It is a strange thing that up until around a decade ago record labels were not that enthusiastic to release scores from Horror movies, even though film music fans were crying out for them to be released. It seems in the past ten years or so it is the horror score that is keeping the film music market alive and kicking, with more and more soundtracks from chillers and slashers being released.
The labels are even releasing scores from older movies that did not see daylight when they were released, which is great for collectors and horror fans alike. Just looking through the latest releases I was surprised just how many horror scores are on offer, most being available on digital platforms, but the digital or streaming market too has grown especially with the pandemic and people spending more time at home and record shops and CD outlets being closed. I think the record labels also use digital platforms and the number of downloads etc of individual soundtracks to decide whether or not a compact disc release is worthwhile for them. Also, companies such as Netflix and Amazon etc have increased horror tale production and thus the viewing numbers also grow, so because the interest in the movies or series becomes greater it follows also that the demand for the soundtracks to them also does. So, are you sitting comfortably? Then let us begin with a horror score.
Le Game or The Binding is an Italian production for Netflix, and it is a harrowing and very edgy viewing experience, but it is the music that at times makes the film even more uneasy and unsettling. The score by Italian composer Massimilliano Mechelli is in a word superb, it underlines the already malevolent atmosphere of the movie and heightens and expands the apprehension and the uncertainty of the storyline. This is a modern-day horror film score that has to it classic and grandiose proportions. A fusion of symphonic and electronic it is a work that oozes both virulent and calming interludes, an intelligent and absorbing score that everyone should at least take a listen to. There is an eerie and disturbing undercurrent throughout the work that keeps the listener alert as to what it coming next, but also in certain areas lulls the listener into a false sense of security, calming them before musically leaping out upon them.
This is a wonderfully atmospheric score that supports the on-screen tension, but at the same time creates a tension all of its own. The composer realizing a highly original sound and experimenting with sounds and styles, recommended.
The next score is not really a horror movie, but verges upon it, Ilargi Guztiak, was released in 2020, with composer Pascal Gaigne’s brilliant score being released in 2021 by Quartet records and is also available on digital platforms, anything that this composer touches seems to turn to gold, he is probably one of the most talented and inventive composers working in cinema today. The movie which is categorized as a Sci-Fi/Fantasy is an interesting and entertaining one.
Set in the dying days of the last Carlist War which took place in Spain, a young girl is rescued from an orphanage by a woman who lives deep in the forest. Wounded because of an explosion and feeling that she is on the verge of death, the little girl believes that she sees an angel in her rescuers, who has come to keep her safe and transport her to paradise. The score is both dramatic and romantic sounding, it has to it a double-edged sword musically with the composer creating both fearful and ominous sounds that he interweaves with dramatic and lush sounding passages, the score also contains a fragility and a style that can be deemed as intimate and calming.
All elements of which are presented in the cue Despetares, which has to it a delicate and lilting mood but is underlined with a sense of the foreboding. The composer also puts to effective use solo piano, soprano voice and solo violin in places, the latter is heartrending especially in the cue La Piel. This is a haunting and mystical work at times and has to it a sound and style that I am certain will appeal to all.
Attack on the Titan is a Japanese manga series for TV, which has a score that is a mix of orchestral, synthesised and both rock infused vocal tracks and more ballad led examples is worth a listen. The score as in the orchestral content which dominates the duration of the release is by composers Kohta Yamamoto and Hiroyuki Sawano is grand but at the same can be upbeat and vibrantly pulsating, adding excitement and a greater sense of determination to the central characters fight. There is also a more charming and fragile side to the work which at times evokes the early compositions of Ryuichi Sakamoto and the elegance and melodious works of Joe Hisaishi as in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and Howls Moving Castle respectively.
The plot focuses upon a young hero, Eran Jaegar who is determined to have his revenge upon the giant Titan humanoids who killed his mother and devastated his town. The score is an integral part of the series, adding a persona that is both ingratiating and rich to the proceedings. This I think would have to be my pick of the soundtrack supplement number forty-six as it is such a lyrical, varied and appealing listen. With its commanding and action led cues to its more intimate and melodious content, this is one for you, most certainly.
Dirty Fears is a 2021 Italian horror, which has received mixed reviews most of them being negative, however the score by composers Giovanni Bruschi and Rodolfo Matulich is worth a mention here. Ok its probably not the best horror score in the world but look what the composers had to work with. The music is suitably apprehensive and is a performed by a handful of conventional instrumentation with most of the soundtrack being realised via electronic means and samples.
It has to it an almost 1990’s vibe, and reminded me of some of the horror scores as written by Italian Maestro Pino Donaggio who was a master of combining symphonic and synthetic, the composers also put to good use a music box sound in a way that can be linked to the films as scored by Goblin, which for me always adds a certain creepiness to any horror film. Check it out for yourself on digital platforms.
Another interesting score is for the drama Lansky, which concentrates upon aging Meyer Lansky who is being investigated by the FBI who suspect he has hidden away millions of dollars for over fifty years. The former gangster relates to the authorities a dazzling story that gives them the answers to his past life when he was the boss at murder inc. The music is by Max Aruj, who provides the movie with a wonderfully atmospheric soundtrack, never encroaching upon the storyline but always adding depth and setting the mood correctly, the subtle undertones perfectly punctuate and support the drama and are also an entertaining listen as just music, often reminding me of the style of Thomas Newman.
Aruj has also scored The Ice Road, which is the latest knock em down and drag em out movie for actor Liam Neesom on Netflix. This time the style of the music is somewhat different as it conveys a much more full and richer persona. With the composer providing subtle but at the same time powerful thematic material that is slow in some cases to build but effects a great atmospheric presence providing suitable support for the story that is unfolding on screen. Two for you too check out as both are on digital platforms.
