Lets, head back to 2015 and to the score that Inon Zur penned for the video game FALLOUT 4, I think that most attractive thing about this score is that although it is dark and fearfully foreboding, it also is wonderfully thematic. This is evident right from the off in the Main Titles, or Main Theme, listen to Zur’s ominously apprehensive piano that ushers in the fragments of a theme which he builds upon to develop an affecting piece, which is realised via the piano, and is then joined by strings and subtle percussive elements. It evokes for me sounds and shades of a musical style and colour that Hans Zimmer also put into action for the score INCEPTION, within the TIME theme, but Zur, seems to make it even more thematic and even more melodic, but at the same time maintaining a level of menace and a smouldering aura of apprehensive atmospherics. Zur is sadly not that well known to film music fans, but saying that many probably do know his music, without realising who composed it. FALLOUT 4, is in my opinion a terrifically powerful score, even without seeing the game footage I just get a feeling that the music is so well suited to the subject matter, game scores have as we all know come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and it is composers such as Zur, that have made these soundtracks so alluring and popular. He scores each of these projects as a grand epic motion picture, or at least this is the impression I get whilst listening to many of his scores.

There is also so many levels of emotion within his works, at points one becomes overwhelmed with subtlety and the melancholy of the music and then in the next instant we are blown away by the thematic and driving action cues. FALLOUT 4, is just one example of his amazing talent, as the composer has written scores for numerous other games, I for one think that video game scores should be brought onto the same level as film scores, and not treated any differently, we had this film music fan snobbery before with TV scores, which have also in recent years come into their own and attained a high level of respect and recognition from film score collectors, so I see no reason why game scores also cannot be treated in same way. Things are starting to take shape in this direction with radio stations such as Scala Radio, Classic FM and BBC Radio three dedicating bespoke shows to this genre and its scores. Zur.s score for FALLOUT 4 is an entertaining one, the composer employing an array of instrumentation and sounds that purvey a freshness and an inventiveness throughout. The soundtrack is also a staggering three hours and thirty-eight minutes in duration, but within this time there are no fillers, no repeats or even any uninteresting pieces, it’s all worth a listen, from electronically created soundscapes to beautifully written tone poems with real instruments taking centre stage, and I think that is why this is such an appealing work, atmospheric, affecting and enjoyable.

Staying with Inon Zur and to something more recent, again a game score, but in my opinion a score that is more mature and certainly more melodious than FALLOUT 4BATTLE THROUGH THE HEAVEN vol 1, is a hauntingly beautiful work, in which the composer employs an even greater range of sounds and instrumentation, too which he adds solo vocal performances and the rich and fullness of sounds as generated by the string section which are embellished by the sound of faraway horns, which later return in a more impassioned and proud guise that are underlined by rumbles of percussion, in the opening cue he also brings into the equation, guitar, woods and ethnic sounds. This is an accomplished score and one that I can honestly say I listened to from start to finish without even being tempted to move it along. It’s a little shorter in duration than FALLOUT 4, coming in at just thirty-eight minutes, but is a hell of a half an hour or so of romantic, commanding and delightfully emotive sounds. The percussive elements within the score are particularly interesting, and at times are the foundation for many of the compositions, as in LURKING, which has a foreboding persona. THE BEAUTY track number five is probably one of the scores more emotive highlights, I say probably because it is difficult to pick anything as a highlight, because everything is just so good. Again, highly recommended, for its action and powerful themes, but also because of its poignancy and ability to mesmerise and enthral.

 I could not mention composer Inon Zur without at least a fleeting reference to his magnificent score for DRAGON AGE 1 and ll. Which for me are as epic and riveting as Poledouris’s CONAN THE BARBARIAN, again a highly thematic and expressive work, filled with daunting musical passages, and overflowing with melodious superbness. I particularly am attracted to the composers use of cello in a handful of cues such as THE HAWKE FAMILY THEME in DRAGON AGE ll, but these are works of great quality and have to them an inventiveness and originality.  But this is something that can be said of the music of Inon Zur, vibrant and innovative, supportive and also highly listenable away from the games it was written for, others to check out include FALLOUT 76, INTO THE STORM (which features Tina Guo), THE ELDER SCROLLS BLADES, SYBERIA 2 and 3, and SWORD COAST LEGENDS.

Enjoy seeking these out on digital platforms, once you start to listen you will not want to stop.

The same can be said of Jesper Kyd who has been involved with a number of the most popular video games around over the past decade or so, ASSASSINS CREED for example, many of which contained wonderfully atmospheric scores, Kyd has also scored movies, and remains busy in recent months completing ASSASSINS CREED VALHALLA.

I always find that music for games is so entertaining to just sit and listen too as music, it has the ability to conjure up scenarios within the listeners mind, and in 99 point 9 cases these scores are not only beautifully written and performed but are also wildly varied and totally absorbing. Kyd’s other credits include for games HITMAN, BORDERLANDS, DARKSIDERS ll, STATE OF DECAY and WARHAMMER and movie scores such as LEGACY and TUMBBAD. His style is attractive in an apprehensive way, most of his music being action led or deeply atmospheric, but these are works worth checking out.

Jason Graves is also a composer who has worked in both film and video game scoring, he like both Zur and Kyd has produced some outstanding musical scores and combines both symphonic and synthetic mediums to great effect. One of the composers more recent works is for the sci fi horror game THE DARK PICTURES ANTHOLOGY: MAN OF MEDAN, which he provides with a initially subtle score, that is filled with rich textures and colours, that are in effect melodic but at the same time ooze an uneasy atmosphere.

Again, inventiveness is the key factor here, the score never becoming predictable but always remaining interesting and containing a driving and powerful undercurrent, at times evoking the early horror scores as penned by Marco Beltrami, in the SCREAM trilogy or THE FACULTY, which at times verges on the operatic.   Check out the works of Zur, Kyd and Graves on Spotify.



Its hard to believe we have reached number thirty-one in the soundtrack supplement, it’s also hard to believe the year we have had all over the world with the virus, let’s hope that the vaccine will be successful in at last allowing us to return to something that can be called normal. As promised in this latest edition we have a varied selection for you, a handful of new releases and MMI tips for scores of the year contenders when we do our little Awards announcements in January and February. Hints of these will dropped into certain reviews along the way. Also, a look at some western spaghetti, or Italian western soundtracks, which are not by the usual suspects. And some of the usual soundtracks that you may have missed or neglected over the years. And a section on vinyl releases too or at least that should be released, and a quick look at a few DVD releases, so a busy supplement, here we go then best get started before we know it Easter will be here.  


Let’s begin with a couple of festive favourites shall we, looking at the television the other evening it looks as if it will be more or less a re-run of Last Christmas for most of the channels, with the exception of a handful of premieres, so its HOME ALONE, HOME ALONE ll, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, A CHRISTMAS CAROL (I think I counted around 7 different versions in the listings) SANTA CLAUS THE MOVIE, THE SNOWMAN, ZULU, (hang on how did that get in there)? OLIVER, SCROOGE, PAINT YOUR WAGON, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, MARY POPPINS, THE GREAT ESCAPE, (that is not actually on this year I just threw it in for effect.) STAR WARS, and a tribute to Michael Caine?  Or so it seems by the amount of his movies that are being shown. Well, I think I,ll stop there before I spoil the surprises for you, (what you are not surprised, well you don’t say) but I am sure you get the general idea. It may be the same old same old, but there is at least some variety in there. Which is something that TV lacks nowadays. There are no actual variety shows instead it’s all reality shows, talent contests where the judges are more important than the contestants, and game shows where the contestants have to eat unmentionables to stay somewhere  they dont really want to be,(show me the money) but of course if the price is right they will stay, and if opportunity knocks, then they might be able to make it through to the end of the show and double their money before reaching their tipping point and shouting blankety blank expletives, before saying who do you think you are, I am a minor celebrity get me out of here.  

But I digress, reality television and game shows are in my opinion pointless, and very rarely interest me in fact they should be stopped, so, “3 2 1” into the dusty bin with them and if there is nothing that appeals to you on TV over the Christmas, then why not pop in a DVD there are a few good ones around, maybe SORDO THE SILENT WAR would be something that you might like, a tale of the Spanish civil war, it has shades of the western thrown in and is I have to say a riveting storyline, beautifully photographed and sensitively scored. Its available on DVD and Blu-ray, and if you are into streaming it is also available on Netflix. Just something different and something that is entertaining as well, and no sign of Ant or Dec (which one is which by the way). So, onto film music now, and festive related titles to start with old and new.

The score for SANTA CLAUS THE MOVIE and the film itself was received with mixed feelings, most of which were slightly negative when the movie was in cinemas, to be honest I think composer Henry Mancini did a pretty good job considering the material he had to work with, because let’s face it that film was not good was it, and at risk of being placed on the naughty list, I would say it’s probably not one of the best Christmas movies or one of my favourites, I think I much prefer the vintage stuff like IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and the Alistair Simms A CHRISTMAS CAROL, from 1951. Or even something more up to date in the form of THE MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL with Michael Caine as Scrooge (oh yes that’s on TV over Christmas too), The soundtrack for SANTA CLAUS THE MOVIE was originally released on LP then a compact disc was issued and the Spanish label Quartet then re-issued the score in an expanded form of three CD’s with cleaned up sound, the thing is many collectors were of the opinion that the sound quality was in fact the same as the original compact disc release.

