L’Enfant des Loups

Enfant_des_loups_LRCD4101It is somewhat sad to say that composer Serge Franklin is one of those very talented film music maestros that has for the past twenty odd years been stuck in the medium of composing for television, sad because we all know just how much of a competent and original composer he is, and his style which is grand yet emotive is probably better suited to the big screen. L’ENFANT DES LOUPS is a very good example of just how talented Franklin is. The composer has created a score that works wonderfully with the movie, but it also has the presence and quality to work as a collection of themes that function away from the images, and therefore stands on its own as an incredibly powerful listening experience.
The film or mini series made for television is set at the end of the 6th century and tells the story of Vanda a small child who is found living amongst the wolves, the girl is rescued from the animals and taken to Queen Radegonde who is living in a monastery. The Queen takes the child in and becomes her Godmother. Vanda stays with the Queen until she has grown into a young woman, but after a long period of famine and also plague, which are followed by a hard and bitter winter the wolves who have become desperate for food move into the inhabited areas of the countryside, the situation becomes desperate and the people turn to Vanda to help them. The series which was aired in three episodes had a total running time of 4 hours and 30 minutes, and Franklin’s incredible near operatic sounding score was a key factor in the films success. From the opening bars of the work, one just knows instinctively that this is a score of originality, stature and worth. The composer utilizes to great effect the wind, percussion and also the string sections of the orchestra, and although the music is for the most part simple, it is utterly entrancing. The second track on the compact disc KYRIE begins with a haunting tone poem performed on woodwind and supported by underlying strings, the mood of the cue changes dramatically as Franklin introduces chanting voices, which are in many ways comparable to the chorale sections on Poledouris’s CONAN THE BARBARIAN, Barry’s THE LION IN WINTER, Goldsmith’s THE OMEN or Morricone’s RED SONJA The remainder of the score is equally as stunning and powerful, and includes exciting and highly charged choral renditions, soaring and romantically laced themes and tense and urgent sounding edge of the seat compositions. Packaged and presented very well by Lympia records, with a 16 page booklet, that is generously decorated with colourful illustrations and stills from the film. Franklins remarkable score is described in the sleeve notes as “AN OPERA OF SOUND AND FURY”, a description that I certainly would agree with 100%, seek this score out before it is too late.

MAN TO MAN.

Man_to_man_MSM11022

This well-made and absorbing movie was released in 2005, and tells the story of three anthropologists who travel to equatorial Africa in search of the origins of man. Whilst there they capture two pygmies and return to Scotland with them. One of the anthropologists, a young physician Jamie Dodd, tries to convince the establishment that they are not mere specimens that should be treated like animals in a zoo but two intelligent human beings, but his views land him in trouble and he ends up being scorned by his peers and ostracized from the scientific community. The musical score for the movie was the work of Scottish-born composer Patrick Doyle. Of course many collectors are aware of Doyle because of his connections with actor and film maker Kenneth Branagh and his stirring scores for HENRY V and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING etc. Doyle has created an epic-sounding work for MAN TO MAN and also one that is vibrant and lyrical, with strong themes and emotive and dramatic musical levels. 
The compact disc opens with a near five minute suite from the score, where we hear just how lush and sumptuous Doyle’s music is in this suite containing the principal themes. The composer creates a powerful, proud, rich and striking overture that heralds the commencement of the disc and also tantalizes the listeners appetite and leaves them wanting more. Superbly orchestrated and meticulously composed this is a gem of a soundtrack and one that is so welcome for the simple reason that it is a score that almost never got a release. Thanks to Movie Score Media we can now delight in and absorb this magnificent music. Track two ‘Main Title and the Rapids’, begins quietly and is introduced by woods that are subtle, melodic and ethnic sounding. After this pensive introduction the composer brings percussion into the equation and this in turn is embellished by brass which has support from strings. The composition moves forward ad becomes more robust and dramatic as percussion is let loose and the brass and string sections combine to create a theme that radiates pure adventure and excitement. Track three, ‘Paying the  King’, is a noble and luxurious piece – again strings lead and are supported by the brass section in places – but in the main the strings carry this proud but short lived theme that oozes richness and dignity. 
This is a score that any collector would be pleased to own. It is Doyle at his best and I have to say one of the best soundtracks I have heard in a while. As with all Movie Score Media releases there is a synopsis of the movie, a short bio on the composer and also a brief but informative interview with the composer. I cannot recommend this enough.

A Lonely Place to Die.