I watched Sweet Tooth on Netflix and have to say really liked it, the score by the multitalented Jeff Grace is I think one of the most inventive and original sounding scores for a series that I have savoured for a while, this is a soundtrack I could listen to all day, well I did the other day actually, it is so good because it has such a varied content, lilting and melancholy themes alongside dramatic and action led pieces, and apprehensive and subtle nuances all of which combine to create a score that not only enhances and supports effectively but is just so entertaining to listen to on its own.
Again, on digital platforms so there is no excuse for you to sample the delights of this composer. Recommended.
Too Late is a comedy/horror, now there’s a combination, horror with comedy and both genres I have been told are probably the hardest to score by many composers, so when you combine the two what happens\? Well if you let Mikel Hurwitz loose on your production as composer then magic happens that’s what. This may be a short score (duration just thirty-three minutes) but the composer crams everything he possibly can into that time and makes effective use of the time and the elements at his disposal. The opening theme is a master stroke of scoring, having to it an urgency but also purveying a sense that this should not really be taken the seriously. The composer utilises harpsichord flourishes in some of the cues alongside accordion and cymbalom, which creates a somewhat original sound for a horror, there are also percussive elements within the mix, but I think it’s the madcap pace of some of the compositions that is the appeal of this score, check it out its different and its fun. Oh, while you are there take a listen to Up There which he scored in 2019.
Staying with comedy/horror (well why not) Werewolves Within, is something that will be in cinemas soon, and is a film adaptation of the already popular video game where we see werewolves attack an isolated town. Music is by Anna Drubich, who worked on Scary Stories to tell in the Dark and has also recently scored The Optimists. Werewolves within is a great horror score, which is I have to say quite subdued until about midway through, then it kind of wakes up and erupts into a more action led score, but I suppose this is when the action starts to kick off a little more in the movie.
One can hear little hints of comedic scoring within the score, and it also has to it a breathy almost subtle ambience, but when we get to cues such as The Pipe Fight and She’s Probably Tanked that we are treated to a more driving sounds taking the high ground and becoming a powerful and effective style and overall sound, there is a fearful atmosphere that is laced with a somewhat mischievous element. It’s a good score, one to add to your collection may be?
BILL MARX is a native of Los Angeles, California. And has been a professional musician since he was sixteen years of age, he studied composition in New York at the Juilliard School of Music, and has continued on to this day as a renown jazz pianist. Mr. Marx has composed many symphonic orchestral works as well as music for motion pictures, television, and ballet. He has also produced and arranged for and performed with many jazz and pop artists, including the music for two record albums and all the television appearances of his father, Harpo Marx. As a stage performer, he has concertized worldwide for years, combining his piano artistry with humorous anecdotes about the life and times he shared with his dad, both personally and professionally as his musical arranger/conductor, many of which are chronicled in his father’s autobiography HARPO SPEAKS! and from Bill’s own autobiography, SON OF HARPO SPEAKS!
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES HAS DESIGNATED MR. MARX AS THE OFFICIAL SPOKESPERSON OF THE MARX BROTHERS FOR THE NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY, WHICH PROMOTES THE PRESERVATION OF AMERICAN MOTION PICTURE CLASSICS.
Composer and performer William (Bill) Marx, wrote the music for a handful of movies from the mid to late 1960’s through to the end of the 1980’s. His music for film may not be that well known but it is popular amongst aficionados of movie scores. With his scores for Count Yorga Vampire and its sequel The Return of Count Yorga (aka-Vampire Story) probably being the composers best-known works for film.
Even today some fifty plus years after seeing these movies I am still in awe of the way in which the composer scored them, the music often being the driving force behind scenes and also it is the score that strikes fear into the hearts and souls of any watching audience. My thanks to Mr. Marx for his time and his patience whilst I interrogated him and my heartfelt thanks to Tim Ayres, who put me in contact with the composer. JM. MMI. (2021).
You are obviously from a family background that is filled with talent as in the entertainment business, can I ask what are your earliest memories of any kind of music?
My earliest musical impact was when I was two years old. I learned to sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” and “That’s What I Want For Christmas”. I have Victrola recordings of both. My dad exposed me to all kinds of music. Gershwin, Stravinsky, Be Bop, East and West coast Jazz, Bartok, French Impressionistic Composers, Kenton, who I later wrote for….etc…..yes, all kinds of music…..
What musical education did you have, and as a pianist I am guessing you focused more upon the piano when studying as well as composition etc?
I had started playing piano when I was four……But I became interested in composing when I was about twelve years old……I wound up as a composition major at seventeen when I went to Juilliard, where my teacher was Bernard Waagoner.
In my opinion your score for Count Yorga Vampire played a massive part in creating the harrowing and jumpy atmosphere within the movie, it is a great shame that your score has never been released, although it is available as an isolated score on one of the blu-ray releases. Do you think that it could be released alongside some of your other film music, the sequel The Return of Count Yorga for example, also thinking of this I suppose that the rights for the music are retained by AIP? The score is performed by mainly strings and woodwind with a scattering of percussion and piano, plus there are a handful of electronic effects, and I think I detected guitar? What size ensemble or orchestra did you have for the film?
Thank you for the Yorgaccolades you could Google and contact Tim Ayres about what he had to do to devote time to using the score. He has an informative internet show about composers. I used only eight players, as I felt that would create a greater intimacy than a large orchestra.
Considering the movie was released in 1970, it has stood the test of time very well and your score and the performance by Robert Quarry are the two main reasons for this. The music you wrote for the movie was way ahead of its time in its style and sound, taking into account most horror movies were still being scored in a way that started in the 1950’s. Did the director have any specific requests or instructions regarding the score and how it should sound?
The directorBob Kelljan who I worked with a few times allowed me to write whatever I felt would add to the overall atmosphere of the movie……Quarry was terrific.
