Well, it’s been another busy three weeks or so, the soundtrack new releases seem to be as in abundance as cov-idiots sunbathing on a packed beach on the south coast of England. Well nearly anyway, a plus being is that the actual releases are probably more sensible than the sun worshippers. Intrada have re-issued THE YOUNG LIONS (1958) by Hollywood veteran composer Hugo Friedhofer, this is a score that was crying out for a remastered release and as always, the Intrada label have responded giving us a quality edition of Friedhofer’s wonderful soundtrack.
This is a 2 CD set and a release that every self-respecting collector of film music should own. I have always felt that Friedhofer was so underatted, his score for ONE EYED JACKS the Marlon Brando western, was for me and many others probably one of the scores that influenced the western score as realised by many Italian composers, the style of the movie too had a great influence upon the way in which westerns were produced in both Hollywood and Europe. THE YOUNG LIONS is essentially a blockbuster, it starred Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Maximillian Schell, Hope Lange, Barbara Rush and Dean Martin. A powerhouse of a movie with brilliant direction from film maker Edward Dmytryk that contained stunning black and white cinematography by Joseph MacDonald. Friedhofer’s score earned the composer an Academy Award nomination and this edition of the score spread over two compact discs contains not only Friedhofer’s original score but also the source music from the movie as well as a re-mastered recording in stereo of the 1958 Decca LP record release.
Frank K. DeWald provides informative and easy to read notes, the release is packaged well with attractive artwork and graphics throughout. It is a must have item.
From a classic 1950’s movie and score to a new movie, and also to a composer that you may or may not be familiar with. Arthur Valentin Grosz has written an emotive sounding score for the movie THE SHEPHERD. This subtle but powerful work is available digitally on the usual platforms and will be available later this year on compact disc from Kronos records. The composer has crafted a work that is filled with emotive and lilting tone poems, it sounds as if the score is performed by a small string ensemble, with piano featuring throughout the work. Plus, there are solo performances from violin which is more pronounced within the main theme from the score. Although it is a short soundtrack, there are several moments within it that are affecting and well worth taking a listen to. My hope is that more soundtracks by this composer will be made available on compact disc as there are a handful available online, but its always good to have a CD that one can hold look at and treasure.
Another score by the composer that is worth a mention is THE BASEMENT, which was released in 2017, a horror movie, it is in many ways attractive and alluring, with the composer fashioning a melodic but malevolent sounding work, utilising various eerie sounds along the way, which are darkly sinister and unsettling which act as punctuation and support to the more conventional instrumentation and synthetics that he employs. Listening first to THE SHEPHERD and then to THE BASEMENT displays the composer’s inventiveness and also his adaptability in creating different sounds and varying soundscapes.
The next score I was attracted to in the past few weeks is DIE WOLF-GANG, now this is a classy and wonderfully melodious and haunting work, the composer Andreas Weidinger, serves up an interesting and above all entertaining soundtrack, that has to it a mysterious and magical sound. The film entitled THE MAGIC KIDS-THREE UNLIKELY HEROES outside of Germany, is an action adventure fantasy romp, Vlad a young boy joins one of the most important and famous schools of magic in the world. There he meets fairies, trolls, witches, and Dwarfs. He is accompanied by his Father, and they soon discover that they are the first Vampires in the town where the school is. But it is not too long before Vlad makes friends with other kids that are attending the school. The score is a symphonic one and has to it an air of silver age style as in Goldsmith and to a degree John Williams, flyaway strings, cheeky and impish compositions plus full on action cues and grand sounding musical themes. The composer adds some nice touches where he combines strings with voices and creates otherworldly sounding passages, but above all this score for me just works so well and not just within the film, away from the picture it is a soundtrack that is easy to listen to and also has a great action content. There are of course comic sounding cues and also the more romantically slanted pieces, which stand out because of their sumptuous and lush style. Certainly, one for the collection, check it out asap, whilst you are doing that also find his score for IRONCLAD-BATTLE FOR BLOOD from last year, another triumph of inventive and interesting scoring that is heavy on the percussion and literally radiates full on powerhouse action cues.
