The Afterparty is an Apple TV series that focuses upon a murder mystery at a high school reunion. Each of the eight episodes features a retelling of the same night told through a different character’s eyes, each having its own unique visual style and film genre to match the teller’s personality. The music for the series is by Daniel Pemberton, and once again this British composer has created a score that is totally supportive, and captivating. Punctuating the various scenarios within the storylines and various plots, it has a slight comedic lilt to it, with a somewhat jaunty yet sinister mood being purveyed.
I love the way in which Pemberton projects and embellishes the storyline with his compositions, the music going hand in hand with the various sequences and episodes purveying perfectly a dark but at the same time awkward musical persona.
There are times when his strings resemble the sound achieved by the late John Barry, piercing but melodic. One for your collection its an enticing and entertaining listen and available now on digital platforms, don’t pass this one by. The album also includes a handful of vocal tracks, but these go well with Pemberton’s at times upbeat and dramatic score.
Pinar Toprak is a composer who many of us have followed for a few years now, this Turkish born composer has written numerous film scores that maybe have not been fully appreciated by a handful of film music fans, her latest work is for The Lost City, which is a score of many styles, it’s a score that one can listen to and become lost in as it is a work that one becomes caught up with not realising sometimes that the tracks have finished or new ones have started, it totally grabs you and is an entertaining and rewarding listen. Available now on digital Platforms.
I don’t know about you but in recent months I seem to have got more enthused about a re-release of a classic score even a premiere release of a score from back in the day, maybe it is an age thing? Either way it is saying something when a vintage soundtrack is more appealing than something more contemporary. I don’t get excited about the endless synth layering of so-called A list composer’s, but do become slightly more alert when I hear that something such as a John Barry or Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack could get a release for the first time. Yep it’s definitely an age thing…..or maybe it’s a craving for melodic, cohesive and thematic movie music? So, to our next soundtrack release, which I am glad to report does contain themes in their abundance mostly of a comedic or mischievous type, but still very entertaining.
Disney’s latest addition to the Ice Age cycle, which will be screened on Disney +. Ice Age Scrat Tales, is a simply charming score, the composer Batu Sener, fashioning a soundtrack that is just so much fun and also one that fits the action on screen like a proverbial glove. The score also contains some melancholy moments which are filled with a fragility and have to them haunting and delicate nuances. There are plenty of those kind of Mickey Mouse moments that we associate with animation, with the composer going suitably over the top and even weaving a rendition of Rock a Bye Baby into the fabric of the score in the track, Lofi Scrat Beats to Sleep/Chill Too which is the second cue on the recording.
It is I think a clever and rewarding score and one that I am confident that collectors will return to on many occasions, its an uplifting and at times a riotous sounding soundtrack which is all the more reason to give it a listen, the music being the punctuation to the storyline adding the musical commas, exclamation marks, question marks and full stops and at times becoming a musical punchline to an episode or sequence.
Staying with Disney plus and to a documentary Among the Stars, which is a behind-the-scenes access to the critically important NASA mission of repairing a $2 billion science experiment, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), which aims to reveal the origins of the universe. The music for documentaries has in the past two decades come into its own with top composers adding their musical prowess to various productions. The music for Among the Stars is for the most part understated, but certainly effective and affecting. Composer Colin Stretson scored the documentary in 2021 and the music is stunningly supportive throughout, never being intrusive but always enhancing and elevating the images on screen. By the sound of the score, it is mostly electronic or synthetic, but this in this case does not take anything away from the effectiveness of the music.
It is upbeat and has to it a wonderfully relaxing and thematic air which the composer layers throughout. It is also available on digital platforms.
Staying at dizzy heights for the next score and to the 2022 movie Beyond the Summit, which has a score by Paula Olaz, the film tells the story of a man seeking to finally reach his goal of climbing Annapurna, but has an accident, and a woman climber who has been taking refuge tries to help him.
The score is subtle and low key, with the composer utilising solo cello and woodwinds to purvey an atmosphere that is inspiring but also has numerous moments that ooze apprehension and melancholy. The composer collaborated with Pascal Gaigne in 2021 on the score for Nora and has also recently scored Oihana both of which like Beyond the Summit are available on the likes of Spotify via Movie Score Media.
The popular series Bridgerton is back for a second season on Netflix, and so too is composer Kris Bowers. His music for this series is I think very different from his other work for TV and film, and this displays just how versatile the composer is.
