There are a few new soundtracks out or at least have been announced that I thought I would cover in addition to the latest batch in Soundtrack Supplement forty-nine. I was impressed by the music for the EA video game Battlefield 1943, which contains some very stirring material composed by Ian Livingstone.
The score is overflowing with drama, drive, and vibrancy. It maybe a new score but I think it evokes many of the great soundtracks from the war movies that were produced in the 1960’s such as The Great Escape, Where Eagles Dare, etc. It is filled with rich thematic material and has to it a sweeping and striving persona packing a resounding and powerful punch, a brief work but nevertheless well worth a listen which is available on most digital platforms.
Filmmaker MJ Bassett has helmed the movie Endangered Species, which contains a score by composer Scott Shields, the movie, which was released in 2020, is a drama and focuses upon a family who are in a safari park but are set upon by a rhino which destroys their transport leaving them injured and panic stricken at the mercy of the wilderness. The composer gets the balance just right and not only manages to enhance the magnificent scenery displayed in the movie with his score but also adds layers of tension and emotion to the proceedings weaving in ethnic touches along the way that include African vocals which are highly effective. Although the work enhances and elevates the more action focused scenes as in Leopard Attack with its dominant percussive elements creating tense and nervous atmospheres, it also has to it a melancholy and poignant sound that is highly affecting. As in Look at the View. I enjoyed this a lot.
The French composer and music producer Rob (Robin Coudert) always manages to come up with music and musical sounds that are pleasing and melodic but more importantly creates scores and soundtracks that are supportive of every project he is involved with. Oxygen is one of his latest works for film and is no exception to the high standard of music that he has already written. This is an interesting French Sci-Fi movie released by Netflix which can be categorized I think predominantly as a survival movie.
The music is suitably tense and smoldering, the film’s producer Alexandre Aja and Rob collaborated previously on Horns (2014) which also contained an interesting soundtrack. The music perfectly underlines and adds weight to the already tense and claustrophobic mood of the story. With electronic and auditory sounds having most of the work, it is a worthwhile listening experience, currently available on digital platforms only.
Intrada records in the States have once again been busy re-releasing Sleepy Hollow (1999) by Danny Elfman and Extreme Prejudice (1987) by Jerry Goldsmith.
Sleepy Hollow is a score I have always liked in the context of the film and as a listening experience also away from the movie. Elfman’s dark but wonderfully lyrical soundtrack is to be given a four compact disc re-issue by the label.
With so much music coming I often wonder do we really need every piece of music that the composer penned for a movie, I think I am content with my single disc soundtrack, but it won’t stop me investigating the Intrada release. The same goes for Extreme Prejudice, which will get a two CD re-issue.
For me it was one of the highlights of Goldsmith’s work during the 1980’s and had to it some of that sparkle and drama that we heard during the 1960’s from the composer. So, two scores that I think will be great additions to your collection if you do not already have them. Another label that features large with collectors of film music is the ever industrious La La Land records, and this August they will release a volume two of music from the vintage and popular TV series The Time Tunnel, which features music by various composers including John Williams, Leith Stevens, and others. This is a three CD set and a must have item.
The label has also announced Star trek ll-The Wrath of Khan by the late James Horner which will be a two CD set. Both The Time Tunnel and Star Trek ll are limited additions of 10,000 units.
The Retreat (2021) focuses upon a lesbian couple who are having problems in their relationship who go to a wedding retreat to try and get back on track but end up fighting off a group of serial killers who are trying to kill them, blood and drama all the way with this one. The movie contains a tense score by Steph Copeland. Based, in Toronto, Copeland is a composer, producer and singer/songwriter best known for her genre film scores and darker leaning electro-pop works (I’ll Take Your Dead, Bite, Antisocial 1 & 2).
Her more recent work has been composing music for City-TV’s 2020 dramatic series The Wedding Planners as well as various made-for-TV romantic dramas (The Art of Falling in Love, and Snowbound for Christmas). Her score for The Retreat is inventive and intense as well as being wonderfully atmospheric and affecting. I know this will be of interest to fans of the horror genre. A composer to watch, I think.