But I have to say I loved the three-disc set, and I also have to come down on the side of the record label on this one (which is rare for me), that the sound that they realised on this release was stunning. The artwork too was far superior, and the label presented it attractively including informative sleeve notes. It was so popular that the label re-issued the score in 2019, with different artwork, the three-disc set comprises of the expanded soundtrack on the first two discs, which have a running time of over two hours, and the third disc has the original soundtrack edition with the same cues as the original LP record and the Singular records CD release. There are I am told a few copies of the re-issue around if you look for them, but they can be a little overpriced.

Mancini’s score is well, typical Mancini, with lilting sweet melodies and heart felt themes that are oozing with melancholy and have to them a warmth and tenderness that we associate with the season of good will, the score also can be a little corny and cliched, but it’s that kind of movie. If you have not got this in your collection, just look for a copy even if it’s not the expanded version, so that you can savour it and be overwhelmed by the feel-good music of this much missed Maestro, it’s a score that you will warm to I am sure, but please show some elf control when listening.

 Another Christmas favourite is ELF, again syrupy and sweet this is an entertaining movie with Will Ferrel stealing almost every scene jumping into Christmas Tree’s, burping, eating spaghetti and syrup, and having the fastest snowball throwing arm in the west. The score was the work of John Debney, who penned a suitably becoming and supportive soundtrack, that underlined the comic parts and laced the more emotional section and gave a great big slice of relief to the proceedings when Santa managed to get his sleigh into the air. It is essential viewing for Christmas and Debney’s score is one of the many pluses about this movie.

After Christmas trees are taken down and decorations are returned to the loft for another twelve months, along with that festive cheer goodwill to all men. We soundtrack collectors often turn our thoughts to the up-and-coming awards season, in 2020 things were rather different, because of the Covid, there were ceremonies but not as we know them, and nearly all were done via zoom (which I thought was an ice lolly) and other such technology, the awards this coming year may be conducted in a very similar way because we are being told that things may not return to something resembling normality till April or the summer.

As you know we here at MMI have our own awards, nothing grand just a mention or a sign of recognition to the best scores in various categories from the past year.  There have been several scores this year that fall into the best of certain categories, however, I am still of the opinion that FANNY LYE DELIVER’D by Thomas Clay is out in front. But this is just the thoughts of MMI. The movie which has been screening on SKY movies recently is also to be given a special edition blu-ray release that also includes the soundtrack. It is I am told due around the third week in December 2020, so if you are stuck for a Christmas present why not treat a friend or yourself to this atmospheric, shocking, and very different movie.

Other scores that could make into the best slot in certain categories include Sid De La Cruz’s HELL ON THE BORDER. Again, this has been a regular on SKY movies and in my opinion is worth a watch, the score is certainly supportive of the action, and does evoke at times the style of Jerry Goldsmith and that is why it is a must for fans of fine movie music. So, to return to new releases and one that stays with the impending festive season.

THE CLAUS FAMILY is one of the most recent additions to an already impressive catlogue from the specialist label Movie Score Media. The music for this festive tale is by the incredibly talented Anne Kathrin Dern, and this I think is certainly one of her best, from the opening track it establishes straight away an atmosphere that is filled with a magical and mystical sound. This is a richly thematic score, the composer putting to effective use female voice, poignant and emotive themes and music that can only be associated with Christmas. In fact. this score is everything Christmas should be, romantic, mysterious, fantastical and joyous as well as being dramatic and haunting.

Sparkle and shimmering throughout the music just entertains and enthrals, it is a fusion of styles that we associate with the likes of both Williams and Horner, with sweeping and fly away passages executed by the string section that are accompanied and enhanced by affecting and fragile sounding nuances deployed via woods, percussive elements, and solo violin. There is also present a more apprehensive undercurrent, or a darkness which occasionally raises its head and leans towards the mischievous and the otherworldly at times, it is a score that you MUST listen to.

It will I am certain distribute a liberal sprinkling of cheer and magic and hopefully create moods and atmospheres that are warm and recall the festive seasons past and present. In many ways this work evokes the composers score for LILLYS BEWITCHED CHRISTMAS which was released in 2018 by Movie Score Media digitally and later by Kronos records onto compact disc. I do hope that this will be released onto CD as it is a score that deserves as much exposure as is possible.

Jay McCarrol is a composer that I have to be truthful about and say I have not come across him before, but after a little research I found out he is an accomplished Canadian composer, musician and actor, based in Toronto, McCarrol studied at the Berklee college of music, he has worked on several film scores including THE DIRTIES (2013) and OPERATION AVALANCHE (2016). He has also scored a few commercials and been involved with various musicals. His score for THE KID DETECTIVE is in my opinion outstanding. It has a light and easy sound to it that I think one could compare with many of the Italian scores from the 1960’s and 1970’s that accompanied so many of those police and crime dramas, it is a fusion of lounge styles and jazz that are brought together by a dramatic and richly haunting sound, the composer putting to great and effective use wordless female voice in the style of Edda Dell Orso, it is great when one discovers  a score that you were not aware of and also know nothing of the composer or indeed the movie itself. But this is a work that I could sit and listen to on repeat all day long and I think even after a week or so I would still be finding little quirks and melodies etc that I had missed in the previous airings, so is it good I hear you say, Of course it is, and you should head over to digital platforms and check this out, you will not I promise you be sorry at all. The sound and the style are in my opinion very 1960’s and at times it has that Barry-esque sound that we experienced in scores such as THE IPCRESS FILE, with breathy and sensual woods creating steamy nuances and also the composer in certain cues evokes the Mancini sound from movies such as EXPERIMENT IN TERROR, a mix of drama and jazz that works so well. The track ABES THEME is a prime example of this stylisation and sound, with the composer employing electric guitar and smouldering brushed percussion alongside those mysterious woods. This is an accomplished work that for me was a surprise, but a genuinely nice one that I recommend to you without reservation.

Bear McCreary is a composer known for not being predictable, his scores are innovative and inventive, and he seems to be able to create wonderfully supportive soundtracks that work on so many levels, he is a composer that I would say cannot be letterboxed or put into a type cast category, because he has worked on so many genres and diverse subjects. AVA is one of his most recent assignments, and although I have to say I was not that enthusiastic about the score after hearing it a few times, it does the job it is supposed to do in the movie.

It is a mainly electronic or synthesised work, and if there are any conventional instruments in there, they are more than likely solo performances that are either used as a foundation and built on or enhanced by the electronic hardware that the composer has employed. Still, AVA, I think is a good soundtrack because it is supportive of the movie and brings more depth to the proceedings and creates so many moods. If you are a fan of McCreary, then this will be an essential purchase.

Back in time a few years for two scores by Alan Silvestri, both of which were Christmas releases. The first is THE POLAR EXPRESS, which I think everyone loves, as in the film and the score.

The second is A CHRISTMAS CAROL which was rebooted in animated form back in 2009 by Disney, using the voice over talents of Jim Carrey as Scrooge. In its opening cue we are treated to a suitably dramatic and festive piece in which Silvestri integrates Christmas favourites and carols into his original soundtrack, this is epic sounding material and Silvestri utilised large symphony orchestra and choir to fashion this imposing and yet touching work, it also includes a certain impish quirkiness in cues such as SCROOGE COUNTS MONEY and there are oodles of foreboding and dread in many of the other tracks such as MARLEYS GHOST VISITS SCROOGE as an example.

Plus, we must not forget the warmth and the cheeriness as displayed in tracks such as RIDE ON MY GOOD MAN and the charming and delicate airs and graces of FIRST WALTZ. If by any chance you have not heard this then now is the time to check it out, as it is available on most digital platforms. But do not, restrict your listening to just Christmas time, because remember “A SILVESTRI IS FOR LIFE, NOT JUST CHRISTMAS”.  And moving swiftly on.

Do you recall I mentioned the Netflix movie, JINGLE JANGLE briefly a while ago but now its full score is out on digital platforms, John Debney does once again what he does best and creates a score that is laden with rich and wholesome sounding themes, it is fully symphonic and to maybe understate the obvious it is grandiose, and a magical and pulsating musical adventure that will be returned to many times and not just during the holiday season. The cheeky yet grand work overflows with commanding moments and is oozing with a bright and vibrant sound and style. This and his score for COME AWAY is possibly the best we have heard from Debney in a while, he seems to have returned to the style of past triumphs such as HOCUS POCUS, creating wonderfully lyrical themes and outstanding action cues.

Plus, do I also detect this score having Spaghetti western sounding references? Which materialise in cues such as DON TURNS GUS TO THE DARK SIDE, ok it may be slightly paradoxical, but it is there, with solo trumpet and choir, well at least hints of it with its Hispanic/Mexicana type flavour. JINGLE JANGLE is a musical as we know. But the score by Debney shines all on its own, with is sweeping symphonic flourishes, its fragile and intimate moments and the composers use of a soulful wordless female voice in places makes this an absolute must, because yes you guessed, its recommended, one for the Christmas stocking, go on you deserve it.


Spaghetti westerns as you are probably aware are a passion of mine, not just the scores but the movies too, and I know that many of these quirky western dramas and comedies have not stood the test of time well, but the music is something that remains original and fresh as homemade pasta. And imitations of this sound have a habit of turning up in many contemporary scores for both cinema and TV. It was an incredibly influential style that has since its debut in the westerns of Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima remained in the minds of many, including a generation of film music composers, who when faced with a western type scenario in a film have turned to it and re-invented it. So, in this soundtrack supplement as promised heres a few that you might have missed. To do full reviews would take up far too much time and space, so maybe a short and concise appraisal of these would serve you better.

