a group of humans that are survivors of a devastating virus that had been unleashed on the world a decade previous to the events in this movie. The two sides manage to reach a fragile peace to live together or at least tolerate each other, but this is a short-lived state of affairs, as both humans and apes are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as the planets dominant species. This new series of ape movies are very different from the series that began in the 1960,s with Charlton Heston and Roddy Mc Dowell, they are much darker and unnervingly realistic, even darker than Tim Burtons take on the franchise. Patrick Doyle provided an excellent score for RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and now we have a wonderfully dramatic, vibrant and also in places melodic and melancholy work from composer Michael Giacchino. He of course has fast become the man to score the latest blockbuster sci-fi movies etc and his rise to the A list of composers has been steady but also well deserved. Within his latest offering for DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, I do hear certain little musical references and maybe the odd nod of acknowledgement to Jerry Goldsmith, which I suppose is only natural as it was Goldsmith who indeed laid down the blueprint for Ape music in the original PLANET OF THE APES all those years ago and it is probably Goldsmiths original score that has stood the test of time better than any other of the original Ape series soundtracks, because it was so far ahead of its time when written. Giacchino has composed a score that works on so many levels, it is as I have said dramatic and vibrant, but it also has to it a lush sound at times with a richly melodic foundation in a number of the cues, the music relays an atmosphere that is sombre and dark for the majority of the time and also posses a certain ethnic resonance but does also manage to purvey to the listener a mood that is fragile and emotive which is tinged with melancholy and an underlying sound running through it that implies all is not gloom and despondency hinting that maybe there is some hope for the Earth or is there? The compact disc opens with a cue that is poignant and subdued, solo piano acts as an introduction to low and somewhat unsettling strings, the darkness of the strings and also the light and almost dream like motif that is being picked out by the piano seem to compliment each other and also combine to usher in a sprinkling of choir, with piano still stealthily present acting as a chink of light in a atmosphere that is dark and a little unsettling with the three note motif seemingly holding the composition together, the cue comes to an abrupt end with a menacing and sharp sounding cello.

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Track number 2, LOOK WHO’S STALKING. A half heard and subdued opening from low strings is suddenly abruptly interrupted by percussive stabs, these then melt away giving rise to various percussive punctuation as swirling strings start to build to establish a tense and formidable sound these strings introduce chaotic voices that segue into what is really the first real action theme from the score, which consists of driving strings and percussion being flung headlong by brass. This up-tempo action piece is short lived and soon fades giving way to more tense atmospheric sounds that bring the cue to its close. Track number 3, APE PROCESSIONAL is really the first time that we hear a fully noble and uplifting melodic theme performed by the string section with assistance and support from brass and percussion that combine to create a rich and warm sounding piece. Solo harp opens the piece, and is soon joined by rich sounding strings the composer adding faraway sounding horns to the proceedings, the strings swell and establish the theme further which relays hope, melancholy and a touch of romanticism. Solo piano is introduced towards the end of the cue to create even more emotion. Within this score we can hear certain musical references to maybe Goldsmith, or is that just something that I wanted to hear? It is a work that is dramatic and powerful but also has to it a potent lushness that conveys so much emotion and sadness. It is atonal, majestic and above all entertaining. Worth a listen.

RAPHAEL GESQUA.

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What is your first memory of any kind of music or contact with a musical instrument and do you come from a family background that is musical?

- Well, I remember my mother told me that when I was born, the doctor just took me in his arms and played classical music to the new born I was. Who knows? Maybe it all started here?
Apart from my father, who was playing jazz guitar when he was young (and even released an album) but didn’t turn it into his job at the end, there are no composers/musicians, or even artists in my close family…I’m the only one, I’m afraid.

What musical education did you receive, and what areas of music did you concentrate upon?

I’m kind of a self-made composer, which means I didn’t have the opportunity to study music in an “official” way. All I learned (and still am learning) comes from what I’ve listened to and “studied” by myself since my childhood. I can say for sure that it is my passion for movies and videogames that led me to turn my attention to music. I remember, as a child, always being listening to synthetic videogames music, sometimes instead of playing the games
themselves, and really annoying my parents with those “beep” sounds they didn’t understand at all. I even composed some music on 8-bit computers like “Amstrad”, on which there was no musical tools, and so you had to be a real computer programmer, even for composing music. But around 1987, a personal computer called “Commodore Amiga”, opened new horizons to me, as it enabled the perspective of using samples with a different way as synthesizers: the so-called “sound-trackers”.
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Then I began to really involve myself in composing music, at the point that someday, came the emergence of a new period called “demo scene”, where computer geeks started unite their talents to create some kind of video clips on computers and spreading them on floppy disks and modems (there was no internet, back then)), each clip involving, mostly, a programmer, a graphic artist, and a composer.

