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PERRAK AND OTHER FILM MUSIC BY ROLF KUHN.

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Another release from ALL SCORE MEDIA/CHRIS SOUNDTRACK CORNER in Germany, available on a ltd edition vinyl long playing album and also available on download. PERRAK and other film music by Rolf Kuhn, essentially a jazz artist Kuhn is also able to turn his hand to other genres of music and has made notable contributions within the easy listening arena plus has contributed many compositions that have been used by various so called music libraries and of course has written for both television and motion pictures. This lively and highly entertaining release contains the music from two movies which Kuhn scored in 1970, PERRAK or HARD WOMEN as it was entitled outside of Germany and DAS GELBE HAUS AM PINNASBERG aka- THE YELLOW HOUSE IN PINNASBURG were both directed by film maker Alfred Vohrer who put his faith in Kuhn as a composer to come up with the right musical solutions for his movies, the film makers trust paid off and the composer created two wonderfully up beat soundtracks that are filled with so many themes and leitmotifs it is hard to comprehend that so many lively and catchy groovy tracks hail from just two movies. The scores and films were both received well by public and critics alike and PERRAK in particular became something of a cult film and soundtrack and would very often be re-used within other movies. The style within both scores is as you can imagine predominantly jazz fuelled but at the same time Kuhn introduces dramatic interludes and also fuses these with a lighter more pop orientated style, strings, brass, guitar and percussion feature throughout the scores, with a number of solo piano compositions entering the proceedings. The long playing record contains 22 tracks, which is almost every piece of music from both of the movies, there are however a handful of extra cues (6) available on the download version of the soundtracks. Again I do recommend that you at least try the album as in vinyl version of this as it looks fantastic as well as sounding great. The style of Kuhn is in my opinion not dissimilar to that of Francis Lai or even Michel Magne it has that freshness to it and because it is a fusion of jazz, orchestral, dramatic and romantic with some sensual undertones it makes for a very varied, interesting and entertaining listen. Presented well by ALL SCORE/CHRIS SOUNDTRACK CORNER with 180gr premium LP packaged in a luxurious solid cardboard cover that has attractive art work both front and back. Another one for the collection, highly recommended.

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The world of Italian film music is a varied one and when one thinks about it is probably Italian composers more often than not that have been involved in creating innovative sounds and styles to accompany the moving image. It was after all the Italians who not only re-invented the western score but also ended up creating a whole new genre of music for what was an established type of movie. It was also the Italians who developed a sound and style that we still to this day associate with the GIALLO genre of films and when it came to Horror flicks well the Italians are as we know now past masters at underlining shocking and gory moments in celluloid. One particular type of horror film was the collection that dealt with cannibals, i.e. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST etc. Many of these movies had scores that seemed to subtle, gentle and melodic for the horrors that were unfolding on screen and were sometimes certainly too serene and sweet to accompany the gruesome and at times graphic bloodletting that was the norm for these movies. One such movie which maybe many have forgotten was I’ISOLA DEI DANNATI or ISLAND OF THE DAMNED. Hailed as an unfinished masterpiece the movie from 1978 was directed by Luchino Martello, the film told the story of a Doctor and his wife who along with a young intern become stranded on a remote and what they think is an uninhabited island. After a while the intern begins to have an affair with the Doctor’s wife Laura, shortly after this it soon becomes apparent that they are not alone, the other inhabitants of the island having a taste and desire for human flesh. But hang on let me start again, that’s what the plot would be if it were in fact a movie “WHAT”? I hear you say, but you just said, yes I know I did, ok l will come clean, L’ISOLA DEI DANNATI is a fictitious movie, Luchino Martello yes he is a fictitious character also but one with a great name don’t you agree, what we have here is a tribute or an homage to the wonderful music styles that came out of Italy during the 1970, s for films of the erotic and Carnivore variety which had music created by composers such as Morricone, Ortolani, Cipriani, Fidenco, Ferrio and their like. I have to say that this had me fooled for a while simply because the music by MONDO SANGUE (Cristiano Sangueduro and Cristina Casereccia) is simply superbly retro and filled with what one would think is the sounds of the 1970’s, the attention to detail with the style, orchestration and performance of the score (if that’s what it is) is faultless. Wordless female vocals, grunting and puffing chorale sections, happy sounding la LA’s, beautiful tone poems created on light woodwinds that are enhanced by the use of harpsichord that seem to float on tranquil winds that frequent the imaginary island and also there is that definite ITALIAN SOUND present, a sound that we have not heard since the late 1970, s that came from movies such as EMMANUELE, THE STORY OF O, and the aforementioned Cannibal horrors and others.

