Mark McKenzie, what can I say about this much talented composer that has not already been said by many? His scores are always a joy to have and listen too, his music is melodic, dramatic, touching and highly thematic and for me purveys a poignancy and a soulfulness that is hard to discover in other composers works for the cinema. DRAGONHEART VENGEANCE is his latest offering, of course he scored three films in this popular series and his most recent contribution presents us with a fully synth score, but wait before you dismiss it because it is not symphonic, listen, the composer has created a score that is warm and heartfelt, brimming with a wonderfully emotive persona and filled with dramatic and rousing pieces. You know I am no fan of synth scores, but this is different, it has to it a celestial and other-wordly aura, the composer fashioning heart breaking and highly affecting tone poems which he combines with exciting and at times relentlessly full on action cues.





Listen to GREAT LOVE SURROUNDS WHAT IS SURROUNDING YOU and tell me it does not strike at your heartstrings and heighten your emotions. As with his other scores the composer has incorporated the original DRAGONHEART theme by composer Randy Edelman into his work, and every so often this theme or at least a fleeting fragment or variations of it makes its way into the proceedings, this I think is a effective musical gesture and reminds us of the original score from all those years ago. THE SNAKE BATTLE is an unrelenting action cue, filled with fierce brass sounding stabs and percussive support, which will have you on the edge of your seat, the tense and taught sounds create an atmosphere that is filled with ferocity and dread. DRAGONHEART VENGEANCE is a masterfully written score and has to it a deep and affecting sound and style, and to be honest at times you forget that it is a synth score, because the music is so absorbing and enthralling. Certainly, one to check out, Available on Back Lot Music as a compact disc or on digital platforms.



John R Graham is a composer’s music you have probably already heard without realising it was him. Why? Because he was responsible for writing music for the trailers to such movies as AVATAR, EDGE OF DARKNESS, THE MUMMY TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPORER and CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEAT BALLS to name but a handful. The composer studied music at The Charterhouse School in Surrey England and began his career in music as a singer in various bands. He continued his musical studies at Williams College, Stanford University and then UCLA and as he progressed, he became more interested in writing music for film. In the early part of 2019, it was announced that the composer would write the music for the Taiga drama KIRIN GA KURU, making him the first American composer to work on such a production since they began in the early 1960’s.

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The result is a highly thematic and lush dramatic soundtrack, that is performed beautifully by the NHK SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. The opening theme of the score, is a scene setter, with brass, strings, percussion and choir combining to create a sumptuous and driving piece, this is the stuff of which adventures are made from, a proud and richly thematic piece that will delight and engross the listener from the off. Its fearless and astute persona establishing straight away the sound and style that the score is made up of. It’s the scores that you come across by mistake or by chance that sometimes make the biggest impression, and this work is certainly one that has made its mark. Track number two, CASTLE ASSAULT, begins with rumbling percussion that is laced and supported by strings that become more driving and aggressive as the piece begins to build, brass is introduced and the percussive elements become a lot more dominant, with strings punctuating and underlining the proceedings. The composer builds and builds the momentum, increasing the tension and the tempo until the strings, brass and percussion are as one reaching a resounding and breath taking crescendo, in which we hear the core theme from the soundtrack manifest itself briefly but effectively. Track number three, THE KIRIN, is totally the opposite as it is a subdued and subtle composition, which touches upon the romantic, yet contains a somewhat apprehensive aura, performed by woods and low key strings, it is a slow burner but soon arrives at a beautifully haunting theme, which is lush but still remains fleeting for a while, until that is brass is brought into the equation and this is embellished by timpani and choir underlined and supported via strings. Again the piece builds to what is a tumultuous crescendo which includes voices and full on brass flourishes. Jumping to track number six, THE JOURNEY, this is a fusion of what I would call western and Eastern styles, strings again feature dominantly creating a rich theme which is further aided by woods, percussion and female voices. Track number twenty-two, MISCHIEF MAKING is what it says, the composer fashioning an impish and mischievous sound, via strings which are supported by brass and given an even more sense of bravado by percussion.

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Track twenty five is a powerful piece, in PROLOGUE the composer brings into play all elements of the orchestra to create a commanding and highly thematic piece, which relays all aspects of the score, emotion, driving action and also a sense of the patriotic maybe? This is a score that I recommend without reservation.