I had the chance to be really quickly well appreciated by international “scene members”, at the point that I entered directly classified to the first place of what was called “The Euro charts”, a periodic classment of best programmers, graphic artists and composers from the demo scene, for which everyone in the world could vote. From this time, I still didn’t plan to make music my full time job, probably by lack of self trust. But one day, a very good friend of mine told me “Raphaël, you are talented, and if you don’t try to reach videogames companies, I’ll do it for you! As I can tell you, you WILL be a videogames music composer!” A couple of weeks later, I had a phone call from 2 great videogames companies: “Ocean Software” and “Delphine Software International”. It was amazing, for me, as one of those 2 companies produced games I even used to skip school to play them. So, imagine my feelings, when Paul Cuisset, the company director, called me to work on his future productions. A dream coming true…A few years later, the same friend told me” Now that you’ve done videogames music, I can assure you will compose for feature films!”And he was right too, about that. Many years after, however and to be frank, I must confess I still can’t read a musical score, today, and I’m still working with computers, as I always did.

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Did you always want to write music for film, if so what inspired you to take this career route?

All I can tell is that I’ve always been a music addict, since my childhood. I remember always having some kind of melodies rolling in my head, without being conscious that I was already composing.
As I said before, it’s my passion for movies and videogames that leaded me to compose music. However, at the beginning, willing to be a videogames composer wasn’t easy at all, as most people were not considering it was a “real” job, because of the “beep” syndrome people couldn’t see that, already at this time, there was music ingenious composing masterful pieces with “beep” sounds. I’ve always considered that the human brain and soul behind a piece of art, was the only thing that matters…Still today, I can be much more moved by a piece of music made on a Commodore Amiga with 4 channels monophonic voices, than some other pieces played by a great symphonic orchestra. After all, at the end, only the result matters…

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AMONG THE LIVING is one of your latest assignments, how did you become involved on this and how long did you have to score the movie?

In the past, after having worked for about 12 years in videogames industry, I decided, in 2003, that I would try my luck in movies.
So, I decided to search for young directors making short films, as I thought it would be the best scoring school, instead of already trying to reach “big” feature films directors, which I though wouldn’t work at all. Some friend of mine then told me about a guy in videogames business who had gone to movies business, and also knowing (and liking) my work. So, we met. And then, he introduced me to a young director making a short comedy-sci-fi horror film.
That was my first contact with director Julien Maury (of the “Maury and Bustillo” famous film duo). I did his two short films soundtracks, he seemed to love them, and so, naturally, when he managed to direct his first feature film with Alexandre Bustillo, “Inside” (“A l’intérieur”), in 2006, he offered me to do the soundtrack. That is how it began. Then came “Livid” (“Livide”), “Among the Living” (“Aux Yeux des Vivants”) and soon “The ABCs of Death 2″ (“X” segment) still with the 2 directors. Now we even are real friends, which turns it even more fantastic to work with each other.

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AMONG THE LIVING contains some unusual and also highly original instrumentation and orchestration, when you began working on the picture did you immediately think of using a whistler or was this an idea that evolved as you were working on the score?

Thanks a lot. To be frank, there was a first version of the soundtrack, in which I had done absolutely what I felt about the movie, without even discussing with directors, which was a big mistake. Indeed, instead of the final dark and dirty whistling musical direction, led by the prologue, I had took a more symphonic direction, at the beginning, closer to my previous feature film with same directors, “Livid”. When they listened to it, they told me: this is very good. You made your own movie, musically speaking, and it’s quite interesting. But this is not what we have in mind for “our” film. We want something dark, dirty and frightening. “From that time, I decided that the “Faucheur” theme (bad guys family), that was already written for cellos, could have been interesting if played by a simple whistle. But not a clean one, more like an old bad take from a bad whistler, to strengthen the sticky and stifling side of one of the family’s “normal” days. That’s why I decided to whistle myself, as I’m a very bad whistler. And as a result, the two directors just loved the idea, and then we decided to use it as a real leitmotiv for the bad guy.