But before I continue, I notice news of a three compact disc set of THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, from Spanish label Quartet, this iconic score by Morricone is probably the most famous or at least most familiar western theme of all time, and I can see nothing in the offing that could even topple it from its number one perch. But I am somewhat suspicious of expanded editions, especially when it comes so many years after the score was written.

It’s good to have more but also at times it can be a bad thing as in less can be more in some cases, I can see the three discs are made up of  film score, and the original soundtrack release, the first two discs being the film score with alternate takes and orchestral versions of cues such as STORY OF A SOLDIER, but it does at times make one stop and think with mouse about to click buy this item, do we really need it? Will I be a lesser fan if I dont get this? I do not think so, I have to be truthful and say that after the death of Morricone, I did get rather agitated by the number of SO-CALLED FANS that started to wax lyrical about the Maestro and his music, some of them and only some I remember making derogatory remarks about the same Maestro, and his music, so to the fair weather fans of Ennio Morricone, I do say we have long memories. So, as a big fan of Il Maestro, since the early to mid-1960’s I have to add that I am holding fire, just a while on this. And before things take an Ugly direction from any readers of this, remember this is just my own personal take on the situation ok. It is a great release do not get me wrong, and I would imagine in the hands of the talented Mr. Chris Malone the sound will be amazing, and there are also extensive liner notes from journalist Tim Greiving, which are packed into a twenty-four-page booklet and includes an interview with Clint Eastwood that was especially conducted for this release.  Based upon their past record Quartet will I am certain present this well. However, I am for now at least making do with my fifty-five-minute edition which I love or even the original release which I love even more.  

From an iconic film and a classic Italian western score to something that is maybe a little less familiar. THE MAN CALLED NOON was released during the summer of 1972, and although the movie did not enjoy much success at the cinema box office, it is nevertheless an entertaining and at times thought provoking sagebrush saga. Directed by British filmmaker Peter Collinson whose other film credits include THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE and the taught quite harrowing physiological thriller FRIGHT and produced by the larger-than-life Euan Lloyd, who was responsible for the production of films such as, THE WILD GEESE, THE SEA WOLVES, PAPER TIGER and the over-the-top western CATLOW. THE MAN CALLED NOON, is for the most part an entertaining movie that is probably more of a thriller than a shoot em up western it did remind me slightly of HANNIE CAULDER, although saying that there is a considerable head count of deaths notched up when it comes to the gunfight sequences.

The musical score is courtesy of Luis Enrique Bacalov, the style which he employed on this movie is I suppose is slightly different from his earlier efforts within the western genre, ie; DJANGO, QUIEN SABE and THE PRICE OF POWER and I think it is possibly THE MAN CALLED NOON that was Bacalov’s stepping stone to the current sound and style that we expect from this Maestro. The score is a work that encompasses numerous styles, which include a sweet-sounding melody that the composer utilises as the heart of his soundtrack building the remainder of his thematic material around this and also using variants of it to introduce other strong thematic material within the score. The central theme is performed by strings which at times are enhanced by the wonderfully unique and wordless soaring vocalising of the incredible Edda Dell Orso.  Luis Bacalov creates a sound that is not a million miles away from Morricone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Which is something that the composer returned to on his score for another western, THE GRAND DUEL. THE MAN CALLED NOON, however, does also contain darker material and tense and dramatic compositions that are supportive to the action on screen, whilst at the same time remain entertaining away from the movie.

This style of scoring is more prevalent in cues such as the track, FIRE AND GUNS and IN THE FORTRESS. There is at times also a South American or Latin influence, present in the cue HIGHLANDS which is not unpleasant and works so well pan pipes and all. The LP record was originally issued on General Music or GDM as it is now known, and has received a couple of compact disc re-issues, its one I recommend that you check out, that is if you do not already have it. Luis Bacalov was notorious for re-using music from films he had scored within other movies, just listen to DJANGO and then go to QUIEN SABE? And also, THEY CALL HIM KING and you will undoubtedly hear examples of similarities, which are more than actual similarities and more to the point are exact duplicates note for note. THE MAN CALLED NOON does not thankfully display or suffer this method of scoring and it is a work that is a glowing example of this Maestro’s inventive and melodious style.

From the melodious style of Bacalov we go to the more offbeat and at times jazz influenced writing of Gianni Ferrio, and his score for the western SENTENCE OF DEATH, this is a soundtrack that I have always really been attracted to, I think because of its unconventional styles in which we hear Mexican flavoured themes, breathy and mysterious cues and jazz laced pieces. Alongside a jazz or bluesy title song entitled THE LAST GAME.

Ferrio I feel was more innovative than he is given credit for, after all when scoring westerns just as an example, the composer was not really part of what we know as the Italian film music school, he very rarely used a whistler, his compositions also contained elements of the old Hollywood western and he combined this with a style that was evocative of Morricone, Cipriani etc, but also fused this with his own distinct way of fashioning music to suit the various scenarios on screen.

Thus, I suppose in essence Ferrio created an Italian western sound that was a sub-genre of music that itself was also imitated in later years by other composers. Ferrio I think made it more acceptable for jazz influenced compositions to be utilised within a western movie, as did fellow Italian composer Piero Piccioni.  

Another composer that also used this type of scoring tecnique was Amedeo Tommasi, who although did not work on many westerns, created a handful of scores that stood out within the genre of the spaghetti western and its collection of innovative scores. THE LONG DAYS OF HATE (1969) is a good example of his distinct style of writing for film, and although this score does in fact contain a few of the stock sounds of the Italian western film score, it also has to it a sound that is highly original and therefore attractive. The composer not only manages to fashion dramatic interludes with brass, electric guitar, strings, and bass guitar as did composers such as Francesco De Masi.

But he also provides a powerful title song, which could be likened to many of the opening songs from Italian made cop and crime dramas, and as well as this he creates a handful of tracks that to be quite honest would not be out of place in a contemporary romance or even one of the many Giallo movies that were produced in Italy during the 1960’s and 1970’s. So, THE LONG DAYS OF HATE is in my opinion a must have Spaghetti western score, because of the variations within it, and because its pretty good as well and it is surprising that the composer never scored more westerns. The compact disc was released on the GDM label as a special edition in the 2000’s and has since (2007) become available on digital platforms, this is well worth seeking out. Two more Italian western scores to look at then back to a few new releases.

The sound of the Italian western as we all are aware is a quirky and at times haunting one, the use of what are known to be more traditional western instruments such as banjo and harmonica in the hands of Italian composers seem to take on the guise of something more foreboding and sinister, the harmonica in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST for example, the Spanish or classical guitar also can at certain key points within scores also become more threatening as in THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY in the cue THE SUNDOWN, which begins melodically then alters its path into something more fearful and apprehensive.

So to a score that I am sure you are familiar with, and one that was issued originally back in 1970 on a Japanese import LP record, SABATA, by composer Marcello Giombini, is one of the genres best non Morricone scores, the soundtrack was thankfully re-issued on various LP releases and then onto compact disc originally by Hillside and GDM but has since been released again and again, but it is surprising that it is a score that even now a number of collectors are not familiar with.

Released in 1969 SABATA was the first in a trilogy of sagebrush sagas that were directed by Italian filmmaker Gianfranco Parolini under the alias of Frank Kramer. The movie enjoyed only moderate success at the box office both in Italy and other countries, although the film did not receive a release outside of its country of origin until as late as 1971. It still nevertheless was an original and entertaining entry to the then growing catalogue of Italian or Spaghetti westerns. Photographed cleverly by Alessandro Mancori and with a hectic, diverse and at times chaotic storyline the movie took us on a veritable rollercoaster ride that involved ingeniously devised bank robberies, frantic chases, double dealing antics between the main protagonists and their allies, plus plots and counterplots that are laced with numerous gunfights and smartly staged showdowns.

SABATA and its subsequent sequels managed to capture the attention of cinema goers during the early 1970’s when Spaghetti Western fever was running high, SABATA in-particular was filled with gimmicky little twists that made the storyline implausible but at the same time were massively entertaining. Marcello Giombini, provided the film with a up-beat and infectious sounding score, the composer who was at the time of the film’s release comparatively unknown outside of Italy, provided the movie with a soundtrack that was in effect a collection of themes, which were written for the central characters of the story. The themes were heard throughout the film either as a character was about to enter the screen or was the centre of attraction on the screen. The composer utilised these musical motifs in a highly original and effective fashion and arranged and orchestrated them in varying ways throughout the proceedings to keep them fresh and vibrant.

Because of the composer’s approach to scoring SABATA it was at times possible not to have to look at the movie to see which of the main characters was coming onto the screen, as Giombini’s excellent music would tell you this. That is another thing that Italian western scores were very astute at, integrating the instruments on screen into the score for the movie, or vice versa. SABATA is a perfect example of this and manifests itself in the cue BANJO, which was also the name of one of the main characters, Giombini utilising banjo whenever this character might appear on screen either strumming the instrument or indeed just as he walked into a scenario. Music played a big part in SABATA, its jangling guitar led theme accompanying the central character, (Lee Van Cleef) and Banjo playing a church organ in one scene. The villain of the piece, (if there are villains and heroes in Italian westerns) Stengal is portrayed convincingly by actor Franco Ressel and is often accompanied by a slow and powerful composition that has a down tempo and deliberate sounding persona, the trumpet led piece is supported throughout by dramatic and swirling strings that are underlined by percussion.