I remember seeing the movie in 1970 at the cinema, I was fifteen at the time, I always remember the Main titles music, it set the scene straight away for the film and it also scared the hell out of me, because it was kind of soothing in a macabre way and lulled the audience into a false sense of security. Was this something that you did intentionally to create an atmosphere that was calm but at the same time apprehensive?
I guess the score did to you what I hoped it would do to its audiences.
How many times did you sit and watch the movie before deciding upon a style or sound and where the music should be placed to best serve the picture and how much time were you given to work n the composition and the recording of the score?
In those days we took our music timings for each scene on a Moviola. That is how I watched the film, my score taking me a month to write and record… The whole movie was shot in 10 days….
Did you conduct the score, and did you perform on it at all, I ask about performing because there is a lovely piano piece on the soundtrack and was wondering if this was you?
Yes, that was me on the piano and I also conducted the score.
I understand that you were arranging and conducting music for your father at the age of sixteen, was it always music that you wanted to pursue as a career?
I was a good baseball player, but for physical problems that prevented me from becoming one, I slipped back into music…
The film TheDeathmaster contained a rock styled score, and you also utilized sitar at certain points, was this because of the scenario, setting and period in which the film was set and can you remember who the sitar player was?
Bill Plummer was the sitar player on The Deathmaster score. It was a weird film about a weird cult in a weird vampire-hippie environment…. The director was Ray Danton, who was himself a good character actor….
Scream Blacula Scream, was a mix of both horror and comedy, the score was upbeat and at times funky plus it had a really good song, Spread your Love all over me, you wrote the music but who wrote the lyrics and who was the female vocalist?
I believe the director was Bob Kelljan, who also did the Yorga films. Marilyn Lovell wrote the lyrics to “Spread”, but I don’t remember who sang the song…
I think you began writing music for commercials during the 1960’s when you were arranging cover versions of songs for Vee Jay records, it was also in this decade that you started to score movies, your first being a short entitled, Weekend Pass which was in 1961, how did you become involved as the composer on this?
I was very good friends with Marion Thomas who at the time was dating this guy who wanted to make his first movie and I wanted to score my first movie, so we got together.
Your next movie was also a 1961 release entitled Walk the Angry Beach, but you did not score another movie until 1970 which was Count Yorga, what were you doing between movies musically?
I would play jazz piano in night clubs between composing, which is something I still do and enjoy today.
The Astral Factor was another interesting movie that you scored in 1978, which starred Stephanie Powers, I am not sure but according to certain websites it was re-scored in 1984, any idea why this happened?
I have no idea why they re-scored the picture, as I lost complete track of the film… They kept re-titling it…and I just had moved on to another project. They just might not have liked my score. Only they would know this.
You worked on a few horror movies as a composer, do you think that horror is a genre that requires more music than other types of movies and is there times within a movie that does not require music?
The director of any movie, regardless of its theme, determines the music requirements, if, where and when it shall be used for the appropriate scenes.
You also wrote music for TV Starsky and Hutch for example, is scoring TV shows hugely different from working on motion pictures?
Technically, there is no difference for me between scoring for movies or TV…
There is news from Hollywood about a re-make of the Blacula movies, if approached would you consider writing music for any such production?
I know nothing of the talk of a Blacula sequel, though it wouldn’t surprise me if there was.
My thanks to Bill Marx for his time and wonderful responses.
The release of new and old scores from films and TV shows continues and has I think in the past few months become even greater in volume. Thankfully, it is not a case of quantity over quality, as in ninety percent of cases the scores are exceptionally good. For this edition of Soundtrack Supplement, we continue our look at new ones, old ones and maybe forgotten ones in the soundtrack world. There seems to be a lot of very strong contenders in the TV department, with scores such as Mare of EastTown and Loki wetting our appetite and leaving us wanting more of the same. There are also re-issues of soundtracks from television such as The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe from the 1960’s on their way and a veritable landslide of Ennio Morricone some that have been available for many years others that are just seeing the light of day and also other scores with maybe five minutes of extra music added if you’re lucky that is and if you are well, I do hope that you are grateful!!!! And are happy to part with your hard-earned cash for a track that could (I say could don’t shoot me) be computer generated (What? No shock horror).
Two labels that do not add tracks or computer enhanced cues to flesh out any of their releases and for me stand out for releasing interesting and unusual scores are Kronos records from Malta and Movie Score Media the Swedish soundtrack label. Both seem to be unstoppable in their release programme with Kronos mixing it up a little releasing vintage Italian scores in their Gold collection Series and at the same time offering up new and fresh material from Germany, Italy, and Eastern Europe. Movie Score Media I do not think take a breath between releases and amaze many as to the variety and the quality of their catalogue, most of which is available digitally with releases on CD coming later and being released by several labels.
Movie Score Media too are one of the best labels for introducing the music of new or unknown composers. Also, The Plaza Mayor Company is now becoming a force to be reckoned with as regards to some of the more obscure film scores and has released so many that are like hidden gems and like a breath of fresh air for any film music fan.
One of their releases Bacurau by composer Mateus Alves I still find as vibrant and engaging as I did when I first heard it back in 2019. The label also released the infectious and driving Latin flavoured score for El Complot Mongol in 2019 which is by the brilliant composers Gus Reyes and Andres Sanchez Maher.
It’s a soundtrack once heard you remember forever and also one that is returned to on a regular basis. The label also issued Ramin Koushaa’s score for The Warden, which released back in 2019 as well. So, if you have not yet sampled their releases it might be time to take a listen.
One of Ramin Koousha latest works for cinema is the score for the movie Sun Children, which is currently only available on digital platforms. It is a soundtrack certainly worth investing in as it is not only innovative in the way it is written, orchestrated, and performed, but also displays how talented and inventive this composer is. The work is diverse and filled with a variety of styles and sounds thus remaining interesting and at the same time entertaining.