Composer Valentin Hadjadj wrote a beautifully subtle score for the 2019 movie, UN MONDE PLUS GRAND, it is filled with subdued but at the same time affecting compositions, the style employed did evoke a sound and style that I have maybe heard before in the work of composers such as Desplat, Aufort and Amar. The film focuses upon Corine who decides to leave Paris after the death of her soul mate Paul, she travels to Mongolia where she is to direct a film. But what she encounters there is more than she could have imagined, she meets A Shaman named Oyun and this meeting in affect changes her life. Oyun can see in Corine a rare talent or a gift, which he wants to unveil. Corine agrees to undertake a journey in which she will discover new cultures and uncover forgotten ways, but essentially the journey she undertakes is one of discovering herself. I would not say that this is a large or lush sounding work, in fact it is the opposite, but it is the fragility and also the subtlety of the music that is the attraction and also why it works so well and supports the storyline beautifully, never being overbearing, but always being supportive.
Which is what good film music is all about. Again, this is a short score available on most digital platforms, but the briefness is not a problem as I know once heard you will return to the beginning and start all over again. Recommended. You also might like to listen to GIRL by the composer, which was released in 2018, the cue FLYING being breath-taking.
As in most soundtrack supplements I like to go back and take a look at a couple of past releases that you might have missed. THE FILM MUSIC OF series as realised by Chandos records has included many great compilations of the movie music of mainly British composers from what I like to call the Golden Age of British film. Of course, many are aware of the talents of Clifton Parker, George Auric, William Alwyn, Richard Addinsell etc, but what about Constant Lambert and Lord Berners? Well if you are not familiar with these two composers and their work for the cinema, there is a simple way of changing this.
THE FILM MUSIC OF Constant Lambert and Lord Berners was released back in 2000. And in my opinion, it is a stunning collection of excellent music for film. The recording by the BBC Concert Orchestra under the able Baton of Rumon Gamba is a powerful and entertaining release and contains music from, ANNA KARENINA and THE MERCHANT SEAMEN by Lambert and NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, CHAMPAGNE CHARLIE and HALFWAY HOUSE by Berners, it is a treasure trove of stupendous and lavish and luxurious British film music, and one that if you have not added it to your collection should do so right now. The music is superb, and the performance is polished and flawless. If you cannot get the compact Disc the recording is available on the Spotify site.
Staying with British film music, and to a score for a now classic British horror. BLOOD ON SATANS CLAW, this I think like WITCHFINDER GENERAL was on a lot of film music collectors wish lists, the music by Marc Wilkinson was an important part of the moves storyline, it added a virulent air to the already uneasy and malevolent film, oozing with an evil and otherworldly atmosphere. The composer’s music was eventually released on Trunk records back in 2012, to the relief of many who had been searching for it and asking for it to be released since the films release in 1970. The movie which is often shown on TV has attained a cult following, it deals with witchcraft and was at the time of its release looked upon as being highly controversial, because of some of the then thought to be explicit sexual scenes included and also scenes of violence. It was also the movie that placed actress Linda Hayden in the public eye an also starred Patrick Wymark, Barry Andrews, Michele Dotrice, and Wendy Padbury. Directed by Piers Haggard, it remains as chilling today as it did when first released. If you have missed this film and its score, then its about time you took time out to watch and listen.
So onwards and more horror, this time from a more recent movie, DARK LIGHT was released in 2019, but the score by Holly Amber Church has just in the last week or so been released. Again, the composer delivers a no holds barred creep fest of unnerving and totally freaks you out music. But like with many of her scores we do find some respite and quieter moments, which are welcome amongst what seems like a sea of relentless sinister and chilling material. I think that music in horror movies must be the hardest type of film music to write, it’s a very fine line that the composer walks, because they do try not to go overboard or even give the game away with any sudden musical moods, Holly Amber Church as she always does provides us with a commanding score, that not only enhances and acts as musical punctuation between the frights and those “Is it over yet moments” but also serves as the musical glue that holds the whole thing together. The composer is there all the time, adding sounds underlining sudden moves and adding atmospheres, moods and those spine-tingling musical touches that are probably the reason you are hiding behind the sofa right now. Released on Notefornote records, and available digitally this is a must have score for horror fans, and any fan of quality film music.
Swedish film music label Movie Score Media never seem to slow in their release of soundtracks that ordinarily would not see the light of day, the label will this month release THE ASCENT which has an atmospheric score by composer Max Sweiry. Released in 2019, MSM have just announced the release of the score. The film, which was also entitled STAIRS, tells of a special military unit who are sent into a civil war situation to gather vital intelligence, they find themselves trapped on a never ending stairwell, which they have to climb to escape, but to survive the trial and get off the stairs they must face past misdemeanours and sins. A mix of thrills, war and horror the score perfectly underlines and reflects the mood and tension of the move, it is however more soundscape than a musical/symphonic score, but it is nevertheless effective and contains a handful of cues that are less harsh and contain some elements that can be described as melodic. These interludes even if they are short lived make for a pleasant listening experience even if one is waiting for the mood to alter in an instant.
