Released in January 2016, DIABLO is a western/physiological thriller which stars Scott Eastwood(yes he is related) as Jackson a veteran of the civil war. His character awakes one morning to find that his wife has been kidnapped by a bunch of cutthroats, of course Jackson goes in pursuit his aim to rescue his spouse and bring her back home. Along the way he encounters many unsavoury characters all of whom seem to want to put a bullet or two in him. As the story progress’s it becomes more and more difficult to differentiate between the good guys and the not so good to the extent that at times the watching audience begin to doubt if the central character is actually one or the other or neither. The musical score is the work of composer Timothy Williams who has already worked on a number of movies as a composer but more predominately as an orchestrator and additional music composer. Working on projects such as GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, 300, SUCKER PUNCH and WATCHMAN Williams is certainly no stranger to the scoring stage. For DIABLO the composer has created a powerful and hard hitting score, which at times does have influences and sounds that are straight out of the Spaghetti western genre, Williams makes effective use of choir which is mainly male voices that shout in a similar fashion to the barking choir on Morricone’s FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, he also utilises whistling which again creates a style and ambience that is straight out of the western scores of such Italian greats as Bruno Nicolai, Ennio Morricone, Francesco De Masi, Nico Fidenco and their like. The opening track on the compact disc sets the scene perfectly, BLOODLINE is an impressive title song performed by vocalist Zella Day who delivers a killer rendition of her lyrics over an even more impressive musical score which has at its core a percussive backing which is embellished by the inclusion of high soaring trumpet solos, whistling and jangling electric guitar riffs which are all held together by strings and choral support, all of these elements are woven together seamlessly by Williams and hit the spot straight away. Track number two COLORADO TERRITORY opens with a solo whistle which after a short time is joined by a poignant but apprehensive sounding violin or fiddle and is unbeknown to us the listener the calm before the musical storm. Track three ALEXANDRA KIDNAPPED although fairly short lived is a return to the more traditional scoring style of the western with a dramatic and forthright opening from the string and brass sections establishing that something dramatic and disturbing has happened, the cue then seems to tail off into something that is a little more settled but at the same time is atonal with no real thematic base, the music conjuring up an atmosphere of uncertainty and loss.
There are a number of the more quieter moments with Williams score, but at times these low key interludes suddenly burst into a full on action cue, with rasping brass and thundering percussion being driven along and carried at pace by strings. AMBUSH AT THE RIVER for example and CARTERS DEATH. Track number GALLOP is one of my favourite cues on the score, the composer bringing together a near upbeat percussive backing and fusing it with driving and rising strings that act as support for brass that growls. Overall this is an enjoyable listening experience and although Williams has employed what I call the ITALIAN WESTERN SOUND at certain points within the score, the composer has also created numerous original and innovative sounding passages, which are highly exhilarating, poignant and contain their fair share of emotion and melancholy. I am sure that you will enjoy this soundtrack. Released on Milan records.
As a film music collector that has always been interested in music from Italian movies the name of Gianni Marchetti is one that has always been in mind when discussing or listening to scores from Italian productions, Marchetti was up until recently more or less ignored by many of the recording labels both in Italy and outside of that country. Yes a number of his soundtracks had been available on original LP records from the 1960,s and 1970,s but with the furious re-issue programme undertaken by certain labels I was surprised that we did not see more of this composers music out on the shiny little discs. However over the past four years or so Gianni Marchetti’s soundtracks have at last received the attention form labels such as KRONOS, HILLSIDE,BEAT and QUARTET amongst others. One score by the composer that I thought would be at the top of the list to be released was IL MAGNIFICO TONY CARREA, but alas no, I had to make do with my original CAM vinyl long playing record up until just a few weeks ago when Quartet records announced they would release it.
Marchetti is in my opinion still vastly underrated and never seems to get the credit that he so richly deserves, but with this release and the handful of others that have been issued I think that now collectors are beginning to realise just what a great talent he was as a composer, arranger, orchestrator etc. The problem with Marchetti was he was somewhat overshadowed by the great success of composers such as Piero Piccioni, Stelvio Cipriani, Bruno Nicolai and Ennio Morricone, it was not that Marchetti’s music was in any way inferior to his fellow Maestro’s but it was the films he scored rather than anything to do with the actual music as many of his projects were not released outside of Italy. This release on the Quartet label includes the 12 original tracks from the CAM LP release plus it also contains another 23 cues which are listed as Film Versions or Alternatives. Many of the composers infectious themes for the movie make more than one appearance on the recording, or at least we get to hear varying versions of them, with the composer arranging or orchestrating them differently, keeping them fresh and vibrant on each outing. The composer utilises the unique vocal sounds of Nora Orlandi’s 4+4 on the score and I may be wrong but I am sure that the Sitar solo’s are the work of Alessandro Alessandroni, but don’t quote me.