The score encompasses many musical styles and purveys an emotive but powerful persona, the composer utilizing soft and haunting compositions alongside driving and commanding musical passages. It can be intricate and romantic, but in the next moment it slides into a dark and more apprehensive mood. I listened through a couple of times and on each occasion was immersed in its almost beguiling and mesmerizing atmospheres, its lightness or at least moments of light are at times breathtakingly beautiful as in the cues The Void, Suffering, and Gloom which convey feelings of melancholy, solitude, and fragility that are underlined with a sense of uneasiness.
It is one you should take a listen to. As is the composers score for Radio Flash, which is totally different in its make-up, the composer making effective use of electronics which are laced and enhanced by a handful of conventional instrumentation, but it is the percussive elements that the composer brings into to play within the score that are the most striking. It’s a driving and powerful soundtrack, which does have a handful of thematic moments, but the emphasis is most definitely on the action led sounds here.
But then one is treated to the melodic interlude here and there in the form of the composition entitled Reunion, which has an opening that is effective and highly emotive this however segues into darker sounding tones that conjure up an unsettling mood, but soon the music returns to its melodious beginnings. The last cue of the score entitled Berries is superbly haunting and yet understated. The composer using solo piano and violin in this brief but memorable piece. Michael Abels, is a composer who is in my opinion a genius, his score for the horror movie US is one that everyone should own as is his soundtrack for Get Out.
The composers most recent work is for the four-part TV documentary, Allen Vs Farrow, which is about the alleged abuse of the 7 yr old Dylan Farrow by Woody Allen.Again, the composer delivers a classy and entertaining soundtrack which has been released on Water tower Records.
The soundtrack has a mix of Jazz influenced compositions and romantically slanted orchestral pieces in the main which have a musical presence that evokes the golden days of cinema and tinsel town. There are a handful of cues as in Beginning an affair with a Movie Star that verge upon being luxurious, but there are so many faces to this work, the composer creating at times Morricone-esque sounding cues such as The Twins which is charming and delicate, the central melody being carried by strings that are in the background whilst being punctuated subtly by a what I call music box effect. Tracks such as this and also Do You Love Me, and The Muse are in a word stunning, this is an interesting score and one that will stand out as being one of Abels finest and should be added to every film and TV music collection.
So far only one cue entitled TVA has been released from the soundtrack to the TV series Loki, and on listening to Natalie Holts composition I cannot wait for the score to be issued and made available in its entirety. It’s an imposing cue, that builds and becomes more interesting and melodic as it does so, there is a Theremin sound incorporated into piece, it is charming, cheeky and also has to it a dark and commanding mood. Holt worked previously on TheHonourable Woman with fellow composer Martin Phipps and scored My Mother and other Strangers and Three Girls for the BBC. With all the scores garnering interest from fans and critics alike. Also, a quick reminder just in case you had forgotten, we still have the new James Bond soundtrack, No Time to Die to look forward to, or not depending on your own views and thoughts.
Music is by Hans Zimmer who replaced composer Dan Romer and of course there is the song by Billie Eilish. The title song came out what seems to be an age ago, and this was to a very mixed reaction, many die hard Bond fans dismissing it as rubbish, but after hearing it a few times it began to grow on me, and yes, its different but so now is the Bond franchise. But love it hate it or indifferent one cannot say that Eilish has not placed her own unique stamp upon the song. So, I suppose now we will have to have a re-launch of the song when the film eventually hits the cinemas. I am curious as to what Zimmer has done, will it be a homage to John Barry or continue in a totally different direction or even maybe continue where David Arnold left off before being rudely and rather uneventfully interrupted by Mr. Newman? We will just have to wait and see or more to the point hear. The song is available on digital platforms and just one short cue Gun Barrel is also available to savour.
Dan Romer as we all know was originally the composer for the new Bond movie and I for one was disappointed that he was taken off of it as the composer has written some highly inventive works for film, which brings me to his latest score, Luca, which is the most recent offering from Disney/Pixar. The composer has provided the animated feature with a score that is not only inventive but is also extremely entertaining and wonderfully mischievous and thematic. I think this is probably one of the more interesting soundtracks to be released thus far this year. Romer employs a rich and vibrant style and creates effective melodies which are wonderfully crafted and orchestrated. Its not an overly grandiose affair but contains a mix of both conventional and electronic instrumentation, that blend and complement each other flawlessly.
At times I was reminded of the subtle styles and musical colours and textures that the late James Horner would employ within some of his scores. Especially the use of cheeky pizzicato and horns in certain places. With the track Take me, Gravity having to it a gentle nod in Horner’s direction. It’s a fun and refreshingly energetic score that I think you will enjoy, check it out on digital platforms. Back to Movie Score Media for the next releases as I have already said this is a label that never seems to slow its release programme and their titles always seem to be fresh and interesting, they are one of the very few labels that champion composers that collectors maybe would ordinarily miss, and their latest issues are no different from what we have become accustomed to from this Premier Swedish label. In fact there are five titles added in the past week or so to the already bursting catalogue of obscure, innovative but always entertaining film music.
The first is Gaia a horror movie, which has a totally absorbing and engulfing atmospheric score by composer Pierre-Henri Wicomb. The story focuses upon a pair of survivalists who go to the rescue of an injures forest ranger. But what seems like an act of kindness and mercy soon turns into something more sinister as it soon becomes apparent that the Father, and Son pair show signs of an obsessive and cultish affiliation with the forest. The score is certainly effective within the movie, with the composer basing most of iit upon the use of electronic instrumentation and sounds, but also including performances from flute, that combines with the synthetic sounds and is also supported and complimented via performances on the Tibetian Horn and the Dungchen which is a long trumpet like instrument that is normally used in Tibetian and Mongolian Buddhist ceremonies. But is highly effective within this score, the composer comes up with some raw and haunting sounds, which sound as if they could be from an age ago and are affecting as in, they get the listener thinking as to what that sound is and keep the work vibrant and fresh.
