TRAVELATOR.

Sleeve notes for the up-comimg release (2016) of the soundtrack on KRONOS RECORDS.

download (15)

Released in 2014, TRAVELATOR is a thrilling indie action movie, its storyline focusing upon a young man named Slovene, The young Slovenian lives a difficult and at times hard life in Serbia where the majority of his time is taken up with the playing of violent video games. He lives with his Mother in a refugee shelter as they are both refugees from the civil war. His Mother becomes very ill and Slovene needs money to get her the treatment she needs, he eventually becomes involved with a group of mobsters who convince him that they are Serbian patriots, which he becomes suspicious of because they speak amongst themselves in a Scandinavian language. The gangsters hire Slovene to go to Las Vegas where he is to kill a Serbian criminal who has taken refuge there. Because Slovene has endured a life of poverty he very easily and quickly becomes seduced by the luxurious lifestyle of many that live in Las Vegas. He also becomes romantically involved with a young woman Veronika who works as a stripper. Directed by Dusan Milic the scenes in Las Vegas are filmed in a real life style by this I mean the film crew simply went out onto the streets without any permission and filmed with everyday life and everyday people going about their daily business who were oblivious to the fact that they were being captured on celluloid. These scenes are a stark contrast from the scenes that were filmed in Serbia, with the Serbian locations being filled with dark and run down locations that reflect perfectly the poverty of the Country.

aleksandar-randjelovic

The musical score for the movie is a fusion of styles and musical textures, it relies much upon electronic sounds both musical and otherwise, plus there are a number of gentler interludes performed on guitar, the composer also making effective use of subdued strings at key points within the score which are of varying mood at times being harsh and dissonant and at other points becoming mellow and almost alluring. The composer also employs a flawless Soprano and choir within the score and these combined with strings are simply stunning and inspiring. Plus there are numerous electro pieces which at times are fast paced and relentless and do become somewhat grating and difficult to listen to as music away from the film that they were intended to enhance, but they underline and support the action unfolding on screen perfectly, the music not only enhances the images and punctuates the storyline adding depth and giving the storyline a greater impact, but it becomes an integral part of the storyline. The music which contains a number of performances on ethnic instruments is not only rhythmic but also attractive and beguiling is courtesy of Serbian born composer Aleksander Randjelovic who is known for his work on projects such as I GIORNI DELL’ABBANDONO (2005). GENESIS RISING (2007) which is a video game and ST. GEORGE SHOOTS THE DRAGON (2009) for which the composer received acclaim from audiences and critics alike. Aleksander Randjelovic is a composer of applied music who specializes in writing for film and television, and has also ventured into composing scores for video games.

3AL5idg
John Mansell (2015) IFMCA/MOVIE MUSIC INTERNATIONAL.

STAR WARS – THE FORCE AWAKENS.

 

images (36)

For me any score by John Williams is a delight and also a treasured moment from film music, it was Williams in my opinion who basically saved the orchestral film score with his music from STAR WARS, SUPERMAN,THE TOWERING INFERNO etc, bringing back to Hollywood some of the lush and romantic musical notions that were first heard in movies from the golden age and written by the likes of Korngold, Rozsa, Newman and their like, when the majority of movies were being scored with tacky sounding synths and artificial and cheap sounding electronics. Williams also acted as inspiration for new composers who wanted to either pay homage to this extraordinary music smith or mimic his grand opulent approach to film scoring. His latest offering is from the seventh STAR WARS movie THE FORCE AWAKENS, well yes its Williams that’s obvious and it’s a STAR WARS score that’s another obvious statement, but for me its kind of lacking, there is just something that is not there like in other STAR WARS soundtracks, most of the cues are action orientated with lots of dramatic and urgent strings being embellished and accompanied by proud and at times rasping brass flourishes, booming percussion and the William‘s trademark flyaway sounding woodwinds.

download (14)

