The release and re-issue of soundtracks continues it seems at an even greater pace and volume than ever before. The unreleased scores of Ennio Morricone seem also to be the target of many soundtrack labels. But of course, as we know the composer was whilst alive adamant that many of his soundtracks should not be released, this was for reasons only known to him and I won’t speculate as to the reasons. Last month we saw the release of Rome Come Chicago, a score by Morricone that had lone been on the wants lists of hundreds of soundtrack collector’s and Morricone devotees. However, although there is no question about the score being brilliant, the actual release as you know I thought was lacking in the sound quality department and also in my opinion was done quickly and with very little attention to detail or quality. Such a shame as a good release could have been an outstanding one, and a shame because Quartet the label that released it releases have always stood out and been instant purchases.
The label this month are releasing another Morricone score which has also been on collectors lists of desirables for a long time. However, I Due Evasi di Sing Sing or Two Escape From Sing Sing, (1964) has a sound and style that is not normally associated with that of Morricone, when listening to the score I have to admit I was more reminded of the sound of Piero Piccioni rather than Morricone, but saying that the music is not unpleasant at all, in fact its rather entertaining in a jazzy kind of way, and also interesting because it is slightly different from a Morricone soundtrack from this period of the 1960’s which was very fruitful for the composer. The movie which was a comedy was entertaining enough but there is always the way in which comedy from one country transfers to another, and maybe this is why the movie although as I say being entertaining was not that well received over ally outside of Italy and the more central countries of Europe. But it is great to see another Morricone out there, and thanks go to the Spanish label Quartet again. The only thing I worry about is that after the composer’s death the flood gates will open and scores either released or unreleased with literally flow out in large numbers, some companies maybe taking advantage and releasing soundtracks with just a few extra cues or even just a few more minutes of music on them. Which has as we all know happened so many times before, if you have not seen the movie, its focuses upon two work colleagues who are lavatory attendants in New York City, played by the comedy duo Franco and Ciccio, who went onto to star together in films such as A Fist in the Eye, For a Few Dollars Less, and The Handsome, The Ugly and the Cretinous, all of which spoofed the Leone dollar trilogy.
They save the life of an important Mafia boss Attanasia, so he in turn catapults one of the pair into a successful boxer by fixing his matches and engages the other as his second in command. A gang war begins, and the unsuspecting pair are then accused of murders and are given a death sentence. But on the day of the execution, they refuse to leave the safety of their cell, and remain there even when they are proven innocent So tame and uncomplicated silliness. Which I think is mirrored by Morricone’s upbeat and at times cheesy sounding soundtrack. Directed by Lucio Fulci it’s a film and a score that one can just watch or listen to without really using any of one’s cerebral matter. I know it will sell well to Morricone collectors, and I do have to say it is already available on digital platforms and on an LP record on the Sonor music record label. The song from the score entitled Oh Little Birdy is performed by Maurizio Graf, who’s unique vocals have lent much to numerous soundtracks.
Another re-issue this past month or so is another Morricone Il Malamondo, or Funny World, which will need no introduction to any fan of Italian film music and more specifically Ennio Morricone. This is a classic score from Il Maestro which was also released in 1964, but unlike I Due Evasi di Sing Sing, this is a score that is filled to overflowing with so many instantly identifiable musical sounds, trademarks and quirks of instrumentation and orchestration that we now so readily associate with Ennio Morricone. This latest release is available on vinyl, compact disc and yes, it’s on digital platforms, this Decca records editiin if the score contains thirty-two-tracks and is something , aeveryone should own in one form or another, if you have heard this already then you will be knocked out by the extra cues and the wonderful clarity of its sound. If you have not heard this, may I ask where have you been? If you have it buy it again, if you do not have it now is your chance to own something that is most definitely classic Morricone. Hats off to Decca as this is how to do a re-issue. A 100% must have.
A BIT OF A RANT just a little one.