They also become the sounds of the forest and purvey an unsettling mood adding much to the already uneasy storyline. This is one to check out, one to sit and soak in, it is a textural and layered work which is highly original and alluring. The next release is from the movie Your Honor or Un Homme d’honneur. Music is by composer Ermann Kermorvant, who provides the picture with a subtle and at times downbeat score but saying this it does have its moments as in the composer utilizing layered strings and combining these with synthetic instrumentation and sounds to create a moody but thematic musical soundtrack. The score is quite sparse, and I think this is why it works so well, I love understated and sparingly used music in movies, but although I would say that this in no way grandiose or even overly melodic it is still a brooding, affecting, and enticing musical experience. Worth a listen and like all MSM releases it is available on digital platforms.
Better Days tells the story of a bullied teenage girl who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a mysterious young man who protects her from the bullies and helps her contend with the anxieties and pressures she has whilst she takes her final exams. The attractive and emotive score is the work of Varqa Buehrer, who is a graduate from the University of Southern California (USC) Screen Scoring program and originally worked as an apprentice under three-time Grammy Award nominated producer Photek, composer of the Emmy-winning series Howto Get Away With Murder.
Better Days is Buehrer’s first score for a feature length movie, and on listening to it and its beguiling and fragile melodies I am sure it will not be his last. The composers most recent scoring assignment is for the twelve-part crime series The Long Night, which was directed by his long-time friend, If Chen. The score for Better Days is stunningly melodic and beautifully crafted, with set pieces from solo piano scattered throughout, the composer also utilising the string section to great effect and enhancing and embellishing these performances with synthetic back up. This is a prime example of MSM releasing a score that maybe ordinarily would have been overlooked, top marks for this one.
Other MSM releases that I recommend are Luther by Ermann Kermorvant and Stephane Le Gouvello, which is the soundtrack to the French TV version of the already popular BBC series that starred Idris Elba.
Also, from the Movie Score Media stable recently comes Hero Mode by composer Bill Brown and let’s not forget the wonderfully lyrical and affecting score for The Sound of Identity by Nicolas Repetto, which is a drama that revolves around, the first transgender woman ever to perform as Don Giovanni in a professional opera and makes her historic debut in one of the reddest states in the U.S.
All of these titles are worth your attention, why not head to the MSM website and uncover a treasure trove of undeniably great movie music, just click here……
Another label that releases scores that others maybe turn their noses up to is Dragons Den and their releases never disappoint, Chuck Cirino is a composer who I like a lot, he seems to be able to create so much for movies that have either no budget or very little budget remaining when it comes to the musical score, back in 1994 he scored Ghoulies IV, which for me personally is a perfect example of how Cirino works, realizing effective musical scores for movies with ultra-low budgets and also for films that maybe should not have been made in the first place.
Ghoulies IV is not Oscar material in any way, but it was a bit of fun as was Cirino’s mischievous and theme filled soundtrack, think, The Munsters, meets Ennio Morricone, The Italian western score and Gremlins, Yep, that about sums it up musically and its fantastic. The composer even utilizes female wordless vocals to create a mysterious and chilling atmosphere. This worth getting for the fun factor, but there is more than that really, its just so appealing and inventive, just go and buy it.
Caldera continue to release the music of Zbigniew Preisner with their latest addition being the charming and tear jerking music from Forgotten We’ll Be.
This is so delicate and is a score that contains more than its fair share of enchanting and affecting compositions, with the composer treating us to gracious and eloquent pieces in which he combines piano, organ, harp, and plaintive sounding woods that are underlined by subtle strings. It is a heartfelt and wonderfully melodious listening experience and displays the talent and emotional touches of this great composer, available now from Caldera on CD and on digital platforms. Highly recommended, I just hope that soon Preisner’s score for Fairytale will be re-issued.
Peter Rabbit 2, The Runaway is in cinemas now and kids are loving it, (and adults too). Taking a track title from the soundtrack to describe the score by Dominic Lewis, this is a score that is Fast and Furriest, its non-stop mayhem, chaos and fun all the way with the score greatly aiding the action on screen and acting as not just support but as musically punctuation, making the antics even more hilarious.
Another one for the collection. A score that was released last year I am sure was Pompeii-Sin City, by Italian composer Remo Anzovino, but I see that this week it has arrived on digital platforms. It is a score well worth checking out. From the start of the score, it soon becomes apparent that one is listening to a work that oozes quality and has great artistic stature. The compositions are superbly melodic and contain haunting phrases and nuances that develop and build into subtle but affecting tone poems. The composer fashions a work that has many musical faces, each being expressive and vibrant in their own way.
These individual pieces combine to create an effective score which can be dramatic, romantic, and poignant. Composer Remo Anzovino.is one of the most naturally talented and gifted Maestros that i have heard for many years, the score is symphonically led with gracious and emotive piano performances scattered throughout.
A score I really want to recommend is Seize Printemps by composer Vincent Delerm, although it is a mere four tracks with one of those being a vocal, it is a soundtrack that I have to recommend highly, written for a small group of players, its intimate and intricate themes are hypnotic and haunting, wonderfully thematic and abundantly melodious don’t pass this one by it is seven minutes and seventeen seconds of pure emotion. To Kronos now and three of their recent releases which are now available to order, plus news of an up-and-coming soundtrack release by composer Alfi Kabiljo.