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What size orchestra did you use for the AMONG THE LIVING score and what percentage of the line up was synthetic?

Well, first of all, I have to thank you! Indeed, absolutely all instruments are virtual, in “Among the Living”, except, of course, my dirty whistling parts and dark voices, which also are my voice originally. The simple fact you’re asking the question is a huge reward, for me, as I consider working on virtual instruments as fascinating and difficult as working with “real” instruments.
Besides, I don’t quite like the term of “real” instrument. After all, what is a real instrument? Only result matters, once again, and the final goal of music is putting sound to the audience hears and minds, no matter the sound is coming from a tangible and palpable instrument or a computer connected speaker/headphone. Computers are no more dissociable to film music, today, as they allow to take any musical direction (big orchestras, electro, sound design…) no matter the budget. For instance, the solo violin playing the overture and end credits of “Among the Living” took me several weeks to reach the way it sounds, to fit what I exactly had in mind. So, it’s a hard work too, to manage to reach a realistic sounding virtual instrument, with some gain of time, too, as you don’t have to wait for musicians to play your score, to have an idea of the result. Of course, I’m not saying computers are better than real instruments (I definitely prefer having real musicians when possible) but again, they are more like complementary, additional than replacing each other. I love both of them. And I’m pretty sure Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and many others, would have just loved the opportunity to write a score and hear it immediately, using a computer.

Do you conduct at all or do you find it more productive to utilize the services of a conductor so that you are free to monitor the scoring session from the control box?

Ah, the question has already been answered: conducting is a real job, I’m just a composer, and I let professional conductors do their job, when needed, as they just do it brilliantly. So, yes, I stay most of the time in the control box, from where I get out sometimes to have a word with the conductor and musicians, which is a great part of scoring, when working on film with a big enough budget

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The score for AMONG THE LIVING has been issued on a MSM/KRONOS compact disc, were you involved in the compiling of the disc or the sequencing of tracks from the soundtrack?

Of course…Mikael Carlsson of “MovieScore Media” and Godwin Borg of “Kronos Records” gave me a total liberty in sequencing the CD and in the visual choices. It was my choice, for instance, to keep the ENTIRE soundtrack on the CD, even the sound design parts, as it is my very first film feature soundtrack released on CD, and as I wanted to make it, above all, for the soundtrack geek I’ve always been, meaning I’m always annoyed when hearing that
some music parts from the original film I watch in a theatre, are missing on the soundtrack CD/Digital release. With “Among the Living” soundtrack, you’ll hear ALL of what you can hear in the film! It was really cool to work with MSM and Kronos, and I hope we’ll do it again in the future.

When working on movies how many times do you like to see them before arriving at any ideas about the type of music that it requires?

The first moment I think I’ve decided which musical directions to take for the film, is reading the scenario. Indeed, I’m lucky that directors always send me the script as soon as finished (even before its final version, sometimes), so we can begin discussions and choices for the soundtrack. They even invite me on shooting sets to feel the “live” atmosphere of the films, or at least they send me the rushes by internet, day by day, during shooting. However, most of the time, it is when I get the first edited pieces of the film that I really begin to decide the real final musical way of the film, as I think editing is a real guide, for a composer (in terms of rhythm, musical colour etc)…

At what stage of production do you prefer to become involved on a project, is it better to see a script or do you find it more helpful to wait and see the film in its rough cut stage?

I think the more we get the best! So much cases, in videogames mostly, where production only contacts you when the project is near its end…A pity…

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AMONG THE LIVING has as I have said very original orchestration and I think this is one of the reasons why I liked the score so much, it ‘s unusual and innovative, do you orchestrate all of your own work for film, or is this something that due to scheduling etc is not always possible?

Well, thanks again. I’ll tell you. I really prefer doing less soundtracks and keep total control on their composition and production, than doing more and needing to let part of my job done by someone else. So yes, I do everything, when writing music, composing, arranging, orchestrating, mixing etc…Of course, if I have to work with a real orchestra, this is different then I have to let the conductor do his job, but I’ll make sure he gets a score that is quite playable for his orchestra. To summarize, I have a philosophy “If the score is bad, it’s all my fault, but if it’s good, it’s thanks to me!”

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You worked with Alexandre Bustillo the director of AMONG THE LIVING previously on LIVID did he have specific ideas when it came to the music in both these movies, or were you more or less left to arrive at the sound and style by yourself?