The cue NEL COVO DEL STENGAL is the most prominent use of the composition or at least it is the cue where the composer gives the theme its most fluent and expressive rendition and is heard when Sabata, and the villain meet for the first time in Stengal’s dining hall. Giombini later combined elements of the Stengal theme with the central theme for Sabata, which resulted in a highly effective and dramatic piece. The soundtrack was as I say released onto CD by Hillside/GDM and was paired with the score that Giombini penned for THE RETURN OF SABATA, and although this is also a worthy spaghetti score it does somewhat pale in the magnificence of the original score, it being not as inventive or entertaining, but saying this the film too was a little lack lustre. Both are available on digital platforms.

To the last of the Italian western soundtracks and again one that you could have missed, and why is that? Well because it was never issued onto compact disc and at this time is not on digital platforms and I have not heard of any plans to releases it sadly. It was the A side of one of those CAM double soundtrack features that had two scores on one LP, the B side surprisingly was Stelvio Cipriani’s classic Spaghetti score for A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN.   French composer Charles Dumont who worked on films like TRAFFIC, wrote the score for this little-known Italian western entitled THE BELLE STARR STORY, and I just dont understand why this has not been issued onto CD or made available on digital sites.

The movie was released in 1968, and the LP (SAG 9004) contained just a handful of cues (6) that were released as a representative of Dumont’s score. I suppose because of A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN, being more of a prominent movie and score, Dumont’s efforts were somewhat overlooked, even though it was the A side, but I remember thinking at the time of getting the LP back in around 1971 that the score was good. The song from the movie was also released on a 45rpm single, (AMP 34). So, heres a question, why has it not been re-issued in any format? It is after all a member of the Italian western score club, ok, it has no real musical affiliations with the rest of the genre as in stock sounds or even is it remotely connected stylistically with the sound that we so readily associate with the Spaghetti western, apart from a saloon track which seemed to be obligatory in most Spaghetti scores. The soundtrack LP opens with a fanfare of sorts that introduces a vocal entitled NO TIME FOR LOVE, which is something the main character of the movie identifies with. The vocal is performed by the movies star Elsa Martinelli, who delivers a suitably sultry and sensual vocal.


Dumont penned the music for the song as well as the score and the lyrics were provided by Andre Salvat and Norman Newell. The music for the song is sparse whilst the vocals are being performed, and comprises of woods, bass guitar and a subtle Spanish guitar, until the vocal or first part of it at least comes to an end, and then Dumont enters the fray with a galloping and quick paced piece that is performed by timpani, percussion and horns with strings supporting. This ends abruptly as the vocal is again re-introduced this time with a more elaborate support of strings giving it a more romantic feel and atmosphere. Track two, is an instrumental version of the song and the composer employs dramatic strings to open the cue, but these are then tailed off and amore lush and sumptuous rendition of the song is performed by soaring strings which themselves fade and lead into a delicate and quiet guitar solo.

Track three, WESTERN CASINO, is self-explanatory, and this is where the saloon piano piece comes into the work, Dumont providing a jaunty, honky-tonk saloon sound via the at times off kilter piano that is backed and punctuated by strummed banjo. THRILLING PER UNA STELLA is the title of track number four, Dumont, switching to a more dramatic musical style, with electric bass, percussion, brass, and bongos, combining to create a taught and apprehensive sound, that is quite reminiscent of Cipriani in A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN, the track builds with the composer adding strings that seem to envelope and carry the remainder of the instrumentation, bringing the track to a close. Track five, is a guitar version of the central theme and is entitled BELLE STARR GUITAR.

Which is brief but effective, the final track is BELLE STARR, in which Dumont creates a suitably western sounding riding cue, with brass, strumming guitars, electric bass punctuations and rumbling percussion. A short but interesting and entertaining soundtrack, that sadly was at the time of its release ignored by many. On re-visiting the movie, I found it an interesting if not different take on the western, but the score was effective and there is a lot more music in the movie than there is available on the LP record. I suppose we must wait and hope that someone might come across the tapes and release this entertaining soundtrack so we can all savour and appreciate it. Maybe four flies, or All score might consider this as a future release. Until then its back to the record deck for me.  

Staying with Italian releases but not westerns I discovered a couple of TV scores from nature documentaries recently, I had either missed them or even ignored them initially, but both are now available on digital platforms and on CD, with one as far as I can see is released on LP and available via the Italian label Four Flies, who never seem to slow in the pursuit of releasing entertaining if not slightly obscure and quirky soundtracks onto vinyl. These two scores are GLI ANIMALI CHE SIMPARTIA from 1974 and ZOO FOLLE from 1975, both films were directed by Riccardo Fellini the Brother of Federico the acclaimed feature filmmaker.

Music for both documentaries is by Giuliano Sorgini, who you may remember for his atmospheric soundtrack to THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE which was originally available on an LP and then later on CD from BEAT records and Quartet. The scores for both nature studies are wonderfully delicate and melodically exquisite, the composer creating touching, emotive and haunting themes within both. His use of wordless female voice in ZOO FOLLE is stunning and hints at the style and sound of Morricone all’a mid-sixties and gives a gentle nod in the direction of both Cipriani and Nicolai. The composer also infusing jazz elements and textures into both the works. These scores are worth checking out, and as I say they are both available to you via sites such as Spotify and I tunes.

 So, I think that’s about it, apart from Caldera records re-issue of Ennio Morricone’s score for SOSTIENE PEREIRA which is an expanded edition and being a Morricone is always worth having, but of course there are recommendations that we can make if you get bored over the five days of Christmas this year, why not return to scores such as SORDO THE SILENT WAR by Carlos Martin Jara, you know you love it. Or if its something non film music that you are looking for there is always composer Jara’s AQUI Y AHORA or HERE AND NOW album which is in a word delightful, it’s a collection of themes for solo piano that are mesmerising and relaxing performed eloquently and with emotion by the composer, treat yourself after Christmas lunch, chill out after the Queens speech.

Or if you feel like swashing buckles and slapping thighs, why not go back in time to those days of old when Knights were bold, and spin some classic movie scores such as THE SEA HAWK, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, EL CID, BEN HUR or even do some plate smashing to the bouzouki themes from films scored by Manos Hajidakis or Mikis Theodorakis,(it saves on washing up liquid and the fairy also deserves a bit of a break don’t you think?) or even immerse yourself in some John Barry or indulge in some of the 1960’s Morricone scores that are so innovative even now. Or how about you dive into the MMI archives, now there is an idea.  After all it is Christmas, pass the quality street (other chocolates are available). Hope you enjoyed this 31st edition of soundtrack supplement, number 32 will be making an entry soon, maybe before 2021 decides to make an entrance, who knows? But have a jolly Christmas, one and all, and also be jolly careful.


Composer Carlos M. Jara is in my opinion one of the rising stars within the film music arena, his music is lyrical, emotional, poignant and striking, His score for the movie SORDO THE SILENT WAR is a must have soundtrack for any film music collector. And I am of the opinion that we will be hearing more of his music for both film and television in the not too distant future. My thanks to the composer for taking the time to answer my questions, in what I know is a very busy time for him.

What do you think is the purpose of music in film?

Well, thats a very good question. I think the purpose of the music should be the same than any other department: To tell a story. 

Are you from a family background that is musical at all?

Not at all, though my Father played the piano a Little bit. 

When scoring a project do you work on the orchestrations as well as the composition of the music, and do you feel that orchestration is just as much a part of composition?

I do care a lot about the orchestration. Usually, I have an orchestrator by my side in the project. Due to the matter of time. I couldn´t afford the writing and orchestrating together. Because I use a DAW for composing and give my clients the best mock-ups I can. And the program I use for writing a score is “Sibelius” Sibelius is not as good as Cubase with libraries for creating mock-ups. So, I had to choose, and I did: Just focus on creating the best mock-ups. But when I do this, I create them like if I were writing a score so when I deliver the material to my orchestrator it is clear what I wanted to do. Actually, when he creates the score based on my midi-file I review it with him. Of course, it’s not because I dont trust him but because I want to check everything out and be sure that it is what I wrote. 

You also conduct your film scores, have you ever had a conductor so that you may concentrate more on the way the music session is progressing?

I do like to conduct. It is always a blessing to have your music played by others and I like to enjoy it with the orchestra so I always want to be there. But yes, sometimes I stay in the booth because the experience is totally different. Depending on many factors I decide one thing or another. 

What musical education did you undertake, and was music always your first choice regarding a career?

I started playing piano when I was 8 years old. After that I also played the tuba for 7-8 years. I played on bands and different ensembles and I had very clear that music was a career for me. Not film music, Film music was always in my mind when I was a child like a very far-off dream. But it just disappeared I dont know why. So, I focused on piano and later and finished a degree on music theory. I was more interested in teaching than composing. And spent years teaching to kids. But in some point film music started to re-sound in my head and after a lot of years… well… the dream came true.

SORDO THE SILENT WAR is an amazing score, ROSA’S THEME is such a lyrical and romantic piece, what size orchestra did you have for the score and where was the score recorded?

Thank you very much. We had a sixty five piece orchestra and we recorded in 2018. 

Do you perform any instruments on your soundtracks?