The three new release are all varying in style and sound, the first is from the TV series Atatort;Es Lebe Der Konig, which has a score by German born composer Christoph Blaser. This is the second release from Kronos of the composer’s music the first being Arthurs Law, the TV series is a popular one in its native Germany and has been running for a number of years now and is still gaining new viewers to the already almost cult like fans it has already attracted. The series seems to have a universal appeal and is popular amongst all age groups. The musical score is a wonderfully written and orchestrated by Blaser and it is entertaining away from the images and stands as a listening experience just as music. The score also features additional music cues from Polish composer Szymon Szewczyk. Like most of Kronos releases this is also ltd to three hundred copies, so it is definitely a case of first come first served and when it has gone, its gone. So do not wait too long to add this to your collection.
The label has also released, Red Yellow Pink, which is a film that was released in 2020, this Polish drama has a score by Szymon Szewczyk. The movie, which is written and directed by Jolanta Warpechowski stars David Paul, Adrian Koszewski, Agnieszka Salamon, and Wojciech Galzinski. The movie tells the story of a son and his mother. Their differences, prejudices and overcoming a handful of difficulties, and ultimately eventual acceptance by both of each other. The film has wowed critics and has received nominations in no less than nine festivals and has won three awards. Szymon’s score perfectly complements the storyline and its various scenarios and all of its ups and downs, with the music underlining the drama and giving more emphasis to the moments within the movie that focus upon life in general and the kindness of people and finally upon death.
The third release is from the Docu-drama Speer goes to Hollywood, which is scored by composer Frank Ilfman, Kronos have released a few his scores including, Rory’s Way and Big Bad Wolves, and once again the composer delivers a score that covers a plethora of emotions, out of all the three scores I would say that this is possibly the strongest filled with vibrant and robust themes and as many brooding and sombre pieces it is a score that once heard you will return to many times. Finally, the up and coming release I mentioned is from the 1984 Joakim Marusic WWII film ZADARSKI MEMENTO (The Zadar Memento).
Composer Alfi Kabiljo provided an immensely dramatic and highly charged score for the movie, that is melodic and affecting. Certainly, one for your collection, the CD is released in July 2021, but is available for pre—order now.
Other scores worth a mention include The Reason I jump which is another wonderfully emotive soundtrack penned by composer Nainita Desai, which has some incredibly affecting melodies within it.
Then we have just the opposite in the dark and foreboding score for Untitled Horror Movie (UHM) which has a malevolent sounding soundtrack from composer Nima Fakhrara, this for me evoked styles and sounds from past horror and is an interesting score that combines electronic with symphonic. It has a unsettling and fearful sound which is achieved via percussive elements that are laced with strings that are both driving and sinewy. I also noticed that Henry Mancini’s fun but slightly cliched score for Condorman is now available on digital platforms, the film was released in 1981, which was a period I think where Mancini had become slightly predictable as a composer of film music. But saying that it is good to see more widely available.
You had already worked with director Stanley Kubrick on Killers Kiss and Fear and Desire, but may I begin by asking about Paths of Glory, the score was mainly a percussive one, which at the time of the film’s release was certainly revolutionary and highly effective. I know Stanley Kubrick was a percussionist so did he have specific instructions about how the score should sound and where the music should be placed?
Stanley, after a few conversations, for the most part, left me alone. But I’m sure that me knowing he was a percussionist figured in.
You began your career as a musician playing Oboe, was it difficult to change direction and take on the role of being a composer?
It was exciting and challenging. Me being a jazz saxophonist (jazz joints around N.Y.) and concert oboist (Dallas Symphony, Pittsburgh, New York Little Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic,) put me way ahead of most composers who were mostly pianists as far as orchestration was concerned.
What do you feel is the purpose of music in film?
To get the audience to feel what the actors, and writers, were feeling.
You have worked on a number of TV series such as The Man from Uncle,Roots, and Star Trek, do you approach a TV series differently from scoring a motion picture, and are episodes scored in the order that they are broadcast?
No, it’s the same approach, and yes episodes are scored in the order that that are to be released.
When scoring a series for TV do you at times re introduce elements from previous episodes, as in re-cycle themes or phrases to keep continuity?
Yes, when appropriate, mainly to identify recurring characters, but it doesn’t happen often.
A few of your scores have been issued onto compact disc by various record labels, and recently Dragons Domain have released a compilation of your music that includes Cruise into Terror and Survive, do you ever have an input into what music will appear on any releases?
No, well, at least they haven’t yet asked me.
The Killing of Sister George is a score that I like a lot, how did you become involved on the movie and what size orchestra did you have for the score?
I got a hiring call from Robert Aldrich. The size of the orchestra was probably in the mid-twenties.
Roots was originally given to Quincy Jones, but you ended up scoring everything on the series and creating your own central theme. How much time did you have to work on the series?
Because of the Quincy situation, the first few scores were under time pressure: maybe a week for a full score. But, the rest of the series was done in standard time.
Whatever happened to Aunt Alice is a very atmospheric score, do you think that horror movies need more music than other genres of film?
I never actually thought about it, but, I bet they did.
Staying with Horror, your score for The Vampire or The Mark of the Vampire as it was also known, enhances and punctuates wonderfully the action on screen, the music at times sounds almost like a classical piece or something that might have been utilized in the early Universal horrors in the 1930’s. was this something that you set out to do, or was it a style that developed as you were working on the movie?
I do remember using an old liturgical chant: DIES IRIE, Day of Wrath.
Another two horror movies where you adopt a similar style although at times they are more dramatic sounding are I Bury the Living and Return of Dracula, when working out your scores or your musical ideas do you use keyboard or do you work these out on Oboe or maybe even write them straight to manuscript?
I like to work things out on the piano before I commit them to the Final Draft.
Is orchestration an important part of the composing process for you?
Hell, yes. Like I said, Playing in jazz groups and Symphony orchestras was the best preparation for movie composing I could get.
Too Late the Hero, is a great movie directed by Robert Aldrich, you collaborated with him on this, and other projects did the director have a hands-on approach when it came to the music?
I worked on a few with him yes, As for hands on no, Bob Aldrich was not at all.