Of course, Alexandre and Julien, the directing duo, always have a first idea of what they expect from me to bring to their movies, but they also give me a total freedom in adding some ideas, trying some weird things, proposing sometimes the opposite from what was initially planned in a sequence, etc…Which is kind of great, for a composer.

What composers or artists would you say have influenced you or have had any effect upon you when it comes to the way in which you approach scoring a movie?

Of course, there are several of them, but if I had to give a single name, that would be for sure John Williams. Indeed, he is the only one composer who gives me the feeling he knows which switches to turn on in my brain to fully stimulate my musical dreams connexions! I think his music is so rich that you even can find melodies in his orchestrations. Nothing seems comparable to a new Williams piece…except Williams…Of course, there are lots of other composers I just love, just after him, and who made me what I am Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, Miklos Rosza, James Horner, Basil Poledouris, Bernard Herrmann, Alan Silvestri, Maurice Jarre, Vangelis, Hans Zimmer…Thanks to all of them, there was a time I couldn’t see film music other than being orchestral and symphonic. Today, I think the best way to innovate in scoring is to marry real orchestras with electronic instruments, or even using electronic orchestras in a way that wouldn’t be possible with real instruments. So many possibilities…And again, only result counts…

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I think I am correct when I say you began by scoring a great number of video games, how did you begin working on motion pictures and what would you say are the main differences between scoring a feature film, a short film and working on a game?

Videogames led me to film scoring, as the first person from the movie business I met, Julien Maury, had been introduced to me by a common friend who had known my work in the videogames industry since a long time, and had moved from videogames to movies. The difference between videogames and films music is much less now than when I started about 23 years ago. At the time, it had to do with the inherent technical limitations of each machine. For example, just on the PC, it had to deal with on compatible MIDI sound cards.
Except that everyone was free to have the sound card of their choice. As a result, it should be taken into account that the same sequence sounds good for the PC of each player. A real challenge. Moreover, at the consoles, it was again each composition as often as existing consoles, because each had its own sound system, it should be used as a small very limited memory and number of channels synthesizer. This led to these synthetic records that irritated both parents and marvelled fortunately their children. And finally, today, these same children pay tribute to the music of yesteryear games by composing themselves in the synthetic
style that became thus a style of its own. Today, there is no technical limit, in composing for videogames, but there still is a difference: whereas in films you just work on a total linear
sequence, in videogames you have to kind of anticipate all situations where the player can find himself in. Also, you can work on real-time interactivity, by using, for instance, multi-tracks scores, with add/remove instruments system depending on player situation.20 years ago, on “Fade to Black”, for instance, I was kind of proud being named by some journalists as “one of the first interactive music composer”. However, when you work on cinematic sequences of a videogame, it is exactly the same as in cinema.

What would you say is the purpose of music in film?

Film music is like a second storyteller making the audience feel something else that just what they can see on the screen. If the composer has nothing more to say in a scene than the director, then he should stay away from the scene. Of course, sometimes, music’s purpose is only to reinforce a feeling, especially in action sequences or some scary ones…But I really do like better music adding information than only underlining it…And sometimes, silent
is really better…

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Have any of the movies or games that you have scored been tracked with a temp track and if so was this something that found to be helpful in finding out what a director etc wanted for the project, or was it a distraction?

In videogames, never. In feature films, always. Temp tracks don’t disturb me, as I think I manage never to copy them, but only to use them as musical directions, and language to dialogue with directors and editors. Indeed, it is not easy for a director/editor to express what they expect from the composer in their film, and temp tracks are made for this: indicate the psychological direction, the needed musical colour of a sequence. The danger is when some composers are not able to compose something of their own, which means not only inspiring from temp tracks, but making a near plagiarism from it. It is sad, when watching a movie, to recognize which temps track must have been used for it. Unfortunately it happens quite often…

Do you use a piano or keyboard when working out your musical ideas or do you turn to a more hi-tech method?

Definitely Hi-tech! I entirely “program” my music with a computer keyboard: score, arrangement, orchestrating, effects, speed etc…It’s a long and very precise work, and I just love to be alone in my work room, giving birth to new pieces. However, sometimes, I just love to walk my fingers on my girlfriend’s piano, a very beautiful sound.

Using AMONG THE LIVING as an example, did you begin by creating a central theme in the first place and then create the remainder of the score around this or do you tackle larger cues first or maybe start with stabs and core sounds before starting on the main score?