The music is quite regal sounding and has an immediate engagement with the listener, it is one of those soundtracks that as soon as you hear it are hooked. Bowers is a shining light for the younger generation of film music composers and a beacon of originality in movie music now. He has worked on so many high-profile assignments all of which are from very different genres. Recommended.
Another period drama I do like is The Gilded Cage and the score by Harry and Rupert Gregson Williams is a triumph, it is a fully symphonic work with such eloquent and rich sounding themes that run throughout the work, the HBO series is now showing at a small screen near you and the rapturous, and lavish score is available on digital platforms.
Composer Helene Blazy has created a beguiling score for Sans Toi, the work being highly emotive with the composer combining cello, Piano, and a small string ensemble to fashion a poignant and beautiful soundtrack. She further embellishes and expands this style and sound with a scattering of synthetic elements, but it is the solo performances via piano and cello that are the most affecting.
These are simple themes but so, effective, brimming with a sorrowful but also a hopeful sound that washes over the listener mesmerizing, hypnotising, and haunting them. You must listen to this and whilst you are a digital platform doing that check out her Film Music vols 1 to 3, you will not be disappointed.
Composer Elmer Bernstein would have reached his 100th Birthday on April 4th this year, so I thought I would just highlight a few of his scores that are available on digital platforms. To say that he was an innovator and a composer who set the scene for many others is something of an understatement. He is probably one of the most well-known composers of film music of the 20th Century. Bernstein was much in demand throughout his career and penned the themes and scores for numerous movies that are now considered classics. Born in New York in 1922, he studied piano at the Juilliard school of music under the guidance of Henrietta Michelson. He also began to study composition under the tutelage of Roger Sessions, Israel Citkowitz ,and Stepan Wolpe. During the second world war, Bernstein served in the American Air force and it whilst there he began to do arrangements for the Glenn Miller Band. Working on these arrangements led Bernstein to writing his own music for radio.
After the war Bernstein spent several years as a concert pianist, but he decided that this was not musical route he wanted to pursue, he was more interested in composing and was drawn to the idea of writing for film and television. He scored his first motion picture in 1950 which was a film entitled Saturday Hero. This was followed by Boots Malone a year later and then in 1952 he scored Sudden Fear. Between 1952 and 1955 the composer worked on fourteen assignments mostly for movies but he also wrote music for documentaries. It was in 1955 that Bernstein got his break into the big time when he was asked to provide the score for The Man with the Golden Arm, directed by esteemed film maker Otto Preminger. This was Bernstein’s landmark score, and he received much acclaim and admiration from his peers for the use of jazz on the soundtrack.
The composers next assignment would gain him even more recognition. In 1956 Cecil B De Mille asked Bernstein to write the score for The Ten Commandments, this was a major film score, with the composer utilising a large symphony orchestra as well as choir and an array of ethnic instrumentation. After the success of The Ten Commandments, Bernstein became much in demand and the remainder of the 1950’s proved to be a particularly busy time for the composer. He worked on films such as, The Buccaneer, The Sweet Smell of Success, The Tin Star, Drango, Kings Go Forth, Gods Little Acre and Men in War and provided the TV series Johnny Staccatto, with its memorable and infectious theme.
As the 1960’s dawned Bernstein wrote the score for one of cinema’s most iconic westerns, The Magnificent Seven, the theme from which is probably the most well-known and recognisable for a movie. Bernstein fashioned a score that was awash with themes that incorporated Copland-ish flourishes and also composed provided a score that was overflowing with pure Americana fused with Hispanic sounding passages, the result was stunning, and it is a work that is still to this day popular and instantly recognisable. He scored his final movie in 2002 which was Far From Heaven, the score earning him an Academy Award Nomination for best original score. Elmer Bernstein passed away on August 24th 2004. Since his death the composer has gained even more followers via many of his scores becoming available on digital platforms, scores such as Stripes, Kings of the Sun, Ghostbusters and so many more, and thanks to likes of Spotify and Apple music we are able to type in Elmer Bernstein and again sample the delights and sweeping rich thematic music of Bernstein.
With scores such as The Comancheros, The Great Escape, Saddle the Wind, The Return of the Seven, Walk on the Wild side, To Kill a Mockingbird, Zulu Dawn, The Rat Race, Desire under the Elms, Anna Lucasia, Summer and Smoke, and so many more including jazz and film music compilations.