So its time for another soundtrack supplement, there have been so many good soundtrack releases recently that its like soundtrack supplement is a weekly thing now instead of an occasional feature which was the original idea, this is however a positive thing in these strange and uncertain times, in soundtrack supplement twenty four I focused upon Halloween and some spooky spidery and sinewy sounding scores that I thought would suit the mood for all hallows eve celebrations, but in this latest edition of soundtrack supplement there are a few scores that would also suit the dark mood of this coming weekend.
Starting with the HULU original movie BAD HAIR, the score is by Kris Bowers, (DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, WHEN THEY SEE US) with additional music and vocal performances by Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child and Justin Simien, and although I understand that the songs are an essential part of the soundtrack and have an important part in creating the atmosphere of the storyline, it is the actual musical score that I am concentrating upon here, Kris Bowers has created a soundtrack that I would say is highly inventive, positively charged and more than suitably unnerving and all the time has to it a vibrant and innovative persona. The composers use of creepy and unsettling strings that he combines with voices and half heard sounds in some of the cues is masterly and in no doubt effective. There is an underlying atmosphere of virulence present throughout the work, at times the music seems to leap out at the listener and try to grab them, Yes. It’s that effective, totally absorbing and gripping in the way it invites the listener in and then alters in a milli second from something strangely alluring to a musical entity that is urgent and terrifying. The way in which the composer orchestrates and presents the score is at times very reminiscent of the style that Jerry Goldsmith employed in the more apprehensive or brooding parts of his OMEN scores, the sinewy sounding strings being present throughout, but never really erupting fully into a full blown action cue or dramatic pace, they just lay there waiting, weaving a web of charmingly dark passages which successfully conjure up a feeling of foreboding remaining ominously effective in creating a mysterious and shadowy aura. There is also a mischievous air surrounding the score which we get glimpses of every now and then. BAD HAIR is a score I think I will be listening to a lot and maybe including it in a session with other scores such as US, BERSERK and PROXIMITY. All have a sound and style that is extremely dramatic and at the same time are hauntingly attractive. BAD HAIR is an interesting score and one that I am confident that you will enjoy. Years ago many film music fans would complain thet there were never enough horror film scores released, which was true, music from horror films I think film studios and record companies saw as an unsellable quantity. But they obviously were not listening to the fans. However, in recent years the horror score seems to have come into its own, and most scores from horror movies get a release, sometimes this release is just digitally but there are also a number that have been issued onto compact disc.
THE CALL is a film that surprisingly was released in theatres in the United States, I say surprisingly because it was not exactly gripping, edge of the seat or Oscar material, a low budget movie where the extent of the budget did kind of show, The score though is I have to say an effective one, music is by Samuel Joseph Smythe, and has a sound and style to it thet sound very evocative of the sound of composer Christopher Young, ok it may not be as grandiose or even as developed as the work of Young, but it has its moments, Smythe worked as a score programmer on THE UNINVITED and also on DRAG ME TO HELL, so maybe this is where he gets his influences from. THE CALL has a score that is powerfully robust and also one that although at times atonal remains thematic and has eerie sounding voice like performances which raise their head at intervals sounding like they are out of an Italian Giallo or horror from the sixties, this brooding and fearsome score also contains a handful of quieter moments, that are laced with a persona that could be Herrmann at times. The composer makes excellent use of strings, and low dark sounding synths, creating a chilling and rather uneasy atmosphere. I do not mean this in any way badly nor am I casting a negative upon this work, but it does at times move into a style that personally associate with 1980’s horror films, by this I mean it is predominantly electronically realised with symphonic parts being brought in to either enhance or support the synthetics. Either way this is a score that I would recommend that you check out.