Lonely_place_die_MMS11015This is a dramatic and exhilarating sounding score; certainly full of tense and nervous passages and also big expansive and expressive flourishes throughout. It also has its quieter and more intimate sounding interludes which are tender but in a bittersweet fashion. The composer wrote an impressive soundtrack for the war movie AGE OF HEROES earlier this year and has continued to produce interesting and innovative music for this production. Fully symphonic with assistance from synthetic areas and additional percussion, the composer has masterfully fused the two sources and seamlessly combined them to compliment and support each other in a score that hits all the right spots and pushes all the correct buttons. In many ways Plowman’s style, sound and approach to scoring reminds me at times of the late Roy Budd and such scores as WILD GEESE and THE SEA WOLVES. Plowman not only pulls out all the stops with vigorous and robust action cues. he also invents haunting and delightful musical poems that intertwine and bind the work together – very much in the same way as Budd used to when working in film. This type of scoring can be heard in track 7, ‘Lonely Study’ which commences with high and melodious string cascades that rise and fall to create a rich and colourful resonance that is a joy to hear, whilst at the same time enhance and serve the picture well. Track 9 ‘Hide and Seek’ is a brilliantly driving piece – the composer utilises thundering percussion which is punctuated and supported by strings which are themselves embellished and bolstered by the use of electronics to create a taught and tension filled composition. Track 11, BOAR AND THE BULLET is also a full-on action cue, again electronic sounds fused with that of symphonics to create a high octane sound. Fierce brass stabs are underlined by growling electronic sound design and further driven on by the edgy sounding strings and powerful percussion until the track reaches its frenzied and vibrant crescendo. I can do nothing else but recommend this compact disc. It will, I know, become a favourite and a rich and welcome addition to any soundtrack collection.

Dream House.

Dream_house_302067115

Ever since I first heard the opening music for HOCUS POCUS I knew that I would be a fan of John Debney. He has the ability to create wonderful atmospheres and to invent auras within his music, enhancing wonderfully the numerous motion pictures that he has worked upon with his original and eclectic style. That is why it is so easy to appreciate and to also like his music; the composer always produces a work or a piece of music that holds something for everyone and every taste. DREAM HOUSE is a horror tale and “yes” the composer does lay down some pretty fearsome music within this score that chills and purveys a feeling of uneasiness. But there is also a romantic sound present within the work and also an emotion to the soundtrack that is poignant and haunting rather than fearful and frightening. The opening track ‘Dream House’ is a luxurious and blossoming composition that is touching and heartrending. It begins with a childlike sounding solo voice, which itself immediately creates an atmosphere of unease. As the composition moves on, the composer employs woodwind, piano, and strings which combine to bring us a rather touchingly delicate lullaby of sorts – in fact one would think that everything in the dream house is just that, dreamy and at peace. The string section take on the  theme mid-way through the composition adds a sumptuous and rich layer to the piece. The theme that is briefly encountered within the opening cue is given a fuller and even more sumptuous sound if that is at all possible within track two, LITTLE GIRLS DIE, which is a heartbreaking and highly emotive cue where Debney opens with a sorrowful sounding cello and builds upon this performance, gradually adding woods and strings until the piece literally bursts into a full working of the gorgeous and stimulating theme. Throughout the score the composer utilises and effectively re-introduces the central theme. At times this is just a fleeting appearance but one can hear it throughout in varying arrangements and also with differing orchestration.
Debney has fashioned a score which is slightly disturbing as it evokes many emotions. It is a score filled with tension for the majority of its running time but is not just another horror soundtrack, which crashes and bangs its way through to its conclusion. I suppose one could say it is an intelligent and also an appealing work that has many a dark corner; at times these being almost jagged and Herrmann Esque in their sound, as in Track 14, ‘Peter Saves Ann/Redemption’, which is a powerful, exciting and nerve jangling cue with its ominous and driving strings, booming percussion and fierce brass stabs but also has a tender sounding ending which returns us to the soaring and superb core theme or at least a variant of it. This in my opinion is one of the composer’s best scores to date and if, like myself, you had kind of lost faith in some Hollywood composers, then please give this score a listen and maybe, just maybe, you might think again.

Mean Guns.

Mean_guns_HWRCD008This came to me as something of a surprise. I had reviewed THE LAST BREATH and sent a copy of the review to both the composer Vincent Gillioz and the record company. It turned out that both were pleased with my observations on the score and the record company very kindly supplied me with review copies of some of their other soundtracks. MEAN GUNS was released around the same time as LAST BREATH so that is why it was the first disc I opened. The soundtrack is a nicely balanced mix of vocals and Hispanic sounding compositions which, for the majority of the time, are in the style of the great mambo king Perez Prado – the reason being that the musician was mentioned specifically in the script, so the composer decided that obviously there would be times within the score that Prado would feature. But what I like about this score is that Tony Riparetti has not only very cleverly infused his own original music with a sound and vitality evoking the style and presence of Prado but he has also composed music which, although in a similar style, is highly original as the composer merges both mambo/Latin colours and tones with dramatic and pulsating flourishes, thus creating a style all of his own which is haunting, original and innovative.
The entire CD including the songs is a great listen and as a hardened orchestral film music collector, that is saying something, because in most cases I skip songs and go straight for the instrumental section. However, this score was an exception. It intrigued and entertained me. When it comes to the original instrumental material which Riparetti composed I found myself tapping my feet or thinking “Can I hear Morricone” or “That would not be out of place in a spaghetti western” etc. Riparetti has penned an infectious and energetic soundtrack for what seems to be a modern day western – or at least a movie having a storyline which  takes some its direction from the western genre.