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Tim Burton and Danny Elfman is a pairing of talents that is made in heaven or at least made in a parallel world which is filled with odd and unhinged dark things that delight and fright all at the same time. So, I was a little surprised when Tim Burton’s most recent cinematic project came to the screen minus the ample talents of Mr Elfman. The film which is positively dark and suitably weird would have probably benefitted greatly from the magical musical touch of Elman, but do not fret or fear Burton’s latest imagining for the silver screen is in safe hands with composers Mike Higham and Matthew Margeson. This talented composing duo have created a succulent and inviting work that not only enhances the off kilter goings on at MISS PEREGRINES HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, but elevates and underlines the occurrences and the somewhat shadowy and unpredictable storyline superbly. To be fair some of the musical passages are not dissimilar to the style of Danny Elman with their cheeky and impish nuances being put to excellent and effective use by the composers. Maybe the score is not as mad cap or even as manic as some of Elfman’s work for Burton, but it is still highly effective and innovative, punctuating and supporting the warped and strange world that is being brought to life on screen. This is a score that is filled with themes that are at times low key and even calming, but these are also themes that has something of a dual personality and can turn from sweet and lullaby like motifs into darkly rich threatening and powerful pieces that infuse a sense of danger and create an atmosphere that is thick with apprehension and unease. To say that this is an accomplished work is simply not enough, this is a score that is masterful and powerful and one that establishes itself almost immediately, the composers creating a work that is sublimely virulent yet melodic and soothing at the same time. I love the way in which they utilise strings, low woods and choral support which is I suppose ironically “ELFMAN-ISH”. The use of a ticking clock in several of the cues attract one’s attention with the composition on each occasion rising from the simple tick tick sound, at times transforming into subdued or haunting tone poems but more often than not turning into themes which are sinister or unsettling, that either build gradually into taught and thunderous crescendo’s or move swiftly from 0 to 60 towards a full on and spellbinding no holds barred onslaught of symphonic and synthetic magnificence. The music is haunting as in unforgettable and it is also a score that you will want to return to as soon as you have finished listening to it. Accomplished, fantastical and Herrmann-esque in places, with guttural low woods and jagged brass lines and stabs being woven through sinewy, swirling, driving or urgent sounding string passages with at times organ making an entrance to fashion riveting, terrifying and icy sounding musical moments. It’s a delight, and a pleasure to encounter, savour and experience. One for your collection, a must have item. Available on La La Land records. Highly recommended.



Bernie Webber and his friend are meeting two girls for a night out. Bernie is a little apprehensive about the date as he has not even met the young woman he is about to go out with. When they do meet however the pair just seem to hit it off straight away. Her name is Miriam Penttinen and the two couples then embark on a night out together, the evening goes well and Bernie and Miriam even have their first kiss before the night is over. Bernie who is a coast guard decides to take Miriam on a boat ride. A little while later the couple are at a dance together and Miriam pops the question to Bernie asking him to marry her, he refuses and she ends up in tears, but he explains to her that it’s not because he does not love her it’s because of his job, but after talking it through Bernie says he will marry her. Whilst this is taking place two oil tankers are caught up in a storm and one of them the SS MERCER is hit by a wave and holed, the storm continues to smash the ship until it breaks in two and it is sunk and its crew lost, the chief engineer of the other ship the SS PENDLETON tells the crew they have to try and keep afloat because if they sink they will perish, He tells them they have to try and run the ship aground so it remains steady and thus afloat. Bernie is assigned to take the coast guards motor boat out with a hand-picked crew to try and rescue the crew of the SS PENDLETON. The score for this harrowing and tense thriller is the work of Carter Burwell who is no stranger to writing music for powerful, action movies, he is probably best known for his music to the TWILIGHT series of films, but he has been responsible for producing numerous film scores for a wide range of motion pictures, FARGO, ROB ROY, TRUE GRIT, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and HAIL CEASER to name but a handful, he has collaborated with the Coen Brothers and worked with director Spike Jonze as well as numerous other film makers.

Born in New York City in November 1955, the composer once said. “There’s just too much music in movies, almost always more than I think there should be. It’s either lack of confidence on the part of filmmakers or a tradition of scoring things. It’s always better to have less than to have more”. His score for THE FINEST HOURS however is overflowing with strong thematic material and even when the composer utilizes action led cues these too still possess a high thematic quality that shines through and prevails above the at times high octane fast paced material. Saying this however, the score also contains some romantic and melancholy influenced pieces with Burwell employing soft strings and a subdued and delicate sounding piano solo. For the most part though this is a score that keeps up the pace and applies the pressure and tension when required, underlining the desperate plight of the crew who are positive they are going to the bottom of the ocean and supporting the efforts of the brave rescuers who too are uncertain if they will succeed in their efforts to bring the crew home safely. A score that will please both the action music fans and one that has something for lovers of romanticism and melody




