Another soundtrack supplement for your delectation, which just so happens to be ready for publication when It’s the time for trick or treat, egging and flouring, watching horror movies and listening to creepy music. Oh yes and finally getting rid of all those toilet rolls you went and got in 2020, (A normal week then?). A mixed bag again of film scores but let’s begin with a few that are Halloween friendly if there are such things.
Say it Once its ok, say it twice now you are really edging into an area you don’t want to be in, say it for the third time and, well don’t say I did not warn you. Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candy-STOP hold it right there, say it a fourth time and then who knows what will happen, but it won’t end in a good way because it’s not an invitation to go to Willy Wonka’s place that you will be getting golden ticket or not. Candyman was a horror movie I think with a difference, released in 1992, and directed by Bernard Rose, the film has an atmospheric and rather modernistic sounding score by composer Phillip Glass, many thought that Glass was an odd choice for the assignment, but he created a score that was supportive, as well as being edgy and entertaining.
The films plot focuses upon Helen Lyle played by Virginia Madsen, who is a student that decides to write a thesis about local legends and myths. She visits a part of the town, where she learns about the legend of the Candyman, a one-armed man who appears when you say his name five times, in front of a mirror. Of course, Helen doesn’t believe all this stuff, but the people of the area are afraid. When she ignores their warnings and begins her investigation in the places that he is rumoured to appear, a series of horrible murders begin. Could the legend be true?
It’s a movie that has endured and become something of a cult motion picture, with the score by Glass also attaining an iconic status. The Music Box theme is particularly haunting and has to it childlike but a menacing and malevolent sound, it is calming and unsettling at the same time. The composer utilised choral elements within the score which also created a highly atmospheric sound. The composer combining voices with woodwind and keyboard to elevate the sinister and dramatic content of the story that is unfolding on screen. It is an accomplished work with the music box theme running through the score and being integrated into the proceedings via solo piano at times.
Another Halloween favourite is Beetlejuice, yes Beetlejuice, no I said Beetlejuice, oh dear here we go again. This irreverent and hilarious horror comedy was helmed by filmmaker Tim Burton and scored by Danny Elfman and has over the years become something of a must-see movie and must have score. Elfman’s cheeky and quirky soundtrack perfectly underlining the antics of the films central character played by Michael Keaton. Elfman’s fast paced opening theme is a smorgasbord of the Elfman style that would grace and enhance many a movie as the composer’s career snowballed.
It is frantic, totally oddball but strangely compelling and wonderfully entertaining. A movie that is not a comedy in anyway shape of form but a true horror that is unsettling and disturbing is The Serpent and the Rainbow.
I have always thought is a good movie and the score by Brad Fiedel, played a vital role in establishing the movies overall atmosphere and gave its storyline more weight. I got the music before I saw the movie, but on seeing the film realized just what a great job the composer had done in creating such an innovative work. The recent 2-disc de-luxe edition on Varese Sarabande has the film mixes on disc one and the original soundtrack on disc two with several additional tracks included on disc two also courtesy of Nigerian born drummer Michael Babatunde Olatunji.
This score was one of the composers best from this period and that’s saying something because he was incredibly busy and in demand in the mid to late 1980’s. The score is chilling and at the same time alluring, with the composer utilizing various unnerving, synthesized sounds to bring to fruition music and sounds that are filled with a virulence and convey a sense of the fearsome, and foreboding, which is perfect for Halloween. Directed by Wes Craven and starring Bill Pullman as a doctor sent to Haiti to investigate a drug that is being used in Haitian Voodoo to create Zombie’s. It was praised by critics for its authentic settings, grounded take on the use of Voodoo and its take on the myth of the Zombie that is rife still to this day in the Caribbean.
Halloween is a time for pranks and frolics as someone once said, its also a time for mask wearing slashers who prowl the streets not looking for candy but for victims to butcher. But it does not necessarily have to be all Hallows Eve for these individuals to don the mask and pick up the carving knife, which is something that happens frequently in the Scream series of movies. A series of films that were all underlined, punctuated and supported by the music of composer Marco Beltrami, who’s near operatic sounding soundtracks added depth and atmosphere to each new instalment. Making the attacks seem to be more frenzied and savage.