This album which is an actual vinyl release is a must have purchase from the excellent catalogue of ALL SCORE MEDIA and if you have not got a turntable, well go and buy one right now because to miss out on this exquisite release would be tragic ( it is also on Spotify) but I highly recommend the vinyl experience. Let’s put it this way if you like, FIDENCO, MORRICONE, FERRIO, NICOLAI, TROVAIOLI etc then you will love this. Fantastic cover art makes this unmissable in any record browser, listen to LA CACCIA DI COCCO, this is Italian film music from the 1970’s at its best (if you know what I mean), just think WHEN WOMEN HAD TAILS fused with THE INSATIABLES add a little light BLACK EMMANUELE and mix in some MONDO CANE or VAMPYROS LESBOS and that’s the vibe that is created here, there is also the sounds of lapping waves and screeching birds in a number of the cues that are underlined and enhanced by the utilisation of strings and organ which adds greatly to the ambience and the atmosphere of this work, even in the final cue LA FINE (KING OF THE CANNIBALS) there is a definite reference to one of Morricone’s early scores FOUR FLYS OF GREY VELVET, I love it, go buy it now.

ALL SCORE

If you have been collecting film music since the 1960’s it is probably true to say that you have heard the name of composer Peter Thomas mentioned or even listened to some of his infectious musical themes for TV and motion pictures. He is without a doubt one of Germany’s most prolific composers of music for film. Thomas has created numerous soundtracks for a wide and diverse variety of both movies and television projects. His scores being filled with drama and romantically laced properties but also containing a pop orientated background which acts as a foundation for his compositions. I am so pleased that ALLSCORE MEDIA the German premier soundtrack label has released a compilation which in effect pays homage to composer and his collaboration with Czech film maker Zbynek Brynch on three movies THE FEMALES, OH HAPPY DAY and ANGELS WITH BURNT WINGS all of which were released in 1970. All three movies were themselves as original and innovative as the music that the composer penned to enhance and support them but sadly all were flops at the box office. Although the scores are all fundamentally similar in style and overall sound and all carry the unmistakable musical fingerprint of Thomas they all contain something that is fresh and effectively original and unique which is a testament to the talent and creativeness of Thomas as a composer, arranger and orchestrator. The compilation which is a two disc set, boasts a total of 59 tracks of which fifty percent were previously unreleased. We are also treated to two bonus tracks which are adaptations of the composer’s original compositions and interpreted by the MUFUTI TWINS which were originally released in 2007. According the promotional material that came with the release Thomas was and still is referred to as the WIZARD OF FILM MUSIC, and after listening to the music contained on this compilation alone it is easy to understand why. I think my favourite score within the compilation is OH HAPPY DAY, the composer has created an upbeat and highly energized collection of themes for this rather controversial coming of age movie that are filled to overflowing with rhythmic and charismatic thematic material which oozes class and is alluring as well as infectious. The composer’s music is filled with smouldering and steamy grooves which range from pure erotica through to soulful sounding cues and upbeat march infused compositions which at times add a touch of comedic light relief to the proceedings. Many say that Zbynek Brynych was a filmmaker who lacked direction and any continuity within his projects but just as many observe that he was a director who was way ahead of his time and many of the audiences in the early 1970’s were not equipped or ready to take in his insightful and somewhat chaotic nightmarish interpretations. The music that Thomas composed for the movies was too a little offbeat but listening to it today it still remains fresh, inventive and contemporary.
This is a compilation that you should invest in, well presented with a twenty-four-page booklet that contains exhaustive and highly detailed liner notes by Christopher Klaese (in English and German) a filmography and a multitude of colour stills from movies, this one is for you. Highly recommended.