ANJA is an Italian drama/mystery and focuses upon a young man who is searching for his girlfriend who has disappeared. He finds himself caught up in events that take place in a single night of intrigue, where he soon learns that he can trust nobody. The subdued but effectual score is by Silvia Nair, who is a multitalented musician, composer and vocalist. She originally studied law and graduated but decided to leave that career behind to dedicate herself to music. Her score for ANJA is as I say a subdued sounding affair, but also one that contains some wonderfully atmospheric pieces, it is I think more new age sounding than what many perceive as film music, but it is effectively utilised within the movie, adding touches of melancholy and also underlining various key moments within the storyline. She has produced an interesting and enjoyable soundtrack.
EVE has a soundtrack by Oblivion Bell and Tony Dundas, it is a synth led work, and includes piano solos in places, it is a score that I feel works well for the movie, and also has moments that can be interesting away from the images, there was I felt a gentle nod towards Francis Monkman’s work on THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY in the cue A NIGHT OUT, it is a smouldering and at times sparingly utilised work, the composers creating layers of sound rather than themes, maybe check it out on digital platforms.
THE ARTISTS WIFE is the latest movie starring Bruce Dern who plays a renowned artist Richard Smythson, who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Claire Smythson, his wife portrayed by Lena Olin finds herself plunged into a late-life crisis when her husband is diagnosed with the disease and is in danger of not completing the paintings for his final show. The emotive score is by composer Jeff Grace, and it is a soundtrack that you most definitely should own, this is a poignant score filled with beautiful pieces and also containing a modern sound, which compliments and underlines the more thematic passages within the work. If you associate composer Grace with horror or thrillers, then this will change your perception of this obviously talented composer. A wonderful score.
THE WITCHES is a well known story by author Roald Dahl, it was of course made into a movie in 1990, but Hollywood in the form of veteran director Robert Zemeckis has seen fit to give it a bit of a makeover and reimagine it for modern cinema audiences young and old. It tells the darkly humorous but heart-warming story of a young-orphaned boy who, in latter part of 1967, goes to live with his Grandmother in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis. As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she decides to take him out of harm’s way to a seaside resort. But their timing is a little unfortunate, because they arrive at the same time as the world’s Grand High Witch has gathered her merry band of spell casters from around the globe who are disguised to carry out her contemptable plans. Director, Zemeckis collaborates with an impressive team of filmmakers, including Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro and Kenya Barris. The cast includes impressive performances from Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Kristin Chenoweth and the voice over talent of Chris Rock, with newcomer Jahzir Kadeen Bruno as the young hero. Music is by tried and trusted Maestro Alan Silvestri, and on initial listens to the score, I think it is Silvestri back on top form again. He is after all an A lister, and a composer who most of us have at one time or another come across. His score for THE WITCHES is typical Silvestri, grand, dramatic, lush, and robustly vibrant, filled with action cues, but also containing affecting musical poems that weave their way in and out of the soundtrack, establishing a luscious style that is immediately attractive. You must add this to the collection ASAP or be turned into something unspeakable. Recommended.
From WITCHES to UP-SIDE DOWN MAGIC, which is a Disney TV movie, the gorgeous score is the brilliant work of composer Tom Howe, it is fully symphonic and beautifully crafted, lush and grandiose, this is a mischievous and cheeky sounding work in places, but essentially is I have to say a great score, it evokes the sound of Horner, Broughton, Debney, Silvestri, and Goldsmith in the more up tempo scores and action material, such as the near eleven minute cue, SHADOW MAGIC SHOWDOWN and has to it the engaging and eloquent style of Desplat in places, and no I am in no way exaggerating. This is an essential purchase, a must have. There is an abundance of thematic material within the score, its one great theme after another, driving, romantic, gracious, and mystical. It is a soundtrack that mystifies, and haunts with each and every composition, listen to it once and you will want to listen again and again. And it comes from a composer who created the music for a TV show called THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF and also scored SHAWN THE SHEEP. UP-SIDE MAGIC, is BRILLIANT, go and get it now.