Yet another movie based upon a character or characters from Marvel comics, DOCTOR STRANGE is set to be another success at the box office this Autumn/Winter season. The score is by the composer who seems to be flavour of the moment Michael Giacchino. He of course is the composer who breathed a new life and sound into the STAR TREK franchise with the re-boot versions of the journeys of the star ship enterprise, in STAR TREK, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS and STAR TREK BEYOND (not that the franchise needed reviving as it has remained a firm fav for many years), he also has replaced Alexandre Desplat on the STAR WARS spin off ROGUE ONE which is set to hit screens very soon and it was Giacchino who also provided wonderful scores for two pretty dire movies JUPITER ASCENDING and JOHN CARTER. He has also followed in the footsteps of a few illustrious composers on re-boots of movies or at least spin off’s etc. Such as DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and JURRASIC WORLD. Every project he has worked on being stamped with his own style and given its own musical identity, his scores are also varied and he is easily able to adapt to every genre or scenario that he is given. DOCTOR STRANGE I felt is something of a disappointment, the score seems to lack any originality as it could be by any number of composers who work in Hollywood today scoring movies such as this, I am however not saying it is not a pleasing or likeable soundtrack as there are a number of nice or interesting moments which I have to say are the more subdued parts of the work with some rather un expected harpsichord being added at certain points, but it is very much in a style and sound that we have all heard before, powerful and booming percussive elements forming a foundation to low sounding brass with swirling strings and also tense sounding woodwinds and action led cues which to be honest all melt into one, the fusion of electronic and symphonic works well to a point, but even then it is all of a muchness and sounds no different from the last STAR TREK score that he worked on with a reoccurring theme raising its head every so often and being given a varying arrangement or orchestration. I know that composers do become typecast in the same way that actors do, it’s like “HEY HE DID A GOOD JOB ON STAR TREK, LETS GIVE HIM DOCTOR STRANGE” or maybe another sci fi superhero type movie. So, for me this much-anticipated score is a rather damp squib, sorry and all that but it’s a score that you will listen to and think “YEP ok NEXT”.



Released in 2006, KM 31 (KILOMETRE 31) is a horror/mystery/ thriller directed by Mexican born filmmaker Rigoberto Castaneda, who’s other credits include NECROFILIA (1997), VOLVO EN UN MINUTO (2007) and BLACKOUT (2008) as well as a number of shorts and television series such as TERMINALES (6 episodes) 2008, PARAMEDICOS (4 episodes) 2012 and most recently HASTA QUE TE CONOCI (3 episodes) 2016. KM, 31, s central character is Agata Hameran (Lliana Fox) who whilst driving along a lonely road hit’s a young boy, she stops and leaves her car to help the boy but is then herself run over by another car and as a result is plunged into a deep coma. Agates twin sister Catalina although not close by feels the pain her twin is experiencing and hears her whispering to her asking her to help. Catalina and Agata have experienced a telepathic link since the sudden and tragic death of their Mother when they were young girls and are able to communicate without having to speak. Catalina and her partner Nuno along with Agata’s friend Omar go to the place where the accident happened and begin to investigate and soon discover that the area is well known for a number of unexplained accidents that many put down to being caused by supernatural forces, many have apparently been caused by the ghost of a woman who lost her son in an accident at the site many years previous. After a while it becomes apparent to Catalina that her sister is not only in a coma but is trapped between the land of the living and the afterlife. The sequel KM 31, SIN RETORNO is in post-production at this time.





The musical score for KM 31, is the work of the highly talented composer Carles Cases. Born in 1958 in Sallent, Barcelona, Catalonia Spain. He began his career as a film music and audio/visual music composer in 1989 and has in recent years been responsible for some of cinemas most interesting and original sounding scores as well as acting as a producer for other artists. Yet it is probably true to say that he remains virtually unknown outside of his native Spain and outside of the film music collecting fraternity for his contributions to movies and television. Cases has written the music for a wide range of motion pictures that include, comedy, horror and westerns. The Maestro excels at creating haunting and highly thematic musical compositions and is easily able to adapt his ample composing skills to any genre of movie, his music not just underscoring or supporting any films storyline and scenarios but enhancing and ingratiating them, giving each and every project he works upon greater depth and higher levels of impact.

Cases trained in pianoforte and Cello at the Conservatorio superior de Musica del Liceu and continued to take further instruction in harmony and jazz-piano at The Hastad Academy of Modern Music, he then studied orchestration and composition at The Instituto Superior de Arte da la Habana. During the 1970,s he became a member of Luis Roviras Big Band and as the 1980,s dawned he formed the Carles Case Quartet and also performed at numerous music events all over Spain whilst being a cello player in a string Quartet.

