A movie that I have heard a lot about and have been waiting for is NO GOD NO MASTER, the composer Nuno Malo has been attempting to have his eloquent and powerful score released and a few times it has almost come to fruition. At last I am pleased to say that the soundtrack has been officially released on VARESE SARABANDE. I have been privileged to have a number of tracks in my possession for some time now and have listened to Malo,s potent themes and his melodic and poignant tone poems for this particular movie. But to now have the full score on disc is a dream come true, 27 cues that are all works of art and have their own particular identity; it is a soundtrack that I could listen to all day and never tire of it.


No God, No Master is an American independent production which is a crime suspense thriller directed, written, and produced by Terry Green, it stars David Strathairn, Ray Wise, Sam Witwer, Edoardo Ballerini and Alessandro Mario. Filmed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. When packages containing bombs are delivered to the doorsteps of prominent politicians and businessmen in the summer of 1919, The United States Bureau of Investigation assign one of their agents William Flynn (David Strathairn) to the incidents and give him the task of finding the individuals or organisations responsible and taking the appropriate steps to stop and detain them. Flynn because embroiled and completely engulfed in an investigation that uncovers an anarchist plot to destroy democracy. The movie which is based on true events that took place in the 1920’s sets the stage for a timely and powerful drama which has stark similarities and resounding parallels to the contemporary war on terrorism and the role that the government plays to defeat it.


Portuguese composer Nuno Malo has penned a soundtrack that simply oozes sophistication and emotion, it is in many ways similar to the lush and rich style employed by Ennio Morricone in movies such as SACCO and VANZETTI and ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA with rich and vibrant thematic material performed by the string section accompanied and embellished by choir which together lay down the foundation for the score, the composer building the remainder of his soundtrack upon these firm and poignant footings. The score is also one that contains its fair share of intimate and fragile sounding moments which are not only haunting but have to them a commanding and authoritative sound. The central theme which first appears in the opening titles, is a simple but effective composition and the composer resurrects this throughout the score in various gusies and arrangements, there is however one track in particular that stands out for me personally and it is one that has on a number of occasions reduced me to an emotional wreck.


Track number 24,CATACOMB OF THE FLOWER OF MANKIND, is a beautifully written piece and also thoughtfully orchestrated, performed in the main by strings which are embellished by subtle use of choir and punctuated by feint piano the sound achieved here by the composer is a fusion of the styles of Morricone and James Horner. With a strong and wonderfully lush and near luxurious central theme being played out by rich sounding strings and elevated by use of voices, in fact I would go as far as to say that it could be ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA intermingled with the more celestial sounding passages from APPOLLO 13. It is cues such as this that make me remember why I love the art of film scoring and the creative force that is film music. Track number 25, WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS is another cue that just envelopes and mesmerizes the listener, low fragile strings and accompanied and supported by choir bringing a very reverent atmosphere to the proceedings, the subtle strings soon melt away and are overpowered gently by lilting piano and increased use of voices,with a poignant and melancholy sounding solo violin being brought into the mix to underline the emotional content of the piece. There are a number of accomplished and entertaining solos within the score, violin for example that is heartrending. Plaintive sounding woodwind, sorrowful cello, fragile piano, a sprinkling of harpsichord and some dramatic and more robust passages performed by brass and percussion, this is a triumph of a score and one that you should own as soon as you possibly can. Highly recommended.



