The first release in soundtrack supplement five is from a TV series. THIEVES OF THE WOOD contains a musical soundtrack that I have to say is not great as in being lush or grandiose, but what it lacks in those departments it makes up for with its inventiveness and innovative content. It also has to it a rich atmospheric quality and an air of romantic yearning. Music is by Michelino Bisceglia & Hans Mullens or SVINHUNDER as they are known as a duo. The composers achieve the style and sound that they have perfected via the use of samples, which they blend with string compositions and self- performed sounds that are given further depth by soundscapes.
But for THIEVES OF THE WOOD the composers decided that the approach would be slightly more conventional as in they researched the sounds and the instrumentation of the 18th Century, but then utilised these instruments in a less than conventional fashion. The musical line up included Hurdy Gurdy, Grand Piano, Dulcimer, Percussive elements some of which hailed from ancient times all of which were sampled and then were utilised in varied ways creating many colours and musical textures. The result is a score that is made up from ancient and vintage instruments but has to it a more contemporary sound and style. The music being not only perfect for the production but also entertaining. It is a work that I have to say I enjoyed discovering, simply because it was different and had to it a freshness and vitality. The score boasts a twenty-four-piece string section which adds much to the emotional mood of the work.
THE THIEVES OF THE WOOD is a ten-part TV series, that is set in the Flemish region of Aaist which is under the occupation of both Austria and France. The story focuses upon a gang leader Jan de Lichte who fights against these oppressors.
The hero or anti hero of the story is driven by the poverty that the Flemish people are experiencing, and he and his assembled comrades begin to carry out robberies and even eventually murder for the cause. Based on the 1957 novel by Louis Paul Boon entitled DE BENDE VAN JAN DE LICHTE, it is a kind of take on Robin Hood.
The score is at times downbeat and it has a melancholy persona, but also contains some beautiful themes and interludes which are compelling and haunting mainly because of their simplicity and fragility as in ACT OF MERCY and THIS IS GOLD and the excellent DOWNFALL which includes a heartfelt viola solo that brings poignancy and emotion to the proceedings. But this is a score of many styles and variants, so one that is entertaining, top marks for its inventive and original sound. Available on Provo records via Sony Music.
The next release is from Italian composer Andrea Farri, and is taken from the TV series VIVI E LASCIA VIVERE, and this I have to tell you is superb, the music is for the most part understated with subtle nuances occupying the majority of the works duration. The composer relying upon the piano and creating a Thomas Newman like sound via strings and woodwind with the occasional assistance from synthetic instrumentation. I say Thomas Newman but saying that there is more substance to Farri’s music, it seems to be more developed and flowing and does evoke memories of a handful of Morricone soundtracks. The composer building the score around two central themes from what I can hear but presenting them and giving them a fresh and new lease of life upon each outing by arranging and orchestrating them differently. The music is I suppose minimalistic, but also it is affecting and haunting, at times fleeting glimpses of a solo violin or a phrase from a woodwind instrument seeping through and making an impression upon the listener.
The cue SARTU DI RISO for example begins slowly with subdued piano and strings, which then begin to increase in volume and tempo, the theme is then handed to violins underlined by meandering piano and lush but unassuming strings that rise slightly and then fall away bringing the cue to its all too soon conclusion. LAURA A TONI too is a beautiful cue, strings again and a lilting solo viola, which is accompanied delicately by solo violin and a scattering of piano. Although essentially romantic, it does as it reaches its climax hint at an atmosphere of apprehension and eventually tension. Another good score for your collection, and I would also like to recommend three other scores by Farri which are. 18 REGALI (2020), ROSY ABATE SEASON 2 (2019) and II PRIMO RE (2019).
Next, we are off to get a BAD EDUCATION at least that’s the name of the movie that composer Michael Abels has scored recently. Abels is in my opinion a talented composer that should really get more assignments, his score for the horror movie US from last year and the chiller GET OUT from 2017 are both stunningly original. BAD EDUCATION is however a little different stylistically, do not get me wrong it’s a good score, but maybe not as inventive as the composers two previous assignments.
On listening I thought the score was interesting no doubt of that, but certainly a different style here is employed, but in a way I suppose this is the sign of a talented film music composer, being able to alter and tailor styles to suit each and every project. BAD EDUCATION has to it a more conventional sound, neo classical even, the composer creating what are maybe Handel inspired pieces at certain points within the score. However, although interesting BAD EDUCATION really failed to make that much of a lasting impression upon me and I have to say after listening I could not recall any of its themes, so maybe they were not stand out enough.
It was for me personally a little disappointing, it must have been because I straight away returned to his music for the film US. Which is a score I never tire of and on each outing find something new and fresh, if you not heard it then you should check it out ASAP along with GET OUT, but a word of caution do not listen to it at night or through headphones, you have been warned.
