BACKLIGHT.

Released on Kronos records june 2015.

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Born on the Portuguese Island of Madeira in October 1977 composer Nuno Malo has within the past five years or so become a name that is instantly recognisable within the film music collecting fraternity, his scores for movies such as JULGAMENTO, MANO, THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, AMALIA and more recently his excellent work for the film NO GOD, NO MASTER has garnered him much deserved praise and critical acclaim from all corners of the globe and established him as a composer of note. As a child he had always been interested in films and watched numerous movies, he always knew he wanted to be part of film making but it was at the age of twelve that he decided that it was music that he would concentrate upon. His first scoring assignment came in 2003 with THE POLICEWOMAN, he had written a piece of music for a concert that was to be performed in Portugal but was unable to be there as he was already living in Los Angeles but the director of THE POLICEWOMAN Joaquim Sapinho was present at the concert and liked the composers music so asked him to score the film, Nuno was pleased to work on the movie as he was allowed to utilise an orchestra which was something that was rare in his native Portugal and ever since that first assignment he has encouraged many Portuguese directors and composers to utilise the orchestra rather than employ only synthetic sounds. For this particular release Kronos records goes back into the not to distant past of the composer to release his wonderfully melodic and affecting soundtrack for BACKLIGHT or THE SIGNAL as it was entitled in a number of countries. The composer has created a melodically sublime and particularly haunting musical score for this motion picture from 2010 which became the number 1 box office movie in Portugal in that year. The director Fernando Fergata produced a thought provoking piece of cinema and it has thankfully in recent times been referred to as a cinematic masterpiece by a number of critics, which is a statement that I would have to agree with. BACKLIGHT is a solely Portuguese production but most of the picture was shot in The United States which is a surprising factor.

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The composer combines both conventional instrumentation with synthetic components and fuses these elements together seamlessly to fashion a plethora of exquisite musical compositions. These highly thematic pieces combine to create a stunning and emotive work that oozes a deep and profound sense of emotion that is underlined and complimented by darker but melodic atmospheres and moods. The composer also brings into the equation choir and an outstanding solo voice (which is actually the composer himself performing) which gives the work a somewhat unworldly persona via its ethereal aural contribution, which just establishes to an even greater degree the outstanding talent and versatility of this composer/performer. Malo in my opinion is a composer that is comfortable within any genre and with his score to BACKLIGHT enhances each scenario to perfection supporting without being intrusive and producing sounds and harmonies that are not only fitting for the storyline of the project but also have life away from the screen. It is a score that contains numerous themes all of which segue easily into each other and also at times mirror each other, one underlining another or parts of a theme being subtly introduced within another, thus creating a fine consistency and continuity to the work as well as ingratiating the movie and supporting every frame of film where music is utilised. There is a sound present within the score that is very much akin to that of the late John Barry, Malo combining strings and choir in a very similar way to that of the British music- smith to bring forth affecting, moving and haunting melodies that sweep over the listener creating an ambience that is calming but at the same time highly charged. There is so much within the score it is sometimes difficult to comprehend that all of this thematic material has come from one movie or indeed from one composer.

John Mansell © 2015

(John Mansell is a member of the IFMCA and also author of numerous essays and reviews on film music).

VIRAL.

RELEASED ON KRONOS RECORDS JUNE 2015.