Next up is the soundtrack for an animated series that started airing on August 11th 2021 by the Disney Plus channel, What if? Is a reimagining of famous events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, the series often flipping them and presenting them in different ways It is Marvels first animated series with directorial duties being undertaken by Bryan Andrews; The suitably heroic and anthem like sounding score is by composer Laura Karpman. Her music is very thematic and rousing, sounding grandiose and commanding throughout. Much of the work is symphonic from what I am hearing, with enhancements from electronics being subtle and minimal, but there again I could be wrong because synthetics have come such a long way in the past ten years, it often being difficult to tell symphonic and electronic apart. I have to say I was hooked right from the outset on this score, it is colourful, vibrant, and attractive. Available the likes of Spotify and Amazon. Check it out.
Another horror score that is available on digital platforms is The Stairs music courtesy of B.C Smith. The music perfectly conveys sinister moods and dread filled atmospheres, the textures and colours of the music realising uneasy and disturbing layers that underline and give greater depth to the scenarios unfolding on screen.
The composer makes effective use of guitar throughout the work, sometimes purveying light and melodic pieces but at other times acting in a more threatening and malevolent fashion. I did catch a hint of a nod to to maybe Morricone via the guitar performances, I think this manifests itself in Hunting Trip, and within the cues Blood Moon which is brief but effective and ShroomSexKill that attracts because of its diverse sound and instrumentation. The composer creates a fine balance within the score that switches from melodic and lilting, to tense and unsettling very quickly, this is inventive and masterful giving us a glimpse of his real talent and gift for fashioning affecting motifs and music for film. The Stairs is a soundtrack that you should check out.
Released in 2020 Minamata stars Johnny Depp as war photographer W.Eugene Smith who travels back to Japan to document the awful and devastating effects of mercury poisoning in communities on the coastline of the country. The music is by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who has written a sensitive and emotive sounding work to enhance and give greater life to the images and characters on screen. The composer employing both conventional instruments as in solo violin, piano, voice, and strings to which he adds synthetic and electronic textures, the combination of both symphonic and synthetic is stunning and creates some heart stopping and heart-breaking moments that are filled with poignancy. It is the kind of score that leaves you silence and deep in thought after you have heard it.
The track Boy and Camera is particularly affective with a simple piano piece being bolstered by underlying strings that builds gradually but melts away before it fully develops. An interesting score, give it a listen.
Noah is invited by his best friend Ethan to take part in expeditions that Ethan organizes with his gang in the depths of the subway. In this dark and in-between world they compete to find their place, Ethan challenges the teenagers to jump over the rails before the train arrives. For Noah, risking his life seems to be the only way to be accepted and, above all, to exist in Ethan’s eyes.
That’s a brief synopsis of a new movie entitled The Life Underground, the movie is a Swiss production and has a great soundtrack by composing trio Diego, Nora and Lionel Baldenweg, or Great Garbo as they are known. The score is a varied and entertaining one, with jazz influenced trumpet performances throughout, subdued woods, vibes, strings, and percussion also being utilised to great effect. This is at times a brooding and mysterious sounding work, but for the most part maintains a level and air that can only be described as innovative.
The way in which instruments are combined or put together is itself interesting as well as being a rewarding listen. I would recommend that you take a listen to this as soon as you can, I know you will enjoy its vibrancy and freshness and its attractive and beguiling musical persona.
Finally, to a score by French composer Sacha Chaban (The Aftermath, The Vanished and Darkness Falls). Redemption Day is a powerful and driving soundtrack with the composer turning to both synths and symphonic instrumentation to create a commanding and exhilarating soundtrack.
The composer makes such effective use of percussion with booming and relentless cues that are interwoven and punctuated by strings that too are hard and driving and seem to push the percussion along at pace. But there is more to this than just action fuelled cues, the composer provides the movie with lighter touches and melodic and delightful sounding pieces such as On the Way to School and Boxing with Dad, but soon returns to a darker and more upbeat style,
The score is tense and taught for the majority of its duration, but because it is action led does not mean that there are no themes, because these are present in their abundance, another one for you to check out on digital platforms. Until next time folks…