Next is ALIEN TRESPASS by composer Louis Febre. Released by Dragons Domain records, this is a fantastic score, written in a style that we associate with the vintage sci films of the 1950’s with the style and sound being most definitely Herrmann-esque. It is I suppose the composers own personal homage to Herrmann and specifically to his score to THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951). We have everything here, urgent strings, Theremin or Ondes Martenot, rasping brass’s and powerful percussion, supported by swirling string sections and muted brass performances that act as a punctuation, this is a classy score, and I love it. I think it is because it is so reminiscent of the 1950’s and 1960’s that it is so appealing. The composer has fashioned an interesting and also a totally absorbing work that entertains on every level possible.
The movie too is I think a sincere homage to the B movies of the 1950’s, and includes deadly rays, bug eyed aliens and desert settings. Its always a thing or at least it was that the Sci Fi Alien movies of the 1950’s were always set in a desert location, I suppose the Aliens thought we will land here because there quite away from any big cities and that lowers the risk of getting blown to kingdom come but over zealous army commanders who always seem to want to annihilate anything that is different. The only difference between ALIEN TRESPASS and those vintage Sci Fi yarns is that ALIEN TRESPASS is in full colour, which is unusual for a homage to the films of the fifties which the majority of which were in good old black and white.
But it kind of ticks all the boxes as in Alien from another planet, who is searching for an escaped monster that has made its getaway when the Alien space craft crashes, then there are links to INVASION OF BODY SNATHCHERS when the Alien takes control of a human body, in fat the best thing you can do is get the film out on DVD and watch it, I promise you it won’t fail to keep you entertained.
Composer Febre has put together a score that is in the main better than the movie it was written for, but the thing to do with movies such as this is not to take them too seriously, I think if you have this attitude you will enjoy them more and also actual find that you like them a lot. The score is certainly not hard to like, it is a smorgasbord of affecting and vibrant themes that although may not be melodic or harmonious in each case are wonderfully luxurious and have the ability to immerse the listener in the sounds of a bygone age that maybe we miss more than we like to admit. Definitely one to add to the collection, as in DVD and soundtrack.
Next to one of the latest releases from PLAZA MAYOR, QUEEN MARIE OF ROMANIA. Music is by Italian born composer Giancarlo Russo, who has created a varied but in the main symphonic work, performed by the BULGARIAN NATIONAL RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA this is a striking soundtrack. The composer relying predominantly upon strings and brass with percussive and wind elements to support. But there are also a handful of pieces performed by piano either as solo or supported by strings or synthetic instrumentation. The score is a pleasing one and has a subtle fusion of the symphonic with the electronic, but it is a flawless and seamless collaboration of the two mediums that not only complement each other but also support and embellish one another as the score opens up and progresses. The composer also introduces a jazzy or lazy sounding trumpet in cues such as KAROL THE ANGRY SON which is haunting and affecting. I for one am grateful that it is for the most part symphonic and contains a rich and full sound. I have the feeling that people will be returning to this many on many occasions after the initial listen. I was impressed by the maturity of the work especially displayed in the cue A LOVE GONE WRONG, which has to it a beautiful and haunting aura, mostly due to the lilting melody purveyed by piano underlines with Morricone sounding strings. Another one to add to your lists of wants. Available on most digital platforms including Spotify.
From a luxurious and more conventional sounding score to one that combines harsh sounds with just fleeting moments of tranquillity which are rare also. Again released by Plaza Mayor and available digitally composer Ben Worley’s soundtrack for APPARITION literally bursts onto the scene, if you are one for romantically laced works that contain a lushness and a rich thematic quality then maybe this one is not for you. As the title suggests this is not a rom com or a love story, Horror is the genre we are in for this and by the looks of it a pretty heart stopping horror too. The score is spiky and jagged, I would also say relentless and unforgiving, urgent and frantic with an underlying virulence that makes its presence felt right from the start. The opening cue 1993, is sinewy and sharp, with intense strings setting the scene by announcing the cue almost hissing and grating their presence, the composer more or less calms proceedings down after the initial opening, but it is not a calm that is in any way reassuring, but more like the calm often gets before an eruption or a storm. It is an uneasy sound that the composer creates, with threatening percussive beats underlined by sounds that are industrial yet at the same time strangely attractive. Like most scores for horror movies most of the work is atonal and can descend into a dark chaotic work, there are no sweeping or overinflated romantic interludes here, no lilting nuances, this is proper guttural, frenzied and drone like. In fact, the closest we get to a developing theme for the score is in track number three BETA but even here it is not long before any trace of an actual theme is allowed to take hold. APPARITION is a great horror score and I think on a par with the work of Joseph Bishara, it has that sort of vibrancy, inventiveness and sound. Check it out on Spotify.