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Born in Spain composer Sergio Jimenez Lacima became interested in music at a very early age and started to study at the age of 3, he graduated in Film Scoring and Video game Scoring from The Berklee College of music in Boston USA. He has a masters degree in orchestral conducting and two Bachelor degrees in piano performance and orchestral conducting which he received in Spain. He also graduated from the ASCAP Television and Film Scoring workshop under composer Richard Bellis. He has won various awards for his compositions for symphonic bands and chamber music and has also received several awards and nominations for his work in film, in 2014 he was a candidate for best original score at the Goya’s which are Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars. He also received Best Comedy Composer award at the LA web fest and was nominated at the ll Aragon Cinema Simon awards and was a finalist for the Vl Jerry Goldsmith awards. His recent assignments include, WAX, ANOMALOUS, SLICE 3 and VIRAL and although we maybe have not heard his name before the composer is well seasoned in the art of film scoring, he has written an exciting, powerful and haunting score for VIRAL in which he utilises symphonic and synthetic sounds. Lacima fuses these together seamlessly so that they compliment and augment each other, never jarring or overpowering each other and matching the horror perfectly in the movie but at the same time underlining the lighter side to the story. This is a driving and potent soundtrack that at times evokes the style and sounds of composers such as Marco Beltrami, Jerry Goldsmith, Christopher Young and Bernard Herrmann. The composers use of fearsome and rasping brass alongside urgent, hissing and searing strings is not only effective to create moments of terror and fear but has a chill that seems to run through it, these elements are at times propelled along and supported by thundering percussion making them even more foreboding and virulent sounding. With this imposing and commanding combination of instrumentation he creates a menacing and exhilarating work which successfully builds layer upon layer of sheer tension that literally oozes nervous adrenaline to become an unrelenting onslaught of forceful and imposing musical passages. Of course there are quieter interludes within the work and although these are fairly calming and melodic there is still an underlying icy atmosphere that purveys an air of uncertainty.

INTERVIEW WITH SERGIO JIMENEZ LACIMA.

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How did you become involved on VIRAL and how much time did you have to score the movie?
I contacted Lucas Figueroa, VIRAL director, some months before I actually scored the film, while they were still shooting the film. I received a call from Lucas in March and the film was premiering in April at the 2013 Malaga Spanish Film Festival, so I had 3 weeks and a half to produce the whole score, which included writing, orchestrating, recording and mixing. Fortunately, I worked with a great team, who helped me to have the 60-min score delivered on time. It was a crazy time but, at the same time, a great learning (and training!) experience.
What size orchestra did you utilize for the score and where did you record the music?
The music was recorded by the Budapest Art Orchestra in Hungary. Great orchestra and great people behind it who really did a stunning job on this score, specially considering our tight schedule. We had several sessions with a 34-piece string orchestra plus a harp and one session with low brass and French horns. We also did additional solo recordings in Los Angeles and Madrid.

Was the film temp tracked at all and do you find a temp track helpful or distracting and did the director have a hands on approach when it came to the music?
The film was already temp tracked when I received the cut. Considering the short period of time I had to score the movie this was somehow helpful because it helped me to see what the director and producer wanted in terms of the music. Some of the temp music worked better than other and that was also helpful since it made the beginning of the process faster. The temp tracks that didn’t work were easy to change since the mood and character of the music was already established with the ones that did work. Furthermore, Lucas knew what he wanted and what was working and was not, as well.
Concerning temp track music, in my opinion, it really depends on the project, the director, the context or even if it is the first time you work with that director, among other factors. Sometimes it’s helpful and sometimes it’s not. I’ve worked on films with temp track, like this one, that helped the process and some other films that didn’t have a temp and it wasn’t really necessary to have it.
In my experience, when a director or editor puts a temp track they do it for a reason, even if it’s not working, and you have to find out what that reason is. I think this is a big part of the communicating and “translating” process between the director/producer and the composer.

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What composers of film music would you say have made an impression upon you or maybe have influenced you in the way that you score a movie ?
This is a difficult question to answer because I think we are all influenced by everything we listen. Everything that is around influence us in some way, even when we don’t realize it. I could name a lot of composers I like. However, there are some of them that really made an impression on me when I listened to their music for the first time: John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Alexandre Desplat, Cliff Martinez, Alberto Iglesias and Roque Baños, to name a few. I remember listening to their music and having that exciting “discovering” feeling, something special that, of course, influenced me somehow.

