As a film music collector, I never would have thought that I would be attracted to music from video games or any sort of game to be fair. But in the last decade or so music for games of any sort has certainly come a long way. I sometimes think this is better than some of the film music that is being written today.  A recent video game GENSHIN IMPACT CITY OF WINDS AND IDYLLS contains a truly wonderful soundtrack, the composer credited is YU PENG CHEN and straight away I have to say that this is just a brilliant score, it is nearly two hours in duration and contains so many beautiful and affecting themes it is very difficult to come to terms with all of this emotive and quality music coming from just one video game.

It’s a soundtrack that has absolutely everything, intricate and subtle tone poems, female wordless voice and dramatic and driving passages that are inspiring and stirring. The composer utilises a wide range of instrumentation as in strings, brass, guitar, harp, woods and a scattering of percussion. The score which is spread over three discs is a delight to listen to and one that I returned to after my initial listen, but I also found myself going back to the start of certain tracks after I had heard them, it is honestly one of the best video game scores I have heard, in fact its one of the best scores from 2020 so far, I was thinking only the other day about the best of 2020 thus far, and I singled out four scores, I wont say what these are, but I hope that one of them will be in an awards list somewhere when the season for giving out awards begins. I now have to re-think that list and add this to it, along with another Yu Peng Chen, score for another game in the same series entitled  GENSHIN IMPACT-THE WIND AND THE STAR TRAVELLER which has music that is equally alluring and totally mesmerising.

Both soundtracks are MUST have items, the second score is shorter lasting just under half an hour but is just as affecting and haunting. There is a light and delicate sound within both works, the fragile and poignant themes wash over the listener and have about them a calming and attractive sound. These are two soundtracks that you have to at least investigate, both are on digital platforms,  will say if you are already a fan of the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Joe Hisaishi, then these two scores are for you. Lilting romantic sounds are showcased throughout, alongside proud and dramatically adventurous anthem like material. These are scores of immense diversity, vibrancy, and quality, highly recommended. Yu-Peng Chen, is known as Zhiyi Chen,  a film music composer, music producer and musical director based in Shanghai, China.

He is regarded as one of the most talented and versatile composers working in the film and music industry. His career has spanned some fifteen years thus far, and during this decade and a half he has scored not only a wide range of films, TV shows and video games, but has also written many popular songs influenced by traditional Chinese culture. Chen graduated with honours from the Shanghai Conservatory of music. During his studies the young composer received professional training in both music production and composition from renowned musicians like An Dong. Chen has worked with numerous artists from different cultural backgrounds, which assisted the composer in becoming more fluent in various genres of music and he was able to add more variety and cultural influences to his music, giving him more of a musical pallete from which he is able to add colour and texture to both film, television and video game projects. He has also collaborated with many famous directors and musicians including Jing Wang, Weiqiang Liu, Weimin Ye, An Dong, and Guangrong Chen.  He has also recorded with many world-class orchestras such as The Asian Philharmonic Orchestra, The China Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Budapest Film Symphony Orchestra. Chen has won several Chinese Academy Award nominations for his music from films such as LI BAOGUO and DA SHANGHAI. His music for THE FOUNDING OF AN ARMY, won him the best music in the Golden Deer Awards. His other films like ON FALLEN WINGS and PHANTOM OF THE THEATRE also received countless positive reviews and comments from critics and fans alike.

(Genshin Impact is a free-to-play action role-playing game developed and published by miHoYo. The game features a fantasy-based open world environment and action-based battle system, using elemental magic, character switching and uses gacha game monetization for players to obtain rare characters, weapons, and other resources. A multiplayer mode allows up to four players to play together in the world and also tackle certain dungeons within the game. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Android and iOS on September 28, 2020. The game is also planned for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5).


So many composers so many soundtracks, its hardly surprising that a handful of composers and their scores do get somewhat overlooked, Jeff Grace is a composer I have always thought of as being talented, simply because of the wide range of genres he has written for. I think his score for STAKE LAND was the one that alerted me to his music, which I followed up with THE INNKEEPERS. But I thought a look at his scores might also bring him to your attention if you have not already discovered his musical prowess.

 I am going to begin with a 2009 release, I SELL THE DEAD, which was a comedy horror. The movie I thought was a fantastic attempt at combining horror with comedy, which at times we have to admit does kind of fall flat. In this case I think it was successful, mainly due to Ron Perlman and Domnic Monogham who were supported well by the likes of, Angus Scrimm and Larry Fessenden.