The composers score for KM 31, is at times quite low key in a sombre fashion yet manages to bring much to the proceedings, it seems to underline sequences with a somewhat forthright sound or just hovers in the background heightening the tension and creating layers of atmospheres which purvey an aura and mood that is filled with mystery, apprehension and fear, it is a vibrant and original sounding score at certain points that serves the movie well and although largely action or atonal lead also has a life of its own away from the films quite harrowing and anxious storyline. The composer’s music is at times also high profile and jagged sounding, with rasping brass flourishes augmenting and punctuating driving strings or virulent and spiteful sounding stabs from the same string section, it is a score that has numerous faces, in it is also romantically laced at certain points, the composer ushering in calming interludes which act as a welcome respite in a sea of highly charged musical compositions that are foreboding and for the most part unsettling. The compact disc opens with CLIMAX, which begins with low strings that introduce a brass fanfare of sorts that is not majestic but urgent and threatening. The composer then introduces a fairly up-tempo background of struck strings that add an even more threatening and imposing sound and atmosphere to the cue, however although the cue can be categorised as action or maybe atonal, there is also present a beautiful sub theme which lingers underneath all of the deliciously thundering elements which include numerous effective percussive sounds and also some fascinating wood and brass combinations that are underlined and supported by swirling strings and unforgiving brass. The tracks on this release are all fairly lengthy in their duration, which I think is a good thing as it allows us the listener to appreciate the full effect of the cue and also lets one hear the composers score building and developing.




Track number two, INVESTIGACION for example is over ten minutes long, again the composer employing dark and low strings which are accompanied and supported by the use of brass and percussion, the composer also introducing pizzicato strings as a background but then the mood alters and the cue transforms into a more settled sound which is effected by the strings that carry an adagio like melody that swells into a more romantic sounding piece, this mood and sound is also present in track number three, OMAR MUERTO, this is also predominantly a string led composition, with the odd eruption here and there where Cases introduces and brings into the equation brass and a smattering of timpani and icy sounding piano and somewhat urgent woodwind. This is a score that I know you as an aficionado of film music will enjoy immensely, there is so much going on within the work, it twists and turns, jumps and jolts moving along at pace then slowing to weave itself around whatever is happening in the storyline, it calms and even soothes at certain points, creating a false sense of security and harmony, before erupting into a more threatening and disturbing musical entity. As the score progresses you will become immersed and mesmerised by its brilliance, its ingenious orchestrations and also its overall quality.

This will be the second release of the music of Carles Cases on Kronos records the first being THE UNGODLY MUSIC OF CARLES CASES (KRONCD019) which includes music from two movies, THE UNGODLY and DAGON. The latter being a newly recorded selection of tracks from that score. Let’s hope that KM 31, will be the second of many to be released on the Kronos label by this truly gifted and inspiring composer.







There is no doubt in my mind or indeed anyone else’s I have spoken to that John Barry was the most prolific, inventive and innovative composer of film music that we have seen, each day I still hear a piece of his music and lament that he is no longer here with us in body, he however is still with us in spirit and via his music. At last a new release of his music, sadly nothing new or anything that has been discovered that we did not already know about, but a compilation of his standards and our ultimate favourites. The compilation opens with THE JAMES BOND THEME well why not? It continues with stalwart themes from JAMES BOND MOVIES which include GOLDFINGER, THUNDERBALL, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and also tracks from those scores including MR KISS KISS BANG BANG and the 007 THEME. It then moves into two pieces from the TV series VENDETTA these include the catchy theme from the series plus the DANNY SKIPIO THEME which were both originally released on a CBS single (I can still see the bright orange label with the CBS logo on it). WEDNESDAYS CHILD comes next from the cold war thriller THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM again whilst hearing this I can envisage the purple cover of the original CBS long playing record. We then go back to the world of JAMES BOND with the SPACE MARCH and also the instrumental version of the theme from YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. Some of the recordings on this compilation are taken from those great albums that CBS used to release back in the day that were so naively called THE BEST OF JOHN BARRY or JOHN BARRY’S GREATEST MOVIE HITS, who could imagine back then what the composer would create or achieve during his illustrious career. Moving onto track number 13, which although unlucky for some is not unlucky for us the listener as we experience the upbeat and rhythmic theme from the first BOND movie without the suave Mr Connery (ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE). George Lazenby stepped into the shoes for just one excursion as the spy licensed to kill, and shoot me if you like but I still rate this as the best BOND score ever and to be perfectly honest Lazenby was not as bad as they all said. The compilation also includes another track from the OHMSS soundtrack, which is the laid back piano and jazz influenced TRY. WHO WILL BUY MY YESTERDAYS is next in the running order, I think I am right in saying this is the version or arrangement originally released on the READY WHEN YOU ARE JB album as was the next track THE MORE THINGS CHANGE if my memory serves me correctly. For the last two tracks of disc one we return to 007 territories with instrumental versions of DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and OCTOPUSSY (ALL TIME HIGH).