Did you take an active role in the preparation of the music tracks for the CD release?
I definitely did. I selected 46 minutes of music for the CD from the 60 min score and reorganized some of the tracks so they can be more comfortable for the listener. I also like to master all the music in a CD album way, meaning that it’s going to be listen on its own and not with the movie. And, of course, I can’t forget the support and great work done by Godwin Borg to produce the CD release.

Sergio-Jiménez-Lacima

How do you work out your musical ideas, do you use piano or write straight to manuscript or do you take a more technical approach?
It also depends on the project and the style of the music you are going to write. If the score is more in the electronic/ambient style the approach is more technical, mainly based on the computer, synths, etc. If it is a more orchestral score sometimes you can sketch some ideas on paper and then translate them to the computer to make them sound. However, in my last projects the music has been more a hybrid between electronics and instrumental/orchestral so I basically worked directly on the computer. Besides my background is classical, I am really into technology and love how it can help us to develop different ideas with a different approach and in a faster way.

You conduct your music for film, do you also orchestrate all of your own scores ?
I do conduct whenever I can since I studied and have a degree in orchestral conducting and love to conduct. Also, interaction with the musicians is key in order to get your music sound as you wrote it and conducting makes this connection better and faster, in my opinion. And orchestration is other of my passions. I orchestrate my music since I really orchestrate while I write. In fact, when I have an idea I usually think of it in terms of orchestration and I write it like that. I work with a huge template on my computer that allows me to almost fully orchestrate the ideas I am writing. However, this also depends on the time frame you are working. Sometimes, under tight schedules, I can sketch ideas and add some comments about orchestration so another orchestrator can develop them and translate them to the physical score.

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John Mansell 2015 (movie music international/ifmca)

LA ARAUCANA.

Released on Kronos Records June 2015.

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Born in Turin Italy on August 29th 1919, Carlo Savina was one of the busiest and best known composers of film and television music in his country of birth, as a composer he worked on numerous movies and was able to easily adapt his style and creative thoughts to cater for any genre of film, scoring romantic comedies, adventure tales, westerns and historical dramas as well as thrillers and Roman epics, bringing to each assignment a certain lushness and melodic perfection that was his own individual musical fingerprint. Savina was also well known as a conductor and arranger and during his career collaborated with many composers of film music, Philippe Sarde (TESS THE TENANT and THE BEAR), Nino Rota (THE GODFATHER,AMACORD,FELLINI ROMA,THE TAMING OF THE SHREW and numerous others), Manuel De Sica (THE GARDEN OF FINZI CONTINI) and most notably Miklos Rozsa. Savina conducted a number of Rozsa’s epic soundtracks for Hollywood Biblically slanted blockbusters that were filmed at Cinecitta and was even credited as the composer of the EL CID score on prints that were released in Italy, this was due to contractual and legal situations at the time in the country. Savina’s contribution to the world of cinema is immense and it is at times hard to come to terms with the composers output and the consistent quality of his soundtracks. Savina came from a musical family background, his Father played first clarinet in the orchestra of EIAR which was the Italian public radio broadcaster at the time. The young Savina was always surrounded by music and at an early age began to take lessons on the violin. He went on to study music at the Music Conservatory Giuseppe Verdi in Turin from where he graduated with diplomas in Violin, Composition, Piano and conducting. In 1945 Savina began to write music for radio and would score plays and other programmes, he then formed his own orchestra and became well known and much in demand. In 1950 the composer began to write music for the cinema and during the next thirty years became one of the most prolific composer conductors involved in movie music. I suppose one could say that Carlo Savina was to Nino Rota what Bruno Nicolai was to Ennio Morricone, often arranging and conducting Rota’s scores and at times writing additional cues for him when he had moved onto another assignment and the films producers felt the need for an extra section of film to be scored. Savina also worked with Ennio Morricone, Armando Trovaioli, Stanley Myers, Stephen Sondheim and Mario Nascimbene as arranger or musical director but he was a gifted composer in his own right and during his career worked on over 200 film scores. In 1981 Savina wrote a haunting score for the first 3-D spaghetti western COMIN AT YA which which was a vehicle for the second rate actor filmmaker Tony Anthony with Savina’s beautifully written score outshining the images and storyline it was intended to enhance, in 1985 he won the David Di Donatello best music award for his score to PIZZA CONNECTION. He passed away on June 23rd 2002.