The familiar central theme is present and there are also a handful of motifs and sounds that we all now associate with the STAR WARS movies, but there are a number of new comers but like I said these are not as developed melodic or indeed as appealing as anything that we heard before. The movie I think does not allow Williams to fully develop any of his rich or romantic thematic properties as before simply because the storyline does not call for them and is an all action fast paced affair. This is great for the fans as the movie is an edge of the seat full throttle adventure and one that has certainly hit all the right spots and pushed all the correct buttons with at least 99.9 percent of the cinema going public. Williams music is good but its not breathtaking as in previous instalments, by this its familiar and grand but the wow factor seems to be lacking here. Maybe it is because JJ Abrahams approach is somewhat different to that of the STAR WARS creator George Lucas, it was said that when writing the screenplays for the original STAR WARS Lucas would often include set static scenes which would allow the music to basically flow and tell the story or enhance and support the scene more prominently, the music becoming integral rather than background similar to the way Leone worked with Morricone and Hitchcock did with Herrmann, with the new STAR WARS however the music I feel has reverted back to being a musical wallpaper or a background its not up there with the characters racing along or if it is it is drowned out by the sound editing and effects etc. I am not going to analyse and examine each and every cue, but maybe just a select few of them.

images (34)

MAIN TITLE opens the compact disc, the familiar strains of the anthem like STAR WARS theme boom out with the proud brass leading the way with the tumultuous fanfares that open each episode of the series. The man theme or opening segues nicely into THE ATTACK ON THE JAKKU VILLAGE which is urgent, fast paced, dramatic and imposing, Williams swirling strings creating an atmosphere of chaos and fear and being underlined and punctuated by fierce brass and driving strings which push the composition along and breakneck speed. Track number two is THE SCAVENGER, this is one of the very few quieter moments from the score, it does evoke memories of past Williams compositions and not necessarily STAR WARS linked, low strings which are melodic but at the same time have a dark side to them take the lead and soar momentarily to create a near romantic and melancholy moment, the composer employing harp as well as strings and a faraway sounding horn which conjures up a sense of loneliness or solitude, subdued woodwind then take on the central thematic material adding a delicate and touching sound to the proceedings. Track number three, I CAN FLY ANYTHING, is filled with bravado and drama again brass and strings having the lions share of the performing duties, for me this is a treat as it introduces a variation of the central theme which at first is not totally recognisable, but then the familiar strains do manifest themselves fleetingly. The track continues at pace with strings swirling and dodging around the brass exclamation marks and together creating a exhilarating piece. Track number four REY MEETS BB-8, starts out as a lullaby of sorts, it is gentle and calming, building into a somewhat sombre piece that concludes with low and somewhat fearful sounding strings. Jumping ahead to track number six, REY’S THEME this is a piece written to accompany one of the new characters, woodwinds introduces the cue which are joined by strings that build into a full working of the motif, one can hear that this is from a STAR WARS movie or is it the Williams sound, maybe RAIDERS coming to mind? But it is unlike any theme we have encountered before since our musical journey started in 1977 within this series, it is a more upbeat and jaunty sound than one normally associates with the series and maybe not so robust or rich, with ascending strings and woodwind uniting, again its Williams through and through with the trademark sweeping strings that are mirrored and supported by horns and other brass and interspersed with woodwind but different that’s all I can say.

images (35)

Track number seven THE FALCON has shades of the cue HERE THEY COME from A NEW HOPE, exciting and fast paced with jagged brass and every so often the audience being thrown the familiar central theme amongst all the action orientated music where Ostinato strings mingle with staccato brass creating urgent stabs and jumps that support and enhance the scene perfectly.
Track fifteen HAN and LEIA is a return to the original STAR WARS sound as in LEIA,S THEME, or at least a momentary glimpse of it, as the cue moves up a notch into a more dramatic and martial sound, brass and strings combining again heralding a more dramatic turn of events within the cue, before returning to a more down beat and settled ambiance, which has to it a kind of quirkiness that is laced with a romantic atmosphere. Track number 16, MARCH OF THE RESISTANCE, is a fusion of the drama that Williams created in THE IMPERIAL MARCH and also elements of THE THRONE ROOM which bring into the equation the ceremony and also the sense of pomp from that particular piece. The score is an entertaining one and within it we are treated to a number of familiar themes and a handful of new and vibrant ones also. Is it equal to any of the previous scores, in a word no I don’t think it is, but it is John Williams and that alone makes it a worthwhile purchase.