Indeed, I began with a central theme, the one with lead violin, cellos and chords…which is the one you hear in the end credits. But it is that piece that led me to write all variations, including in sound design (that’s why we decided to put him back in first place in the “Among the Living soundtrack release. So, indeed, I love composing a central theme building the score’s foundations. I’m really attached to the idea of a well constructed score, with logical use of themes, even if you don’t hear many themes, in movie scores, since about 15 years…

What is next for you?

Well, apart from 2 new videogames scores and sound effects/voices, and the Maury & Bustillo’s “X” segment from upcoming “ABCs of Death 2″ feature film anthology, there are about 4 features films soundtracks showing themselves to the horizon for me, including next Maury & Bustillo’s. I’ll be able to talk
about all of them very soon.

SUBSPECIES-THE NIGHT HAS FANGS.

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Back in 1991 Full Moon records or Moonstone records as they were called being a division of the Full Moon film company run by Charles Band, were very active in the release of soundtrack compact discs, a number of these were by Richard Band who is a composer I have always admired and one who is noted for creating some magnificent soundtracks on a shoestring budget. There were also a number of scores by other composers released on the label. SUBSPECIES (the night has fangs) was one such score, the music is by a collective of composers Richard Kosinski, Michael Portis, John Zeretzke and Stuart Brotman. This quartet of music-smiths produced a soundtrack that was to say the least original, inventive and interesting and for a horror score it contained its fair share of highly melodic moments. Performed by the Aman Folk orchestra the soundtrack contains a number of unusual instruments and these were bolstered and supported by an array of synthetic sounds. The score also contained choral effects and solo vocals which were stunningly effective. SUBSPECIES tells the story of a long blood feud between two vampire Brothers, one Stefan is trying to overcome his animal lust for blood but the other Radu is intent on perusing his insatiable thirst for blood and also wants more power so that he may rule the vampire world, he can do this only if he posses the bloodstone and to get this he must do battle with his sibling. The storyline to SUBSPECIES is greatly aided by the use of a highly atmospheric score and it is the use of numerous ethnic instruments such as Turkish oboe, duval, fuyara, tilinca, fulier, gardon and an eerie sounding cimbalon that enable the composers to underline, support and enhance the scenarios that are unfolding on screen so effectively and also so authentically. The movie which was the first Horror film to be filmed in Transylvania, boasts a score that utilises sophisticated synthetic sounds which are cleverly and seamlessly interwoven with music that is more traditional to Eastern Europe. The more traditional dramatic horror soundtrack being provided by composers Richard Kosinski and Michael Portis using growling synths and weird short sounds to create a sound-scape that is ominous and fearsome. Synthesised choir too plays an important part within the score, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. The folk and traditional material being written by John Zeretzke and Stuart Brotman. The end product is stunning and wonderfully effective. There is one track that seems to stand out among all of the others this is track number 16, FUNERAL FOR LILLIAN, a lone drum sets down the tempo for the cue, and is relegated to being a background to a female voice which performs a short but memorable lament which is itself unnerving and unearthly. The score intermingles and fuses Bulgarian, Hungarian, Turkish and Romanian musical flavours and successfully merges these with contemporary sounds to create a chilling and unsettling cocktail of music. One to watch out for, worth a listen.

SHAKA ZULU.

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At a time when a number of soundtracks are seeing a re-release with extra music I would have thought that some record company some where would have taken a look at Dave Pollecutt,s score for the TV mini series SHAKA ZULU, I have always thought that this soundtrack deserved an extended version release as there was far more music in the series than what was actually released on the original Cinedisc compact disc and the EMI disc that had a release in Holland. The series was a sprawling and also an exciting and interesting account of the Zulu king Shaka who was responsible for bringing many tribes in Southern Africa together under the collective name of the Zulu nation. He was responsible for establishing the Zulu, s fearsome and highly effective military strategies it was also Shaka who introduced the short stabbing spear the Assegai and the ominous looking war shields that covered a warriors body giving them a better protection against enemies, it was also Shaka who dispensed with sandals for soldiers in the Zulu impis, making it possible for them to run faster thus getting to their enemies before they had even realised the Zulu’s were amongst them. This TV mini series charted Shaka, s rise to power and his brutal but at times necessary actions to bring his people together. The series had an A list of well known actors for the time(1986), these included Edward Fox, Robert Powell, Trevor Howard, Christopher Lee, Fiona Fullerton, Roy Dotrice,Gordon Jackson and Henry Cele as the mighty and highly unpredictable Shaka.