The film which was written and directed by Glen McQuaid is set in the 18th century the film relates the tale of a pair of grave robbers, who have been caught by the law and are incarcerated. With only a few hours to go before his date with the guillotine, Arthur Blake (Monogham) tells his life story to Father Francis Duffy (Ron Perlman) an Irish Priest. Before long, Blake has told the listening holy man how he got started in the grim corpse peddling business working for seasoned ghoul Willie Grimes (Fessenden). The story is filled with Blakes experiences whilst engaged in grave robbing combining elements from other such tales as BURKE AND HARE, THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS and THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVIL’s, and adding its own comedic twist in places, there are Zombies, Vampires and other such creatures which he helped to dig up in this entertaining romp. The central characters Blake and Grimes like a comedy duo who managed to get themselves into all sorts of scrapes, the film is more like a comedy version of a Hammer horror film, the sets etc being atmospheric and very well done. The story was accompanied by an energetic and quirky sounding musical score by Jeff Grace, the composer providing the movie and its various horrific/comedic scenarios with a balanced and vibrant work.  It is a soundtrack that maybe a few collectors missed when it was released, but the same can be said for the movie, although it is a brilliant film, and one that entertains on so many levels, it is probably something that even horror fans would not instantly think of.

The music is symphonic, which is something I am pleased about, Grace, inventing edgy sounds and adding a romantic atmosphere to these at times, giving the soundtrack a rich and robust style. In fact, I would go as far as to say that maybe the composer had listened to some Hammer scores and took his lead from these. Tremolo strings feature on numerous occasions, with mournful and apprehensive woods creating an eerie and dark mood. There is also an abundance of short sharp shocking passages performed by driving strings that are punctuated by either brass and percussion or laced further by other string instruments. If this is a score you have not yet heard, then I urge you to check it out. It was released by Movie Score Media but is still available on all digital platforms.

Another interesting Horror/thriller is THE LAST WINTER, like I SELL THE DEAD the movie was produced by Glass Eye Pix, and it also starred Ron Perlman, the music is a collaboration or at least it is credited to both Jeff Grace and Anton Sanko, the latter was responsible for the scores for OUIJA, FRACTURED and RABBIT HOLE amongst others, and the cues that he is credited with on THE LAST WINTER are quite complex and atonal in there sound and style, whereas the cues that are credited to Jeff Grace have within them melodic content that is quite rich and even grandiose in places, such as the opening cue NORTH.  Grace employing strings and piano to fashion thematic material. Again, released by Movie Score Media, its well worth checking out.  Jeff Grace is at times thought of as a composer of horror scores, but this is not entirely true, although he has scored his fair share of films within this genre, what I do like about his music is that it does have to it positive thematic qualities, even if the cue either begins or leads into something that is more atonal. Also each of his scores has their own identity, I do not think that there is a uniform sound or a set pattern to the style of this composers music, which for me is a positive, because with each project one gets a score that is right for the project,

COLD IN JULY (2014) is one such example of the composer writing in a non-uniform way, within this score he utilises electronics, which are highly effective. In fact, the score is all synthetic apart from piano, but the composer still manages to bring to fruition compositions that not only serve the movie well but are listenable away from the picture. The movie which was a tense crime thriller, is a fraught edge of your seat movie, and the soundtrack reflects this atmosphere and mood, Grace building the tension and adding depth and greater impact to certain scenes, with his subtle but dramatic score.  

One of my favourite scores by Jeff Grace is from the movie HELLBENDERS (2012), (no not the Italian western), but a movie that focuses upon  The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hell bound Saints, which is a team made up of blasphemous ministers who live in a constant state of debauchery, working to drag the worst of demons that are on earth back to Hell. The composers score is superb, with a driving opening theme, that sets the scene for much of the score, it is dramatic, dark and foreboding. Every cue of the soundtrack is entertaining, filled with a robust and vibrant air, each being entertaining and at times harrowing and exciting. Another for your collection, again on most digital platforms thanks to Movie Score Media.

