Soundtrack releases are coming thick and fast at the moment and it seems as soon as one soundtrack supplement is done and dusted its time to add more titles in the MMI reviews category. So, there are a few releases that I would like to mention, and I apologize for posting so soon after the most recent soundtrack supplement. Let’s start with another score from Johnny Greenwood I say another because we reviewed his score for Spencer recently, The Power of the Dog, is another movie that the Radiohead band member has penned and stamped it with his unique style. The Power of the Dog, is a western produced by Netflix based upon the 1967 novel by Thomas Savage. The film has an impressive cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee and is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Jane Campion.
Greenwood’s score is not what one would expect for a western but saying this anything from this inventive and highly original composer is never what one would or should expect. His music very often pushes the boundaries, and the composer seems to approach projects from a different perspective than other composers and often produces music and musical sounds that maybe out of the ordinary but work so well for the movie in question. The composer has written a score that hits all the right spots as in supporting and enhancing the movies storyline and lacing the various scenarios that crop up within it, the movie is the first motion picture that Jane Campion has worked upon for twelve years and straight away the critics and audiences are saying its an Oscar winner no question. I would not be at all surprised if Greenwood too does not receive at least a nomination for his atmospheric work on the movie. It is unusual and at times sparsely scored but this is the attraction of the music within the movie because it adds depth and gives a greater atmosphere to everything.
As a listening experience away from the images it is a little hard to keep focused upon, yes there are some nice thematic pieces but at times these can be fleeting, the cue Requiem for Phil I think is probably the closest thing to something that sounds like a western score, with mournful sounding horns introducing the cue, giving it a touch of melancholy, But this is about as old style western as it gets, I will however say I did enjoy listening to the score and was fascinated by the composers approach to the movie. Do check it out and take a look at the movie too which is streaming on Netflix.
Broken is a crime, drama/thriller directed by Patrick Phillips. What starts as just another delivery becomes the catalyst for life-shattering trouble. With one of them injured and evidence mounting against them, three friends find themselves on the run from the law. In a panic, the injured Brian turns to his mentor and ringleader, Bear, and together they come up with a perfect scheme of betrayal and murder. The score which is mainly synthetic is by Lance Warlock and is available on digital platforms via Plaza Mayor, it is a nerve-jangling listening experience, in which the composer utilises an array of sounds to convey an apprehensive and tense mood. The music and the sounds created convey a dark and somewhat ominous persona. Worth a listen the release is a five track EP. So short but not sweet which for a drama is perfect.
The Colour Room is an interesting movie that gives us an insight into the life and world of Clarice Cliffe, the biography is a Sky original movie and stars Phoebe Dynevor of Bridgerton fame, the film follows the work of the aspiring artist in the world of pottery as she ply’s her trade at the various potteries in Stoke, England. We see her moving from pottery to pottery as she is found to be stealing off cuts of clay to experiment on her own designs and is often fired because of this. But because she has worked in so many different potteries this has enabled her to have various positions dealing with every aspect of the pottery business. She goes to Wilkinson’s pottery where her sister and her sister’s fiancée are working, the latter is now getting clay for her but he too is caught and dismissed. With the stolen clay Clarice makes a vase and shows it to the owners of Wilkinson’s who decide rather than sack her they will put her to work there under the guidance of Fred, despite objections from the male dominated staff. The score for the movie is the work of Nitin Sawhney, who has been hailed as one of the most versatile and creative artists that is around today.
He has achieved critical acclaim via his eclectic musical output, I think I correct when I say many do not look at him as a film music composer although he has scored a handful of movies and worked on TV projects, he is a musical artist, a DJ, a producer, multi-instrumentalist and a cultural pioneer. His score is certainly a varied one with the composer fashioning pleasing melodies and supportive interludes. I recommend that you give this a listen it is on digital platforms everywhere.
Also give his other music an airing, as there are several of his albums available to stream including his latest release Immigrants, which is the sequel to his 1999 release Beyond Skin plus there are his scores for the movies Namesake which was released in 2007 and The Girl from Mogadishu which was released in 2020. His sound is fresh and inspiring.
Composer Mark Korven first came to many film music collectors attention via his score for VVitch, which contained a score that was wonderfully inventive and original, the music for the movie not only supported the sinister goings on of the story unfolding but actually became an integral component of the film being at times like an unseen character within the story. The composers latest work is also an interesting score, with Korven providing Resident Evil:Welcome to Racoon City with a menacing and disturbingly malevolent atmosphere. The composer creates icy and disturbing tone poems at times which have a lilting melody at their core but are unsettling, the use of voices being particularly harrowing and disquieting, especially when he utilises a child’s voice.