Over the past ten years the soundtrack label Movie Score Media has in my opinion outshone many other such labels that specialise in the release of film music. MSM have been responsible for releasing somewhat obscure but at the same time innovative and groundbreaking film scores. The label has always championed new talent in the film music arena and brought to the attention of collectors numerous composers who would probably not have had their music for film and TV released. Label owner,composer and producer Mikael Carlsson is obviously the driving force behind this practice of releasing fresh and original soundtracks so I asked him about the label and basically how he worked.

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What inspired you to become a soundtrack label producer?

Excellent music by lesser known composers! Before I launched MovieScore Media a little more than ten years ago, I was making a living as a news editor for 15 years with film music journalism as a hobby, first publishing my own magazine in Swedish – MovieScore – in the early 90s and then being heavily involved in the UK publication Music from the Movies for around a decade. I also formed the Film Music Critics Jury back then, which then turned into the quite prolific International Film Music Critics Assocation. As I was writing hundreds of CD reviews and conducting many composer interviews, I began to take more and more notice of excellent scores from smaller films by up and coming, not very well known, composers. I felt that this music deserved more attention, and that it oftentimes had much more to offer than the blockbuster soundtracks everyone buys. In 2005 I launched MovieScore Media and decided to switch from journalism to a full time devotion to music. The label was not my main focus in the beginning as I was also an aspiring film and television composer, writing music for some Swedish series, but the label soon became the most important part of my activities, and it still is.

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So when you are looking for a score to release, what do you actually look or listen for?

It used to be quality of music only. I have released many scores for films that no one, including myself, actually saw. The music was great, and deserved to be heard by more people. Of course, from a commercial standpoint this is risky business, and I quickly learned two things: I needed to release music on CD – physical product – that would attract soundtrack collectors, and I needed to find a balance between musical quality and commercial appeal in the film title itself. The competition today is very tough, and it’s really difficult to find the right titles to release where all the right criteria are met.

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What is the first step or steps when you decide that you would like to release a score, do you approach the composer or maybe the film company?

It depends. If it’s a score by a composer I know and maybe have worked with on previous albums, I probably reach out to him or her first. It’s quite rare though that composers are in control of the copyright, so eventually I am going to be in touch with the company that owns the music, usually the film company. It has become far more common in the past years that I am approached by composers too – the other way around.

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Is it better if the composer of the score is involved when you are working on a release?

Yes, absolutely. I’ve only done a handful of releases where the composer was not involved, usually for rather sad reasons, i.e. the composer not being alive. If that is the case, I still like to have someone who used to work closely with said composer listen to my album cut for feedback. I remember that I was in touch with Eric Colvin on the Basil Poledouris album (”The Legend of Butch and Sundance”) and Blake Neely, Ilan Eshkeri and Steve McLaughlin on the Michael Kamen (”Back to Gaya”), for instance. For a current score, sometimes the composer already has an album cut ready for mastering, but the most common scenario is that I am sent the complete score and do the album cut for the composer to approve.

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Have there been any scores that you wanted to issue but have been refused access to them by either the composer of the film company, and what were the reasons for this, if you can tell us?

Yes, there are many scores I’d like to release but there are sometimes many obstacles, and the most common one is that the film company simply is not interested. Many of them sit on great scores, but the score album business is generating too little money for them to be interested. Only on a couple of occasions has a composer refused to have a score put out.

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Many soundtracks are limited to a run of 500 or less, have you ever thought I wish I had produced more, and what titles would you say are the better sellers for your label?

We ran into a problem with our release of ”Let the Right One In” back in 2008. At the time, we usually had our CD releases limited to 500 copies. But this particular title sold out so quickly and the demand was so big, that we decided to lift the limit as there were no contractual reasons for it. To this day, it’s one of our best selling albums and we decided to never do the marketing trick with limited editions again. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the albums we do will be available forever, in fact most of the CDs we do are only 300 units. Should there be a surprise hit, we are able to do more, but in most cases we don’t have that luxury.

