Marco Werba is a composer who I have followed over the years, and what strikes one straight away about his music is that it is a fusion of styles, it encompasses the melodic and at times quirky and experimental style that has been employed in numerous Italian made movies by the likes of Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai and Francesco de Masi to name but a trio of Maestro’s and it also has to it a solid dramatic and intensely affecting persona which I for one associate with composers from both the Golden age and the Silver age of film music in Hollywood. One can identify little nods of acknowledgement to Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann for example, Werba, being able to fashion tense and dark sounding compositions which still have a glint of a melody or at least a hint of a theme or leitmotiv within them. He also evokes a sound and style that I for one associate with the Golden age of tinsel town as in a sound that references the style of Rozsa and Tiomkin and certainly has to it a film noir aura. One of his latest scores POP BLACK POSTA is a perfect example of the vivid talent and innovative style that this Maestro is capable of. It is an ominous and shadowy sounding work, but as I have already stated the composers at times Herrmann-esque melodies and unsettling compositions still hold the listeners attention simply because they so cleverly written and there is lingering and lurking underneath the darkness a fragment of a melody which manages to shine through the atonal or action fuelled pieces. Listening to Werba’s score for POP BLACK POSTA one can hear all of the different elements that have gone into its creation, the slightly menacing but beautiful piano theme that settles and puts the audience or listener at ease, the swirling sinewy strings that seem to creep up upon you and engulf you in a mist of icy nuances that do I think manage to purvey an air of dread and uncertainty. Then there is the inventive use of percussive elements, that are present within the majority of the cues on the score, the composer combines these with strings that are edgy and driving, and also from time to time hiss and stab. It is a score I will recommend to you, it has so many atmospheres and layers of textures and musical colours, and I have to say probably one of the composers most accomplished works. Piano solos are the work of Rea Bisha and the cello performances are courtesy of Christo Tanev.
Available from Plaza Mayor on all digital platforms.
Staying with more releases from Plaza Mayor that are all available on digital sites such as I Tunes, Apple, Spotify etc. We move to L’UOMO DEL LABIRINTO which has a great score from composer Vito Lo Re. Performed by the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra, this is a tense and a lush theme laden work, with delicate thematic statements and musical interludes that are romantic and fragile. The composer utilises synthetic support to bolster and augment the romantic sound and dramatic atmospheres created by the orchestra and these electronic elements fuse well and seamlessly with the conventional instrumentation to create a score that is filled with an abundance of varied and rich musical moments. There is obviously a dark side to the score, and this is purveyed via both electronic performances and symphonic means, at times the composer utilising a threatening sound created via wood instruments and supported by chilling strings and synthetic sounds. I cannot say that Italian composer LO RE has a style that is akin to any other film music Maestro, because the style and sounds that the composer has fashioned here are all his own, they are inventive and original. I love the way that he employs solo piano, as it creates an uncomfortable mood but weirdly retains a romantic style yet is uneasy and apprehensive at the same time. His score is a perfect fit for the movie and is as unpredictable and as entertaining as the movie it was written for. There is also fleeting but effective use of Soprano which we first encounter in the track BUNNY and later hear it in a more emotive and poignant performance on the track LINDA DIES. This is a score you should own and one you will I am confident return to many times, it is a dramatic work that has to it underlying romantic and at times melancholy sub themes, recommended.
The film which is directed by Donato Corrisi, stars Dustin Hoffman and Tony Servillo and tells the story of Samantha (Valentina Belle) who is abducted on the way to school by a giant rabbit. Some fifteen years later, she awakes in hospital, alive but in a state of shock. A Doctor Green sits with her and attempts to help her remember, to unlock her mind to many things that she seems to have blocked out. Together, they negotiate Samantha’s memories of a labyrinth, which was an underground prison, that seems to have no way out. Where the girl was forced to play games and solve riddles and puzzles. She was rewarded if she was successful but punished if she failed. Also, taking an interest and eager to solve the mystery is Bruno Genko, a private investigator with a surprising talent. He doesn’t have long to live and, as such, Samantha’s mystery could be the last case Bruno work on. A tantalising mystery/horror.
Onto another PLAZA MAYOR release, OLIMPIA, which tells us how, among the books in his house, an eight-year-old boy browses La noche de Tlatelolco by Elena Poniatowska. The emblematic book of the Student Movement of 1968 presents in some pages images that were recorded in his memory and forged the social vocation of José Manuel Cravioto, who directs the first fictional film produced by UNAM about such an event. The musical score is composed and also performed by Andres Sanchez – Juan Andres Vergara & Francisco Cravioto, Mexican made movies and also the scores from them have in the past five years or so begun to make their mark and resonate with film music collectors and critics alike. The music for OLIMPIA is no exception, it is a quality soundtrack, well written and orchestrated and contains some stand out cues which are on a parallel with anything that is coming out of the major studios in Hollywood at this time. It is in no way a grandiose sounding work, but the composers make good use of percussion and a sprinkling of varied instrumentation to create a haunting work an d also one that contains so many themes, which is a pleasant change from the drone like soundscapes that we are being served up elsewhere. It purveys tension, hope and has to it an air of comedic attributes, there is a rhythmic and tantalising side to the score also, but in the main it does seem to be drama led and also has an certain amount of intimacy within its overall sound. Another one for your collection. Again, available on most digital platforms.
Composer Lance Warlock is next with the first of three scores he has had released on the PLAZA MAYOR banner. A LANDSCAPE OF LIES is a score that I have to say I liked a lot, for me personally I could hear within it gentle nods of acknowledgement to composer John Barry. Breathy sounding woods or maybe computer-generated woods, that create a tense and slightly nervous mood. The composer also employing a re-occurring theme which is performed on piano, the short piece, which is basically a brief succession of notes, never really seems to develop, thus it remains mysterious and elusive. Warlock underlines this motif with rumbling sounds that also adds a sense of drama to the proceedings. There is a dark and virulent aura within the score, which never erupts or overpowers anything, but it is there in the background, underlining, supporting and punctuating. It is a highly atmospheric work; at times the composer employing just percussive elements and sounds to create an uneasy atmosphere or to establish a mood that is filled with dread and foreboding. However, the composer also manages to lay down some more melodic moments, not in the operatic or grandiose way, but fleetingly there are little gaps within the darkness where the light of a theme or at least a hint of one manages to emerge. Again, I have to say I enjoyed this score and I also would like to recommend his soundtracks from, 24 LITTLE HOURS and THE EVIL both released last year as was A LANDSCAPE OF LIES.