Yes, I do: Piano and synthesizers. 

How much time did you have to write and record SORDO, and were you given any specific instructions regarding the style or the sound of the music by the director?

Well, I remember that I went to Rome with the filmmaker (Alfonso Cortés) in 2016 and we went to a concert by master Ennio Morricone. After that we really decided that “Sordo” should pay homage to him and to the western vocabulary. So Sordo took that direction from the very beginning. Also, I wrote some tracks even before the film was shot, based on the script and the story. Rosa´s theme was one of those. We actually recorded that theme at least one year before the film was shot, and Alfonso (the filmmaker) was sure that it would really fit a particular scene. The one he ended up shooting. 

Who as in composers or artists would you say has had an influence upon you or maybe has inspired you?

I have three names in mind since I was a child: John Williams, Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer.

Do you think that having a central or core theme for a score in a movie is important?

It really depends on the film. I usually discuss that with the filmmakers. Having a core theme is very powerful and useful but sometimes the film does not need that. So as always… whatever the story needs…

Where do you start when working on a movie, is it a case of beginning at the opening titles and work through until the end of the movie, or do you score smaller cues first, or maybe establish a foundation theme and build the remainder of the score around this?

I like to create a pallete of sounds. To define what the music is going to be like. That´s the hardest thing for me, where everything starts. So, I spent a lot of time trying to create something, it can be just harmony, melodies, textures, sounds… sometimes I´ve picked up a particular cue or scene just to start, but the more I worked on the film the more I realised that I had to rewrite that. Because the music was evolving to something else… 

Was SORDO temp tracked with anything at all, and what do you think of the practise of filmmakers utilising the temp on their movies, is it helpful or maybe a hindrance?

Not very much actually, SORDO had some temp tracks, but very few. Temp tracks are not a bad thing themselves; the problem is with the filmmakers (sorry) Here are my thoughts: Usually, filmmakers dont know how to express themselves in musical terms and feel uncomfortable because they can´t talk to composers. And actually, what composers don´t need is a filmmaker that knows little about musical terms. But they know what they are looking for, so if they find that in a temp track good for them. A composer should read why the filmmaker chose that temp track, and why its useful… And the filmmaker should be ready for that to be changed. I mean, they dont use temp actors and if they do, they know they will be changed. When shooting you cannot ask to Bruce Willis if he could be more Robert de Niro or whatever… The problem is that they don´t realise that is what they are asking composers sometimes. So, my thought is: If the filmmaker needs it, I will listen to it to understand the needs he/she has, and after that we will talk about it: Is it because of the pace? The building? The intensity? A lot of questions to be asked… But I never had big problems with temp tracks and filmmakers.

You worked on a few TV series, mini-series and documentaries, is there a great deal of difference between scoring these as opposed to working on a full-length feature?

No is not. For me it depends always on the story and the scale of project, I mean, it is very different when you are working on a ten-thousand-dollar documentary than when you´re working on a forty million dollar feature. The core is the same. You have a story to write music for. But the scale of the project makes the way of working on it a little bit different. 

I think your first assignment was in 2011, a short entitled LA CARTA, how did you become involved on this and when working on a short is it more difficult to establish a sound or style because of the time factor, seeing as some shorts are less than 15 minutes in duration?

Yes “La Carta” was my first assignment. Actually, I started looking for the typical google search “Looking for composer” and it took me to meet the filmmaker Álvaro Oliva. After a brief talk, I started to work on it. And it ended up winning an award, so it was a very cool collaboration, and quite of unusual because these things usually don´t work out. And talking about the process: I dont find it easier to work on a short film because as always, the problem here is to find the right sound for it, and that part is always hard. It does not matter if you´re-working either on a short or a two-hour film.

I think you worked on eight episodes of Conquistadores Adventum, when you work on a series such as this, do you ever for want of a better phrasing re-cycle any of the themes from early episodes into later instalments, or use certain sections again. And do you score the series in order of its airing, you also collaborated on the music for this with other composers, was this a collaboration in the true sense or were you each assigned certain sections to score?

Conquistadores Adventum is one of my favourite projects because I had the pleasure of working with two people that I really admire and love, Daniel Rodrigo and Neonymus. Well, in this TV series the way we worked was special. I focused on a music vocabulary based on harmony, melodies, and some orchestral textures with synth sounds. Daniel focused more on textures, sound design and he re-arranged some of my cues, while Neonymus work was mainly vocal. He has a beautiful voice and recorded some cues with layers and layers of his own voice. Sometimes we watched a scene together and composed our individual ideas for it. And after that we mixed all of them. Sometimes Daniel, who played like the main composer role in terms of organization, decided which one of us would write a particular scene. All of this was allowed by the filmmaker Israel del Santo. Who wanted the three of us to be involved in this particular way. So, it was fun!

I love OTROS MUNDOS, it’s a series for TV that ran for three years, how did you become involved on the series, and how much music did you compose over the three years?

This is a very cool project. I ended up on it because of the production company (La caña brothers) and the filmmaker of “Sordo” (Alfonso Cortés) who is one of the owners of the company. So, they told me about this project in 2016 but we started working on it on 2017. I think I wrote maybe like two hours of music for the two seasons. And I was given an award for the music of the first one at FILMUCITE. The nature of this project led to a very 80´s symphonic music so I had a lot of fun writing the music and watching the whole show!

SORDO THE SILENT WAR was performed live to film, do you think that this is something that film composers etc should do regularly and do you think that the Main theme as we know it is now being used less and less?

Well, I always think that having a main title theme, a leit motiv or not, is not the composer´s decision but the filmmaker. I know that this was done a lot years ago with lovely results. I am happy product of that period when you walked out of a cinema singing the main theme of the film you´ve just watched. So i love that way of working in a romantic way. But talking about that is like talking about fashion. You never know? For me it really depends on the project. 

About the premiere of “Sordo” with the live orchestra: It was a beautiful event. And I will never forget it. Talking about the film, I think that it doesn´t affect the film in any way if you have a live orchestra playing the music, probably in terms of sound would be worse. But better in terms of the experience itself. I like films, I like film music, I like concerts and I like orchestras. So. if you join all of this you end up liking a lot of these kind of “film concerts”. So, it really depends on the public and its demand.

The score for SORDO was released digitally, did you have any involvement in the compiling of the soundtrack album?

I was in touch with Mikael Carlson of Movie Score Media and the releasing of the score happened just as I was in the middle of the SORDO premiere. So, he was truly kind to do the editing and final fixing on the tracks.

How many times do you prefer to see a project before beginning to put together any firm ideas regarding the style of music and also the placing of the music to best serve the movie or TV series? 

If possible, I always like to watch whatever they can show me. But most of the time I get involved in the project just when the script is there. So, I start composing concepts based on the script and conversations with the filmmaker. And later I fix all those ideas to the screen for sure. 

You released AQUI Y AHORA can you tell us about this recording and also what is next for you?

Well, AQUÍ Y AHORA was more a bunch of relaxing tracks using just a piano. It was done in the middle of the 2020 pandemic so I tried to do something that could take us away from the hard reality that we are living in.  I am working on a lot of different projects right now. A videogame called “The season of the warlock” that will be released in early 2021. A couple of documentary series called: Colgar las alas which is already released about a famous Spanish football player, and another one called: “Porvenir” dealing with the climate change which is challenging. Also, I am finishing my second feature film with Alfonso Cortés called “EGO” which is a project that I am incredibly grateful for being on board. And hopefully I will start a new feature film by the beginning of 2021. So yeah! Really lucky here!


As we start the so-called season to be cheerful, its time for Soundtrack Supplement number thirty. Again, a mixed bag of soundtracks are inside this edition, with a disaster movie that has provoked some negative comments opening the proceedings.  Remember the disaster movie? EARTHQUAKE, THE TOWERING INFERNO, SWARM, etc, well its back with a vengeance, in more ways than one in the form of SKYFIRE.

This is a Japanese movie, that was released in 2019 or at least it was made in 2019, it has, an American lead star and a Turkish composer. So an eclectic mix of talents or maybe not, this is something that you will have to decide after seeing it, the film itself is just stupid, after all who would build a luxury hotel on the side of a Volcano, but saying that its basically non stop action and mayhem from start to finish. Which is accompanied by some good special effects and a pulsating and commanding score by composer Pinar Toprak.


The film I suppose is a muddled and fast paced affair that has elements of every disaster film storyline, it is not only filled with disaster movie cliches, but contains a ridiculous plot and a weak script and also some pretty disastrous acting as well. The score however is excellent as far as disaster scores go, it has a contemporary sound, but also contains passages that evoke memories of past disaster film score highlights as in the already mentioned EARTHQUAKE etc. In fact, the music is probably the best thing about the film, but maybe I am being overly unkind, (ummmm no I’m not).

Pinar Toprak in her Studio

The composer wowed us with her score for CAPTAIN MARVEL and garnered a fair bit of attention with her music for the TV series STARGIRL. All I will say is film music fans will not be disappointed at all with this soundtrack, it is a fusion of synthetic and symphonic, the composer getting the balance just right and purveying urgent and tense interludes that almost always turn into high octane pieces that are overflowing with a powerful and also thematic air. The score does of course have its quieter sections with the composer creating rich and romantically laced compositions at various stages of the works development.

There is a powerful and driving persona to this soundtrack, with brass flourishes and booming percussive elements combining with strings to create a rich tapestry of action led tracks that remain thematic and interesting. Recommended.