This in my opinion is an accomplished work and a great horror score, the orchestration being not only inventive but breath-taking, the composer fashioning strange and ominous sounds that are unnerving to the point where you really want to stop listening but cannot. On digital platforms, Recommended.
Ruined King:Inns of Bilgewater is the latest game score from composer Gareth Coker, and it is a gloriously thematic and melodic work, Coker has written so many wonderful scores for video games, and uses grand sounding and sweeping themes to support and enhance them. The music for this for me was particularly alluring, the composer’s gift for creating memorable and richly melodious compositions shining through. Please because it’s a game score do not pass this by, listen, I know you will love it. Accomplished and multi award winning composer Nanita Desai, has worked on numerous scores for both cinema and TV one of her latest projects is the music for The Tower which is a police drama being shown on ITV in the UK.
The score works so well within the series and creates so much energy and atmosphere, it is not what I would call a score that is thematic in the lush or melodious way, but the composer heightens the drama and the sense of urgency within the series via her electronically realised soundtrack that is vibrant and imposing. Take a listen available on digital platforms from Silva Screen. Also available on Silva Screen is the music for the vintage TV series Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons .
The music of Barry Gray has endured for many years now, whether it be the rousing theme for Thunderbirds or the action-packed music for Stingray, and Space 1999, those effervescent themes will I think never fall out of favour with which ever generation is listening to them. The album includes the familiar Captain Scarlet theme and has the sound effects and the narration that we all know and love from the series opening sequence, Gray’s music was filled with energy and also in this case had a certain air of the unknown about it with the composer employing organ and electronic sounds to purvey a chilling and apprehensive atmosphere, the six beat percussive fanfare of sorts is now etched in the minds of many and is as familiar as his march for International Rescue.
Many refer to the Gerry Anderson shows as being classics and iconic, well this is true to a certain age group, but these days many of the youngsters don’t give them a second glance. They were I suppose somewhat crude compared with the technology that is employed today in film and TV projects, but at the time this was as good as it got. Yes, they are dated, and the music can also be looked upon as being over the top and cliched, but it was all part of growing up then and was all part and parcel of the evolving world of entertainment for kids on TV.
The collection released by Silva comprises of thirty-five cues and has a running time of over an hour. Well worth a listen. I am told there will be a compact disc release and the music is also available now on digital platforms, This, is the voice of the Mysterons you will go and listen to this compilation now…
The Varese Sarabande music club has over the years released so many great scores, some being premier releases other being re-releases of vintage scores in expanded editions. Their two most recent reissues are Elf by composer John Debney, which has already been reviewed on MMI and the wonderfully affecting music of Angelo Badalamenti for the movie Blue Velvet, the film which was released back in the mid eighties was the first ever collaboration between the composer and the films director David Lynch. The moody and atmospheric soundtrack alerted many to the ample talents of the composer and this expanded version that is available on compact disc and also on a double LP record set is a must have for any self-respecting film music fan. Available now.
A score that will be released soon by Plaza Mayor on digital platforms is L’Affaire Bovary by composer Maximilien Mathevon, the film is a TV documentary with added parts that I am told are fictional, the music is realised entirely by synthetic mean’s but this is at times is hard to believe as the software and the sound-banks utilised are excellent and it sounds like a live orchestra in parts. The composer has produced a score that is wonderfully lyrical and covers all senses and emotions, we are treated to some great dramatic interludes as well as lavish sounding passages and this is why I could not believe it was electronic, there is a real heart and soul to the music, the score becoming haunting and filled with a vibrant and romantic air. Released officially on December 3rd keep an eye out for this one you will enjoy it.
The composer has had a busy year and has scored the documentary Generation Kalachi and the feature film Rollon- Sur la Traces du Premier Normand, both of which contained effective soundtracks and are both available on Spotify etc. Whilst there check out several of the composer’s albums and film scores, its well worth a session or two.
Getting Away with Murder(s) was released in the UK on October 1st this year (2021). An important movie which is so relevant nowadays and works on so many levels. The movie runs for over two hours, but it is an absorbing and at times hard to watch film, but this is what happened, we cannot change it but by watching movies such as this we may be able to stop it ever happening again.
The sombre and largely atonal score is the work of composer Christopher Barnett who gives the film and even greater sense of darkness. An electronically created work, it is a dank and at times depressing score, which very rarely brings to the surface anything that can be deemed as thematic apart from when solo piano is brought into the equation, but even this is underlined by ghostly sounding layers, it is certainly a case of soundscape here rather than music score, but within the movie it serves the subject matter well, there is a glimmer of a melody of sorts in the cue Fedorenko vs Ferencz where we hear a subdued boy soprano performance, which is chilling and sinister sounding. Effective use of sounds and ethereal nuances. Its on digital platforms via Air-Edel Records.
