It always amazes me, no annoys me a little too, when a great score is not made available on compact disc, but is available on I tunes or Spotify, why? Well not sure but its annoying, so its about time this practise stopped. I know many of us like digital platforms but is it not better to have a CD hold it and look at it and any notes that might be inside whilst listening to it, Yes exactly. Well I am pleased to let you all know that a score that was only available digitally is now finally out on compact disc. THE LITTLE WITCH, is a fantastic movie and it contains a wonderfully rich and thematic score by composers, Diego, Nora and Lionel Baldenweg. Or GREAT GARBO as we know them. These composers I think are so talented and innovative, their joint scoring efforts on ZWINGLI earlier this year caused more than just a ripple of interest within the soundtrack collecting community, and their reputation for being highly original and super creative and gifted has also spread amongst collectors and critics alike. THE LITTLE WITCH is a fully symphonic score and is filled with a magical and a mysterious musical air. Its one of those soundtracks that one will sit and listen to and not realise it has come to an end, simply because it is so overflowing with eloquent, excellent and quirky themes, there is a mischievous persona to this work, which I think is part of its attraction and the composers seamlessly fuse dramatic, romantic, and at times offbeat and sinister sounding compositions together to create a score that is entertaining, charming and adorable.
The movie which is a Swiss/German co-production is about a young witch (Karoline Herfurth) who is kind and caring and decides that she must learn all there is to know about magic to be accepted by the wicked witches within the community. Directed by Mike Schaerer, this is a movie that is for kids of all ages, and I suspect that a few big kids will probably enjoy more than the little ones. In some ways there was a look of THE NEVER ENDNG STORY to this movie, the effects being good but not totally Hollywood, which is not a negative whatsoever. The score aids the production greatly, with the composers fashioning highly expressive and supportive music that purveys a plethora of emotions and creates so many atmospheric moments and elevates the story to new heights. It also contains vocals which at times are wordless which are fun filled and at times up-tempo and vibrantly entertaining as well as a Big Band sounding cue THE WITCH EXAM.
I am so pleased that this is finally available on CD, released on RAMBLING (Japan). RBCP-3343. So, have you ordered it, no? heres the link….
HIS DARK MATERIALS must be one of the most hyped TV series for a long while, it seems that every five minutes there is an ad for it or an image flashed across the screen. So, it’s a series I think everyone might tune in on. It’s the music for me that I focus upon in cases of hyped up and grand looking series especially on the BBC. I was a little taken aback when I saw that it was Lorne Balfe who would be providing the musical support for this series. I along with several other collectors (yes you know who you are stop backing off and hiding) have always thought that he is a second-rate composer, and also not a particularly interesting or original one either. I think I have only ever given one of his scores a positive review, and afterwards kind of regretted it, because when I listened again a few weeks later could pick out the uninspired and quite honestly dull elements that it contained and also maybe the lack of inspiration or care that went into fabricating it. Balfe for me is not one of the most original composers around, and when one hears people say he is a Zimmer clone then you know what I have to agree. HIS DARK MATERIALS I think confirms this, on listening to the score I have to firstly remark that it is probably one of his better efforts, but it is not exactly wonderful, yes it does have a grand sound and also hints at elements and content that maybe in the hands of another would become affecting and imposing in its sound and stature, but it for me is a lack lustre affair that sounds electronic and sampled, although it is credited as being performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and this initial release which is being advertised as a concept album rather than the actual score or soundtrack, contains contributions from K T. Tunstall, Chad Atkins, Tina Guo, composer-cellist Peter Gregson, steam punk influenced violinist and dancer Lindsey Stirling, classical horn player Sarah Willis, award winning composer and multi-instrumentalist Richard Harvey and Vanya Moneva’s Ethnic Bulgarian Choir. So, an array of talents here (and so many collaborators) but it sounds in the words of D.T. FAKE. You know when you hear a cheap drum synth on a track, or a not very good synthetic strings sample or synthetic voices etc and you know that they are bad because you know straight away that they are not real, it’s that kind of sound that s being purveyed, that type of writing and that sadly is the bones of it. Some of the themes are good and do have a lasting effect upon the listener, but largely the music here is easily or even instantly forgotten once you have heard it, there are hardly any lingering echoes or haunting little tunes that one can latch onto.
But, let’s stop and ponder. Is film music about little tunes that one can whistle, well it used to be an age ago, but not anymore, it’s about underling and supporting the scenarios on screen, does Balfe manage this, in a very short word, NO. He seems to provide a musical wallpaper, but nothing that that is vaguely strong enough or supporting enough. I am sorry (well not really) that this is a not a more positive review of the music, but it is an honest one from my point of view and anyway it is just a personal opinion we all know that, a review is a personal thing, so there is nothing to stop you taking a listen to this and maybe disagreeing with my view, we are all different. Saying what I have it will now probably go on to be applauded and given an avalanche of awards. There will be a second album again released by Silva Screen, which I guess is the actual score, who knows?
Another release from composer Eirik Myhr, this time from a radio series, KATAKOMBENS HEMMELIGHET. This is a score that is a little different as it not only contains some lilting and haunting melodies, but it has within its make-up, Gregorian chant like material and there is a contemporary sound present which gives the work an upbeat pace at certain points. It is modern sounding, but also there are underlying sounds and styles that can only be described as vintage or old school film music, by this I mean there are some well structured and engaging musical moments throughout, which are tantalising and vibrant. I am rather fond of the way this composer utilises sounds such as solo voice, which in this case is serene and beautiful being supported by an otherworldly, mysterious and intricate background that is subdued and simple. There is to this score many varying styles and an abundance of both musical colours and textures, in certain places I was reminded of the work of composer Richard Band, who is a composer I have always admired for his ability to create wonderfully clever and effective themes and musical passages on what was a very economic budget.
Eirik Myhr, I think is a rather unique composer, as he is also able to fashion so many rich, dark and romantic atmospheres via synthetic sources in most scenarios. His style is one that cannot really be defined or pigeon holed because in the scores I have heard he employs a different approach each time, but this is no bad thing, it reveals to the collectors of film and TV music that he is a composer that can quite literally work within any medium and score any genre. This as I have said is a radio series or a play for radio, but the music and the sounds he has created for the production, could easily be for a bigger budget movie, he utilises electronics to weave eloquent and elegant themes, that are both eerie and romantically laced, there is real heart and substance to these motifs as the composer lays down a solid foundation and builds upon it to weave a tense and colourful work. The composer also effectively incorporating solo piano, which in the closing themes is wonderfully emotive, but at the same time creates an uneasy and chilling mood. I am not sure if it is more difficult to write music for radio than it is to score a motion picture or TV production, but I would imagine it comes with a certain amount of difficulty as the composer is not seeing images which he can relate to, and has to rely on a script or on listening to the play beforehand. I do like this score a lot, I love its energy, its melodious content and most of all its dark and sinister sounds that seem to entice and beckon the listener to go closer. One to check out, available on Spotify.