Invariably at this time of year the Christmas movie raises its glittery and sweet little head. But its Christmas so we can allow that can’t we? As long as the soundtrack is good, I don’t mind at all. MY ADVENTURES WITH SANTA is a movie I don’t really know a lot about, but you can bet its not Oscar material and is filled with the normal Christmas feel good elements etc. The score by composer Damon Criswell is actually very good, the soundtrack itself is listed as a compilation so yes it also contains songs, but these are all original compositions.

Whether that is a good thing or not I am not certain. But at least we dont have to listen to Brenda Lee rocking around the Christmas tree on this one. But Criswell’s score for me is perfect Christmas themed fodder, it has to it a magical and mysterious air and contains enough warmth and melancholy to satisfy any Christmas Grotto Elf and bring a little bit of sparkle to the listener. I was reminded of the sound of James Horner at times with the composer combining, wistful and sweeping syrupy string led themes with choral effects and delicate little chimes and shimmering touches adding even more Christmas atmosphere as the work proceeds. Criswell also utilises a more grandiose sound that combines a traditional Christmas sound with dramatic symphonic styles. Its not an awful score, and being truthful I have to say I enjoyed it for the most part, even the numerous references to more traditional songs and carols which the composer integrates into the fabric of his original score. and I would say it is worth checking out.  

Remember two scores from last year, UNDONE and MAROONED by Amie Doherty, both of which were interesting to say the least, well the latest score from her is for another Christmas movie, which is the Hulu film HAPPIEST SEASON, I have to say although I did not enjoy this work as much as I did UNDONE it does have its moments, and is essentially a fairly good score. But there is not really a lot a composer do with a Christmas themed movie is there?  After all is pretty restricting and it also depends on the studio or the producers and director, who normally want Christmassy sounding music for their Christmas film. So, although HAPPIEST SEASON is not in my opinion the best of Doherty, it also cannot be said that it is the worst.  It is thankfully available on digital platforms so another case of try before you buy, my opinion is try it and then move on, or if you have not heard UNDONE buy that instead.

 Bear McCreary is a composer I have a lot of time for, it seems that he is able to turn his hand to scoring most types of movies and hops from genre to genre with ease.

He went through a period of scoring almost everything, and with each new TV show or film we saw his name featuring on the credits, FREAKY is one of his more recent assignments, and the composer has treated us to a score that is not only powerful and filled with inventive and innovative compositions but also is a delight to listen to, it is a horror film music fans dream come true with McCreary balancing the ominous and fearsome elements of his score with a scattering of lighter and melodic interludes.  Which come as a welcomed respite in a swirling Herrmann-esque sea of commanding and foreboding compositions. Recommended. From new releases to a recording or two you might have missed, the first is not actually a film score but is a compilation that does contain film themes alongside easy listening tracks.

THE LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN and ADVENTURE were originally released as separate albums on LP on the EMI Studio Two label. The artist was Ron Goodwin who released several LPs on this label during the late 1960’s through to the end of the 1970’s. All of which did have film music connections, because at the time Goodwin was himself a much in demand composer of movie scores. When the compact disc came into being many record labels decided to re-issue what were popular albums onto the new format, the good thing was that the collector would get great value for money sometimes because the Goodwin compilations were able to be re-issued as a buy one get one free kind of ting, so THE LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN and ADVENTURE were released onto one disc.

 I think for me personally ADVENTURE was the favourite, because of 633 SQUADRON, MISS MARPLE, VICTORY AT SEA, OF HUMAN BONDAGE, THE TRAP, OPERATION CROSSBOW, and items such as GIRL WITH A DREAM, THE GIRL FROM CORSICA, THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN (which was originally released on a 78rpm) and ELIZABETHAN SERENADE. Which although not film music were a perfect companion and a great listening experience, remember these compilations were released at a time when soundtrack albums were quite thin on the ground, mainly because there was no real interest in the actual scores only the themes, so Goodwin was providing music lovers and film music fans with an essential service and a way of hearing movie themes when the original recordings were not available.

THE LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN, contained what I look upon as classic film themes, from mainly British movies, DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT, THE WAY TO THE STARS, MOULIN ROGUE, FIRST OF THE FEW, GONE WITH THE WIND, LIMELIGHT, ESCAPE TO HAPPINESS were all there and more. So, by having these two recordings on one disc we were treated to a smorgasbord of powerful, melodic, and haunting themes that are now all looked upon as being iconic. Today compilations such as these are no longer around, the variety of the music and also of the film genres was amazing and I for one lament the passing of these types of collections. But there again, there are very few artists like Goodwin or even Mancini who also produced so many compilations containing film themes around these days. They were able to be so adaptable and flexible, but today the crossover artist is non-existent which again is sad. The word Variety is under used and the entertainment and music industries should look at reviving it. THE LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN and ADVENTURE are available on digital platforms, so if you have never heard these why not check them out, or if you had the LP.s or even have the CD’S why not click online and go get nostalgic.

Let’s stay with the one that got away or one you may have overlooked. And in this case one that has never been released onto compact disc, MURDERERS ROW by Lalo Schifrin was originally issued on a Colgems long playing record in 1966 in the U.S.A. with the UK release being on the RCA Victor label with slightly different art work, the recording when it was released and available was quite hard to come by and nowadays has attained for itself something of a following simply because of the fact it was and still is so rare. The album occasionally appears on various online sites in an auction, but these are very few and far between. It is a mystery to me why the soundtrack has not received a compact disc release as so many Schifrin scores have been made available in recent years on the shiny little discs. When contacting Schifrin’s own record label, they told me that it was a score that they probably would never be able to issue because of copyright problems. So, this gem of a soundtrack will sadly probably remain unreleased or at least not on CD. Now I am lucky because I do have the album and I did an LP transfer to my pc to preserve it and I was also lucky because it is a stereo recording. The album opens with a full working of the main theme for the movie, this a thundering start with the composer employing big band sounding brass and an up-tempo background courtesy of percussion and organ that is joined by more brass most notably saxophones who carry the central theme forward and upwards, with more percussive elements being added as the piece progresses, the jazz big band sound dominates the composition and drives it onwards in a very similar fashion to that of THE LIQUIDATOR score also by Schifrin. MURDERERS ROW is a mix of light sounding groovy tracks, jazzy inspired sections and the odd instrumental of I.M NOT THE MARRYING KIND which would ordinarily be supporting the distinct vocalising of Dean Martin but due to contractual restrictions none of Mr Martins vocals were released on any of the Matt Helm soundtrack albums, and also due to same contractual restrictions Mr Martins image was not allowed on the covers either. There are also plenty of extremely dramatic and fast paced interludes which seem to spring from nowhere to entertain and add a certain beat and urgency to the whole score.

 Its right up there with BULLIT, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and THE LIQUIDATOR. Its bombastic hard hitting and truly theme laden, ok the central theme or variations of it run through the entire score but it is an infectious theme that is never boring and one that I know listeners will never tire of. Like the FLINT movies, the Matt Helm series was very tongue in cheek and the music often reflected this but at certain points the composers involved would often score the movie as a serious entity thus the music worked even better and because the scene was scored in this way the scenario on screen also worked better.

There are twelve tracks on the recording and every-one of them is wonderful, they are filled with an energy a vitality and just a good old fashion sound that we never seem to hear anymore. I love the way Schifrin’s music just seems to ooze a charismatic sophistication, with its light and airy sambas, its easy listening and laid back jazz tracks and of course it’s more powerful and commanding sections, Schifrin is a Master when it comes to relaying moods and atmospheres and in this score, he excels even more than usual, with the composer on piano and bass guitar (performed by Carol Kaye) who played on many Beach Boys hits, was the performer on LA BAMBA by Richie Valens as well as working with the likes of Quincy Jones, Phil Spector and Simon and Garfunkel to mention but a few bringing much to the work. There is also effective use of strings, percussion, harpsichord, woods, Hammond organ, cymbalom, brass and even at one point an accordion taking a turn. The highlight of the score apart from the great theme is track number 4, SUZIES THEME (LOVE THEME) which is haunting and alluring, with the composer employing a light dusting of brushed percussion with dreamy sounding strings acting as a background to a delightful and mesmerising harpsichord solo that performs the love theme, this is to be honest an absolute delight and in many ways reminded me of the work of Stelvio Cipriani on THE ANONYMOUS VENETIAN, it has that easy going but at the same time beautifully crafted style to it. I know this soundtrack is not available on Compact Disc, but it is now thankfully on platforms such as Spotify, it is essential listening, if you don’t believe me go find it and be amazed.

Ok heres one I missed from 2018, DURANTE LA TORMENTA is mysterious thriller which also wanders into the realms of fantasy.  There are two storms which are separated by the passing of a quarter of a century but happen on the same date, we see a woman murdered a daughter missing the Berlin wall falls and there is just seventy two hours to unravel the complicated truth. The strong, affecting and powerful musical score is by Spanish Movie Maestro Fernando Velazquez, who produced a score that does much to aid the flow and development of the storyline, underlining and punctuating the taught and nail biting scenarios as they are presented on screen.


How I missed this I do not know, it is a wonderfully dark and tense sounding score, which is something that the composer does brilliantly, his music has audiences on the edge of their seats, and he always manages to support and elevate his projects without the music becoming too intrusive. The at times driving score in many ways evokes his brilliant soundtrack for DEVIL which is another must have release by this gifted and talented composer. Recommended.