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LA ARAUCANA was released in on the 25th February 1972 in Italy, it is a historical drama/war movie that is set in Chile during the summer of 1540. Also known as CONQUEST OF CHILE the film follows the progress of Pedro de Valdivia who leaves Cuzco with a handful of heroic men to fight against the Araucana guerillas. The movie which was a co production between, Italy, Spain, Chile and Peru was directed by Julio Coll who also collaborated on the screenplay of the film which was based upon the famous epic poem ALONSO DE ERCILLA. Set in a time when Spain dominates half the known world and has sent its conquistadors to spread its influences throughout the Americas, amongst these are men of good heart and soul that are idealists and a missionary but also among them are mercenaries and soldiers of fortune who are adventurers and care little how they carry out their duties and care even less for the lives of themselves and others. After an ill fated expedition into the South of the country which results in the loss of many of his soldiers Don Pedro De Valdivia returns to Cuzco which is the Capital of the vice-royalty of Peru with a number of badly wounded men from his company. Valdivia himself has been wounded and after recovering from an operation to save his leg decides to return to the South with just a handful of soldiers and a woman Inez de Suarez who’s husband was killed in the previous expedition. The film is entertaining enough with Carlo Savina’s epic sounding score aiding the action greatly, the composer contributing one of his most lush and romantic sounding themes to the proceedings with definite nods of acknowledgement to composer Miklos Rozsa throughout via the fanfares that Savina utilises within his score. The film itself is I suppose the story about the birth of a nation as in CHILE, it is romantic, passionate and filled with action and excitement, which is underlined and punctuated perfectly by the music of Savina.

John Mansell (Movie music International) (IFMCA).

CANTERBURY NO 2 -NEW ROMANCES OF THE 300 (THE TALES OF CANTERBURY)

Released on Kronos Records June 2015.

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Guido and Maurizio De Angelis are a composing duo who are synonymous with music for Italian cinema, they have a distinct and instantly recognizable sound and style. They have worked on numerous movies and TV productions and are probably better known for their unique sounding songs rather than their instrumental scores although saying this their orchestral music too posses a certain quirky original persona that is attractive and lends itself well to many of the motion pictures that they have scored. The style which they employ is I suppose a fusion of dramatic sounding flourishes and also a kind of folk orientated more traditional sound. The composing siblings rely upon solo guitar and organ to create the basics of their compositions and add to these strings, percussion and choir. They first came to the film music communities attention when they wrote the score for the comedy spaghetti western THE CONTINUING STORY OF TRINITY. Which was the sequel to the highly successful THEY CALL ME TRINITY which contained a score by Franco Micalizzi and Roberto Pregadio. After the success of their music in the second TRINITY movie De Angelis became much in demand and worked on a plethora of varying genres for both the big and small screen. MAN FROM THE EAST, AFYON OPPIO,LA POLOZIA INCRIMINA, LA LEGGE ASSOLVE, ZORRO,SAVANA VIOLENTA,IL CORSARO NERO,KILLER FISH, TORSO,ROMA VIOLENTA,TEDEUM,EL BOSQUE DE TALLAC, SANDOKAN, PUI FORTE RAGAZZI, WATCH OUT WE’RE MAD,UPPERCUT,DOUBLE TROUBLE, MANNAJA,KEOMA,VALDEZ HORSES and the score contained on this release CANTERBURY N2 (TALES OF CANTERBURY) all benefited from the highly original and innovative compositions of the Brothers De Angelis. Guido and Maurizio were in fact among the most prolific song writers in Italy during the 1970,s and became so in demand that they had to invent a string of alias’s for many of their projects because they did not want to overwhelm the market with scores and music credited to them. The alias that is most familiar is Oliver Onions and a name that regularly appeared upon their soundtracks as featured vocalist. Although the Brothers De Angelis were very active within the music world and released numerous stand alone albums it is probably fair to say that it is their music for cinema that is best known throughout the world, the composers association with the films of Bud Spencer and Terence Hill is well known with their composition DUNE BUGGY from one of these comedies reaching the top of the charts in Europe.