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Cele was an imposing character in real life and fitted well into the title role, his acting career was cut short in 2007 when he suffered from complications brought on by a chest infection and passed away in November of that year. His other movies included RAGE TO KILL and THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS. The series which was shown late on the independent channels in the UK on a weekend was quite graphic and certainly pushed many boundaries for a television production, it included copious amounts of bloodshed and also nudity but all of this was essential to the telling of the story. Directed by William C. Faure who was also responsible for the script Shaka Zulu begins with a party of whites landing on a beach, they have been sent there because of reports of an amassing African army that threatens the English settlement in Cape Town, South Africa. Lord Bathurst (Christopher Lee) asks for military reinforcements but is denied by King George IV so he despatches Lt. Francis Farewell (Edward Fox) and an expeditionary force to locate and confront the leader of the strengthening Zulu tribe, this is done under the guise of a trading proposition for ivory between the Zulu, s and the whites and to establish a trading post near the royal Kraal at Bulawayo.

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Lt. Farewell hires a crew of sailors and proceeds up coast and into unfamiliar territory. His real mission is to see the strength of the Zulu’s and find out if he can what their leader Shaka is proposing to do about the settlement in Cape Town and maybe attempt to set up a diplomatic alliance with the Zulu nation. Shaka reigns over his people with a bloody assegai, they dare not speak against him for fear of death, the shrewd King is straight away guarded against the white visitors, but after taking an interest in some literature that they have brought with them he begins to relax a little and also recounts his rise to power to one of the party Dr. Henry Flynn (Robert Powell). Flynn begins to compile a chronicle about Shaka and this is how the story of Shaka unfolds within the series via the writings of Flynn. Based upon the book by Joshua Sinclair the series had 10 episodes and is an epic production in every sense.

The South African scenery is awe-inspiring from the unspoiled white sanded coast to the magnificent mountain ranges and what we must realise is that this was produced before the days of computer enhancement and the complex special effects that are common place in movies today, it had a cast that numbered thousands, the Zulu villages and the Royal Kraal were re-created to perfection Made in the days before computer-assisted everything was commonplace. The narrative encompasses the drama of Nandi’s (Dudu Mkhize) Shaka,s Mother and her ill-fated romance with a reckless Zulu prince in the 1780s, her illegitimate son’s growth as a fierce warrior and his premature demise in 1828. The series also has a mystical feel to it as in many scenes Shaka is guided by dark forces to reach his goal. Dave Pollecutt,s score is brimming with effective and authentic sounding themes, the composer employing brass and percussive elements to create a tense and driving atmosphere with support from choir and also the inclusion of strings and solo vocalists such as Margaret Singana, Mallie Kelly and Stella Khumalo the music enhances and underlines wonderfully the sheer expanses of the storyline and accompanies Shaka on his uphill struggle to establish him self as the paramount Monarch of the Zulu’s. The compact disc opens with The opening titles, WE ARE GROWING which is the infectious and stirring central theme from Pollecutt,s soundtrack, performed by Margaret Sigana who also co-wrote the piece with the composer Pollecutt, Julian Laxton and Patrick Van Blerk.

Be a man of greatness now
a man so tall, a man so kind
Be a man of wisdom now
A man of mind, a man of blind
Be a man of kindness now
A man so big and strong in mind
Be a man so humble now
A man of men, now let it shine

Are the opening lines, backed by the Baragwanath choir and pounding drums that are laced by strings and enhanced further with brass.

This is what you are
This is how it was planned now
This is what to be
Every kind of man now
This is what to say
With a kind of meaning
This is what to feel
With a kind of feeling

This is the song that opened each and every episode and set the scene for the all action story that was on screen. The score is a collective of various themes which the composer wrote to accompany the stories central characters, the opening is the theme that we associate with Shaka himself, then in track number three, we hear the theme that will become the underlying music for the British, a more subdued and serene if you like sound with strings and harpsichord making an appearance in the opening seconds of the track SHIPWRECK these soon evaporate and give way to a more dramatic sounding mood which the composer relays via strings and brass with an upbeat sounding percussive background that is supported further by driving strings as we see the British thrown onto the beach after a storm at sea. Track number four, FIRST SIGHT OF KWA-BULAWAYO is a fusion of both the central Shaka theme and also a variation of the British theme, light woodwinds being introduced and also tense strings coming into the equation to heighten the drama slightly as the British arrive at the Royal Kraal. Track five, THE HORSE RACE is an upbeat affair its main stay being driving and rhythmic percussion and also Zulu voices that are underlined by brass flourishes throughout. Track number six is the delightful and beautiful NANDI’S THEME again this is a vocal, performed on this occasion by Mallie Kelly. A low and easy sounding background of percussion and shakers laced with plaintive flute introduces the amazing vocals,