That’s about it for now, back next time in soundtrack supplement thirty one, with more new releases, Christmas scores and those elusive scores that you missed out on.  And a little spaghetti.



Many of you may remember the Iron Curtain, or at least heard of it. I remember as a kid thinking that’s a big curtain if it is between countries, and I wonder how they put that up. Of course, after a while I realised it was not an actual curtain made of iron, but a metaphor used by the west or America to describe the line that the USSR had basically drawn across Europe. In Russia for some reason Horror movies were not exactly welcomed by the powers in the Kremlin, but still they were produced and there were in fact a lot of fine examples of chillers, gothic horrors and tales of the macabre, witchery, magic and mystery. I recently scratched the surface of the RED western or the OSTERN/EASTERN as it was often referred to, which was a genre that had its only style and contained various storylines all of which were produced in Eastern European countries that were inside the Warsaw pact. I started at the same time to see examples of Horror movies, but these were not as well documented, so I decided to investigate these quirky but very scary tales that had been committed to celluloid further, not realising just how many there were and more to the point how interesting they are.  I suppose I should refer to the origin of these movies by saying they are Eastern bloc productions, which encompasses the nations under the protection and influence of the Soviet Union, in affect ruled by Moscow. Its not just the films I am interested in but also the musical scores for these tales of terror, mayhem, and chaos.

 However, to begin I would like to open with a production that was released long after the Iron Curtain had fallen, this fairly recent addition comes in the form of the disturbing but at the same time alluring 2017 production from Estonia, November , which has been described as containing elements of the Grimm fairly tales and stories from Eastern European folklore. One critic described it as being As, Beautiful as it is as weird as Fxxx”.

Directed by Rainer Sarnet, the focus of the movie is an Estonian village, which has at its core strong Pagan beliefs. It is a place where werewolves roam the countryside, there is plague and an abundance of spirits. The villagers main aim however is to survive the long freezing winter and the darkness, and bleakness that accompanies and surrounds it. To survive there seems to be nothing that they will not do, and there is nothing that is off-limits. The villagers care not for each other as they steal from one another not really having any thought for their fellow people, they also steal from their German Lords who oversee the countryside and are not frightened to also pilfer from the devil, who often frequents the countryside around the village, neither it seems do not feel guilty about taking from God himself.

Amongst all of this confusion and chaos a young farm girl falls in love with a boy from the village, but the boy is also desired by a visiting German Baroness, which complicates things greatly for the Farm girl. The movie features, Rea Lest, Jorgen Liik, Arvo Kukumagi, Katarina Unt, and Taavi Eelmaa.

Filmed in black and white, which makes the action and storyline seem more real, and adds a greater chill to the proceedings. November is an atmospheric and mesmerising movie, both in its appearance and its content, it is a beautiful but twisted tale, a tormented yet seductive piece and one that you will think of long after you have ceased to view it the storyline conjuring up nightmarish thoughts in ones sub-conscious, I am of the opinion that November, is as disturbing as movies such as The VVitch (2015). It is a story of intense love but also a story of survival, set in the 19th century, and also a film that seems to throw everything at the watching audience, making it believable and shocking. The highly creative and haunting musical score is by Polish born Michael Jacaszek, this composer, producer and sound artist has created an edgy and nightmarishly dreamlike sounding score, which is a mixture of thematic material and sound design, the layers of colours and varied textures fashion an attractive but at the same time apprehensive musical persona.

He is often credited as just Jacaszek and has also produced several recordings that could be labelled as being new age. His electrocoustic approach is well suited to the many harrowing, romantic and mysterious scenarios that one encounters within this dark and richly virulent movie. From 2017 we go back now to other decades, and even to the 1960’s  which was the time of the cold war, and the ever present threat and  ever-growing tensions between the Soviet Union and The United States of America. So, I start with the sixties, which was a time of Carnaby street, pop music and free love in the western world.

The next movie is a Polish produced horror, that deals with demonic possession. Directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, who was also a politician, and had been a member of Polish United Workers’ Party from 1954 until its dissolution in 1990 and a deputy in Polish parliament from 1985 until 1989. It was supposedly based upon true events and based upon the Loundun Possessions, the movie Mother Joan of the Angels (1962), is set in a small village in Poland, it is the seventeenth century and a group of nuns are said to have been the subject of demonic possession. A priest portrayed by Mieczyslaw Voit, is sent to help them and to investigate the reported mass possession.  The worst affected nun is Mother Joan played by Lucyna Winnicka.

The priest arrives and soon has a frightening encounter with Mother Joan and the demon that possesses her. He is told in a rasping and guttural sounding voice that it will not be easy to banish the demon and make it leave the nun. This is a classic good vs evil encounter, a battle for the soul of a woman and a fight to the death if that be necessary. The movie itself is not that scary and compared with newer additions to the horror genre it is more cerebral rather than gory, which for me personally is not a bad thing.  The nuns at the convent are somewhat disturbing, I think it could be the way that they move or have been choreographed by the director, but there seems to be a coldness a blank and expressionless look to them that is unnerving and hugely unsettling.

The movie in my opinion has much going for it, as I have said it does not have to resort to gore and violence. It may not be as fast paced as other examples, but because it gives the audience something to think about it just works. I suppose one could draw comparisons with The Devils which hit our screens back in 1971, but in my humble opinion, Mother Joan of the Angels is a far better watch. The musical score by Polish born Adam Walacinski, is also an unsettling one. Walaciński, was not only a composer, but also taught music. He was born on September 18th1928, in Krokow Poland. The composer received private tuition in violin from Wactaw Niemczyk and then studied violin with Eugenia Uminska, plus trained in composition with Artur Malawski at the State Higher School of Music in Krakow.

He is better known as a composer of film and TV music and began his film scoring career in 1957 when he provided the musical score for Zimowv Zmierzch, which was a drama. His film scoring career seems to have ceased in 1981, when he worked on the TV short Na Meline.  He died in Krakow on August 4th, 2015 he was 86.

From Poland to the Soviet Union, or should I say Russia, because some of the films I will highlight were produced when the Soviet Union ceased to exist. But before I start with the movies and also look at the composers who scored them, it might be a good idea to explain the attitude of the Kremlin towards films in the horror genre that were being produced in Russia. It was basically a case of the powers that be suppressing the creative freedom of many filmmakers, The Soviet higher Archy viewed cinema as a tool for both propaganda and education and also looked to it to influence the masses. So, for them the horror movie served very-little purpose. Thus, they became outlawed, more or less.  Many movies that were produced in Russia at this time which was post WWll through to the fall of the Berlin wall would focus upon adventure or dramatic/romantic story lines.  But as was the way then, filmmakers would carry on producing the horror themed film, even if it was at the risk of the authorities stepping in.  Russian horror movies do not take the route of what we in the west see as tales of horror, Russian horror films are heavily influenced by the old ways and also the inclusion of creepy folklore alongside wierd well relationships with either technology, bureaucracy, power, and even romance. And this is why I think I personally find many of them fascinating, they rely more upon the story telling rather than the violence the shock and the gore. It is not a rampaging monster that one see’s or hears on screen that grips the audience with fear, but Russian films mostly focus more upon the unknown, the unseen and the eerie atmospheres alongside the paranoia, these elements make up the monsters in Russian/Eastern European horrors.  One movie I think that has a dual category or genre must be Solaris from 1972.

The movie, which was directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, is probably one of his best-known outside of Russia, but strangely the filmmaker has said many times that it his least favourite work.  The story is about a psychologist Kris Kelvin who has been sent to a space station which is orbiting the moon of a far-off planet. As soon as he arrives, he senses that all is not right, it is a sci-fi movie that has within it psychological disturbing scenes and terrifying themes, some of which I thought did have to them connections with vampires, in a roundabout way that is, but maybe that is just me.  The psychological element creates a greater emotional depth, but there are still horror references. The film like many others by the filmmaker is shall we say an acquired taste, the slow-moving action is not too the  liking of all,  the filmmaker creating a dense and almost tiring, lethargic  atmosphere with the style of direction he employs.

The music is by Euard Artemyev who was born in Novosibirsk  and studied at the Moscow Consevatory under Yuri Shaporin. The composer/musician’s interest in electronic music and the use of synthesisers began after his graduation from the conservatory, which was in 1960, but at this time electronic music was still in its early days of development. Artemyev wrote his first piece in 1967 and utilised one of the first synthesisers to be developed in Russia which had been designed by Evgeny Murzin, which made him one of the first composers to do so and also made him a pioneer and a champion of electronic music composition. His collaboration with the film director Andrei Tarkovsky in the 1970s made him well-known. He wrote the film scores of Tarkovsky’s Solaris, Zerkalo, and Stalker.  

After this the composer became in demand and worked on films directed by Andrei Konchalovsky and Nikita Mikhalkov. His film soundtracks and also his other music has received many accolades from both critics, fans and contemporaries, and he has also garnered threeNika Awards . The composer actually licensed several excerpts from the Solaris soundtrack in order to use them in the later Spanish  production entitled The Cosmonaut.