I am guessing that working on so many movies and TV projects you have at some point encountered the Temp Track, do you find this a helpful tool or is it at times a distraction?
If you mean the music they put in temporarily, we just quickly edited temp tracks out of our minds.
Gilligan’s Island was a popular TV series in the States, and there were also a couple of movies that you scored as well, did the scoring process vary between the TV shows and the movies, or was it just about budget mainly?
TV projects were usually low budget, but the process was the same: get into the feelings of each scene.
You worked on two movies about Native American Indians, The Mystic Warrior and I Will Fight no more Forever, the latter was based on a true story, when writing the scores did you do research into native American instruments or sounds?
Very much so, I did a lot of research, and talked to a lot of Native American players and composers.
Sadly, there are a few non-commercial recordings of your scores out there, and some years ago many of your scores were issued on promo CDS, do you retain the rights to your music for film and TV or does it remain the property of the studios?
Frankly, I don’t recall who or what studio retained what rights.
What are your thoughts on the way that film music has developed over the past few years, I am of the opinion that there are far too few thematic scores and the style heavily relies upon soundscapes with very few melodies materializing, plus the main title as we knew it seems to have all but disappeared?
Yes, styles have changed. But I’m not sure if that’s good news or bad news.
You are still writing for movies, what have you scored recently and are you able to tell us what is next for you?
I did a comic parody of Star Trek, last year, but actually these days I’ve been writing screenplays, and enjoying doing this.
During the 1960’s as a child I saw many programs on the TV which were produced in Europe and some were dubbed into English others were in the language of the country that had produced them and a narrator told the story over the images, this was more prevalent in the series Tales from Europe, which had tales from all over the European continent and also from the Eastern European or Warsaw Pact countries as they were referred to at that time. Many of these tales had a strange and at times ghostly appearance which I suppose was to be expected as many were based upon Fairy Tales and Folklore, as in the DEFA East German production The Singing Ringing Tree (1957).
Which was more of a horror than a fairy tale, written in the style of the Brothers Grimm, and partly based upon their “Hurleburlebutz” the film which was serialized by the BBC was directed by Francesco Stefani and contained a score by composer Heinz-Friedel Heddenhausen who was born on August 8, 1910 in Langenhagen, Lower Saxony, Germany as Heinz-Friedrich Heddenhausen. As well as a composer he was also an actor, and is known for Philharmonic (1944), Ballade (1938) and Hans im Gluck (1936). In the 1960’s he scored a handful of movies and TV productions one of these being Acquittal for Old Shatterhand – A documentary about the trial of Karl May against Rudolf Lebius (1964). His music for The Singing Ringing Tree became an important and an integral part of the film, creating a magical and mysterious atmosphere throughout. He died on August 12, 1992. Tales from Europe, gave us an insight into the style of filmmaking outside of England and the United States, at times these tales would not really make a lot of sense but remained entertaining for “children of all ages. The series began in 1964 and ran for five years on and off until the latter part of 1969.
It opened with The Tinderbox from Germany, which was a three-part story, the series continued with Heidi from Switzerland and then came The Singing Ringing Tree, that was followed by the likes of The Boy and The Pelican from Russia. With films from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, The Netherlands, France, Hungary, Mongolia, Sweden, and Yugoslavia also being included. The initial reason for the BBC showing fairy tales from European and predominantly Communist countries at teatime in England at what was really the height of the cold war, was because there had been an upset at the BBC because they were unable to make children’s dramas of their own at the time, so they desperately needed something to plug the gaps as it were and it was thought that these tales would be suitable. The series included many traditional fairy tales such as Snow White as well as the stories that came out of Eastern European folklore. So basically, a mistake or a slightly misguided decision of the BBC turned into a runaway success for them and some of the tales were even repeated because they were so popular.
There seemed to be an abundance of shows from France at this time as well, Belle and Sebastian, Desert Crusader,The White Horses, The Aeronauts and The Flashing Blade, and one of the most well known being The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, the latter was for myself and a handful of friends essential viewing and I remember getting home from school to watch it not even changing out of uniform. It is a weird thing also that it was the music for Robinson Crusoe,
The Flashing Blade and The White Horses theme sung by Jacky that have stayed with me forever. As soon as I hear the opening notes to any of the themes or songs, I recognize them straight away and I am taken back to the 1960’s and those black and white images on the BBC, Ok, they might have been in colour but we only had a black and white TV so they will be forever monochrome in my minds eye. The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, I remember a single being released in the UK as I had seen it in a record shop on the wall being displayed as the record of the week, the theme being on the A side and the track Adrift on the B side or flip side. That was the thing about the 1960’s there was such a variety of music being played on the radio and the TV too. The series was first aired in Germany in 1964, but it was screened as four ninety-minute episodes, the BBC however, thought that this would be too much for their audiences and decided that they would take the series and dissect it into thirty-minute episodes which they would show on a weekly basis. The BBC also stipulated that the original music by vintage French movie score composer Georges Van Parys should be removed from the series.
Van Parys had written the scores to many what are now considered classic French movies, but the BBC wanted a more melodic sounding work, which was eventually written by Italian born Gian Piero Reverberi and Ukrainian/American music mogul Robert Mellin and it is this haunting score that many associate with the series without even looking at any images on screen. It is not certain if Mellin actually wrote any music for the series as he was known at this time primarily as a music producer/publisher but he had been successful writing music and lyrics since the late 1950’s with many of his songs being recorded by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. He had also been credited on A Fistful of Dollars alongside Ennio Morricone, but again there is no evidence that he wrote a single note of music for this either.