I always let you know when a soundtrack is available on digital platforms, simply because many nowadays are only released on the likes of Apple Music and Spotify etc, which prompts me to include a remark here from a film music collector who informs me if you use these places “You are NOT a collector, but a listener” but are we not all listeners? He also stated that anyone who uses digital platforms is robbing record companies of their revenues, well How? I thought this was a rather odd comment, as I use these platforms and also buy CDS and vinyl too, but if a score is not available on any format and solely streaming on these what do you do if you’re a collector just not bother, anyway stupid remark I think from someone who refuses to accept that technology has arrived and no matter where you get your music from you are a fan and in my eyes a collector also, his archaic observation left me thinking just how much he was missing out on and also maybe fans who use digital, vinyl and CD are more of a collector than him because he in my mind is a Selective Listener and not a collector.
From vintage Morricone to something contemporary and something that is not only different but alluring. Come True has a score by Electric Youth who are a Canadian band, or to be more specific a pop-synth duo from Toronto who are Bronwyn Griffin and Austin Garrick. Their style is quite unique and brings something that is fresh and innovative to film scores, they combine instrumentals with vocals and at times mix the two styles to create some stunning and mesmeric moments. The Sci-Fi/Horror movie Come True contains a score that I enjoyed immensely, there is a sound and an atmosphere projected from the music that is calming and unassuming. The themes are simple and at times understated, but always effective and ultimately affecting. Listen to the cues, The Prologue, and The Seeker to encounter the tranquility and restful atmospherics that evoke the sounds and the style of Vangelis. The track Don’t Know Her too displays a certain Vangelis stylization, but is a little more edgy and darker than the previous cues. There is a tense but not over the top all out panic purveyed here, the music acting as a slow burner creating a taught mood. The score also contains a handful of vocal cues, but these to be honest are also well done.
The movie Come True is about a teenager who agrees to take part in a study on sleep patterns, but this ends up being a nightmarish and frightening encounter that shows how powerful dreams are or can be and a terrifying journey into the depths of her own mind. I have not encountered any of Electric Youth’s music before now, but this score made me want to discover more and find out more about them. Check it out, you will I am certain be pleased you did. Guess what its on digital platforms, and compact disc so listen carefully.
Eagle Wings, is a 2021 Nollywood film that concentrates upon the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and its gallant fight against insurgency in defence of national peace and unity. The score is as one might expect patriotic sounding and filled to the brim with a proud and bristling vibrancy that is created by composer, Chuck Okudo. I was not sure on this at first but after listening to it through twice I found it a compelling and an entertaining listen, its highly thematic with the composer putting to effective use strings, brass and percussive elements, plus he weaves into the score ethnic sounding vocal performances that are truly stunning and stop one in your tracks when listening to the score. Its is a fusion of both symphonic and electronic, but its hard to decipher where one starts and the other ends etc. there are some beautiful passages within the score, which are emotive and poignant. But it’s the diversity of the music and the orchestration of the work that makes this such an interesting and ultimately enjoyable work. Take a listen, this is one for the collection. Recommended.
There are more and more film scores that are predominantly performed via the use of electronics, synths and samples, and over the years the software that is needed by composers to score films using these tools have become more and more complex and polished, so much so that it is at times difficult to tell whether a score is symphonic or synthetic, however there are some that on listening to one can decipher straight away that they are electronic, which is not a bad thing because this is obviously the composer wanted to achieve, I find that this type of score invariably turns up in a low budget movie or in horror movies which do seem to rely more upon atmospherics rather than rich or luxurious thematic material. There are a few released this month that fit into that category, but please do not be put off listening to the following titles simply because they are not full-blown symphonic affairs as the music works well within each movie and after all film music is a medium or an art that is employed to enhance images and is not something that is written to produce hit tracks or songs.