Nandi my name is Nandi ,See me and then just think of me, I’m Nandi.
Nandi they call me Nandi, so lonely, but then I never was like the others,
All I want from life is more than just a life.
For it was spoken in the prophecy my son will rule through me.

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There is also another vocal performance on the score which is track number ten, PAMPATA (Wemsheli Wami). Sung in both Zulu and English again this is a delightful piece performed by Stella Khumalo and choir. The composer also employs a scattering of electronic support and this is most noticeable in track number 11 THE MAKING OF THE SPEAR, this is a mysterious and tense sounding composition and oozes drama and mystic. Track 12, THE CORONATION too is highly dramatic, fervent percussion and a sprinkling of electronic stabs open the track, as strings segue into the proceedings ushering a choir vocalising a celebratory offering to the newly crowned king Shaka as his reign commences proper. The score also contains a number of more low key and melodic sounding pieces these manifest themselves in tracks such as DEATH OF DINGISWAYO, MANDI’S FUNERAL and the subdued but elegant Morricone influenced ELIZABETH’S THEME. Overall SHAKA ZULU is a score worth adding to your collection, although I fear it could be difficult to find and this is why maybe a re-issue with extra tracks should be looked into. Find it, Buy it, enjoy it….

DEEP IN THE DARKNESS.

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Deep in the Darkness is one of the latest offerings from the Kronos / Movie score Media (Scream Works) stable, this fairly recent collaboration between the two labels is producing some fine soundtracks and they seem to be coming thick and fast with the accent on the quality as well as the quantity. I love the releases on these labels because in the main they showcase the talents of composers who ordinarily we as collectors would not hear of until they get to do a big feature or we stumble across them by accident etc. DEEP IN THE DARKNESS is a wonderfully lyrical score but it also contains an air of darkness and an underlying atmosphere that is richly macabre and thickly menacing. Composer Matthew Llewellyn has crafted a score that works as a horror score but it also posses an abundance of melody within its running time. Directed by Colin Theys, Deep in the Darkness follows the journey of Dr. Michael Cayle (Sean Patrick Thomas) who decides to leave the chaos of New York City for the more calmer and quieter location of Ashborough, which he hopes will eventually bring his family closer together. Soon after arriving, however, he discovers that the town has a dark and ominous secret which is a horrifying and controlling race of creatures that live amongst the darkness in the woods behind his home. Matthew Llewellyn is no stranger to film scoring both as a composer in his own right with scores for DEAD SOULS and REMAINS but also he has worked on several other movies providing additional music, these include IRON MAN 3, NOW YOU SEE ME and THOR THE DARK WORLD, he has also worked on a number of video games, MODERN WARFARE: CALL OF DUTY and ASSASSINS CREED IV: BLACK FLAG where he acted as musical arranger. DEEP IN THE DARKNESS is the composers third assignment for the Chiller network which is associated with NBC-UNIVERSAL and for me has to it a sound and style that is not dissimilar to that of composer Daniel Licht and at times I was reminded also of the work of Italian Maestro Pino Donaggio, of course both Licht and Donaggio excelled within the genre of the horror movie, providing musical mayhem and gut wrenching musical stabs for movies such as THE HOWLING, TOURIST TRAP, CARRIE and CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT etc., but like Llewellyn they to managed to retain a certain amount of melody even a the most harrowing or frightening and tense moments in their soundtracks. Llewellyn’s music is strong and forthright and near Herrmanesque in places, filled with a richness and luxurious ambience and also has within it a sound that easily conjures up a sense and atmosphere of menace, foreboding and malevolence. The composer fuses both brass and strings to create a commanding and vibrant work and also utilizes piano, rumbling percussion and woodwind to augment and further embellish the proceedings.

Me

It is a work that I am confident will be popular among collectors of fine movie music and also a score that radiates a certain kind of lushness which is at times romantic but at the same time is unnerving. Totally recommended.

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