Collaborations between movie directors and composers often bring forth beautiful and at times magnificent things. There are many composer/director pairings that are often referred to by critics and collectors alike, Leone and Morricone, Jarre and Lean, Herrmann and Hitchcock and Rota and Fellini are prime examples but probably the most prolific, notable and familiar collaborative process has been between film maker Steven Speilberg and composer John Williams. We all remember JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, JURRASIC PARK, 1941, SHINDLERS LIST etc and their memorable scenes that were supported by a superlative John Williams score. One movie however that I for one always seem to overlook is EMPIRE OF THE SUN, and for the life of me I don’t know why, I enjoyed the movie a lot and John Williams soundtrack underlined and enhanced the images wonderfully. That is why I am pleased that La La Land records have seen fit to re-issue the soundtrack and as a double compact disc have included a lot more music than was previously released. Disc 1 containing a full presentation of the film score, including never-before-released music, whilst Disc 2 includes a selection of alternate cues and additional music.This is in my opinion one of the composers most accomplished works for film, it is brimming with themes and musical passages that are pure Williams and has sweeping strident strings that glide and meander throughout the score creating melodic and exuberant themes that are lush romantic and expansive. It also includes more than its fair share of dramatic scoring the composer bringing to the fore brass and pounding percussion to relay a nervous and tense atmosphere infusing a sense of real terror and fear into the proceedings. The choral work is also some of the composer’s best and combined with lavish and sweeping strings and triumphant sounding brass punctuated by percussion is breathtaking and highly emotive and is especially effective within track number 14 CADILLAC OF THE SKYS. The score also has to it a heartfelt, luxurious and soulful side that can be heard to a greater degree in track number 16, THE RETURN TO THE CITY, which is a combination of poignant composition, ethnic sounding passages and also a dark and ominous presence. Within the score we can hear glimpses of Williams score that were written previous to EMPIRE OF THE SUN and also it gave us an insight as to what we could expect from the composer in future assignments, but overall this is a text book John Williams work that should never be overlooked or ignored. Presented superbly by La La Land with their normal high quality booklet with informative notes courtesy of Mike Matessino which are illustrated by a collection of 19 stills from the movie. A magnificent work by the master of movie music John Williams that has been re-released in an expanded edition by one of the most prestigious film music specialist record labels. It goes without saying that this is a release that you MUST add to your collection. Strident, melodic, anthem like and above all glorious.


Released on KRONOS RECORDS. 2014.

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Composer Christoph Zirngibl began his musical career by learning how to play the drums. From the age of just five the composer was attracted to music and it was not long before he began to have piano lessons at the age of twelve. At this stage in his musical development the composer admitted he was not really aware of film music. He was more interested in improvising music when he sat at the piano rather than following the notes that were written on the manuscript in front of him. This was something that was not exactly encouraged at first by the composer’s tutors, but as he progressed, the experimentation and improvisation was looked upon more positively. Christoph began to take notice of music in film and it was fellow German composer Peter Thomas who caught his attention with the score for the Sci-Fi, television series SPACE PATROL. But it was the music of John Williams that made up the thirteen year old’s mind that he would write music for film when he heard the vibrant and powerful score for JURRASSIC PARK. Christoph continued to study piano and also carried on playing drums and along the way also began to write songs and small scale compositions. In 2000 he joined the army and began to play drums in the army band, after which he decided to study music formally. Until today Christoph has composed the music for more than 40 TV movies and feature films.

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What musical studies did you undertake and who was your tutor?

I started to study ‘Scoring for Film and TV’ at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich in 2003 under the German film composer Enjott Schneider (Stalingrad, Stauffenberg, Brother of Sleep, 23). During the first two terms composer Andreas Weidinger filled in for him. One day, after a few weeks in the 1st term it was that Andreas needed someone to support him for a current project with a demanding schedule. So I became his assistant starting with making coffee, doing music preparation and creating sounds until after some time I was involved in doing some minor co-composition and orchestration stuff. So I very early had the chance to get to know the real life of a film composer with all its different facets, which was every bit as important as the courses at university.

What composers or artists would you say have influenced you in the way you write or score a film?

Going back a bit in film history two guys that have become more and more important to me are Bernard Hermann and Alfred Hitchcock. The way especially Hitchcock used to think about movies, stories and dramatic aspects is really interesting. His thoughts on what a good story should be about, what the audience expects from a good story and seeing how he used to apply this knowledge when making a film can be really inspiring for a film composer also in a modern context, I think.

In the big film music world there are many interesting characters whose work I admire a lot, such as Jerry Goldsmith, Alan Silvestri, Lalo Schiffrin, Alexandre Desplat or Henry Mancini and of course John Williams. In terms of sound and also modern film dramaturgy Hans Zimmer is an absolute must. More and more important to me are also Michael Giacchino and Christophe Beck, who are really great in terms of stylistic flexibility and handling their catchy themes.
But I’m primarily influenced by non-film-related music, songs, classical music, electronic music etc. and by experiencing concerts – that’s where most of my initial ideas come from.

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TRANSIT contains a quite varied score, did you have specific instructions from the director about the music or was there a temp track installed to guide you?

For TRANSIT we didn’t use temp music. The director and I listened to some music during our talks about the script or we exchanged MP3s without syncing them to picture just to specify emotional aspects. These tracks mostly were no film music but songs or classical music. As to me, this was a very inspiring workflow which especially is suited for movies with bigger dramaturgical arcs.