Torn:Dark Bullets is the first I would like to give a mention too. It’s a dark and at times tense score and relies upon the use of synths and percussive effects and elements to create its dark and brooding musical persona. The composer, Ainz Brainz Prasad, has compiled an ominous and somewhat perplexing sounding work for the movie, which conveys a harrowing and unsettling atmosphere. Its probably not a score you will want to listen to on a summer evening or when chilling after a hard day as I am sure it would send those stress levels soaring, but as a film score and used to underline the action and various scenarios unfolding in the storyline, it works and works well. Again, it is the old thing, its film music and what is film music’s job? Exactly.
Same can be said for composer Alexander Taylor’s music in the movie The Dead of Night, although this does contain some conventional instrumentation at certain points, but largely is electronic and it can be said it is for the majority of its duration atonal. Affecting within the movie, but maybe not as striking or memorable away from it. Taylor has also scored Dreamcatcher, which again is largely electronic, but does have some inventive notions along the way, with the composer employing a haunting chiming motif and an electric guitar solo within what I would say is its central theme.
Benji Merrison, has produced a score that is upbeat and high octane for the movie SAS: Red Notice, it’s a mix of both symphonic and electronic by the sound of it, but do not quote me on that. There are some really good thematic foundations laid down within the score that the composer builds upon and fully develops as the score moves forward and progresses, the composer puts most of these into a suite which is track number thirty four on the recording, SAS The Suite, is a hard hitting piece, with brass flourishes, martial sounding percussion and driving string passages, it is a stirring and forthright cue that holds the listeners interest for the entire near six minutes that is runs.
It’s a score that I thought was not only inventive in its orchestration etc but also one that was for the majority of its duration entertaining. Certainly, worth investigating.
A soundtrack that you absolutely have to buy is James Newton Howard’s Raya and the Last Dragon, this is the latest from Disney, and we all know just how well Newton Howard scores animation don’t we. This is a fully symphonic work with the odd support here and there from the electronic. It’s a mysterious sounding work, with rich and lush musical moments that are filled with not just the mystical but the romantic and the comedic, a varied and vibrant work that is bursting to capacity with haunting and delectable sounding themes and edged with emotive and poignant tone poems. This is highly recommended.
I do honestly think that Newton Howard has written some of the most melodic film music over the past decade or so and in a way has taken over from where Jerry Goldsmith left off, I am not saying he is the new Goldsmith, but he seems to be scoring movies that Goldsmith probably would have worked on if he had been alive today. Raya and the Last Dragon is a score that is so varied and also contains so many vibrant and interesting performances, with the composer including a plethora of instrumentations in very much the same way he did with his score for Dinosaur. Its film music with heart, and movie music that has rhythm and appeal.
Another outstanding score has also been made available this month via Movie Score Media, The Camellia Sisters, which has an excellent score by Christopher Wong, Garret Crosby and Ian Rees, this is something really special and I say here and now I love it, the opening track From the Bridge alone just floors one emotionally, it is a anthemic and robust sounding theme that is performed by strings, brass and percussion plus there is female solo voice that makes the cue even more powerful and mesmerizing. The entire score is a commanding one and is crammed packed with so many themes its hard to believe that this all comes from just one score, but it does. I just adore the sound the composers have achieved here, its romantic yet action led, dramatic yet emotive, and at times fragile and yet apprehensive, there is only one thing to do I think, and that is to buy it now and see what you think, but I am confident you will love it as I do. Elegant, affecting and enriching. Recommended.
Other scores that are worth checking out include The Man in the Hat by Stephen Warbeck, which was released digitally a while ago and is now available on CD from Quartet records, also you may have missed Guy Farley’s delightfully enchanting score for Silver Skates which is from Movie Score Media and available on digital platforms.
And also on Spotify and other such digital dens of iniquity (lol) the unassuming but incredibly powerful music of Gary Yershon for the Mike Leigh movie Peterloo, which was released in 2018 there is just twelve minutes of the score available but it is a powerful work and well worth listening to, the movie too is worth a watch. Yershon also wrote the music for the movie Mr Turner in 2014, which is another innovative score of his to investigate. That’s all for this time.