If you remember in the last soundtrack supplement I remarked I found it difficult to find any new scores that I felt were of any substance and certainly there were not many at all that were innovative or inventive. What a difference a few weeks makes in the world of movie music, let’s open with something a little off beat a little mad, in fact it’s BERSERK.
The score for this movie is the work of composer Jongnic Bontempts as soon as I started to play the soundtrack I was immediately drawn in and felt compelled to listen on. This is a great score, filled with drama and jagged little peaks and irreverent and impish mischief. It is a work that kept me interested throughout, the composer creating dark and vibrant interludes that at times also have a comedic or lighter edge. In fact I was reminded of the style of Michael Abels with his score for US coming to mind at certain points within the proceedings, there is a threatening and sinister air prevalent throughout with the composer elevating this atmosphere at key points within the score.
Composer Bontempts fashions a strangely beguiling and charmingly attractive soundtrack, I don’t mean the music is strange or the composer for that matter, it is just the music beckons one in and once you are hooked its hard not to keep on listening. The orchestrations are quirky but affecting, and overall the music is overflowing with a great entertainment value, I thought at times it evoked the style of Bernard Herrmann, especially in the percussive and string departments, the composer combining percussion, with jagged brass, slicing and driving strings that are given more of harshness and further enhanced by musical stabs that are a pairing of both percussion and brass. I found myself re-listening to the score three times because I enjoyed its quirkiness and its inventive content. As I can make out its symphonic for most of its duration, but these days one is hard pressed to decipher this completely. Recommended, in fact you would be Berserk not to listen to this.
We go out west for the next score, HELL ON THE BORDER, has an atmospheric soundtrack composed by Sid De La Cruz. The movie itself is based on a true story, which took place in the last part of the 19th Century, Bass Reeves was the first black US Marshall in the western States. It highlights the struggles and the prejudice and bigotry that Reeves experienced then, which in recent months still seems to be the case all over the world. The score I thought was a really interesting one, the instrumentation too was refreshing, and although the work is mainly action paced and dramatic, there are a handful of more intimate and melodic sections. The composer utilises guitar and harmonica to great effect, both instruments of course being associated with western scores since the birth of musical scores in movies.
There are however some nice touches with the composer lacing both guitar and harmonica with breathy woods at times, and also employing brass and synth voices to add depth and atmosphere to the proceedings, percussive elements too play an active role within the work, and for me the soundtrack had to it a conventional Hollywood sound that was enhanced by little touches of Italian western sounds as in bells and choral support. The Hollywood sound comes across in the cue HORSE CHASE as this is Goldsmith sounding, with brass and percussion working together supported by strings, strumming guitar and harmonica, which combine to fashion an exhilarating and powerful piece. I HEAR YOUR’E LOOKING FOR ME too is commanding composition, filled with tension and drama, guitar again with strident tense strings that are punctuated by brass and percussion is the order of the day here. The penultimate cue WE RETURNED WITH THE BOUNTY, I think is incredibly emotive, the composer introducing the cue with brass and martial sounding percussion, that fades and segues into a choral piece that is effecting and almost celestial, (think James Horner and GLORY here). The cue melts into the next track on the release, DEPUTY MARSHALL BASS REEVES with the composer continuing in the same mode, with strings being more prominent as they are added to the composition, the stirring brass and percussion building into a proud and emotive crescendo. Another score you should definitely check out and whilst doing that also take a listen to his music for the movie entitled ATONE.
From a sagebrush saga to something more contemporary and a score for the video game IRON MAN-VR. Music is by composer, Kazuma Jinnouchi, I am not one for video games but am always listening out for something that is interesting musically to do with them, This certainly fits the category of interesting, and whilst where there its entertaining too, I think that video game scores has come on in leaps and bounds, and this is one that I would whole heartedly recommend that you give a listen too, there are a number of action cues within the work, but there are as many brooding and developing thematic pieces that go to make this an enjoyable listen.
Again it sounds symphonic, but as with most soundtracks these days there is synthetic support and pulsating electronic components plus samples, but it all goes to make up a soundtrack that does the job it is supposed to, plus we get to be entertained as well. So far so good for this Soundtrack Supplement three out of three and all is well.
