These soundtrack supplements seem to come around quicker each time. Which is good news for all film music fans because it means that there has been a bundle of new soundtrack releases. And like always we try to include new scores, re-releases and scores from yester-year that did not get a release when the movie was in cinemas. Plus, at times look at scores that you could have missed. One of my favourite soundtracks from the late 1960’s being released in 1969.
Stiletto, is something of an oddity because although the soundtrack was popular amongst soundtrack fans the movie did not really do that well at the box office, it is most certainly a case of the music being more popular and outliving the actual movie it was written for. The movie was based on the novel by Harold Robbins and had a score by composer Sid Ramin, now Ramin was not a film music composer in the real sense but had worked on numerous movies including West Side Story. The soundtrack was originally released on a long-playing LP record on the CBS label, as well as the theme and the song from the soundtrack Sugar in The Rain being released on a single, the song had lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman who had worked with French Michel Legrand.
The style of the song with Ramin’s sugary sounding easy listening arrangement was something straight of the Legrand songbook but was perfect for the movie. Performed by Sally Stevens, who was uncredited on the album and who was something of a celebrity when it came to performing on film soundtracks was born in Los Angeles. Stevens attended UCLA, and began her work in film, television, and sound recordings in 1960 while still at UCLA. The first film score she sang on was How the West Was Won in 1961, and the most recent being Deadpool 2, in 2018. She worked in Variety TV with famous artists such as Danny Kaye, Red Skelton and Carol Burnett. She contracted vocals for, and sings on Family Guy, The Simpsons and American Dad. She toured as soloist with Burt Bacharach, and before this with Ray Conniff and Nat King Cole. Her solo work includes hundreds of TV series and film scores, and in the mid-eighties she added Vocal Contracting to her work, contracting choirs for John Williams, Danny Elfman, Jamers Horner, James Newton Howard, Alan Silvestri, Marc Shaiman, Don Davis, Tyler Bates and many others.
She has written lyrics for film, sound recordings and TV for composers Burt Bacharach, Dominic Frontiere, Don Ellis, Dave Grusin and others. She served as Choral Director for the Oscars broadcasts for over twenty years and sings on the Main Title of The Simpsons and Family Guy, still airing as of 2021. Her talents are manyfold and the performance on Stiletto is sexy, sultry, and stunning.
Ramin’s score is a tour de force of dramatic and jazz influenced compositions, the composing blending and perfecting them as he develops and expands the tonality, musicality, and textures of his score. The inventiveness and the impact of the music is absorbing and compelling. The soundtrack was on many wants list for a compact disc release and finally a few years ago Vocalion records released it, the running order is the same as the original Long Play record, the sound however is much improved.
It is a must have item and an essential addition to your collection, it’s up there with the likes of Bullit, In the Heat of the Night, and Shaft, totally groovy and infectious, with its bass punctuation, jazz brass and totally out there Hammond organ. Every track is an outstanding one, with the composer building and adding nuances here and there to create tension and drama but also at the same time producing some light and easy-going cues as in Goat Island and Illeana’s Theme both of which ooze a classy Italian style which is akin to The Godfather. The latter having affiliations with the Bossa Nova styles of Mancini and Morricone.
The score is also available to check out on digital platforms, this is an addictive and entertaining listen, if you missed it in the 60’s don’t miss it this time.
Four years after Stiletto was released Superfly came along and with it the now classic disco, funk and soul flavoured soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. I have the LP and the subsequent CD release, which I do return to often, but on digital platforms there is a two disc edition which is billed as the 25th Anniversary release which contains a lot of instrumental cues that were not on the original releases. It’s great to listen to all the familiar tracks plus more expanded versions of these and orchestral compositions that we heard in the movie all those years ago.
Tracks such as Freddys Dead, Eddie you Should Know Better and Check out your Mind all in instrumental form. It was in my opinion already a classic score from the 1970’s but with all these extra tracks, radio spots and a track including Mayfield talking about scoring the movie, this is just stomping. It rivals the Hayes penned Shaft score and puts Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack in the shade. Wonderful stuff, great memories.
So to something new, and to the highly atmospheric and effecting score from Miranda Veil which is the work of composer Ian Le Cheminant, on frsst hearing the soundtrack I was struck by the daunting and rather foreboding atmosphere that the music conjured up in my mind. This mood and sound open the work and it continues three tracks in, then the atmospherics and aura of the work alters as we are treated to the simple tones that the composer employs in Miranda and Co Drink (track number four), although synthesised it has to it a lilting and an attractive persona, the melody is brief but establishes itself straight away and becomes haunting.
However, the darker style and the shadowy moods continue, and although I have to say there is not really a great deal of melodic content, it is a score I would say is worth a listen for the times that the melodies and the inventive sounds do surface. Available on digital platforms via solar flare music, the score runs for over an hour and I have to say once I started to listen, I could not stop.