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Going back just a few years, the horror film score was something of a no go area for record labels, it was not really until films like the OMEN, THE HOWLING, SILVER BULLET, PIRAHNA etc that horror soundtracks started to get released, now we see a landslide of quite low key horror films having their soundtracks released, why is this do you think, film music collectors tastes or a younger audience watching the horror films?

For me personally, horror scores are quite often offering interesting writing. There are of course the whole jungle of ”cheap horror scores” which are just cliche, but the best of the music written for this genre is also some of the most innovative in film music as a whole. I really don’t know if there is a horror ”trend” actually. I think that the scores you mentioned got released more because of the era they come from – the great late 70s early 80s period, which a lot of soundtrack fans are attracted to.

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You set up a separate label from Movie Score Media to concentrate on scores from horror movies, these have included a lot of works by composers who are relatively unknown to collectors, is this quite risky considering the current financial climate?

Yes, if the ”mother label” – MovieScore Media – is known for putting out some rather obscure scores (and I don’t mean obscure in a negative way), than Screamworks Records is even more of a niche label. The challenge is when you have a small film with music by an unknown composer which happens to be interesting and of high quality. Sometimes I see myself more as an artistic director than a producer, because in those cases the producer in me tells me that the commercial problems with such a product are too many. But the artistic director in me has a stronger voice, and that’s why you see some of these scores being released, even though they are small.

Have you ever embarked on a project and mid way through found that tapes are in such bad condition or there is a technical hitch etc that it becomes a non viable project?

Very rarely do I work with archival materials or vintage scores, so no, that has never happened to me.

Do you compete with other soundtrack labels for soundtracks at all, or do you set your sights upon material you know your customers will appreciate, or do film companies or composers come to you with their scores?

Clearly, I have my own niche, but the market today is oversaturated. When I started out ten years ago, it was much easier to get exposure for a release, and to have it pop up as an ”outsider” among the more high profile score releases. Today, also with the explosion of the digital music market, there are so many film music albums coming out every week. The average number during the first half of 2016 is 45 soundtrack releases per week. So yes, the competition is very tough and for a small niche label it’s a huge challenge to try and motivate the fan base to spend their money on our albums – even though the music is great, it’s only natural that they would first purchase music by the more well-known, perhaps even legendary, composers – and then you have all the new big blockbusters coming out.

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How long does it take to assemble all the music and then produce an actual compact disc of a soundtrack?

It depends. The assembly itself doesn’t take long in most cases – the composer or film company delivers the complete score, usually online in digital format. But the actual editing process – editing, sequencing and mastering – can take at least a couple of days. In most cases I do all of this and the composer is then having a listen to it all, may come back with usually just minor requests which are fixed in a day. In a few rare cases composers are very detail oriented and then, of course, the process is longer. I trust my musical instincts a lot when I do an album cut, and sometimes the composer is surprised by the new shape of the score presentation. In 9 out of 10 cases that surprise is of a positive nature. They are happy to discover that the album has a structure and makes sense musically. But it happens that I go down the wrong path with a score, and then of course the composer has final approval and we tweak it. I would never put out a score without the composer being happy with the presentation.

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Do you find that collectors are now downloading more than actually buying the physical CD?

iTunes is my biggest source of income, more than CDs, so yes, probably. You also have the streaming services like Spotify which is growing. The market is changing in quite revolutionary ways, but there are still a hardcore collectors segment that would only buy physical product.

WORRY DOLLS was one of your recent projects and releases, a wonderfully dark score by Composer Holly Amber Church, do you think you will release more scores by her, as I understand the CD has already sold out?

No, that’s incorrect, last time I checked there were plenty of those left. I hope that we can do more albums together, WORRY DOLLS was our second project after RITES OF SPRING that came out in 2012.

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Is there any score you would like to release if you were given the green light?

That list would be too long to put in this article…

MOVIE SCORE MEDIA do seem to release newer scores or current soundtracks, would you consider releasing any vintage material like other labels such as KRONOS with their gold series or Hillside with the Italian westerns they release etc or maybe a series like GDI did a number of years back when they issued the Hammer scores?