images (37)

EN MAI FAIS CE QU’IL TE PLAIT.

maxresdefault (2)

Well Ennio Morricone is certainly getting his creative juices flowing this year two new film scores, THE HATEFUL EIGHT and also EN MAI FAIS CE QU’IL TE PLAIT are released and although both are completely removed from each other do not disappoint, the composer lending his considerable talent and finesse to both storylines. EN MAI FAIS CE QU’IL TE PLAIT is a story set in 1940, German forces have already entered France and are pushing onwards crushing much of the resistance put up by the French the British and the French people. Alarmed at the ferocity of the German invasion and its ever gaining momentum the inhabitants of a small village, PAS-DE-CALAIS decide that it will be better to leave everything and go on the road and make their way to the coast. The storyline throws together many people from the village and also individuals from outside of Pas-de-Calais, one of these is a Scottish officer who’s entire unit has been massacred by the Nazi war machine who decides to joint the villagers in their trek to the coast in the hope that he might be able to get a boat and return to England. The score by Ennio Morricone is in a word outstanding and the best way to describe it is to say that this is classic Morricone. The compact disc opens with EN MAI, which is the longest cue on the soundtrack release, weighing in at 8 minutes and 55 seconds, it begins with a four note motif which is repeated over and over with every now and then strings punctuating the piece changing key and chords until the theme begins proper, woodwind introduce the subdued and plaintive sounding theme, whilst all the time the four note motif is repeated in the background. Memories of Morricone from the 1960,s and 1970,s come flooding back, as the theme builds and further establishes itself, the string section increasing in volume and finally a rich sounding romantically laced composition overwhelms everything. This is Morricone at his melodic best, it is emotive, affecting and superbly mesmerising and most definitely a goose bump moment. What I love about this score is that Morricone does not in any way over use the central theme, in fact I would say that the majority of the cues here all sound very different as in there are fresh and vibrant themes present within each and everyone of them. There is melancholy, drama, fear and every other sort of emotion conveyed within this work, track number two L,ETAU SE RESSERRE is a more dramatic and slightly more urgent composition, the Maestro employing strings to great effect to create an atmosphere of unease and apprehension.

5vqpzp-L

Track number three ILS RESTERONT TROIS is a return to the central theme but not the same arrangement as the opening cue, this is even more lush and lavish sounding in its introduction, the strings that open the piece give way to woodwind for a while but the strings then make a return to give the variation of the theme a fuller working, again classic Morricone, that is delicate but also emotionally overwhelming. Track number four TRAVERSER LA GUERRE, is a return to a darker sound, sombre sounding strings, and shady nuances prevail here but saying this even amongst this we still here a faint melody. This is a score that I would recommend as a must have for any devotee of Ennio Morricone, it evokes past triumphs from the Maestro and also tells us that Morricone is still the Master. Available on Quartet records.

images (33)