One impressive score is from the Netflix anime series Transformers War of Cybertron Trilogy; Kingdom which has a robust and vibrant score by composer Alexander Bornstein who also scored the Seige part of the trilogy and recently worked on TV series The Boys and Are you Afraid of the Dark 2. Bornstein’s music you have most definitely heard before but maybe did not realise that he was the composer as he has provided additional music, synth programming and arrangements for movies and TV shows such as The Twilight Zone, Lost in Space, The Smurfs, and Ray Donovan.
The score for Kingdom is proud and exciting filled with adventure and oozing rich and driving themes and has to a sound and style that maybe Jerry Goldsmith would have written, and Brian Tyler does so well. Brass, percussion, strings and woods combine to fashion a soundtrack brimming with tense and sweeping themes, the composer enhancing these with electronic support. There is however a softer side to the score which can be hears in Coda which is a beautifully affecting melody for strings, violin, flute and piano.
The Green Knight, has a score by Daniel Hart, and although I have to say it is not what I expected is still an entertaining work in a small way at least, but maybe not one on my top ten list of new releases.
I found it to offbeat at times, and it never seems to get going or develop, it teeters on the edge but never truly dives in and brings to fruition anything that is memorable or thematic it is available on digital platforms which is good because then you don’t have to take up valuable shelf space with it. Disappointing.
The score for the video game Eldest Souls, is probably everything that The Green Knight is’nt, its robust thematic and powerful, with choral performances and at times upbeat cues filled with inventive and rhythmic percussive elements and brass underlined by strings that create a driving pace that punctuates and carries the work forward. Music is by composer Sergio Ronchetti, and I have to say I am impressed, take a listen below.
Relentless Justice is a 2015 movie that was scored by the one and only Chuck Cirino, and like all of score this one does not disappoint. This I think is one of his best scores, it seems more developed and thematic than others, but there again Cirino always writes a good tune in my book, no matter what the budget or the genre. This is a gripping score, a melodic score and also a dramatic and vibrant one. I must add that it is a polished work that makes one want to return to it again and again. You must check it out asap, its on digital platforms.
And don’t forget Cirino’s score for The Sorceress (1995)is also on digital platforms from Dragons Domain Records and is well worth a listen.
John Murphy’s score for The Suicide Squad is about to get a release, and on hearing it I was somewhat unimpressed at first, it has to it a more rock than symphonic vibe although there are along the way some symphonic sounding heroic themes, but initially one would think it is just a rock influenced work which is bolstered and supported with symphonic textures. However, after listening through a few times, I must admit that I do like it, maybe because its somewhat different from what we perceive as superhero film scores but saying this The Suicide Squad are not your conventional superheroes are they, if indeed there is such a thing as being conventional when discussing superheroes. So, the score is different but very entertaining, with intense musical passages that are filled with that rock sound which is enhanced via the symphonic colours of the orchestra, that are in likewise supported via electronic /synth sounds. It is worth a listen, and I think you will be surprised in a good way.
I particularly like The Squad Fight Back, which is a prime example of a theme starting out in rock mode and altering course and ending up being a proud and anthemlike symphonic piece plus there is Suicide Squad vs Starro the Conqueror, again the composer applying both symphonic and the more upbeat styles of the score and combining these to great effect. Take a listen.
Jungle Cruise is the latest work from composer James Newton Howard and well what can I say, it is up to his normal high standard, and I listened to it so many times but never tired of it, it is a fusion of contemporary styles that are mixed with the more filmic soundtrack styles that we have come to know and love. Its high octane, melodic, dramatic, and also romantic with a touch of the mysterious. In many ways it reminded me of the sound of the late James Horner with Newton Howard placing his own musical fingerprint upon it as well add to this a striving and sweeping style akin to Williams and Goldsmith and that is what we have here. Highly recommended go and listen now here.
The Pact by composer Frederic Vercheval is certainly worth checking out, it is mysterious but at the same time affecting and subtle sounding work via its subdued but elegant themes, there is a sound present that although apprehensive is also melodic, it evokes Morricone, and also has affiliations with the style of Herrmann creating a tense atmosphere but remaining alluring. Recommended available on digital platforms vis Movie Score Media.
The same can be said of his score for Duelles which is also released on digital platforms, there is inventive and innovative writing within the score and I found it strangely affecting and almost hypnotic in places, the composer bringing to fruition compositions that have hints of themes and touch upon motifs without really developing them, thus leaving the listener waiting for more.Recommended.
Next is a work by composer Sacha Chaban for the Horror, mystery The Aftermath, the score is a fusion of styles and also of instrumentation as in synthetic and a scattering of the more conventional, I do think it is a good score and there are present at certain points hints of themes that are delicate and display a fragility, but for the most part the music is apprehensive and action led as in track number two, I Need Someone Here Right Now, the composer creating a tense and chaotic atmosphere which is harrowing to say the least. He fashions this frenzied sound via swirling strings and percussive elements that drive and race along at pace purveying a sense of desperation and urgency. Then there is track number three Who are You, still there is an underlying mood of apprehension present, but the theme that the composer has written is lilting and emotive, starting out on piano and then being handed to the string section, until midway through the cue when a more menacing and percussive persona emerges telling the listener that not all is well here. There is still a hint of melody, but it is soon overwhelmed by a fearsome and foreboding aura.