Another delightful and energetic soundtrack is from the movie FOUR KIDS AND IT, which has been showing on SKY movies recently, the music is by Anne Nikitin, who has had an incredibly industrious time lately. Have to admit I enjoyed the film a lot, maybe too much for a big kid but hey! The music played a big part in creating wonderful atmospheres and moods for the production. It’s a score that is just a pleasure to listen to away from the movie, but when one is watching the film the music just carries the action and storyline along giving it weight and also adding entertainment value to the proceedings. Available on digital platforms, so go take a listen and whilst you are there why not also listen to LITTLE BIRDS, THE PALE HORSE, SULPHUR AND WHITE and THE TRIAL OF RATKO MLADIC all by Nikitin.
In a quiet town in the rural Midwest, (well that’s me hooked straight away). A former police officer decides to take it upon himself to continue investigating the disappearance of a young girl despite the case going cold. Whilst looking into the disappearance, he stumbles upon a group of young guys that he suspects may be harbouring a secret that entails sinister and supernatural connotations. As he delves deeper into the case he gets involved with the group, and as he starts to piece things together, he begins to realise that they have connections to the girls disappearance. Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. DelRey, THE EMPTY MAN, was written and directed by David Prior.
With an atmospheric score by composer Christopher Young and additional material provided by Lustmord, this is classic Young, sinister, harrowing and unnerving, the composer at times utilising otherworldly and inventive sounds that to be quite honest are freakish and chilling, and I mean spine tingling chilling, it’s a totally engrossing work and one that literally scares the hell out of you. My advice, if you are a fan of Christopher Young you will adore this, if you have yet to experience his music, 1) Really! where have you been and (2). Do not listen on headphones, or in the dark or in the house alone, and especially not on Halloween, recommended.
Other scores released include, OVER THE MOON from the Netflix series music courtesy of Steven Price who has fashioned an epic sounding work for the animated series, the soundtrack recording includes eleven magnificent symphonic cues from the composer and also features songs from the soundtrack, which to fair are very good indeed, This is an enchanting work and one that deserves more than a fleeting listen.
Staying with animation and PETIT VAMPIRE, music is by composer Olivier Daviaud, again this is fully symphonic and filled to overflowing with exciting, comedic and romantic sounding pieces, strings, brass and percussion feature predominantly, and for me it was like a breath of fresh air listening to the compelling and inventive work. Right from the opening cue it is a score that you just must continue to listen to, anticipating what will come next, but not wanting to skip forward. Again, it’s a soundtrack for your collection and once heard you will be returning to it so many times.
Composer Eric Neveux has been busy this year. I think I am correct when I say he has scored four movies thus far. SAM SAM, INHUMAN RESOURCES, QU’UN SANG INPUR and the one I include here POLY. Which is a family movie about a Shetland pony in the south of France. It is a touching score with lots of delicate and fragile sounding themes and filled with haunting themes and emotional interludes. Strings and piano are the mainstays of the score, with subtle woods and brass supporting and there are performances from solo guitar. It is a nice work, with themes that are easy on the ear. Poignant and emotive, recommended.
Back to a Netflix series and to a dramatic and smouldering score for THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT, which is the work of composer Carlos Rafael Rivera, I cannot recommend this enough, it has virtually everything, high drama, fast paced action material, lush themes, mysterious passages and a sense of the apprehensive and the romantic. A mainly symphonic work with scatterings of electronic support this is a score that for me entertained and intrigued, the array of atmospheres and moods it purveys is astounding. It is a large-scale work by the sound of things, the composer developing and expanding upon themes as the score progresses. I am sure that you will fall in love with this soundtrack, its lilting and haunting tone poems as well as its action led or downbeat and brooding dramatic interludes are affecting and polished. Highly recommended. Check out the composers other scores such as GODLESS, and A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, as these too areare essential purchases.
Other scores wort checking on are THE MOTHMAN LEGACY by Brandon Dalo, NO MATARAS by Fedrerico Jusid and Adrian Foulkes, REBECCA by Clint Mansell, and THE TURNING POINT by Adam Peters.