MUSIC FOR THE ANIMATED BATMAN AND SUPERMAN

Batman_the_Animated_Series_logo

Animated feature films or indeed animated series for television always seem to be popular, maybe its because we all know that what is happening on screen is a little more far fetch and impossible than real life or indeed any of the live action movies etc. Our superheroes or crusaders for law, order and at times the American way are many but not as many it seems as the villains and unsavoury characters that said superheroes do battle with. SUPERMAN is of course the main character we all associate with the super hero genre, then we have SPIDERMAN, BATMAN, CAPTAIN AMERICAN etc etc the list is endless. Its probably true to say that the antics and adventures of these super beings transfers well and comes over as more exciting and outlandish in animated films, simply because these super characters are able to do more when presented as an animated character. This is just a theory and personal opinion. Music in these animated features too plays a big part and helps to create and establish atmospheres and moods giving storylines a greater impact. Many composers have underlined, supported and given our superheroes a musical helping hand over the years, but I have to say that with the emergence of BATMAN all’a Tim Burton and Danny Elfman’s dark yet impish and playful take on the soundtrack things did seem to step up a gear or two. Elfman’s brooding but at the same time richly dark and anthem like theme for the caped crusader is one now that has become synonymous with the franchise and in later movies when Elfman was not involved the images seemed to be lacking that dark and offbeat support, not that I am saying Zimmer, Newton Howard et al did not do a great job because as time moves on so do requirements of movies and everything else, but there just seemed to be something of a void there musically speaking. Back to the animated features and subsequent TV spin off’s and again producers turned to Danny Elfman to enhance the BATMAN character but only within the central theme department as many of the scores were penned by the brilliantly talented Shirley Walker who worked with Elfman on many occasions. I am no expert in the area of music for animation in fact it’s a case of listening to what I like and that’s the end of it, numerous composers were called in to work their musical magic on BATMAN the animated series for Warners/DC comics , some familiar others still remaining obscure and unfamiliar even after their BATMAN scoring experience. Todd Hayen, Carlos Rodriguez, Mark Koval, James Stemple and many others made invaluable contributions to the BATMAN animated series for TV and although they may not be familiar names in film music collecting circles its certainly worth checking out their wares.

images (30)

So lets concentrate firstly on BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES volume three as released by La la land records.

This four disc set is in one word impressive or to use two Impressive and powerful. It contains music from around twenty three episodes or at least selections from these episodes, the opening is courtesy of Danny Elfman with his now familiar BATMAN theme strains and flourishes setting the scene deliciously and darkly for the remainder of the four discs. Track two through to seven are taken from ROBINS RECKONING, these first tracks being the work of composer Carlos Rodriguez written for part one of the story and tracks eight through to fifteen are the work of composer Peter Tomashek for part two of the same tale. The first six cues in my opinion are in many ways similar to the sound that was achieved by Elman on the original movies ie BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS, there is a certain sense of the operatic at times within the work but at the same time Rodriguez maintains a certain amount of the dark and quirky persona that Elfman created, this I think is mainly down to the orchestration, strings and brass playing a major part in the make up of the score, with not only drama but hints of the romantic being included along the way. Sections nine through to fifteen are somewhat different in their sound and overall style although saying this composer Peter Tomashek does retain that air of mystery throughout that is tinged with urgency and underlined with driving strings that are supported by booming percussive elements and at times rasps from the brass section that seem to sneer and push their way into the proceedings, his approach however is removed slightly from both Rodriguez’s approach and Elfman’s original take with the composer producing an inventive and original work that although dark at times does towards the end of the score transform into a more heroic or courageous sounding work which for me any way works a treat.

hqdefault (1)

Track number sixteen is billed as a bonus track from ROBIN’S RECKONING, and is composed by Carlos Rodriguez, it has a kind of circus style to it but in a macabre and somewhat unsettling way. Tracks seventeen to twenty three are the handiwork of the brilliantly talented Shirley Walker, taken from P.O.V. or POINT OF VIEW and is one of the composers earliest contributions to the series, which is reflected in her score as she refers to the original Elfman theme during some of the action sequences, a trait that seemed to become less and less as the series progressed.

images (32)

This is a powerful score from Walker, and one that contains so many of her own themes it literally oozes charisma and brilliance which is why she is considered still to be the foremost composer when it comes to the BATMAN animated series, P.O.V. is in my opinion a return to a more traditional way of scoring, bold themes, a march, numerous motifs and highly exhilarating action cues with driving strings and tense sounding brass stabs that certainly get the adrenaline going. Above all Walker’s music entertains away from the images as well as working with them. There are another seven sections on this four disc set credited to Shirley Walker and each and everyone of them is a delight and pleasure to listen to. SEE NO EVIL, THE MAN WHO KILLED BATMAN, THE FORGOTTEN,TERROR IN THE SKY among them. To review every section or every scrap of music on this collection would take hours, so based on what I have thus far told you about I would say go and buy this compilation a.s.a.p. You will not regret it, I promise. Over five hours of glorious dark and exciting music that is laced with the romantic and at times the melancholy, presented wonderfully and filled with informative sleeve notes and numerous stills from the series, highly recommended.

