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 East Town 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 The Honourable 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 How to 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.