IL MAGNIFICO TONY CARRERA is an infectiously rhythmic work, the composer bringing into the musical equation up beat percussion, light and subdued harpsichord, electric guitar, hip sounding organ, fuzzy sounding guitar, acoustic guitar, solo female wordless vocals, woodwind and a scattering of strings all of which produce lilting and haunting themes of the romantic and nostalgic variety plus a number of fast paced pop orientated funky sounding compositions that delight and get ones foot tapping. There are also just a few cues that I suppose can be categorized as being comedic music, with a group whistling a jaunty little theme whilst being accompanied on banjo and percussion, which adds a certain variety to the work. I love the way that Marchetti utilises the choir within the score adding it either as a punctuation to the music or as the main stay of a particular cue, either way it is wonderfully effective. Presented well by Quartet with striking cover art and a handful of images from the movie within the CD liner, also has some informative and enjoyable notes by Gergely Hubai, sound quality is of a high standard also, in fact I cannot recommend this release enough, so don’t think about it just buy it now.
Cast your minds back just a couple of years ago to a film called BIG BAD WOLVES, the movie contained a very good score by composer Frank Ilfman, since then the composer has been working steadily and has just recently written the music to ABULELE. Now this is somewhat removed from the dark themes of BIG BAD WOLVES but still the composer has created a score that is wonderfully lyrical, powerfully emotive and without a doubt exciting and adventurous. The ABULELE are ancient monsters which are about the size of a grizzly bear, by all accounts they are fierce and dangerous but when Adam a ten year old meets one a friendship blossoms and when the special forces arrive in town to capture the creature Adam decides to help. It’s a amiable yarn and one that also entertains children of all ages. (even if they are over 40). Composer Frank Ilfman creates a powerful and at the same time melodiously delicate and fragile sounding work in places, but saying this the composer also treats us to sweeping and soaring themes that evoke memories of the work of the late Jerry Goldsmith and also made this listener recall the early work of John Williams, this is what I would call an old fashioned Hollywood soundtrack, by this I mean it actually contains infectious and melodic material that has substance and direction, there is a slightly impish or cheeky persona present throughout and the composer seems to build upon this element to give us a score that not only enhances perfectly the images on screen but is also able to entertain away from those images and stand alone as just music to be listened too and savoured and ultimately enjoyed and returned to. Written for what sounds like a large orchestra the composer utilises the string section to great effect and underlines and bolsters this with percussion and brass. I think the best way to describe Ilfman’s score to ABULELE is to say that it is a modern day E.T. filled to overflowing with driving themes, which are of the action, romantic, poignant and melancholy variety. It has an almost childlike ambience to it, innocent, playful but also vulnerable, this I think is reflected in the short but effective PROLOGUE, which is melodious and comfortable in its sound and style. Track number two FIRST ENCOUNTER however, is rather different, the composer creating a fast paced and more urgent sound that is fast paced and quite frantic. Brass and percussion take the lead in this particular cue and soon establish a commanding and vibrant prominence. Track three THE CREATURE, is where I think the Goldsmith sound first raises its head, a lilting and pleasant theme which is a fusion of symphonic and electronic begins to establish itself and what starts out as a subdued piece suddenly erupts into something more ominous, brass flourishes are driven along by percussive elements which reminded me slightly of GREMLINS with pizzicato strings setting down a background that acts as punctuation to woodwind.
Track number four also evokes a sound that is not dissimilar to that of Jerry Goldsmith A STORY ABOUT A MONSTER has an underlying atmosphere that seems to be telling us all is not quite right here, but at the same time it is calm, but soon becomes more action orientated with brass stabs being punctuated and underlined by forceful sounding percussion in the last moments of the cue. One of the highlight cues from the score for me is track number 12, WE WILL HUNT IT DOWN, it has just about everything in it, subdued and melancholy nuances, delicate and light personas, melodic and haunting hints, plus we can hear that this is going to build into something that is special, the composer sets the stage perfectly and dramatically, gradually working towards what becomes a maser class in how to create tension, the taught and apprehensive atmosphere becoming almost unbearable, until in the final minute or so of the cue we hear the string section rising and bringing to the composition just a fleeting glimpse of a more lush sounding theme. ABULELE the score is in my humble opinion something that everyone should own, it has the film music WOW factor, luscious, emotional, dramatic, entertaining and highly rewarding. So what are you waiting for, order it now from Intrada.