IL GRANDE PASSO was a surprise, and a nice one too, the score is not only very good but it is by composer Pino Donaggio, who I have followed since hearing his music in the film DON’T LOOK NOW so many years ago, Donaggio worked on a number of popular movies in his early years a composer of film scores, and also worked with the likes of Joe Dante and Brian De Palma, his CARRIE and HOWLING soundtracks being of note as well as his work on films such as PIRAHNA, DRESSED TO KILL and HOME MOVIES.
In IL GRANDE PASSO we hear the tense and dramatic sound that Donaggio is known for and I think even if I was not told that this was a score by the Italian Maestro I would have guessed once I heard a few snatches of the music. Donaggio fashions an emotive soundtrack but one that is tinged with tension and apprehension, maybe its not a score that one can sit and listen to when reading or just chilling out, but it is an interesting work and again one to take a listen to. As well as the poignant and dramatic the composer treats us to quirky and slightly off beat cues, which all go to make up a varied and palatable listening experience.
The next score was also a delightful surprise, SULPHUR AND WHITE is the work of Anne Nikitin, She is a composer that has worked steadily in both TV and on shorts and feature films in recent years, CALIBRE for example and AMERICAN ANIMALS both from 2018. SULPHUR AND WHITE, I feel is a more developed work, its wonderfully thematic and has to it a graceful and poignant atmosphere. The composer weaves a delicate and affecting work that I am confident you will engage with. Its simplicity and fragility being attractive and enriching. Saying this however the score is not all sweetness and light, there are darker and more sinister sounding cues, which although are subtle to create a certain amount of apprehension when listening to the work.
GHOST OF TSUSHIMA is a video game and has a score composed by Ilan Eshkeri and Shigeru Umbayashi, this is a commanding work, filled to overflowing with beautifully crafted tone poems and expansive action cues, what composer worked on what sections of the score I am not sure as the credits on the recording are not that clear, needless to say this is a gracious, powerful and innovative soundtrack, which makes effective use of both western instrumentation and Japanese orchestration.
GHOST’S OF WAR, is a spooky tale that focuses upon five American soldiers who are assigned to occupy and hold a French Chateau in the closing days of the second world war. The chateau was formerly occupied by the German high command, the soldiers think that they are fortunate being given what they see as a easy task compared with what they have been through. Their rest however is soon to be disturbed by a supernatural force that is far more threatening and terrifying than the Nazi’s. Music for the movie is by Michael Suby, it is a brooding work which is in keeping with the subject matter of the movie, atmospheric and at times chilling with a sinister and malevolent mood throughout.
ASSASSINS CREED-VALHALA OUT OF THE NORTH is a game for x-box one. Ps4 and pc, it was released back in November 2019, the soundtrack is now available on digital platforms such as Spotify, the music for this is excellent, so gritty and crammed full of a rich and vibrant air, the music is courtesy of Jesper Kyd, Sarah Schachner and Einar Selvik, what can I say I listened to it from start to finish and never felt the need to move it forward or skip through it, that’s how good this is. Its one I would recommend with no questions asked. It is however a very short score, running for approx. twenty minutes, but what it lacks in duration it makes up in a wealth of excellent music.
Other soundtracks worth a mention include THE 100-SEASON SIX which contains some inventive music by Tree Adams. BELGRAVIA which has a score by John Lunn. that is much better than the series it was composed for. Tom Hodges fairly low key, sombre but effective score for THE RISE OF THE NAZI’S which was a BBC production. SUICIDE TOURIST is a compelling soundtrack composed and performed by Hess is More, who describe themselves as a circular transatlantic ensemble, I recommend you take a listen to this and also maybe check out more from this artist. ARCHIVE by award winning composer Steven Price too is another soundtrack that is recommended, as is NO 7 CHERRY LANE which is a beautiful score, by composers Chapavich Temnitikul and Yu Yat-Yiu, this one has to heard to be believed, its melodic, delicate and absorbingly emotive. It is one of those scores that you listen to without having any prior knowledge of and at the end of it want more and want to know more about the composers, it is charming and ingratiating.
The track WINTER COMETH which melts the heart is a poignant and emotive piece for piano and solo cello, supported by violin and given depth by the addition of a small string ensemble, think Sakamoto and Hisaishi, and that will give you an idea. Take a listen you will not be disappointed I promise.