It is a score for a horror movie so expect the norm with dark and ominous passages etc, but there is a side to this score that if you listen carefully is melodic and at times poignant, which manifests itself in Antilove (track number five) and Would you like to create a Second One (track number six). Recommended.
American Traitor Trial of the Axis follows the life of American woman Mildred Gillars portrayed by Meadow Williams and her lawyer played by Al Pacino as they struggle to redeem her reputation.
The score is by Kubilay Under, who’s scores for the movies For Lovers Only (2011) and the Tom Berenger western Gone are the Days from 2018 I enjoyed. This latest offering from the composer is an interesting one and a work that boasts numerous themes and many delightful interludes both emotional and dramatic. The soundtrack features some alluring saxophone performances and the style employed does for me at times evoke both the sound of Morricone and to a degree John Barry. Another one for the collection.
Amazon have released a Spanish TV series based on the life of El Cid, which is now in its second season. As you know the Miklos Rozsa score for the 1961 movie El Cid is amongst my favourites, so I was interested to hear what composers Gustavo Santaolalla and Alfonso G. Aguilar came up with, well it’s not a rip-roaring epic score, but it is a solid and inventive one.
It seems to go down a more traditional as in folk sounding work in places, but there is also a dramatic mood purveyed as well, with guitar being employed on many of the tracks, but also a more robust symphonic approach also becoming apparent as the work progresses that is enhanced by an earthy and ethnic musical ingredient.
Ok if you are looking for epic as in fanfares and racing strings that are also romantic, then maybe its not the score for you, but I would say give it a chance as its one of those soundtracks that grows on you and upon each listen you discover more and more. Available on digital platforms.
The Great Yokai War:Guardians is an upcoming Japanese fantasy adventure film directed by Takashi Miike. A sequel to The Great Yokai War, the film is scheduled to be released in Japan on August 13, 2021 by Toho and Kadokawa Pictures. The music is by Koji Endo (13 Assassins Mojin-The Lost Legend), and it is a score that I enjoyed very much, I think it is because there is so much going on in the score and the composers inventive orchestration is also attention grabbing at times he utilises Japanese ethnic instruments adding depth and atmospherics to the work. It is a varied soundtrack with the composer employing symphonics but also writing in a more individual fashion and including jazz performances along the way. The varied content and its richness of thematic material is its appeal, what more could you ask for.
Colette is a 2020 documentary which focuses upon the relationship between an elderly French woman and a student who is interested in finding out about her family’s past. The documentary has a relatively short running time but makes effective use of its brief duration to explore the life of Colette Marin-Catherine who is the last surviving member of a family who fought the Nazi’s in World War Two when they were all active members the French Resistance. The musical score is just nine minutes in duration, but nevertheless is effective within the movie, underlining and punctuating but never being overpowering or intrusive. The score is the work of Nami Melumad who collaborated with composer Michael Giacchino on Medal of Honour-Above and Beyond in 2020 and in the same year provided additional music cues for An American Pickle which had a main score by Giacchino. Melumad scores Colette with great sensitivity and applies a subdued and subtle musical approach throughout. Available on digital platforms.
Hall is yet another horror movie, I say another as the horror genre seems to have taken over a little of late. The Canadian produced movie has been met with mixed reviews and sad to say most are of the negative variety. The story is kind of borderline between a Zombie movie and an Infection movie, like Contagion or even 28 Days Later. The story of a hallway in a hotel that is infected with some deadly and horrible disease develops well, but at times it dips and maybe the film could do with being shorter as it runs for an hour and a quarter plus.
But the director Francesco Giannini does well for the most part to keep things interesting and oh so scary, making great use of a red colour tint effect which immediately puts the audience on edge. The film mixes suspense, apprehension, and chills successfully with the personal lives of the characters involved so it not all jolts and frights. The music by Michael Vignola works superbly in the movie, but it probably does not work that well as just a listening experience away from the images on screen, however, its film music and what is film music supposed to do? Yes, exactly support the movie and it does this no problem whatsoever. The score is filled with an unsettling air that the composer fashions via synthetic means but even though its not an overblown or symphonic work it is still well written and placed to create maximum effect. Take a listen its on Spotify.
Pablo Borghi, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1978. He began his musical studies at the age of 14 years with various piano teachers. Which has continued to do at Ciudad de Buenos Aires Music Conservatory, Lemmensinstituut, Belgium, plus he studied Composition and Orchestration at The Manuel de Falla Music Conservatory in Buenos Aires. He has worked on many films, shorts, and TV projects, one of his latest is the score for the Argentinian movie Santa, which is a drama directed by Victor Posticlione, there is very little information on the movie, but the score is stunning, and I am hoping that we will be hearing a lot more from this composer in the very near future.
The music is eloquent and touching, delicate and filled with emotion, at times the composer utilising piano and a small string ensemble to create a poignant and affecting piece. He also employs cello in the cue entitled Camino which is heart breaking and hypnotic. The score also has its darker moments, which too are effective but remain thematic even though they are purveying an uneasy sound. Certainly recommended.