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.

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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.