There have been many documentaries about the great painters, and Monet has been the subject of a number of these. One of the latest is CLAUDE MONET-THE IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE, which contains a bright and vibrantly melodious score by composer Michelino Bisceglia, this is a beautifully crafted work, filled with luscious themes and sweeping romantic passages the composer has created a highly emotive and perfectly poignant score. The music entices, ingratiates and wonderfully adds colour to a film about one of the master’s who gave us so many colourful and alluring pictures. The score is as affecting and attractive as the art-work it is enhancing. A gem of a score filled with so much heartfelt emotion and delightfully delicate and descriptive musical poems. I could listen to this score all day long. Recommended.
There are a number of soundtrack being made available on digital platforms and being dated as new scores, where as they are actually older films, one such release Is, JACQUOU LE CROQUANT which was released in 20017, the music is by the film’s director Laurent Boutonnat. The movie is based upon the 1899 novel by Eugene Le Roy and also was inspired by the 1969 TV mini-series of the same name. It tells of a young peasant who leads an uprising against an evil nobleman and was nominated for the French equivalent to the Oscars, The Cesars in 2008. The score is incredibly well written and orchestrated and beautifully performed, teeming with emotive and dramatic laden themes, it is an accomplished work and one which I am sad I have not encountered before now. Strident and vibrant strings are utilised to the maximum underlined by timpani, percussion and brass, this is a soundtrack that once you hear the opening bars you just know it is overflowing with a majestic and affecting quality. The composer also employs choir in a number of the tracks and combines this with all the elements that I mentioned at times adding woods and piano which give the work a fragility and romantic aura. There is also at times a greater use of percussion and brass that brings a more powerful and commanding element to the score.
Recommended yes most definitely. I would also recommend that you check out another score by the composer, GIORGINO from 1994, which has to it a Donaggio/Herrmann sound, this too is also available on Spotify.
The ever industrious DRAGONS DOMAIN never seem to slow from releasing good quality soundtracks from movies which maybe we would not be attracted to, this month the label re-issued Richard Bands score for the low budget sci-fi horror flick, THE DAY TIME ENDED, which as with all Richard Band scores is a delight. It seems that no matter what the budget this talented composer always delivers something that is special. This edition of the score has 18 tracks whereas other releases contained just 14, the new re-issue also boasts new eye-catching artwork and once again great notes by Randall Larson with quotes etc from the composer. This fresh remix of the Band’s score, is taken from the original 24 track masters which were recorded in London back in 1979. I for one am grateful for the expanded version of this score, and I hope for more Richard Band from DRAGONS DOMAIN soon.
The label also released composer Lee Holdridge’s soundtrack for the NBC mini-series 10.5, which was aired back in 2004. The score has never been issued onto a compact disc, and like Richard Band Holdridge is a composer that always fashions wonderful music that suits any genre, subject or situation. His scores for movies such as BEASTMASTER, SPLASH, OLD GRINGO, and the superb EL PUEBLO DEL SOL etc being essential to any film music collection. For 10.5 the composer turned to a more synthetic or digital sound, with most of the soundtrack being realised via recording digital instruments into MIDI. But as always, the talent of Holdridge shines through, and its certainly one to check out.
Back to 2108 for the next score again a case of the soundtrack coming out on digital platforms after the movie was released, WINTER WAR or FROZEN FRONT, is set in the January of 1945 and concentrates upon the first regiment of French paratroopers that fought alongside American troops in the battle to liberate, Alsace which is a province of France that borders both Germany and Switzerland. The movie is directed, written and scored by David Aboucaya, who also is in the cast of the movie. The score is not what you might expect seeing that this is a violent war movie, the themes realised by Aboucaya are for the most part emotive and rather delicate sounding, although there are a handful of cues that lean towards the action or martial style that we have come to accept in war movies that are set in the second world war. Most of the more robust tracks such as MORTAR ASSAULT, HENAQ’S MADNESS and GERMANS INCOMING all occur in the second half of the score. It’s a soundtrack that is certainly worth a listen, and as it is now on platforms such as Spotify its easy to try before you buy as it were.