Disc two opens with the wonderfully haunting and somewhat sleazy and jazzy theme from THE IPCRESS FILE which is taken from the original soundtrack, however track two which is also taken from THE IPCRESS FILE is a re-recording of A MAN ALONE and I have to say that it does lack the attributes of the version which appeared on the original soundtrack release. Also included on disc two is Barry’s epic theme from ZULU again a re-recording which is a great shame as although it is a solid performance it just lacks something that the original has, I cannot understand that when putting together a compilation such as this record companies settle for non-original or re-recordings and even if these re-recordings are conducted by the composer they just do not sound the same. ZULU is followed by the mysterious and edgy music from Bryan Forbes 1960, s movie SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON, I remember seeing the movie and thinking how superbly Barry’s music supported it and its storyline and although the composer was very sparing with his music within the film I think it worked so well. THE KNACK (and how to get it) which was released around the same time as SÉANCE is totally different with the composer adding choral support for this particular arrangement of the infectious theme complete with easy strings and Hammond organ supported by a groovy sounding bass, which together all build up to a crescendo that enlists the help of percussion and brass. THE WRONG BOX, THE CHASE, BORN FREE, THE WHISPERERS, THE DUTCHMAN, THE APPOINTMENT all feature on disc two, most are re-recordings taken from the aforementioned CBS album compilations but evoke memories of early days of soundtrack collecting and discovering new music. Also included is a short excerpt from THE ROMANCE FOR GUITAR AND ORCHESTRA from another Bryan Forbes movie DEADFALL in which Barry appeared conducting a concert whilst Michael Caine carried out a daring robbery. The original recording took up the B side of the soundtrack LP record, the A side containing selections from Barry’s main score which included the Shirley Bassey vocal of MY LOVE HAS TWO FACES and a particularly entertaining typically John Barry track STATUE DANCE. Disc two comes to its conclusion with THE GIRL WITH THE SUN IN HER HAIR which was used for a TV ad back in the late 1960’s that endured into the eighties I am sure. Disc number two opens with the composer’s iconic theme for MIDNIGHT COWBOY again not from the original soundtrack but a track from the CBS compilations way back when, another selection FUN CITY is also included.




Disc three includes musical excellence from movies such as WALKABOUT and MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, alongside BODY HEAT, FRANCES, CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY, THE SCARLET LETTER and DANCES WITH WOLVES and tracks from CHAPLIN, UNTILL SEPTEMBER, THE COTTON CLUB and THE SPECIALIST. This is a good representation of the musical works of John Barry, but still it is not all of his hits, if there is such a thing for a film music composer, I found this a great listen and a varied selection from a composer who’s output verges upon the unbelievable and who will be missed forever more. Worth adding to one’s collection.john-barry

CD 1

1. The James Bond Theme
2. 007
3. From Russia With Love
4. Goldfinger
5. Thunderball
6. Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
7. Vendetta
8. The Danny Scipio Theme
9. Wednesday’s Child (From The Picture ‘The Quiller Memorandum’) (John Barry Orchestra)
10. Sleep Well My Darling
11. You Only Live Twice
12. Space March (Capsule In Space) (John Barry Orchestra)
13. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
14. Try
15. Who Will Buy My Yesterdays
16. The More Things Change
17. Diamonds Are Forever
18. All Time High From “Octopussy”
CD 2
1. The Ipcress File
2. A Man Alone (Theme from the film “The Ipcress File”) (John Barry and his Orchestra)
3. Barbra’s Theme (John Barry and his Orchestra)
4.The Syndicate
5. What A Question
6. Zulu
7. Seance On A Wet Afternoon
8. The Knack
9. King Rat March
10. The Wrong Box
11. Main Title: The Chase
12. Born Free
13. The Whisperers
14. Dutchman
15. Theme From “Romance For Guitar And Orchestra”
16. The Lion In Winter
17. Theme From “The Appointment”
18. The Girl with the Sun in Her Hair (John Barry Orchestra)
CD 3
1. Midnight Cowboy
2. Fun City
3. Walkabout
4. Afternoon
5. Mary, Queen Of Scots
6. Body Heat
7. Frances
8. Until September
9. The Cotton Club
10. Out of Africa
11. The John Dunbar Theme
12. Journey to the Buffalo Killing Ground
13. Chaplin-Main Theme
14. Moviola
15. The Specialist
16. Coney Island
17. Cry, Cry The Beloved Country
18. End Title to “The Scarlet Letter”