And it won’t be long before Scream raises its head once again on cinema screens as the new version of the movie should be in cinemas soon with a score by Brian Tyler, who is no stranger to scoring horror movies. So, “What’s your favourite horror score and what’s your favourite horror movie for Halloween”? Umm let me think, and while you’re doing that cue the music and enter the knife wielding masked deranged homicidal killer. While you stay on the phone saying hellllo, hellllo. So Happy Halloween everyone.
Its now time for Soundtrack Supplement in which we see a few TV films and series on Netflix, Amazon, and Apple TV. I have already reviewed this, but I must make special mention of Locke and Key which is a great Netflix series that has just started its second season, with an outstanding theme and score by Torin Borrowdale. Don’t take my word for it, its on digital platforms right now.
On 26th November, Silva Screen Records UK will digitally release Mychael Danna – Music for Film, which is the eighth album from the series. The album features previously unreleased music, recorded by the Brussels Philharmonic and the Vlaams Radiokoor under the baton of Dirk Brossé. Its an interesting and totally absorbing collection of the composer’s music and a collection that you should own. The compilation includes eleven suites of music from various movies as scored by Danna which are performed flawlessly. These suites are taken from movies such as Vanity Fair, The Life of PI, Being Julia, Shattered Glass, Little Miss Sunshine, Where the Truth Lies and others, it’s a wonderful cross section of music and displays the composer’s versatility and outstanding gift for creating melodic and supportive themes for cinema that also have a life away from the movies that they were composed for. Canadian composer Mychael Danna was a guest of honour at the 2007 World Soundtrack Awards Ceremony & Concert. At the time, he was best known for his collaboration with director Atom Egoyan on films such as Exoticaand The Sweet Hereafter, which demonstrated his ability to mix orchestral, electronic and non-western music instruments.
On the same date the label will also release, Gabriel Yared – Music for Film digitally. Like the Mychael Danna compilation this also contains previously unreleased music, recorded by the Brussels Philharmonic and the Vlaams Radiokoor and conducted by the Maestro Dirk Brossé. Oscar winning composer Gabriel Yared has been associated with Film Fest Ghent’s film music events since the establishment of the World Soundtrack Academy. When the festival launched the World Soundtrack Awards in 2001, he appeared at the very first World Soundtrack Awards Ceremony & Concert as the guest of honour. This is a two-disc set or would be if Silva were releasing it on compact disc, it contains a staggering thirty-one tracks which are suites and themes penned by Yared and include. The English Patient, City of Angels, Wings of Courage, Amelia, Troy, The Talented Mr Ripley, Betty Blue and so much more. Again, looking at the music included here makes one realise just how much the composer has contributed to the world of film the performances are flawless and enriching.
The third release in the series from Silva Screen is Shigeru Umebayashi – Music for Film, which is superb. It includes twenty-one tracks from fourteen movies, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, And Then, Hannibal Rising, A Single Man, 2046 and others, it’s a compilation that I found to be irresistible and once heard one that is returned to many times. The composer’s music being affecting and innovative. All three releases are worthy additions to any film music collection. Recommended.
Again this time around there are a number of electronically created works on offer, and to be honest I honestly do not think it is worth reviewing them, they lack depth and atmosphere and the all-important theme or at least a hint of melody. the trend for these types of synthetic scores is growing even more since we had the pandemic and yes, it is probably due to performers not being able to get together to play an instrument on a score, and also in some cases the budget allotted to the music on a movie, but I personally feel that the art of film music is slightly depleting, it has come to something when collectors look out for re-issues of vintage scores with extra cues to ignite their interest. And I never thought I would be one of the collectors who became stuck in the past, but as we come out of the lockdowns and the isolation I am seeing as I am sure you are as well an ever growing amount of “film scores” (and I use the words lightly) that have no substance and no sensitivity, yes we get a handful that are interesting and on occasion things such as Locke and Key excite us, but this is happening less and less and it is a sad thing in my opinion.