Released in 2015, THE CAIRO DECLARATION is a Chinese war epic, which focuses upon the 1943 meeting between the world leaders Franklin D Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-Shek and also has at its core the events of the brutal and ferocious fight during WWll on the Asian front. It is a story that contains much intrigue, spies and counter spies, romance, excitement and heartache. The rich and engrossing musical score is the work of Chinese composer Ye Xiaogang who is well versed in the ways of scoring motion pictures in his homeland as well as writing many works for concert performance, Chad Cannon collaborates with the composer to create a score that harkens back to the silver age of film scoring, it is filled with numerous themes which are hard hitting, adventurous but at the same time contain a highly emotive and poignant aura. Chad Cannon too is no stranger to writing music for film, he has acted as orchestrator for composers such as Conrad Pope, Howard Shore and Alexandre Desplat, working on GODZILLA and two of the HOBBITT movies. The score for THE CAIRO DECLARATION is a powerful one, it contains thundering percussion and martial sounding timpani that acts as a background to menacing sounding brass lines that rasp in and out of the proceedings, strings and piano too play a major role within the score creating a tense and taught atmosphere at times, but then the same instruments change persona and contribute to a lilting and highly emotive and romantic thematic side of the score, the composers fashioning lush and quite lavish set pieces that any Golden age film music composer would have been proud of. There are so many musical colours and textures present within this soundtrack that it is at times hard to believe that it all comes from one score. Released on the ever present Movie Score Media in digital form this is a score that every discerning film music collector should seek out and own. Highly recommended.
I think that the two genres of movie that are most difficult to write music for must be comedy and also religious stories. it’s a fine line the composer treads at times especially with Biblically slanted tales, does he or she go all out and create a overly symphonic and celestial sound and risk swamping the key scenes with a veritable flood of music or do they go down the more subdued and delicate route? Either way music in religious movies has to be just so or the composer risks becoming over the top engaging a multitude of heavenly voices supported by tumultuous brass and stirring strings only for these to work against the storyline because it is just to full on. We all know that there are any religious films or films based on the Bible and stories that are from the Holy land that have been scored perfectly, the composers in question such as Rosza, Newman, Debney etc writing music that not only supports and enhances but ingratiates each and every scene and frame and getting the balance correct. BEN HUR, THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, THE ROBE, PASSION OF THE CHRIST, and their like being prime and perfect examples of music working wonderfully for the movie and also working as an entity on its own away from any images. Composer Marco Frisina, is I have to admit one of the very few composers in recent years that I have heard that manages to get the formula and the mix right on every occasion, his rich and deeply emotive themes becoming an extension of the films that he has scored and also becoming another part of the story that is unfolding on screen giving each character and each scenario greater depth and dimension. CHRISTUS (1916) is for me one of Frisina’s most spiritual and emotionally poignant soundtracks, it is not only uplifting and filled with a fragility that comes from delicate tone poems that delight and haunt the listener but it also has to it a beauty and a celestial magnificence which is created by the composers utilization of a large string section that underlines and also leads within the perimeters of the score. Choir too is present which is embellished by the use of rumbling percussion which can either be fearsome or a precursor and announcement of a miracle or something beguiling the percussion combined with proud brass flourishes at times creates an aura and mood that is deeply moving. CHRISTUS is a silent movie so the score is more or less continuous the composer punctuating and supporting proceedings with an ever present musical background, but it is more than just a musical wallpaper that runs throughout the duration of the movie, it brings a freshness and new life to an already classic motion picture. The score has never been released on disc before, it was released as a digital recording but now at last Kronos records have issued the score for collectors, it is a soundtrack that will truly entertain and inspire you, a score that will make you sit up and listen and also one that you will return to many times.
It is one of those rare moments in film music where you feel a deep connection with the film which is made even stronger because of the music, I know you will love it as I do. Lets hope that Kronos will release more of the film works of Marco Frisina soon. CHRISTUS the score is overflowing with an attractive and magnificent sound that enhances the images on screen but never becomes overpowering. Recommended.