How did you become involved on TRANSIT and what size orchestra/ensemble did you use for the soundtrack and what percentage was performed by electronic or synthesized elements?

I had composed the music for Philipp’s very first short movie “Julian”. In that project we had already developed a great working relationship. So I was very happy to be able to take this relationship to the next level with his follow-up project “TRANSIT”.

There are kind of two sound worlds in the score: an emotional string orchestra world as well as a more ambient/atmospheric world. The latter consists of treated bits and excerpts from the first one and the two worlds are connected to each other by the use of solo instruments (acoustic guitar, kantele, piano) that represent the movie’s diverse characters. Most of the electronic sounding stuff as well as the percussions are also created out of recordings I did especially for this project.

There are some lovely guitar solos within the fabric of the score, when you are writing a score and you decide that there will be a solo instrument do you write the music with a particular soloist in mind and do you perform regularly on your scores?

Well, thanks a lot! It depends on the sound and style of the music I have in mind. As TRANSIT was a low budget project I did not dare to think about a specific soloist beforehand but I was very lucky that Markus Wienstroer, one of Germany’s prolific studio and live guitarists, agreed to perform on this score. This was also the case with Giacomo Castellano whom I have been working with very regularly since TRANSIT. To answer your question more precisely: Most of the time I have a really specific sound in mind and then I have to find an artist who understands my ideas musically and sound-wise.
As for myself I do perform on most of my scores whether it is as a piano-/keyboard-player, a percussionist or on other instruments. I think this is an important part of my, if not of any film composer’s, musical and stylistic personality: Film music is all about emotional authenticity and to achieve it, most of the time you don’t really need the world’s best guitar-player, singer and so on but you have to find a personality that can add that unique emotional flavor that makes music special.




The soundtrack release of the music from the horror movie ACROSS THE RIVER comes courtesy of the ever industrious Movie Score Media and is released on their scream works label, the music that you will hear on the compact disc is a compilation of music that is taken from the score and also is accompanied by cues from composer Stefano Sciascia’s other albums. Seven of the cues included were previously released on his concept album entitled LUX EX TENEBRIS which was issued in 2010, plus thee are two cues taken from his 2004 album MANTRA 22.22, which means that there is just one original cue on the disc, but saying this the entire album is originality personified, the composer utilizing to great effect double bass and highlighting the instruments versatility and also it range. This is also I think an exercise in the use of music in film that is not specifically composed for that film and it demonstrates that music that is not written for any movie in particular can be effective as long as it is placed correctly. This is a highly original work, which is not only quite powerful but at times can be emotive and moving. Sciascia combines music and also musical sounds and effects to generate a soundtrack that is filled with numerous surprises. The composer makes amazingly effective use of sounds as well as melodies within the score and his choral interludes and passages are eerie and haunting, solo violin is also brought into the equation on occasion, the composer using the instrument economically and at times only allowing a fleeting appearance from it, but it is enough to establish a touch of melancholy that is underlined with an aura of uneasiness. The combination of both choir and solo violin is demonstrated to a greater extent in track number 6, LACRIMOSA which although is for the majority of its duration a largely ominous sounding piece does contain its fair share of emotion and has to it a sombre mood. Track number 7, SCOTLAND THE BRAVE, is a somewhat odd and even quirky sounding piece, it begins with a sound that I suppose can be likened to whale song of sorts, to this is added bagpipes and as these melt away the composer introduces strings which are filled with emotion and sadness but at the same time retain a certain air of menace. Track 8, MANTRA 22.22 PART lll, showcases cello and bass and for me is an interesting composition as again it oozes emotion and also has a sound to it that can be deemed slightly oriental. Track number 9, STABAT MATER is probably the most unsettling composition on the compact disc, this is partly due to the effective use of choir within the piece the composer again adding off beat sound effects for greater impact and underlining it all with low slow paced strings with cello solo taking centre stage as if it is guiding the vocals. The same can be said for track number 10, ORIOR which contains an almost guttural sound at the beginning of the cue, which fades into obscurity giving way again the solo cello that is enhanced by subtle use of further stringed instruments, with choir again being introduced throughout.
I cannot stress enough that this is an infinitely innovative work and one that will entertain simply because of its originality. One to watch out for.



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.