The style employed within the series is however certainly something that we can associate with Reverberi on listening to some of his earlier and later works for both TV and cinema, the latter works being co-written with his musical associate and brother Gianfranco Reverberi, which included a handful of Spaghetti westerns soundtracks from the mid to late 1960’s, the Italian western sound manifesting itself in tracks such as Smugglers and Scanning the Horizon/ flashback-Escapades in York. Gian Piero Reverberi also became associated with the popular orchestral performers Rondo Veneziano during the 1980’s acting as composer and arranger for them on a number of recordings. The orchestration and the style employed was refreshing with rich and romantic and adventurous sounding strings being combined with upbeat percussion, harpsichord and organ the many themes on the soundtrack soon becoming haunting and popular and firmly placed within the sub-conscious of any watching audience. Considering when the series was aired the music is quite modern and almost pop orientated in places. Silva Screen records in the UK released a CD of the score back in the late 1980’s originally and then re-issued the score in 1997 with a re-recorded suite performed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra included to flesh out the re-release but many felt that this was not required and added little to the attraction of the score, as it was already a firm favourite. The same label is now about to re-issue the score again with even more music that has been found from the series.
The compact disc will be available in July 2021, with striking new artwork as well as extra cues and greatly improved sound quality. There is an edition available on digital platforms, but I think it will be great to have this expanded version on compact disc. The score is filled with emotive, and poignant themes that become an essential part of the scenes involving the island on which Crusoe has made his home, the discovery of Friday’s footprints in the sand and accompany the realization that Cannibals use the island for sacrificing their victims, plus it underlines and supports the solitude experienced by Crusoe and punctuates the flashbacks and memories that he also has about his life before being marooned.
The music is still as quirky, melodic, and attractive as it was back in 1965 when I first heard it, the rumbling percussion at the start of the score still making my stomach flutter in anticipation of what is to follow. This is one for your collection. Certainement un Classique.
As far as I am aware a full soundtrack recording of The White Horses was never released, the song however did well and was in the British pop charts back in 1968, reaching number ten in that year, the title song was performed by Irish born Jackie Lee, and released on the Phillips label. The song was written for the UK version of the series, which was dubbed, and aired on the BBC. Written by Michael Carr and Ben Nisbet the song became so popular in the UK that the producers of the series decided to add it to the opening of all editions of the series including the French production.
In 1968 Jackie also recorded the original song for the sci fi sex movie Barbarella with composer Michel Magne which was written to accompany the opening sequence and titles of the movie, but the song and most of Magne’s music were replaced when Roger Vadim the Director of the movie decided it was unsuitable with a score by Charles Fox and Bob Crewe being utilized instead, however some of Magne’s score can still be heard in the movie. I think it is the title song for The White Horses that I remember more than the series or its scores to be honest, as the series was like a French version of Skippy with the kangaroo being substituted with a horse and the scores for the series were just like source music or musical wallpaper. The Lyrics are as follows.
Which were accompanied by a sugary but melodic instrumental arrangement. The song is available on digital platforms on a Jackie Lee compilation of hits.
The Flashing Blade was a rip-roaring French period drama, based loosely upon tales of musketeers or at least elements of various famous stories that involved them, and events that took place in France in the same period. The fictional story is also based upon historical events during the War of the Mantuan Succession which began in 1628 and lasted until 1631 between France and Spain.
Originally aired in France in 1967 Le Chevalier Tempête, to give it its original title was first shown on the BBC in 1969, and would make a return on a few occasions throughout the 1970’s. The original French series was shown in four seventy-five-minute episodes, but like they had done previously with The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe the BBC edited these down on this occasion to twelve, twenty two minute episodes, which worked better for the British audience, although at times the editing was much to be desired. The series had a fast-paced song that would open and close each episode. The English lyrics being.
You got to fight for what you want, For all that you believe. It’s right to fight for what we want, to live the way we please.
As long as we have done our best, then no-one can do more, and life and love and happiness are well worth fighting for.
And we should never count the cost, or worry that we’ll fall. It’s better to have fought and lost than not have fought at all.
Let’s always take whatever comes and never try to hide. Face anything and anyone together, side by side.
You got to fight for what you want, For all that you believe. It’s right to fight for what we …
Sung in an upbeat pop style by a group who called themselves The Musketeers with racing timpani and harpsichord flourishes and a catchy harpsichord rift punctuating and lacing the proceedings. “Fight” was released in 2014 by Trunk records on a single and is available on digital platforms. I think like The White Horses the opening song was possibly more popular than the series itself and has attained something of a cult status with collectors.
With no other music from the soundtrack being released. The Desert Crusader had much in common with The Flashing Blade, as in several cast members from The Flashing Blade appeared in this series from 1968. In fact, apart from The Desert Crusader or Thibuad being set during the 12th century it was almost identical to The Flashing Blade.
The series contained a dramatic and eloquent soundtrack from talented composer Georges Delerue who wrote a powerful theme for the series opening titles sequence, which in all honesty was probably the best bit of any of the episodes and there were over twenty of them. Although many of these foreign dubbed series were not made as children’s entertainment, they became firm favourites in children’s programming in the UK and are recalled with much fondness by British adults of a certain generation.
The series Thibuad aired in the UK in the early part of 1970, and like other French shows soon became essential viewing.
TheAeronauts, first screened in France in 1967 its original title being Les Chevaliers du Ceil, and ittoo proved to be popular with British audiences and had a run of three years from 1968 to 1971 on the BBC. The music was courtesy of Bernard Kesslair and Francoise De Roubaix. Kesslair scoring series one and Roubaix replacing him on series two. Both composers providing an upbeat and jazz orientated soundtrack for the series. With De Roubaix collaborating with vocalist Johnny Hallyday on a song for the series. The list of popular shows from foreign lands is endless, and even today there are many superb series being aired on the BBC and other channels. However, I don’t think that these will ever match the series from the 1960’s through to the late 1970’s, at least not for this kid anyway.
FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC FROM AROUND THE WORLD. WITH MOVIE REVIEWS AND NEWS FROM ALL OVER THE GLOBE.