Movie score media spotlight reviews.

Just as I finished soundtrack supplement Movie Score media continued to surge forwards and onwards and upwards with even more great soundtrack releases, so rather than wait till the next Soundtrack Supplement, I thought that I would review the releases in this special MSM review article. In my opinion Movie Score Media is one of the very few labels that gives soundtrack collectors what they want, as in great film music but maybe it’s not from the normal well-known composers, or usual suspects as it were, thus this industrious and groundbreaking label are always alerting collectors to composers new. Plus, every now and then they uncover and issue a score that has not been released before by an established or known composer.

Amongst the latest batch of soundtrack superb-ness is Space Truckers a movie that was released back in 1995 with a brilliant score by composer Colin Towns.  Directed by Stuart Gordon (Robot Jox, Fortress, The Pit and The Pendulum, Re- Animator, From Beyond and Dolls) who sadly passed away in 2020 and to whose memory this world premiere release is dedicated. Following his success with Fortress the filmmaker was given a larger budget to work with on Space Truckers, which allowed him to create a compelling and larger than life road movie that just happened to be set in space. The movie features actor Dennis Hopper in the role of a space trucker John Canyon who along with his new bride Cindy portrayed by Debi Mazar and apprentice space trucker Mike (Stephen Dorf) set out on a trip carrying believe it or not a shipment of sex dolls. Their trip is watched with interest by space Pirate Captain Macanundo played by Charles Dance who plans to relieve the trio of their unusual cargo. The score which in my very humble opinion is far better than the movie by Colin Towns is a riveting and entertaining listen, the composer combining electronic elements into a score that is largely symphonic and sounds quite grand in places. Movie Score Media should be congratulated for resurrecting this score and bringing it to collectors, it is now available digitally, but a CD and vinyl release is scheduled soon on Quartet and Svart records respectively. 1995 and 1996 were remarkably busy and productive years for the composer because in the space of less than eighteen months he worked on a plethora of projects for TV that included The Buccaneers, The World of Peter Rabbit and friends, The Crow Road, The Wind in the Willows, Bodyguards, The Willows in Winter and for the big screen on Space Truckers.

Towns is one of the UK,s busiest and in demand composers even today, and has penned the soundtracks to many popular contemporary TV shows, including Doc Martin for the ITV network. Space Truckers is I think an essential purchase and will be a score that you will certainly return to after your initial listen. It is a score that is filled with numerous   action laced cues but it is a case of the thematic not being sacrificed for action here with the composer relying heavily upon the string and brass sections of the orchestra to achieve a vibrantly grand and pulsating sound for the movie. Throughout the score there are several themes or fragments of thematic material that sweep in and out of the proceedings making it not only entertaining but memorable as well, with anthem like pieces complemented by a rich and slightly romantic adventurous style. Towns even including a kind of Ho Down square dance theme which has a Copland-esque musical persona in the track Evacuate the Area. The composer also at times drifting into a comedic and lighter mood with cues such as Do You Mind, which is verging upon easy listening/country sound with a tinge of Opera, but also at the same time having to it a mysterious and dreamlike edge. This is a release that I know is welcomed by many already converted devotees of the composer and is also a release that is long overdue. Highly recommended.

The Syfy TV series Van Helsing has been received with mixed reaction from audiences and critics alike. The series which debuted in 2016 has it seems according to who you are either improved or become steadily sillier. But hang on it is a fantasy/Horror series we are talking about here, so maybe the way forward is not to take it too seriously and seeing as we are now in the fifth and final season of the show you would think that viewers would have kind of worked this out. The fantasy horror series stars Kelly Overton as Vanessa Helsing, a distant relative of famous vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, who is resurrected only to discover that vampires have taken over the world. With the unique ability of turning vampires into humans, Vanessa must fight through an apocalyptic wasteland to fight the Elders, the group of vampires that are now in charge. At last, the dramatic and atmospheric music by composer Rich Walters has been released on a soundtrack album which is representative of the composers work on the series.

It is largely a synthetic realized work, with dark and racing cues that add layers and textures to the action that is unfolding on screen. The score is tense and at times foreboding and apprehensive. It also has to it passages both musical and atonal that are affecting and highly effective within the series, horror is a genre that literally cries out for musical support and in this case I feel the composer has answered those cries providing the series with a score that fully supports yet also has a life of its own, the cue I am Sam for example starts out with a dark and thickly atmospheric drone like sound, but this alters as it gathers some pace and the composer also adds elements to it, finally transforming into a cue that resembles a piece that accompanies a showdown situation. Although an electronic score, it still has to it thematic qualities, the composer developing certain themes and utilizing them effectively. Fighting the Elder is a taught and menacing cue, with sharp and ominous stabs accompanied by an up-tempo percussive background. Certainly, the music from Van Helsing is worth a listen, it is a fusion of inventive styles that evoke both Vangelis and the Carpenter/Howarth partnership. Available on digital platforms.  

Another score to look out for is Cloudmaker, which is scored by Dutch composer Matthijs Kieboom, and follows his successful scores to the re-boot of the TV series Van Der Valk, plus Pirates down the Street, Bloody Marie and the brilliant score for the documentary Wild, which if you have not yet heard is highly recommended and also available on MSM. Cloudmaker, is an animated short and has two cues available on digital platforms, both being enchanting and haunting, the score will be represented on the upcoming Movie Score Media compilation Short Cuts 2020 which is due for release at the end of May 2021.

Back to full scores that are now available on digital platforms and we go to Sasquatch, which is a documentary that follows investigative journalist David Holthouse as he attempts to solve a bizarre triple homicide which took place twenty-five years ago and was said to be the work of a mythical creature.

The film has music by the talented and chameleon like American composer H.Scott Salinas, (Rust Creek, Cartel Land, The Ivory Game, A Private War, The Banker, Warrior). His music for Sasquatch is interesting as in the composer integrates a varied handful of styles into the score, using acoustic instruments as well as numerous electronic elements Salinas creates an atmospheric and wonderfully supportive work, which enhances and adds greater depth to the story as it unfolds in front of us. Salinas manages to create affecting cues for the documentary, raising the tension but without the watching audience realizing that there is an actual musical score, his music underlines and punctuates the discoveries of the journalist and enhances the scenario without overwhelming it. It is a masterful soundtrack and a worthy addition to the MSM catalogue.

And that is not all, there are so many more interesting and great titles to come, watch the MSM website for upcoming releases there are so many and all quality items.

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