There are a handful of labels that try and release scores that are rich in melodies or have the inkling of a thematic musical persona, but as I say this is rare. So enough of the wining, on with a few scores that maybe you might like? And when I say a few, I mean very few. Although it is an electronically realised work with just a scattering of conventional instrumentation the score for No Future by Jon Natchez, is worth a listen, it’s a work that is quite emotive, but at the same time never really goes into great thematic detail, the music and musical sounds are more like a soundscape rather than a score, but it is a pleasant listening experience, even if one is hard pressed to recall any of it after you have finished listening, this time around it is one of the best of the bunch as it were, but its not mind blowing or even attention grabbing.
The soundtrack is like a dreamy or at times unassuming and unaffecting background noise, but it does at various stages yield a little glimmer that can be conceived as being thematic but not at all memorable.
Maya and the Three is a little different as there are symphonic elements present, and the composers Tim Davies and Gustalvo Santaolalla do manage to create a score that contains a structured musical sound and style, lilting nuances, quite rich themes, and choral performances are scattered throughout complimented by pleasant sounding guitar pieces and violin solos, there is a delicacy and fragility present in the work that is underlined and supported by just as many expansive sounding pieces and moments.
The composers employing proud brass and stirring strings to convey aa sense of the grandiose. Again, one of the best of a rather mediocre batch of releases, which is available on digital platforms. Its no wonder that companies are not willing to commit many soundtracks to a compact disc release these days, I don’t think it is anything to do with budgets or the current financial climate, I just think that most of the music written for both TV and Film will just not appeal to collectors or have a cross over appeal to any of the watching audience.
Le Tresor du Petit Nicolas, is a charming little score by composer Martin Rappeneau, with a theme that is remarkably like Morricone’s They Call Me Nobody theme, its kind of quirky and infectious, but is it innovative? No not really. Being a family movie the score is light, airy and uncomplicated, very easy to listen to, but again is a work that once heard is totally forgettable, it works well in the movie and its an ok listen away from the film, but is it a score I will be returning to, no I don’t think so, entertaining enough but it has no longevity.
One of the most interesting scores for me this time was from a game, Tandem:A Tale of Shadows, is inventive and attractive in a apprehensive way. Composer Guillaume Nicollet fashions an alluring soundtrack, filled with mystery and magical atmospheres, the composer utilising synthetic instrumentation wonderfully to create an ethereal and somewhat otherworldly sound.
This is well worth a listen it is an eerie and unsettling work at times that utilises strange sounds and affecting vocal performances and is as I said inventive and original. Available on digital platforms.
The Trick is a film that has been shown on the BBC recently, and has a score by Laurence Love Greed, there are just over twenty minutes of score available to hear on digital platforms, but it is a score that I am confident you will like. It is another original sounding work, the composer fashioning an assortment of styles and sounds in the very brief time that the soundtrack runs, in which we experience tension, melancholy, urgency, a sense of solitude and hints of hope. Check it out.
From new material to a classic from the 1960’s with a score that epitomises the word epic. Khartoum, has long been a favourite of mine and many others. Frank Cordell’s theme drenched score oozing pomp, ceremony and luxurious and stirring compositions. Yes, I hear you say we know, but did you know it has been issued in an expanded edition on two long playing records and a CD that contain thirty-four tracks in total. Issued on Stylotone in mono in 2016, it is an impressive release, which has been packaged wonderfully boasting the original art-work from the United Artists soundtrack release, but even this seems to be more colourful and eye arresting. The sound quality is for the most part very good, but there are some cues that seem to be a little dull in that department, however this does not in any way detract from the enjoyment one experiences from hearing the score in its fully expanded edition, well worth the money, the price varying from website to website the cheapest being around twenty-five pounds to the most expensive at just under one hundred pounds. It is a glorious re-issue with posters from the movie included in the package.
This is a Limited double 180gm sandstorm-coloured vinyl LP pressing cut at 45rpm plus a vinyl replica CD, housed in a spot-varnished scale-copy of the gatefold sleeve, digital download and 30″ x 40″ British quad film poster, a certificate of authenticity personally signed by Mrs. Anja Cordell, and James Dearden’s personal insight into the making of this British Empire epic.
Great release, score sounds as fresh today as it did when I first heard it in 1966. But now as they say there is more and one of the extra cues is Gordon Returns to Khartoum, which is a stirring and triumphant piece and a glorious rendition of Cordell’s central theme for the movie. That’s all we need now is the composers Hell Boats to be released. (please). See you next time.