images (29)

Right from THE BATMAN we move to SUPERMAN, again from the animated series and again this is a four disc set released by La la land records with a running time of over five hours. Shirley Walker again provides us with some pretty impressive music to accompany the man of steel. Her spirited sounding opening theme also opens the compilation, with a proud and anthem like sound created by flyaway woodwind and timpani acting as a background to somewhat cautious sounding brass flourishes that are them selves supported by driving strings and transform from furtive to full blown, in just over a minute Walker sets the scene perfectly for the adventures of this super superhero. Lolita Ritmanis is first up in the running order of the CD with her music for THE LAST SON OF KRYPTON, this was according to John Takis (who penned the excellent sleeve notes for this compilation and also the BATMAN collection) originally broadcast as a feature length movie, but is divided into three sections, the first part being scored by Ritmanis, who created a quite unrelenting score filled with action cues and a multitude of thematic material, in my opinion her style is not dissimilar to that of the late Elmer Bernstein, especially in the more action orientated passages and even at times within the quieter moments of the work as well.

images (31)

Dark underlying strings laced with brass and percussion erupt into a more sustained onslaught if that is the right way to describe it that although essentially action music somehow remains melodic, Ritmanis at times echoes the Shirley Walker theme or at least fleeting references to it within her score, at times enlisting the aid of synthetic sounds.

Part two of the story is scored by Michael Mc Cuistion with part three being the work of Harvey B. Cohen, Mc Cuistion penned a suitably poignant soundtrack for the coming of age section of the story where we see the young Kal-El taken in by his earth parents after crash landing near their farm in Smallville and then growing into the young Clark Kent, Mc Cuistion’s score is an accomplished one that includes many variations of musical styles and also has within it a particularly rousing SUPERMAN central theme where we see Clark learning to fly. This is an album that is pleasantly surprising, it is grand and epic, filled with action cues but also has its fair share of compositions that ooze melancholy, romance and emotion. Don’t wait any longer, buy it, listen to it, enjoy it….

Back_400

THE HATEFUL EIGHT.

The_Hateful_Eight_Soundtrack

Like so many of the more substantial budget movies these days THE HATEFUL EIGHT received its fair share of publicity and hype, the various medias being fed teasers and tasters by the press office for the production who themselves were going out of their way to alert the cinema going public to just how good the movie is, or at least in their opinion how good it is. THE HATEFUL EIGHT is the second western to be directed by the somewhat controversial and off beat filmmaker Quentin Tarantino (the first being DJANGO UNCHAINED) of course film music collectors are aware of the normal soundtrack process on a Tarantino movie, it rarely has what is referred to an original score. Many of the cues being selected by Tarantino himself and normally taken from a collection of Italian soundtracks or including popular songs which at times bare little or no association with the scenes they underlined and supported (that’s a personal opinion, by the way) THE HATEFUL EIGHT however is something of a departure for the director at least within the area of music. At long last Tarantino handed the musical reins for his production to composer Ennio Morricone who’s music had in the past featured on many Tarantino movies. As soon as Morricone was announced as the composer for the score the hype machine went into overdrive, some articles saying it was his first Spaghetti western score since Sergio Leones THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, well actually not true, I think I am right when I say OCCHIO ALLA PENA directed by Michel Lupo was his last Spaghetti or European western score which was during the early 1970’s, plus THE HATEFUL EIGHT is not a spaghetti western it’s a Hollywood western, yes ok it maybe influenced by Italian westerns but its certainly not Leone. So it’s a Hollywood western that has input from the spaghetti western genre or at least images and scenes that Tarantino probably recalled from watching spaghetti westerns and then given these his own take. The trailers of THE HATEFUL EIGHT for me personally just shout GRAND SILENCE, with snow covered landscapes and there almost serene and clinical clean appearance, Tarantino‘s snow covered sets however do not stay that way with the pure snow being spattered by the crimson of blood from the many violent encounters within his storyline, these being reflected in the title of one of the compositions from the score SANGUE E NEVE. Morricone himself was said to have stated that he was surprised at the amount of violence within the movie, but its Tarantino!!! DUSK TO DAWN, RESEVOIR DOGS, KILL BILL etc etc etc. Tarantino without violence, controversy, foul language or just over the top everything, I don’t think so somehow.