Jeff Beal is a composer that has written so many great scores and did some great work on the TV series House of Cards, his latest offering is from the movie JFK Revisited-Through the Looking Glass, The, film which is directed by Oliver Stone, uses interviews and historical footage to make the case for a conspiracy in the assassination of JFK.
They say that everyone who was alive at the time of JFK’s assassination remembers where they were, what they were doing on that fateful day, and if you were around when this happened then I recommend that you watch the movie and take in all the evidence and examine it as the film does. Footage clearly shows Kennedy’s head snap backwards as he is hit by the bullet or bullets and doctors stated that the wounds had points of entrance at the front.
This is a very detailed movie and one that should be watched by all. Beal’s score is a masterclass in creating tension and providing a brooding and effective soundtrack for a controversial subject matter, he matches the intrigue and the investigations with his taught and at times understated soundtrack, subtle at times but driving and more pronounced at other times, an interesting work, which is superbly written and orchestrated well. Recommended.
Composer Kris Bowers has steadily risen through the ranks and recently has become one of the most sought-after composers of film music in the world. His recent assignments include the re-imagining of Space Jam and the much talked about King Richard which stars Will Smith and tells the story behind the amazing William’s girls Serena and Venus.
In 2020, the composer worked on the horror movie Bad Hair, Mrs. America, and the TV miniseries Bridgerton which was a runaway success for the producers Netflix. Earlier this year Bowers wrote inventive and appealing soundtracks for Respect, The United States vs Billie Holliday, and Colin in Black and White as well as working on the music for the TV series Dear White People which began airing in 2019. In the same year he composed the atmospheric and acclaimed score for When They See Us which was also for Netflix.
And then in 2018 he provided the score for the movie Monsters and Men which also gained much attention from critics and fans alike. He first came to my notice in 2018 when I heard his score for Green Book, and the rest as they say is history. Kris Bowers, has a great levels of versatility, adaptability, and sheer genius when it comes to scoring movies. What I find so appealing about this composer is every assignment every score and each film that he works on contains no real set sound or even a style that one can easily identify, his scores are all wonderfully written and perfectly placed within movies, adding tension, creating emotion and purveying melancholy or apprehension, but unlike other composers who write for film and TV there seems to be no little hook or a fleeting sound that says to you Ahh, yes this is a Kris Bowers, which is a good thing in my mind as the composer is inventing and developing his musical prowess as his career continues to flourish.
As mentioned his most recent score is for King Richard which is a movie that many have been looking forward to, and already with its early screenings many are tipping Will Smith for an Oscar nomination at least, the movie follows the lives of the Williams sisters Serena and Venus, and their relationship with their Father, and charts their rise to the top of the tennis world as they experience the high and lows that come with high profile careers. Kris Bowers score works on so many levels, it is intimate, demanding, comedic in places and totally focused. Recommended and available now on digital platforms.
There have been a handful of interesting releases from Dragons Domain records in the United States, Basement Jack being just one of them, the score is by composer, performer, sound designer and editor, Alan Howarth, the release is a limited addition of just five hundred copies, and once their gone that’s it folks so get your orders in ASAP. The label ahs also released Chuck Cirino’s score for Teenage Exorcist, the opening theme for me evoked the style of Ennio Morricone and to a certain degree Francoise De Roubaix.
The use of keyboard and strings that punctuate and augment are a homage to the sixties sound that was achieved by both of those composers. The two-disc set also contains Cirino’s score for Witch Academy, Teenage Exorcist and Witch Academy, are both horror comedies. Teenage Exorcist was written by Brinke Stevens and Ted Newsom, from a story by Fred Olen Ray, starring Brinke Stevens, Eddie Deezen, Oliver Darrow, John Henry Richardson, Tom Shell, Elena Sahagun, Robert Quarry and Michael Berryman. Witch Academy was directed by Fred Olen Ray, written by Mark Thomas McGee and stars Suzanne Ager, Priscilla Barnes, Michelle Bauer, Veronica Carothers, Ruth Collins, Don Dowe, John Henry Richardson, and Robert Vaughn. Both scores are classic Cirino, electronic and quirky, appealing and forgive the pun Haunting, both excellent soundtracks and should so be in your collection. Cirino is I think such a rare talent, he always creates wonderful scores that enhance and support the images and storylines, and somehow always manages to entertain away from those, his scores having a life away from the movies.
Both releases are available now from BSX and are trust me worth having.
Let’s finish on a lighter note shall we, Dan Romer is a composer I like a lot, anything he scores invariably contains something that will appeal to anyone, and this can be said for his latest score which is for Disney/Pixar’s Ciao Alberto, this animated short features characters from another short-animated film Luca which was also scored by Romer, the music is simple and effective, and is available on digital platforms, now. Till next time….