We jump forward a couple of decades for the next movie, The Savage Hunt of King Stakh, was released in 1980, this drama-thriller which I suppose does also have to it enough horror content to also be categorised within the horror genre, was directed by Valeri Rubinchik, It is the story of  a young ethnographer, Andrej Bielarecki, who takes himself off to the dense woodland in Belarus in order to carry out research on the folk tales that have been passed down from generation to generation. Straight away because of the eerie location one’s mind goes into overdrive and starts to image all sorts of ghostly goings on.  The film which is based upon the writings of V.Korotkevich however does come across as being a little lack lustre in the special effects department and also was rather disappointing when it came to the score and the overall standard of acting. But, it is a wonderfully haunting movie and also has a real commitment to exploring the strange and gothic influences and content and this is probably why it does invariably make onto so many Best of lists, but in reality it is not that good when one sits and really focuses upon it and its storyline.  When the movie was released it was popular with audiences, who seemed to be impressed with its dark thrills.

The musical score which was largely forgettable, but maybe that is a good thing because one is not distracted from the scenarios unfolding on screen, was by composer Evegeny Glebov, the Maestro was classically trained and self-taught and focused mainly on music for the concert hall, Opera and Ballet, his music for the Ballet The Chosen One (1969) for me personally is akin to much of the music from movies that were released during the 1950’s and 1960’s in both Russia and the surrounding countries, of the Eastern Bloc, there is a sound and style within it that makes one wonder if it is actually from a movie score or indeed a ballet which of course it is.

Glebov excelled in the writing of what is normally referred to as serious music and was acclaimed by many for his achievements in composition, but his film scores were not as popular as his classical works. He was born in Roslavia on September 1929, and graduated in 1947 from the High School which at the time was named The Roslavi Railway College. After his graduation he took up employment as a car inspector in the town of Mogiev, but this was not a career he was destined to continue in. He had always been attracted to music right from his days as a young child, and under his own initiative decided to learn to play Mandolin, Guitar, and Balalaika. As a young man he began to compose a few works which were mainly songs, or music for romantic production in the theatre. He later returned to the Railway college where he undertook to learn the basics of composition, But was refused entry to Music School after the board of governors discovered that he had no real qualifications in music and was mostly self-taught, it was not until 1956 that he managed to complete his musical studies at the Belarusian Conservatory in Minsk. His film scoring career began in 1960, and during a period of forty years he provided the scores for approximately thirty-five projects, which were a mixture of TV series and films, feature films, shorts, and documentaries. He died on January 12th, 2000 in Minsk.

Mister Designer-aka- Gospodin Oformitel, (1987)is a somewhat surreal example of a horror movie that was directed by Oleg Teptsov, the plot concentrates upon a famous artist named Platon Andreevich who is attempting to discover the secret of eternal youth. He thinks that he may be able to achieve his goal via the stunningly attractive mannequins that he creates. This was Tepstov’s debut as a director and works well on many levels, purveying and relaying deep emotion and impacting philosophic moments, and successfully challenges established religious and cultural medians. It was one of the last important movies to be produced before the cinematic styles of the old Soviet Union began to alter and shift.  

The entertaining and inventive musical score was by Sergei Kuryokhin, it is a score that not only worked well within the movie but was hugely entertaining away from the images. Selections of the composers score for Mister Designer were performed in concert at the Moscow Conservatory in 2015.

The orchestration of the score too is varied and appealing, the composer enlisting soprano and solo saxophone as well as a  line-up of brass, strings, and woods thus keeping the music fresh and vibrant and contemporary throughout as well as being wonderfully supportive of the movie and its bizarre storyline. With cues such as The Roof having to them a subtle nod to Ennio Morricone.

I was not going to include VIY, as so much has been written about this movie, but it would be re-miss not to mention it even fleetingly, it is without a doubt one of if not the most popular Russian Horror film to be produced, it appealed to audiences around the world and not just its native Russian viewers. The story has been transferred to both the small screen and the silver screen on numerous occasions, but it is the 1967 cinematic version of this popular tale that is certainly the go to work. So briefly, Viy, (Spirit of Evil or Vii) was directed by Konstantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov.

The films screenplay was based on the story of the same name by author Nikolai Gogol, which was adapted for the screen by Yershov, Kropachyov and Aleksandr Ptushko.

The musical score was by Karen Khachaturian who was the nephew of the great Russian/Armenian classical composer Aram Khachaturian and the cousin of the famed conductor Emin Khachaturian. The music is mysterious, otherworldly, eerie, and suitably atmospheric, and underlines supports and gives greater momentum and depth to the story as it unfolds on screen. The music for VIY has to it a style and sound that is fully symphonic and the style employed by the composer is very much akin to the style of the composers music for the concert, as in his Symphony number one and various ballet’s such as Cipollino.

The film also contained highly effective special effects which were at the time ground-breaking, plus the camera work and use of both colour and black and white photography proved to be both harrowing and memorable. Gogol’s story has popped up in various guises and has also formed the foundation for many other stories and movies, most recently it was used as the basis for the Russian fantasy/adventure movie The Iron Mask which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan and Charles Dance.

The 1967 version is in my opinion however still the best version, and in case you are not familiar with the story, it involves a young priest who is ordered to preside over the wake of witch in an old wooden church that is situated in a remote village. He is instructed to stay in the church for three nights alone with the corpse of the Witch, with only his faith and trust in God to protect him.  

To a Polish production now and from 1973, The Hourglass Sanitorium, was directed by Wojiech Has. And contained an effective musical score by composer Jerzy Maksymiuk.  Maksymiuk, was born in 1936 in the Polish city of Grodno, which after World War II was placed inside the borders of Belarus. The composer’s family were farmers and had no musical connections or aspirations. They moved to Bialystok during world war ll to escape the oncoming Russian army. His parents divorced when he was fifteen. Maksymiuk began to study music in Bialystok and then later relocated to Warsaw, where he continued his musical education and graduated from the State Academy of Music. His musical training included   classes in playing the piano, composing, and conducting. Maksymiuk was introduced into the world of films by his cousin, director Czeslaw Petelski, who gave him his first job in the business.

For over thirty years Jerzy Maksymiuk was the composer and/or conductor of nearly one hundred Polish films. He is probably best known in Poland as well as abroad as an extremely gifted and hard-working conductor. He was responsible for creating and establishing the Polish Chamber Orchestra (Polska Orkiestra Kameralna).  But, after working as the orchestra’s conductor for some thirteen years, he was later appointed the conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra based in Glasgow. A post he held for a further thirteen years.  Józef visits his dying father at a remote mental institution, where time itself doesn’t seem to exist, and the line between dreams and memories becomes indistinguishable.

The film depicts its protagonist, Jozef (Jan Nowicki), traveling through a dream-like world, taking a dilapidated train to visit his dying father in a sanatorium. When he arrives at the hospital, he finds the entire facility has gone to ruin and there is no one there that is taking charge or overseeing things, many of the patients going uncared for. Time appears to behave in unpredictable ways at the sanitorium, and often brings back to life vivid memories of the past, which are at times hard to distinguish from real events.

Necrorealism, is often a word linked to the Horror genre, so what is the meaning of Necrorealism? Well it says, it means to focus on dark humour and the absurd, with specific attention on death, destruction, and transformation. Which is something that the 1990 Russian movie The Vampire Family or СЕМЬЯ ВУРДАЛАКОВ,does successfully. The films storyline concentrates on a young reporter who makes a journey into the Russian countryside, where he hopes to write about the fantastical stories that are so often linked to the area.

The film is based upon Leo Tolstoy’s The Family of the Vourdalak and filmmakers Gennadiy Klimov and Igor Shavlak do an excellent job directing and bringing to the screen a tale that is filled with tension and apprehension, the way in which they build the drama and also the suspense is uncomfortably  stunning and watching the movie one does I have to admit start to feel a little uneasy. The musical score was written by composer Vladimir Davydenko who is still writing today but focuses mainly on scores for TV shows and mini-series in Russia.

Lyumi is probably one of the most obscure horror movies made during the final days of the old Soviet Union.  It was directed by Vladimir Bragin, and is I suppose a Horror/comedy affair, a film which basically reworks the story of Little Red Riding Hood but maybe in a more macabre and contemporary fashion, this time the character of the big bad wolf is seen in the form of a half man half wolf character, who terrorises motorists who he stalks in the Russian countryside. Its probably a film that we should not take that seriously, it is simply good clean comic horror, if there is such a thing. It’s an interesting and entertaining movie however, and looks at not if werewolves exist, but instead examines the stories and also the way in which cinema and writers have portrayed them. It is I have to say eighty percent comedy and twenty percent horror, but this is I think mainly due to some of the hammy or wooden acting within the movie, Lyumi, is in essence a parody of cinemas portrayal of the wolfman.

The musical score is by Venyamin Basner who was born on January 1, 1925 in Yaroslavl, Yaroslavl Governorate, RSFSR, USSR as Veniamin Yefimovich Basner. He was a composer who began to write music for film and television in the mid 1950’s his first documented score being for the 1956 war drama The Immortal Garrison. He was also known for his scores to Leningrad Symphony in 1957, Miroven Paren from 1972, and The Arrows of Robin Hood in 1975. He died on September 3rd,1996 in St. Petersburg just after completing his score for the comedy film, Vozvrashchenie “Bronenostsa”.

Russian or Eastern European horror movies, may not be that well known outside of their respective countries of production, but, these are quality movies, and also films that examine subjects and ponder tales of horror or witchcraft, rather than slash and inflict gruesome gratuitous gore upon their audiences their audiences. So, the thinking man’s horror?  Maybe! which can only be a good thing.