images (27)

The score itself is certainly Morricone through and through, with elements of the Maestro’s unused music for THE THING and THE EXCORSIST ll THE HERETIC soundtracks being utilised within it, in fact I would go as far as to say that his music for THE THING acts as a foundation and inspiration for much of the original material that the composer has provided for the movie, is this a bad thing? Well not necessarily as it actually works, the low woodwind i.e. Oboe, acting as an ominous background that creates a dark and near guttural sound which conjures up an atmosphere and feeling of uneasiness. Which is something that I always seem to feel as I watch any Tarantino movie, not knowing what is going to happen or indeed as to what degree of violence will be occurring. Is it uneasiness or maybe its anticipation and excitement? In some ways there are a number of similarities between the central theme for THE HATEFUL 8 and Morricone’s underlying or background composition on the secondary theme for the TV movie/series, NOSTROMO the low woodwind being the most prominent feature and also an element that becomes influential upon the entire score, the use of woodwind within the score is also akin to the style employed by composer Woljeich Kilar in his DRACULA score. I would like to say that this is a wonderfully theme laden Spaghetti score or at least a soundtrack that has nuances and hints of past Morricone sagebrush saga works, however it is a somewhat one theme low key affair that in all honesty sounds more like a horror score than a western, every cue includes or has at its core the central theme so it is rather repetitive and by the end of the compact disc does tend to become tiring and monotonous. Although the composer does vary his approach to the theme slightly in the track, SEI CAVALLI which is a highly dramatic piece for percussion and brass with woodwind punctuating these and almost hissing strings creating a tense and powerful atmosphere. Maybe its just me but I was rather annoyed by the dialogue that was included, this is a step back in time I think returning to the days when soundtrack LP,s included dialogue excerpts as in ZORBA THE GREEK, CROMWELL and others when there was not enough music available to fill an album. For me the dialogue interrupts the flow of Morricone’s score, plus we have the inclusion of a few songs, which I have to admit I skipped over after the initial listen plus Tarantino’s use of the N***** word so freely is slightly disconcerting.

images (28)

The track LA LETTRE DI LINCOLN is in my opinion one of the more tuneful contributions to the score, Morricone utilising a martial sounding trumpet solo which echoes the composers work on THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY in the cue THE CARRIAGE OF SPIRITS. The opening theme L’ULTIMA DILIGENZA DI RED ROCK is a slow burner, starting quietly and gradually building with woodwind and strings combining to create a sense of real fear and apprehension, brass joins the proceedings as does a male choral shout that intersperses the brass and string flourishes, it is a dramatic and also a very powerful piece that can only be described as Classic Morricone, and if you listen very closely and in your mind bring the tempo up there it is the CITTA VIOLENTA theme. The aforementioned SANGUE E NEVE too is a slightly less stress filled cue at the offset, with a chiming motif similar to FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, being underlined by those instantly recognisable sliding strings of Morricone, which together create an almost romantic sound until the string section take hold of the cue with brass in tow and begin to elevate the tension once again. This is in no way a negative review, it is just an honest one and one based upon my personal observations. I have been collection Ennio Morricone since 1967 and I am not boasting when I say I must have every Morricone soundtrack that has been released (and a few that have not), so like many other collectors out there I notice music from other scores or maybe different arrangements of tracks from other scores when he recycles them. THE HATEFUL 8, is a score I am glad he created because at the age of nearly 90 it displays this magnificent music smiths ability and talent when it comes to writing film music.