Next to the music of Francois Tetaz, now here is a composer who I spotted a few years back when I heard his atmospheric score for ROGUE, which I thought was inventive and very original, I loved the way he utilised voices as part of the score, more or less using them as instruments, by this I mean he integrated them into the music so they were part of the orchestra rather than be featured as soloists etc. His other scores include WOLF CREEK and THE PORTAL. He has utilised the same style in JUDY AND PUNCH, the movies storyline encompasses drama, comedy and crime and is set in the town of Seaside which incidentally is nowhere near any sea. Two puppeteers Judy and Punch are attempting to breath new life into their marionette show, when Punch accidentally kills their baby after a mad drinking session, Judy who has also suffered a brutal beating at his hands, joins forces with a band of heretics who have been outcasted by the town to enact a terrible revenge upon her husband and the inhabitants of the town. The score is as offbeat and quirky as the movie, which I suppose is a good thing as the music helps establish a strange and completely off the wall atmosphere. Again the music is highly inventive and certainly unusual, it has to it a neo-classical persona but also the composer adds choral work that is effecting and creates a sound and style that is akin to the early film scoring assignments of Danny Elfman. One to seek out, but if you like strait-laced and unchallenging music maybe this is not for you, however if you like something that is innovative and unusual then what are you waiting for?
Now here is something that I was initially puzzled over, THE DEBT COLLECTORS, which is apparently entitled DEBT COLLECTOR 2 in some places, so I looked at the credits for both and they are basically the same. So, is DEBT COLLECTORS, THE DEBT COLECTOR 2, or is it THE DEBT COLLECTOR’S as it is also billed as? Anyway, does not really matter in the grand scheme of things does it, well unless you are the debtor I suppose because then you might have two DEBT COLLECTORS turn up looking for cash or whatever. The score I am glad to say to both movies is by Sean Murray, so that helps because after a search I found the score to the first movie as well, so bonus. But it’s the DEBT COLLECTORS that I am focusing on for now. I have to say that I have not come across Sean Murray before now, but you know there are such things as happy accidents, because I am of the opinion that this score will be attractive to many. I can’t say that it’s a particularly original work, because there are along the way many little sounds, quirks or instrumentation and slices of style that we have possible heard before, in fact if I were to say that this is like a fusion of UNDER FIRE and a handful of Italian western scores, I think you will get the general Idea, the composer utilises Pan Pipes or maybe samples of them within the work, and they add so much atmosphere to the proceedings, I have since UNDER FIRE always loved the use of Pan Pipes in a score, but Murray takes this further and employs wood instruments that mimic the sounds of THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY or EL PURO at times, which is great if you are a spaghetti fan. The score is a fantastic piece of musical fun and grabs the listeners attention all the way through. It also includes tense and dark sounding passages, with the composer utilising low and ominous sounding piano, which he laces with percussion and supports with strings to create apprehensive and edge of the seat moods. The styles included evoke a handful of genres as in crime capers, dramas, western and action. It is a relentless piece of work in that it is one of those soundtracks where you are looking forward to what is coming next with great anticipation before the track you have listened to has finished. Good stuff.
There are also a handful of game soundtracks I would like to recommend to you, these include CREATURE IN THE WELL by Jim Fowler, DESPERADOS lll vol 2 by Fillipo Beck Peccoz, DISINTEGRATION by Jon Everist and MINECRAFT DUNGEONS by Peter Hont, Johan Johnson and Samuel Aberg. All four stand out and also are all very different.
TV scores this month also have featured amongst the new releases, THE SALISBURY POISONINGS being one that I thought was particularly good. The three-part drama that is based on true events was shown on the BBC and I have to say was one of the best things I have seen on television since this lockdown started. The acting was superb, direction focused, and the score work extremely well underlining the tense and unnerving storyline as it unfolded. Music was by composer Rael Jones who has previously come to notice for the music on HARLOTS and MY COUSIN RACHEL.
ALL OR NOTHING-THE BRAZIL NATIONAL TEAM is also an entertaining score but maybe in a more up beat and up lifting way, the soundtrack contains numerous styles and purveys many moods and creates a number of atmospheres, all of which are written by composer/artist Fabio Goes, the series is produced by Amazon, and is like a fly on the wall documentary that follows the Brazilian football team after they have won the 2019 Copa tournament. The Brazilian born singer/songwriter has produced an interesting score and further cements his place as an original artist in the world of film and TV music with this latest soundtrack.
Of course if there is nothing that interests you in this latest edition of Soundtrack Supplement, I suppose you could always click onto to Spotify and find, the soundtrack from the latest Netflix movie, EUROVISION SONG CONTEST-THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA. Which actually has some nice orchestral work by composer Atli Orvarsson, which is condensed into one six minute and twenty second cue on the release, and an onslaught of quirky, over the top, cheezy songs? No! (well you do surprise me) ok see you next time.