During the late 1970,s they also provided an alternative theme for the television series THE RETURN OF THE SAINT which starred British actor Ian Ogilvy, the song TAKING IT EASY appeared on the European versions of the show but was not used in the UK or the United States. They also provided the scores for many animated series such as ASHITA NO JOE, GALAXY EXPRESS 999, BOBOBOBS, AROUND THE WORLD WITH WILLY FOG and most famously the infectious opening theme and scores for DOGTANIAN AND THE THREE MUSKEHOUNDS.
In 2007 the Brothers returned to the stage to give their first concert in 25 Years which was held at the Lucca Comics Festival. Their music is still much in demand but more recently in the way of samples and has been heard in the movie FASTER (Goodbye my Friend) and BOTTLE ROCKET in which we can hear ZORRO IS BACK which is taken from the 1975 production of ZORRO. The music for CANTERBURY N2-NEW ROMANCES OF THE 300 can be termed as typical De Angelis material, but there is a lot more to this soundtrack thematically than many of the other scores that De Angelis provided. The soundtrack is a collection of five central themes, TITOLO, OSURITA, AMORE, PACE, ALLEGRO and TEMA MEDIEVALE which are in the first instance introduced and then is reprised and expanded upon, being presented in varying guises and given a fresh and vibrant appeal via clever and at times quite eccentric and unusual orchestration. The score also contains two songs which are sung in Italian and are soothing and subdued compared with other De Angelis compositions. The central theme is a striking piece which utilises female solo voice and choir that are underlined by use of a solitary beating drum, and a sprinkling of harpsichord and organ, the choral work almost certainly being Nora Orlandi’s 4 + 4 Coro who worked with De Angelis on many occasions. The composers also make effective use of rather calming harpsichord within the score and combine this with guitar and woodwind to achieve a sound and style that is perfectly in keeping with the storyline and images that are unfolding on screen. Also at times banjo, recorder and percussion is introduced and choir and organ are well placed to achieve maximum effect. In fact in places one can hear small references to past De Angelis scores such as THE CONTINUING STORY OF TRINITY. Guido and Maurizio De Angelis were born in ROCCA DI PAPA near Rome Guido on December 22nd 1944 and Maurizio on February 22nd 1947. Their musical careers started in the early part of 1963 after successfully releasing an album of their music, soon after this they were asked to become arrangers for the RCA ITALIANA label, which consequently led them to become even more successful releasing numerous albums and performing songs as well as arranging music.

CANTERBURY NO 2 -NEW ROMANCES OF THE 300 (THE TALES OF CANTERBURY) was released in 1973, a bawdy, erotic comedy directed by Joe D’Amato under the name of John Shadow. The writer Chaucer accompanied by escort Knight quick become caught in bad weather they take refuge at an inn and because of the weather conditions along with other pilgrims making the journey to Canterbury are unable to continue on their way, so they sit and talk and tell stories. Director D’Amato (birth name-Aristide Massaccesi) is considered to be Italy’s most prolific film maker with over 200 motion pictures to his credit. Not only a director, but an actor, cinematographer, producer, screen writer and editor. During his career in the motion picture industry he worked on every genre imaginable and even combined genres to create new types of movies. Born in Rome on December 15th 1936, he was also credited for filming the first Italian made pornographic movie and has been connected with cult movies such as BLACK EMANNUELE,BEYOND THE DARKNESS and RED BLOOD. He died in Rome on January 23rd 1999.

John Mansell. Movie music International.(IFMCA). 2015.