Well, we have the Discovery Collection where we released almost 20 scores, including the last scores written by Basil Poledouris and Michael Kamen. I don’t know what qualifies as ”vintage”, but those are at least not current – those are mostly scores for films that came out at last a decade ago.

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Would you ever consider releasing a best of MSM collection, like we used to see years ago with labels such as UA?

I have been giving that some thought, given our ten year anniversary this year. I don’t know yet if there will be any though… the hard part is to choose from over 300 releases!

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BEN HUR (2016).

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In cinema history there have been many what people call re-makes of classic movies, one of the latest stories to get a make over is BEN HUR, now the 1959 version of the movie with CHARLTON HESTON,(did you hear the fanfare, and see the cast of thousands, when I said his name, in that booming trailer voice over style) was and still is a remarkable movie, it is a great film, and in fact every thing about it is epic and iconic. Its ironic however that the new version which seems to be annoying cinema goers or watchers of the film rather than entertain them is being compared with the 1959 version, which when you think about it was itself a re-make of the silent version of the story. But, Hey come on guys everything should be given a chance ,right? Hello that’s right isn’t it people? Anybody there? Seriously I don’t expect this new version of BEN HUR to be anything like the 1959 take on the story, it cant be can it? But I was in fact not that interested in the film but was intrigued by the film score by Marco Beltrami, when I saw it announced that he would score the film I was interested to see or hear what he would do with it musically. Beltrami in my opinion is a very talented composer, I have followed his career right from the early days and it was evident right from the off that he was a composer of note that could easily adapt his musical style to any genre of film. He is not as many thought merely a slasher/horror film music smith but can also turn his hand to create rousing themes for westerns, adventure movies and also tender romantic scenarios and when you think about it his scores for the horror genre are pretty operatic and imposing. So BEN HUR, would this be a chariot race to many, well I am pleased to say he has risen to the challenge and created a score that is stirring and filled with strong and melodic thematic material. Ok its not Miklos Rozsa but was he trying to be I doubt it very much, anyone who aspires to outshine Rozsa,s inspirational, gorgeously rich and momentous soundtrack is surely going to be thrown to the lions in the arena. Or given a bad review… Released by Sony Classical BEN HUR (2016) contains a soundtrack that although is suitably periodic in its sound and style evoking images of the pomp and ceremony and brutality of ancient Rome also has to it a somewhat contemporary feel and atmosphere. I am not sure but I think I do detect the use of synthetic strings in certain parts which for me did spoil the effect and the ambience a little, but I suppose in these days of restricted budgets things have to be adapted and also approaches and working practices alter.

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The opening track THE BEN HUR THEME is a lilting and highly emotional piece, with layered strings acting as a background to a poignant violin solo, which introduces a pleasant and effecting soprano solo, this in turn acts as an introduction to a more pronounced version of the central theme performed by strings woodwind and brass with choir giving its support. The theme reaches its crescendo and then the track melts away with woodwind taking the cue to its end. Track number two BEN AND ESTHER is a short lived but haunting piece again the composer bringing into play the BEN HUR THEME, performed on woods with subtle support from the string section. Track number three is where for me it all goes a little out of kilter with the subject matter, JERUSALEM 33 AD is dramatic yes, but it is for me too contemporary sounding and it’s a theme that would not be out of place in any one of the thousands of Marvel comic book superhero movies that are doing the rounds at the moment. So moving on we go to track number four, CARRYING JUDAH, the composer re-introduces briefly female solo voice, but this is just a fleeting performance, the cue then transforming into a more down tempo dramatic piece for strings and percussive elements. I once spoke to Gabriel Yared about his score for TROY he said the reason he was given for its rejection was that it was too modern sounding, well I think I have the same problem here with Beltrami,s BEN HUR, its true to say that there are numerous references that can be deemed as being suitable for a story set in this period in history, but for me there are just to many modern sounding nuances and quirks of orchestration. This is a good soundtrack, as in there are many themes and beautiful melodies listen to the cue MESSALA AND TIRZAH and you will hear evidence of the romanticism and delicate colours that the composer employs , but is it suitable for a story set in the times of Ancient Rome? I will leave that up to you to decide, take a listen.

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