I think the score that many collectors recall when Jeff Grace is mentioned, must be STAKE LAND, this is a horror and a half with a score that is superb. Horror movies in general I feel do not have the power if that is the right word to hold ones attention for the duration, often the plot evaporates or dips, and this is when one starts looking around and your mind wanders a little, but STAKE LAND I thought was an excellent post-apocalyptic movie, well directed and also extremely well portrayed by a not very well known cast. It is a film that has a real story that is alluring and interesting, Think, of the film THE ROAD and add vampires to the equation. Jeff Grace’s affecting score, supports and enhances each moment of the storyline, it not only punctuates and gives a greater impact to the proceedings but is becomes an integral component of the movie.   The music of Jeff Grace is something that  all of us should experience, he has worked on many motion pictures and television projects, his music has been performed by several well known orchestras and he has worked alongside the likes of Howard Shore as an assistant on THE LORD OF THE RINGS, GANGS OF NEW YORK and PHILIDELPHIA. Several his soundtracks are available from the likes of Movie Score Media and Milan records, as well as being available to stream on digital platforms. The composer has been the recipient of many awards for his work in film.

Other scores by Grace that are certainly worth checking out include, TRIGGER MAN, I CAN SEE YOU, ROOST, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, MEEKS CUTOFF, NIGHT MOVES, to mention but a few.


From the start of the score for Pompeii-Sin City by composer Remo is apparent that one is listening to a work that oozes quality and a great artistic stature. The compositions are superbly melodic and contain haunting phrases and nuances that develop and build into subtle but affecting tone poems. The composer fashions a work that has many musical faces, each being expressive and vibrant in their own way.

These individual pieces combine to create an effective score which can be dramatic, romantic, and poignant. Composer Remo one of the most naturally talented and gifted Maestros that i have heard for many years, the score is symphonically led with gracious and emotive piano performances scattered throughout. 

The composer creates a sound that is directly and instantly attractive, his individual and inventive style being one that enhances and captures the essence and mood of this documentary film. His eloquent yet subdued compositions adding depth and giving the production a higher level of impact, whilst at the same time creating an abundance of atmospheres that maintain an alluring persona. It is a sensitive and wonderfully engaging work, that lace the movie with an ingratiating and rich sound creating various moods.  

This documentary explores Pompeii, a city that has over the centuries been shrouded in mystery, it is also a city that has over this time period managed to influence civilisations, via its culture and art, which ranged from the Neoclassicism to the Contemporary. This film conveys the mystery, the story and the influential range of this City through images and words by the great artists and writers who experienced, visited and imagined it: from Pliny the Younger to Picasso, from Emily Dickinson to Jean Cocteau.

The film surprisingly doesn’t just deal with the volcano eruption, an event that has gone down in history and been re-told and passed down the generations, but it examines the everyday life of the City as it was, and relays the to the audience the day to day lifestyle of the inhabitants, how they loved, worshipped, worked, played and lived and their ultimate fate. It is a fascinating watch and supported wonderfully by a musical score that purveys the emotions of the City dwellers and events that took place within its streets and alleyways. The music that composer Remo Anzovino has written for this documentary, is not just music for film, it is music for the heart, music that is enriching, affecting, and haunting. There is in places a contemporary new age sound to the work, but it also posses and conveys a sense of the ancient and the religious. The re-occurring musical pattern is however firmly focused upon the melodic, the delicate and contains a style and sound that has to it a fragility that radiates a gracious and emotive aura. The solo piano interludes are superb, these intricate, intimate and delightfully touching nuances are at various stages enhanced by the use of lilting strings, that are in no way intrusive but supportive which give the compositions and even greater sense of the emotive.

The composer also utilises cello to heighten emotion and an atmosphere that is overflowing with melancholy, this is more prominent within the cue, DOG AT SUNRISE and I have to say I was reminded slightly of the sound achieved by Ennio Morricone on certain cues within his score for MOSES THE LAWGIVER, it is a heartfelt and sorrowful sound, but also one that is highly attractive and affecting. Then we have up-tempo styles which are sprinkled throughout the score as in LUPANARE TWIST, which for me evoked a sound that composers such as Francesco De Masi and Armando Trovajoli employed within some of their film scores of the 1960’ and 1970’s. This is a soundtrack that is varied, and filled with a diversity of styles, textures, and colours. The composer painting a musical picture of the diverse lives of the citizens of POMPEII and at the same time providing the documentary with an effective musical enhancement. The soundtrack album will be released on November 6th through Sony Masterworks, this is most definitely one score you should own.